The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.
High Side: Jason Wood
When the Cowboys lost Tony Romo and Kellen Moore last preseason, even the most ardent Cowboys fan had difficulty mustering optimism. Surely the team would move to acquire a veteran starter since the only option on the roster was a rookie 4th round selection from Mississippi State. Prescott had an impressive collegiate season and was an athletic marvel, but most scouts viewed him as a developmental prospect. His accuracy and ability to read NFL defenses were in doubt, based on the style of play at Mississippi State. Prescott was a human highlight reel in the preseason, prompting the team to go with the rookie as the starter.
The decision looks brilliant in retrospect. Dallas finished 13-3, and the team finished 5th in points scored thanks to the crisp play of Prescott along with his rookie running mate, Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott finished the season with 3,667 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. He also ran for six touchdowns and finished the season as the 6th best fantasy quarterback.
There are no sure things in football, but Prescott’s rookie accomplishments bode well for continued fantasy stardom.
- 335.6 fantasy points = 4th most in NFL history for a rookie passer
- 7.99 yards per attempt = 2nd best among qualified rookies
- 67.8% completion rate = 1st among qualified rookies
- 5.0% touchdown rate = 5th best in NFL rookie history
- 0.9% interception rate = 1st all-time among qualified rookies
- 104.9 passer rating = 1st all-time among rookie passers
The knocks on Prescott revolve around two issues: 1) his six rushing touchdowns are hard to repeat, and 2) he wasn’t asked to make difficult throws often. Both concerns are ridiculous. These SAME arguments were made, verbatim, about Russell Wilson after his rookie year. Wilson ranked 11th as a rookie and has finished 9th, 5th, 3rd and 10th in the four subsequent seasons. Let’s be clear, Prescott has the best rookie PASSING season (from an efficiency standpoint) in NFL history, and it came with a gimpy star in Dez Bryant and no credible second receiver. It would be odd for a quarterback to peak as a rookie. Prescott is going to get better this year. The speed of the game will slow down. He has his entire supporting cast back including the league’s best offensive line. And he’s already established a baseline as a fantasy QB1. Depending on how quickly the team takes the reins off Prescott, he could push for the overall top spot at the position sooner rather than later.
Low Side: Stephen Holloway
Dak Prescott was amazing as a rookie, completing 67.8% of his passes for 8.0 yards per attempt and passing for 23 touchdowns against only 4 interceptions. However, he only passed for 3,667 yards, ranking 19th in the NFL and each of the four players that finished just behind him all missed at least a game. His fantasy value was significantly increased by his rushing production. He rushed 57 times for 282 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. Expectations are that he will build off his rookie campaign and improve as a second year starter.
The vaunted Cowboy offensive line may not be quite as strong as a year ago. They have to replace the starting Left Guard, which could be a trouble spot and La’el Collins, who played only three games due to injury a year ago will replace Doug Free. Collins could be an upgrade over Free, but the addition of two new starters might cause some struggle before the players grow into a unit. In addition, the league’s defensive coordinators now have plenty of game film to prepare for the Cowboys this season.
Other than second year starting running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys do not have all world talent in the offense. Dez Bryant has missed seven games over the past two seasons and has not displayed near the talent and production he had for four seasons between 2011 and 2014. None of the other wide receivers are above average NFL players. Jason Witten is the all-time leading receiver for the Cowboys, but he is 37 years old and entering his 15th NFL season. He remains a solid player, but no longer is dominant. The team lacks special weapons, other than Elliott and the threat of suspension looms.
There are abundant reasons why the young Prescott could fail to match his rookie success and fall short of expectations in 2017.