Metrics that Matter: Dak Prescott's 2018 stock - Scott Barrett, Pro Football Focus
PFF looks at Prescott's first two years from a fantasy perspective, and comes away with some interesting findings.
When Elliott missed time last year, Prescott averaged only 13.8 fantasy points per game. When he was on the field, Prescott averaged 19.6 fantasy points per game (which would have ranked fifth-best). Over the past two seasons combined (if including the postseason but removing a meaningless Week 17 game where Prescott played on only 15 snaps), Prescott averaged 20.0 fantasy points per game when Elliott was on the field. This would rank behind only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers over this span. As alluded to here, Elliott’s absence especially hurt Prescott on play-action passes (which make up a significant bulk of his fantasy scoring) and without Elliott in the lineup defenses focused more on Prescott and the passing attack, leading to reduced efficiency.
Over the past two seasons, among all quarterbacks with at least 500 dropbacks, Prescott trails only Rodgers in fantasy points per dropback (0.54 to 0.55). For perspective, Russell Wilson averages 1.8 more fantasy points per game than Prescott over this stretch, but if Prescott averaged the same amount of dropbacks per game as Wilson, he’d average 1.9 more fantasy points per game than Wilson.
The Cowboys know that it's smart to Feed Zeke on 3rd and 4th down with a yard to go. pic.twitter.com/q6LrEiYF1G— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 13, 2018
Former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin on the Cowboys’ current receiving corps:
Michael Irvin: “We’ve all been waiting for Terrence Williams to step out and become that number one receiver. When you have such an alpha male in Dez Bryant, other guys’ talents don’t rush to the forefront. Without Dez, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. Somebody needs to raise their hand and step up even if everybody’s talking about winning by committee. You hope that within the committee, everyone’s going to be looking to be the number one.
”I think we need to go back to getting Cole Beasley involved — because a couple years ago when we had our best year — Cole was a huge part of that team.”
The quantity over quality strategy of replacing Dez Bryant - Staff, SportsDay
SportsDay’s Kevin Sherrington doesn’t see big problems for the offense, even without Dez Bryant.
Sherrington: “Quoting my colleague, Rick Gosselin, the NFL has moved away from the idea that you need a singular type WR. Lots of multiple receiver sets these days. What’s wrong with throwing to the open man? That’s what Dak Prescott did at Ole Miss. What people seem hesitant to realize, or refuse to acknowledge it, is that Dez did not draw much double coverage last year. He wasn’t their leading receiver the year before that. Cole Beasley was. And in that season, the Cowboys’ offense was fairly unstoppable. If they’ve got guys running good routes and getting open, and the running game is working as it should, I don’t see big problems for the offense. As I’ve said several times, the biggest issue, in my opinion, will be replacing Jason Witten. Nothing proven there at all. At least Allen Hurns has been a 1,000-yard WR in his career. None of the guys behind Witten has done much of anything.”
Mailbag: Gut feeling about WR group? - David Helman & Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com
Broaddus and Helman tackle a question about the wide receivers.
Q: What’s your gut telling you on these wide receivers? Will the ones who play during the regular season come from this group or is a late pickup or trade likely?
Bryan: They will ride with this group until proven wrong. If they have success it was a bold move. If they fail, we’re likely to see a new coaching staff and the front office making plans in the draft to correct the problem. I am leaning on giving this group a chance especially with Michael Gallup competing for a starting spot.
David: Barring injury, this is going to be the group. The Cowboys are sky high on these guys, and it’s going to be fun to see if they’re right or wrong.
What they're saying about the Cowboys' tight ends: 'Potential phenom' Rico Gathers is the wild card - Staff, SportsDay
There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Rico as he's either seen as a potential breakout guy or possible roster-cut. The Sports Day staff takes a look at each of the Cowboys four tight ends, including the enigma that is Gathers.
Jon Machota: Rico Gathers is the wild card. He could take a huge step this season or he could still be a ways away from contributing as an every down tight end. If he can become better in the other aspects of the game and the coaching staff feels more comfortable with him on the field, Gathers has the greatest upside of the group. He has the ability to be a big time weapon in the passing game.
In the wake of his retirement, Jason Witten says Cowboys will have to 'lean on' Geoff Swaim - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
It won't be flashy, but the veteran should take on the lead-blocking role for the Cowboys offense.
