2024 Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Preview (2024)

2023 Stats

Points per game: 29.9 (1st)
Total yards per game: 371.6 (5th)
Plays per game: 66.0 (3rd)
Pass Attempts + Sacks per game: 38.5 (9th)
Dropback EPA per play: 0.23 (2nd)
Rush attempts per game: 27.5 (14th)
Rush EPA per play: -0.06 (11th)

Coaching Staff

After spending much of the 2023 offseason touting a more run-heavy approach than they had in 2022, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy took over play-calling duties and led an offense that ranked fourth in neutral pass rate (61 percent) and 13th in early down pass rate (53 percent). Their three percent pass rate over expected was also good for fourth-highest behind only the Chiefs, Bengals, and Commanders.

Despite criticizing former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for wanting to “light the scoreboard up,” McCarthy’s Cowboys led the league in points per game (29.9) last season and ranked fifth in yards per game (371.6). Reportedly set to go “all-in” to win in 2024, here’s how the Cowboys’ offense looks heading into this season.

Passing Game

QB: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
WR: CeeDee Lamb, KaVontae Turpin
WR: Brandin Cooks, Jalen Brooks
WR: Jalen Tolbert, Ryan Flournoy
TE: Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker

Fresh off a year in which he threw for 4,516-36-9, Dak Prescott is entering the final year of the four-year deal he signed in 2021. Despite Dak seemingly being interested in re-upping with the team under a new contract, owner Jerry Jones has been unwilling to commit to his star quarterback beyond this season. Prescott’s cap number for the season narrowly exceeds $55 million, which has proven to hamstring the team’s ability to add significant talent this offseason — more on that later.

Prescott finished second in MVP voting last season and was named a Second-team All-Pro for his efforts. His 36 touchdown passes led all quarterbacks and was second in both EPA per play (0.245) and EPA+CPOE composite (0.164) behind Brock Purdy. Prescott also finished in the top-10 in several other key metrics and was the overall QB5 in fantasy points per game.

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Prescott did a good job at limiting turnovers after tying Josh Allen with 15 interceptions in 2022, helping to lead the Cowboys to a 12-5 record and an appearance in the NFC Divisional round.

Another player searching for a new deal is CeeDee Lamb, who is currently set to play out this season on a fifth-year club option worth $17.991 million. Lamb ran wild on the league last season, catching a league-high 135 passes on 181 targets — also tops in the league — while finishing second in receiving yards (1,749) and touchdowns (12). Amongst receivers who saw 50 or more targets, Lamb also ranked fourth in TPRR (0.30) and team target share (29.2 percent) and was the first read on 145 of his targets per FantasyPoints.com — which ranked third highest.

An elite receiving option in every sense of the word, the Cowboys did not add a player of note who should threaten Lamb for targets in 2024. He remains a high-end option at receiver across all formats and has the profile to finish as the overall WR1 in fantasy this season.

Third-year tight end Jake Ferguson is arguably Lamb’s biggest threat, but the two co-existed nicely last season. In his first full season as a starter, Ferguson broke out for 71-761-5 and ran a route on 72.5 percent of the Cowboys’ dropbacks — good for 10th best amongst tight ends. There are some concerns that come with Ferguson this season, namely his 0.20 TPRR and 15.8 percent target share. Both numbers ranked outside the top-10 at the tight end position last season, with his TPRR ranking 15th alongside Dallas Goedert, Jonnu Smith, and Kyle Pitts. Despite these numbers, Ferguson still finished as the overall TE10 in fantasy points per game and finished as a top-12 fantasy tight end in 59 percent of his games played last season. In seven games, he scored 12 or more PPR points.

Ferguson should continue to benefit from playing with Prescott. Since 2020, Prescott has targeted tight ends on 19.6 percent of his pass attempts per PFF, which ranks 13th amongst 32 quarterbacks (minimum 1,000 pass attempts).

Veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks returns to the Cowboys for his second season with the team. Last year, Cooks caught 54 passes for 657 yards and eight touchdowns — his most since 2016. Far from the explosive playmaker he once was, Cooks provides the Cowboys with reliable hands on the outside but had a meager 0.16 TPRR — his lowest mark since 2019. After a slow start to the season in which he never scored more than 6.7 PPR points through the first five weeks, Cooks went on to finish as a top-24 PPR receiver in just 50 percent of his games from Weeks 6-18 and profiles as a WR3 with some weekly WR2 upside this season.

Third-year receiver Jalen Tolbert is expected to make a significant push for playing time in training camp and will face competition from second-year receiver Jalen Brooks and rookie Ryan Flournoy. Tolbert has caught 24 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns in his career and shouldn’t be counted on in seasonal leagues outside of best ball leagues, where he’s an intriguing late-round dart throw.

Running Game

RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, Royce Freeman
OL (L-R): Tyler Guyton, Tyler Smith, Brock Hoffman, Zack Martin, Terence Steele

The current makeup of the Cowboys’ backfield seriously challenges the notion that the team is “all-in” to win this season. Gone is Tony Pollard, who signed with the Titans earlier this offseason, and back in the fold is Ezekiel Elliott, who will turn 29 at the end of July.

The Cowboys made the correct decision in cutting Elliott last offseason, allowing him to slog his way to 642 rushing yards and three touchdowns (3.8 YPC) with the Patriots. However, after a season in which their running backs had the fourth-lowest touchdown rate (25 percent) on rush attempts inside their opponents’ five-yard line, the Cowboys decided to reunite with Zeke in hopes of converting more scoring opportunities in the “green zone.”

Elliott ran the ultimate PPR scam during the second half of last season when he caught 38 passes in his last nine games — the second-most receptions of any running back over that span and three more catches than Christian McCaffrey. Fantasy managers chasing that production would be wise to reconsider, as the Cowboys’ offense has far more weapons in the passing game than the Patriots did last season.

When it comes to his efficiency (or lack thereof) on the ground, Elliott was about what we expected. In addition to averaging 3.8 YPC, Elliott ranked 41st amongst 49 running backs in RYOE per NFL Next Gen Stats and ranked 37th in rushing success rate at 45.1 percent. Elliott forced a missed tackle on just 12 percent of his attempts, which ranks 45th amongst 49 running backs (min. 100 carries) per FantasyPoints.com. Assuming he doesn’t repeat with another 50-catch campaign, it’s hard to get excited about what Zeke has to offer in 2024. With that said, the Cowboys have few options to consider behind him. If he secures the RB1 role out of camp, the volume, coupled with a valuable goal-line role, could prove enough to make Zeke a top-24 back in PPR leagues.

Last year’s RB2, Rico Dowdle, is expected to challenge Elliott for touches and could emerge as a value late in fantasy drafts. Far from a high-end back, it’s hard to argue against the idea of Dowdle being the best back on the Cowboys this season. Dowdle, 26, rushed for 89-361-2 last season (4.1 YPC) while adding 17 receptions for 144 yards and two scores. Dowdle averaged 4.8 yards per touch, proving to be little more than an average back when it came to evading tackles and creating yards after contact. He forced a missed tackle on just 15 percent of his carries and averaged 2.91 YCO/ATT.

Deuce Vaughn, who flashed at times last year in the preseason, could emerge as a darkhorse for touches in this underwhelming backfield, but the 5-foot-5, 176-pound back averaged just 1.7 YPC on 23 rush attempts and looked nothing like the player his most die-hard truthers touted him as all offseason. Vaughn doesn’t have the size to operate as a between-the-tackles grinder and is well off the fantasy radar at this time.

Win Totals

The fine folks at DraftKings Sportsbook have the current over/under win total for the Cowboys set at 10.5 wins. Double-digit wins feel within reach for a team coming off a 12-win season, and the Cowboys are also set to return several key players on both sides of the ball. With that said, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who led a top-five unit last season, is now in Washington, and the Eagles remain a legitimate threat to win the NFC East. Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis ranks the Cowboys as having the 11th toughest schedule this season based on opponents’ projected Vegas win totals, which could make picking this over a risky proposition.

2024 Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Preview (2024)


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