Fantasy Outlook for Dallas Cowboys Players: Part II


Last week, we judged the fantasy value of Dallas’s big three: Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray. You can check out that article here.  This week, we look at three guys who’s draft stock is a bit more up in the air.

For years, Jason Witten has been targeted as a top tight end in every fantasy league.  As time goes on, however, the fan favorite has seen his ADP (average draft position) gradually descend.  For most players, this happens because their production drops in concordance with their age.  2013, though, was Jason Witten’s best year (in terms of fantasy points) since 2010.  Rather, the 32-year old is less popular of a fantasy pick than he once was due to the emergence of freakishly athletic and wildly productive tight ends like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.  Witten is sort of like the best of a dying-breed; he plays the role of a traditional tight end, but still manages to make a huge impact in the scoring offense.

Perhaps what has kept Jason Witten’s numbers high is the improvement of Dallas’s offensive line over the years.  With better tackles in place, and the increased use of a fullback, Witten spent far less time blocking than in 2013 than he did in previous seasons.  With an even better o-line now, Witten figures to again be a prominent pass target.  Be forewarned, however, that Dallas is looking to use more tight ends in the offense, perhaps especially in goal-line situations.  Now, this has been talked about for nearly a decade (remember drafting Anthony Fasano?), so don’t let it stop you from relying on Witten.  Still, be aware of the possibility.

Overall, Jason Witten has been the fifth tight-end off draft boards, and that seems pretty fair.  However, you would have to get him in or around the fifth round, and that’s something to consider when guys like Greg Olsen and Zach Ertz are going at least three rounds later.

Terrance Williams has been predicted by several analysts to have a breakout season.  With Miles Austin gone, the second-year player out of Baylor promises to have a bigger role in the Cowboys offense.  What exactly that role will be, however, is still unknown.

Last year, Williams made his mark on big plays.  While many so-called fantasy pundits will tell you about Williams’ 16.4 average yards per reception in 2013, they won’t tell you that if it weren’t for his record 82-yard catch, his average would have been 15.2.  Not that 15.2 is anything to scoff at, but it goes to show the difference a couple big plays can make.  In fantasy, banking on big plays is a risky maneuver; instead, you should want consistency.

The catch-22 with Williams is that if he is the #2 WR this season, he is likely to have more consistency, but less big plays.  So predicting what his overall production will be is a much harder prospect than it seems.  Too often, guys are more prominent in the scoring offense as slot receivers than as possession receivers.  Remember Kevin Ogletree?  At the same time, with such a good #1 WR in Dez Bryant, Williams is likely to land 1-on-1 coverage often, thus still allowing the possibility for those 40+ yard streaks.

Knowing when to draft a guy is really what’s crucial.  If you can snag Williams as a flex / top bench option, do it.  But if you’re thinking about him making him your clear #2 wide receiver, you may want to look at a more guaranteed selection.

Three years ago, I lost a fantasy championship because Ryan Longwell‘s extra point was blocked.  Since then, I have never dismissed the fantasy value of a kicker.  Certainly, that instance wasn’t Longwell’s fault, but it just goes to show how valuable a couple points can be.  With that, we look at somebody who is likely be a top performer at his position in 2014: Dan Bailey.

Unlike what other writers may tell you, kickers are not all the same.  Fortunately figuring out which ones you should target is rather simple.  All there is to it is skill and opportunity.

Of course, you want a kicker who is accurate and has good range.  For Bailey, check.  Next, you want a kicker who’s team will be in the red zone a lot, but not consistently score.  For Bailey and the Cowboys, check.  Many of last year’s top kickers were on teams with very low red-zone touchdown success.  Of course, if you get a guy like Matt Prater who kicks around five extra points a game due to a freakishly successful red-zone offense, then you may find success too.

Bailey offers the best of the both worlds, because the Cowboys are likely to have a top offense this year, effectively putting him in range many times a game.  Interestingly, if their defense is so bad that field goals become irrelevant early on in a game, then all that value becomes wasted

Would you draft these three guys?  How about other players with potential on the Cowboys?  Sound off in the comments below!