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Boardroom Bye Week Status Report: Dallas Cowboys

Entering their off week, Dallas and reigningNFC Offensive Player of the week Dak Prescott are in shape to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

After losing their season opener to the Buccaneers in a primetime thriller, the Dallas Cowboys are winners of five straight and off to their best start since 2016. At 5-1 and three games ahead of Washington in the NFC East, Dallas can enjoy a well-deserved bye week before a Halloween matchup at Minnesota in Week 8.

As most of the rest of the league gears up for games on Sunday, here’s where the Boys stand.

Big D on the Stat Sheet

The Cowboys are in the drivers’ seat toward their first playoff appearance since 2018 as the franchise looks to capture their first Super Bowl since the 1995 season.

Quarterback Dak Prescott is the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week, coming off of a game in which he threw for 445 yards and three touchdowns. So far this season, he’s averaging a career-high-tying 8.4 yards per attempt and a career-best 115 QB rating. Prescott has spread the wealth around , with CeeDee Lamb his favorite target (33 receptions for 497 yards).

On the ground, the Cowboys are the second-most prolific team in football with 986 total rushing yards and six touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliot is responsible for five of those scores and 521 yards, while Tony Pollard has run for 366 yards on 61 carries.

It adds up to the Cowboys leading the NFL in total points scored. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys haven’t been quite as sharp. The good news: They lead the NFL in interceptions with 11 and have a +7 turnover margin. The bad: Dallas has been prone to giving up big plays. Through six games, it has given up 27 plays of 20-or-more yards with at least three in each game this season.

2021 Cowboys Attendance Numbers

The Cowboys have only played three home games versus five on the road, but the attendance figures out of Arlington are terrific nonetheless:

  • Dallas is averaging 93,335 fans per game at AT&T Stadium, No. 1 in the league by a significant margin and the highest such figure since the venue opened in 2009
  • In 2019, the last season of full attendance before COVID-19, Dallas averaged 90,929 — this year’s number represents an increase of about 2.6%.
  • 280,005 fans have watched the Cowboys at AT&T this year, the second-highest total NFL home attendance figure to date. They only trail the Panthers, who have attracted 285,535, but needed four games to do so — Big D has outdrawn all five other teams to host four home games so far.

(Notably, the “official” capacity of Jerry World is only 80,000, but additional seating can fit up to 100,000.)

Their next home game is in Week 9 against the Broncos and tickets are sold out through the Cowboys’ website. On Stubhub, standing room seats start at $141 as of this writing.

Worth the Money

Prescott signed a four-year deal earlier this year that includes $160 million of total money and $126 million guaranteed, making him the third-highest paid quarterback in the NFL buy total contract value, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Prescott is already 28, so this contract will take him toward the end of his expected athletic prime — not that there aren’t plenty of quarterbacks who perform at an elite level well into their 30s (and beyond), of course.

Through six games, his play on the field has been everything you could ask for. Heading into the bye, he’s tied atop FanDuel’s betting odds board for NFL MVP with Arizona’s Kyler Murray.

It should also be noted he generates revenue as well, as Fanatics reported his jersey sales were No. 5 in the league last year.

The Cowboys boast the highest-paid running back and wide receiver in the NFL in Elliot and Amari Cooper. Elliot, whose contract is worth $90 million, ranks third in the league in rushing yards, though he’s just two yards behind Nick Chubb. The underpaid Derrick Henry is running way with the league lead in yards, carries, and touchdowns.

Cooper’s season has been more uneven. While Prescott threw the ball 51 times, Cooper had just five catches on eight targets for 55 yards. Not horrible on its own, but Cooper is in the middle of a five-year, $100 million contract. Compare that to Lamb, who has out-performed him this year and is playing under a rookie contract worth $14 million.

Someone who is outperforming his contract so far? Tight end Dalton Schultz. He’s had five-or-more receptions in each of his last four games and seems primed to top his breakout 2020 season. The Cowboys are getting production from him for a total contract valued at less than $3 million.

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Fantasy Prognosis

The bye seems to be coming at a good time for the Cowboys, as Prescott was in a walking boot after the Patriots game. The team hopes he can play in Week 8, so if he’s the key to winning your fantasy league, don’t panic.

At tight end, Schultz has definitively surpassed Blake Jarwin in value. In an offense with plenty of options, he’s has been a consistent performer and a valuable start at tight end. He’s the No. 3 fantasy tight end so far this year in standard PPR formats, trailing only Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and Baltimore’s Mark Andrews.

If you’re wondering what could throw a wrench into your plans with any of the Cowboys’ high-value guys, however, it may be the uncertain future of wide receiver Michael Gallup. The Colorado State product has not played since Week 1, but he is expected to return. At some point. Somewhere.

ESPN listed Gallup as the player most likely to be traded before the Nov. 2 deadline. If that doesn’t happen and he comes back — say, mid-November — Lamb and Cooper may be expected to take a slight step back in production.

In addition to Gallup, cornerback Kelvin Joseph and tight end Sean McKeon may be on their way back soon. The bye week comes at a good time for Dallas, who might somehow be even scarier when it returns in Week 8.

That week, the Boys head to Minnesota for a primetime showdown on Sunday Night Football. Expect Mike McCarthy’s team to be road favorites come kickoff as the haves and have-nots in the NFL playoff picture increasingly fade into view.