Dallas Cowboys Team Preview

  • The stars at night are not so big and bright deep in the heart of Texas this offseason. These Dallas Cowboys come into this season with significantly less firepower and a lot of question marks at their most important positions. The front office stayed quiet all offseason up until now, which is shocking considering that teams who usually come off similar seasons tend to reload and retool staying pat. Owner Jerry Jones claimed the Cowboys “will be going all in,” but so far he’s kept his chips idle. Quarterback Dak Prescott and head coach Mike McCarthy are in the final year of their deals, so this is truly make or break time for the defending NFC East champions.

    The expectations are high every year with the Cowboys, but it is hard to find a reason to be overly excited about this team. In free agency, a lot of their stars left the Lone Star State. Lead running back Tony Pollard joined the Tennessee Titans on a three-year, $21.75 million contract. In late 2022, he took the majority of snaps away from Ezekiel Elliott and produced two 1,000 yard seasons between then and 2023. With his departure, Jones made a move to bring back Elliott on a one-year deal. Despite being a fan favorite, the soon-to-be 29 year old is aging and not nearly as effective as he was in his prime.

    Joining Zeke in the backfield are three unknowns in Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, and Royce Freeman. It will be a running back by committee, as each player will have to prove his worth to gain the lion’s share of the snaps. None of them are worth drafting in fantasy unless some owners believe Elliot will recapture his former glory this year. Dowdle, Vaughn, and Freeman all have very limited experience so if Elliot does emerge as the lead back, it will be interesting to see who claims the RB2 spot. The silver lining is that the committee could be beneficial in keeping all four backs fresh for a potential playoff push.

    However, the offensive line responsible for keeping the running game afloat will look a bit different in 2024. It is no “Great Wall of Dallas,” but it still has a couple bright spots. Tyler Guyton, the first-round tackle out of Oklahoma, will slide right into the left tackle spot that veteran and future gold jacket recipient Tyron Smith occupied last year. Smith joined the New York Jets this offseason as Aaron Rodgers’s new bodyguard on a one-year deal. Guard Zack Martin, however, is staying in Dallas on a two-year, $36.85 million dollar deal. Former Pro Bowl center Tyler Biadasz signed with the Washington Commanders this offseason, clearing the way for Brock Hoffman to be the full-time snapper.

    With a new-look line, there is some curiosity as to how Prescott and the wide receiver core will play. CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks are the team’s certified number one and two options and should continue to play as such this season. Lamb, who was the top wide receiver in half-PPR formats last year, finished the season with 1,749 yards, 12 receiving touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns. He also led the league in receptions with 135 last year, setting the team record in the process. Cooks had eight touchdowns of his own in 2023, tied for eighth most in the league. The combination of Lamb and Cooks could be a tasty entree for fantasy owners to sink their teeth into again this year.

    Unfortunately, head coach Mike McCarthy has this final year of his deal to lead the Cowboys to the promised land. Back in January, Jones said the team is “very close and capable of achieving our ultimate goals,” bringing back McCarthy to spearhead that belief. He has done wonders in the regular season, leading the team to three straight 12-5 seasons from 2021-2023. Yet, he is just 1-3 in the playoffs, including an embarrassing blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers at home in the NFC Wild Card Game last season. McCarthy may have won the division two of the last three seasons, but that is no longer good enough to guarantee his job security.

    Finally, it is no secret that every good team needs a franchise quarterback. Dallas believes they have that in Prescott, but the reality is that he is an unrestricted free agent after 2024. Last season, he led the league in passing touchdowns and completions and was an MVP candidate by the end of the year. Jones has expressed his support for him over the course of his career, but those days could be numbered as the possible cost to resign him might break the record for the largest QB contract ever signed. The positive side of this situation is that Prescott is in a contract year and will be playing his best ball to ensure his future. This leaves Jones and the entire franchise with great uncertainty about their own future.

    Writer’s Prediction: 10-7

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