Fantasy Sleeper Alert: Cowboys WR Jalen Tolbert 'Likely Solidified' Spot as Starter

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 23, 2022

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert (18) lines up against the Denver Broncos during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Jalen Tolbert (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Jalen Tolbert could emerge as a popular sleeper in fantasy football drafts over the final few weeks before the start of the 2022 season.

The pecking order among the Cowboys wide receivers has been up in the air throughout training camp as the team worked through the absences of Michael Gallup (knee) and James Washington (foot). Tolbert has done enough to earn a bigger role.

Jon Machota of The Athletic reported Tuesday the third-round pick out of South Alabama has "likely solidified" a spot in Dallas' starting lineup "even after Gallup returns."

CeeDee Lamb is the clear No. 1 target for quarterback Dak Prescott, but there should still be plenty of looks available for the Cowboys' other pass-catchers.

Tolbert proved capable of handling a high-volume role over his final two college seasons with the Jaguars, tallying 146 catches for 2,559 yards and 16 touchdowns in 23 games.

Jordan Schultz @Schultz_Report

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cowboys?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cowboys</a> absolutely love rookie WR Jalen Tolbert and his air-yardage shares (staggering 52% career at South Alabama). <br><br>I asked one team source: “He’s a dude?” His answer: “Yes. Has big play ability from the jump and knows how to separate. Dak [Prescott] already trusts him.”

The key for Tolbert will be staying prepared to handle any role within the aerial attack as the Cowboys begin to get healthier at the position. It's something he's working on, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.

"I'm learning more and more about each position as I go," Tolbert said. "And so, me just being able to move around and understand more—in the game Saturday [against the Denver Broncos on Aug. 13], it was kind of flying around on me. Overall, I'm picking it up. I'm good. Now, I'm just working on being consistent."

Jalen Tolbert @Jalen8Tolbert

One of the beauty’s of being blessed with talent is rising above all the doubters. It’s truly satisfying proving people wrong 💯💯

Gallup ruled himself out for Week 1 and hasn't provided a timetable for his return to competitive action. Washington is expected to miss 6-10 weeks after suffering a fractured foot in early August.

It's possible the Cowboys' wideout room is a lot more crowded following the regular season's first month, but if Tolbert has built a rapport with Prescott by that point, there's a strong chance he'll continue to handle a key role.

That opportunity in one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses makes him well worth a late-round investment in fantasy drafts. He currently holds a 129.3 average draft position (via Yahoo Sports), placing him late in the 10th round of 12-team leagues.

If fantasy managers aren't confident in his season-long production, there's a strong chance he'll have a breakout game early in the campaign while Gallup and Washington are out, which would make for a perfect time to see what he could fetch in a trade.

Either way, you could do a lot worse with a 10th-round selection.