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Cowboys Vs Eagles: Fantasy Football Q&A With Zack Marmer

John Williams

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Cowboys Headlines - Dak Prescott Appears on First Sports Illustrated Cover with the Cowboys 3

This week and each week of this NFL season, we're heading behind enemy lines to discuss the Fantasy Football implications of each weekly matchup.

This week we're talking with Philadelphia Eagles fan (and a quite reasonable one at that) and Fantasy Football Analyst, Zack Marmer. Zack is a senior writer for The Fantasy Authority. Follow Zack Marmer on Twitter @LeagueEdge for Philadelphia Eagles and other Fantasy Football insights.

Fantasy Football - #DallasCowboys vs Philadelphia #Eagles #FantasyFootball Q&A with Zack Marmer 4John (Inside The Star): Zack, thanks for taking the time to join us here at Inside The Star to offer some insight into the Fantasy Football world surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles. From your perspective as a Fantasy Football Analyst and Eagles fan, what has allowed rookie quarterback Carson Wentz to have the success he's had over the first seven weeks of the season?

Zack Marmer (The Fantasy Authority): The Eagles have done a particularly good job setting up Carson Wentz for success. This is not dissimilar from the way the Cowboys have set up Dak Prescott for success.

Fantasy Football - #DallasCowboys vs Philadelphia #Eagles #FantasyFootball Q&A with Zack Marmer 5Up until week 5 (after which right tackle Lane Johnson was suspended) Wentz had fairly good protection up front.  The defense for Philadelphia has played better than expected.

Through 6 games, Philly ranks 3rd in points allowed per game. This has kept Wentz from feeling a great deal of pressure to shoulder a load that may be too heavy for him at this point in his young career. 

Philadelphia has also done an outstanding job of controlling the football and limiting the amount of plays Wentz has to run. The Eagles trail only the Cowboys and Cardinals in time of possession per game. Philadelphia ranks 9th in rushing attempts per game, (averaging a respectable 4.1 yards per carry) which assures that the rookie doesn’t have to run a high-volume passing offense right out of the gate.

Wentz only committed a single turnover through his first 5 starts. The lone interception came on a throw he had to make to try and pull the Eagles back with little time against the Detroit Lions. In fairness, it wasn’t an awful throw and well-paid cornerback Darius Slay made a stellar play on the football to take it away from Nelson Agholor.

Against the Vikings in week 7, Wentz threw 2 more picks. It’s not like Wentz is the only QB to struggle against Minnesota’s defense, however. They have at least one interception in every single game this year. Coming from a non-FBS school, it has been impressive to watch the kid be smart with the football and make some big-time throws.

John (Inside The Star): Certainly Carson Wentz has been good for much of the season. It's made Dallas Cowboys fans wonder what would have happened had Wentz fallen to number four. Interesting hypothetical for another day. Turning our attention to Wentz's backfield mates, it seems like they don't commit to one running back. With Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood, what can we make of the Philadelphia backfield?

Fantasy Football - #DallasCowboys vs Philadelphia #Eagles #FantasyFootball Q&A with Zack Marmer 1

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Marmer (The Fantasy Authority): When healthy, Ryan Mathews is the unquestioned starter, and there shouldn’t be much question as to why. He is easily the most talented between-the-tackles rusher the Eagles have, and he is underrated as a receiver. The problem is that Mathews is rarely healthy.

In a very small sample size, Wendell Smallwood has looked decent as the primary replacement for Mathews. I didn’t love Smallwood coming out of college and don’t think he is much better than a change-of-pace back in this league.

Darren Sproles, despite his age, is still a dangerous threat who can still take it the distance from anywhere on the field. He is the primary 3rd down back and does a pretty darn good job with this role. He won’t catch as many passes as say a Theo Riddick, but that is more due to the conservative nature of the offense that he plays in.

The loss of Lane Johnson could have a big impact on the offense as a whole. If Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Johnson's replacement) can’t move defenders in the run game, the Eagles may get predictable with their runs to the left side. On top of that, on plays where backs may go out for a screen they may need to provide extra protection on passing plays.

