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Fantasy Football: Top 100 Players For 2015

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Fantasy Football Blog - Jason's Fantasy Football Top 100

With the preseason starting, it’s time to start digging into players for the 2015 season.

1. Le’Veon Bell – He’s  the focal point of Steelers’ offense, even with a 2 game suspension is arguably the only safe and high ceiling running back.

2. Eddie Lacy – In a pass first offense, but will get a ton of red-zone looks. Doesn’t provide the highest ceiling, but arguably safest running back.

3. Marshawn Lynch – Mr. reliable with 4 straight seasons of 1200+ yards and 11+ TDs.

4. Adrian Peterson – Obviously a huge disappointment last season, but his talent is undeniable. Huge ceiling player in a much-improved offense.

5. Jamaal Charles – Injuries in 2014 prevented Charles from having as big a season as owners hoped, but when healthy, he’s as big a playmaker as it gets.

6. Rob Gronkowski – Gives you the biggest positional advantage in the game.

7. Dez Bryant – With the loss of Murray, expect Dez’s numbers to climb even more.

8. Antonio Brown – Averaged 100 yards and 7.5 receptions over the past two seasons, arguably the safest pick in the draft.

9. Julio Jones –  1,593 yards on 104 receptions last season and gets an upgrade at offensive coordinator with Kyle Shanahan in town.

10. Odell Beckham Jr. – Posted a ridiculous 91/1305/12 stat line in only 12 games last season.

11. C.J. Anderson – I know it’s hard to trust Denver RBs, but Anderson seems like the sure bet to be the Broncos’ bell cow.

12. Calvin Johnson – Certainly low for ‘Megatron’; but after two down seasons in receptions and yards, missing 3 games with an ankle injury last year, and approaching his 30th birthday, it’s cause for concern. If Johnson can be ‘Megatron’, the sky’s the limit, though.

13. DeMarco Murray – Ryan Mathews will eat into his totals, but in such a high volume offense, he should put up numbers.

14. Matt Forte – Seems low considering he had a great year in 2014, however, points were bloated from an insane amount of receptions. Yards per carry went down 0.7 to 3.9.

15. Demaryius Thomas – Most have Thomas higher, but I think Denver will rely on the run much more this season with an aging Peyton Manning. Should still put up double digits TDs though.

16. LeSean McCoy – Rex Ryan’s teams are known to  have a ‘ground and pound’ philosophy and Shady’s talent is evident, however, the Bills have perhaps the NFL’s worst QB situation. McCoy will get a lot of attention from defenses.

17. Jeremy Hill – Not worried about Gio Bernard eating into Hill’s totals too much, should mostly play a Shane Vereen role for the Bengals. Hill is a 3 down bruiser running behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.

18. A.J Green – After a down 2014 Green should be a nice value WR1.

19. Randall Cobb – Good bet for a 100 receptions, entering his prime as Nelson exits his.

20. Alshon Jeffery – Will be Jay Cutler’s go-to guy with Brandon Marshall out of town.

21.  Jordy Nelson – Should still be Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target, but at age 30 and coming off hip surgery, I like the guys above him more.

22. Mark Ingram – The Saints moves this offseason show they want to run the ball much more in 2015. Trading away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, trading for Pro Bowl center Max Unger, and drafting a big tackle with their first pick. Ingram is a back that can handle a load and should see a lot of carries.

23. Melvin Gordon – Pretty high for a rookie, but last season we saw multiple RBs have success for San Diego, Gordon is a workhorse that should put up big numbers.

24. Jimmy Graham – It’s uncertain how Graham will fit in Seattle’s run-first offense, but he should be Russell Wilson’s best friend with their lack of talent at WR. If I miss out on Gronk I’m targeting Jimmy, as there’s a definite drop at TE after.

25. Andrew Luck – Should post huge numbers with added vets Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, along with dynamic #1 draft selection WR Phillip Dorsett, to an already impressive offense.

26. Aaron Rodgers – Only 2 QBs in the first tier this season, not a fan of going QB early, but with their superior talent and weapons, Luck and Rodgers are a great value anywhere in the 3rd round.

27. Mike Evans – Posted 68/1,051/12 as a rookie despite bad QB play. With #1 overall pick Jameis Winston at QB, that provides a huge ceiling if the two can click.

28. Frank Gore – Forget last year’s Frank Gore. As the Colts lead back, he should get a big jump in receptions and red-zone looks.

29. Justin Forsett – Unexpectedly, Forsett had a great year in 2014 with 1,266 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per carry. Now with new OC Marc Trestman, he should see a huge spike in receptions. Trestman’s RB last season, Matt Forte, broke the record for receptions by an RB with 102, so look for Forsett to get similar work.

30. T.Y. Hilton – Although the Colts do a good job of spreading the ball, T.Y. has become Luck’s favorite target.

31. Jordan Matthews – Should get a load of receptions working the slot of Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense. Early career Marques Colston type production very possible.

