QB Dak Prescott – Over two seasons as the starting QB for the Cowboys, Prescott has a 22-10 record with one playoff appearance. In his second year in the NFL, Dak has regression his completion rate (62.9 – 67.8 in 2016) while making more mistakes (13 Ints – 4 in 2016). His ability run (57/357) and score rushing TDs (12 over 32 games in his career) helps raise his floor from week-to-week. Prescott is a winning game manager with borderline starting value. The change in receiving core does paint a lower ceiling in the passing game. I expect below league average passing attempts with about 25 TDs and 3,800 combined yards.
RB Ezekiel Elliott – The drama behind the Elliott six-game suspension was insane in 2017. The NFL proved their point by not caving on his suspension after it appeared that Elliott was going to be cleared. In the end, Ezekiel finished with 1,252 combined yards with nine TDs and 26 catches. He saw a decline in his yards per carry (5.1 in 2016 and 4.1 in 2017) while losing his big-play ability (five runs over 20 yards compared to 14 in 2016). He averaged 125 yards and 26.8 touches per game. His path put him on pace for 2,000+ yards with double TDs and close to 40 catches. In 2018, the Cowboys’ offense will flow through Elliott while expecting more growth in the passing game. The strength in his offensive line gives him a chance to regain his value in yards per rush. Pencil him in for 2,000 yards with a run at 15+ TDs and 50+ catches. The lack of receiving options may keep some Fantasy owners away while Ezekiel proves to be a rock-solid player from week-to-week.
RB Rod Smith – Over the last six games in 2017 with Ezekiel Elliott out of the picture, Smith had 55 touches for 313 yards with five TDs and 13 catches. He gained only 3.6 yards per rush while showing some explosiveness in the passing game highlighted by his success in Week 14 (5/113/1). Over four seasons at Ohio State, Smith gained only 643 combined yards with ten TDs and nine catches. Real tough to trust him as a handcuff to Elliott.
RB Bo Scarbrough – In his sophomore and junior seasons at Alabama, Scarbrough gained 1,539 yards with 19 TDs and 21 catches on 270 touches. His best season came in 2016 (834 combined yards with 11 TDs and four catches) while gaining 6.5 yards per rush. Power back with no upside in the passing game.
WR Allen Hurns – Injuries crushed the Fantasy value of Hurns over the last two seasons. He’s missed 11 of the last 32 games with ankle and hamstring issues. His career started off better than expected in 2014 and 2015 when Allen caught 115 passes over 23 starts for 1,708 yards and 16 TDs on 202 targets. In 2015, he offered big play and scoring ability (64/1031/10) as the WR2 for the Jaguars. Over the first nine games last year, Hurns had 36 catches for 446 yards and two TDs on 51 targets with two playable games (6/82/1 and 5/101) in the Fantasy games. Allen can be a mismatch problem out of the slot if the Cowboys choose to use him in that role. The WR structure in Dallas will be in transition in 2018 leading to Hurns possibly being the top receiving option. Last year the WRs on the Cowboys caught 183 passes for 2,112 yards and 12 TDs on 309 targets. If healthy for games Allen projects to have a 60-catch opportunity for 800+ yards while expecting to lead the team in receiving TDs. I view him as WR4 in PPR leagues.
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WR Michael Gallup – Over two seasons at Colorado State, Gallup caught 176 passes for 2,690 yards and 21 TDs. He looked more explosive in 2016 when Michael gained 16.7 yards per catch with 14 TDs, but he did set a career high in catches (100) and yards (1418) last year. Gallup needs to get strong to help his release in press coverage. His speed (4.51) and quickness can’t match the best WRs in the NFL, but he has the mid-range gear to beat a defender to the ball while offering good hands. Michael has a knack for breaking tackles with open field moves to beat a defense for a long TD on a short pass. This season he’ll slide into the Dez Bryant role in the Cowboys’ offense while expecting a learning curve. His biggest challenge will be defeating better cornerbacks and handling the tough throws over the middle of the field. In 2018, Dallas should use him as an outside threat while trying to use his run after the catch ability on slants and screens. Possible 60+ catches with a chance to deliver some big games. Game score will be key to his upside and opportunity.
WR Terrance Williams – In May, Williams was out partying leading to an arrest for drunken driving that resulted in an accident. In the offseason, he had surgery to repair an issue in his right foot. Terrance never developed into a viable starting Fantasy WR despite showing growth in 2015 (52/840/3) and scoring ability (13 TDs) over his first 32 games in the NFL. Last year he set a career high in catches (53), but a career low in yards per catch (10.7) with no TDs. The change in the structure of the Cowboys’ WRs should help Williams make bigger plays, but Dak Prescott needs to improve his value in the deep passing game. As best, the fourth options in the passing game for the Cowboys behind Hurns, Gallup, and the RB position.
WR Cole Beasley – The lack of a TE in 2018 should work toward Beasley regaining some targets. His game showed growth in 2016 (75/833/5 on 98 targets), but Cole never found his rhythm last season. He had fewer than 35 yards receiving in 14 of his 15 games while only seeing over six targets in one game. He scored all four of his TDs in two games (Week 5 – 4/23/2 and Week 9 – 4/24/2). His biggest failure in 2018 was the sharp decline in his catch rate (57.1) compared to 76.5 in 2016, which looks to be a problem when he gained only 8.7 yards per catch. If Dallas decides to use Hurns out of the slot to keep their best three WRs on the field, Beasley will be found on the waiver wire in most leagues. Cole has a lot to prove this year, and he could lose his role/opportunity to Tavon Austin as well.
WR Tavon Austin – The change in the coaching staff of the Rams led to Austin losing any value in the passing game (14/47) thanks to Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods added to the roster. LA did give him 59 rushes leading to 270 yards and one TD. In his career, Tavon averages only 8.7 yards per catch, which fits more of a running back role in the passing game. Austin will be listed as a RB in some Fantasy formats in 2018, which may lead to him being more attractive. He’s a small player (5’8” and 179 lbs.) with his best asset being his quickness. His skill set will overlap Cole Beasley with weaker route running and hands. For Dallas, he’ll be a change of pace runner with some value out of the backfield in the passing game. Tough buy in Fantasyland unless he develops into the WR3 in the Cowboys’ offense.
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TE Rico Gathers – Gathers is a former basketball player with no experience playing football in his college career. Rico will be an interesting player, but it will take him some time to develop the techniques to have success at the pro level. He missed all of 2017 with a concussion injury while still waiting for his first NFL catch after getting drafted in the sixth round in 2016. Dallas doesn’t have a pass catching TE on their roster, which means Gathers may have the most upside in the passing game if he’s ready to handle NFL playing time. Player to follow this summer to see if the training camps reports are positive. In two games in the 2017 preseason, Rico caught seven passes for 106 yards and two TDs.
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