Fantasy Football Booms/Busts 2018: The Dallas Cowboys

With over 50 percent of last year’s targets available, rookie WR Michael Gallup has a chance to make an immediate fantasy impact. (AP)
With over 50 percent of last year’s targets available, rookie WR Michael Gallup has a chance to make an immediate fantasy impact. (AP)

As the mercury rises and we inch closer to the open of training camps, our resident fantasy football sickos, Brad Evans and Liz Loza, will profile their favorite booms/busts of every NFL team. Today’s topic: The Rebuilding ‘Boys.

At first glance, the ‘Boys look like a bunch of rodeo clowns engaged in a game of chicken. So, which player has the most BOOM (return on investment) potential this fall?

Brad – MICHAEL GALLUP. After Courtland Sutton, Gallup was my favorite wide receiver in this year’s Draft class. He possesses the size, route acumen and consistency to step in and potentially deliver WR3 results from the get go. People will shy away due to his lackluster athletic profile (28th SPARQ percentile) and average speed (4.51 40-yard), but the opportunity is seismic. With Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Brice Butler off to greener pastures, just over 52 percent of last year’s targets are available.

Impress in training camp and it’s entirely conceivable Gallup becomes Dak’s weapon of choice. It’s not like Allen Hurns or Cole Beasley are all that intimidating. And I don’t believe in the Tavon Austin nonsense. Put it all together and he could be this year’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, a wideout capable of finishing around 70-1000-7. Expect his 170.6 ADP (WR65) to climb steadily during peak fantasy draft season.

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Liz – RICO GATHERS. A power forward on the basketball court, the 6-foot-6 and 273-pound prospect has his name scribbled all over Baylor’s record books. The Bears’ all-time leading rebounder, Gathers was selected by Dallas in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. Despite not having played football since the eighth grade, the Cowboys were intrigued by Gathers’ size and athleticism.

In his second year as a pro, Gathers flashed, earning praise from coaches and dazzling in the offseason. After running with the ones and scoring in back-to-back preseason efforts, it was assumed Gathers would make the 53-man roster. A concussion suffered in practice, however, kept him off the field for the entirety of 2017. Now, with Jason Witten out of the game, Gathers has a massive opportunity.

Word out of Arlington is that the ‘Boys will be using a committee approach to TE. I’m not buying it. Gathers should win this job. And if he weren’t adjusting to his third position coach in as many years, he’d be the team’s undisputed favorite for the gig. Reportedly fully-recovered from last year’s head injury, the 24-year-old believes he’s “ready for more.” I agree. FF: 54-536-6

On the flipside, which player should owners avoid like a dustup with John Wick in a dark alley?

Liz – ALLEN HURNS. Back in March I thought Hurns had a shot at a 100-target season, but that was assuming Dez stayed and the ‘Boys traded Beasley. Instead, they swapped Ryan Switzer for Tavon Austin, showed Bryant the door, and added Brad’s latest man crush.

Last year, Hurns spent over 30 percent of his time in the slot. Yeah, he can play outside, but that’s not where he shines. And it’s not like lining up opposite Terrance Williams is going to scare away DBs. Dallas has a crowded corps of pass-catchers, particularly in the middle of the field. It’s hard to imagine Hurns carving out a sizeable and consistent role, which makes him easy bust fodder.

Brad – DAK PRESCOTT. Given the exodus of talent, unanswered questions tied to his current arsenal, the fact Jason Garrett will lean heavily on Zeke Elliott and the overall depth at his position, Dak is circumventable at his QB15 (92.8 ADP) price point. His dramatic declines in every completion percentage category and yards per attempt (’16: 8.0; ’17: 6.8) from 2016 to 2017 only add pockmarks to the profile. Unless he establishes new career benchmarks in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, it’s doubtful he’ll leave investors in the black. At a similar price, give me Patrick Mahomes, Alex Smith or Marcus Mariota instead.

Unless you’re a few beers short of a six-pack, Ezekiel Elliott is a consensus top-five pick. But where does he stand among the upper-echelon. OVER or UNDER 2.5 Zeke overall selection in .5 PPR (Under = inside the top-two. Over = outside)?

Brad – UNDER. Honestly, the difference between Zeke, Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson is practically negligible. A strong argument could be made for each at No. 1 or No. 2. However, Zeke is my clear-cut numero dos behind Gurley. He’s a multidimensional beast functioning behind a superb offensive line, a rusher destined to be the centerpiece in a conservative scheme. No one should be surprised if he averaged nearly 30 touches per game.

Off a shortened season in which he posted the second-best dominator rating of any running back, Zeke could become the 10th RB this century to tally 2,200 yards from scrimmage and 15 or more TDs in a season. Disagree? You’re also probably one of those wackos who hears “Yanny” and not “Laurel.”

Liz – OVER. I have Zeke No. 4 in my RB rankings, behind Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson. Here’s why:
1) Bell gets No. 1 status for his consistency (he’s been a top-four producer in three of the last four years).
2) Sean McVay and Andrew Whitworth showed up in LA and promptly restored Gurley’s studliness, as evidenced by the 2,093 scrimmage yards he racked up in 2017.
3) The most productive player at the position in 2016, David Johnson is reportedly back to health and looking faster than ever. Plus, he’ll get some extra blocking help this year, which makes his 1,000/1,000 goal a real possibility.

Bring the blitz on Twitter. Follow Brad (@YahooNoise) and Liz (@LizLoza_FF).