Cowboys' Biggest Sleepers, Busts, Stars to Target in 2022 Fantasy Football Drafts
Training camps are underway around the National Football League, and the preseason is set to open with Thursday's Hall of Fame Game. This means that real, meaningful NFL action is right around the proverbial corner.
This also means, of course, that fantasy-draft season is upon us. In the coming weeks, season-long leagues will hold their drafts—ideally, not too early because preseason injuries are a thing—and serious fantasy enthusiasts have already begun their prep work.
The Dallas Cowboys, who ranked first in total offense and scoring, were a hotbed of fantasy value last season. However, the team also experienced a fair share of turnover this offseason. The offensive line has been revamped, and pass-catchers Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr. departed.
Here, we'll provide a quick overview of Dallas' fantasy outlook for 2022. We'll dive into some of the top stars, sleepers and potential busts for the Cowboys' coming season based on factors like past production, projected role and trending draft stock.
Let's get to it.
Sleeper: Jalen Tolbert, WR
In recent years, rookie receivers have frequently outperformed their draft status in fantasy. Cowboys third-round pick Jalen Tolbert may be no exception. With both Wilson and Cooper gone, the South Alabama product appears headed for a significant role.
"We’ll get him moved all around the field. We like to do that with a number of our receivers. So, we’ll do the same thing with him," offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said in May, per Geoff Magliocchetti of FanNation.
In Dallas' potent offense, Tolbert should put up similar numbers to the ones Wilson had in 2021 (602 yards, six touchdowns) at a minimum. With Michael Gallup still working his way back from a torn ACL, the ceiling could be much higher for early-season production.
Tolbert may not finish his rookie campaign with 1,000 yards, but he's a solid flex option with WR2 upside. Ranked just 93rd among wide receivers for point-per-reception (PPR) scoring, Tolbert is the Cowboys sleeper to target this year.
Another sleeper for managers to keep an eye on is running back Tony Pollard. Ranked 31st among backs, Pollard isn't a deep sleeper by any means. However, his dual-threat ability—and offseason work as a slot receiver—have him poised to be a potential steal in PPR formats.
Last year, Pollard tallied 719 rushing yards, 337 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Expect more from him in 2022.
Bust: Ezekiel Elliott, RB
With Pollard set to get a lot of work, both in the backfield and at receiver, managers should be cautious about targeting Ezekiel Elliott early. Franchise owner Jerry Jones is hoping to make Elliott the lead back but has admitted that Pollard will see a large role.
"He has to be the focal point," Jones said on NFL Network. "There is room for Pollard while Zeke is in there."
The other factor to consider is that Elliott hasn't been as explosive in recent years as he was early in his career. Despite playing all 17 games last season, he totaled just 1,002 rushing yards and 287 receiving yards—though he did score 12 touchdowns.
The uncertainty of Dallas' new-look offensive line also must be weighed.
As the 16th-ranked running back, Elliott isn't trending as highly as he has in years past. However, that's still high for a touchdown-dependent back who is spitting time with another capable runner and receiver. One injury or a dearth of touchdowns could easily cause Elliott to flop.
Managers should also exercise caution if targeting No. 1 receiver CeeDee Lamb, who is ranked sixth at his position. Lamb had 1,102 yards and six touchdowns last season and may see more opportunities with Cooper out.
However, Lamb is also likely to see more double coverage than he did with Cooper in the lineup. Lamb isn't likely to be a total bust, but taking him over receivers like Mike Evans, Keenan Allen and Tyreek Hill could be a mistake.
Stud: Dak Prescott, QB
There will be far less risk associated with targeting quarterback Dak Prescott this year. While the offensive line is still a tad concerning, it wasn't exactly spectacular in 2021—and Prescott still performed well.
The 29-year-old passed for 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns while rushing for 146 yards and another score. He's now fully healthy after suffering a fractured ankle in 2020 and battling various injuries in 2021.
"The Cowboys quarterback was probably the team’s biggest offensive standout during the offseason work," Jon Machota of The Athletic wrote. "He appeared to be in great shape and moving as well, if not better, than at any other time during his NFL career."
Trending as the 10th-ranked quarterback, Prescott carries almost no bust potential, and in fact, he may outperform his draft status in 2022. Managers should target him with confidence, as another strong campaign appears likely.
Tight end Dalton Schultz is also trending right where he should be. The fifth-year pass-catcher became a major focal point of the offense last season, finishing with 78 catches, 808 yards and eight touchdowns.
Schultz has Prescott's trust, and with the turnover at receiver, he could be an even bigger piece of the passing puzzle early on.
While Schultz isn't quite in the elite fantasy range, he's a quality starter who should only exit lineups if injured or during the bye. As the sixth-ranked tight end, Schultz is a safe draft target and should be viewed as the top of the second tier.
Rankings from FantasyPros and based on PPR scoring.