While capable, the Eagles backs are limited by the offense that they play in, and aren’t anything particularly extraordinary. The best case scenario for them would be for Mathews to stay healthy and get 15-18 touches per game. 

John (Inside The Star): Halapoulivaati Vaitai is an alumnus of my high school alma mater, Haltom High School in Haltom City, Texas (along with Lance Dunbar). Sunday will be a great day to be a Buffalo. Just a little fun fact there. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. In Fantasy Football circles, people know about Jordan Matthews, but between Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham, who do you think will have the better second half of the season?

Zack Marmer (The Fantasy Authority): Personally, I haven’t been overly impressed with either Agholor or Green-Beckham. If I had to choose one player to have the bigger 2nd half, I would pick Agholor.

Success at the receiver position (especially early in a career) is most correlated to route running. Coming out of school, the 2 receivers were on opposite ends of the spectrum in this category. DGB was a headcase who ran a limited route tree, while Agholor was highly touted for his quickness and route running prowess.

Fantasy Football - #DallasCowboys vs Philadelphia #Eagles #FantasyFootball Q&A with Zack Marmer 2Ultimately, Agholor has the better opportunity to succeed. Through 6 games, Agholor played 80% of the offensive snaps whereas Dorial Green-Beckham only played 49.9%. To me, this is enough of a difference to tip the opportunity scale in favor of Agholor.

While I wouldn’t put much money on either to break out, I will take the player with the better opportunity over the lazy, less-used player.

John (Inside The Star): It's interesting that Dorial Green-Beckham was drafted as high as he was and then given up on as quickly as he was by the Tennessee Titans. I, too, like Agholor more of the two. He look to be the more fluid wide receiver. Now let's take a look at your opponent for week 8, the Dallas Cowboys. Which Dallas Cowboy do you expect to have the biggest impact for fantasy teams in the second half of the season?

Zack Marmer (The Fantasy Authority): This one is easy for me: Ezekiel Elliott.

Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott Wins First Pepsi Rookie Of The Week HonorThe only thing that concerned me about the former Buckeye coming into the season would be how much work he would be given. We all knew he was a rare talent, and that the offensive line was elite.

I don’t see any reason why Elliott shouldn’t be one of the top-3 fantasy backs for the 2nd half of the season. If he gets even more involved in the passing game, watch out. 

The only other option may be Dez Bryant, but I think his situation depends on whether Tony Romo is his quarterback or not as well.

John (Inside The Star): I agree completely. I agree that Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line are the answers to every question surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. As they go, so will the team in all three phases. What is your impression of the week 8 matchup between the two teams? Who's going to pull out the victory?

Zack Marmer (The Fantasy Authority): These two teams both have rookie quarterbacks who are exceeding expectations. They also play similar styles of football. I see Dallas winning this game, and here is why:

Both teams have the goal of running the ball to control the clock, and playing good defense. Now that Ezekiel Elliott seems to have properly acclimated to the NFL, I don’t think there is a whole lot that teams can do to slow him down. If Dez Bryant can come back from his injury and establish any kind of rapport with Dak Prescott, the rest of the league will have to be put on notice. 

On the flip side, Philadelphia hasn’t been able to establish a steady rhythm with the run game. The Cowboys may be top-10 against the run from a yards-per-game perspective, however, this is due to their clock-control style of play. Dallas ranks 21st in yards per carry against. Simply, people run well against Dallas but are limited in opportunities to do so. Despite this, I can’t bet on Philly’s run game to play at a level where they can just jam the ball down the Cowboy’s throats. You can bet that the Cowboys will make it their goal to stop the run and let Wentz and his lackluster supporting cast beat them. 

The big X-factor is Philadelphia’s defense. If they can hold Dallas to under 16 points, I would say they have a decent shot to win this football game. If Dallas can break 20 points, I think it significantly decreases their chances. After coming off a game where they made Sam Bradford’s day absolutely miserable, they will meet a Cowboys offensive line that is light-years better. I don’t believe they will have the disruptive capabilities they showed against the Vikings, and this is why I see Dallas exceeding that 16-point threshold.

