• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Dallas Cowboys 2021 Post NFL Draft Fantasy Outlook

By Tommy Harvey

2020 was supposed to be the year the Dallas Cowboys became Super Bowl contenders.  Gone was long-time head coach Jason Garrett, replaced by Super Bowl winning coach Mike McCarthy.  The Cowboys were primed to step back into the spotlight.  However, the season was an absolute disaster. Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome, season-ending ankle injury. The offensive line was constantly injured and inconsistent. Ezekiel Elliott had the worst season of his career. The defense was terrible, which led to the firing of first year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Possibly the worst thing for the Cowboys, was they won 3 of their final 4 games to finish 6-10. Their season ending victory over the Eagles hurt the most. 

2021 Draft Review

Heading into the final 4 games of the season, Dallas was looking at a likely top-5 draft pick. The late season victories dropped them into the 10th pick, which they eventually traded down to 12th to select LB Micah Parsons out of Penn State. The selections of CB Jaycee Horn and CB Patrick Surtain II (both a major need) directly before the 10th pick, seemingly led to the move down to 12. During the draft, the Cowboys made defense a major priority, using 8 of their 11 picks to reinforce Dan Quinn's unit. 

Highlighted by the selection of LB Micah Parsons, the Cowboys continued to fortify the defense by selecting CB Kelvin Joseph, DT Osa Odighizuwa, and LB Jabril Cox.  Offensively, Dallas picked up two linemen and WR Semi Fehoko out of Stanford.  Fehoko is a height, weight, speed guy, who could eventually work his way into the Cedrick Wilson role.


Dak Prescott

Going into the 2021 season, Dak Prescott is ready to return and is also $240 million richer. He signed a 6-year contract to return and is looking to pick up where he left off prior to his injury. Dak was on pace for a record-breaking season in 2020, averaging over 371 ypg. 

Obviously, circumstances dictated the amount of passing the Cowboys did. If the offensive line is healthier and plays better and if the defense doesn't put the offense in must pass positions, Dak shouldn't have to throw the ball as much. Regardless, Prescott should be considered a top-5 redraft and dynasty QB. 

2021 Early Projections:

438-640, 68%, 5,270 yards, 37 TDs, 11 INTs, 61 carries, 311 yards, 5 TDs


Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliott

There is really no other way to say it...Ezekiel Elliott had an abysmal 2020 season. He had career lows in yards (979), yards per game (65.3) yards per carry (4.0), TDs (6), and yards per reception (6.5). Last season was so bad, he ended up with less yards in 15 games played than he did in 2017 with 10 games played (6 game suspension).

The questions...Did he have a regression in skill? Did he suffer from bad offensive line play? Was he forced to see defenses that didn't respect the threat of the pass due to Dak Prescott's injury?

Whatever the answers are, Zeke needs to have a bounce back season for Dallas to contend in the NFC East.

2021 Early Projections:

298 carries, 1,281 yards, 4.3ypc, 9 TDs, 74 Targets, 58 receptions, 417 yards, 7.2ypc, 2 TDs


Tony Pollard

Tony Pollard is a talented backup RB. If Zeke were to ever miss any time, Pollard would definitely be a must own in fantasy leagues. 

2021 Early Projections:

100 carries, 460 yards, 4.6ypc, 3 TDs, 38 Targets, 25 receptions, 173 yards, 6.9ypc, 1 TD


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper is the leader of this very good and very young group of pass catchers for the Cowboys. Heading into his 7th NFL season, Cooper will still only be 27 years old. Often considered too inconsistent to be a true #1 WR, he has only had one season where he failed to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark (2017). A target monster, Cooper has seen 249 targets in his 2 full seasons in Dallas. 

Last season, Cooper amassed 92 receptions, 1,114 yards, and 5 TDs with backup QBs throwing him the ball. If Dak Prescott is fully healthy, Cooper could have a career year for the Cowboys. I would feel extremely comfortable having him as a high-end WR2 in all fantasy formats.

Early 2021 Projections:

133 Targets, 95 Receptions, 1,197 Yards, 12.6ypc, 8 TDs


CeeDee Lamb

CeeDee Lamb had a very solid rookie season, even without the benefit of playing with Dak Prescott for the final 11 games of the season. In his first season, Lamb was a HUGE part of the Dallas offense. He saw 111 targets, catching 74 for 935 yards and 5 TDs.  Lamb finished 2nd among all rookie WRs in receptions and yards.

Showing the obvious ability to be a top-end receiver in the NFL, look for Lamb to continue to develop into a big time target for Dak Prescott.  He has the potential to overtake Cooper as the Cowboys’ #1 WR by season’s end.  Both have high-end WR2 ability, with Lamb having WR1 upside.

Early 2021 Projections:

124 Targets, 82 Receptions, 1,074 Yards, 13.1ypc, 8 TDs


Michael Gallup

Michael Gallup has consecutive seasons of 100+ targets in Dallas.  Not many teams can support three WRs with over 100 targets apiece, but the Cowboys have proven able to do so.  All three Cowboys WRs are similar in what they can do, so they are all somewhat interchangeable.  With Gallup having the ability to be a free agent after the 2021 season, he will be looking to have a big season so he can cash in.  

In 2020, Michael Gallup caught 59 of 105 targets for 843 yards and 5 TDs.  His conversion rate wasn’t as high as Cooper’s or Lamb’s, partly due to being more of the deep ball and 50/50 threat.  I would imagine his 2021 would be similar to his 2020.

Early 2021 Projections:

109 Targets, 66 Receptions, 937 Yards, 14.2ypc, 7 TDs


Blake Jarwin/ Dalton Schultz

Blake Jarwin was one of my favorite sleeper picks last season.  I picked him to finish as a top-5 TE in 2020.  Then he tore his ACL in the first game of the season after only recording 1 catch.  Football can be a cruel game.  Jarwin was set up to be “the man” at TE after future Hall of Famer Jason Witten left for Las Vegas.  I still have extremely high hopes for the former Oklahoma State Cowboy, but he will likely share targets with fellow TE Dalton Schultz. High-end TE2 to low-end TE1 production is possible, so target him accordingly.

Schultz filled in admirably for the injured Blake Jarwin last season, recording 63 receptions on 89 targets for 615 yards and 4 TDs.  Obviously, the return of Jarwin will significantly cut into Schultz’ production, but he will still be involved.  He is probably best suited as a best ball pickup, but he could return some value as a streaming option in redraft and dynasty leagues.

Early 2021 Projections:

Jarwin - 74 Targets, 58 Receptions, 586 Yards, 10.1ypc, 5 TDs

Schulz - 52 Targets, 37 Receptions, 352 Yards, 9.5ypc, 4 TDs