The Dallas Cowboys 2015 season certainly did not live up to the expectations that followed their successful 12-4 2014 campaign. Offensively, in 2015, Dallas took a major step back, which could, in large part, be due to a few things: 1) the loss of RB Demarco Murray before the season in free agency, 2) WR Dez Bryant only playing in 9 games due to a foot injury, and 3) Tony Romo getting injured in week 2 certainly didn’t help matters. Although Romo was able to return in week 11 against the Miami Dolphins, he ended up re-injuring his clavicle against the Carolina Panthers the next week and was placed on IR shortly thereafter. In the end, the offensive game plan of 2014, run the ball and dominate time of possession, did not yield the same results in 2015. This led to more opportunities for opponents to exploit Dallas’ shaky defense.
Ultimately, Dallas finished at 4-12 on the season, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many fans and fantasy football players. However, Dallas’ 2015 season did still provide a number of opportunities for dynasty owners to capitalize on. Let’s dive into who some of the more intriguing production prospects the Cowboys will field come 2016 and beyond.
Note: I am basing my recommendations off a 12 team PPR scoring format.
Tony Romo: A broken clavicle derailed Romo’s 2015 season, which caused the entire Dallas offense to come to a screeching halt. Romo’s injury certainly seemed to underline his importance to Dallas, but, unfortunately, also brought Romo’s dynasty outlook to it’s lowest point. Romo plans to be evaluated at the end of February to decide whether or not he needs surgery on his left collarbone, which would limit his off-season participation, but I don’t view that as a negative since he has spent the last couple seasons playing in games with limited practice reps. I say hold him because I think the Cowboys will make a concerted effort to add talent at the skill positions on offense through the draft. Personally, I am waiting to sell Romo in-season, after he has strung together a couple of solid games which should improve his value.
Darren McFadden: His value will never be higher for the rest of his career. I simply don’t think he will maintain his health, like he did last season and this is the time to sell McFadden before he gets injured again and people come to their senses. The 2015 season was just the second time, in his 8 seasons, that McFadden was able to play in all 16 games, and I strongly doubt that will be replicated. It was also only the 3rd time in his career where he carried the ball more than 155 times in a season. If you can get a late 2nd round rookie pick for McFadden, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Lance Dunbar: This is assuming that Dallas re-signs Dunbar or he signs with a team that offers equal or greater opportunity. Even though he ended up on IR after week 4, Dunbar was clearly carving out a role within the offense before his injury. In fact, he collected 8 passes (on 8 targets) for 70 yards in week 1, 3 passes (on 5 targets) for 45 yards in week 2, and 10 passes (on 10 targets) for 100 yards in week 3. I think his role in Dallas grows next season and he is a cheap add right now. Buy with confidence.
Dez Bryant: As stated before, Dez’s 2015 season suffered due to a number of factors, especially a foot injury that cost him 7 games. Additionally, the quality of QB play really dropped off after Romo was injured. Ultimately, Dez was only able to produce 31 receptions for 401 yards and 3 TDs on 72 targets, which was good for WR81 on the season. Dez’s January ADP was the 14th pick overall on Dynasty Nerds, which is a huge drop after being a top 2 overall dynasty asset in the 2015 off-season. Bryant will still be only 27 to start 2016 and has at least 2 elite seasons left. Personally, I would ask the Dez owner in your league what it would take to acquire him and if you can get him at a bargain, I highly recommend buying him and laughing all the way to the bank.
Terrance Williams: At this point, we know what Williams is: a limited receiver who is better served as a role player in an offense. I say hold because I believe the Cowboys draft a WR that would allow Williams to slide into a more appropriate role where he can excel and see his value increase. Like Romo, I would wait for Williams to have a strong game or two and then sell when his value has increased in-season.
Cole Beasley: If you haven’t noticed a common theme, I believe the Cowboys draft a WR, and the low man on the totem pole is Beasley. I view Beasley as an end-of-bench stash, but I can think of a number of other WRs that I would rather have in that position. Thus, leaving “The Bease,” as purely a replaceable talent.
Jason Witten: Witten is 33 years old and would save the Cowboys over $4.3 million on their 2016 cap if he were let go. I know he is a staple in the Cowboys offense, but, considering the Cowboys are already up against the cap for 2016 and they have a young TE in Gavin Escobar (see below) who has shown to be very productive in limited opportunity, I think it would be a shrewd move by both Dallas and dynasty owners to cut ties with Witten. The reason I suggest selling the Pro Bowl TE is because I simply don’t know if he finds as good a home if released. I am selling Witten now on the off chance that he does, in fact, get released, while he still has a little bit of dynasty appeal left.
Gavin Escobar: Full Disclosure: I have a man-crush on Escobar. I love his movement skills, catching ability and his ability to stretch the field. He is a mammoth target who has great hands and will only be 25 to start the 2016 season. He is on a cheap rookie contract for 2016 and the Cowboys invested a 2nd round draft pick in him, which means they have to believe he has the ability to be their starting TE. Due to him being placed on IR last season, I imagine Escobar is probably quite cheap and you can get him as a throw-in in larger deals. I would buy with confidence.
2016 NFL Draft
In case you haven’t caught on, I believe the Cowboys will invest in the skill positions on offense, especially RB and WR. They also have needs on defense, namely DB and DL. Considering how little cap room Dallas has, most all improvements will be made through the draft, unless they can clear some serious cap room to make a run at some mid-range free agents. I think an ideal situation for the Cowboys would be to trade out of the 4th overall pick in an effort to acquire a number of picks, which will enable them to address multiple areas where they currently have roster deficiencies.
While the Cowboys were not able to repeat the success of 2014, there is still plenty of talent in the offense and, with Romo starting the season healthy, the offense has the opportunity for a major rebound in 2016. Even though the offense still has growing to do, it still has the chance to greatly improve next season and there are plenty of production players for dynasty owners to take advantage of this off-season. So, go forth and conquer, while making the necessary moves to help your dynasty team now and for the future. Remember, always be building!
Thanks for reading. You can find me on Twitter @2A4T3T.