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NFL Draft

Fantasy Football Implications of Dak Prescott’s New Deal

  • The Draft Network
  • March 9, 2021
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The Dak Prescott saga is finally over. For more than a year—spanning two offseasons, a catastrophic leg injury, and a whole lot of rumors—Dallas Cowboys fans and Prescott himself waited for this moment. The cacophony of takes, mock trade offers, and anything else the minds of fans and media alike could cook up that flooded NFL circles is now a thing of the past. The news of the present is this:

Four years. $160 million. $126 million guaranteed. $75 million in year one, including a $66 million signing bonus.

Those are the terms of Prescott’s new deal, which, when including the franchise tag he played on last season, look a lot like what everyone expected the two sides to agree to last offseason. For a breakdown of what this deal means for Prescott and the Cowboys, click here. In this space, let’s focus on the fantasy football implications.

On a per-game basis, the No. 1 fantasy quarterback in 2020 was… Prescott. Sure, he played only five games, but in those contests he averaged a whopping 27.73 fantasy points—only Christian McCaffrey (30.1 FPPG, three games) averaged more points in the entire fantasy space. While it’s very unlikely Prescott would’ve kept that pace up over the course of 16 games, the Dallas quarterback has put together a very impressive run of fantasy success in his young career.

Since coming into the NFL in 2016, Prescott’s 18.94 fantasy points per game average ranks seventh among all quarterbacks and 11th among all players. Over the last two seasons, only Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes have bested Prescott on a per-game basis. Prescott has moved from a fantasy sleeper to a fantasy superstar and should be treated as such on draft day… with a catch.

Dak Prescott’s 2021 Fantasy Value

Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in October and it’s too early in the offseason to really ascertain his Week 1 status for 2021. If it turns out he won’t be ready for the opener, his fantasy value will take a fairly significant hit, but that seems like the most extreme outcome as of right now. So what’s his fantasy value if he is cleared?

In whatever order you prefer, the first three quarterbacks off the board next season should be Mahomes, Jackson, and Josh Allen. The next group includes Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, and Prescott. The QB4-7 range feels about right for the Cowboys’ signal-caller. For my taste, that’s probably a sixth-round pick in 12-team, single-QB, re-draft leagues—however, QB4 could be as high as a top-40 pick in home/casual leagues. 

Given all the weapons Dallas possesses on offense—Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Ezekiel Elliott, a returning Blake Jarwin, etc.—and the fact that the offense will have to make up for its putrid defense’s deficiencies, Prescott is set up for major fantasy success in 2021. Averaging 27-plus points per game like he did in 2020 is asking too much. Averaging the 23.2 he’s had since the start of 2019 is a more reasonable ceiling, with 20 points being his non-injury floor. If fully healthy, he’d be a top-five quarterback. Given the uncertainties, he slots in at either QB6 or QB7 for me if I were drafting for the 2021 season right now.

Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb’s Fantasy Value

Cooper managed to finish last season as a low-end WR2 in average fantasy points per game (PPR) despite the mediocre quarterback carousel that paraded through Dallas following Prescott’s injury. But when Prescott was playing, he ranked as the WR9 in average points per game among all receivers who had played in more than two games at that point. He was the WR14 in average fantasy points back in 2019 and No. 10 in total points.

Cooper will have plenty of fantasy value with Prescott back, cementing himself as a solid WR2 in a wide receiver group that’s as crowded as ever with quality options. He came in at WR18 for me in my way-too-early 2021 fantasy football mock draft, but I can see him going a few spots higher based on a specific drafter’s personal preference.

As for Lamb, he had a magnificent start to his rookie season when Prescott was healthy. He averaged 17.1 fantasy points per game, which ranked as the WR16 at the time. By the end of the season, he fell to WR38 in average points. I expect Lamb to be a lot closer to WR20 in 2021 than WR30 with Prescott back. He has a sensational skill set and will be afforded numerous favorable matchups with Cooper also on the field. Lamb could turn into one of the steals of 2021 fantasy drafts if he’s taken outside the top 50. 

Ezekiel Elliott’s Fantasy Value

Elliott is one of the more fascinating players to evaluate this offseason. Once a “safe” pick as an elite running back you’d take in the first half of the first round, a disappointing 2020 will give many fantasy managers pause when on the clock this season. But for as rough and inconsistent as things were at times, you can’t deny that he was still damn productive when Prescott was under center. 

Elliott averaged 22.3 fantasy points per game in the five contests started by Prescott compared to just 11.2 points per game otherwise. There are still offensive line, fumbling, and Tony Pollard concerns to account for, but the return of Prescott keeps Elliott among the top 10 fantasy running backs for 2021. How high he ranks inside that group depends on how much faith one has in a return to form—Elliott is currently ranked as my RB10. 

Prescott’s deal with the Cowboys is highly beneficial to his fans, Dallas fans, and fantasy managers alike. Cooper, Lamb, Elliott, and all other Cowboys get a boost to their full potential value upon his return. If healthy, Prescott has the opportunity and weapons to cement himself as an elite fantasy quarterback and a potential top-three player at his position heading into 2022 fantasy drafts.

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