32. Joseph Randle – Has as high a ceiling as anyone running behind what could possibly be one of the greatest offensive lines in history. A lot of people are over-hyping his 6.7 yards per carry last year, however, so he could go very early. With only 51 carries last season, 105 in his career, I think there are much safer players to take in the first 2-3 rounds.

33. DeAndre Hopkins – With Andre Johnson gone the only viable WR behind Hopkins is 3rd round rookie Jaelen Strong, “Nuk” should see a ton of targets.

34. Brandin Cooks – Another 2nd year WR that should see a jump in targets with the departure of veterans. It’s a good bet he’ll become Drew Brees’ go-to man.

35. Lamar Miller – Starting RB on a much-improved team.

36. Kelvin Benjamin – Will lose targets to 2nd round rookie Devin Funchess, going a little high at current ADP (average draft position), but good value in this area.

37. Jonathan Stewart – With DeAngelo Williams out of town has RB1 potential. Injuries always a concern, however.

38. Emmanuel Sanders – Sanders should have a nice year, but going too early for me with a 3rd round ADP.

39. C.J. Spiller – I think New Orleans will find a way to use Spiller much more effectively than Buffalo did. When in space, Spiller can be electrifying.

40. Andre Johnson –  Playing with the best QB he’s ever had and all the motivation in the world, great value WR2 with WR1 upside.

41. Rashad Jennings – Andre Williams showed last year he’s nothing more than a short yardage back and we all know Shane Vereen is predominately a pass catcher out of the backfield. Jennings should easily be favorite for the Giants lead back role.

42. Alfred Morris – Not a flashy pick, but you’re getting a starting RB with an improved offensive line.

43. DeSean Jackson – Can give you 8 weeks of 20+ points and 8 weeks of 5 or less, ultimate boom or bust player.

44. Brandon Marshall – Bad QB play will hurt him, but talent is still there, should be solid WR2/3.

45. Latavius Murray – We witnessed Murray’s potential week 12 last season when he rushed for 112 yards and scored 2 TDs on FOUR carries, before suffering a concussion.  The Raiders think he’s ready to be a 3 down back, I’d handcuff with Roy Helu though, just in case the kid can’t stay healthy.

46. Tevin Coleman – Nursing a hamstring injury, but perfect RB for the Falcon’s new system. High ceiling if he can lock down the starting job.

47. Todd Gurley – Absolutely love his talent, but ceiling is capped playing on a poor offense with a bad offensive line. Plus, might have to split carries with Tre Mason.

48. T.J. Yeldon – Unlike most rookies Yeldon can pass protect, potentially making him an instant 3 down back. Jacksonville has a bad offensive line, but you can’t get too picky with RBs once you reach this area.

49. Russell Wilson – Averaged 53 rushing yards and 217 passing yards a game last season with 20 passing and 6 rushing TDs. Adds a huge playmaker and red zone threat in Jimmy Graham, good bet to be overall QB3.

50. Travis Kelce – Could have a breakout year if Kansas City makes it a point to get him involved more.

51. Carlos Hyde – 3rd round ADP too high for me, losing OG Mike Iupati and OT Anthony Davis will really hurt San Fran’s running game. Not to mention talks about a RBBC (running back by committee) approach, no thanks.

52. LaGarrette Blount – Suspended for a game, but should be the Pats lead back. New England is notorious for the unexpected at RB, however, so draft with caution.

53. Julian Edelman – 6.6 receptions a game over the past two seasons, losing Brady for 4 games will hurt, but should be the 2nd option in the passing game after Gronk.

54. Sammy Watkins – Talent is there but who’s throwing him the ball? The Bills don’t even know at this point.

55. Keenan Allen – Big sophomore slump after a breakout rookie campaign, still only 23 on an improved offense, though.

56. Peyton Manning – I mentioned earlier how I think the Broncos will focus on the run more this season, but Peyton is still a TD machine and good value in this area.

57. Drew Brees – Copy and paste from above.

58. Vincent Jackson – 4 straight 1,000 yards seasons despite some bad QB play, could be a steal at current ADP if Winston is the real deal.

59. Amari Cooper – Already drawing praise for his route running and NFL readiness, him and 2nd year QB Derek Carr could form something special.

60. Ameer Abdullah – Will likely start off in Reggie Bush’s old role, but with so much talent, I think he could easily take over as the Lions’ 3 down back some time during the season.

61. Andre Ellington – Too fragile to handle a load, explosive back, but should see limited carries.

62. Golden Tate – Safe WR2/3, ceiling limited with a healthy Calvin Johnson.

63. Jarvis Landry – 84 receptions in his rookie year, should catch a bunch of balls from the slot for Miami this season.

64. Jeremy Maclin – Ceiling is capped with Alex “dink and dunk” Smith as his QB.

65. Mike Wallace – Minnesota’s system seems to be a much better fit for Wallace than Miami’s short passing offense. Norv Turner likes to stretch the field and Wallace is one of the best vertical threats in the game.

