Friday, June 1, 2012

32 in 32: Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are absolutely loaded with fantasy talent, but they couldn't even make it into the top half of NFL teams last season. It is even more interesting to note that the Cowboys were even worse last season. This defense just cannot cover anyone, but they tried to fix that by adding Brandon Carr (previously of the KC Chiefs) and Morris Claiborn to their weak defensive backfield. Whether this will be a success will have to wait and see. The balance of power has really shifted away from this division after a number of disappointing seasons, with the exception of the Giants' big-game victory. Perhaps some of the recent moves by the NFC East teams has put them back on the map. It certainly has from a fantasy prospective.

If you read my Predicting Success: Quarterbacks post, you know how strongly I feel about Tony Romo's ability to lead your fantasy team. The man has been nothing short of consistent when he hasn't been injured, and should be a lock to throw for 4,400 yards and 30 touchdowns if he plays all 16 games. Look for those touchdowns to be accompanied by about 12 interceptions, and for him to score one touchdown using his legs. Injury concerns have to be considered here, since he has been injured so frequently in the past few years. Regardless of your personal feelings about Romo - I dislike him with a passion - he should help your fantasy team.

DeMarco Murray's success from last season might have been a little overblown, at least from a fantasy prospective. He amassed a ton of yards in a short period of time, sure, but he did not top those off with touchdowns. On his 164 touches that went for 897 yards, he scored only two touchdowns. Worse, he had 0 receiving touchdowns to augment that total. Now I love this kid, don't get me wrong, but a touchdown is worth 60 yards, so those backs who score 15-20 total touchdowns will have at least an 800-yard head start on someone who only scores twice. We really need to see Murray aim for double-digit touchdowns for him to be a true top-5 fantasy runner. I still like him as a second or third round guy, due to injury concerns. If he is injured, Felix Jones should step in admirably. I picked up Jones off of waivers in one league when Murray got injured, and he had some limited success. I'm not so sure that he is a guy worth drafting, but he might be a roster-filler towards the end of the draft if there are no better candidates out there. I would try to fill my roster with WRs, but if you got a weak running back draft, you might have to hope for injuries to strengthen your team.

The receiving corps features two strong players and not a lot else. Miles Austin is probably going to be the highest-drafted pass-catcher from this Cowboys team. Personally, I was never completely sold on Austin's ability to be a continually productive player, but he did have two, nice 1,000+ yard seasons. If he has a whole offseason, I think he can get back to 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns. Not great totals, but certainly worth a 4th or 5th round pick. Dez Bryant is really the guy who could break out this season. If you've ever seen him play, and I really hope you have, he just looks too big and powerful to be covered. Now he needs to get his head on straight and make better decisions, but he could be looking at 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. The man refuses to be tackled, and he should be in great shape compared to the last two seasons. I would draft him ahead of Miles Austin 100% of the time, and I believe he could easily be a WR1 in fantasy. Austin should see better production once opposing defenses realize that Bryant is the bigger threat. Jason Witten still has the tools to be a top fantasy tight end, at least when Romo is playing. Witten is pretty consistent about his 60-70 yards and 1/2 touchdown per game. He does not have the upside that some younger tight ends have, but if you have built a solid team and you don't want it ruined by a mystery tight end, Witten is your guy. You should be able to grab him relatively cheap.

Dan Bailey is a pretty darn good kicker who deserves your consideration in the 13th or 14th round. He is not especially accurate from long range, but he really hits the mid-range kicks well. This defense could be pretty good, too, and will be drafted in almost all leagues.

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