The Dallas Cowboys won on Monday night and are on their bye week just in time for the new Spider-Man video game to come out. These are the times, my friends.
Forgive me for doing the cliché thing, but if anyone had told us that the Cowboys would be 4-2 at this point we would have been rather pleased. A loss to San Francisco did not seem inconceivable in the final days of summer and the NFL is the NFL so one more loss in five opportunities would hardly sound impossible.
While it is true that the Cowboys have much to be grateful for when they return from their bye, we will want to see a few things be different. Monday night served as the final win before players are off for the week, but it also served as an opportunity to see things that we may want modifications on or around.
One of those things is CeeDee Lamb. We want more. Lots more.
CeeDee Lamb is having an efficient start to the season and needs to be utilized even more
Lamb “only” saw two more targets against the Los Angeles Chargers than he did further north in California eight days prior, but it was the intentional aggression towards involving him in the offense that made all the difference. Lamb hauled in every one of them to the tune of 117 receiving yards.
This conversation isn’t so much about the numbers as much as it is about that aggression itself. The Cowboys have to be purposeful about involving Lamb because when the ball is in his hands good things can happen. In fact, Lamb is making the most out of things this season in a way that he never has. He has similar production to the first six games of every season of his career despite a career-low in targets to this point on the year.
CeeDee Lamb production through each season’s first six games
- 2020: 60 targets, 33 receptions, 409 yards, 2 touchdowns
- 2021: 51 targets, 36 receptions, 497 yards, 2 touchdowns
- 2022: 49 targets, 33 receptions, 497 yards, 4 touchdowns
- 2023: 42 targets, 34 receptions, 475 yards, 1 touchdown
Lamb is sitting on an 81% catch percentage through six games, 10 full percentage points (approximating here, decimals can be silly) higher than his previous career high which came in 2021. He has 34 receptions off of 42 targets!
Interestingly there are two other players in the NFL this season who also have at least 42 targets and boast a catch percentage of at least 80%. They are Evan Engram of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Adam Thielen of the Carolina Panthers, but as you can see this does not happen often during a season’s first six games.
What’s more is that if you look at this group, of the most recent 15 occasions in which this has happened, only four of them have been performances by wide receivers, half of which are Thielen and Lamb here in 2023.
It is incredibly unlikely that Lamb holds an 81% catch percentage all season long, especially if he does start to see an uptick in volume, but can you imagine if it is even 75%? Or if we want to be more conservative say something like 72%?
To date, Lamb’s career high in catch percentage was the 68.6% that he recorded last season which was impressive given that he had 156 targets. Playing with some made-up numbers, what if Lamb hit 160 targets and reached our “conservative” catch percentage of 72%?
A hypothetical 17-game season at these figures would be 115 receptions. If we presume that Lamb would maintain those at his current career yards per reception figure of 13.2, heck let’s lower it to 13 flat, we would be looking at 1,495 receiving yards.
The point of this discussion isn’t to get Lamb to some sort of receiving mark or win fantasy leagues that he is rostered in, but to demonstrate how big of a weapon he can be when utilized. Given the efficiency that we are seeing from him, the Cowboys absolutely have to be focused on giving him more opportunities to succeed because where he is at is not enough.