Another year, another disappointment from the Dallas Cowboys for fans and owner Jerry Jones. Despite an impressive 12-5 record in the 2021 NFL season, “America’s Team” lost in the opening round of the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers. It was their fourth playoff appearance in the last 10 years that failed to result in a conference championship appearance at the least. In fact, the franchise hasn’t achieved that feat since 1995 which was also the last time they won the Super Bowl.
Jerry Jones has proven time and time again that he is willing to spend to win a Super Bowl but will one of the most powerful owners in NFL history reach his goal this year? No doubt the Cowboys roster does boast plenty of talent on both sides of the ball so while Jones may not hoist the trophy this year, his team can certainly help you do so in your league!
Leave Your Fantasy Football Draft With This Player
CeeDee Lamb, WR
There is plenty of risk here but Lamb’s floor is too high for those risks to scare you away from him completely. In 16 games last year, Lamb only saw 10 targets or more in four of them. However, with Amari Cooper now gone, that number is fully expected to swing the other way. It’s also important to note that he scored double-digit points in every game but one in which he had six or more targets.
To reach WR1 levels (typically), the player has to demand a target share of roughly 25%. Lamb finished last year at 20%. With the aforementioned Cooper now in Cleveland, Michael Gallup’s status still uncertain coming off a torn ACL, and James Washington out until at least Week 5, Lamb is locked in for a massive amount of targets through nearly all of the first half of the season.
Granted, this does bring along legitimate concern about his ability to overcome the amount of increased attention he’ll bring. This is where personal opinion comes into play but Lamb has excellent route running ability and quickness that should allow him to find separation from even the tightest of coverages. At worst, he looks like a solid WR2 with real potential to finish among the top-ranked receivers by the season’s end.
Rookie Fantasy Football Difference Maker
Jalen Tolbert, WR
I will be the first to admit that I was not impressed with the Cowboys selection of the South Alabama wideout in the third round. However, he has seemingly proved me completely wrong there. Happens to everyone, right?
With the previous injury concerns regarding Michael Gallup and James Washington, it’s between Tolbert and veteran Cedrick Wilson for the second receiver spot in an offense that loves to air it out. Quarterback Dak Prescott attempted 4.8 deep attempts (further than 20 yards) which is more than Patrick Mahomes. This is particularly good news for Tolbert who excels in finding space deep down the field.
As a team, the Cowboys threw for over 4,900 yards and 40 touchdowns last year so even if the worst-case scenario does happen for Tolbert and he winds up as the third receiver on this team, his fantasy relevance cannot be denied. Tolbert is likely not a draftable receiver as there is a little too much uncertainty surrounding his role but he is certainly a name to keep an eye on when it comes to the waiver wire early in the season.
Potential Fantasy Football Breakout Player
Dalton Schultz, TE
While some may call this a stretch as a breakout player, I think this will come more as a career-defining breakout rather than fantasy. Watchful fantasy players already know that Schultz has established himself as one of the more dependable tight end options in the game but more casual fans would be surprised at just how much that statement rings true.
In the last two seasons, Schultz trails only Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and Travis Kelce in points scored at the tight end position. You read that right, Schultz has proved more dependable than even Rob Gronkowski over the last few years.
If you haven’t caught on yet, any pass catcher in the Dallas offense is going to benefit from Amari Cooper’s departure and a rash of injuries that has plagued the receiver room. Schultz’s current ADP is placing him as the sixth-best tight end in fantasy football this year. Given his proven track record and a stable quarterback situation, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that Schultz could finish this season as a top three tight end.
Fantasy Football Bold Prediction
Tony Pollard And Ezekiel Elliott Will Finish As Top-15 Running Backs
These are bold takes for a reason. Having one running back finish as a top-15 performer at their position is impressive enough, let alone two. Now it should be pointed out that no one should ever cheer for a player getting hurt but that also doesn’t mean preparing for it is a bad strategy. Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t missed an extended period of time since his sophomore season in the NFL in 2017. However, he ranks behind only Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram in active players with the most carries. That is not sustainable.
Pollard was one of the most productive running backs in the league last year, believe it or not, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. He also finished fourth in yards after contact per attempt (essentially how far did you run after making first contact) behind Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor, and surprisingly Rashaad Penny. All this to say, Pollard has usage that the Cowboys would be dumb not to use.
Should they utilize Ezekiel Elliott as a short-yardage back and touchdown vulture while Pollard helps drive the offense down the field to that point, it’s entirely possible, if not likely, both land in the top-15 at the running back position.
Let’s consider the other possibility that the Cowboys lean hard on Elliott as they have in the past. With 1,650 attempts, a major injury or a nagging one as well is bound to pop up so if Zeke were to miss a few games, that would give Pollard huge fantasy potential for at least a quarter of the season with Elliott primed to take over as soon as he comes back.
Ultimately, it is wise to be wary but optimistic of both Dallas Cowboys running backs heading into this 2022 NFL fantasy football season.