America’s team hasn’t been America’s champion (or anyone else in the world’s champion) going on 27 years now. In fact, they have won only three playoff games in the last 25 years. That’s one less than the Houston Texans, and four less than the New York Jets if you’re keeping count.
It certainly isn’t for lack of trying. According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys have paid 12 players more than $50 million dollars in the last 30 years, two more than any other team. By comparison, teams who could realistically be described as “not trying” like the Lions and Jaguars combined for a total of four players in that span. The Cowboys are spending like crazy, trying to amass the talent to compete for another elusive championship.
The problem is, they’re just not doing it very well.
Stephen Jones loves to complain about pie and talk about creating cap space, but he has lost every recent big-time negotiation:
Tank: tagged 2x, overpaid in end
Zeke: got put in a spot, blinked first and paid
Dak: tagged 2x, overpaid in end
Zero ability to project forward.
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) March 4, 2022
Currently, five of those twelve $50 million dollar men are on the roster: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyron Smith, and Zack Martin. Two others just left: Amari Cooper via trade and Sean Lee via retirement (pre-2021). Oh yeah, and while they haven’t paid him this money yet, the Cowboys just added another $62 million contract to their books by resigning Michael Gallup. He of the ACL tear that happened in this calendar year.
We don’t care much about the Cowboys’ real life ineptitude in fantasy football. We just love that they keep adding offensive weapons and getting into shootouts every week of the regular season. Dallas ranked second in overall yards per game and third in yards per play in 2021. With Amari Cooper off catching passes now from DeShaun Watson in Cleveland, who so we buy and sell for dynasty football from the Cowboys in 2022?
Buy: CeeDee Lamb
Fire up the five-disk changer because 2022 is going to be the year CeeDee is back in style! Let’s evaluate the situation among the Dallas receiving corps. Amari Cooper? Gone. Cedrick Wilson? Gone. Blake Jarwin? Gone. Michael Gallup? Likely out for a large chunk of 2022. The Cowboys signed Steelers’ cast off James Washington to a one-year deal, but otherwise the wide receivers include names like Noah Brown and Simi Fehoko. I learned today those are actually real players in the NFL.
The loss of Cooper and Wilson leaves behind 165 vacated targets and the loss of Gallup looms large as well. Despite taking a bunch of fantasy flack for “only” producing 1,102 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season, there was some extreme under-the-hood goodness that portends well for next season. Lamb was 12th in yards per route run, 20th in yards per target, and 17th in yards after the catch last season. His target share of 24.7% is stone-cold-lock guaranteed to go up next year and he will be the primary weapon for Dak Prescott.
But the best factor working in Lamb’s favor for dynasty is the age and draft capital. Lamb has played two full seasons in the NFL and has not yet turned 23. He was drafted 17th overall out of Oklahoma and you could almost see Jerry Jones’ pants getting tighter after he was able to draft a player from an old Southwest Conference school. This is a player who will have the perfect mix of talent and opportunity next season, and you don’t have to squint too hard to see a top-five wide receiver year in his future.
Sell: Ezekiel Elliott
The “sell Ezekiel Elliott” trope in dynasty football is a tale as old as time by this point. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong! In an era where teams are finally realizing there is no need (or statistical backing) for paying big money for a running back, Jerry Jones developed his own method.
Which of these is true about Ezekiel Elliott’s current contract?
A) It has the highest total value among all running back contracts ($90 million)
B) It has the highest guaranteed money among all running back contracts ($50 million)
C) It has the farthest end date among all running back contracts (2027)
D) All of the Above
It’s always All of the Above, dummy! And is Zeke 23 years old with very little mileage on his body? How about 27 years old with 1,650 carries already. That carries total is ALREADY in the top 65 all time.
Even playing 17 games last season, Elliott barely squeezed in 1,000 yards on 237 carries and added 10 touchdowns. But the problem from an efficiency standpoint is he was out-produced by a back from his same locker room. Elliott was 42nd among all running backs in true yards per carry. Teammate Tony Pollard was fourth. Elliott was 43rd in yards per touch last year. Pollard was fourth again. Pollard also was third in breakaway run rate (Elliott: 52nd). It wasn’t even a contest when you compare the two, and it allowed Pollard to rack up 169 touches in just 15 games.
The Cowboys do have a way to get out from under Zeke’s contract after this year with only an $11.8 million dead cap hit. Do they go that route? If they are serious about fielding a contender, they will.