Lee's VORP off the charts

Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee breaks up a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A quick look back at the 2017 season shows Dallas needs LB Sean Lee in the lineup.

By Chad Conine

VORP: Value Over Replacement Player.

Who was the most important player on the Cowboys roster last season?

With vital personnel like Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Dan Bailey missing time with injuries, a picture emerged of which players made the biggest difference in wins and losses. By that standard, Lee's impact was massive.

Dallas posted an 8-3 record when Lee played and went 1-4 when he was out. Furthermore, the Cowboys defense gave up 29.8 points per game when Lee sat out with injury and 16.6 when he played.

On his way into camp in Oxnard, California, Lee addressed his value to the team, especially with the departure of fellow team-leader Jason Witten.

"I’m going to have to step up as leader and a lot of other guys are going to have to step up," Lee said. "We have a great core of leaders, guys who’ve played for a while who I think are ready to step up and take that role."

Of course, the best way to lead is to be in the game in the middle of the action. It's hard to protect against injuries, but Lee has apparently taken steps in that direction.

"I’ve done a lot this offseason to make sure my hamstrings are right and my entire body is ready to go," Lee said. "Being available all the time is something I’m really working on."