You will struggle to find a fantasy analyst that does not love the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. I am no exception. This team will produce fantasy assets at every relevant position…as long as Dak Prescott plays the full season. Last season, the Cowboys stayed fantasy relevant with Andy Dalton at QB, in part because of the sheer amount that Mike McCarthy is willing to throw the football. In 2021, it is not an impossibility that Dallas finishes with a top-5 fantasy QB, top-5 RB, two top-10 WRs, and a top-10 TE…as long as Dak plays. As of now, there is no reason to think he will not play, so let’s take a Look Inside the 2021 Dallas Cowboys.
Note: You can follow the entire Look Inside series with this link and you can watch the full No Punt Intended episode with special guest Bob Lung on Youtube below!
As long as he’s healthy, the success of this team will rest on the shoulders (and ankle) of Dak Prescott. He was the overall QB1 in his four healthy weeks last season and returns just about every weapon on this offense. When he plays, everyone gets a boost. Obviously the WRs and TEs, but even Ezekiel Elliott will find the road easier with Dak.
Last year, Dallas threw the ball 639 times, 2nd-most in the NFL, with Andy Dalton at QB. They might hit 700 attempts with Prescott back and a 17-game season. Dak should be back to full strength by Week 1, so the only decision is: How high of a draft pick do you spend on him? He is currently off the board in the 4th Round as the 4th QB drafted, according to FantasyPros. When you weigh in injury risk and knocking the rust off, that may be a bit too high for a lot of fantasy managers but he is virtually assured of a top-5 finish.
Cooper Rush, Ben DiNucci, and Garrett Gilbert will compete for the final one or two roster spots. If the situation arises that any of them play: RUN FAR AWAY!
A few years ago, Ezekiel Elliott was the undisputed king of fantasy RBs. After a 1600-yard rookie season, a suspension shortened 2nd year hurt him a bit, but he bounced back. He recorded a 77-catch 3rd year and followed that up with 1700 total yards and 14 total TDs in 2019. Then, Dak Prescott got hurt in 2020. Zeke looked disinterested and slow. He finished the year with 979 rushing yards and just four TDs. Disinterested Zeke is still a top-10 RB. He was the RB8 in fantasy and is likely to improve in every category with Prescott back. His ADP has fallen to the back-end of the 1st Round and he is as safe as any other RB you can draft there.
Tony Pollard is arguably the best backup RB in the league, and far more than a fantasy insurance policy. While Zeke struggled, Pollard legitimately looked like the better RB last season. He’s not, just to clear that up. He ended up rushing for 435 yards and four TDs on the season. Despite starting twice, he never cracked the 100-yard rushing mark in a single game. He is a potential TD every time he is on the field but he is better suited in the change-of-pace role. He is going off the board as the RB43 in the 12th Round of drafts, and that feels about right. If Zeke gets hurt, he is a steal, but even if Elliott never misses a game, Pollard could still put up a few Flex-worthy weeks.
The Cowboys might have the most stacked WR corps in the league. Amari Cooper is a perennial WR1 in fantasy, Michael Gallup is a post-hype sleeper, and CeeDee Lamb might be the best young WR in the entire NFL. With competent QB play, every one of these guys will be relevant from week to week this season. Last year, all were targeted more than 100 times, and each scored five TDs, but only Cooper’s season really stood out.
Amari Cooper has slowly started to remove the “inconsistent” moniker from his name. He was a WR3 or better in all but three games last year. Again, this was mostly with Andy Dalton. He should flourish in 2021 and is likely to lead this team in targets yet again. If he returns to the eight TDs he scored in 2019, he will be pushing to be a top-5 WR in fantasy. He is currently being drafted as the WR16 in the 4th Round. That is a perfect spot to land a potential league winner in 2021.
Lamb started coming into his own right away as a rookie. He registered over 300 yards and two TDs in the four games he played with Dak. That paces out to over 1200 yards and eight TDs in a 16-game season. That would have made him a top-10 WR last season. He is likely to continue as second-fiddle to Cooper for at least one more year. That does not matter on a team with this passing volume. He will find himself open more and more because of the defensive interest in Cooper and he will pay dividends. Lamb is coming off the board just three picks after Cooper, but this will likely be the last season you can land him that late.
Michael Gallup is the forgotten man in Dallas. He is going to play well, he is going to score TDs, and he is going to outplay his WR51 ADP–EASILY! The issue is that he will likely have big weeks here and there, and quiet weeks in between as the clear 4th option in this offense. Consistency will be the issue. Adding him as your WR5 is a zero-risk move. Figuring out when to start him will be a weekly struggle.
Note: Be sure to check out Zach Smith‘s Deep Dive into the Dallas WRs, dropping tomorrow on Club Fantasy!
Last season started on the Blake Jarwin HYPE train…which quickly derailed, killing all passengers. Jarwin tore his ACL in Week 1 and Dalton Schultz took all those precious targets. Schultz performed admirably, finishing as the TE11 in fantasy, but just about anyone can finish as a top-12 TE these days…I mean, Dalton Schultz did it! Jarwin will take back over in 2021 and the hype train is smaller but just as ambitious. Jarwin has every chance to be a top-10 fantasy option, but that’s a given. If one or two of these WRs get hurt, he could see enough targets to push into the top-5. Think Logan Thomas from a year ago. At worst, he is a solid streaming option at a thin position, but things could get interesting.