2022 Fantasy Football Dallas Cowboys Preview

by Michael Tomlin
2022 Fantasy Football Dallas Cowboys Preview

Welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Football Dallas Cowboys Preview!

The Cowboys bring back six of their top-seven Fantasy Football players from a year ago. The biggest omission is Amari Cooper. Cooper has been Dak Prescott’s go-to receiver since arriving from the Raiders in 2018.

Gone are his 429 targets over his 56 games with the star on his helmet. So how will those nearly eight targets per game be reallocated?

Let’s get right into the 2022 Fantasy Football Dallas Cowboys preview.

All of the Average Draft Position (ADP) and Experts Consensus Rankings (ECR) are up to date as of June 13th.

2022 Fantasy Football Dallas Cowboys Preview

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Dak reached a peak as a Fantasy Football performer in 2019, finishing as the QB2. However, how many other Top-5 finishes would you guess he has had? That would be zero.

The main culprit? Prescott refuses to run anymore. Whether it is the ankle injury or his motivation to prove himself as a pocket passer, Dak has run progressively less since his second season in the league.

Last season, Prescott was 21st in the league in rushing… among quarterbacks. Sam Darnold had 32.4 more Fantasy Points on the ground than Dak. This is the point where the Dak apologists argue, “Well, 37 passing touchdowns!”

I won’t argue that he did not have a great year throwing touchdowns. I will argue that he had a 6.2% touchdown rate after never surpassing 5% in his career. (That doesn’t sound like a lot, but that would have been six fewer passing touchdowns last year, dropping him from QB7 to QB12).

How does this factor into the 2022 Fantasy Football Dallas Cowboys preview though? As I will dive into in the receivers’ section, Dak loses his favorite target, Amari Cooper. So, we have a quarterback who is one of the least running threats in the league, that is due to major touchdown regression, and lost his top receiver with no notable replacement.

Yet, Prescott is still being drafted at his finish of last season, QB7. I am not advocating that Dak will completely fall off the map and be beyond replacement level in a 2-QB league. I am saying that I think he is currently being drafted closer to his ceiling than his floor.

Running Backs

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The Dallas Cowboys’ backfield is one of the most divisive units in the league. The common narrative is that Ezekiel Elliott is over-paid and finished as a top running back so Tony Pollard should take over the lead role. I am here to tell you that people are sheep.

Zeke Elliott was not great last year… but ended up as the RB6 (he was drafted as RB5 for context). He also tore his PCL early in the year but fought through the pain to finish the season.

Prior to his knee injury, Zeke averaged 104 scrimmage yards and a touchdown per game. After his injury, he averaged 50 total yards and half a touchdown per game. It is not just the 17.8 half-PPR Fantasy Points Zeke was averaging pre-injury (which would have been RB3).

In the last 17 games that Zeke and Dak have both been healthy, Elliott has averaged 18.3 Fantasy Points per game. It is not just a small sample size either, as you can go with the same stipulations over the past three seasons and it is still 18.2 half-PPR Fantasy Points per game.

Everyone wants to be a scout and talk about his lack of burst or cutting, without factoring in the injury. I get it, Pollard has looked explosive. The problem with Pollard though is his ability to hold up in a lead role, running between the tackles.

If he can get in space, then watch out. But as the Cowboys’ offensive line has deteriorated, there is a lot of tough sledding up the middle.

So do not expect Zeke’s workload to diminish. That means you are getting the lead back that was the RB3 for the first third of the season against four playoff teams (and another that was the second-ranked defense) at RB19 in both ADP and ECR.

Wide Receivers

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As a Cowboys fan, this is now a troublesome group after heading into 2021 as the deepest unit in the league. Gone are Amari Cooper and the under-rated Cedrick Wilson. In their place are the ever-disappointing James Washington and third-round pick Jalen Tolbert.

To top it all off, Michael Gallup tore his ACL in Week 17 last year, meaning he will almost assuredly miss the beginning of the season. What that means is this will be the CeeDee Lamb show. For the purposes of the 2022 Fantasy Football Dallas Cowboys preview, this has two problems.

First, the price has been inflated in with Lamb. I am as big of a fan of his talent as anyone. However, he is WR6 by Fantasy Pros ECR and WR7 by ADP. Now that would not be too big of a deal if you truly think he has the potential to be the best player at the position, which leads us to problem number two: defensive key.

Lamb will be the highest priority on the field every play for the opposing defense. While he may have somewhat been a high priority already, you can not simply act like losing a route runner as precise as Cooper will not affect Lamb. It would help if Michael Gallup was full speed taking the top off the back end of the defense, but I doubt that will happen the first half of the year if at all.

In deeper or dynasty leagues, Washington or Tolbert should be worth a lottery ticket. The Cowboys’ offense has shown that it can sustain three options and one of them will be the second option for at least the beginning of the season.

Tight Ends

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Dalton Schultz returns under the franchise tag after a breakout campaign in 2021. Schultz hauled in 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns despite being the fourth option in the passing game after Lamb, Cooper, and the running backs.

As of this writing, he is sitting out OTA’s waiting on a contract extension, so keep an eye on that situation over the summer. Schultz does deserve it after showing significant increases in every receiving category from 2020 to 2021.

Schultz’s ADP is a little confusing, as he is currently TE8 after finishing as TE3 last season. I get that some guys are coming back from injury, but it has to be considered the number of vacated targets in this offense.

The Cowboys drafted Jake Ferguson, but he seems to be more of a long-term project should Schultz leave.

Final Verdict

There will probably be some regression with the overall offense in Dallas, but that should not discount their Fantasy Football prognostications.

They are the only team currently with a quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end being drafted/ranked in the Top-8 at the position. I am also of the belief that they have a Top-8 running back as well.

Check out the rest of our 2022 Fantasy Football Team Previews!

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