History repeats itself. This is known. Let’s dive back into the Cowboy’s past and look at the 2009 roster. Dallas was coming off an underwhelming 9-7 season where they missed the playoffs after a 44-6 shellacking at the hands of the Eagles in Week 17. The off-season came and star wide receiver Terrell Owens signed a 1-year deal with Buffalo, leaving the Cowboys with no real threat in the passing game apart from tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys didn’t let Owens walk because he was no longer good at football. Owens had become a distraction on the field, complaining when he didn’t get enough looks and forcing cameras towards the Cowboys sideline whenever a game was going poorly. When training camp rolled around next season, the Cowboys wide receiving unit was made up of the following:
Roy E. Williams (yes, that Roy Williams)
Not exactly a cream of the crop unit. However, it only took until Week 5 for a star to emerge from the group. With starter Roy Williams out, Miles Austin chopped up the Chiefs defense for 10 grabs and a Cowboy’s franchise record of 250 receiving yards. Austin would finish the year with 1,320 yards on 81 catches with 11 touchdowns which vaulted him to the WR3 position behind only Andre Johnson and Randy Moss on the year. So much for needing a star wideout…
Now, I’m not about to write up a prediction that the next Miles Austin breakout season is about to happen for the Cowboys in 2018. What I am saying, is that history has shown that just because “a star” wide receiver doesn’t appear to be there, doesn’t mean that is the case. Let’s breakdown the wide receivers and their potential fantasy outlooks in 2018. All ADP data is taken from fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
*Tavon Austin has been listed by the Cowboys as a running back and will not be noted in this article. Plus, the wide receiver room was too crowded anyways.
Allen Hurns (PPR ADP: WR 42)
If you have to pick a lead dog in the race for the number one wide receiver spot in Dallas, Allen Hurns is Vegas’s favorite. Hurns is coming over from Jacksonville after two straight injury riddled seasons. Before that, Hurns was a 1,000-yard receiver in the only season he has received over 100 targets. Quarterback Dak Prescott should mesh seamlessly with Hurns. As a bigger receiver, Hurns displays deceptively good route running and is able to get his hands on the football even through tight coverage. Hurns will likely see most of the attention from opposing star cornerbacks which will limit his fantasy ceiling, but he should receive the lion share of targets in Dallas this season.
Fantasy Projection: 70 receptions, 875 yards, 5 touchdowns (PPR: WR26)
Cole Beasley (No ADP)
It was only one year ago that Beasley was coming off a season as the team’s leading receiver. Small and shifty, he was Dak’s safety net in the quarterback’s rookie year. Beasley’s ability to get open for the short gains was something that went missing in 2017 and was part of the reason for Dak’s struggles. Something tells me with no Dez Bryant chirping for targets, Dak will take what the defense gives him and oftentimes that will be Beasley for a 6-10-yard pickup. Beasley should be deployed in the slot for every three wide receiver set and get plenty of looks throughout the season. Sure, his average won’t ever be anything much over 10 yards per catch (if that) but he should have a steady floor similar to that of an Adam Humphries in Tampa Bay.
Fantasy Projection: 60 receptions, 625 yards, 4 touchdowns (PPR: WR44)
Michael Gallup (PPR ADP: WR60)
Right after Dez Bryant’s release, questions surfaced about who the Cowboys would draft with their 1st round rookie pick. Many slotted DJ Moore, Christian Kirk, or Courtland Sutton to wear the star on their helmet, but I thought the Cowboys might be looking at the big bodied receiver out of Colorado State: Michael Gallup. Sure enough, Dallas took Gallup in the third round as the future replacement for Dez Bryant. While I don’t think Gallup starts right away, I do think his ball tracking skills gets him on the field more and more as the season progresses. He is a physical receiver and with Terrance Williams on a short leash, Gallup should see more and more snaps as he learns to perfect the full route tree.
Fantasy Projection: 45 receptions, 630 yards, 6 touchdowns (PPR: WR46)
Terrance Williams (No ADP)
T-Will’s team outlook clouded up after an offseason ankle surgery and an arrest for driving while intoxicated. Williams has been a mainstay in the Dallas’ starting roster since his rookie year in 2013. He is far and away the most experienced with the Cowboys’ offensive scheme and he has always been heralded as a great run blocker and crossing routes receiver by coaches. While many are projecting that Williams will be released prior to Week 1, I think his experience, his contract ($7.25 mill dead cap hit), and run blocking keeps him on the roster and as a starting WR come the season opener. However, his dead cap hit drops to $2.5 million prior to the 2019 season and the Cowboys got rid of a much more talented Dez Bryant for being a team distraction. With younger wide receivers looking for snaps, Williams’ opportunities could diminish as the season progresses, with this year likely his last in the Cowboys uniform.
Fantasy Projection: 40 receptions, 500 yards, 2 touchdowns (PPR: WR75)
Deonte Thompson (No ADP)
Dallas really likes to replace former wide receivers with cheaper models that play extremely similar to the outgoing player. Such is the case with Deonte Thompson signing with Dallas to replace the outgoing Brice Butler who left for Arizona in the off-season. Thompson still has deep threat speed at age 28 but will see limited snaps behind Hurns, Williams, & Gallup on the outside. He can put together a solid game here and there, but won’t be fantasy relevant for a heavy majority of the season sans injuries to the aforementioned players. He has an outside chance of getting cut if he has a poor camp this summer, however no other wide receiver offers the deep threat speed that Thompson has. I believe he makes the roster.
Fantasy Projection: 20 receptions, 315 yards, 1 touchdown (PPR: WR105)
The Cowboys aren’t likely to carry more than five wide receivers on the active roster. Yep, sorry Noah Brown truthers. He is back to the practice squad. With a lot of development for the soon to be 22-year-old, he still has time to make the active roster but that’s probably still a year away. There’s an outside chance Dallas part ways with Thompson or possibly even Williams this season; however, that’s still an outside chance. The practice squad is likely to have Noah Brown and potentially KD Cannon, an undrafted rookie free agent that rode the practice squad at the end of the 2017 season.
If you like fantasy articles over the Cowboys, stay tuned for a similar article coming out next week that will look at Dallas' tight end group and who might carry the load in replacing Jason Witten. In the meantime, jump on over to Dynasty Happy Hour and check out our dynasty rankings. As always, feel free to reach out to me personally on Twitter at @robbyjeffries.