The Case for Dak Prescott as a Top-5 QB in 2019 and Beyond
Previously I wrote about the top-five dynasty quarterbacks entering the 2019 season. While this list has not changed, there are several young QBs that could sneak into the list in the 2019 season. The one I feel has the best shot at finishing inside the top-five in 2019 and has the strongest argument for being a top-five dynasty QB currently is the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott.
Career To Date
Dak has been one of the most consistent and underrated quarterbacks in the NFL since entering the league in 2016. Drafted in the fourth round in the 2016 NFL Draft, Prescott was asked to start right away after Tony Romo suffered a vertebrae fracture during a preseason game. He led the Cowboys to the NFC East Division title with a 13-3 record. In fantasy, he finished as the QB6. This was the start of three straight top-10 fantasy finishes.
If one looks at Dak’s stats, one would find it hard to believe he is a top-10 fantasy quarterback. After all, Dak has only averaged 3,625 yards passing, 23 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. However, he makes up for his lack of passing stats with the ability to gain yards and score on the ground. Dak has averaged 315 yards rushing and has scored six times in every one of his seasons.
In fact, Dak has two of the top-25 and three of the top-27 rushing performances by a quarterback in the last three seasons. He also ran for three of the top-five most touchdowns by a quarterback in the last three seasons.
Stats at the end of the season are what many fantasy football players rely on for rankings, values, etc. However, these are not the end-all-be-all. Consistency is just as important. After all, most would rather have the QB6 who consistently finishes inside the top-12 week to week than the QB3 who has more studs than duds, right?
Dak compares favorably to two other quarterbacks that many consider part of the top five in Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz. He has finished inside the top five and top 12 more often than Wentz and slightly less than Wilson on a percentage of games basis.
Dak and Amari: Best Friends
Dak has suffered from a lack of separation by his wide receivers over his three-year career. This has resulted in criticism of his accuracy, especially in 2018. In his rookie season in 2016, Dak had the fourth-highest completion percentage in the league and completed over 7% more passes than expected, according to Next Gen Stats. This was helped by good target separation from tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Cole Beasley with 3 yards and 3.4 yards of separation respectively. Unfortunately, Dez Bryant, the Cowboys WR1 at the time, produced the second-lowest target separation of qualified receivers, only ahead of Kelvin Benjamin.
From there, things get worse. While wide receiver Terrance Williams had an average separation of 3.1 yards, Witten, Bryant, and Beasley all had target separations in the bottom half of the league in 2017. In 2018, Beasley’s separation came back up, but rookie wide receiver Michael Gallup‘s was in the bottom half. Newly acquired receiver Allen Hurns did not qualify. This all resulted in a decreasing completion percentage and passer rating from 2016 through Week 8 of 2018.
Enter Amari Cooper. The Cowboys traded their 2019 first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for the divisive wide receiver. The addition of Cooper gave Dak and the Cowboys new life in the second half of 2018.
The acquisition of Amari Cooper at the trade deadline has paid dividends for Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the @dallascowboys offense:
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 13, 2018
Cooper had a higher average target separation than any of the Cowboys pass-catchers in 2018. His presence allowed Dak to throw to more open wide receivers, which in turn increased his completion percentage and passer rating. In terms of fantasy football, the addition of Cooper helped increase Dak’s per game stats. Dak was on pace for a fantasy QB2 season versus a QB7 season without Cooper. Dak increased his number of attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns per game while decreasing his interceptions.
2019 and Beyond
Despite the fact that the Cowboys being a run-heavy team, Dak has thrown the ball an increasing number of times over the first three years of his career.
Whether that trend continues, especially with a legitimate pass-catcher, has yet to be determined. Dak also has a new, and what many describe as “innovative”, offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore. Regardless, if Dak maintains the same number of passing attempts as 2019 and the same production that he had with Cooper, he will finish 2019 with the highest passing numbers of his career. As is shown above, he was on pace in the second half of the season to be the fantasy QB2. Dak has a legitimate chance to finally finish among the top-five fantasy quarterbacks in 2019.
The future is unknown as of now. Cooper’s contract is up after the 2019 season. It is hard to believe the Cowboys would give up a first-round draft pick to not re-sign the star wide receiver. If the Cowboys do not extend Cooper, however, Dak has already proven to be able to produce QB1 numbers with subpar pass catchers. This already puts him into the dynasty QB5 conversation. If Dak produces QB5 numbers in 2019, and the Cowboys do re-sign Cooper, Dak firmly plants himself among the top-five dynasty quarterbacks.
Average Draft Position
Despite finishing as a QB1 in each of the last three seasons, Dak is currently being drafted as the QB15 in dynasty startups and QB20 in redraft, according to fantasy football calculator. Even if Dak only maintains his QB1 finishes, he is a value. If he is able to finish top-five, he is an extreme value.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has consistently finished as a fantasy QB1. This alone puts him in the discussion as a top-five dynasty quarterback. The addition of a star wide receiver in Amari Cooper helped Dak to produce fantasy QB2 numbers the second half of 2018. With a full season of Cooper, Dak should be able to produce career-high passing numbers in 2019. This will give him a good chance to finish as a top-five fantasy QB in 2019. If he does finish there, Dak should be considered as a top-five dynasty QB moving forward.
Dak’s current ADP makes him an extreme value. Draft him now and reap the benefits in 2019 and beyond.
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