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Dynasty Team Analysis - Dallas Cowboys

We will be reviewing all 32 teams at Rotoballer in our Dynasty Team outlook series. Leading up to the draft, we will break down every team as they currently stand and will review them again after free agency and the draft have concluded. Which players should you buy and which players should you sell? Who will be sleepers this season and who will be busts? We will cover all the positions and all the angles for you.

It’s America’s Team for a reason. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most popular and most recognized team in all of football. They have had more star power than any other team in NFL history and have the second-most Super Bowl wins in NFL history as well. However, the Cowboys haven’t brought a championship back to Dallas since 1995--a drought that is unacceptable to their fans and more importantly, their owner.

The good news is that the Cowboys have built an exciting young team once again and could be poised for more runs in the future. After going 13-3 and winning the NFC East in 2016, they took a step back last season while dealing with a key suspension, an offense that sputtered at times and a defense that couldn’t always keep opponents out of the end zone. 2018 will not be an easier. The defending Super Bowl Champions will be a tough opponent to work through as the Philadelphia Eagles will be favorites to win the division. The New York Giants should be better this year as well if everyone is healthy and the Washington Redskins won’t be walked over. If the Cowboys can regain their run first, control the game offense, they should have a shot at the playoffs once again. If not? It could be another long season.

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Dallas Cowboys Dynasty Outlook

Team Record: 9-7 (2nd, NFC East)

Fantasy Leaders

QB: Dak Prescott- 260.8 (QB10)
RB: Ezekiel Elliott- 203.2 (RB12)
WR: Dez Bryant- 186.5 (WR24)
TE: Jason Witten- 147.0 (TE9)
IDP: Demarcus Lawrence- 201.2 (DE3)



Which Dak Prescott do owners think they will get in 2018? Will they get the breakout star from 2016 that finished as the QB6, or will they get the under performing QB from 2017 that seems to be reliant on Ezekiel Elliott to be truly successful. Honestly, he’s probably somewhere in between.

Prescott only had one less passing touchdown in 2017 than he did in 2016, threw for 350 less yards, ran for the same amount of touchdowns and actually had more rushing yards. So, his biggest downfall was a large increase in interceptions. Prescott came out of nowhere his rookie season, but was greatly helped by the balanced attack with Ezekiel Elliott. If the Cowboys can keep the same type of game plan and let Prescott and the offense dictate the game flow, he is set up for success. If the Cowboys are not able to control the game and their defense can’t keep the score close, then the offense will become one dimensional setting Prescott up for more failure.

Honestly, the only reason Prescott seemed to have a down season was because of the ridiculous expectations we placed on him after his rookie season. With Elliott back from suspension and ready to play a full season, I expect Prescott to head back into the top 10. More importantly though, the addition of a couple wide receivers could be the biggest difference.


Running Back

2017 was a brutal season for owners of Elliott. He was going to be suspended, then wasn’t. Then he was suspended but appealed. Anyway, you know the whole story and, if you are a current owner, your frustrations were shared by many. Hopefully if you own him in dynasty leagues, you were able to survive the season without trading him. In my dynasty rankings, Elliott is firmly cemented as my second overall player.

It’s funny, because I get a general feeling that Zeke's value is currently down. Or maybe that’s just what interested owners want you to think. I’ve heard several arguments this season ranging from, "He cannot be trusted due to his off-field history," all the way down to the fact that he only average 4.1 yards per carry in 2017 after averaging 5.1 in his rookie season.

His drop in yards per carry may look significant as he was only 24th among qualified running backs in 2017 but he still finished higher than several other running backs who have high value heading into the 2018 season. Le’Veon Bell (4.0), Carlos Hyde (3.9), Melvin Gordon (3.9), Leonard Fournette (3.8) and Christian McCaffrey (3.7). Just like his QB counterpart, Elliott set our standards so high after a huge rookie season that anything less would bring disappointment. I know what Elliott will bring to the table this season, but his backup will be an intriguing player to keep an eye on.

Rod Smith was an interesting waiver pickup last year. With Elliott sitting on the brink of suspension, owners were left trying to decide whether Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris would assume lead back duties if that happened. Other owners decided to take a different approach and picked up Smith hoping he would offer some PPR upside.

Smith was able to vulture some goal line TDs in the later portion of the season and while I don’t think he offers tremendous value for fantasy owners in 2018, he is a must-stash for Elliott owners. The Cowboys haven’t re-signed Morris and they have too many positions to upgrade to spend a high pick on a running back in the draft. This tells us the Cowboys are confident in Elliott being the workhorse yet again and Smith will hold value as the backup, potentially in PPR leagues. This is a must-own backfield in 2018.