66. Martavis Bryant – Limited role, only played in final 10 weeks of his rookie season and only 43% of snaps in those games. Obvious playmaker though, scoring 8 TDs from only 26 receptions, big upside if he can land a starting role.

67. Breshad Perriman – Favorite to start opposite Steve Smith this year in Marc Trestman’s pass happy offense, OROY candidate.

68. Shane Vereen – Passing down specialist with great catching and pass blocking ability, could see a lot of work in New York’s improved offense.

69. Joique Bell – Liked him as a sleeper last season, but way over valued at his current 4th round ADP. Coming off knee and Achilles surgeries and has to fight off rookie Abdullah.

70. Giovani Bernard – Dynamic back, but will work behind Jeremy Hill. FLEX player at best unless something happens to Hill.

71. Nelson Agholor – According to local reports Agholor hasn’t impressed much yet, with the lack of talent behind Jordan Matthews though, it shouldn’t be hard locking down a starting spot. Provides big upside in that high tempo offense.

72. Ben Roethlisberger – awesome weapons + bad passing defense always make for good QB numbers.

73. Greg Olsen – In the 3rd tier of TEs, but is being slightly over valued. Like his production, but at current ADP, I’d rather wait and get someone similar later if I strike out on the first 3 guys.

74. Martellus Bennett – Production should increase with B. Marsh gone.

75. Allen Robinson – The Jags #1 WR with little behind him, should soak up targets.

76. Chris Ivory – Favorite to be the Jets starting RB, would be a steal at current ADP if he gets and keeps job.

77.  Doug Martin – Disappointing past 2 seasons, but at full health and confirmed lead back for Tampa Bay.

78. Alfred Blue – With Arian Foster possibly missing around half the season, Blue gives you a starting RB for at least that time and possibly more if Foster has any setbacks.

79. Tre Mason – Would be much higher if not for the Rams drafting Todd Gurley. Should start off as the Rams lead back, but highly likely he won’t keep it.

80. Julius Thomas – A good TE will provide a big help to 2nd year QB Blake Bortles. Thomas won’t see nearly as many TDs as he did in Denver, but in this area is a good value.

81. Steve Smith Sr. – Big potential in Baltimore’s new offense, but father time could catch up with him.

82. Larry Fitzgerald – Puts up much higher numbers with Carson Palmer at the helm. Averaged 5.33 receptions and 80.5 yards in the 6 games Palmer started.

83. Tony Romo – Best offensive line and WR in the league, and might have to throw more this season with DeMarco Murray gone.

84. Cam Newton – Rushing totals boost his point total nicely, averaging 41 yards a game and 8 TDs a season through his first 4 years. Adding another big WR this offeason will help his passing production as well.

85. Arian Foster – Could be out until week 10 if he’s placed on the short term I.R. after having groin surgery, but if he comes back 100%, gives you an RB1 for the playoffs. Targeting anywhere in round 8 and on.

86. Anquan Boldin – Should be a solid WR3, but the 49ers could be very bad this year after their disaterous offseason.

87. Torrey Smith – Provides San Francisco a deep threat and the 9ers could be playing from behind a lot this season.

88. Eric Decker – Capped by bad QB play, but should see less attention with the additions of Brandon Marshall and rookie Devin Smith.

89. Jason Witten – Romo’s go-to man in crucial spots, last of the 3rd tier of TEs.

90. Charles Johnson – Favorite to start opposite Mike Wallace as Norv Turner’s X receiver.

91. Roddy White – Turns 34 in November and injuries are catching up with him. Big upside if he stays on the field though.

92. Brandon LaFell – 3rd option for the Pats, boom or bust player.

93. Ryan Matthews – A DeMarco Murray injury away from being an RB1.

94. Isaiah Crowell – Will have good weeks, but hard to predict which ones with Cleveland’s RBBC approach.

95. John Brown – Moves up to #2 on the depth chart with Michael Floyd nursing a broken hand. Teammates and coaches have been hyping the 2nd year wide out up this offseason, could be a great sleeper.

96. Matt Ryan – With an aging Roddy White, doesn’t have the best weapons after Julio Jones.

97. Tom Brady – Missing 4 games, but should be a top QB after that.

98. Ryan Tannehill – Good bet to have a breakout season with a new contract and much improved team.

99. Tyler Eifert – With Jermaine Gresham out of the way, Eifert is poised to be the Bengals #2 option behind only A.J. Green.

100. Brian Quick – Nick Foles big arm should fit nicely with Quick’s deep threat ability.

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26 years old. Cowboys fan since I can remember. Love anything to do with the NFL, but I'm especially a fantasy football and draft junkie. Always up for a good football debate on Twitter - @bigbackjay.

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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