There is not much more CeeDee Lamb could have done to impress during his rookie season. The 22-year old was targeted at least five times per game in 15 of 16 contests and averaged 63.5 yards per game. Lamb also started to usurp Amari Cooper in fantasy points per snap in standard and PPR formats, especially Weeks 14 on. In totality, Lamb led the Cowboys' receivers with 0.19 standard and 0.29 PPR points per snap. It is tough to not be concerned about his snap percentage. His range of snaps played bottomed out at 46.8% Week 8 and topped 70% twice with Dak Prescott at quarterback. In the four weeks Prescott started and finished, Lamb played at least 70% of snaps three times. A contributor to the fluctuation was the Cowboys' injured offensive line. It did not take long for the line to pile up injuries and require extra help against opponent pass rushes, keeping Lamb off the field on passing downs. A renewal of health across the Cowboys' offense opens opportunities for Lamb.
It may seem minuscule at first, but Lamb averaged one reception and 11.19 receiving yards per game fewer than Cooper. If you include rushing yards, the average shrinks about six yards, but over 16 games that is sizable. Will Lamb be given the opportunity to top Cooper’s production with only four games played alongside Prescott? Can Lamb be trusted to have a similar rushing floor, especially since he only reached double-digit rushing yards in four games (all without Dak)?
With the receiving trio and Dak healthy, Lamb had the fewest Air Yards and Expected Touchdowns (xTD) according to the 4for4 Air Yards App. Lamb’s Average Depth of Target (aDOT) was tied with Cooper at 9.3 yards, 7.5 yards behind Michael Gallup. Cooper was averaging 23 more yards on four more receptions and 5.8 more targets than Lamb over that same span. Lamb is being drafted in the similar wide receiver range as Cooper despite less production with and without Prescott. Lamb’s aDOT did lead to a slightly larger market share of targets over Gallup, but the dynamic rookie was set to have a specific role in the offense.
2021 Bottom Line
Lamb made an immediate impact as a rookie before injuries derailed the Cowboys' offense. Despite a drop-off in QB talent, Lamb was a trusted option in the offense and has a role that is less affected by personnel changes than other players. He is being drafted as a borderline WR1 in fantasy, and 2021 may be the last season in which Lamb is not the undisputed WR1 in Dallas.