Fact or Fiction- Dallas Cowboys Edition

One of the most analyzed, fantasized, and scrutinized teams in the NFL is the Dallas Cowboys.  Self-branded as “America’s Team” the Cowboys try to capitalize on the success of the early 90’s almost 25 years after their last Super Bowl victory.  

Anywhere you go in the country you will find Cowboys fans talking up their team and making bold predictions.  I am here to separate the fantasy from the reality. In the end, subway talk about Dak Prescott taking his team to the “Promised Land” doesn’t put cash in our pockets.  

Lets take a look at a few predictions for Dallas in the 2019 season.

Fact or Fiction-

Amari Cooper can sustain success and return value on draft day

Amari Cooper is one of the most frustrating wide receiver options on draft day.  After a “breakout” rookie season in 2015 (boasting 72 receptions, 1,070 yards, and 6 touchdowns) he never seemed to take the step into stardom that fantasy players always imagined.  This came to a head in 2017 where he caught less that 50 balls for 680 yards while bringing in only half of his targets.  

In November, Cooper was traded to the Cowboys and made an immediate impact.  He brought his catch rate up to 69.7% over the final 9 games and caught 53 balls for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns.  That puts him on a 16 game pace for 94 catches, 1,289 yards, and 11 touchdowns.  If Cooper played the whole season with the Cowboys he would be ranked 8 among wideouts, behind Adam Thielen and ahead of Mike Evans and JuJu Smith-Schuster. 

It is worth noting, however, Cooper’s best week came in week 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles where he caught 10 balls for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cooper had 18% of his catches as a Cowboy, 30% of his yardage, and HALF of his touchdowns IN ONE GAME. Remove that game and his season stats plummet to 86 receptions, 1,016 yards, and 6 touchdowns.  That would total 180.6 points in a half PPR landing him at at wide receiver 17, which is EXACTLY the spot where he landed in a full 2018 campaign.

Amari Cooper is currently going in drafts as wide receiver 13- as the eighth pick in the third round.  Technically, yes, he would return value at his current ADP if you believe the upside of his actual 2018 Dallas Cowboys stats.  However, if you see his inconsistent play as a liability, as I do, you are going to pass on Cooper in 2019.  After all, during weeks 14 and 15, during fantasy playoffs, Cooper TOTALED only 52 yards on 8 grabs with 0 touchdowns.  

I will once again let the COOP be someone else’s problem in 2019.  I’m calling this one FICTION.

Fact or Fiction-

Dak Prescott is QB to target in 2019

Dak Prescott came in with 285.7 fantasy points in 2019.  That put him at 10 behind Russell Wilson and ahead of Phillip Rivers.  That is near the bottom of QB1 range, just 3.1 points ahead of the (broken) Cam Newton.  In fact, between Dak Prescott at 10 and Tom Brady at 14 is only 5.3 fantasy points.  Take away one of Dak’s 6 rushing touchdowns and he falls out of this range and into the land of fantasy backups.

Let’s take a look at his splits before and after adding his “favorite” new target Amari Cooper.  In weeks 1-7 Dak Prescott averaged 202 yards passing per game, 1.14 touchdowns, and .57 interceptions with a 87.4 passer rating.

Overall, those numbers average out to 16 points per week before Amari Cooper’s arrival, a season total of 256 points, or QB 16 between Mitch Trubisky and Eli Manning.  

After Cooper was added to the Dallas receiver corps, Dak’s stats rose to 274 yards per game, 1.75 touchdowns, and .5 interceptions.  He boasted a 103.0 passer rating during that stretch.  

Overall, that averages out to about 19.3 points per game or 308.6 point during a 16 game season.  That would land Dak QB 8 on the season, just two spots ahead of where he landed in 2018. And, again, if you take away just two of his scrambling touchdowns from 2018 (which we have reason to assume his rushing attempts will regress) he would fall back down to QB 10, where he finished the 2019 season.  

But what about Dak Prescott’s rushing upside? He has shown mobility and found the end zone 18 times in his first 3 NFL season.  He has also averaged 315 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns every year.

With the addition of Cooper and a potent passing attack Dak has become more of a pocket quarterback.  On the ground in weeks 1-7 he averaged 5.7 carries for 33.7 yards per game.  After the addition of Cooper, he averaged only 3.9 rushing attempts for 7.7 yards.  Over 16 games that is a difference of -29 rushes and -416 yards.  

