2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: Dallas Cowboys
Published: Mar 02, 2023
Updated: Mar 02, 2023
There is no NFL team that receives more media scrutiny than the Dallas Cowboys and, honestly, that’s partially their fault. Because no one puts themselves more in the spotlight than Jerry Jones and his son Stephen Jones. Guys like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott inevitably are the ones that have to deal with the ramifications of that and the negative connotations that come along with it. But, for us in dynasty fantasy football leagues, negative connotations can sometimes be a good thing as it might offer us a chance to buy in at a discount. The question at the end of the day becomes - are we getting a discount on a valuable asset or are we catching a falling knife?
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
Dallas Cowboys Quarterback
The Cowboys have one quarterback under contract for 2023
Dak Prescott - age 29
Contract: Dak Prescott is under contract through 2024
Outlook: Dak Prescott lives in “no man’s land” in the fantasy football world but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Jerry World where Jerry Jones and his son Stephen Jones not only believe Dak can win them a championship but they have plans to extend him. So Dak is likely the Cowboys quarterback of the future, whether Twitter likes it or not.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - In 2020, Dak Prescott came out screaming in fantasy football and was on pace to be the QB1 overall before he hurt his ankle. In 2021, he finished as the QB7 overall despite missing a game. This past season he missed time again and ended up as the QB16 but gave you similar points per game to guys like Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, and Kirk Cousins. The fact that Dallas hasn’t had much post-season success under Dak combined with the spotlight the Cowboys get from the media has certainly affected how we view Dak Prescott but the playoffs don’t really matter to us in fantasy football. In fact, they don’t matter at all. I care about production and Dak is a guy that I feel comfortable starting every single week in single QB leagues which means he’s locked into your lineup in superflex and two QB leagues. He’s 29 years old and he’s tied to Ceedee Lamb for what sounds like the foreseeable future so he has a lot of good ball left to play. I’m adding him wherever I can.
RESERVE/FUTURES: Will Grier
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
Look around this league. How many teams lost their quarterback but kept it afloat with a serviceable backup? The 49ers almost won the whole thing with a backup and, a few years ago, the Eagles DID win it all with Nick Foles. If Dak Prescott is going to continue to miss games, it’s about time the Cowboys invested in a better backup. Guys like Teddy Bridgewater, Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinicke, Gardner Minshew etc. have shown that they are capable enough so that’s who I would go after. No more messing around.
Dallas Cowboys Running Backs
The Cowboys have two running backs under contract and one signed to a reserves/future deal.
Ezekiel Elliott - age 27
Contract: Zeke is under contract through 2026. He would carry $11.86 million in dead cap with only $4.86 million in savings but, if they designate him a post-June 1 release, they could spread that over two years and save $10.9 million for this season.
Outlook: When you look at recent comments from Stephen Jones, it doesn’t sound great for Zeke. He talked about Zeke’s dominance in the past tense and mentioned how difficult it is for a running back to play at a high level for ten years. He also specifically mentioned that Zeke was “making a lot of money”. If Zeke wants to hang around, he’s likely going to need to work out a deal.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - All the negativity surrounding Zeke has crushed his fantasy value but he still does have real-life value. He may have lost a step but he can clearly move the pile - his 12 rushing TDs was tied for fourth in the league and he was top 15 in rushing first downs. If he’s on the Cowboys, he’ll maintain that part of the role which makes him a guy you can, at the very least, throw in the flex or use on bye weeks. And, if he does end up as a free agent, someone is likely going to bring him in for the same exact function. You aren’t going to get much for him given the current climate so I’d just hang on and, if you want to sell, just wait until August when everyone looks around and realizes that he’ll once again be a part of an NFL backfield.
RESERVE/FUTURE: Malik Davis
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
We’ll hit on Tony Pollard in full with our article that looks at all the best unrestricted free agents. But it’s worth throwing out there that Stephen Jones did mention that the Cowboys are likely to use the franchise tag this year on someone. He said that it’s not definitely going to be on Pollard but he didn’t rule it out either. In that same interview, he said “it’s hard for RBs to play at a high level for 10 years” and “we want to use early draft picks on guys that will be here for 10 years” so, when you read between those lines, it doesn’t sound like they plan to draft a running back early. Unless that’s just a huge smoke screen and they plan to draft Bijan Robinson or someone in the first couple of rounds….
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receivers
The Cowboys have five wide receivers under contract for 2023 with three signed to reserve/future deals.
Michael Gallup - age 26
Contract: Michael Gallup is under contract through 2026.
Outlook: Gallup is listed first in this article because he’s currently the highest-paid wide receiver on the team at $11.5 million per year. He was given that contract while recovering from ACL surgery which had us hopeful everything was going according to plan but he struggled to get back on time. He recently went under the knife again to repair a meniscus and clean up an ankle injury.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - I’m buying Michael Gallup because I believe he can return to form and be a top two target on this team. The Cowboys are currently seven million dollars OVER the cap and the free agent wide receiver market is less than inspiring so any target competition for him most likely has to come via the draft. Dalton Schultz was his biggest competition before and he’s on his way out so I see a world where maybe he does return to the 100+ target guy we saw in 2019 and 2020. He’s incredibly cheap right now so you might even be able to get him as a throw-in.
Ceedee Lamb - age 23
Contract: Ceedee Lamb is under contract for 2023 though they can pick up his fifth year option for 2024 as he was a first round pick.
