The Dallas Cowboys failed to ink quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term deal before the franchise tag deadline this offseason. That came on the heels of adding the best wide receiver in the draft in what is suddenly about to be a franchise with three top-flight wide receivers and no quarterbacks. But, that’s future Jerry Jones’ problem. Right now, they sit pat with CeeDee Lamb added to one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. He heads a group of Dallas Cowboys playmakers in this iteration of the fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust.
Sleeper – Blake Jarwin, Tight End (TE20, 172 overall)
At this point, I am not sure if Blake Jarwin is in the upper echelon of tight ends in terms of talent. However, a lack of talent hasn’t stopped tight ends from being fantasy relevant in the past. I’m looking at you, Vance McDonald. What does make for a relevant fantasy football tight end? Targets. Lots, and lots of targets. Blake Jarwin should end up with plenty of targets this season. Last year, he had 41 targets and was one of the more efficient tight ends in the league on those targets. He was top-ten in catch rate, yards per target, fantasy points per route run, and fantasy points per target.
The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of targets up for grabs in 2020. A lot. Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin and Jason Witten all combined for 190 targets. While you can chunk off 120 of those for CeeDee Lamb and a slightly increased volume for Michael Gallup, that still leaves 70 targets up for grabs. Last year, Blake Jarwin had 41 targets. If he gets 41 of the 70 targets that are up for grabs, he would end up with 82 targets… one fewer than Jason Witten (TE10) last season.
Breakout – CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver (WR43, 111 overall)
Generally, I go by the axiom that you can’t go broke betting against rookie pass catchers being fantasy relevant all season. That’s usually true, but being fantasy relevant all season isn’t what you’re looking for with rookie wide receivers. You’re looking for cheap investments that can turn into league winners, and rookie WRs present that in spades. Think about last season, when A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and Deebo Samuel all came on in the second half. What did they all have in common? They are all slippery monsters who utilize yards after the catch to do the hard part.
That fits CeeDee Lamb’s profile exactly. Like Odell Beckham back in the day, CDL threatens to take every single pass to the house. It makes sense that OBJ was Lamb’s #1 comparison in the predraft process. Any target could be the last target of the drive and end in a coordinated celebration.
And Lamb will have plenty of targets, the Dallas Cowboys have 190 of them up for grabs, and they can only go so far. The Cowboys aren’t an extremely top-heavy offense, with Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, Jason Witten, and Ezekiel Elliott all getting between 70 and 120 targets last season. Two of those guys are gone, and CeeDee Lamb could easily chunk off 100-120 targets this year. That potential volume alone should be enough for you to want to get him on your fantasy football squads.
Bust – Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back (RB3, 3 overall)
This is a spicy meatball, but Ezekiel Elliott is trying to do something that hasn’t happened for more than a decade. With the change in running back utilization, their profile has changed from big bangers who can absorb 20-25 defensive line hits to more agile backs who would prefer to hit the edge and get taken out by cornerbacks, instead. The change in running back utilization has also capped their carry count. Since 2010, no running back has three-straight seasons of at least 300 rush attempts. Ezekiel Elliott was on pace to break this trend when he ate a suspension two years ago, breaking his streak. That makes it more likely to me that he doesn’t pull it off this season, as big hit after big hit is a practice in tempting fate.
Ezekiel Elliott has over 300 carries in two-straight seasons, and given that nobody has done that in three-straight for over ten years, I’m betting against him making it through the season. The good news is that it’s a free bet… He’s a player that I’m not drafting because the chance of him hurting me is so high. Think about all the times you don’t get burned by fire; it’s kind of like that.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Zeke will be great when he plays, I just think he’s missing a chunk of the season, given the history here. With this one, I’m more than willing to look stupid until I don’t look so dumb anymore, but I’m taking him forth out of the big three, and in a PPR or three-wide receiver league, I’m taking Michael Thomas over him as well. He and Dalvin Cook are similar in my eyes: still first-round talents, but injury questions could derail their season.