CeeDee Lamb Gifted to Cowboys, Immediate Fantasy Upside in Explosive Aerial Attack - Roto Street Journal
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CeeDee Lamb Gifted to Cowboys, Immediate Fantasy Upside in Explosive Aerial Attack

CeeDee Lamb was appropriately labeled as one of the draft’s most electric playmakers. Most “experts” projected him as the first or second WR to be taken. Yet, he somehow fell all the way to 17th overall to the Dallas Cowboys (who had Lamb 6th on their own board), making their already-potent offense even more lethal in 2020.

Lamb, who was Dane Brugler’s No. 1 WR entering the draft, is one of the more gifted receivers after the catch that the league has seen in quite some time. This makes his landing spot in Dallas even more appealing. Though targets will be bit congested alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the perimeter, the quality of Lamb’s looks should be sky-high coming from Dak Prescott within McCarthy / Moore’s aerial bonanza.

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The Talent: Lamb Elite After the Catch

As a three-year starter at Oklahoma, Lamb flourished in Lincoln Riley’s Air Raid offense. Riley moved him all around the line of scrimmage, allowing him to get into space and wreak havoc on the perimeter. In those three seasons, Lamb totaled 173 receptions for 3,292 yards (19 ypc), and a crazy 32 touchdowns. He also set a school record for most 40-plus yard receptions with 24.

Although he definitely benefited from a friendly system and three studs throwing him the ball in Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts, Lamb’s elite skill-set is what sets him apart from the other wideouts in this class.

Brugler highlighted Lamb’s ability to find defensive soft spots, then weave through them after the catch, along with strong ball skills in contested situations:

“Lamb has quick hands and feet to give defenders the slip before and after the catch, showcasing the football IQ and athleticism that allows him to find open space downfield,” Brugler explained. “There is a backyard football element to his game and added refinement is needed, but his natural feel for creating after the catch is what he does best, showing multiple gears, vision and toughness to force missed tackles.”

“Overall, Lamb is a balanced athlete with the body fluidity of a much small player and the ball skills and competitive nature of a much bigger player, projecting as a high-ceiling NFL starter due to his playmaking instincts.”

Lamb’s move-around versatility and slot experience are also major selling points, especially for scheming ways to get the ball in his hands and let him shred.

McCarthy cite this versatility as a major strength, gushing:

“Is he in the slot? To be determined. He’ll be on the field in our 3WR package. We want to train all our wide receivers to play all the positions. He can play inside and outside. Great addition to 11 personnel package.”

“He can play all four positions. Inside and outside. We want that flexibility and he has that ability.”

Lamb was often used as a movement receiver, with 26 of his 62 receptions (42%) coming out of the slot. This is where he’s likely to slide into this Aerial Bonanza, where Lamb’s ankle-breaking elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability can truly thrive.

Lamb’s Fit Within Crowded Cowboys Attack

Although the Cowboys didn’t necessarily need Lamb, with two returning 1,000 yard WRs already rostered, they couldn’t pass up on this elite talent they had ranked 6th overall.

In fact, they reportedly traded down three offers because they “just didn’t want to miss him.” An offense led by Prescott and highlighted by Ezekiel Elliott, Cooper, Gallup, and now Lamb, is just plain frightening — especially so in Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore’s scheme.

In fact, Jones was so ecstatic, he prompted one of my favorite headlines of all-time:

Before diving into specifics, consider the entire Aerial Pie. Under first-year playcaller Kellen Moore in 2019, the Cowboys ranked first in total yards (431.5 per game), second in passing (296.8), and sixth in total scoring (27.1).

Meanwhile, with Green Bay, McCarthy led a Top-10 Offense in Scoring and Passing Yardage in 10 of 12 years, ranking No.3 overall for this lengthy stretch.

Additionally, McCarthy almost lived in 3 WR, “11 personnel” during his coaching tenure. In his final year, McCarthy went 3-wide 77% of the time, trailing only the Rams. Now, he’ll be equipped with maybe the most explosive three WRs of his career. Dallas should provide plenty of Aerial Pie to go around.

But how will the slices be divided up?

Cooper seems likeliest to still operate as the Alpha WR of the group, manning McCarthy’s “Jordy” or “Davante” role. Cooper can run the entire route tree as well as any in the league, and masterfully work the sideline with Jordy-esque grace. Expect Cooper to approach or beat the career highs he set in yardage (1189) and TDs (8).

The target shares behind Cooper are more questionable, but McCarthy has produced plenty of Top-15 WR duos in his career.

Entering the draft, Jones unintentionally threw some shade at Gallup, suggesting he was seeking a No.2 WR:

“We talked to Mike and thought with this loaded wide receiver class, we could really come out of here with an outstanding player that we could use certainly as our second receiver – as our Y or outside – that had a lot of flexibility going at all positions. We never thought one of Lamb’s caliber would be there.”

Certainly, from a natural ability standpoint, Lamb brings more to the table than the talented Gallup. A locked-in No.2 role is well-within his reach.

At minimum, Lamb seems likeliest to inherit Randall Cobb‘s role out of the slot, where he did plenty of damage in college. In this set up, Gallup could continue to use his wiry frame and impressive body control to win on the outside.

Cobb has posted some monster seasons as McCarthy’s slot dynamo, including 91 receptions (127 targets), 1287 yards, and 12 TDs in a career-best 2014. While Lamb won’t see that volume as a rookie, a far-less explosive Cobb netted 83 targets in the Cowboys slot role last year. 90-100 targets isn’t impossible, and Lamb could do some immense damage on this work, given he’s capable of taking a quick-hitting hitch, slant, or crossing route and knifing his way to the crib on any play. This is doubly true considering the weak defensive attention he’ll be afforded.

Indeed, there’s plenty of hungry and capable mouths to feed here. As McCarthy points out though, this just boosts the quality of the looks when they do come: “You can’t have enough playmakers,” McCarthy noted, according to Fisher. “Any time you can add a playmaker to your offense, it creates more opportunities for everybody else.”

McCarthy then used a word that makes any fantasy owners ears and pecker perk up:

“He’s a dynamic football player,” McCarthy said of Lamb. “He carries that alpha status.”

Summary

It’s safe to say Lamb’s addition has sky-rocketed the 2020 fantasy outlook for most parts of the offense, especially Prescott and Elliott. After Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, Prescott is my no-brainer No.3 QB, with very-real 5,000 yard, 40+ TD upside. Meanwhile, Zeke will only benefit from the added space and scoring opportunities in a Cowboys attack that’ll rarely punt.

Among a crowded WRs corps, Lamb may struggled for a consistent immediate impact in redraft leagues. His run-after-catch abilities are elite, and should be utilized well out of the slot in this pass-happy, three-WR juggernaut. This will create some monster outings and an enormous weekly ceiling.

Still, with so many mouths to feed here, and Lamb likely sliding in behind two established WRs and maybe even Zeke, the elusive rookie may struggle to see enough volume for consistently dependable stats. If Cooper suffers his usual injury, or Lamb immediately ascends Gallup, a Top-24 WR season isn’t impossible. In fact, his talent alone makes this ceiling possible regardless. Still, Lamb’s value is much higher in dynasty formats, though, since Cooper’s contract carries zero guaranteed dollars after 2021. By then, Lamb could be a routine Top-10 WR.

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