Score prediction: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16

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I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Implications of Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Ezekiel Elliott Suspendido Inicio Duro Para la Línea Defensiva

Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for 6 games for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. This will leave a void in the backfield for the Dallas Cowboys and on many fantasy football rosters around the world. As it is with the real league, it's a next man up philosophy in the world of fantasy football as well.

At the moment, that next man up is Darren McFadden.

Just two years ago, with Dallas still clinging to playoff hopes in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He finished fifth in the NFL that season despite not seeing more than 10 carries a game until week six. From week 6 until the end of the season, McFadden had 7 games with more than 90 yards rushing.

McFadden's touchdown total from that season leaves a lot to be desired, but let's not forget the quarterbacking chaos that went on that season. Between Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore, defenses weren't worried about being beat in the passing game.

Frankly, it's a miracle that McFadden rushed for 1,000 yards.

Over 11 games from weeks 6-17, McFadden averaged 21.45 touches per game and 108.27 total yards per game. At that pace, stretched over a 16 game season, McFadden would have totaled 1,732 yards, which would have led all running backs in total yards that season.

If you still have to draft, I would take a chance on McFadden around the 7th or 8th round in 10 or 12 team drafts.

As for Alfred Morris, he will get some touches as much as the Dallas Cowboys will look to run the ball. That being said the second half of 2016 showed who the coaches preferred as the backup.

The last time Morris ran for more than 1,000 yards was in 2014. In 2015, if you'll remember, he lost his job to Matt Jones who has since lost his job to UDFA Rob Kelley, who is starting but is being threatened by 2017 draft pick Samaje Perine.

When Morris played last year he was pretty ineffective averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.

With McFadden's injury history, you can take a shot on Alfred Morris late in your fantasy drafts around the second to last or the last round.

Cowboys Work Out RBs Ronnie Hillman, Denard Robinson Before Oxnard 3

Dallas Cowboys Running Backs Ezekiel Elliott #21, Darren McFadden #20 (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

How Should You Value Ezekiel Elliott in Upcoming Fantasy Drafts?

That's a difficult question to answer, because a lot will depend on your league settings. My simple answer is, if you can get any discount on Ezekiel Elliott from his average draft position of 3.0, then you're getting a good value for at least the second half of the season.

Just a week ago I wrote to not allow this absence to sway you too much. I stand by that.

Fantasy football is about getting as much value as you can with each draft pick. Elliott is a top 5 value in any setting, even if he has to sit out. I think you can comprise a roster good enough to get into the playoffs, then you'll want Elliott for a playoff run.

Just like the Dallas Cowboys, all you need to do is tread water while he's out. If you can make it through the suspension at or around .500, you will still be in good position to win your fantasy football league.

When Elliott comes back, he will be the starter.

Even if they make him earn it, it won't take long. He's just better than McFadden and Morris. If your league lets Elliott somehow slip outside of the first round, snatch him up and make sure you draft McFadden. You'll thank me for it later.

Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Training Camp Begins

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott #4, RB Ezekiel Elliott #21 (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

While many will look at this situation as a detriment to Dak Prescott and may feel deterred from drafting him as the 9th quarterback in your league, I actually see it the opposite. While Dak was very efficient in Dallas' run-first offense, he showed throughout the 2016 season that he could be leaned upon in a shootout or to bring the team back from a large deficit.

In fact, Dak might have played his best game of the season during the playoff loss to Green Bay when the team got down 21-3. Forced to pass, Prescott completed 63% of his passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in nearly leading the team back to victory.

With a full offseason in the Dallas offense and a really good compliment of receivers led by Dez Bryant, I fully anticipate Dak to have an excellent sophomore campaign.

Dallas may lean more on the pass during Elliott's absence, which will make Dak more valuable to me. Remember fantasy football is about acquiring stats and with Elliott out, Dak will have a great chance at putting up even bigger numbers. Especially if the run game is ineffective.

