Dallas Cowboys 2021 Fantasy Preview
2020 Record: 6-10
2021 Over/Under: o/u 9 (over -140; under +110)
2021 Divison Odds: +135
2021 Super Bowl Odds: +2500
Welcome to the first installment of our team fantasy previews! As you prepare for the fantasy season, whether it be your home league, a big money squad or with us at Champions Round, we want you to be as prepared as possible heading into the season. And most of all we want to see you win!
The Cowboys open training camp opens on Wednesday and the team is back to their familiar offseason home in Oxnard, CA. Dallas won’t have much time to ease into the season. The team faces the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on August 5th.
There is reason for optimism in Dallas in 2021. The Cowboys welcome back Dak Prescott and are set up to have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. They have one of the best group of playmakers in the league and if the offensive line is healthy they could be really scary. The bad news is that they NEED to score a lot of points. Despite an electrifying linebacking crew, aided by first round pick Micah Parsons, the Dallas defense figures to be a liability under first year defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Unless you’re a fan of America’s team, the Cowboys defensive issues should be a great thing your fantasy rosters. If you’re bad on defense, you chuck the football. And guess what? Throwing the pigskin is ELITE for fantasy football, especially in garbage time. The Cowboys are a BUY, BUY, BUY team for the purposes of fantasy.
Champions Round “JUICE” Projections
2021 Expected Record: 9-8
2021 Expected Points Per Game: 28.3
2021 Expected Points Allowed Per Game: 27.2
Dak Prescott - Rank: QB2
JUICE Projections: 481-707 Passing, 68% Completion, 5627 Passing Yds., 33 TD, 13 INT; 333 Rushing Yds, 5 Rush TD
Coming off of a devastating ankle injury that cost him the final 11 games of the 2020 season, Prescott returned this spring and looks 100% healthy heading into training camp. Prior to his injury, Dak was clearly one of the top QBs in the NFL and was the best QB in fantasy over the first five weeks of the season.
Dak is armed with what should be at the very least a competent offensive line, one that could be a top group if healthy. He’s also in control of an offense that has playmakers at every level, including two dynamic running backs, three phenomenal receivers and a good tight end group. There is no reason this offense can’t score over 30 points a game. The offense is the main reason I am bullish on the Cowboys in terms of the division and potentially a deep playoff run. If everyone is reasonably healthy, this is a top 3-4 offense in the NFL. If the defense even improves a little bit, watch out.
In terms of Dak’s fantasy outlook, take a look at the projected stats above. Those numbers are insane. Part of that is because this is a 17 game season, so all numbers are going to look juiced up. But seriously, Dak could be in store for an all-time season. If you wanted to draft him over Patrick Mahomes in fantasy, I wouldn’t slow you down. It could be that type of season.
No other QB in the NFL can claim to have the mix of elite playmakers, terrible defense and red zone running abilities that Dak has. If you cooked up a perfect scenario for a QB1 season in a lab, this is what it would look like.
Ezekiel Elliott - Rank: RB9
JUICE Projections: 225 carries, 945 Rushing Yds, 11 Rush TD; 52 receptions, 347 Receiving Yds, 4 Rec. TD
Tony Pollard - Rank: RB35
JUICE Projections: 121 carries, 545 Rushing Yds, 5 Rush TD; 30 receptions, 206 Receiving Yds, 2 Rec. TD
If you have questions about Ezekiel Elliott, just know you’re not alone. Zeke’s production has declined pretty steadily over the past couple of seasons and he had issues finding the end zone last year when given red zone opportunities.
While his red zone conversion rate will likely improve significantly, especially in this offense, it is worth monitoring how he’s used. I no longer believe he is a true bell cow RB and I find it hard to believe he’ll be used as such in this offense. Does that mean you shouldn’t draft him? Of course not. I just don’t believe he’s worthy of a top 5 pick anymore in traditional re-draft leagues. If you want to take him at the end of the first round, sure. But I wouldn’t take him over, say, Cam Akers or Jonathan Taylor.
My hunch is Elliott gives way to Tony Pollard more than most would believe, while also being more productive in the red zone.
Pollard was very effective in relief of Elliott at the end of the 2020 season and the third year back should be a good chunk of volume this season. He’s my RB35 and that makes him a flex option in deeper leagues. If Elliott were to get hurt, Pollard would immediately be a top 10 fantasy RB option.
CeeDee Lamb - Rank: WR12
JUICE Projections: 90 receptions, 1158 Receiving Yds, 8 Rec. TD
Amari Cooper - Rank: WR14
JUICE Projections: 86 receptions, 1071 Receiving Yds, 8 Rec. TD
Michael Gallup - Rank: WR31
JUICE Projections: 68 receptions, 995 Receiving Yds, 4 Rec. TD
Heading into last season I was irrationally high on Calvin Ridley and selected him in drafts about half a round to a full round ahead of his ADP. This season CeeDee Lamb is that guy. Lamb had an incredible rookie season putting up 74 catches for 935 yard and 5 TDs, while playing 11 games without Dak. If it weren’t for Justin Jefferson’s otherworldly rookie year, we would be talking about Lamb as the star of the 2020 rookie receivers.
The only reason I don’t have Lamb projected as a top 10 receiver is the presence of Amari Cooper. But the Cowboys passing offense should provide enough volume to have two top 15 receivers. Moreover, Lamb will see a majority of his snaps in the slot, where he will get favorable matchups.
Cooper has been a steady star for the Cowboys and I expect him to once again have a top flight year in fantasy. I doubt he will end up as a top 5 fantasy receiver, but he can definitely be your WR1. If I had to choose one Cowboy receiver, I would choose Lamb. The upside is higher. However, I would not fault you for taking Cooper.
The third banana here is Michael Gallup, who is being criminally under drafted this season thus far. For one, Gallup’s ADP right now is around 120. That’s insane. The Cowboys are going to chuck the ball, as we’ve mentioned. Our projections for Gallup have him at WR31, and that’s assuming that everyone is healthy all year long. If Lamb or Cooper goes down for any amount of time, Gallup can easily be a top 15 fantasy receiver. I would think long and hard about targeting Gallup in the middle rounds of your drafts.
Blake Jarwin - Rank: TE12
JUICE Projections: 49 receptions, 597 Receiving Yds, 4 Rec. TD
Dalton Schultz - Rank: TE33
JUICE Projections: 33 receptions, 395 Receiving Yds, 1 Rec. TD
Blake Jarwin had a little bit of hype coming into last season and for good reason. Jason Witten was finally out of the way, the Cowboys had a ton of targets to go around and Jarwin had proven himself to be a downfield playmaker. Unfortunately, Jarwin tore his ACL in Week 1 and missed the rest of the season.
Jarwin should still be the top TE option for the Cowboys and if he’s healthy he could once again be a breakout candidate. If you end up going with the zero TE strategy, he would be someone I would target in the later rounds. You won’t be risking a lot by selecting him, but he could end up as a top 8 TE in fantasy.
Meanwhile, Schultz played his way into a real role for the Cowboys with his play last season. He had 63 receptions for 615 yards and 4 TDs in 14 starts. There is a chance he ends up being the top TE for Dallas this season. A Dallas TE stack wouldn’t be the worst play in deeper leagues.
TL;DR 2021 Cowboys
- Dak could be QB1
- CeeDee Lamb is this year’s Calvin Ridley
- Be wary of taking Ezekiel Elliott in the top 5, but he should have a bounce back year
- Tony Pollard is the top backup RB in the NFL
- The Cowboys offense is a BUY BUY BUY!
Thanks for reading and good luck in your drafts! Next Up: The Pittsburgh Steelers!