Cowboys Preview Capsule
DALLAS COWBOYS (11-7)
New faces: TE Jason Witten, DE Robert Quinn, WR Randall Cobb, RB Tony Pollard, DT Trysten Hill, DE Kerry Hyder, DT Christian Covington, OL Connor McGovern, S George Iloka, S Donovan Wilson.
Key losses: WR Cole Beasley, TE Geoff Swaim, DL David Irving, LB Damien Wilson.
Strengths: Run game if Ezekiel Elliott ends holdout that approached month as team continued camp in Texas following annual stint in California. Pass game improved significantly following midseason trade for WR Amari Cooper last year. One of league’s best offensive lines gets Travis Frederick back after center missed 2018 with nerve disorder. DE DeMarcus Lawrence, LBs Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch lead talented young defense.
Weaknesses: No significant upgrades at safety, although returning starter Xavier Woods showed promise in camp. Young cornerbacks have talent, but not takeaways to show for it. CB Byron Jones missed offseason, camp coming off hip surgery. K Brett Maher was good on long kicks, inconsistent on short ones as surprise replacement for Dan Bailey last year. Inconsistency has resurfaced in preseason.
Fantasy Players to Watch: Every fantasy owner has to decide where to grab Elliott if holdout hasn’t ended before drafts. Rookie Pollard offers intrigue even with Elliott on roster. Cooper’s first full season with Cowboys could lead to fruitful numbers. Witten’s return after year in retirement should help in red zone, which could be factor for fantasy players.
Vegas Says: Win Super Bowl 24-1. Over/under wins 9.
Expectations: Super Bowl or bust for proud franchise just one season away from marking 25 years without trip to NFC championship game since fifth Super Bowl title. Outlook hinges heavily on whether Elliott gets new contract, or decides to report in hopes of eventually getting deal done. QB Dak Prescott has new, young play caller in Kellen Moore coming off two NFC East titles in three years, with 32-16 record, and first playoff win. Just like five years ago, Jason Garrett coaching for job in final year of contract. Trip to divisional round was good enough in 2014, might not be this time after Cowboys lost divisional game to Rams last season.