As Cowboys Nation rejoices with the news of Ezekiel Elliott signing Wednesday morning, the Dallas Cowboys prepare for the New York Giants to come to town to kick off Dallas' 2019 NFL season. The Cowboys appeared to be comfortable with their running back situation despite the potential of missing their All-Pro back, but, with Elliott back with the team, it is hard to imagine the offense won’t be dramatically improved when it takes the field for Sunday afternoon's tilt.
Elliott’s reunion with this Cowboys offense is a much more exciting prospect to project in terms of fantasy numbers. With the deal finally done, here are the Cowboys’ individual offensive projections for the 2019 season.
Dak Prescott, QB
- Passing: 367/540 completions/attempts, 4,037 yards, 25 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
- Rushing: 70 attempts, 385 yards, 5 touchdowns, 6 fumbles
Dak will likely see a slight increase to his numbers as he transitions into a Kellen Moore-led offense. He has shown steady improvement through his first three seasons and should eclipse the 4,000-yard mark for the first time as well as the 25-touchdown milestone.
His rushing attempts go down slightly with a more consistent offensive line but his efficiency improves giving him his best rushing numbers to date. Prescott is a fantasy value in redraft this season in an offense that should compliment his strengths.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB
- Rushing: 290 attempts, 1392 yards, 12 touchdowns, 5 fumbles
- Receiving: 70 receptions, 546 yards, 3 touchdowns
Zeke will suit up and take the lion's share of carries this weekend against the New York Giants, but his load will be slightly lighter in week 1, the team announced this week. Rookie RB Tony Pollard's impressive preseason play should fill the gap competently.
Elliott's projected touches are down slightly from his 2018 benchmark to account for a slight bump in work for Pollard as compared to last year's backup Rod Smith, but his touchdowns are what really stand out. In 2018, Zeke scored a rushing touchdown once every 50 attempts. In comparison, running backs that got over 250 carries in the past three seasons scored once every 35 attempts.
Look for Elliott to get back in the double digits for rushing touchdowns.
Tony Pollard, RB
- Rushing: 65 attempts, 320 yards, 1 touchdown
- Receiving: 22 receptions, 230 yards, 1 touchdown
Pollard has had a really strong camp and the Cowboys felt comfortable with him as the starting tailback during the Zeke holdout saga. With that said, don’t expect Pollard to get a whole lot more carries than a normal backup to Zeke.
Only Christian McCaffrey had a higher percentage of a team’s tailback rushes in 2018. With a fat new contract, it is likely the Cowboys lean heavily on Zeke as they have in the past. Pollard has the potential to surpass these projections if Zeke were to miss Week 17 as he did in 2016 and 2018 due to Dallas resting its starters. Then again…hopefully, fantasy championships aren't being held during Week 17.
Amari Cooper, WR
- Receiving: 86 receptions, 1,207 yards, 9 touchdowns
Amari Cooper enjoyed success in his nine games with Dak and the ‘Boys. In fact, he averaged near six catches and just over 80 yards per game which when stretched to 16 games would have given him a season total of 94 receptions and 1,290 yards. Cooper had a few monster games in that stretch, and with Michael Gallup emerging as a formidable second option, he should fall just a bit under that six catches for 80 yards a game pace in 2019.
Cooper should increase on his career-high of seven touchdowns as Dak and the offense takes a step forward after a full off-season with their star wideout.
Michael Gallup, WR
- Receiving: 43 receptions, 675 yards, 4 touchdowns
Gallup had arguably the best pre-season of any player in Cowboys camp. He flashed at times during his rookie season and will look to build upon the deep ball ability he showcased with over 20% of his receptions going for 24 yards or more. If he keeps his pace of yards per reception, he will tick close to the 700-yard mark this season with a natural increase in targets in his second season. Gallup should be a good high risk/high reward DFS play on any given week with his field-stretching ability
Randall Cobb, WR
- Receiving: 40 receptions, 420 yards, 3 touchdowns
- Rushing: 8 attempts, 40 yards
Old Cowboy rival Randall Cobb is finally wearing the Silver and Blue. He rarely drops a pass and makes tough contested catches on a regular basis. Cobb’s actual team value projects to be higher than his fantasy outlook, however.
He should see enough targets by capturing most of what Cole Beasley left behind with his departure, but with the return of the stalwart tight end in Jason Witten, Cobb will have to share the middle of the field.
Jason Witten, TE
- Receiving: 55 receptions, 467 yards, 4 touchdowns
It’s like he never left. From Tony Romo to now Dak, Witten has served as the safety blanket that can pick up seven yards on a third and six in the final minutes of a crucial game-winning drive. The vintage “catch and fall forward across the first down” move should pick up right where Witten left off in 2017.
While he won’t see the same amount of snaps as he saw in 2017, Witten should still collect over 50 receptions. He, like Cobb, will be a bigger real game presence than someone on fantasy football rosters this fall.
Blake Jarwin, TE
- Receiving: 25 receptions, 280 yards, 1 touchdown
Blake Jarwin is potentially the future at the tight end position for the Cowboys. He has smooth routes and can pinpoint the football with his large 6’5”, 260lb. frame. He will see a slight regression from last season only due to the fact that he will play behind a future Hall of Famer. However, if Jarwin makes the most of his opportunities in 2019, there’s a solid case to make that he could be ready for his time to shine as the starting tight end for the Cowboys in 2020 and beyond.