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Player Outlooks (2023)
QB Dak Prescott: There has been talk of Mike McCarthy wanting to run more in 2023, but the philosophy change can play to Prescott’s strengths to make up for decreased volume through the air—as he thrives on play-action passes and downfield shots where his top-tier deep ball can be on display. Also, the increased weaponry with Brandin Cooks joining CeeDee Lamb and a healthier Michael Gallup will give Dallas plenty of firepower, and the offense is built to throw in terms of personnel. Prescott should be drafted as a borderline top-ten option at quarterback.
RB Tony Pollard: The door apparently remains open for Ezekiel Elliott to return to Dallas, but Pollard is now “the guy” for them, and he should be a definite RB1 based on how he performed as the starter last year—turning 15 touches into 147 total yards and three touchdowns against Chicago, and turning 25 touches into 128 total yards and a touchdown against Green Bay. Increased goal-line work in addition to more overall touches will give Pollard a very high ceiling, and the Cowboys should give him a ton of work while playing on the franchise tag. Pollard is an excellent value in Round 2.
RB Ronald Jones II: If Zeke doesn’t end up re-signing with the Cowboys, Jones should be in a great spot to rebuild his value behind a dominant offensive line, and he profiles as an ideal change-of-pace option if Dallas does indeed run the ball more in 2023. Not being overly reliable in passing game might hurt, but Jones is a big-play slasher that averaged 4.5 yards per carry across four seasons with the Bucs before mostly being a healthy scratch in Kansas City.
RB Malik Davis: Davis performed well when called upon last season—including catching six-of-seven targets for 63 yards to show he can be counted on as a receiver. Knowing the coaching staff could even give him the edge over Ronald Jones II for the backup job if he shows well in preseason action, so the backup job will be one to monitor for the Cowboys this summer.
RB Deuce Vaughn: A sixth-round pick out of Kansas State, Vaughn shouldn’t be overlooked based on his five-foot-five build; not only does he have the mindset of a much bigger player, but he also can produce as a pass-catcher on an explosive offense that should create favorable looks for him out of the backfield if he can earn a role.
WR CeeDee Lamb: Lamb silenced any questions about his ability to be a No. 1 receiver last season, and he really emerged over the final two months with a 17-game pace of 123 receptions, 1,517 yards, and 11 touchdowns—highlighted by his play in the fantasy playoffs when he went for 100+ receiving yards in all three games from Week 15 through Week 17. Dak Prescott recently said he believes Lamb can be the best wide receiver in the league, and even if the Cowboys run the ball more, we’re expecting him to continue being featured. Lamb is in contention to be the No. 4 wideout selected in fantasy drafts.
WR Michael Gallup: Gallup says he feels “springy” in his first full offseason since tearing his ACL two years ago, and he could easily recapture FLEX value in 2023. While not himself last season, Gallup still caught five scores in 15 games (including playoffs), and he’ll face plenty of single coverage alongside Lamb and Brandin Cooks. He’s currently a home-run value going outside the top 60 at wide receiver.
WR Brandin Cooks: As stated, the hope is that Gallup will return to form in 2023, and Lamb will be the clear top option in the Dallas passing attack—which might make Cooks a better real-life addition to threaten opponents vertically and create space for everyone else (including the running game). The quarterback upgrade to Dak Prescott will be a welcome change, though, and Cooks should still be able to run under deep balls with the best of them to have some huge performances.
WR Jalen Tolbert: Tolbert only caught two passes in eight games as a rookie, and there isn’t room for him to crack the starting lineup without an injury. That said, we were high on the talent coming out of South Alabama as a downfield threat in the mold of Gabe Davis, so he should be a hold in dynasty leagues.
WR KaVontae Turpin: A Pro Bowl returner in his first NFL season, Turpin wants to play more on offense, but he could have a difficult time pushing for enough snaps for consistent fantasy value. For those in leagues that reward points for return yardage, Turpin has said he’s “not fair catching” anything in response to the change in kickoff rules.
TE Jake Ferguson: It will likely be a three-way battle for the starting job at tight end, but Ferguson caught 19-of-22 targets as a rookie and will have a definite role on one of the NFL’s best offenses. If he gets the first crack at the No. 1 spot, Ferguson can thrive in the opener versus a Giants defense that he had a season-high 53 yards against as a rookie last year.
TE Luke Schoonmaker: The Cowboys took Schoonmaker in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft to help replace Dalton Schultz, and the idea was surely to have him become the starter at some point considering the draft capital spent in a strong class. Already turning 25 by late September, Schoonmaker can be the top fantasy tight end for Dallas if he transitions quickly on a championship-caliber roster.
TE Peyton Hendershot: Hendershot should see a decent amount of playing time on an offense that will use multiple tight ends, but Dallas will ideally lean more on the wide receivers by adding Brandin Cooks to the mix, so he may need to show well in training camp to make it a three-man rotation with Ferguson and Schoonmaker. The situation could be a headache for fantasy owners more than anything else.
Best IDP value: S Malik Hooker
There are a ton of values for the Dallas defense, as the acquisition of Stephon Gilmore will lift the entire unit—including perhaps more targets towards Trevon Diggs that result in interceptions. A dominant cornerback duo can also create more opportunities for Hooker to make plays as a ball hawk on the backend, and the former first-round pick had three interceptions and a touchdown last year.
Stat to know (via draft guide)
In just three career games with at least 60% of the team’s offensive snaps played, Tony Pollard has rushed 46 times for 267 yards (5.8 YPC) and three touchdowns—also bringing in 11 receptions for 102 yards in those outings.