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ESPN projects CeeDee Lamb’s 2020 stats and fantasy value as WR3 in Mike McCarthy’s offense

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A realistic look at what CeeDee Lamb’s numbers could be.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Oklahoma vs Louisiana State Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

We are getting into July, and it is still a little difficult to fathom how CeeDee Lamb fell into the Cowboys’ lap this April. The Oklahoma product is expected to step right in and become a real threat on the Cowboys offense during his first season in the NFL.

Randall Cobb’s departure, combined with Lamb’s own talent, leaves the door wide open for Lamb to receive a good number of targets from quarterback Dak Prescott as a rookie alongside the pair of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. With Jason Witten also out of town, there are more than enough targets to be had.

Some are leaning on the very optimistic side by thinking that Lamb will top Cobb’s 55-catch, 828-yard 2019 season, while others are skeptical of the rookie making such a big impact in year-one. After all, it is not hard to see Cooper, Gallup, and Blake Jarwin receiving the bulk of Prescott’s targets.

ESPN has projected CeeDee Lamb’s 2020 season totals.

With football season seemingly creeping closer, many fans are putting their fantasy football cap on. Targets are especially valuable in PPR leagues, so many are curious what projections have to say about Lamb’s predicted totals this season.

ESPN has released their complete 2020 fantasy projections. In the ESPN Standard Scoring projections, Lamb is predicted to catch 51 passes for 667 yards and five touchdowns on 83 targets — the exact amount that Cobb received a season ago. The Oklahoma product ranks 56th among wide receivers in the projections.

Dallas selected Lamb with the 17th pick of April’s draft. The Oklahoma product is fresh off a dominant 2019 campaign, in which he averaged 14.3 yards per target, 4.0 yards per route run and 11.1 yards after the catch ‘ all of which were best in this year’s rookie class. Lamb is lean (198 pounds) but tall (6-foot-2) with solid speed (4.50 40-yard dash), as well as terrific separation and post-catch ability. Lamb is in and Randall Cobb out behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, and so, while being third in line will limit Lamb’s upside, note that all three 2019 Cowboys receivers were top 31 in fantasy points during 13 full weeks together. Add in Mike McCarthy’s history of heavy reliance on three-wide sets and Lamb could flirt with flex value. He is a worth a late-round pick.

A 667-yard, five-touchdown campaign in season one as a pro would be pretty solid for the former Oklahoma star. Expecting too much from Lamb is a little risky, especially considering how unusual this offseason has been. After all, he has yet to catch a single pass from Prescott.

As for the other two stud receivers on the Cowboys, ESPN projects Amari Cooper to be among the 13 best fantasy wideouts in the league. The projections see Cooper closer to a WR2 in fantasy than a bonafide WR1, but still sees him putting together a strong 2020 campaign — 75 catches, 1,066 yards, and seven scores.

Cooper re-signed with the Cowboys during the offseason and returns as Dak Prescott’s top target. In 2019, Cooper produced his fourth 1,000-yard season in five tries while setting career-best marks in receiving yards, touchdowns and fantasy points in his first full campaign with Dallas. Incredibly, Cooper has yet to finish a season higher than 10th in fantasy points but, in five seasons, he has managed to post four 1,000-yard seasons and three seasons in a row with seven-plus TDs. He also has finished among the top receivers in catch rate and YPT for the past two seasons. Cooper doesn’t get the same amount of targets of other top-end WRs, but the 26-year-old’s top-end talent — and Dallas’ high-scoring offense —secures his spot as a strong WR2.

Gallup, meanwhile, lands just inside the top-30 in ESPN’s Standard Scoring projections. While the Colorado State wideout is among the best WR2 in the NFL, he is likely better suited as a WR3 in fantasy.

Most would agree that Gallup is the Cowboys’ No. 2 wideout behind Amari Cooper, but it’s not as clear-cut as you might think. In 13 full games together last season, Gallup played on 44 more snaps and was targeted four more times than his counterpart. Both were top-10 fantasy receivers during those weeks. Gallup looks like the real deal following a breakout second season in which he posted a 66-1,107-6 receiving line and ranked ninth among wide receivers with a 16.8 YPR. The 24-year-old has solidified himself as one of Dak Prescott’s go-to targets and, even though his workload could drop slightly with CeeDee Lamb in the mix, he could make up for some of that with more usage near the goal line. He had only three end-zone targets last season. Consider Gallup as a borderline WR3.

Finally, Jarwin is projected to have his best career season in the NFL but still ranks outside the top-20 tight ends in fantasy heading into the upcoming season.

Jarwin enters his fourth NFL season as a relative unknown, but the 25-year-old is now atop the Dallas depth chart following Jason Witten’s departure. Jarwin has yet to post a top-25 fantasy campaign, but he showed what he can offer with a 7-119-3 receiving line in Week 17 of the 2018 season. He’s been efficient on 77 career targets, with a healthy 75% catch rate and 8.7 YPT. He’s unlikely to rise higher than fourth in line for targets, but Dallas’ high-scoring offense makes Jarwin worthy of a late-round flier.

The Cowboys have no shortage of weapons — which is good for actual football games that matter, but may hurt some of the fantasy value for each individual player. The passing offense is expected to take another jump with Mike McCarthy now in charge, and Prescott has no shortage of talent around him.