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Fantasy Football: Draft Ezekiel Elliott Early, Don’t Be Swayed

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott, Packers
AP Photo / Ron Jenkins

Plenty of fantasy football drafts have come and gone, but many still remain as training camp is in full swing. The question has come up in the fantasy football Twitter community; what do you do with Ezekiel Elliott amidst rumors of a suspension? And the short answer is nothing.

Investigations into whether or not Ezekiel Elliott has violated any of the NFL's policies have persisted. Supposedly, those investigations have come to a close. The personal conduct policy, the domestic violence policy, and the substance abuse policy seem to all be in play as the league decides on the appropriate punishment for the Dallas Cowboys' star running back.

You could go the safe route and drop Ezekiel Elliott down your draft boards or you could take a chance at having one of the top scorers in fantasy football on your roster.

Say a suspension does come down. At worst, a drug suspension would be four games.

The domestic violence issue seems to be circumstantial evidence that even the Columbus Police and District Attorney declined to pursue. The NFL's personal conduct policy could apply, but that seems to be more of a threat than anything. So the question is, if Elliott is out for four games, does he lose his value somehow. I'd say no.

We don't have to go back very far to see a similar star running back with a similar suspension. In 2016, Le'Veon Bell was suspended for the first three games of the season and many people slid him down their draft boards. In some mocks, I saw him going outside of the first round.

Sure he missed the first three games of the season, but he finished as fantasy football's No. 3 running back and was there when you needed him most. Playoff time.

Bell only had three games where he failed to score less than 15 standard fantasy points during his 12 game season (didn't play in the season finale). The point being, anyone who drafted Le'Veon Bell in the first round or the top of the second was quite happy with the results.

If Ezekiel Elliott misses time, it will be at the beginning of the season, but like Bell, he will be around at the end of the season when you're trying to put away a championship win.

If you're drafting at the top of the first round, don't let Ezekiel Elliott's consistency and scoring ability get by you because of a threat of suspension. He'll be available to you when you need him most.

The first few weeks of the season are tough matchups for Elliott anyway.

Dallas will face the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams in the first four weeks--all teams with tough defenses. Though Elliott is a guaranteed starter for those four weeks, it's likely you're lowering expectations for him against some of the top run defenses in the NFL.

For me in 2017, the reward of having Ezekiel Elliott on my roster far outweighs the risk of any potential suspension. Draft Zeke and reap the benefits.

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2017 Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Football Primer

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Proyectando el Roster de 53 Jugadores
Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys were one of the more surprising teams in 2016. Both on the real side of the game and the fantasy football side as well. Armed with a top-notch offensive line and a shiny new running back in Ezekiel Elliott, fantasy footballers and fans alike saw big things from the Dallas Cowboys offense.

That is until Tony Romo was injured in the third preseason game, against the Seattle Seahawks.

With only his preseason work to go off of, which was Tom Brady-esque, we saw a glimpse of what Dak Prescott could do leading the way for the Dallas Cowboys.

Little did we know, Prescott would end up in MVP conversations with Mr. Brady.

Heading into 2017, expectations for Prescott & Co. have sky rocketed. From a team perspective as well as a fantasy football perspective.

Dallas Cowboys 2017-18 Schedule: Game Predictions For Entire Season 9

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterback

Dak Prescott heads into his second season in the NFL with a lot of exposure as the quarterback for "America's Team."

With little-to-no expectations for his rookie season, Prescott came out and provided plenty of QB1 finishes on the season. In total scoring, Prescott finished 6th at the quarterback position in fantasy football. At 18.4 points per game, he ranked 11th. That also includes his one series against the Eagles.

The Dak Knight finished in front of fantasy football stalwarts Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, and 2017 hype-man Jameis Winston.

Prescott was quite good and is a safe bet to repeat his QB1 numbers in 2017.

Currently ranked 13th in FantasyPros.com's consensus quarterback rankings, that is an excellent price to pay for someone who was a solid contributor to fantasy teams a year ago.