Wide Receiver

Dez Bryant is officially out in Dallas and since this is a Cowboys piece though, and he is no longer a Cowboy, I wont spend much time on him. This is excellent news for others on offense though as those forced targets Prescott used to give to Bryant can be better used elsewhere now. Who will benefit most though if Bryant is cut?

The newest addition to the Dallas receiving corps is Allen Hurns. This was an extremely underrated signing. Most owners forget that Hurns had a 1,000-yard season two years ago to go along with 10 touchdowns. Injuries the last two seasons have kept him from progressing and honestly, Blake Bortles probably had a little bit to do with it as well. Even after dealing with injuries in 2017, Hurns was able to post his highest catch rate since entering the league. He’s only going to be 27 this season and won’t have much competition without Bryant to start.

You can call me a little crazy if you would like, but the slot position may be my favorite on the Cowboys, outside of running back. I was hoping for a follow-up performance from Beasley to his breakout 2016 season when he hauled in 75 catches for 833 yards, but boy was I wrong. Beasley didn’t even muster 400 yards last season and only caught 39 balls. You can’t blame it on injury either because he appeared in 15 games. Bryant being healthy and on the field all season took away some of those targets and receptions, but it’s more like 2017 was an outlier than what we should expect. I like Beasley to bounce back because the Cowboys addressed receiver in the draft. I will cover that at the end though.


Tight End

Jason Witten will not be lining up as a tight end for the Cowboys this season, which seems odd to say. He leaves behind a very young and inexperienced group of tight ends. It will be interesting to see who separates themselves from the others. Keep in mind that Witten has  been a TE1 in previous seasons, but isn't a plug and play guy either.

The Cowboys added a TE during the draft, but I am excited to see if Rico Gathers can become a contributor. The former Baylor basketball star decided to pursue football instead. He has yet to appear in a game, but that could change this year. He is extremely athletic and will be a big target for Prescott. More than likely Gathers will profile as your basic NFL tight end that can block and run decent routes, but as he continues to grow as a football player, he could become much more.

If he is able to block well, then Gathers could be the one to really step up this season. The Cowboys will be running the ball a lot and will need a tight end who is capable of helping in that aspect. The more Gathers is on the field, the more trust he earns from the coaching staff. The more trust he earns now leads to a bigger role in 2019. I would go running to grab Gathers as a TE for your starting lineup this season. If you have extra space, grab him and see what happens. He could be a steal in a couple years.



In fantasy football, you want defensive linemen that do one thing really well, and that’s rack up sacks. Anything else they offer is only a bonus. Demarcus Lawrence finally put together the season Dallas had been hoping for. After missing chunks of his first couple of seasons, Lawrence finally found his way onto the field for all 16 games in 2017 and racked up 14.5 sacks.

Lawrence started the season hot by recording tackles in his first seven games. If you go back and watch tape of the Cowboys this season, you could see that Lawrence had a shot at 20 sacks on the season. He is such a high-energy, high-motor player that he would find himself running right by the quarterback. This guy will be one of the top defensive lineman taken in IDP leagues this season and rightfully so. If he can stay healthy and out of trouble, he will be one of the best lineman in the game for the next several years.


Draft Recap

The Cowboys biggest weapon was added in Round 3 when they drafted receiver Michael Gallup out of Colorado State. I was a huge fan of D.J. Moore heading into this draft and I thought for sure the Cowboys would take him, but they address a different position in the first round. Even though the depth isn't the best, the Cowboys certainly have enough of it and Gallup could be worked along slowly. Terrence Williams will likely split time on the outside with Gallup.

First-round pick Leighton Vander Esch could turn into a star for the Cowboys. He was one of my favorite IDPs heading into the draft. Year one could be very productive as well with injury concerns around Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith. If either of those guys are not healthy, Vander Esch could step in and steal a ton of tackles. Keep an eye on him in your drafts.

The Cowboys also decided to address the offensive line again in the second round by selecting Connor Williams out of Texas. The offensive line had some inconsistent play last season and it showed with Prescott's performance. Williams played tackle at Texas, but it sounds like he could shift inside for the time being.

Dalton Schultz was drafted in the fourth round out of Stanford and played for an offense that was very run heavy. This will benefit Schultz greatly and will offer him a huge advantage to making it onto the field. Even if that happens with Schultz, I mentioned it above, the Cowboys will be a run heavy offense. I don't see Schultz getting a lot of targets. When he is on the field, he will be blocking, not receiving.

I expect the defense to be improved but I expect the offense to get back to it's 2016 form again. The Cowboys could have made some more popular picks, but they made picks to strengthen their team. I found it to be a successful draft.


More 2018 Dynasty League Strategy