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Dak Prescott - Patience Is a Virtue

Let me make one thing clear before we get into this: I am a New York Football Giants fan. When I bleed, only half of my blood reacts to the oxygen and turns red. The other half remains blue. (Blood actually is never blue, and the whole oxygen changing blood from blue to red thing is a myth. You get the point, though.)

I rep the Giants faithfully. So much so that I recently named my second-born daughter Saquon. (Ok, I’m lying. But, the blood thing is real. For me, at least.) However, as a forthright member of the fantasy football community, the following words were written devoid of any biases. At the same time, while I strive to provide quality, accurate analysis, I hope that the words that follow are the exact opposite of what actually takes place and Dak Prescott ruins your fantasy season.

Regardless, if you drafted Dak to any of your fantasy squads this season, don’t panic just yet.

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Keeping Faith in Dak

There’s no denying that this Cowboys offensive line is nowhere near as dominant as we’ve seen in recent years. It's largely due to injury, but losing the likes of Ronald Leary and Doug Free should not go unmentioned either. Prescott was sacked six times Sunday – more than every quarterback not named Tyrod Taylor – but as this line gains familiarity with one another (and gets healthy) you can expect to see this number decline. That, in itself, will be huge.

Secondly, as long as Ezekiel Elliott is healthy, opposing defensive coordinator’s first, second, and third priority will be containing the rushing attack. Speaking of rushing, only five QBs have more rushing yards than Dak since he entered the league in 2016 (Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, Russell Wilson, Blake Bortles, and Marcus Mariota). Dual-threat QBs always have added fantasy value, which can explain why Prescott has the ninth-most fantasy points at the QB position over that stretch despite a “down year” in 2017.

Let’s focus on his receivers, though, as the main concern over Mr. Prescott this season seems to be the fact that he could throw the ball endlessly, but without viable options on the receiving end, it really wouldn’t mean much.

… Patience is a virtue in that regard.

In two years at Colorado State, rookie wide receiver Michael Gallup put up 2,690 yards and 21 touchdowns. I won’t sit here and act like the Mountain West Conference is on par with the Big 10, SEC, or even the Big 12, but those numbers are phenomenal – only Pittsburgh Steelers James Washington (Oklahoma St.) and Chicago Bears Anthony Miller (Memphis) amassed more yards over that period and the 21 TDs put him fifth among all receivers over that same timeframe. Oh, and facing the champs in 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Gallup posted a five catch, 81-yard line. The man can play. Give him some time to figure out the NFL game, and get familiar with Dak. He saw just one target in Week 1, and will surely experience some growing pains, but it’s hard to not envision him being a factor in this passing game by season’s end.

We also have to factor in Dak’s skill set in relation to the talent he has surrounding him. In 2017, Prescott’s average of 8.4 intended air yards per attempt put him 17th among QBs. And in 2016, that number was 8.6 (22nd). By no means does his average of 8.5 IAY qualify him as the check-down king, but he’s not exactly airing it out downfield on the regular either. Sure-handed Cole Beasley excels out of the slot on underneath routes (career 70.4% catch rate), and Allen Hurns saw a skimpy 5.6 air yards per target in 2017 with Jacksonville. Both mesh well with Dak’s affinity for the intermediate/short routes, and in Hurns' case, like Gallup, I think it’s simply a matter of time before he gets acclimated with his new QB/offense. Not to mention, Jason Witten’s replacement, Geoff Swaim, who saw four targets in Week 1 and has the rare combination of size, athleticism, and hands to be a legit factor at the tight end position.

On the outside, Deonte Thompson has bounced around over the course of his seven-year career, but is coming off his best NFL season (which saw him post 555 yards), ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at his 2012 pro day, and if granted opportunity at WR which he hasn’t seen over his career (he’s been primarily a special teams guy) has the potential to be a viable weapon for Dallas (he saw five targets against the Panthers Sunday). Then, there’s Terrance Williams who’s never been overly dominant, but at a minimum, provides a serviceable red zone option.

All told, don’t panic just yet. While many may look at this cast of characters and think “who the hell is that?!”, Dak’s receiving corps isn't the worst in the league (though probably in the conversation) and has the potential to be workable.

Will this Cowboys offense be one of the premier, prolific, and explosive units in 2018? Probably not. But, will Dak be a serviceable option in fantasy leagues moving forward? I’d imagine so.

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