Dak has upside and is a young quarterback still learning the league.  The Dallas team as a whole is better now than the beginning of 2018.  Those claiming the inevitable ascendance of Prescott are, statistically speaking, wrong. 

At this point you would think I am down on Dak Prescott in 2019, HOWEVER, at QB 18 you should take Dak in every league you can. He currently sits 11.11 between Delanie Walker and the Browns’ defense. I do believe he takes a small step forward as a passer and can sustain numbers as a fantasy starter. He will be a value based solely on his cost. I love taking quarterbacks late in drafts, and I will be calling this one a FACT.

Fact or Fiction-

Ezekiel Elliott should be considered for the #1 pick in every draft

Fact.

Back when Dallas had a weak passing offense in weeks 1-7 Elliott averaged 88.4 yards rushing and 3.6 receptions for 25 yards.  He also added .6 touchdowns a game in scoring.  That is a pace for 1,815 total yards, 57 receptions, and 11 touchdowns.

Weeks 8-15 Zeke averaged 21.5 rushes for 101.9 yards on the ground, 6.5 receptions for 49 yards, and .6 touchdowns a game.  Over 16 games thats would rack up 2,414 yards, 104 receptions, and 10 touchdowns.    

When the pass offense of this Cowboys team improves Zeke is a beneficiary.  He will remain a safe top 3 running back in 2019.

TAKEAWAYS

I thought I started this article to trash on Dak Prescott and found out that he is much more valuable than his ADP would suggest.  He can be at least 8 spots higher on the quarterback rankings.  Players like me who like to wait at the quarterback position can find some late round gold.

As far as Cooper is concerned, please heed my warning and stay away.  The perennial disappointment is slated for another year where every game is boom or bust.  He makes this offense better JUST BY BEING ON THE FIELD but he will not pay out in most fantasy leagues.  After all, in week 14-16 (fantasy playoff time) Amari Cooper offered just 4.3 receptions for 27.7 yards and couldn’t find the end zone.  His yardage totals during those three weeks were 32, 20, and 31 yards.  One of those games was a shutout- the 23-0 loss to Indy in week 13.  The other two, however, were big wins for Dallas- a 27-20 win against Tampa and a 36-35 shootout against the Giants.  Cooper has the ability to shine an disappear in any given week, and at 3.08 I will be looking for solid production from the likes of AJ Green, Julian Edelman, or even Robert Woods.  

Zeke is still really good.   

The rest is still up to position battle, however Gallup caught only 48.5% of his balls last season.  Maybe journeyman Allen Hurns can step up and add to his 35 targets with some of Cole Beasley’s vacated 95.  Randall Cobb is a veteran addition that the community is sleeping on. He is falling off of draft boards and can be a waiver addition in most leagues (he is currently owned in 14% of ESPN leagues. Jeff Swaim caught 81.3% and could also look to improve from Beasley’s vacated role as the slot receiver.  I don’t see much outside of sleeper value from the rest of the Cowboys.  

As always, you can email me directly using the link on our homepage. Please check YouTube for our regular content. You should subscribe there and drop your email below to be added to our mailing list.

We answer all questions and are focusing on a more interactive show for the 2019 season, which includes our Listener League. Watch and comment on any YouTube video for a chance to join the fun!

Published by i80sportsbob

Bob Ventimiglia may be known here for over-opinionated rants and intermittent head-shaving, but he has worked full time as a freelance trumpet player and music teacher in the NY/NJ area for the last twelve years. ​ Bob attended Montclair State University and is a graduate of the John J. Cali School of Music. At MSU he earned his Bachelors Degree in Music and now works as a Middle School band director. ​ Since college, Bob has performed regularly as an ensemble member and as a soloist with the Society of Musical Arts Orchestra, the August Symphony Orchestra, the Swingtones, the Clifton Community Band, and the Bloomfield Civic Band. He performs regularly during musicals, special events, holiday and church celebrations, and as a member of various brass groups, pit bands, orchestras, and operas. He has also worked as a guest performer with many NY/NJ area performance groups. ​ Now you can hear him give sports advice on both i80 Sports’ major shows- covering MLS and NFL. He is an accomplished SportsBook aficionado and has multiple NFL Fantasy Football Championships.

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