Forecasting the dynasty stock market is a daunting process. We must account for what seem like limitless variables. Coaching changes, draft picks, player ages and contracts all factor into whether we buy, hold, or sell players.
“IT’S JUST BUSINESS. EVERYTHING IS JUST BUSINESS WITH US: BUY FOR A NICKEL, SELL FOR A DIME.” – SPIROS “VONDAS” –THE WIRE
Perhaps no quote better captures the meaning of “Buying Low and Selling High” than the one posted above. Whereas Vondas was referring to something else entirely, this same perspective comes to mind when pondering the trade market.
Below, I will analyze the buys, sells, holds for the Dallas Cowboys. I give you one caution before evaluating these players. Individual league and team construction will greatly determine whether a player is a buy, sell, or hold. I hope this list helps you in your quest to dynasty dominance. Enjoy.
The Cowboys surprised a lot of people in 2016, winning the NFC East with a record of 13 and 3. Much of this success was thanks to two rookies. Fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott, a fourth round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Both players, along with the well-constructed offensive line, carried the Cowboys to new heights in 2016.
2017 is a new year, and there are several significant changes for the Cowboys. Two of these come on the offensive line. Tackle Doug Free has retired, and guard Ronald Leary signed with the Denver Broncos. People may think that these two losses will hurt the Cowboys, but I am here to provide the counter argument.
Not only did the Cowboys have a great offensive line, but the offensive line also had great depth. La’el Collins will be a starter in 2017, likely sliding over to the tackle position, taking Doug Free’s spot. The Cowboys also have guard Jonathan Cooper to fill Ronald Leary’s role. I have always been a fan of Cooper.
I remember wanting Dallas to draft Cooper back in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the Cardinals drafted him instead. The starting offensive line for the Cowboys is currently projected to be Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederich, Jonathan Cooper, and La’el Collins. That still sounds like a great line to me. I do not expect OL problems in 2017.
Now that we have the offensive line conversation out of the way let’s turn our attention to the skill position players for the Cowboys. Which players should we buy, sell, or hold in Dallas?
Dak Prescott – Where do I even begin with Dak? Watching the first preseason game in 2016 against the Los Angeles Rams, I was calling for Prescott to win the starting quarterback job for the Dallas Cowboys, immediately. I enjoyed what I saw. Prescott is exactly the type of quarterback I look for when building a roster. A leader with a great arm, who does not make many mistakes, that can run when needed.
Ever since that first preseason game, I knew that Dak was going to be the guy for the Cowboys. None the less I was not expecting him to perform as well as he did throughout the entire season. What Prescott did as a rookie was incredible. Passing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions as a rookie is remarkable. Not only that, but Prescott also ran for 6 touchdowns and 295 yards on the ground as well. Keep in mind Prescott did this all as a rookie! If Prescott did this in year one, you could only imagine what he can do as he matures as a player.
I am totally on board with Prescott as a top 10 dynasty quarterback. The 2016 rookie of the year has great talent around him too, which helps improve his stock. Prescott has a top 12 WR in Dez Bryant, a really good offensive line, and a top 5 running back in Ezekiel Elliott.
I see no reason why Prescott can not repeat and even improve on his 2016 campaign. I believe Prescott will throw more than 5 interceptions in 2017, but I do not believe that the number of interceptions will be incredibly high.
I suggest if you do have Prescott on your fantasy team, and you are a contender, try to acquire a proven veteran QB as your backup, (for example, Roethlisberger, Rivers, Manning, etc.) in case there is some regression with Prescott.
Dez Bryant – Dez Bryant is the clear number 1 wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. If Dez can stay healthy, he should easily be able to produce top 12 numbers for fantasy. In a three-season span, (2012-2014) Bryant averaged over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. I include these stats because I wanted to remind everyone how great Dez was when he was healthy. However, the last two seasons were not Bryant’s best, due to him dealing with injuries. Injuries to his former quarterback Tony Romo also hindered Byrant’s production. Bryant only played in 9 games in 2015, catching 31 passes for 401 yards and 3 touchdowns. In 2016, Bryant played throughout most of the season. In 13 Games, Dez hauled in 50 receptions for 796 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Hopefully, Bryant can put his health issues behind him, so we can expect another dominant season. The Cowboys need Bryant to step up and be healthy because the secondary receiving options on the Cowboys are not that special.
In dynasty leagues, I would love to have Dez Bryant as my number 2 wide receiver, because talent wise, he can be a number 1 for fantasy. But Bryant carries a big injury risk. I currently have him ranked as my WR11, but if I were constructing a team today, I would not want Bryant as my fantasy team’s number 1 wide receiver, because it would present too much risk.