2018 outlook: Swaim's 399 career snaps, and his nine receptions for 94 yards, lead Cowboys tight ends. He'll be the favorite to start at tight end this fall following Witten's retirement to join ESPN's Monday Night Football team. Cowboys coaches and teammates laud Swaim's blocking. Keeping that consistent and clearing the way for Ezekiel Elliott will be Swaim's best bet to staying atop the depth chart. Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers and rookie Dalton Schultz round out the depth chart. Jarwin was a red-zone favorite for Prescott during OTAs; Gathers' 6-6 frame still excites coaches if he can pick up blocking schemes sufficiently; and Schultz could be Witten's long-term successor, coming from a pro-style system at Stanford. But for now, all will look to Swaim -- who will do his best to channel Witt's "consistent pursuit of something," he said -- to show them how it's done. Witten sees it working. "They're going to have to lean on Swaim to be able to kind of carry the workload," Witten said in May. "I think there is some upside to his ability. They really like him."
Cowboys' Blake Jarwin: Drawing praise from front office - RotoWire Staff, CBS Sports
Swaim may be the designated blocker and Rico may be the designated pass catcher, but it would be nice to have a tight end on the field that can do both. Could Blake Jarwin be that guy?
In the wake of Witten's retirement, it's Jarwin and not Rico Gathers (concussion/jaw) who's been drawing the most praise from the coaching staff and front office. Jarwin suited up for only one game as an undrafted rookie last year, and his college career -- 41 catches in 28 games at Oklahoma State -- doesn't hint at a player who's going to suddenly blossom as a standout pass catcher. The 23-year-old does fit the mold of recent Cowboys depth tight ends who were versatile enough to handle both blocking and receiving assignments without tipping the offense's hand with respect to run/pass play selection. Barring the addition of a veteran free-agent tight end, Jarwin has the opportunity to inherit a lot of snaps
Franchise tag update as the Monday deadline looms: #Lions DE Ziggy Ansah and #Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence are both expected to play on the tag this year, barring a significant turn of events, per sources. Important seasons coming for both pass-rushers.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 14, 2018
DeMarcus Lawrence, Ansah expected to play on tag - Staff, NFL.com
At Lawrence's current asking price, there was little chance a deal was going to be struck anyway.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported back in February that Lawrence’s team is seeking a deal of at least the $17 million price tag that Olivier Vernon got from the Giants two years ago. Vernon and Lawrence share the same agent -- David Canter.
Lawrence compiled 14.5 sacks in 2017, second-most in the NFL. The game-wrecking defensive end was an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year after earning 10.5 sacks in the first seven games of the season.
Meet the Cowboys' new offensive line coach - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota sheds some light on how Paul Alexander ended up in Dallas after the Bengals and Alexander agreed it was time to part ways in January.
When the Cowboys decided to move on from offensive line coach Frank Pollack around the same time, Alexander was hoping he'd get a chance to inherit one of the NFL's most talented position groups.
"In my lifetime," said Alexander, 58, "this is the best opportunity for a line coach that has ever opened in the National Football League."
Jason Garrett's brother, John, was on the Bengals' coaching staff for several years with Alexander. Bob Surace, Princeton's current head coach and Jason Garrett's center in college, was an assistant offensive line coach under Alexander for six years in Cincinnati.
Alexander knows the Cowboys' head coach very well.
When he finally got the call from Garrett, Alexander immediately recognized the number. He picked up the phone with a smile and said, "Coach Garrett, I was hoping you'd call me!"
Alexander said he flew to Dallas the next day. Within 24 hours he had the job.
Early Predictions For Training Camp MVP: "Keep an eye out for No. 51"- Staff, DallasCowboys.com
The staff writers shared their thoughts on what players might emerge as training camp standouts when the pads come on in Oxnard. Here's Spagnola's take.
Mickey Spagnola: This might be going out on a limb, but opportunity knocks for defensive tackle Jihad Ward. That’s right, the guy the Cowboys traded Ryan Switzer to the Raiders for during the draft. The 6-5, 290-pound defensive lineman will get a huge chance to earn the starting three-technique spot that will be vacated by the suspended David Irving for the first four games of the season. Ward will get first dibs on the spot, as he did during the OTAs and minicamp workouts with Irving absent. Now this was without pads, but he certainly caught everyone’s eye, especially Rod Marinelli with his quick first step. Of course, pads are everything, but watch out for Ward to be a huge mismatch player inside, a much better fit for the former defensive end who was playing in a 3-4 defense for Oakland. Plus, the third-year player is highly motivated to impress his new bosses in the third year of his four-year contract that is now void of any guaranteed money or signing bonus proration. Keep an eye out for No. 51.
