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Targeting Players on Good Offenses: Cowboys (2022 Fantasy Football)

Jun 27, 2022
Dak Prescott

Recently, Andrew Erickson looked at the benefits of targeting players on good offenses. This can help your fantasy draft strategy. Let’s take a look at the Cowboys and profiles for the players to target on their offense.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Targeting Players on Good Offenses: Cowboys

DALLAS COWBOYS – MEAN ADP (80)

If I were to tell you that you could get the No. 2 perimeter WR in an offense that ranked first in the offensive pace of play last season as the WR66 off the board, you’d want that guy correct?

That player is rookie WR Jalen Tolbert.

I don’t anticipate the Cowboys rushing back Michael Gallup after a late-season torn ACL after they invested heavily in him during the offseason. That means Tolbert will have ample opportunity to hit the ground running.

The 6-foot-1 and 194-pound deep-ball specialist earned a career 31% dominator rating — top three in the class — factoring in a redshirt freshman season. Tolbert posted dominator ratings of 35%, 42% and 42% from his sophomore year onward. He torched defenses downfield as the nation’s leader in targets (99), catches (38) and receiving yards (1,402) on targets of 20-plus air yards.

Tolbert also boasts a 19-year-old breakout age.

If Tolbert can beat out James Washington — signed a one-year, $1.2M contract — in training camp, he could offer immediate value.

But I’ll admit that you can also just simply draft both CeeDee Lamb (WR6, Round 2) and Dalton Schultz (TE6, Round 6) are their respective ADPs. Neither of them has egregious prices considering the offensive environment they project to play in. Not to mention, Dallas opens the year versus Tampa and Cincinnati — two matchups that should be shootouts.

Cowboys Player Profiles

Dak Prescott (QB)
With their backs up against the salary cap, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t have an offseason to remember for anybody heavily invested in Dak Prescott‘s 2022 fantasy prospects. They gave up Amari Cooper and lost two key starting offensive pieces on the offensive line with La’el Collins and Connor Williams for little return.

They did re-sign Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup, but early reports on Gallup indicate it will be close whether he’s ready for Week 1 coming off the torn ACL. Dallas’ biggest move in free agency and the NFL Draft to combat their losses was signing former Steelers wide receiver James Washington, drafting Jalen Tolbert in Round 3 and selecting offensive tackle project Tyler Smith in Round 1.

With many other quarterbacks benefitting from better team off seasons, Prescott has fallen in my rankings well past his QB9 ADP making it less likely I draft him. He finished as the QB9 last year in points per game, and I’d argue his situation – aside from health – isn’t as ideal as it was a season ago. His rushing also hit career-low numbers in 2021.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
Ezekiel Elliott is coming off a down season where some of this could be related to the fact he dealt with a partially torn PCL for much of the season (since Week 4). The spliced-up workload and his declining effectiveness could result from the injury or his advancing age and the toll that the NFL has taken on him. Elliott has amassed 1,938 touches (22 per game) over his six-year career, never handling less than 268 touches in any season. Elliott should be viewed as an RB2 in many formats that could slowly dissolve into a high-end RB3 if Tony Pollard gets more run in 2022.

Tony Pollard (RB)
Tony Pollard is coming off a career-high in rushing attempts (130) and targets (46). Pollard was one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL. Last season he was fourth in yards after contact per attempt behind only Rashaad Penny, Nick Chubb, and Jonathan Taylor (minimum 100 carries, per PFF). He was also first in yards per route run at the position. Pollard offers stand-alone RB3 production as he was the RB30 in fantasy points per game last season. If anything happens to Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard has league-winning upside.

CeeDee Lamb (WR)
No more Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson can only spell great things for CeeDee Lamb in 2022. The biggest issue with Lamb was that he never was seeing the requisite target volume in an offense that had a surplus of playmakers.

Lamb boasted just an 18% target share last season – which ranked outside the top-30 among all pass-catchers.

But with the 8th-most vacated targets left to be distributed between Lamb, tight end Dalton Schultz, ACL-injury returning Michael Gallup, veteran James Washington and third-round rookie pick Jalen Tolbert, I’d bet Lamb crests at least a 20% target share in 2022. His 21% target rate per route run bested anybody in Dallas last season.

And that means more fantasy production will be on its way. Only once did Lamb fail to score double-digit fantasy points in a game where he commanded fewer than six targets in 2021.

Michael Gallup (WR)
Michael Gallup‘s late season injury will almost certainly hurt his chances of being available for Week 1, with some diagnoses saying the Cowboys WR won’t be ready until October.

The 2018 third-rounder averaged just 10.2 fantasy points per game in 2021 (47th), less than his 2020 season (10.8).

It \doesn’t help Gallup’s case either that the team re-signed tight end Dalton Schultz, who figures to compete for top targets with CeeDee Lamb. Third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert also figures to get plenty of reps in training camp with Gallup rehabbing.

Be careful to not overinvest in Gallup for fear that you’ll be wasting a roster spot for a player that falls into the fantasy WR3 with upside tier, that just doesn’t move the needle.

Jalen Tolbert (WR)
The Dallas Cowboys needed a No. 3 receiver and Jalen Tolbert fits the bill to a tee. The South Alabama product was a mega-producer in the small school college ranks.

The 6-foot-1 and 194-pound deep-ball specialist earned a career 31% dominator rating – top-three in the class – factoring in a redshirt freshman season. Tolbert posted dominator ratings of 35%, 42%, and 42% from his sophomore year onward. He torched defenses downfield as the nation’s leader in targets (99), catches (38), and receiving yards (1,402) on targets of 20-plus air yards.

Tolbert also boasts a 19-year-old breakout age – his player profile stacks up with some top wideouts from his class.

And although Tolbert doesn’t possess elite speed – 57th percentile 40-yard dash time – he still understands how to get open deep. He’s similar to Adam Thielen in that fashion.

If Tolbert can beat out James Washington – on a one-year $1.2M contract – in training camp, he could offer immediate value with Michael Gallup unlikely to be ready for Week 1 coming off a torn ACL.

He has big-play ability that should gel well with quarterback Dak Prescott.

Dalton Schultz (TE)
Coming off a stellar season as PFF’s sixth-highest-graded tight end (78.2), Dallas placed the franchise tag on Dalton Schultz off the career season and released veteran Blake Jarwin.

Big D’s No. 1 tight end wrapped up the 2021 season sixth in route participation (77%) and third in overall routes run (586). The highly-coveted role within the constrains of a high-powered offense ensures that Schultz will be in the back-end fantasy TE1 conversation for the third straight season.

Only Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, and Mark Andrews have scored more fantasy points at the tight end position since the start of 2020.

With Dak Prescott‘s trust firmly in hand and Amari Cooper out the door, it’s possible that Schultz builds off his ninth-ranked 16% target share entering Year 5.

 

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