If you own Dez, make sure you have plenty of depth at the wide receiver position, because his injury history is a real concern. You might still be able to acquire Bryant relatively cheap if an owner is frustrated with his past two seasons. I believe his value is around two mid-late first round rookie draft picks, or somewhere in that ballpark.
Ryan Switzer – Switzer was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Switzer, 22, can play wide receiver, punt returner, and kick returner. Standing at just 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and 188 lbs, Switzer is a younger version of Cole Beasley. I am not expecting much fantasy production in 2017 for Switzer, though he is a name to keep an eye on for the future. Right now, he sits behind Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Brice Butler on the depth chart. If an injury happened to either of the secondary receiving options, (specifically Beasley) Switzer would get the opportunity to see the field.
The only concern with Switzer (as previously mentioned) is his spot on the depth chart. He is a rookie, and he will have to prove himself and earn playing time early in his career. Beasley is due for a new contract in 2019, so there is a chance that Switzer could replace Beasley shortly if Beasley were to depart.
In most dynasty rookie drafts, Switzer is being drafted in the back end of the third, or even in the fourth round of rookie drafts. In one of my leagues, Switzer went undrafted, but someone did spend a good portion of their FAAB on him during our first set of waiver claims. Now is the perfect opportunity to buy low on a receiver who will have a great chance to succeed in the future.
Noah Brown – Noah Brown was the Cowboys’ seventh round pick out of Ohio State. Rumor has it that former Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott suggested that the Cowboys draft his former teammate. The wide receiver is still very young, 19, but has a lot of time to develop into a big-play wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys in the future. Brown likely starts his career on the practice squad but is a name to keep an eye on. Brown is relatively cheap to acquire right now in most dynasty leagues, as a lot of people don’t know much about him. Brown is 6’2, and 212 lbs. In 2016, Brown hauled in 7 touchdowns at Ohio State. While there is not a clear-cut role for Brown in 2017, keep an eye on him for the future.
Terrance Williams – Terrance Williams was efficient in 2016, catching 72% of his passes, but I just do not like him. Williams has never had more than 60 catches, or 900 yards in a season, with a career high of 8 touchdowns, dating back to 2014. There is nothing exciting about Terrance Williams that will translate to consistent fantasy football success. Williams is a secondary WR who will occasionally have a good week. It is hard to predict when Williams will either have a good game or be useless. Williams has shown that he does not have the skill set to be a WR1, whether Dez Bryant is playing or out. Williams does not put up consistent numbers. Don’t waste your time with Terrance Williams, unless you are desperate for an injury fill-in, or you have too many players on the same bye week.
Cole Beasley – Boy, it’s tough to list Beasley as a sell. Beasley had the best season of his career in 2016, hauling in 75 catches for 833 yards and 5 touchdowns. Beasley was a huge part of the Cowboys success in 2016. He was one of Prescott’s favorite targets, always getting open and being in the right places at the right times. My biggest concern with Beasley is that we have never seen this level of production from him in the past, and I do not believe it is sustainable long-term. In 2015, Beasley only caught 52 Passes, for 536 yards. He did have the same amount of TDs, (5) though.
Even in 2014, Beasley only caught 37 passes for 420 yards. Beasley has improved every season since arriving in the NFL, and perhaps he is becoming a better wide receiver, but I don’t buy into that narrative. Beasley will have motivation to play for a better contract, as he is an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but I don’t believe he will be able to put up consistent enough numbers to be a weekly starter for most fantasy owners in 2017. Ideally, Beasley is a WR4, low-end flex, or bye-week fill-in.
Another concern with Cole Beasley’s long-term outlook is the fact that the Cowboys drafted Ryan Switzer, who is a Cole Beasley clone. I know, I mentioned earlier that Switzer would likely have to earn his playing time in the short-term, so that should not be much of a concern for Beasley right now, but as a dynasty player, we have to be thinking long-term.
I expect some regression for Cole Beasley in 2017 and beyond. Beasley should still be fantasy relevant, but I do not think he will be able to out-produce his 2016 season. I’d prefer if Beasley were the 4th or 5th best wide receiver on my team.
Rico Gathers/Geoff Swaim/James Hanna – I don’t have a lot to say about Rico Gathers or any of the backup tight ends on the Cowboys. Gathers spent the 2016 season on the Cowboys practice squad, and there is a chance he could make the Cowboys roster in 2017. With this news, people are starting to stash Gathers in hopes that he becomes the next great Cowboys tight end in fantasy. I don’t think he’s that guy. In fact, I don’t believe the next long-term tight end of the Cowboys is even on the roster yet.
The Cowboys already have two other tight ends behind Jason Witten, with James Hanna, and Geoff Swaim. Neither Gathers, Hanna nor Swaim are the long-term answer. These are just role players who may happen to get a few targets here and there. I would rather let someone else clog their rosters with Rico Gathers, or the other backup tight ends on the Cowboys right now. If Gathers does make the Cowboys final roster in 2017, I would expect low-end TE3 or TE4 numbers for fantasy. I just don’t see him making an impact.
