The Dallas Cowboys had another successful regular season that ultimately resulted in disappointment in the playoffs. Although the team is destined to bring in pass-catching reinforcements during the offseason, there might be a diamond in the rough on their current roster. Jake Ferguson had a relatively quiet rookie season but flashed enough potential in his limited action to prove that he can become a fantasy gem, if given the opportunity. Due to this, it is respectable to believe that the team could let Dalton Schultz walk in free agency this offseason, proving the opportunity for Ferguson to take the starting job in 2023.
For those unfamiliar with the young tight end, Ferguson was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth-round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He had a stellar collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin. He caught the attention of NFL scouts with his natural blocking skills. This coveted talent helped him beat veteran tight ends and emerge as the primary backup to Schultz. He showcased his abilities in his limited opportunities and was used primarily as a blocker on 74.5% of his offensive snaps in 2022. This is a critical skill for the team because Schultz has often been criticized in this department.
When provided the opportunity to produce, Ferguson surprised many with his athleticism and offensive skills during his rookie season. He showcased tremendous efficiency, catching 19 of his 22 targets for 174 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Although Schultz has emerged as the second option in the offense behind CeeDee Lamb over the last two seasons, he too was once an underwhelming prospect who ended up being a fourth-round pick in his draft class. Ferguson looks to be following in the footsteps of his potential predecessor. He has shown enough in his rookie campaign to prove to the team that he is a worthy replacement for the position if they choose to go in that direction.
Schultz just played the 2022 season on the franchise tag. Although this seemed like an already expensive investment at the time, his next contract could prove unaffordable for the team. Outside of Schultz, Dallas has an abundance of upcoming free agents to re-sign. This includes Tony Pollard, Terence Steele, Anthony Brown, Donavon Wilson, and Leighton Vander Esch. As stated previously, the team is also almost destined to bring in some new pass-catching weapons, which could significantly cut into the team’s budget. Due to this, it is apparent that it might be in the organization’s best interest to move on from Schultz and focus on bringing back other positions. Although the free agent class for wide receivers is considered underwhelming, the class boasts an abundance of tight end talent. Besides Schultz, this includes Evan Engram, Mike Gesicki, Juwan Johnson, Robert Tonyan, Austin Hooper, Hayden Hurst, Foster Moreau, and Irv Smith. This wide range of talent at the position could increase the price tags.
Although Schultz has been a focal part of the Dallas offense the last few seasons, it is respectable to question if his success was based more on setting rather than talent. He finished as the third-highest-scoring tight end in fantasy football in 2021. The only players to score more than him on the year were Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce. He followed up his breakout campaign with another top-ten finish at the position in 2022. He could have finished even higher if not for missing a few games due to injury. Although he had significantly more opportunities than Ferguson on the year, Ferguson had the second-highest yards after catch per reception on the team. The only player on the roster with a higher average was Tony Pollard. He’s considered one of the most electric players in the league with the ball in their hands.
Schultz has averaged 96.5 targets per season over the last two years, ranking toward the league’s top. If the team chooses not to bring back his services, there would be a significant amount of vacated targets available for the taking. The only other threat for targets at the tight end position on the team’s current roster is undrafted free agent Peyton Hendershot. Although Hendershot put up similar numbers to Ferguson in their rookie seasons, he is not the complete player that Ferguson is. If Ferguson were to receive similar opportunities to what Schultz has seen over the last few seasons, he would be able to finish top ten at the position and turn into an absolute steal in dynasty.
Dynasty Trade Value
The time is now to buy in on the services of Jake Ferguson before it is too late. His dynasty value will either boom or plummet following Schultz’s inevitable free-agent decision. If you believe the team is ready to head in a different direction, try trading a third-round pick for the young tight end. He can also be a sneaky throw-in on a separate trade if you can pull it off. Few young players in the league have as much potential to evolve into a fantasy monster at the position.
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