September 12, 2009

How 'bout them Cowboys? Jerry Jones released reality star Terrell Owens in the off-season. Tony Romo waived Jessica Simpson right before the start of training camp. The team has moved into a sparkling new stadium. It's a whole new world for the 'Boys. What does it mean for fantasy owners? Well, as long as you don't own Cowboys punter Mat McBriar, who has to deal with a hang-time hazard, it means the Cowboys' fantasy cogs are distraction-free. The offense will spread the fantasy wealth around more this year with a more balanced attack. Overall, this means lower numbers out of the passing game and better rushing numbers. The Romo chuck-n-duck era is over; I will make sure you're fantasy-ready for the transition.


The mainstream media loves to bash Romo. They crush him for his NFL playoff meltdowns and careless passes. They hammer him for relationships with gorgeous women. It's tough being the Romo-nator. Okay, outside of the part about him spending his off-the-field time with Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson. Yeah, it could be worse. One thing is for sure -- Romo has been a stat monster during the fantasy season. In fact, Romo leads all active QBs in career passing statistics such as passer rating (94.7) and yards per completion (12.7). The Dallas QB was a Top 10 fantasy QB last year, with 3,448 passing yards and 26 TDs, even though he only played in 13 games. Romo deserves fantasy respect. Can Romo post huge fantasy numbers without T.O. in the fold? It's going to be an adjustment. The star wideout caught 47 percent of Romo's career TDs. He demanded double-teams and opened up the field for Romo. Roy Williams is no T.O.; expect regression. As I mentioned above, the Cowboys will also run the ball more this year. In 2008, the Cowboys had 578 pass attempts and only 401 rushes. This ratio will change drastically in 2009. The 'Boys have a stable of quality RBs, the line is built to rush-block, and the offense flourishes when it's taking advantage of Romo's superior play-action skills. The run will be used to set-up the pass this year in Dallas. This is just another reason that Romo's fantasy value will take a hit. He wasn't worth a pick before the sixth round in fantasy drafts.

WEEK 1 OUTLOOK (@TB): 240 PaYDs, 1 INTs, 1 PaTD

Romo has a tough Week 1 road matchup. The Bucs were the fourth-ranked pass defense last year, averaging 187.3 passing yards per game. Granted, there's a new coaching unit in Tampa, but this group will still be stingy against an air attack. The Dallas offense will attempt to establish its rush-heavy identity early in the season. Romo is a back-end fantasy starter this week. Go a different direction if you have a solid reserve with a good matchup.


This squad arguably has the best RB depth in the league. Marion Barber III, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice each bring different strengths to the field. The Cowboys' strength is a fantasy owners' nightmare when it comes to these backs. Each of them is going to get carries and hurt the others' fantasy values. Barber' s reckless style is slowing him down. He finished last season with 1,302 total yards and 9 TDs. But, he was invisible down the fantasy stretch due to a toe injury. The Barbarian finished the year with 3.7 YPC rate. He's best suited for limited carries. Jones is ready and willing to take these carries. This dude is a flex-position dream because of his "go the distance" skills and mentality. There's a misconception that he is a one-dimensional speed demon. Not true. Jones also runs with impressive power. He only had 30 carries last year before he was shelved for the season with hamstring and toe injuries. He made the most of those carries with an 8.9 YPC average and 3 TDs. Jones' ADP was 77 and he was typically going off draft board after guys like LenDale White, Cedric Benson and Derrick Ward. He's undervalued; I hope you scooped him up and have him locked-in at your flex spot or as an upside reserve RB. The final piece of this crew gets very little fantasy pub. Choice put up 472 yards rushing and had 5.1 YPC when he was filling in for his injured cohorts. He will only receive five to eight carries per game if Barber and Jones are healthy. However, if one of them goes down, Choice's value will skyrocket and he will outperform his ADP as the 62nd RB taken. In dynasty leagues, stash Choice away. One day he will be a starting-worthy fantasy RB.

WEEK 1 OUTLOOK (@TB): 90 RuYDs, 1 RuTD, 3 Rec, 20 ReYDs, 0 ReTDs

The 'Boys will pound Barber and company in Week 1. Surprisingly, the vaunted Bucs D only ranked 18th in rushing defense last year allowing 118.8 rushing yards per game. Don't shy away from Barber in this matchup. Jones will also break one long run against this aging defense. Don't be afraid to use him at a flex spot; he will have a sweet game if he's able to hit pay dirt on one of his runs from between the 20s.


Nope. C'mon, there's only one T.O. -- you know that. Williams also doesn't have Owens' skill set. People love to make excuses for Williams' pathetic performance last year where he caught a mere 19 balls in 10 games. Sure, it didn't help that he was learning the playbook on the fly and developing chemistry with Romo. Nevertheless, he was in a potent offense and should have benefited from single-man coverage with Owens on the other side. While Williams is strong with great hands, he lacks the speed and crisp route running to be a top WR. Think Herman Moore on the downside. Williams is a fantasy bust. I'm sure you heard crickets if you drafted Patrick Crayton. He barely has a shred of upside and is more suited for a slot position in the 'Boys offense than the starting WR2 spot. In 2008, Crayton had 39 receptions, 550 receiving yards, and four TDs. Crayton's value will take a dive with the team lining up in double tight-end sets and pounding the rock more. You could have done better for a reserve WR. Sam Hurd and Miles Austin will both see looks as the third WR. In fact, they may even see time on the outside with Crayton in the slot when the team is in three-WR sets. Don't expect much fantasy value from either, however, unless Williams goes down with an injury. They are nothing more than the fourth or fifth receiving options for Romo.

WEEK 1 OUTLOOK (@TB): 4 Rec, 42 ReYDs, 0 ReTDs

Williams' will struggle in this Week One match-up no matter which Tampa Bay cornerback sticks him. In fact, based on the defensive opponent, the fact it's a road game, and the questions surrounding Williams' bruised shoulder, I would put the overrated WR on the fantasy bench in Week 1. Don't even look at any of the other Dallas wideouts in this game.


Jason Witten and Romo have a special connection. It's so special that it made Owens' jealous when he was in town -- how cute. With the departure of T.O., Witten will finish the year as the runaway No. 1 tight end in fantasy football. He will be the clear top target on this squad and end up with 90-plus catches, 1,100-plus receiving yards, and at least eight TDs. Martellus Bennett received a bunch of hype this offseason. There's no doubt he will see a lot of time on field in two tight-end sets with the Cowboys headed in a more conservative direction. For fantasy purposes, though, let's not get carried away. Bennett wasn't worth a draft pick as a backup TE. He may score five TDs at sporadic points throughout the year for those in TD-heavy leagues. Bennett has limited fantasy value unless the team moves almost exclusively to two tight-end sets or Witten goes down with an injury.

WEEK 1 OUTLOOK (@TB): 7 Rec, 75 ReYDs, 1 ReTDs

Witten is a must-start every fantasy week. He will be targeted early and often at the beginning of the season because Romo will be looking for his pet receiving option as the offense finds itself. All Average Draft Positions provided by

You May Like