Even without the spotlight of HBO’s Hard Knocks, the Dallas Cowboys’ top wide receivers — CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper — would have garnered plenty of attention. Lamb, the team’s first-round pick in 2020, had an impressive rookie campaign that suggested he might soon develop into a No. 1 wideout. Meanwhile, Cooper comes off his third consecutive 1,000-yard season despite playing most of the year without Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott.
With the Cowboys facing Super Bowl expectations of their owner and fan base, both Lamb and Cooper will need to consistently produce for the passing game in 2021.
While both Lamb and Cooper will start, it seems the former has moved into the lead role. Neither saw extended action during the preseason, but Lamb consistently impressed teammates and the coaches with difficult catches and improved separation ability. Lamb landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list before the preseason finale which complicates his projection slightly. However, according to USA Today’s Jori Epstein, Lamb had previously received the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing him to return after he tests negative for the virus on consecutive PCR tests taken at least 24 hours apart.
Fantasy football implications
Assuming Lamb returns before Week 1 — and his vaccination status increases that likelihood — he should produce a monster season in PPR leagues. He already hauled in 74 passes as a rookie and, with Prescott back, should garner even more than the 111 targets he saw last year. Importantly, more of those targets should come in the red zone.
As for Cooper, he should remain a featured weapon in the passing game. However, the veteran saw only 10 targets inside the 10-yard line last season and might see an even smaller percentage of the Cowboys’ passes in that area with Lamb’s emergence.