NFL News & Analysis

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott cleared to play in 2021 season opener against Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during training camp practice at the Marriott Residence Inn. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

After dealing with a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the bulk of the offseason, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will take the field in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Prescott returned to practice on Aug. 25 after sitting out multiple weeks as Dallas took the conservative approach with the signal-caller's shoulder strain. He played just 360 snaps in 2020 before suffering a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle in Week 5.

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NFL Impact

Prescott was on pace for a career year in 2020: Prescott's 85.2 PFF grade ranked seventh among all quarterbacks through the first five weeks of last season. It would have been the highest of his career. Click here for PFF Premium Stats…

Cowboys needed him back: The Dallas offense fell apart without Prescott last season. The team averaged 6.5 yards per play in his five starts to open the year (second league-wide) and 4.7 yards per play in their final 11 games (32nd). Click here for PFF's 2021 QB Annual…

A spark to the downfield passing game: Prescott has thrown a perfectly accurate pass, per PFF's ball-location charting, on 30.7% of his deep pass attempts since 2016, eighth among the 34 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 120 deep passes over that span.

Dak Prescott: PFF grade and rank since 2016, among QBs with 200-plus dropbacks
Season  PFF overall grade Rank
2020 85.2 8 of 36
2019 80.1 11 of 35
2018 74.6 19 of 37
2017 72.2 17 of 36
2016 81.5 8 of 34
Click here to view Dak Prescott's career in PFF Premium Stats

Fantasy Football Impact

Buy the dip on Dak Prescott: Prescott tends to be the last name off the board from the “elite tier” of quarterbacks, which makes aggressively pursuing him worthwhile. The Cowboys quarterback has elite upside — he finished first in passing yards per game last year (371) — and a super safe floor that few can beat. He’s the only quarterback to finish inside the top 10 every season from 2016-19. Click here for PFF's Fantasy Projections.

Ezekiel Elliott is a top-five RB: From Weeks 1-4, Elliott's 135 routes run to start last season ranked No. 1 among all running backs and helped vault his fantasy points per game (22.6) to third overall. With quarterback Prescott back under center, expect Elliott to be his usual self in 2021 — an elite fantasy asset. Click here for PFF's Fantasy Rankings.

Hop on the CeeDee Lamb hype train: Lamb led the team in receiving yards (412), receiving plays of 15-plus yards (11) and yards per route run (2.28) with Prescott. He also ranked 12th at the position with 16.3 fantasy points per game. With Dallas already expanding Lamb's role by moving him out of the slot during the preseason, fantasy drafters should be salivating for the chance to acquire Dallas' No.1 fantasy wide receiver. Click here for PFF's Fantasy Stats.

PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit includes links to every article, tool and chart to best prepare you for your fantasy football draft. This will be updated regularly between now and Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.

Betting Impact

The 9-win total is the only playable option: The Cowboys quarterback is currently tied for the sixth-best QB spread points on PFF's power rankings page. After seeing the Dallas win total tick down a half-game throughout the offseason, their 9-win total number is the only playable option in their futures market. PFF's Betting Futures Tool reveals betting opportunities within season win total and future markets.

Smash the over on CeeDee Lamb's 1,050.5 receiving yards: Lamb has been on a rocket ship all offseason, with many analysts projecting him to make another significant leap in Year 2. PFF's Fantasy Projections are a little more modest but still have him eclipsing his receiving yardage prop by almost 100 yards. Smash the over on Lamb's 1,050.5 yards now that Dak Prescott is back and fully healthy. Click here for PFF's Fantasy Projections.

Look to bet the total: One spot to check is the total, with the Cowboys' offense having a completely different outlook now that Prescott is locked into Week 1. Any movement in that market will continue to open up value and is the best spot to currently bet on the 2021 season opener. PFF Greenline uses exclusive game and player data to make projections on NFL game spreads, moneyline, and over/under.

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