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The one “underrated” Cowboys player that could swing the NFC East championship in 2020

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Could one player really hold so much power?

Miami Dolphins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So the premise here is a Bleacher Report article titled: 8 Underrated NFL Players Who Can Swing Division Races in 2020. To pull this off you need to set at least some set of loose parameters to identify underrated players that fit the definition of potentially “swinging a division”. They do that in this manner:

First, an underrated player by our definition is someone who hasn’t made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team. Yet, said player must be capable of creating an impact large enough to potentially swing a division race. This means they must play for teams who didn’t win the division last season. Also, we’re not looking at players added to the roster this offseason because they weren’t with the team a season ago to be underappreciated when their squad wasn’t as good.

Fair enough. Plenty of candidates fit that. Narrowing it down to one for each division is the tricky part. For the NFC East, they narrowed it down to a Cowboys player. Essentially, it had to be a Cowboys player. It couldn’t be an Eagles player as they won the division and don’t qualify in the above definition. It was also very unlikely to be someone from New York or Washington as it’s hard to find anyone credible who thinks either of those two teams are ready to contend for the NFC East crown. That leaves the Cowboys roster.

The player they chose? Michael Gallup. That’s an excellent choice. For one thing, Gallup experienced explosive growth in 2019. His simple stat line indicates that growth.

2018 - 33 receptions, 507 yards, two TDs, 15.4 yards per reception

2019 - 66 receptions. 1,107 yards, six TDs, 16.8 yards per reception

With a 2019 stat line like that it’s hard to be underrated, but that can happen when you are sandwiched between Amari Cooper and veteran Randall Cobb as Gallup was last year. Not to mention playing with names like Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott on offense. There’s a chance to get lost in the shuffle in all that. Still, most Cowboys fans know Gallup’s worth and don’t underrate him.

This year, Gallup is mixed in with the same cast, except replace Randall Cobb with CeeDee Lamb. Given Lamb’s high profile in college and the shock of the Cowboys even being able to draft him at #17, Gallup is a little overshadowed once again.

But the Cowboys have plans for him and he could be a breakout star for the rest of the NFL observers. CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper could help by drawing the attention of defenses.

Lamb remains an important part of this equation. Cooper is obviously the team’s top receiving threat. The coaching staff, meanwhile, loves how it can use the rookie.

The coaching staff, meanwhile, loves how it can use the rookie.

“He has the ability to move around and create favorable matchups,” head coach Mike McCarthy said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence E. Hill Jr.

McCarthy’s point is important because it involves projection of utilization and how opponents will attempt to match the Cowboys’ impressive wide receiver corps.

Gallup isn’t just underappreciated on a national level. He’ll be overlooked by defenses that will roll coverage toward Cooper or worry about where Lamb lines up. The third-year target can quietly go about his business and make secondaries pay.

This is significant since all three of Dallas’ NFC West rivals finished among the bottom half of the league in pass defense last season.

By the end of 2020, Gallup could be the guy who leads the Cowboys and many of the important receiving categories.