It’s the most, won-der-ful tiiiime of the yeeeaar! Fantasy Football season is yet again upon us! Time to bust out the stat sheets, put our “Jerruh” caps on, and make the tough decisions that will last us for the next 17 weeks. As drafts everywhere prepare near launch-time, fans are faced with the timeless struggle: “How should I draft the players of my favorite team?” Cowboys fans should always root for Cowboys players – fantasy ownership notwithstanding. However, from an objective standpoint, which Star-helmetted athletes are sure to put up numbers this year, and who’s more of a risk? Here’s a fantasy-value assessment of all the ‘Boys you might look to own, or shy away from:
No Cowboys fan needs to read yet another sentence about the inconsistency of Tony Romo. Here’s why, even given the frustrations, he makes an excellent choice on draft-day: Statistically, he’s one of the best. It may not seem that way in-game, but a comparison against other starting QBs puts him right at the top.
2012: 3rd in passing yd., 6th in TDs, 3rd in passing att., and 5th in completion pct.
Now, he was also 1st in INTs. While it’s no excuse, we who watch games every week could attest to the fact that a healthy number of those were deflection-based. Nevertheless, an improved offensive line (slightly though it may be), along with excellent receiving options, should mean more accuracy. Plus, a heavier concentration on the run-game (as we are promised) will lead to more passer-friendly defenses. The reason why Tony Romo is such a great pick, though, is because he’s typically going in the 6-9th round. Only in this Cowboy-hating universe could a QB with those numbers be taken so late. Rest ye faith in number 9, and smile as the haters carry on!
Value: HIGH RISK – HIGH REWARD
All Fantasy Footballers should be aware that this year’s pool of running backs is especially shallow. In fact, only about 20-25 are the clear top option on their team. This will mean that DeMarco Murray undoubtedly gets picked high. When healthy, Murray puts up solid production. Alas, staying healthy has been the challenge. The 25-year old seems committed to proving he’s not a liability, and a young o-line along with some new tight ends have volunteered for his campaign. The only person who may hope DeMarco Murray stays healthly more than Murray himself is Bill Callahan. The new offensive co-ordinator wants to run, and he knows the former Sooner is a special talent. Murray presents a lot of risk, but the scarcity of RBs mandates that owners take them early. So, select him as your number two back, and grab a handcuff before the draft ends. If it makes you feel any better, Tony Dorsett is a fan, and he knows a few things about Cowboys running backs.
This one seems obvious: Joseph Randle can have immense value if DeMarco Murray goes down. Will DeMarco Murray go down? Unfortunately, there’s a decent chance. Selecting a handcuff isn’t a bad idea, but with Randle yet to establish himself as the primary backup, he’s a late-late round grab only.
If anyone on this team is poised for a breakout year, it’s Dez Bryant. Cowboys fans are plenty aware of his ability, and were sure to notice his exceptionally strong camp/pre-season. Not to mention the incredible display he put on November-December of 2012. Mathematically, he’s just a good choice: 24 years old + strong qb + ideal secondary WRs (will absorb defensive attention without stealing too many targets) + determined as hell.
Pick him up at the beginning of the second round and take extra joy in his triumphs each week.
While many fans are quick to write off Miles Austin, he is still the number two guy in a pass-heavy offense (discounting Jason Witten). He’s looked good in the preseason and this is a contract year, but injury concerns and pesky youngsters make him a flex option best.
There is a common item on every serious fantasy footballer’s bucket-list: Draft a sleeper. Friends, imagine you didn’t have to look further than the Dallas Cowboys. A 2011 sixth-round pick, Dwayne Harris has long been admired by fans for his speed and agility. He’s had the most impact as a return man, but in the second half of last year’s season, showed a little of what he could do as a pass catcher. Harris is battling neck and neck with Terrance Williams for the No. 3 spot, and while the rookie may win, this writer believes the vet sees more significant time on the field. Harris is better suited, physically, to work the slot – and slot WRs could provide nice flex value for a team. Plus, the return TDs and yardage do earn points in most league formats. Laurent Robinson-type production? Not likely. A la Josh Cribbs/Devin Hester? Maybe.
Jason Witten is most everyone’s favorite Cowboy – an old-school footballer with a model attitude who prides himself on consistency. Witten should make a solid pick come draft day, but there are two reasons why his value is low:
1) Two and Three-TE are sets sure to come in the Cowboys passing game. While James Hanna and Gavin Escobar are not going to significantly shed targets from him, their presence will be felt on those long, mid-field passes and in the red zone. JW is still the man, but it’s something to consider.
2) Similar TEs are available in late rounds. Greg Olsen and Owen Daniels are not as good as Jason Witten, but their fantasy numbers are not so far off to warrant a three-round differential.
Not to mention big sleepers like Jordan Cameron and Ed Dickson being taken in the final rounds, if at all. Witten will have a good year, but you’d need to give up a lot to get him.
Cowboys D/ST- Value: LOW-MODERATE
There’s no doubt that a healthy Cowboys defense is something to watch. In fantasy, though, turnovers are the key to big points. The ‘Boys should improve in this department, but it’s tough to say just how much so. Additionally, the pre-season has shown that our run defense is still quite vulnerable. With LeSean McCoy and Alfred Morris twice a year, the Cowboys D isn’t far better than a match-up fill-in.
Dan Bailey was actually tied with Phil Dawson for the second highest completion percentage among all kickers last year. What else? 20 for 20 in 30-49 yarders. This is the reliability every team seeks. So what’s the problem? Only 5 attempts of 50+ yards, and just 37XPM. With what seems to be an improved red zone offense, Dan Bailey’s probably in for less long-range kicks, and maybe more extra points. Great for the Cowboys, bad for fantasy owners.
Questions, comments, gripes? Feel free to e-mail Stephen at [email protected]. All ideas and opinions are welcome!