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Have Red Rifle, Will Travel: A Case for Andy Dalton as a Deep Sleeper

Can Andy Dalton turn his career around in Big D? The answer might surprise you…

By Jared Clifton

Andy Dalton (QB39/ECR363)

The Dalton Gang was a notorious and infamous band of familial outlaws that created mayhem across parts of Kansas and Oklahoma for the better part of a decade.  However, while the Dalton Gang remains among the more sensationalized and dangerous outlaws of the late 1800’s, the Dalton Gang actually came from a family of well respected and even celebrated lawmen.  The family’s descent from model citizen, to most wanted was a precipitous one. Talk about two sides of the same coin.

Andy Dalton’s career feels like a parallel to the (likely) unrelated Dalton Gang. Once revered in the confines of Paul Brown Stadium, Dalton looked like the next in a line of highly regarded Bengals signal callers. Anderson. Boomer. Palmer.  The Red Rifle, as he was affectionately called in Cincy, looked the part early on.  He was never great, but he was good.  Probably better than our memory recollects. A model QB2.  A streamer’s last call hook up.  His fall wasn’t as steep and abrupt as the Dalton Gangs’, but both media and fans alike hammered up the wanted posters into his 2016 season, which followed his best campaign in 2015.  From sheriff to bandit in just a few short years.  What remains to be seen, is if this is the end or if this is a redemption story.

Dalton is betting on the redemption arc, in about the best back-up situation there is (or at least 1B to New Orleans).  The weapons are in place.  Zeke. Cooper. Gallup. Lamb.  Even Jarwin and Pollard excite a fan base and owner desperate for a Super Bowl run, and Raymond James Stadium is rightfully in their sights.  One problem.  Dak Prescott wants paid and wants paid big.  It’s the same story each year, just with a different main character.  Player A wants to set the market and Team A wants the hometown discount. Holdout talk ensues.  There’s leverage on Dak’s side here.  This is a team built to win now and QB for America’s Team is a crucial piece.  Enter Andy Dalton.

Dalton isn’t Dak Prescott, but he is a reasonable facsimile.  Take their 2017 seasons, Daltons’ last full season with A.J. Green.  Outside of Dak’s rushing edge, the numbers are nearly identical. Dak had a QBR of 86.64.  Dalton, 86.59.  Four yards difference in pass yards. 28 to 25 total TD’s. Prescott’s rise and Dalton’s fall can also be attributed to surrounding talent. So, if Dak were to hold out (not likely, but not out of the equation), then Dalton is well suited to fill his cleats, without a depreciable decline in production.  He already has two fantasy seasons better than any Dak has turned in and Mike McCarthy has always been amongst the best groomers of QB’s, both young and old, over the course of his career.  It’s even conceivable that Dalton may be a better fit for Kellen Moore, as he introduces more quick hit West Coast schemes to his offense.  The mobility lost with Dak off the field is a lot easier to handle with CeeDee Lamb replacing Randall Cobb in the slot.  At just 32, there’s no reason why he can’t follow in the footsteps of his Cincinnati predecessor, Carson Palmer, and find success in the second half of his career and it’s just a holdout or injury audition from happening.

If you’re grabbing Dak early, you may just want to grab Dalton late. And in a SuperFlex, it’s a must.  Typical strategy isn’t to take a QB handcuff, but with this offense and the possibility of immediate significant playing time, Dalton may just get off that wanted poster and earn back that tin star.

Jared Clifton – Dynasty Writer
Ride or Dynasty

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