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Fantasy Football: Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and The Dallas Cowboys Team Preview

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NFL DFS: FanDuel Week 1 pricing for NFL contests is out! We give out first impressions, including thoughts on Julio Jones & Ezekiel Elliott.

With ESPN and Yahoo NFL Fantasy Football leagues starting shortly, and Best Ball leagues already going, our goal is to get you prepped early for your upcoming NFL fantasy drafts with our team previews that feature a look into key positional additions and departures, breakdowns, and possible sleepers.

Awesemo’s Season Long NFL Fantasy Football projections and rankings are OUT! And they are customizable and can be used as ESPN Fantasy Football Rankings or Yahoo Fantasy Football Rankings for whichever host site you use for your league.

You can find them right HERE.

We’ll be releasing four team previews per week, starting June 25 and going through August 16, beginning with the AFC East.

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Last day’s preview:

Los Angeles Chargers

The Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Football and Betting Preview

  1. Overview
  2. Key Fantasy Departures: Targets
  3. Offensive additions
  4. Best Ball ADP
  5. Positional breakdowns: QB, WR, RB, TE, O-line
  6. Preseason players to watch
  7. Betting guide
  8. NFL Fantasy players to target
  9. Biggest question mark
  10. Fantasy football sleepers
  11. Awesemo’s fantasy football rankings
  12. News and updates: check back throughout the next two months
  13. Final thoughts

Fantasy Football Overview

The Cowboys didn’t do much this offseason to improve their roster, but they’re hoping last season’s second half addition of Amari Cooper and the return of Pro Bowl centre Travis Frederick will be enough to vault them back to the top of the NFC East.

Head coach Jason Garrett is firmly on the hot seat this season. He’ll likely have a more involved role in the offence this season, after the firing of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and the hiring of first year coordinator Kellen Moore.

After criticisms that the Cowboy’s offence has become too predictable, Moore will try to implement a ‘multiple’ offence in Dallas, giving the Cowboys the ability to run the same plays under a variety of formations. We can also expect more gadget plays in the red zone too, with Moore’s background in the Boise State offence (remember this game?… Moore was a redshirt).

Rush Rate: 10th (43%)

Run Rate: 23rd (57%)

Pace: 24th

Key Fantasy Departures: Targets

  • Cole Beasley: 85
  • Allen Hurns: 33
  • Geoff Swaim: 30

Offensive Additions

  • Randall Cobb: Formerly prolific Packer moves over to replace Cole Beasley in the slot. A safe, last round target in Best Balls, but not exciting.
  • Tony Pollard: 4th round pick out of Memphis averaged 7.1 YPC and 11.7 YPC (!!!) last season. Seen as a possible third down back to spell Zeke.

Best Ball ADP

  • 3) Ezekiel Elliott (RB3)
  • 29) Amari Cooper (WR12)
  • 121) Dak Prescott (QB15)
  • 142) Michael Gallup (WR57)
  • 190) Randall Cobb (WR75)
  • 215) Jason Witten (TE26)

Quarterback

The Cowboys are going to employ a ball-control, run-heavy offence, which limit’s Dak Prescott’s fantasy football ceiling. But there were two Dak Prescott’s last season: one before Amari Cooper and one after.

Dak Prescott, weeks 1-7: 202 yards passing per game, 1.1 TDs per game, 6.9 YPA

Dak Prescott, weeks 9-17: 274 yards passing per game, 1.5 TDs per game, 7.7 YPA

Those are pronounced splits. The only issue from a fantasy football perspective is that Cooper’s arrival also coincided with Dak ceasing to use his legs as often. 70% of his 300 rushing yards came in the first seven weeks.

He’s finished as the QB10 in back-to-back seasons, but is currently going as the QB15, so you’re still getting a bargain and a solid floor. At his current ADP, he’s being underdrafted.

Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper is an intriguing boom-or-bust option that’s going a little too early in Best Ball drafts (29th), but because he has the potential to win you any week in the playoffs, based off a single performance, he’s the kind of player that you want to mix into your lineups. In his nine games with the Cowboys last season, TWO games accounted for 60% of his receiving yards. It was a similar story in Oakland too, with two games over 100 yards, and four games under 20 yards. He finished with a 121.6 passer rating when targeted in Dallas last year, and had the 5th highest grade in the NFL on slant routes

If you can structure the rest of your roster around his boom or bust games to provide a decent floor, Cooper could win you your pool.

2018 rookie Micheal Gallup came on strong during the second half of last season after Amari Cooper arrived. 325 of his 500 receiving yards and 70% of his targets came over the final half of the season. With the Cowboys cutting Allen Hurns, there isn’t much depth on this roster and that should mean more targets for Gallup, who could progress into the 800 yard/5 TD range. He finished 20th in the NFL in average targeted air yards last season.

Randall Cobb is a safe, boring late round pick in Best Balls. He’s a like for like replacement of Cole Beasley, but it’s difficult to picture him winning anyone a fantasy football championship.

Running Back

Depending on who you talk to, Ezekiel Elliott should be the top pick in your fantasy football drafts. At the very latest, he’s going 3rd overall behind Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey. Over the course of his career, Elliott has averaged 2,100 rushing and receiving yards and 13 TDs per 16 games and he’s still just 24-years-old. He had a career high 77 receptions last season with a 95.1% catch rate and was first in the NFL with 25 runs of 15+ yards. He’ll benefit from an improved offensive line, and likely, positive game scripts all season long.

The only issue is, if you think his contract situation will lead to an in-season holdout. Elliott is playing out the last year of his rooking deal, making just $4 million per season. We saw it with Le’Veon Bell and we’re seeing it with Melvin Gordon. RBs know how short their life expectancy is in the NFL and they want to get paid. For whatever reason, the consensus is that Elliott won’t hold out, but it might be prudent to grab Barkley and McCaffrey ahead of him until the situation is resolved.

Rookie 5th round pick Tony Pollard is a sneaky late round flier if you’re drafting right now. Should he get work in the passing game, he’ll have a decent enough floor to pay off value, and if Elliott does hold out, Pollard could become this season’s James Conner.

Tight End

Jason Witten retired form the broadcast booth and unretired from football this offseason, to further muddle the Cowboys already crowded TE picture. With Blake Jarwin and Dalton Shultz still in the picture, it’s safe to assume some sort of time share between all three TEs, leaving them undraftable in almost all fantasy football formats.

Offensive Line

Trending: Up

PFF Pass Blocking Grade: 16th

PFF Run Blocking Grade: 13th

The once vaunted Cowboys offensive line performed below expectations season. They ranked poorly in both PFF’s passing and run blocking metrics and had the 3rd worst adjusted sack rate in the NFL.

But that should change this year with the return of Pro-Bowl centre Travis Frederick, who missed all of last season. In 2017 he was the 3rd highest ranked centre in both run blocking and pass blocking. LT Tyron Smith battled injuries all year in 2018 and rookie Connor Williams struggled at times, but should benefit from another year under his belt. RT La’el Collins is in a contract year.

With continued elite play from Tyron Smith and Zach Martin, this line should vault back up to it’s 2016 standing as one of the best o-lines in football

Preseason Players to Watch

  • Ezekiel Elliot: If he doesn’t show up for camp, start dropping him a bit in your rankings. No one is expecting a holdout, though.
  • Tony Pollard: Is he getting passing down work? Could be a decent last round Best Ball flier if he does, because he’s one injury/holdout away from becoming an RB1.

Favorite Early Season NFL DFS targets

Regardless of matchup, Amari Cooper is the perfect week in and week out play in NFL DFS GPPs. He’s either going to get you 140 yards, or 15 yards, which is exactly what you want with such top-heavy prize pools.

