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Are The Young Cowboys Ready For Primetime?

Brandon Murchison Staff Writer April 24, 2017 8:20PM EST
The NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series : Cleveland – Chicago – San Francisco – Jacksonville – LA Rams – Tennessee – Jets – Chargers – Panthers – Bengals – BillsVikings – Cardinals – Saints – Eagles – Colts – Ravens –Redskins – Lions – Buccaneers – Broncos – Giants – Texans – Raiders

Team Needs: DB, DE, TE

Projected Top Three Picks:

First Round- Jabril Peppers, S Michigan

Second Round- Teez Tabor, CB Florida

Third Round- Trey Hendrickson, DE Florida Atlantic

Let’s be honest, the only reason this team was not in the Super Bowl in 2016 was due to the inadequacies of their defense, which was masked by the great play of the offense. After the loss of players left and right on this defensive unit, rebuilding the defense will be the primary focus in this draft. In a draft that is very deep with secondary players, that is exactly where the Cowboys will look with the first pick in Jabril Peppers from Michigan. Peppers, although not a playmaker, will be able to do many things on the next level. He is fluid in his movements and can close on a ball carrier in a hurry. He’s not going to be the type of safety in the NFL that can go after balls for interceptions, but his sure-tackling and ability to get receivers off their routes is going to play a major role at the next level. He’s the type of player who make an impact for a defense as a unit, but not from a Fantasy standpoint.

In the second-round, I have them going to the secondary well yet again by picking CB Teez Tabor. Tabor will come in and start right away with both Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne leaving via free agency. He will join the young CB tandem of Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown. Tabor has excellent coverage ability and loves to make a play, but in turn he is a hit or miss player in that aspect. Tabor has been known to miss a few tackles and get beat deep by speedy receivers. He’ll fit best in a defense that allows him to play press coverage with help over the top, something that Dallas definitely does with the Tampa-2 coverage they play. Look for the Cowboys to begin to build this defense in the same way that they have successfully done so on offense. It may not show up in 2017, but no one is expecting that quick a turnaround. This will be a defense that should be largely ignored in Fantasy.

After leading the league in rushing as a rookie, what's next for Ezekiel Elliott? (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire)

After leading the league in rushing as a rookie, what’s next for Ezekiel Elliott? Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire

The Dak Prescott era is fully underway now that Tony Romo has decided to retire. There was fear among those in the Cowboys’ inner circle that Jerry Jones had every intention of keeping Romo on the team, thus causing a distraction for Prescott. Now that that is over with, this is Prescott’s team, and he will be looking to build on a very surprising rookie season. No one thought that the fourth-round QB was going to come in and be in the MVP talk for much of the season, and a lot of it was without Dez Bryant on the outside. This offense has been dialed back to suit Prescott’s skill set and he is showing just what he can do with it. Behind this offensive line, he gets the time to sit in the pocket and determine which read to go to, or whether or not to take off and run with the ball. He throws a very accurate ball, with plus arm strength on downfield throws. He was in the QB1 discussion to finish the 2016 season, and will be drafted as such for 2017. Where to select him is the question. I feel comfortable with him in the QB10 range myself, as I feel that there could be some slight struggles in his sophomore season.

On the outside, you have Dez Bryant, who when on the field brings you quality WR1 numbers, despite being inconsistent on a week in week out basis. Dez will never be the PPR monster that other WR1s tend to be, but he can make up for it in TD catches. The question with Dez is his health, as he has missed time each of the last three years. Like Dak, Dez will drafted among the starters at his position, but does he warrant a lofty draft spot? He is a risk-reward play who carries more merit in standard scoring than in PPR formats, so know your scoring system before drafting Bryant.

The other options in the passing game include Cole Beasley, Terrence Williams, Brice Butler, and the never retiring Jason Witten. Beasley and Witten carry the most value out of the group, but mostly just in PPR formats. Both are worthy of late round consideration. Witten can be a great streaming option at the position. I, for one, was hoping that the team would have let Williams walk in an effort to get more time on the field for Brice Butler. Butler could make some noise with the skillset that he possesses if he’s getting more snaps on the field.

What else can be said about Ezekiel Elliott that hasn’t been said already. He came in with a lot of hype after being selected fourth overall (a move that was questioned by me at the time) and all he did was lead the league in rushing in his rookie season. With this offensive line in front of him, the sky is the limit for his potential. Even with the retirement of Doug Free and the loss of Ron Leary in free agency, this unit up front will still be considered the best in football. Elliott seems to thrive as the game moves along, doing a lot of his damage in the second half of games. He’s the perfect back to wear a team down, as this offense plays control the clock to win ball games. If there is a knock on Elliott at all it would be that he needs to become more involved in the passing game to become a true elite option at RB. If he improves his 32 receptions up to around 50-60 in 2017, he could challenge for the top spot in Fantasy. He will be the third RB off the board in virtually every draft this season, no matter the format, so if you want to get him you better be drafting early in Round 1. Thinking about handcuffing Elliott? The Cowboys brought back Darren McFadden on a one-year deal, but he only holds value in case of injury to Elliott.

Team Ranks:

Passing Offense- 226.9 YPG (23rd)

Running Offense- 149.8 YPG (2nd)

Points Per Game- 26.3 PPG (5th)

Top Fantasy Performers:

QB- Dak Prescott, 286 points

RB- Ezekiel Elliott, 293 points

WR- Dez Bryant, 130 points

 

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