For your Dallas Cowboys, there is a lot to like about the offensive side of the ball, and that unit may turn out to have some of the safest selections in Fantasy Football. Dallas has several players who will be impactful members for your team, both this year and down the road.
This is your Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Football Outlook. We'll start with the quarterbacks and the running backs.
When healthy, Tony Romo is one of the most consistent players in fantasy football. Since the 2007 season, when playing at least 13 games, Romo has averaged about 250 yards/game and no fewer than 25 touchdowns.
Given his current injury situation, which by all accounts is not an issue, Romo will be ready to go at the beginning of the season.
There is a really good value for Romo in the middle-to-late rounds in 2016 fantasy drafts. Combine the injury in 2015 and the generic Romo narrative, fantasy players outside of Dallas will have little to do with number 9 as their QB 1. Expect Romo to be drafted the 10th to 15th QB in standard 10 or 12 team leagues.
If you are able to get a guy who, when healthy, is a top 5 QB as the 10th quarterback off the board, you will get a great value.
Average Draft Position (ADP) from Fantasypros.com: 103rd overall, 12th QB Taken (hi: 10th (Yahoo), low: 15th (ESPN)
Fantasy prediction: 16 games played, 3,800 passing yards, 35 TDs and 12 interceptions.
We all know the story here. Kellen Moore was a great quarterback for Boise State. In his time in the NFL, he’s been a backup and rarely seen the field. The Cowboys signed him off the street in 2015 as they were having backup QB issues of their own. He came in and was serviceable, especially against Washington at the end of the season.
Much is already known about Moore; not enough arm strength, 1-read QB, height, etc. With another year in the system, he may have a little more he can show. Even in dynasty leagues, he isn’t worth a roster spot unless there is an injury to Mr. Romo.
Dak Prescott will have little value this season and possibly for several seasons, depending on the health of Tony Romo.
However, in deep dynasty or keeper leagues, he is worth a stash as a way to handcuff Romo, who's had back and shoulder issues the past few seasons. Even as a long-term stash he may have some value in 3 years as the Cowboys may look to develop him as the quarterback of the future. He has potential dual-threat ability that may be able to net yards and TDs through the air as well as on the ground.
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As an UDFA, Jameill Showers spent all but two games last season on the practice squad and was inactive for his two games on the 53-man roster. With another year in the system, he has an opportunity to compete for the back up quarterback for this team.
The front office may have some tough decisions ahead of them. Who’s to say that this UDFA can’t be the heir apparent to the current UDFA starting at QB.
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Cowboys Running Backs
In Dynasty Rookie Drafts, Ezekiel Elliott is typically the first player taken. His pedigree coming out of Ohio State as a do-it-all back, combined with his landing spot behind the Dallas offensive line, make him as safe a first round pick as they come.
Even in Standard 10-team leagues, you can make an argument for Elliott as the first overall pick, though it's more likely he comes off the board behind David Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Todd Gurley at the Running back position.
With the recent move by many to the 0 running back approach (0 running backs drafted in the first 3 rounds), there is an outside shot that you could land Elliott in the back half of the first round or even in the second round.
He will have every opportunity to win the job out of training camp, and when the Cowboys give the ball to a back, they give them the ball a lot. Even Joseph Randle was seeing a large workload in 2015 before off-the-field issues derailed his playing career.
In 2014, DeMarco Murray finished the season with over 400 touches (combined carries + catches).
I don't think it's likely that Ezekiel Elliott sees the same workload as Murray did in 2014, but 300 touches isn’t outside the realm of possibility. With aging backs Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris, and injured back Lance Dunbar, there is really no one in the way to prevent Zeke from shining in his rookie season.
There is a possibility that McFadden could see some passing down work and Morris see some short yardage work, but it’s probable that Zeke will see anywhere from 18-20 touches per game. There is always risk in fantasy football drafts, but as far as runners for 2016 go, few running backs are as safe as Ezekiel Elliott. Draft in the first round and watch him work.
ADP: 4th RB taken and 7th overall (hi: 3rd RB, Low: 5th)
Fantasy Prediction: 315 touches, 1,300 yards rushing, 300 yards receiving, and 10 total TDs.
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Alfred Morris, signed in the offseason, is coming off a sub-par 2015 (3.7 ypc and only 1 TD) where he saw a lot of his work handed over to rookie Matt Jones in Washington. Before the draft, many saw the former Mike Shanahan zone-blocking scheme standout as the favorite to win the starting job out of training camp.
With Dallas’ selection of Elliott, all workload projections for the rest of the RB depth chart are in question.
Morris becomes the early down backup and natural handcuff in case Elliott falls prey to injury. Because the Cowboys want to run out of a Zone-Blocking Scheme and not the man-scheme they switched to for McFadden, Morris is the best fit to to step in for Elliott.
Because of his size, strength and production in the ZBS, Morris could see some short yardage and goal line work, which could give him value in deeper leagues as more than a handcuff. Most likely he will be drafted in the middle-to-late rounds this season, especially as the training camp dust settles and Elliott emerges as the starter.
ADP: 48th RB taken, 197th overall (Hi: 42 (Yahoo), Low: 54 (ESPN)
Fantasy Prediction: 80 touches, 350 total yards, 2 touchdowns
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Darren McFadden is in the last year of a two-year deal he signed before the 2015 season.
The leading rusher from a year ago was considered by the owner and general manager, Jerry Jones, to be the starter going into training camp. An injury to his elbow during the offseason has left many to wonder if the former Oakland Raider will even earn a roster spot. With only one year remaining on his contract, and not being a great fit for the zone-blocking scheme (McFadden, even in Oakland had difficulty running out of a ZBS), McFadden could be a training camp casualty.
If he stays with the team, he does have value on passing downs, as he's a capable receiver and blocker. But, Elliott can do those things too.
If they keep McFadden, it will be to spell Elliott on passing downs from time to time, but not as a permanent “third down back.” Elliott is just too good a blocker and pass catcher (91% catch rate) to leave on the sideline for long. McFadden's role becomes even more sketchy when Lance Dunbar returns from injury.
With the injury, it's likely his ADP drops, and he goes undrafted in standard leagues, but has value as a pass catcher in PPR leagues.
ADP: 43rd RB taken and 163rd overall (Hi: 35th RB(Yahoo), Low 59th (Fantasy Football Calculator)
Fantasy Prediction: 64 total touches, 300 total yards and 1 touchdown
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Signed to an extension in the offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have shown that they value the dynamic back out of the University of North Texas, by way of Haltom High School (my Alma Mater).
When given space, Lance Dunbar has the elusiveness to create big plays as shown in both 2014 and 2015. Staying healthy has been Dunbar’s issue the last two years, but if he can come back from this latest injury, he has a chance to be a difference maker later in the season.
If you have room for him on your roster in PPR Dynasty leagues hang on to him. Against Atlanta in 2015 he caught 10 passes for 100 yards, to make it 21 catches in the first three games of the season. He is a pass catching dynamo.
ADP: 68th RB taken and 257th overall
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Darius Jackson is wet behind the ears as a running back, only spending 1 season as a starter at the position. He had a great season at Eastern Michigan, putting up over 1,000 yards and 14 TDs.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the 6th round after already taking Elliott with the number 4 overall pick. They see something in the rookie running back. As has already been noted by several ITS writers, Jackson makes for an interesting prospect.
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Be on the lookout for the next installment of the positional series.