For the first time since 2010, the Dallas Cowboys will not have Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Dez Bryant on their roster. While the defense remains much intact, the Dallas offense will prioritize Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott with the hopes of a rising receiving core. Despite the departure of their franchise leaders, Dallas remains among the most talented rosters in the NFL. Below will feature predictions and what to expect from your 2018 Dallas Cowboys.
What to Expect From the 2018 Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott – 1,631 Yards
OVER: The Cowboys’ prestigious offensive line only got stronger this off-season, as they selected Texas guard Connor Williams with the 50th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Williams will occupy the vacancy at the left guard position, forming a line that features four first-round talents and a second-round pick. Elliott, who won the rushing title in 2016 with 1,631 yards in 15 games, averaged a whopping 108.7 yards-per-game. With the key addition to the offensive line and Elliott’s career average of 104.6 yards-per-game, it appears that the only factor that could hold Elliott back from surpassing his 2016 total is the efficiency of the passing offense.
@cwill lets go get our rushing title back big fella.
— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) April 28, 2018
Taco Charlton – 6.5 Sacks
UNDER: The Cowboys’ first selection of the 2017 Draft, Taco Charlton, showed that he was going to be a project in his rookie season. His first season in Dallas featured three sacks, 15 tackles, one forced fumble, and a ton of raw potential. Charlton left a lot to be desired as a first-round selection, especially after his very slow start. Luckily, a strong end to his season left Cowboys fans hopeful about his future. While doubling his sack total is not an unreal expectation, the Cowboys have assembled a stable of capable defensive lineman who will see playing time.
Tavon Austin Total Touches in 2018 – 125
UNDER: In a recent press conference, Cowboys’ Stephen Jones stated that newly-acquired Tavon Austin could receive a “dozen to two dozen” touches a game. Austin, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Rams, is assumed to be the newest scat-back for the Cowboys. In 2017, Austin rushed a career-high 59 times for 270 yards and has a career average of 6.7 yards-per-carry. While Dallas has made it clear that it wishes to add play-makers to their offense, 12-24 touches-per-game seems unrealistic for a player who has not surpassed 104 touches in a single season.
Stephen Jones says the Cowboys envision Tavon Austin in the same role Lance Dunbar had in the past. Jason Garrett said he can be a mismatch player in the backfield/slot and help in the return game. #cowboyswire
— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) April 28, 2018
Combined Catches by Tight Ends – 68
UNDER: Since 2003, the tight end position had been solidified by the future Hall of Famer in Witten. With the retirement of the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions, the Cowboys are thin at tight end. Dallas’ tight end corps will now feature: Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, and Geoff Swaim in a committee capacity. With a combined nine career catches, it seems this tight end group will not reach the 68 catches that Witten averaged over his last four seasons.
Dak Prescott Passing Touchdowns – 22
OVER: In what some would call a “sophomore slump”, Prescott tossed 22 touchdowns to 13 interceptions in 2017. Despite having decreases in every passing category, Prescott still produced a productive season for a second-year starter. Before the suspension of Elliott and injuries to All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith, the Cowboys’ quarterback posted a 16:4 touchdown to interception ratio. The Cowboys have also built the offense to support Prescott’s strengths. Receivers who are able to create separation and win after the catch. With the offense healthy and available, there appears to be no reason why Prescott will not surpass his 2017 total.
In his short career, Dak Prescott has 16 games with a passer rating above 100, that’s 50% of all games started. Guess how many currently active QBs have a higher percentage?
Just one. Aaron Rogers (56%).
— One Cool Customer (@OCC44) May 15, 2018
Leading Receiver Yardage – 817
UNDER: The release of Dez Bryant signified that the Cowboys will be moving to a committee of receivers. During Prescott’s rookie season, his receivers accrued more targets and usage. In 2016, three receivers accrued 90 targets and Prescott thrived when spreading the ball around. Last season, Bryant received 132 targets and the next highest was 87. This dominance of targets caused a drop in production across the passing game and limited the Dallas offense. To relieve this, the Cowboys have introduced Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson and Austin to the offense to accompany Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. There is no true number one receiver on the roster, so the mentioned receivers will share the workload. Due to this, it does not appear that one receiver will exceed the total Bryant averaged over the last two seasons.
Win Total – 8.5
OVER: After a disappointing 9-7 season and in an off-season of mixed emotions, the Cowboys will look to reclaim the NFC East and a spot in the playoffs. Even with three of their top players missing significant time, Dallas was still able to win nine games. While the coaching staff leaves some to be desired, the talent on the roster is undeniable. If the team remains healthy and eligible, the Cowboys will remain a playoff contender in the NFC. The Cowboys may not dismantle the eight-win mark, but Vegas will have to take the loss on their prediction.