VIDEO: Essilor Tale of the Tape: Jaylon Smith - DallasCowboys.com
Jaylon Smith and Bryan Broaddus walk through a play from 2017 against the Chargers by explaining “alignment, assignment, key and technique.” Perhaps the best video in the series yet.
The Most Disappointing Player on Every NFL Roster - Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
The Cowboys have made a strong effort to improve the depth on the offensive line and a big reason for that comes from a big disappointment last year.
OT Chaz Green
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL, but not every member is a standout. Chaz Green, for example, has been a total disappointment.
Dallas selected the Florida product in the third round of the 2015 draft. While he has been pushed down the depth chart by more talented players, Green has received his opportunities. He appeared in 14 games last season and even made four starts—with one of them being a complete disaster.
Green surrendered four sacks to Adrian Clayborn while filling in at left tackle against the Falcons.
Green didn't start another game after the Atlanta debacle.
While Green is strictly expected to provide depth on Dallas' vaunted offensive line, he's shown the results can be disappointing if he's called upon.
In case you missed it...
Is it too late for Chaz Green to earn a spot on the Cowboys 53-man roster? - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys
Did one bad game seal the fate of Chaz Green?
The Cowboys saw something in Green to make him their third-round pick in 2015. He’s a smart player who has a good feel for picking up blitzes and adjusting to stunts and twists. He gets off the ball quickly and showed solid footwork in college. And his combination of athleticism and strength gives the team the freedom to move him around the line, which they have already attempted to do.
But Green still has a lot of parts to his game that need work. His hand usage is really bad and at times it looked as if he was trying to block with his arms behind his back. Pass rushers just blew right by him. He’s not able to anchor down, square up, and jab at his opponent in order to keep him from barreling through. His 2017 performance exposed him as a complete liability.
But that was then. What will 2018 Green look like?
FanDuel Sportsbook Launch Marks Another US Betting Milestone - Brett Smiley, Sportshandle
When daily fantasy sites like FanDuel or DraftKings launched a few years ago, it was clear that their main purpose was to position themselves for the cash infusion expected to come with legalized sports betting. That day is now here.
The metamorphosis from daily fantasy to sports betting operator became complete on Saturday when the FanDuel Sportsbook launched at Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J. FanDuel will remain in the DFS business, but this new sports betting opportunity in the U.S. is much bigger with the vast majority of the market yet to be captured.
FanDuel beat fellow DFS giant DraftKings to the punch, but DraftKings is in the game too with a partnership in Atlantic City with Resorts Casino, which is expected to begin operations before football season.
Report: DraftKings Looking To Raise $200 Million At $1.5 Billion Valuation - Dustin Guker, Legalsportsreport.com
Some folks are going to get filthy rich as they pull even more money out of fans' pockets.
DraftKings is hoping it will soon have a cash infusion to compete with FanDuel in the realm of sports betting, and to start launching DraftKings Sportsbooks.
As first reported by Axios, the daily fantasy sports company is pitching to investors a new funding round of about $200 million. The company is hoping for a valuation at $1.5 billion.
It needs money to deal with the resurgent FanDuel: Just this week, FanDuel was officially acquired by European gaming company Paddy Power Betfair. The new combined US business — which includes a New Jersey online casino and an online horse betting site — is now called FanDuel Group.
NFLPA exec on legalized betting: 'Serious consequences' to privacy - David Purdum, ESPN
An executive for the NFLPA says he's concerned over the protection of athletes' privacy, data and public perception following the Supreme Court's decision to overrule a federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting. Wise words, but it looks like the NFLPA is also simply looking to position itself to get a piece of the pie too.
[Vice president of business and legal affairs for the NFLPA] Casey Schwab said that while athlete protection is the priority, he realizes that legal sports betting also presents potential opportunities for players. The current NFL gambling policy prohibits players from doing deals with entities affiliated with gambling. The players' association has looked at potential alternative opportunities, including using their biometric data as content for a subscription product for fans and bettors.
"I look at the landscape for commercial opportunities," Schwab said, "and I don't see a pot of gold."