The Dak Prescott Era in Dallas has begun. But should it begin on your fantasy football rosters?
Predicting the success of any first-year starter, especially a rookie quarterback, is a bit of a crapshoot. One thing seems certain, though: Prescott will be the Cowboys’ starting QB while Tony Romo recovers from the broken vertebrae that is expected to keep him sidelined until Dallas returns from bye in Week 8.
And while the Cowboys likely will look to add a veteran backup to the mix, unless Prescott is horrendous under center, he shouldn’t have to look over his shoulder.
The rookie could just as easily go 0-6 as he can 6-0 if everything else goes as planned, but wins and losses don’t necessarily translate to fantasy success — just ask Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Sure, Newton enters this season as the defending NFL MVP, and his Panthers are the defending NFC champions. But in 2011, then-22-year-old Newton still was incredibly successful in the fantasy realm (4,051 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, 14 rushing touchdowns, 22 turnovers), despite going 6-10 on the actual field.
Is Prescott this year’s Cam Newton? Probably not. But he’s a damn good football player and, as far as NFL offenses go, has one of the best supporting casts a rookie could want.
Dez Bryant appears healthy and already is very impressed by Prescott. Tight end Jason Witten is the security blanket the youngster will need both on and off the field. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley are no slouches catching the ball. Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris are tremendously capable running backs. Oh, and Dallas has the best offensive line in football by a mile.
So besides his weapons and protection, what’s so great about Prescott, anyway?
He was selected in the fourth round as the eighth quarterback taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. With Romo firmly entrenched in the starter’s role ahead of him, there was no pressure to perform — only to learn. Clearly, he has done both: In three preseason games, Prescott has a 137.8 passer rating (highest among qualified QBs in the preseason) and has completed 39 of 50 passes for 454 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He also has tacked on 53 yards on seven carries (7.6-yard average) and two rushing TDs.
This is an experienced player with a winning pedigree. Prescott graduated as a senior and led Mississippi State to three great seasons in the SEC. He went 19-7 in his final two seasons and won two bowl games in three years for the Bulldogs. He passed for 9,376 yards and 70 touchdowns with 23 interceptions, and added 2,521 rushing yards with another 41 TDs in four seasons, three as a starter.
Plus, Prescott’s schedule with the Cowboys is favorable: In those six games he’s expected to start, he’s scheduled to play vs. the New York Giants, at the Washington Redskins, vs. the Chicago Bears, at the San Francisco 49ers, vs. the Cincinnati Bengals and at the Green Bay Packers. Just two of those defenses — the Bengals and the Redskins — are very good. The Giants, too, have improved but had a historically bad secondary last season. The other three? Mediocre to bad, at best.
If you’re a poor soul who drafted early and lost Romo, you need to snatch up Prescott while you still can. If you’ve yet to draft, here’s what to expect: Prescott’s stock, expectedly, has soared: He’s going as the 16th quarterback in the 12th round and is owned in 38 percent of leagues. That means he’s starting in two-quarterback leagues and being taken as a backup in most standard ones. Those numbers will continue to rise before the season kicks off next week.
Prescott can, and likely will, succeed in the fantasy realm. Should you draft him with plans to start every game this season? Of course not. But fantasy football is a week-to-week game, and for the first six of this NFL season, he should provide an excellent chance to win your matchups.
So take Prescott as your temporary starter until Romo gets back, as a four-week fill-in for the suspended Tom Brady, or as a bench stash with a very high potential ceiling. But don’t miss out on the wave that’s coming.
The Dak Prescott Era has begun. You’ve been warned.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Images
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