Not much has changed for Prescott. In fact, his offense may have gotten better. They will be younger on the offensive line and have a potential upgrade at right tackle. His receiver core is exactly the same as it was a year ago and they made an addition during the draft by adding Ryan Switzer out of North Carolina -- more on him later.

I would be willing to take Dak Prescott as high as the 7th quarterback drafted in fantasy football drafts.

My Top 20 Quarterbacks for Redraft leagues:

  1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  5. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
  6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
  7. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
  8. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
  9. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  10. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  11. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
  12. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
  13. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
  15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  16. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
  17. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
  18. Eli Manning, New York Giants
  19. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
  20. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Dallas Cowboys 2017-18 Schedule: Game Predictions For Entire Season 4

Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott #21 (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports)

Running Back

The running back position for the Dallas Cowboys is pretty much set in stone. Ezekiel Elliott is the man.

Currently the third ranked running back in FantasyPros.com's consensus rankings, Elliott finished as the RB2 in total points and third in points per game. Elliott is my number one overall player in standard league scoring and PPR formats.

As I argued earlier in the offseason, Elliott is the only one of the top three 2016 FFB running backs to see a potential increase in workload in 2017. Elliott is the only running back in the NFL to have over 300 carries in 2016 and he remains the focal point of one of the top offenses in the NFL.

Le'Veon Bell's near 450-touch pace last year would be very difficult to replicate, especially for a player who has only played 16 games once in his four-year career. Though Bell is going to get at minimum 20 touches a game, I think it's unlikely he matches the 28-touch per game average he played in 2016. With the addition of James Conner in the 3rd round, Bell will cede some carries. With Martavis Bryant returning and the drafting of Juju Smith-Schuster, Bell isn't going to be counted on as much in the passing game.

On David Johnson. Yes, he led the league in touchdowns and yards from scrimmage. But he needed an extra game and 19 more touches than Zeke to do so. If we talk about carries+targets, Johnson had 52 more total opportunities to have the ball in his hands than Ezekiel Elliott.

Johnson scored only four more touchdowns and had only 124 more yards from scrimmage than Elliott. Remember, Elliott sat out week 17. If Elliott played all 16 games like Johnson, Elliott would have led the league in yards from scrimmage.

Johnson is unlikely to see 25-touch opportunities per game (Carries+Targets) in 2017 with John Brown back and healthy. And with Andre Ellington moving to wide receiver, they won't be leaning on Johnson near as much in the short passing game.

The Dallas Cowboys coaches have already expressed interest in getting Ezekiel Elliott more involved in the passing game. As he should be. Go back and watch the highlights from the Pittsburgh game and see his ability in the screen game.

Ezekiel Elliott is flat-out dangerous anytime he has the ball in his hands.

After Elliott, the running back to own is former thousand-yard rusher, Darren McFadden. You might see a lot of people giving you Alfred Morris as the back up to own; don't fall for it.

Yes Morris is younger than McFadden. The team, however, showed the world what they thought of the former Redskin in the second half of 2016 after McFadden returned from the Non-Football Injury list.

From weeks 10 to week 16, Morris saw a grand total of... four touches. His most extensive work in the second half of the season was week nine -- where he received four carries -- and week 17. With everyone resting against the Eagles, Morris was only given eight carries.

McFadden, on the other hand, received 27 touches from weeks 14-16, including 14 in a pivotal game against the Detroit Lions.

Morris is as far down on the depth chart as one can be and it's likely he doesn't make the 53-man roster out of training camp. A potential suspension to Elliott will be a factor in that decision, however.

McFadden is a better backup because he can play all three downs and even return kicks, if needed. He's a good pass blocker and showed just two years ago he can carry the load for a team if needed.

