Aug 16, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass in the first quarter against Baltimore Ravens cornerback Dominque Franks (42) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Outlook for Dallas Cowboys Players: Part 1

When it comes to Fantasy football, the high-powered Dallas Cowboys offense features a lot of potential stars.  In part one of a two-part series, we will look at “the big three”: Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray.  These are guys which almost any owner would be happy to have on his or her team, so the question is not necessarily if you should draft them, but when.  With that said, one of these guys – while a great pick – may be typically drafted higher than what he is really worth.  First, however, let’s start off with a guy who is usually under-valued: the capo, Tony Romo.

Last year, Tony Romo rounded out the Top 10 of Fantasy Quarterbacks.  Had he played the last game, he could have even cracked the Top 5 (the numbers were that close).  This year, he’s – on average – the 13th quarterback taken.  That may seem unfair, but the guys who were not among the top 10 last year and are being picked ahead of him are Nick Foles, Tom Brady, and Matt Ryan.  Considering Foles’ weak defensive division, the fact that Ryan has Julio Jones back, and that Tom Brady is Tom Brady – well there’s not much of a case for Romo here.

That doesn’t mean the Cowboys signal caller isn’t a good pick.  In reality, the numbers are so close among the top quarterbacks this year (with the exception of guys like Manning and Brees), that waiting until the 9th or 10th round to get your guy isn’t necessarily a bad idea.  Plus, remember that Romo may have the best offensive line in the NFL; and while he is coming off an injury, he just isn’t at as much risk as the four mobile QBs ranked ahead of him.  Also, though he may still choke in the 4th quarter, Tony Romo is not the erratic passer of years’ past.  You could take your chances on Matt Stafford in the third round, but why would you when you could get Romo in the 9th?

Now onto a guy who would surely require a second-round pick: [X^] Dez Bryant.  There’s no question that #88 is one of the best Wide Receivers in the league, but talent is not enough to make a player good in fantasy sports.  Here is the problem with Dez: from Weeks 12 – 15 last season, Bryant’s point total was [in order] 8. 12. 7. 21.  Those numbers are not bad, but they show a guy with some hit-or-miss tendencies.  Also frustrating about Bryant’s production is that it definitely took a dip when faced with stiffer CB match-ups (like in Washington and Chicago).  This is bound to happen a little bit to every Receiver, but guys like Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall did better when faced with tough opponents or double-teams.

It’s not that Dez Bryant shouldn’t be considered as a draft target; in fact, he’d be a fantastic addition to any team.   However, owners need to be fully aware of what they’re getting since they’ll have to dish out an early pick.  As good as Bryant is, he doesn’t yet (though he potentially could) provide the security that do other early-round WRs, like Johnson, Marshall, or A.J. Green.

When it comes to consistency, no position is more important than running back.  The majority of first-round picks are spent on bell cows (RBs who carry a heavy workload and are indisputably the go-to back on their teams).  This year, an average of six running backs are being taken in the first round.  So, where does the Cowboys top back rank among his peers?

DeMarco Murray‘s average draft position is 17.4, putting him in the 2nd round for most leagues.  Given that Murray was fantasy’s 9th best running back last year despite missing two games, this number is pretty spot-on.  Of course, injury is always the big risk with Murray.  In 2012, #29 played in only 10 games and just 13 the year before that.  Also working against the collegiate and professional Cowboys is that his team much prefers to pass the ball.  With new co-offensive coordinator (or whatever he is), Scott Linehan, in town, coming over from pass-happy Detroit, things are not likely to change.

Then again, maybe they will.  The Cowboys have seen Tony Romo fall victim to injury two years in a row, and the guy is not getting any younger.  With an upgraded offensive line, the inclination to use a fullback, and the focus on blocking tight ends – Murray may finally get his due.  Beware, however, that in an effort to preserve the ever-fragile back, Dallas may decide to throw Ryan Williams or even James Hanna in on goal-line situations.  You have to also consider that, like last year, Dallas may be playing from behind in the 4th quarter, meaning that WRs are more the focus than RBs.  I’d still roll with Murray as a #2 back (or #1 if you use your first pick on a different position), but understand the risks.

On a final note, let me remind everyone to know your league!  For instance, I live in New Jersey, as do the majority of my league-mates.  Amongst them are many Cowboys haters, so I could probably wait an extra round or two before grabbing somebody from America’s team.  In the same way, no matter where you live, there are bound to be Tony Romo haters.  Use knowledge like this to your advantage.  Strategize about when to take certain guys, but don’t wait on your absolute must-haves.

In Part 2, we’ll look at Cowboys players with more questionable draft stock, like the perennial Jason Witten and youngster Terrance Williams.

Would you draft any of these guys for your team?  Sound off in the comments below!

Tags: Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray Dez Bryant Fantasy Football Tony Romo

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