Ben Rasa’s 2019 Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Football Season and Betting Preview

Dallas Cowboys 2019 O/U Win Total – 9 (Over +105, Under -135)

With some new additions adding to the core of playmakers they already have; the Cowboys are looking to take another step and continue their march to being a championship contender. After finishing 10-6 in 2018 they were able to hang on vs Seattle in the wildcard game, only to fall against the NFC Champion Rams in the divisional round. On the fantasy side they have arguably the #1 pick on their roster along with a handful of other players that deserve some attention during your drafts.

Ben’s Favorite Player to Target

Randall Cobb –  WR

The veteran WR moves on from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and will be a quality addition to the Cowboys passing game. Cobb has had some trouble staying healthy, but he is only 29 years old and certainly should be in line for solid work within this offense. He holds value in PPR formats with his ability to rack up the catches and with Amari Cooper demanding top coverage we could see Cobb benefit and have a quality 2019 campaign. On draft boards he isn’t someone who you need to devote a top end pick to which adds even more appeal as the opportunity cost of having him on your roster is low.

Biggest Fantasy Football Question

Do you draft Ezekiel Elliott with the #1 Overall Pick?

One of the true workhorse backs left in the league, and despite the Cowboys adding some interesting backup RB’s we expect Zeke to be in line for huge work once again. The big question is recently the holdout chatter has begun and that’s always scary when you are talking about the cornerstone of your roster and someone you’re spending the top pick on. To me Saquon is probably where I would go as he has less blowup risk surrounding him with the contract stuff continuing to be unresolved its more risk than I’m willing to take up top.

Fantasy Football Sleeper

Tony Pollard – RB

Former teammate at Memphis Darrell Henderson is getting a lot of attention out in LA, but don’t sleep on 4th round pick Tony Pollard as the Cowboys could utilize him behind Zeke and in a lot of different offensive schemes. Pollard has some home run ability and should be contributing as a pass catcher which always helps to boost the floor and mitigate what should be volume issues assuming Elliott is taking on his normal workload.

He is someone to monitor during the preseason as the Cowboys also drafted RB Mike Weber so we want to make sure that Pollard is going to be ahead of him on the depth chart to pick up any opportunities that Zeke doesn’t get. As I mentioned above there is also a non 0% chance of a holdout derailing the Cowboys top RB and if that happens then Pollard immediately becomes fantasy gold and a huge steal for your roster.

Awesemo’s Fantasy Football Rankings

Awesemo’s Season Long NFL Fantasy Football projections and rankings are OUT! And they are customizable and can be used as ESPN Fantasy Football Rankings or Yahoo Fantasy Football Rankings for whichever host site you use for your league.

You can find them right HERE.

News and updates: check back throughout the next two months

  • Allen Hurns was released by the Cowboys on July 23rd.

Final Thoughts

I thought that the Vegas total seemed a little low for the Cowboys as they should be neck and neck with the Eagles battling for the always competitive NFC East this year. Step one is they have to get Zeke happy and ready to go, as he is key for the entire offense and takes the pressure off Dak and the WR’s. With Cobb, Cooper and Gallup they have a nice core on the outside and then add in some wildcards like Pollard who can also make an immediate impact with this offense. Overall I think the Cowboys still aren’t a serious threat to the NFC, but could push for a playoff berth again and on the fantasy side could provide some value with all these offensive weapons.

I've been obsessed with fantasy sports since as long as I can remember. Back in 1993, while seated in the last row of Mr. MacMillan's math class, I'm fairly certain a few buddies of mine and I invented daily fantasy sports -- popping down our fivers and using nothing more than a newspaper box score, we'd make our NHL player picks for the night's action. Twenty years later I started out playing DFS on DraftStreet, when three-max tourneys with 490 people were a big deal, and I've been hooked ever since. More than anything, I'm interested in getting better as a player, and in helping you become a better player. Armed with Awesemo's grades and the projections from our experts, we're here to help you take the next step. You can contact me by emailing support@awesemo.com.

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