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Fantasy preview: Which Cowboys players should you target in your fantasy draft, and when?

The Cowboys offer plenty of fantasy goodness this season, but when is the right time to pull the trigger?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are blessed with great players, and fans are excited about what could come from the 2020 season. With their potent offense there are plenty of weapons, and as a result it won’t just be Cowboys fans who will be pulling for certain players. The fantasy world will have a rooting interest if they have any Cowboys on their roster.

But which of the Cowboys players are smart players to go after? Today, we preview the Cowboys weapons and determine who’s fantasy worthy, and at what price.

Dak Prescott

And just like that, Dak Prescott is projected to be the third-highest scoring fantasy quarterback in the league this season. He trails only Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, who just so happen to be the no. 1 QB’s of the past two seasons respectively. The word is out on Dak, and for good reason. He already orchestrated the league’s top yardage offense last season, and he has two offensive coaches who could blow this offense up in a good way. He also has arguably the best wide receiving trio in the league. All these factors point to a huge season for Prescott. How can you not draft him?

Well, the short answer is - cost. Going after Prescott means you’re sacrificing a quality draft resource that could be used for someone else. It’s risky business to pay a high price for quarterbacks, considering the amount of turnover each year with new players moving into the top 10. Personally, I’m always on the look out for high-upside guys who somehow sneak under the radar. It’s worked well as it’s put both Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson on my roster in each of the last two seasons respectively (Note: I even got Dak for super cheap last year).

You shouldn’t rule him out completely if other quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Russell Wilson go at a higher draft cost. Then, Prescott suddenly starts becoming a very good value.

With so many weapons and a more aggressive offense on the horizon, Dak could end up being fantasy gold this season. I would still wait it out a bit when drafting a quarterback, but don’t hesitate to pull the trigger if the price is right. Dak’s a safe bet to be one of the best fantasy quarterbacks again this year.

Ezekiel Elliott

Every year, I always put together a little matrix to evaluate the running backs so I make sure I don’t overlook something obvious. With the criteria being talent, workload (total touches), strength of offense (points scored rank), and pass catching ability (for PPR/half-PPR leagues), I’m able to get a nice overview of what each player has to offer. Here are my top 10 running backs for 2020:

Other than the rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire (who has phenomenal upside despite being unproven in the NFL), Zeke checks off the most boxes. Even his lowest category, receptions, is pretty good.

If you like getting one of the top running backs, Elliott is the safe bet. He’s going to finish as one of the best running backs every season. There’s very little uncertainty about that. If you have a little more gamble in you, then maybe you wait a bit longer and go after Edwards-Helaire (that’s my plan).

Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb

We are grouping these guys together because they all have an influence on the other’s fantasy value. While the Cowboys offense will benefit from this reality, things could get a little tricky when it comes to fantasy.

When deciding which one of these guys to target, I like to employ a strategy I’ve used for selecting a New England running back in the past - get the guy who’s the cheapest. Using that approach would point in the direction of CeeDee Lamb, which might be the way to go. Let’s examine...

Amari Cooper is Amari Cooper. There’s a good chance he’ll finish in the top 15 or so wide receivers. And he’ll be the no. 1 target on one of the league’s best offenses. There are three issues I have with drafting Cooper. First, his average draft position is right around 12, so you’re likely not getting much value. Also, the Lamb factor could shake up the receiving targets, which could have a slight negative effect on Cooper. But the one that is the most scary is Cooper’s consistency.

Analytics enthusiast Jared Lese from Fantasy Pros wrote a nice piece on wide receiver consistency, and Cooper came out as having one of the higher coefficients of variation. This speaks to what many have said before that Cooper, while brilliant at times, can flat out disappear in games. And those disappearing acts will hurt your chances on those weeks.

Cooper is on the edge of being a high-risk/low-reward player. For that reason, I’m avoiding him unless he slides.

Then there is Gallup who is coming off a season where he finished in the top 25 in fantasy receivers. While he was a steal last year, his productive season now shows up in his draft position. Not only that, but it’s hard to say where he finishes in terms of fantasy points as he could go in either direction. The Lamb factor may have the biggest drain on his targets, but as we mentioned yesterday, maybe it’s Gallup that breaks out even more this season.

The guy with the greatest value is CeeDee Lamb. His average draft position is near 50, and if he even remotely comes close to helping achieve that “three-receiver with 1,000 yards” feat, he’ll end up being one of the steals of the draft. Sure, he’s a rookie, but we’ve seen some pretty impressive rookie WR seasons recently, and none of them are from players as talented as Lamb. He’s been buzzing plenty in camp, and it’s not inconceivable that he’s fast out of the gate and introduces himself to the NFL very quickly. If that happens, you’re going to want a piece of that.

One thing to consider when trying to decide which one of these players to go after is that reliable fantasy producers usually come from possession receivers on the outside or guys in the slot. Outside vertical threats are a little riskier. Keep that in mind when choosing which receivers you go after in your draft.

Blake Jarwin

Many people are excited about the new opportunity for the team’s up-and-coming pass catching tight end now that Jason Witten is out of the picture. Jarwin’s name has turned up here and there as a potential sleeper pick this season. While it should be a career-year for Jarwin, it’s hard to see him getting enough target shares to be fantasy relevant.

Fantasy is all about opportunity, and there is just too many mouths to feed in Dallas. Jarwin will be a great reality tight end that will bring us out of our chairs from time to time, but he won’t be consistent enough to make him an every week starter.

Greg Zuerlein

I won’t waste much time on kickers, because they’re as close to fantasy irrelevant as any position out there. It’s worth mentioning that Zuerlein is right in the mix with the kickers you should look to draft. The key to landing a good kicker (if there is such a thing) is to find a good reality kicker who plays for a high scoring offense. If Zuerlein in healthy, which all reports indicate he is, he checks off both boxes.

Defense

Every year, I get excited about the upside of the Cowboys defense, and ever year they let me down. Not this year, because I’m staying away from them. But I would be remiss to not mention that in 2011 when Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers defense allowed the most yards in the league, they finished with the third-best fantasy defense. Why? A great offense that created many opportunities for the defense. And by opportunities, I mean turnovers. Will this happen? Probably not, but it’s possible this defense ends up being better than some think, it just won’t be my fantasy team that finds out.