Top 3 under-the-radar AFC players on the Cowboys 2024 schedule 

As we get closer to the summer, the NFL schedule for 2024 is about to be released (May 15th). The opponents have long been announced; we’re just waiting for the dates and times of the games in this season’s slate. As part of their 17-game schedule, the Dallas Cowboys will have nine home games versus eight road games, including clashes with the AFC North and a highly anticipated in-state showdown against the Houston Texans. The unfamiliarity of the AFC leads to unpredictability on the field, which is why it’s a good idea to get familiar with the underrated contributors on their respective rosters. Here are three underrated names to get to know for the Cowboys AFC opponents this season.

Cincinnati Bengals: Chase Brown, running back

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Bengals running back Chase Brown is a super deep sleeper to start our list. Brown sits behind free agent addition Zack Moss on the team’s unofficial depth chart, but the former Illinois running back is a bruiser who ran for over 2,600 yards in his final two years for the Fighting Illini. Cowboys fans may be familiar with his identical twin brother Sydney, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Chase is just as rugged as a player. Brown sat behind Joe Mixon his rookie season, but the Bengals traded Mixon away to the Texans due in part to their confidence in the backfield moving forward.

Brown’s combine numbers further illustrate his athletic upside, running a 4.43 forty-yard dash, 25 reps on the bench press and a 40-inch vertical jump. If the Bengals expect to protect Joe Burrow, who is coming off another season-ending injury, that starts with more efficiency out of the running game, and Brown has all the makings of an effective runner. With Moss’ injury history, expect Brown to see significant playing time and with Moss’ modest contract, may take control of the backfield by midseason.

He’s a relative unknown now, but as fantasy drafts come along, and so does the preseason, Brown’s name will be mentioned more frequently ahead of their game against Dallas.

Baltimore Ravens: Isaiah Likely, tight end

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens

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Isaiah Likely is an interesting prospect. Likely was a converted wide receiver from Coastal Carolina with a very good athletic profile. He presents mismatches at 6’4”, 241 lbs. like Darren Waller, another converted wide receiver. Likely stepped into a more prominent role for the injured Mark Andrews and made good of his chances once inserted into the starting lineup. Despite what his timed speed suggests (4.83 40-yard dash), Likely is more explosive than you might think. He finished the season with five consecutive games, averaging 14 or more yards per reception, including a five-reception, 83-yard performance against the Los Angeles Rams.

Contrary to Andrews, Likely provides a more vertical threat within the Ravens offense. Here’s where Likely makes things more interesting. Considering how the Ravens would like to control the LOS scrimmage for the running game that includes Lamar Jackson, don’t get caught off guard by them wanting to run multiple tight end sets that feature Andrews and Likely to run the football. Likely’s emergence at tight end and the return of Andrews make it easy for teams to get lulled to sleep by Andrews before Likely runs loose in the secondary as a big target for Lamar Jackson.

Houston Texans: Jalen Pitre, safety

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It’s reasonable that Jalen Pitre doesn’t receive too much fanfare. The Texans are a team on the rise due to their phenomenal rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and head coach Demeco Ryans, both capturing national headlines. Further still, Pitre may be even more overshadowed by the recent additions to his defense, which now includes edge rusher Danielle Hunter and linebacker Azeez Al-Shair. That said, Pitre has been an exceptional contributor to the Texans’ turnaround well before any of his aforementioned Texans teammates arrived in Houston.

Pitre was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team in 2022 and finished fifth in voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year, recording 147 total tackles with five interceptions. He had a relatively quieter 2023 season, but the potential is still there, and surrounded by more talent, he should return to his level of play from his rookie season. Pitre is a big hitter over the middle with good instincts to play the pass and nearly intercepted Dak Prescott the last time the Cowboys faced the Texans.


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