Outlook: Lamb is the shining jewel of this offense - if they can’t extend him they will almost certainly pick up that option but you have to imagine they’d like to keep him long term. He’s progressed exactly how you would hope by improving each season to the point where is now: a mega star.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - There are only two types of guy at the very top. Premium players we are willing to pay for and premium players we are not. Lamb is the kind of guy we are willing to pay for. The concern was that Amari Cooper was a big part of what allowed Lamb to thrive and that he could run into trouble as the top option. Well, it turned out that Ceedee Lamb was the trouble folks needed to worry about. He proved that he can be a top dog WR in an NFL offense and he’s still only 23. This is the kind of guy you sell the farm for because he hasn’t even hit the age apex for wide receivers yet which actually comes closer to 26 years old or so. Pay the premium and lock him into your lineup for the next half decade. Or more.
Jalen Tolbert - age 24
Contract: Jalen Tolbert was drafted in 2022 and is under contract through 2025.
Outlook: It’s really not Tolbert’s fault that he got so much hype. He went in the first three rounds to a popular franchise in the Dallas Cowboys and it just so happened that the WR2, Michael Gallup, was hurt to start the season. Like many rookies though, Tolbert just wasn’t ready.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - by nature of our belief in both Ceedee Lamb and Michael Gallup, we have to be out on Tolbert. If you really don’t like Gallup and you think Tolbert can not only get on the field but surpass Gallup to be the guy in two-WR sets, then maybe you are in on Tolbert. But Gallup’s contract really does not make it easy for the Cowboys to move on from him until 2025 and that’s the last year of Tolbert’s rookie deal anyway. So I’m looking to cash out now if possible before it gets even worse.
Simi Fehoho - age 25
Contract: Simi Fehoko is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: Fehoko was a day three pick so he faced a pretty uphill battle as it was. Last year he suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve so he didn’t really even have a chance to contribute.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - You can probably drop him in most formats but there is one last glimmer of hope to hang on in very deep formats. And that’s the notion that he could be converted to tight end. That was the exact path to fantasy relevance for Juwan Johnson and it just so happens the Cowboys are in flux at tight end. Fehoko has been seen working out with the tight ends in the past so it’s not crazy to suggest. But it is still a bit of a pipe dream.
Kavontae Turpin - age 26
Contract: Kavontae Turpin is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: Turpin returns both kicks and punts which makes him reliable enough to keep on the roster. But that doesn’t make him fantasy relevant.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Any time we see a guy run a 4.31 at his pro day that’s going to interest us. But Turpin is also 5’7” 158 pounds which makes it very difficult for him to be a full-time wide receiver at any point. He’s really only viable in leagues with huge bonuses for return yards.
RESERVE/FUTURE: Antonio Callaway, Dontario Drummond, Dennis Houston
FREE AGENTS: Noah Brown, T.Y. Hilton
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
In fantasy football we want high volume offenses where the targets are highly consolidated among the top dogs. That’s why both Ceedee Lamb and Michael Gallup can be “buys” for us. There is a real chance they just fill out the depth chart with guys like Noah Brown try to compete in 2024 with what they’ve got. For a guy like Gallup to not be fantasy relevant, they need to either draft a high end WR or TE prospect that catches on quickly or find some money hidden somewhere to sign someone better than him. I’m willing to bet against those scenarios.
Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends
The Cowboys have two tight ends under contract and three signed to a reserve/future contract.
Jake Ferguson - age 24
Contract: Jake Ferguson is under contract through
Outlook: The Cowboys reportedly like both of the young tight ends so it’s our job to figure out who the best bet is.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - Some folks are going to assume that, because Jake Ferguson was the fourth round pick and Hendershot was undrafted, he’s in line to be the starter. And Ferguson might be the “starter” but we have big concerns about his usage. He was asked to stay in an block on 27.8% of his pass plays and that includes Weeks 3 and 6 when Dalton Schultz was out (in those games, he blocked on 20.5% of his pass plays). In those two games sepcifcially, Peyton Hendershot also ended up running more routes than Ferguson (37 to 29). We’ll give some more stats on Hendershot below but the short and sweet is that tight now is your golden opportunity to sell Jake Ferguson to someone before they realize he’s a blocking tight end.
Peyton Hendershot- age 23
Contract: Cade Otton is under contract through 2024
Outlook: Peyton Hendershot is an undrafted free agent so he’s under contract for this year and next but they could easily keep him in 2025 as well as a restricted free agent.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - Hendershot on the season, despite playing fewer overall snaps than Jake Ferguson (307 to Hendershot vs 480 for Ferguson), actually ran just as many routes (114 to 116) and played more snaps lined up at WR (113 to 51). Now, that doesn’t mean Hendershot will be fantasy relevant since they might just split the snaps and this team does have good WRs. Not to mention, this team could bring in a new tight end. But that does give Hendershot the better path to fantasy relevance in my eyes.
Free Agents: Dalton Schultz
Reserve/Futures: Ian Buntin, Sean McKeon, Seth Green
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
This probably is the best possible landing spot for Dalton Schultz but they can’t franchise him again and might not be able to pay him. That makes the Cowboys a fairly attractive landing spot for any tight end in the draft (or anyone who is willing to sign an affordable deal). In the meantime, I’d focus on trying to flip Jake Ferguson for anything you can while he has his 15 minutes in the spot light.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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