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Fantasy football studs: Dallas Cowboys

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First-round draft pick Ezekiel Elliott has taken the NFL and fantasy football leagues by storm and is already predicted to do mind-blowing things this season. Fantasy football strategists are salivating at the possibilities that Elliott brings to their leagues. Could he have the best rookie fantasy season ever?

Elliott comes into his Cowboys rookie season with skill sets that some running backs don’t perfect in their entire NFL careers. His ability to run is astounding. He’s a great pass-catcher and showed Kam Chancellor his ability to run through the “Legion of Boom.” With Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris helping him protect Dak Prescott, his presence alone with Dez Bryant give the Cowboys an ultimate boost. Ezekiel Elliott is a star, and he hasn’t played one minute in the regular season.

So how will this affect his fantasy value? Well, you can almost guarantee that the ball will be coming to Elliott from Dak Prescott. It would be ridiculous not to utilize this kid’s catching ability on the field. But, when Zeke is not the option for the man under center, you can best believe they will go back to Old Reliable.

Dez Bryant, flair and all, is one of the top 10 wide receivers in the NFL for a reason. Now that his foot injury from last season is fully recovered, he is destined to kick up some dust in Arlington. Now, if this was a team being led by Tony Romo, you could easily say that Dez’s touches could equal or surpass those of Ezekiel Elliott. But at this point, it’s not. Dak Prescott is leading this train, and it is almost guaranteed that he will tune up Zeke as much as he can. That’s not saying Bryant won’t get his fair share of touches. Either is an excellent choice for a fantasy lineup, and if you get them together, you could be the luckiest fantasy player in history.

ESPN had plenty to say about Bryant’s fantasy value without Tony Romo:

“In Romo’s absence, Dez Bryant’s fantasy value becomes a great concern as well.” They further explain that from 2012 to 2015,  Bryant has been considered to be a clear WR1 – the 200-plus-point fantasy potential player. His average was .239 fantasy points per snap played while Romo was on the field, as compared to .144 when Romo was not. If you consider his typical 50 to 55 snaps played per contest, around five fantasy points fewer per game. It was even less in 2015.

Elliot, however, is in a position to capitalize off of the change in regime. His ability to run cannot be overlooked, but combined with his ability to catch passes, he could be looking at 40 to 60 receptions in 2016, and for any fantasy football roster, that is not a bad thing at all. Elliott’s sheer talent alone can pretty much guarantee he will become the Cowboys’ “must be on the field” player. As a rookie, that’s close to unheard of in the running back position. But Zeke is not normal. You can expect a lot from this kid. Plus, when you have players like Alfred Morris next to him giving Dak Prescott passing room and Dez Bryant as an alternate option (that sounds awkward – DEZ BRYANT is now the Cowboys’ alternate option to connect with), this could lead to some fireworks in Jerry Land.

Elliott’s goal this year is Rookie of the Year. Now, anytime you’re discussing a rookie when it comes to fantasy football, there is a risk. However, with Elliott the risk is pretty minimal. Unless Adrian Peterson or La’Veon Bell are still on the board, go for Zeke. Whereas he might not be a sure bet in 2016 because of his newness, the possibility this running back has to be elite in the NFL is close to certain. Next in line is someone who has already proved their value on the field and will continue to do so. Dez Bryant is hungry this season, and his energy alone is reason enough to take him off of the board. Expect great things from Dez and Zeke this season, and may your fantasy leagues show they were smart bets for your roster.

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