In under a week, the Dallas Cowboys will be heading to Oxnard, California, to begin training camp. That means preseason is on the horizon. With the 2022 season in view, fantasy football commissioners across the country are starting preparations to renew their leagues.
This time of the year is filled with fantasy draft guides, articles on who you should target, and research into the players that will win you the ever-elusive championship. This article is not a resource for your draft but a word of warning. Cowboys players are currently overvalued in fantasy, especially if you are drafting with other Dallas fans. Let these players be selected too early by the other members.
It would be wise to avoid most Dallas Cowboys players in your fantasy football drafts in 2022
If you are a Cowboys fan and fantasy football enthusiast, the following situation is all too common: you believe that a Dallas player is primed for a breakout season and is currently being undervalued, but right before he reaches the round where you would be comfortable taking him, another Cowboys fan selects him earlier than anything you have seen in mock drafts.
It is annoying but somewhat expected. If you enjoy watching a team play, then it is natural to invest in them through fantasy football. The result is that most Cowboys players will be overvalued and not worth drafting. For the most part, this actually holds true even if you are not playing with other Dallas fans. The 2022 Cowboys are simply not worth drafting in fantasy.
Let’s start with the most prized possession of this Cowboys team in fantasy, CeeDee Lamb. He is currently being drafted as the WR8 in fantasy, 19th overall. The issue is that he finished as the WR14 in fantasy last year. Obviously Amari Cooper’s 109 targets in 2021 will go elsewhere, but they will not all go to Lamb. Lamb’s relatively healthy season means that his 12.5 ppg was only good for 17th in the league.
Don’t misconstrue this argument. There is a very solid chance that Lamb will increase his production and outperforms his WR14 finish from last season. It is also possible that he lands as the eighth-best receiver or better in fantasy. However, for this pick to pay off, he would have to hit close to his ceiling, which should not be counted on. The upside is there, but Dak Prescott also likes to spread the ball around, which means that Cooper’s voided targets will not all go to Lamb. He isn’t a horrific pick and could pay off, but it would be risky to bank on it.
We discussed this idea and more on the latest episode of 1st and 10 on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
And while we are on the topic of Prescott, let’s review his fantasy résumé. Aside from the fact that early-round quarterbacks are generally not an advisable strategy, he would need to outperform the best season of his career. Currently being drafted as the QB7, his average draft position is too rich.
Consider this: Dak is coming off a 2021 season where he threw the most TDs of his career, the second most yards, the second best passer rating, and by far the most attempts. That was only good for QB9 last season, eleventh if you calculate his production on a fantasy points per game basis. The only way that Prescott reaches the QB7 draft price would be if he either hit the 40 TD mark while also increasing his yardage (likely on fewer attempts than 2021) or his rushing production improves. While the latter is more probable, Prescott’s 28 rushing attempts last season were the lowest of his career on a per-dropback basis. There is no guarantee Prescott will revert back to being a “mobile quarterback” next season.
To address a few lower-valued players:
- Michael Gallup is currently being drafted as the WR47. If he plays in week one, this is an incredible value, but all signs point to him at least missing the first couple of weeks. Even if he doesn’t start on the PUP, you do not want to draft an asset that is already injured The better strategy is waiting for the person who drafts Gallup to get tired of waiting and drop him, then when he is closer to playing, you can easily pick him off waivers.
- Jalen Tolbert is currently the WR64 in fantasy. Rookie wide receivers take a long time to find their groove, often half a season or the entire year. So when he starts hitting his stride, Gallup will be back, and Tolbert will then share the WR3 role on the team. He might represent some upside, but there is a very slim chance he will possess any value in fantasy next season.
- James Washington is the WR122 in fantasy. Honestly, this isn’t bad value for the receiver, but how deep is your league? Unless you are in a 20-team pool, there is no reason to select Washington. Just let him fall to free agency.
All other wide receivers should follow the Washington strategy. Do not select them, but they might be worth monitoring with Cooper and Wilson gone and Prescott potentially finding a new target.
Now the running back room. Tony Pollard is interesting at RB30, 80th overall. He was the 27th running back last season by fantasy points scored, and there is a solid chance his role increases during his contract year.
However, there is not much of a reason to draft him. Even if he sees his opportunities increase, Pollard will always be behind Ezekiel Elliott on the depth chart. When you start digging into the end-of-draft running backs, you want one thing: the opportunity for the player you draft to potentially become the starting RB.
That is why Alexander Mattison, who plays behind a frequently-injured Dalvin Cook, or Rhamondre Stevenson, who could easily replace Damien Harris as the starter, are better picks. Their end-of-season numbers will almost assuredly be less than Pollard, but they have a chance to start.
Would you rather have a player with five weeks of starter-quality work or one that puts up seventeen games of bench-level production? Pollard represents the latter. With Ezekiel Elliott only missing three total games in his six-year career (not counting the suspension) and Dallas’ unwillingness to hand Pollard the reigns, he will not be a league-winner. At the end of the draft, go with upside, and Pollard does not have much.
Now there are two pieces left: Ezekiel Elliott and Dalton Schultz. Both of these players actually represent good value and should be drafted if they remain at their current price. If you are with other Cowboys fans, they will go too early to possess the same value. But if your draft is team-neutral, these should be your two Dallas targets.
Ezekiel Elliott is currently being drafted as the RB17. Aside from his ability to stay on the field, which was just mentioned, he is as reliable as they come. No, he will not return to 2016 form and win you the league. But even in his injury-riddled 2021, he was the RB6, primarily due to his 17 games played, 14th on a ppg basis.
Most expect a slight improvement from Elliott with an entire offseason to recover from the ailments that affected him last season. Maybe that is only worth a point or two per game, but Elliott is as dependable as they come. Zeke should not be the RB1 on your team; however, pairing him with a risky running back like Joe Mixon would be excellent.
Elliott will most likely give you a steady 12 points per game. While that is not spectacular, if you have a running back who fluctuates between 30 points and 5 points, Zeke will give you the consistency to weather the down weeks. Now, this argument does not hold if you are with other Dallas fans who start targeting Elliott before RB13.
Also potentially valuable is Dalton Schultz. He is currently being drafted as the TE6, which is nearly 20 picks behind Darren Waller, who is being selected as the TE5. This means that in the sixth round, you could have the TE4 from last season. And the argument for Lamb and Gallup receiving more targets holds for Schultz as well. In fact, Schultz caught the most receptions last season on the team, so he might actually be the biggest beneficiary of the 154 receptions that are now off the roster.
Schultz is the best target if you miss out on the early-tight end run. Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, and Darren Waller will go early in drafts, likely before the fourth round ends. So if your sitting there in the sixth or seventh round without a TE and Schultz is on the board, he is by far the best target. You could even argue that he should be drafted ahead of Kittle and Pitts based on his experience and reliable QB play.
However, every player in fantasy is always intriguing at the right price. There is a chance that your league simply does not believe in the Lamb breakout and you are able to get him at a value. There is also a chance that Schultz is off the board too early and you will have to find a backup plan.
But for the most part, it is worth knowing your league’s drafting tendencies. If they commonly overpay for Cowboys’ players, then use it to your advantage and go elsewhere at a value while everyone else is fighting for the Dallas assets. Especially in 2022, where a lot of Cowboys’ players are overvalued, it is wise to just pass on essentially all of them.