My Top 30 Running Backs:

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
  2. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
  4. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
  5. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
  6. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
  7. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
  8. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
  9. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
  10. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
  11. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
  12. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
  13. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
  14. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
  15. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
  16. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
  17. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
  18. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
  19. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers
  20. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
  21. Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks
  22. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
  23. Paul Perkins, New York Giants
  24. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
  25. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
  26. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
  27. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
  28. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  29. Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
  30. LaGarrette Blount, Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys - Detroit Lions: Staff Picks And Predictions; Merry Christmas

Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant #88 (Leon Halip/Getty Images))

Wide Receivers

The wide receiver position for the Dallas Cowboys saw a bit of turnover in 2016. Not in personnel, but in production. Dez Bryant, who had been a sure-fire WR1 finisher from 2012-2014 was hindered by injuries in 2015 and then again at the beginning of 2016.

Bryant missed three games -- from week four to week six -- which kept Dez from a 1,000-yard season for the second year in a row.

After a slow start prior to the injury -- only one game with more than 70 yards -- Bryant had an excellent second half recording only two games under 70 yards receiving.

If you take away the Philadelphia game at the end of the season (where he played one series) and project his total over 16 games, Dez was on pace for 67 catches on 128 targets for 1,061 yards and 11 touchdowns.

If you look at the second half, after he came back from injury, it seemed he and Prescott began to really hit their stride, the numbers are quite staggering. If we look at his numbers from week seven through the playoff game and taking away week 17, we get a better appreciation for Bryant's ability.

Here are his numbers for those 10 games: 48 receptions on 84 targets for 778 yards and nine touchdowns. If you take those 10 games and project them over 16 games Dez looks like a monster; 76.8 receptions on 134.4 targets for 1,244.8, and 14.4 touchdowns!!!

Those numbers look a lot like the Dez Bryant who had three straight double-digit touchdown seasons from 2012-2014.

While many in your fantasy league will sleep on Bryant as a top-24 overall selection -- unless they are Cowboys fans -- don't let the injury issues fool you. Dez is easily a top-12 fantasy wide receiver with a top-24 floor. He's a safe bet for 1,000 yards and close to double-digit touchdowns.

Don't overthink it. Bryant is the WR9 in FantasyPros.com's consensus wide receiver rankings. That's about right.

You'll find a lot of people who'd rather have Amari Cooper instead, but not me. I would actually be more likely to draft Dez ahead of the 7th and 8th-ranked wide receivers on their list, T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts and Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints.

While Dez and Prescott seemed to struggle to get on the same page at the beginning of the season, the rookie quarterback had no such struggle with Cole Beasley.

Beasley in his 5th season in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys posted career highs in nearly every statistical category including targets, yards, receptions, catch percentage, and tied his career high with five touchdowns.

While the man who provides "The Sauce" benefited from extra targets during Bryant's absence, his statistical output wasn't much different when Dez was out of the lineup.

Beasley is going to be a late round addition for your team and is going to be hindered a bit by the run-first mentality of the Cowboys. As someone who will be a bye week fill-in, however, you could do worse in PPR leagues.

His consensus ranking as the WR73 is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too low. To me he's more in the 50-55 range with the likes of Rishard Matthews and Sterling Shepard.

Bease may not repeat his 2016 output, but he will have some big games. Week one versus the Giants is a game I could foresee him leading the team in targets, catches, and yards with Bryant's difficulties with them last year.

Terrance Williams and Brice Butler aren't really worth your consideration unless you are in 14 team leagues or deep bench best-ball leagues. Their values would increase if there is an injury -- God forbid -- to Dez Bryant or Cole Beasley.

In leagues that offer return yards, Ryan Switzer could be worth a late round flier as a flex play. It's likely he will beat out Lucky Whitehead as the punt returner and 5th wide receiver for the team. He will get some opportunities in the pass game as Dallas began using more empty backfield sets in 2016.

If Scott Linehan's been reading my Twitter timeline, Switzer may even see some time as a Danny Woodhead-type of running back, where he dominated in high school.

