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IDP Fantasy Forecast: 2021 Dallas Cowboys

What will the 2021 season hold for Cowboys Defenders? @Dadynastydad gives you the scoop on who to be watching this season.

The Dallas Cowboys defense was not very good last season. They gave up the fifth-most points per game in the league (29.6). They also gave up the second-most in rushing yards per game (158.8). Despite this, the ‘Boys had some good production out of a few players in terms of IDP scoring. America’s team now has a defense full of young talent that is about to cause a lot of competition. Even though they will not be the best defense in the division, they should be well improved. These are the IDP players you should be keeping an eye on for the Dallas Cowboys.


Micah Parsons

Credit: 247sports

The Cowboys snagged what could be the best defensive player in the 2021 NFL draft in Micah Parsons. At Penn State, he put up big numbers in 2019, the last year he played. As a sophomore, he tallied 109 total tackles and 14 of which were for a loss. He also had five sacks, four forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery that year. He missed 2020 because of COVID but is ready to put in work at the next level in 2021.

Parsons has already been impressing all the coaches this offseason with his ability to play all over the field. Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn has stated he will have Parsons playing the Mike linebacker position and coming off the edge as well. Quinn believes Parsons will be a great playmaker no matter where he lines up. The hype is real, Parsons has the potential to be a superstar. Look for him to play a lot of snaps early, as the coaching staff in Dallas is going to put him to the test.

Keanu Neal

Credit: Pro-Football-Reference

Coach Dan Quinn has also said that he wants to have Neal in as a linebacker most downs. Neal will be another good run stuffer coming into the box. He also has the coverage skills to cover a tight end or running back. Never mind the fact that he has four seasons of 100+ tackles or that he is good in coverage. The reason why Neal will be relevant this season is because he is listed as a LB/DB hybrid player in a lot of settings. If Quinn does play him at the role stated above, Neal will be a big play if you can slide him into a DB slot on your roster.

Jaylon Smith

Credit: Dallas Cowboys

Last season Jaylon did not look very good on the field, but if you were only looking at his stats, he looked great. He was a top-10 IDP player last year as he put up a lot of points. Last season he put up a career high of 154 tackles. He tallied two forced fumbles, five tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.

Unfortunately, he put out a tweet that said to watch the tape. Well, I did, and it was not good. Hopefully, it was more of the system he was in because he very well could be on the hot seat with Parson coming in. With that said, Dan Quinn stated that he does want to keep more of the 3-4 or nickel look. So, Smith could still have a significant role if he could manage to bounce back from a rough season. The time to sell Smith would have been before the draft, but if you have a share of him, I would hold. You have to hope for better days from Smith. He has shown promise in the past and maybe he can strive in this new system. Either way, I would stay away from buying a share of Jaylon Smith for now.

Leighton Vander Esch

Three years ago LVE looked to be one of the leagues best linebackers, making the Pro Bowl after only starting 11 games. Unfortunately, in the last two seasons he has not been on the field long enough to make that big of a difference. He has missed a total of 13 full games in the last two seasons. The best ability is availability and this guy cannot seem to stay available on a consistent basis.

Jerry Jones did not pick up Vander Esch’s fifth-year option, but also stated he did want to keep him. Basically, Jones wants to keep him, but not at the nine million-dollar price tag the fifth year is going to cost him. Vander Esch is going to start the season with a big role most likely. He has already been impressing the coaching staff this offseason. When he did play last year, he looked lost in Mike Nolan’s system. Quinn may be able to help him strive in this new system he is bringing.

Vander Esch has a ton of question marks surrounding him. Can he stay healthy for an entire season? Can he up his play from last season? If he plays poorly, will he be replaced by one of the rookies? Will he stay in Dallas after this season? Dynasty owners can only hope that he can bounce back from his injury riddled career and poor performance last season under Nolan. Until he proves he can stay healthy, I would stray away from giving any assets up for Vander Esch.

Defensive Lineman

DeMarcus Lawrence

Credit: Insidethestar

Though he had a mediocre season in 2020, he still was a top-15 defensive lineman and a top-10 defensive end in most IDP settings. Lawrence is going into the 2021 season at 29 years old and still playing at a high level. He has put-up double-digit tackles for loss in four straight years. But he has not put up the sack numbers we would like to see in the last two years. That said, bringing in the big bodied defensive lineman this offseason to fill the gaps should help those numbers rise. He may not be a top-10 IDP player, but he will be a solid start at the defensive line position for your squad.

Defensive Backs

Donovan Wilson

Credit: Pro-Football-Reference

Wilson only played 11 games last season (starting only 10) and scored doubled digits in eight of them. Going into the 2021 season, he is slated to be the starting strong safety for the Dallas Cowboys. He will have competition, but he played well despite the rest of the team looking like they did not want to be on the field. If Wilson would have started all 16 games last year, his numbers were on par with being a top-5 defensive back. If you can get a share, I would buy now because this season may be a big one for Wilson.

Trevon Diggs

Credit: Fansedge

Even as a rookie in a bad defense, Diggs looked good last season. He played extremely aggressive which did burn him at times but helped him with his fantasy value. He had 58 tackles with one of those being for a loss and one being a sack.

Diggs missed four games last season and still finished as the eleventh-best cornerback in most IDP settings. As a rookie in a bad scheme, I would say that is fairly good. He tallied three picks and 14 passes defended. The former receiver has a nose for the ball. If your league requires you to roster a corner, keep an eye out for this kid. He is worth a stash in deep leagues, even if they do not require corners.


Even though the Dallas Cowboys did not have a good defense in 2020, multiple players showed promise heading into 2021. With newly acquired defensive coordinator Quinn coming into Dallas, expectations for a better season is inevitable. Dallas may not have the best defense in the league, but they will have players that will help your dynasty team this year.

Make sure you subscribe to the #NerdHerd, where you get exclusive content. The Dynasty Nerds app has launched in the Apple store, which will bring your fantasy football game to the next level. Click here for a free trial of the DynastyGM. You can also follow me on twitter @DaDynastyDad for more Dallas Cowboy and Fantasy football related topics.

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