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2022 Fantasy Forecast: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are trying to get over they playoff hiccups with a strong offense, but will they score enough to overcome their defense? @DarthDbacks has projections for this highlight offense.

The Dallas Cowboys prepare for the 2022 season with one goal in mind beyond the Super Bowl. That goal is to win a playoff game. They return their same coaching staff from 2021, including Head Coach Mike McCarthy and Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore. The team went 12-5 and won the NFC East division. However, they lost in the Wild Card Round to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Dallas Cowboys was the first overall scoring offense in 2021 with 530 points. They led the NFL in yards with 6,919. They had only 20 turnovers. The team was second in passing yardage at 4,800 and third in passing touchdowns with 40. The Dallas Cowboys ranked ninth in rushing with 2,119 yards and 17th in rushing touchdowns with only 15. Overall, though, it was an excellent season for the Cowboys’ offense.

However, the team has undergone a ton of changes over the off-season. They traded star wide receiver Amari Cooper. They lost RT Collins to free agency. Now their LT Tyron Smith is out for the majority of the season. They’ll have to overcome those losses if they want to retain their title of the No.1 offense.

Quarterbacks

Dak Prescott

Prescott nearly won Comeback Player of the Year in 2021 after returning to play in 16 games following a devastating broken ankle in 2020. It was a great story. Prescott led the Cowboys to the playoffs but lost in the Wild Card round. However, it was clear that he was back. He’s still an elite quarterback. Prescott is a franchise quarterback well worth the contract. In his 16 starts last year, he threw for 4,449 yards on 68.8% passing (highest in career), 37 touchdowns, and ten interceptions. Multiple of those numbers were career highs. He averaged a healthy 278 yards per game while getting sacked 30 times. He didn’t rush much, with only 146 rushing yards and a touchdown. That should change to a degree this year.

Another year out from the injury should see Prescott return to his play before the injury. He’ll be more confident in his rushing and mobility. His overall play will rise as long as the Cowboys’ offensive line does their part. The Cowboys will continue to be reliant on his arm. My projections this year for Dak are high QB1 numbers. He will throw for 4,755 yards (65.2% completion rate), 35 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He’ll add in 60 rushing attempts for 249 yards, three touchdowns, and 12 fumbles. This equates to a 23.7 ppg in 6-point touchdown leagues. He’s a great quarterback for a dynasty roster that’s contending. Build around the 29-year-old quarterback.

The Rest

The Cowboys have decent quarterback depth this year behind Prescott. Cooper Rush returns, and he’s proven he’s a solid backup. He can cover a game or two and lead a team to victory. However, relying on him for a whole season might prove perilous. If Prescott gets hurt, there’s no quarterback on this team. I’d want to start in dynasty. Will Grier seems to be the No.3 quarterback. Just leave them on the waivers even in Superflex leagues.

Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott finally started to slow down in 2021 while battling a nagging knee injury. The sturdy running back finished as an RB1 while averaging 14.8 PPR ppg over 17 games. Regardless, it was clear that Zeke had lost a step. This was expected as he was nearing 1,500 rushes in his career. Now, he’s at 1,650 rushes, and the closer he gets to 2,000, the slower he will be. There are many reasons why running backs don’t last forever, and Zeke is no exception. However, Zeke still rushed for 1,002 yards on 237 attempts despite the issues last year. That’s a 4.2 average which was an increase from 2020. He added in ten touchdowns. Through the air, he saw 65 targets and caught 47 of them for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He got ahold of his fumble issues in 2020 and only fumbled once in 2021.

In 2022, Zeke aims to continue his potential Hall of Fame path while holding off Tony Pollard. Zeke is entering his age-27 season and will try to make the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career. Expect Zeke to get plenty of rushes and red zone opportunities playing with the Cowboys. He might be the best running back for driving the ball across the endzone line. He is one of the best at snagging the 2-point conversion as well. All signs point to Zeke continuing to be a threat for RB1 numbers. My projections for Elliott this year are 230 rushes, 966 yards, nine touchdowns, 49 targets, 36 receptions, and 247 yards with two touchdowns. He’ll add in two 2-point conversions and two fumbles. Over 17 games, this equals a 14.0 PPR ppg average. Solid numbers for a great back.