My Top 30 Wide Receivers (Standard Scoring):

  1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
  3. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
  4. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
  5. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  6. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
  7. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
  8. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
  9. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
  10. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
  11. Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
  12. Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots
  13. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
  14. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
  15. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
  16. Alshon Jeffrey, Philadelphia Eagles
  17. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
  18. Terrelle Pryor, Washington Redskins
  19. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
  20. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders
  21. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
  22. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
  23. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
  24. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
  25. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
  26. Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears
  27. Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints
  28. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
  29. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
  30. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers
Cowboys Headlines - 104

Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten #82 (Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Tight End

It's the Jason Witten show once again for the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite the change at quarterback from best friend and passing game soul mate Tony Romo, to hot young thing Dak Prescott, Jason Witten still maintained relevance in fantasy football.

Yes, he saw a decline in receptions and yards and hasn't had a thousand-yard season since 2012, but Witten still had the 14th most fantasy points at the position. The future Hall of Famer's 5.6 points per game put him right there as a high-end TE2.

Still playing every game and never coming off the field, you could do worse than Witten.

Now entering his 15th season, Witten hasn't missed a game since his rookie season and has started every game since his second season. That's incredible durability for a tight end who made his living over the middle of the field.

Witten may cede some snaps in four and five receiver sets to rookie fourth round pick Ryan Switzer, but it's likely that Witten will still be on the field for 90% or more of the team's offensive plays.

He's a reliable player and knows his job, even if he's not performing at the same level.

Witten is the 16th ranked TE on FantasyPros.com's consensus tight end rankings. That seems about right. The guys in front of Witten have more potential and scoring upside while Witten is on the downside of his career.

Behind Witten are question marks.

James Hanna and Geoff Swaim are returning from injuries. Rico Gathers is still trying to re-acclimate to football, though reports are he is getting better and more comfortable.

Beyond Witten, you aren't going to roster a Cowboys tight end unless it's Gathers in a dynasty league.

My Top 16 Tight Ends:

  1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
  3. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
  4. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
  5. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
  6. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
  7. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
  8. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
  9. Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers
  10. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
  11. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
  12. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
  13. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
  14. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  15. Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
  16. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys Headlines - Gettin Saucy for Week Five in #FantasyFootball 1

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee #50 (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

Team Defense and IDP

Sean Lee is the IDP to own from the Dallas Cowboys. Coming off his first NFL All-Pro selection after recording 145 combined tackles, Lee is at home as the weak side linebacker.

Jaylon Smith may be a consideration, depending on what he looks like when/if he plays. If he can rediscover the form that would have led him to be a top-five draft choice in 2016, he will be a dominant force.

As a team defense, the Dallas Cowboys made a lot of moves in the offseason trying to upgrade their defense.

Nolan Carroll was a veteran addition and had two interceptions last season.

Ball-hawking defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods, and Marquez White were drafted to add some play-making ability to the defensive backfield. They'll compete with Anthony Brown, Jeff Heath, Orlando Scandrick and others for snaps.

The defensive line is in need of taking the next step. There are some players with potential here, but they need to realize it.

As a team the defense shouldn't be high on your list when drafting the position. There are plenty of options, but Dallas does offer some potential sleeper opportunity later in your drafts or even off the waiver wire.

My Top 15 Defenses:

  1. Denver Broncos
  2. Houston Texans
  3. Kansas City Chiefs
  4. New England Patriots
  5. Seattle Seahawks
  6. Arizona Cardinals
  7. Minnesota Vikings
  8. Carolina Panthers
  9. New York Giants
  10. Philadelphia Eagles
  11. Los Angeles Rams
  12. Baltimore Ravens
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers
  14. Oakland Raiders
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars
Cowboys Headlines - Martin's 5: K Dan Bailey Might Be Cause For Conservative Cowboys Coaching

Dallas Cowboys Kicker Dan Bailey #5 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Kicker

If your league still does kickers, which most still do, draft Dan Bailey. If he isn't taken in the first five kickers, your league is doing it wrong and you should disband. He's number two all-time in field goal accuracy and is a lock to finish in the top five at the position each year.

My only other advice on kickers is don't draft them before the last round of your drafts and don't draft more than one.


Who are you looking at in your fantasy football drafts?

Who are some of your sleepers?

Have a fantasy football question, leave it in the comment section. 

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