Anytime you select a player, especially a quarterback in a Superflex league, you want stability. These players will be, typically, the highest-scoring player and usually the most predictable week in and week out. One of the most worrying thoughts for someone that you have on your roster is a change in the change in philosophy due to a change at the head coach. Add in the subsequent changes to the coaching staff as they attempt to build the staff they want, and a team’s offense can change drastically overnight. This scenario is something we now have to wonder about with the Dallas Cowboys after they decided to move on from Jason Garrett earlier in the week. How does the hiring of Mike McCarthy affect Dak Prescott’s value in Superflex dynasty leagues? In this article, I attempt to decipher Prescott’s fantasy football future by examining McCarthy’s coaching past.
What Mike McCarthy brings to the Dallas Cowboys
There is no denying that under his tenure, the Green Bay Packers were a consistent front runner in the NFC North. Yes, having a quarterback such as Aaron Rodgers helped, but McCarthy had a considerable role in the team’s success.
McCarthy had an impressive 125-77-2 record in his 13 seasons in Green Bay (2006-18). The Packers posted double-digit victories eight times in that period and made nine playoff appearances. They also won the Super Bowl (at AT&T Stadium) to cap the 2010 season. Something we all know owner Jerry Jones has brought up to him numerous times by now.
Green Bay ranked in the top-10 in total offense nine times under McCarthy, who was fired after a 4-7-1 start to the 2018 campaign. He was 10-8 in the postseason in Green Bay and advanced to four NFC title games.
While the overall records and Super Bowl victory is nice, it didn’t come without question marks. In his final three years, there were what seemed to be endless stories that would surface detailing the growing rift between him and Rodgers. There was an increasing sentiment that Rodgers was the one calling the majority of the plays, overruling his head coach in the huddle.
Part of the reason his tenure in Green Bay ended was due to what McCarthy even admitted to as being a “stale” offense at times. When looking at the playcalling breakdown, you can see this in his abandonment of the rushing game in his last three seasons. In his final season with the team in 2018, the Packers rushed the ball on only 32.46% of plays, a league-low. The previous two seasons were much of the same; in 2017, they ran the ball on 38.64% of plays and 35.32% in 2016.
Part of this goes back to personnel and talent on the field. If you have the choice between using players like Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Williams or trusting in the ability of Aaron Rodgers, you choose the latter of the two.
Things are different for McCarthy in Dallas as he can feed touches to Ezekiel Elliott to take some stress off the offense. This is not a fact lost on McCarthy, which he addressed in his press conference on Wednesday. When asked about Elliott, McCarthy said: “He’s going to get the football. Make no mistake about that.”
As for his new quarterback Dak Prescott, McCarthy spoke glowingly about his ability on the field.
“When you have a chance to watch a player live – I can recall his rookie year,” McCarthy said. “I’ve always been impressed. You’re going to be able to run the whole offense and then some. He has an incredible foundation to build off of.”
“Our offensive system will be built around making the quarterback successful – that’s the way I’ve learned it, and that’s the way I believe you play offense,” McCarthy said. “We have a great one here to work with.”
It wasn’t like McCarthy spent his year away from the NFL relaxing. He spent it preparing for his next opportunity with people he has trusted throughout his entire career. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero did a great piece where he sat down with the coach and talked about his time off, preparation, and what coming back meant to him and his family.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 6, 2020
The wealth of knowledge that McCarthy brings is a boost for the entire offense. Having worked with some of the greats to ever play in Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers, he can lean on this to help take Prescott to the next level in his maturation. For anyone in dynasty who is invested in Cowboys players, and especially Prescott, this move is a great signing. There is no way that Jerry Jones will not work out an extension with Prescott. He wants him, McCarthy wants him, and Prescott wants to be there as well. Jerry gets what he wants, and we want what he wants in this instance as well.
Dak Prescott’s fantasy outlook
Prescott is coming off his best year statistically. In his fourth year with the Cowboys, Prescott completed 388 of 596 pass attempts, both career-highs. He threw 30 touchdown passes (previous high was 23) and totaled 4,902 yards through the air (previous best was 3,885). He finished 2019 as QB2 in fantasy, with 337.78 points, only behind Lamar Jackson.
Part of the credit for these new career-highs goes to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. While there were some growing pains in the play calling, credit must be given for the team’s overall success. This included a boost in tempo as Dallas ran the sixth most plays per game on average this year (66.8). All signs currently point to McCarthy retaining Moore as the team’s OC, but he will still have his input on the week to week schemes and play calls even though he declined to say who would be the play-caller.
McCarthy’s desire to push the ball down the field along with Moore’s schemes should be a beautiful thing for Prescott’s fantasy value. Prescott was the second most accurate deep ball passer in the NFL in 2019, completing 48.7% of his throws that traveled 20 yards or more in the air. I expect this to continue in 2020 as both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup excel on these kinds of plays.
As I said earlier, change in an offense can be a significant factor in a quarterbacks play and value in fantasy and the NFL. Knowing McCarthy’s ability to develop and work on technique, I feel very confident in the future of Prescott. He will and should be drafted as a top 5 quarterback in dynasty leagues. In Superflex, where quarterbacks are a premium, I don’t expect him to be around past the second round even in leagues where guys like to wait on taking their first quarterback. Getting a 26-year-old quarterback that is entering the prime of his career on a team surrounded by talent is a recipe for fantasy football success.
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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.