Tony Pollard

Pollard is back once again to serve as Zeke’s backup, even though Pollard has looked more dynamic out of the backfield in recent years. He’s set up to be the team’s do-it-all player in terms of rushing, receiving, and blocking. The former fourth-round pick had a breakout last year as the lightning part of the team’s backfield. Pollard averaged an elite 5.5 yards per attempt on his 130 rushes for 719 yards. He added in two touchdowns. Pollard was electric receiving the ball, too, with 39 catches on 46 targets for 337 yards. He fumbled twice. Pollard finished as the RB28 on the season with 10.8 PPR ppg.

This year, expect Pollard to be split out wide with Zeke on the field to get his speed on the offense. This will enable Pollard to get even more extremely fantasy-friendly targets in PPR leagues. This new usage makes him likely to put up RB2 numbers or at least very high-RB3 numbers every week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more receiving touchdowns. Pollard will have stand-alone value while being the No.1 handcuff in fantasy. Should Zeke get hurt, Pollard’s an absolute RB1 in his contract year. The 25-year-old running back is a great buy right now for contending NFL teams. My projections for the rising running back are 162 rushes for 826 yards, three touchdowns, 70 targets, 57 receptions, 468 yards, and three touchdowns with two fumbles. This is over 17 games where he averages an RB2 13.0 ppg in PPR.

The Rest

The Dallas Cowboys rushing game will revolve around feeding Elliott and using the electric Pollard. These two will likely get over 95% of the running back carries. This means that backups like Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis are not meant for your dynasty roster. If Pollard or Zeke gets hurt, perhaps Rico is worth a claim. Otherwise, these backs won’t do anything at all this season.

Wide Receivers

CeeDee Lamb

Lamb was drafted in 2020 to be the team’s future WR1, and that time is now. Amari Cooper is off the team, which means that Lamb will get all of the work, targets, and attention WR1s get. It’s up to him to rise to the occasion. He did lead the team in targets last year, thanks to playing in 16 games. He had 120 targets, 79 receptions, 1,102 yards, and six touchdowns, all career numbers for the young wideout. Lamb added in nine rushes for 76 yards too. The Pro Bowler is now entering his age-23 season with no safety net.

No other wide receiver will command the opposing defense’s attention on the Cowboys like Lamb. He better be ready for it. He’s a route technician who will help him dissect opposing teams. I fully expect Lamb to get rushing work once again, similar to the last two years. In this respect, I predict nine rushes for 72 yards and a touchdown. This goes with 142 targets, 94 receptions, 1,268 yards, 11 touchdowns, 222 return yards, and a fumble over 17 games. That equates to a 17.5 PPR average which is a WR1-tier finish for Lamb. Don’t be surprised when Lamb sets more career highs as Dak Prescott’s No.1 target. His buy window is shut as you’ll have to pay up to get him; he’s likely worth the price as he’s only 23 and not even hit his prime yet.

Michael Gallup

Gallup is in store for a potentially big season, provided he can finish his comeback from a torn ACL. The Dallas Cowboys will rely on Gallup after choosing him over Amari Cooper in the off-season. The Cowboys re-signed Gallup to a five-year deal worth $62.5 million while trading Cooper away. A lot will be riding on Gallup’s shoulders as he prepares for a career year. Last year, Gallup endured multiple injuries while playing in just nine games. He had just 62 targets, 35 receptions, 445 yards, and two touchdowns. That can’t repeat this year if he and the Cowboys want to make the playoffs.

Gallup will take over Amari Cooper’s role in this year’s offense as he seeks to make it back in time for Week 1 of the NFL season. Cooper’s 104 targets are up for grabs, and Gallup should get the lion’s share. He has a proven rapport with Prescott, already having two seasons over 800 yards and five touchdowns. Now, the 26-year-old wide receiver seeks to have his finest year yet as the deep threat for the Cowboys. I don’t see that happening due to the ACL recovery. My projections for Gallup are 105 targets, 60 receptions, 847 yards, and five touchdowns. This equates to a 12.5 PPR ppg. He’s a solid WR3 in dynasty, but don’t place too much responsibility on him. He is a good buy-low candidate right now.

