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Fantasy fallout for new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy

Will the Cowboys new head coach help or hurt the fantasy projections for key offensive starters? We break down what Mike McCarthy means.

Mike McCarthy has been given the keys to a top offensive unit in Dallas with strong fantasy players at many of the key offensive positions. Jason Garrett wasn’t able to get the wins to keep his job but the players remained relevant. Will McCarthy be able to raise Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and the Cowboys’ ancillary players’ fantasy upside?

McCarthy’s offense had grown stale in Green Bay when he was let go, but the basic concepts of his West Coast offense have usually been positive for fantasy, especially when you have capable players. McCarthy has a strong track record of winning and has been working on updating his coaching concepts. He also plans on implementing more analytics into his coaching decisions. He will bring in a “14-person Football Technology Department, including a six-person video unit and an eight-person analytics team.” This at least shows he’s willing to bring in new ideas to stay relevant.

Will any of his new found research change his play calling? We just won’t know until the games start, but on the surface, it appears he’s done some self-scouting to help him find holes he needs to patch. We still don’t know if he will choose his entire staff or if Jerry Jones will push him to keep certain coaches. Kellen Moore did some good things in his first year as offensive coordinator but everything is up in the air at the moment.

It’s hard to separate McCarthy from Aaron Rodgers when looking at the statistics. The Packers under McCarthy didn’t put up big snap numbers, but the offense was so efficient under Rodgers that they were a top-10 passing offense from 2006 to 2014. Considered a bit of a quarterback guru who had a quarterback camp each offseason to go in detail on the previous year’s tape, he’s likely a good hire for Prescott’s development, but the main concern is that he relied on Rodgers’ superior talent to make his offense work.

The good news is that McCarthy’s offense was what Aaron Rodgers was in when he became the most consistent No. 1 fantasy quarterback ever. I feel good about Prescott and the passing game at least keeping the status quo, which was pretty good this season.

McCarthy’s rushing offense was never great but they also never had a back like Elliott. McCarthy did give Ryan Grant and Eddie Lacy big workloads in their best seasons, as they topped 300 touches and saw usage as receivers. I’m not too worried about Elliott taking a back seat to the passing game, but much like this season, he might see slightly less work, but should easily top 300 touches and still be a big part of the passing game.

The Packers receivers were always flush with touchdowns and two or three would have strong fantasy numbers despite not seeing 100 reception kind of seasons. Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings would put up 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in the same season and not hit 70 receptions due to the efficiency of the offense and Rodgers’ deep accuracy. I don’t see Prescott in Rodgers’ league as a thrower right now but Prescott brings more on the ground and even Rodgers supplemented his fantasy numbers with helpful rushing touchdown numbers most seasons. We will see just how much McCarthy wants Prescott to run but at least we know he’s not afraid to get his star quarterback involved as a runner near the goal line.

McCarthy was in many ways a safe hire, which means the team wants to keep the status quo while trying some new things, but maybe not too many new things. The Cowboys have a strong core that should keep them from slipping much fantasy-wise, even if McCarthy has lost touch and ends up a dud.