Brice Butler – Man, what a disappointment Butler has been so far. The Cowboys acquired Butler from the Oakland Raiders back in 2015, and Butler has not lived up to expectations. He has shown flashes of his potential but is never a reliable option for the Cowboys, or for fantasy. Butler does have that size and speed you look for in a wide receiver (6’3, 220 lbs, and a sub 4.4 second 40-yard dash time at his San Diego State pro day) but he can not seem to put it all together on the field.
Owing Butler on your team can be very frustrating. In 2016, I owned Butler in two leagues. I had to cut him in one league, and I’m still rostering him in a much deeper league. However, he is probably the next player I cut.I don’t believe Butler will be able put it all together. He re-signed with Dallas this offseason, but he is just a depth option more than anything right now. He is currently the team’s fourth wide receiver, but I expect Ryan Switzer to eventually pass Butler on the depth chart in the near future. Butler is the ultimate boom or bust wide receiver for fantasy, and he’s been a bust a lot more often. Don’t bother owning Butler on your fantasy teams anymore; he is not worth the frustration.
Ezekiel Elliott – This is more of a do as I say, not as I do suggestion. In the two leagues where I owned Zeke, I sold him. Both of my teams needed help at other positions, so I did what I needed to do. It pained me to trade him because I have Zeke as my number 1 overall dynasty running back, but after making those trades, I felt like I got a lot in return. In one league, I received Odell Beckham Jr, plus a late 3rd round rookie pick. (32-team half PPR league)
In another league, (12 team PPR) I received Jordan Howard, two 2018 Firsts, a mid-2017 second, and Kevin White for Zeke, and a future first round pick. After completing that first deal for those picks, I then packaged the two firsts, the 2nd, Kevin White, and one other minor piece for Michael Thomas. It took two trades, but I essentially traded Zeke and minor pieces for Michael Thomas and Jordan Howard.
However, I think you should not be selling Elliott right now. In fact, this might be the worst possible time to sell him. Reporter Adam Schefter recently said on Sirius XM Radio that the Elliott investigation is still ongoing, and there is a chance that Zeke could be disciplined by the league. If you trade away Elliott now, chances are the offers you receive are quite a bit lower than they were one or two months ago, when nobody was talking about this investigation. The right time to sell Zeke was immediately after the 2016 season.
At this point, you should keep him because you have a fantastic running back in a great situation on a great team. The guy can do it all. He’s fast, he can catch the ball, (plus, there is no Lance Dunbar in Dallas anymore!) he has great blockers, he’s young, and he is everything you look for in the running back. As a rookie, Elliott was the number two overall RB in the league in PPR scoring.
Zeke ran for 1631 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He also had 363 receiving yards and 32 receptions. He did this as a rookie! Elliott should be able to repeat and even improve on those numbers. Whether it’s because of his overall talent, or through catching more passes, his experience in the league, or with the help of the great Cowboys offensive line, I see no reason why Elliott should not be able to build on his 2016 campaign.
I believe Elliott can challenge David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell for the RB1 overall in 2017. Most people believe that he is the clear #3 behind those two options, but I think Johnson will see regression in 2017 (what Johnson did in 2016 was just insane) and Bell is no lock to play in all 16 games either. Bell’s history of injury and suspensions is well documented.
The biggest concern with Elliott is this ongoing investigation. Elliott is not known for being a high character RB off the field either, so that is a concern. But as it stands now, I believe Elliott is a hold for dynasty leagues moving forward. If you own Elliott, try to acquire Darren McFadden and/or Alfred Morris while you can, just to secure the Dallas backfield.
Darren McFadden/Alfred Morris – The primary back up running back in Dallas is worth owning in fantasy, thanks to the offensive line. If Elliott were to either get suspended or injured, McFadden would more than likely be the next man up. McFadden would likely be an RB2 for fantasy if an opportunity like this arose.
Don’t forget about Alfred Morris either, as McFadden is no lock to stay healthy if he were to see a larger role. Both McFadden and Morris are very cheap at this point, and they could be nice depth options if something were to happen to Ezekiel Elliott.
Jason Witten – Old reliable Jason Witten consistently gets it done. Witten has shown that even at his age, 35, he can still be a top 15 tight end. Witten signed a multi-year extension this offseason and should be a Dallas Cowboy for at least two more seasons. Keep Witten on your roster as a backup tight end, who you might have to occasionally start if the matchup is right. Don’t trade him for cheap because of the age factor. Keep Witten and ride it out. I would expect Witten to finish as a top 15-20 tight end for the 2017 season.
That wraps up my buys, sells, and holds for the Dallas Cowboys. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. Please follow me on Twitter: @JoeyColonna!