Dalton Schultz is the Perfectly-Priced Fantasy Football Tight End
Many are calling for a breakout season for Dalton Schultz in 2022 when in reality, it already happened last year. The Dallas TE went from an unassuming 7.2 half-PPR points per game in 2020 to 9.6 as the TE7 in that category last year, and that was with a Cowboys roster that read a bit differently. Schultz’s output last season has the potential to be his floor in 2022 and I’ll lay out why below.
Schultz is Flying Solo
For the first time in his NFL career, Schultz is at the top of the TE food chain in Dallas, without pesky Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, or even Jason Witten to worry about taking targets away. Since 2020 in games without Jarwin, Schultz has averaged 33.2 routes run per game, which is second only to Travis Kelce’s 33.8.
We’ve also seen Dak Prescott’s confidence in the 25-year-old elevate with each passing year as his targets per game have increased over the last two seasons with 5.6 in 2020 as TE14 up to 6.3 last year as the TE10 in that category.
Dallas has New-ish Look
Aside from being the clear starting TE now, the Cowboys will also be without Amari Cooper who’s now wearing a Browns uniform, and Michael Gallup for at least part of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL. Last year in two games without Cooper on the field, Schultz ran an average of 43 routes (the highest among TEs in that two-game stretch), saw an average of 7.5 targets, and averaged 72 intended air yards per game. All these metrics sit right among the elite fantasy TE options and he'll have a whole season without Cooper to contend with for volume.
While we’re on the subject of departed bodies, the Cowboys have 205 targets available from last year, including 16 inside the 10-yard line, which is the sixth-most in the league. Schultz has been up there as one of Dak Prescott’s more trusted red zone destinations over the last two seasons, as the TE was second in targets in the red zone (15) to Cooper’s 22, and I probably don’t need to tell you again that Cooper is no longer a member of the Cowboys, but apparently, I just did.
Dallas did add rookies Jalen Tolbert (WR) and Jake Ferguson (TE) to their squad via the NFL Draft, but they’ll have to earn their stripes in this offense to realistically cut into Schultz’s workload, at least right away.
Ezekiel Elliott isn’t Getting Any Younger
Surprisingly Elliott is only entering his age-27 season, but factor in injuries and “football age” and you’ve got a player in decline. Dallas was sixth in passing attempts and third in both passing yards and passing touchdowns last year, while Dak Prescott threw for a franchise-record 37 scores in 2021. The Cowboys QB was eighth in fantasy points per game and posted 300+ passing yards in five contests last season.
It Always Comes Back to Volume
With the Dallas depth chart shaping up the way it is, Schultz certainly has the potential to be the No. 2 passing option for Dak Prescott in 2022. Looking at target volume over the last two seasons, the top guys in this offense, Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, have seen 151 and 157 balls, respectively in the 23 games with Prescott under center, while Schultz hasn't been too far behind with 132. Any kind of bump with the loss of Cooper and Cedrick Wilson is icing on the cake for fantasy managers.
Schultz projects to be a busy man this season which is always a positive when it comes to fantasy output. The fact that he’s in a good offense, backed by a top-10 defense in one of the softest divisions in the NFL just adds to his appeal as a top option at TE in 2022.
- Dalton Schultz is finally the clear TE1 in the Cowboys' offense and should see an uptick in usage without Blake Jarwin on the roster.
- The loss of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, along with Michael Gallup still recovering from injury should also open the door for more volume as the potential No. 2 pass option in a solid offense.
- The tight end position is shaping up to be one of pay up or wait again in 2022. As the TE6, leaving Underdog boards in the late-sixth round, Schultz provides that perfect upside for those not wanting to spend too much on the position, but get a potential Top-3 target.