Jalen Tolbert

Tolbert is a rookie wide receiver from South Alabama university. He was taken in the third round by the Dallas Cowboys. There’s a lot of pressure on the young wideout as he was chosen to be the WR3 in this explosive offense. If he fails to perform, it takes another key weapon from Mike McCarthy’s offense. Last year, Tolbert put up 82 receptions for 1,474 and eight touchdowns in his senior year. He has plenty of talent. PlayerProfiler comps him to a young Adam Thielen, which would be a huge boost for Dak and this team.

Ultimately, with James Washington being hurt, Tolbert will see plenty of targets. While Pollard will take some targets, Tolbert should still be the clear WR3 in this offense. He’s worth a second-round pick in dynasty as he will have plenty of upside should Gallup not return soon or get hurt. He’s also an excellent stash for year two, as he should break out with a full year under him. Ultimately, my predictions for him this year result in a so-so season, but one that establishes he belongs in the NFL. I see him getting 72 targets, 43 receptions, 527 yards, and four touchdowns over 17 games. This results in a seven ppg PPR average. Buy him now, especially if you’re rebuilding.

The Rest

The Cowboys have assembled mostly young depth for the team’s wide receiver position. James Washington is the veteran, but he’s out with a leg/foot injury for the foreseeable future. This means it’s up to Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko, and KaVontae Turpin to provide the depth at wide receiver. Each of these guys is a waiver wire player. They won’t play much aside from special teams or if an injury occurs to one of the Cowboys’ top-three wideouts. Perhaps Brown is the safest bet to do the most as the WR4, but honestly, you can ignore these guys until an injury arises.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz

Dalton Schultz had one of the most unexpected breakout years in recent memory, although I expected it. I saw the writing on the wall in the 2020 season when Schultz put up solid numbers in Blake Jarwin’s absence. The Cowboys chose to Franchise Tag Schultz instead of re-signing him to a long-term deal. This sets up a “prove-it” year to show that he is now an elite receiving tight end. Likely, Schultz does prove it, and either gets paid by the Cowboys or another team. He finished last year as the TE3 in PPR with 12.3 ppg. He played in all 17 games. Dalton had 104 targets, 78 receptions, 808 yards, and eight touchdowns. Those are terrific numbers for a tight end.

Don’t be surprised if Schultz sees more targets with Cooper gone this year. The team isn’t going to stop using him as he proved to be a great chain mover and red zone target. I fully expect another TE1-tier year out of Schultz. He’s the second or third option in this pass-happy offense. That’s why I predict he has 115 targets, 86 receptions, and 885 yards with seven touchdowns this year. That equals a 12.9 PPR ppg average over 17 games. Buy him now if you’re a contender. He’s going to dominate. However, his long-term value is sketchy as he could go the Austin Hooper route and get paid to play way less. If he stays with the Cowboys, he’s a long-term TE1.

The Rest

The Cowboys’ backup tight ends are intriguing. Jake Ferguson is a rising rookie who could take over as the Cowboys’ No.1 tight end in year two should the team fail to re-sign Schultz. He’s a deep sleeper that wouldn’t be a bad waiver wire grab. Place him in your taxi and hope for the best. He’s got a good upside at breaking out as Schultz did. However, should Schultz re-sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys, that upside is mostly gone. He’ll get limited reps this year but is teasing good potential, like in the tweet below. Sean McKeon is the TE3 and should stay on the waiver wire all year.

Summary

The Dallas Cowboys will again have one of the best offenses in the NFL. They’ll be leaning on Prescott and Elliott to lead this team to an early playoff exit. The Cowboys will seek to incorporate Pollard into the receiving mix to get him on the field more often. This will help make up for the loss of Cooper as well.

However, the Cowboys will need to figure out their offensive line issues to truly have an elite offense. It’s still going to be an extremely fantasy-friendly team, even with Coach Mike McCarthy running the show alongside rising offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. The Dallas Cowboys will be a fun team to watch on offense this year. That is if you’re a Cowboys fan.

Do you want to become the best dynasty player you can be? Be sure to use my promo code “Darth” for 15% OFF your subscription to Dynasty Nerds! It makes it only three dollars or so! Connect with me on Twitter @DarthDbacks. I love to talk football, baseball, movies, shows, Star Wars, and Marvel, and interact with the fantasy football community. For more articles of mine, click here.

As always, May the Force be with You…

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