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It wasn’t a catch.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can praise the Cowboys for a phenomenal 2014. Behind the best offensive line, Cowboys players consistently ranked among fantasy football’s elite. They finished as one of the highest scoring teams in football, finishing among the top five teams in passing and rushing touchdowns. Tony Romo was at his best, feeding Dez Bryant and throwing the least INTs in his career since 2010.
Dallas carries a ton of momentum into 2015, but they still have questions heading into the season. With Demarco Murray gone, the Cowboys are hoping the “next man up” theory plays well in their backfield. Tony Romo turns 35 this season, and Dallas lacks an effective backup. All things considered, however, expect to see Cowboys come off the board throughout your fantasy draft.
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Here’s the best options from Big D:
1: Dez Bryant, WR
Like him or not, Dez Bryant may be the best receiver in the NFL right now. A combination of size, speed, and unending confidence propelled Bryant to his best season ever, finishing with a career-high 16 touchdowns. Bryant now has three consecutive seasons in which he has more than 1,200 receiving yards and more than 12 touchdowns.
Unless you’re in a PPR league and look for someone like Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant should be the first receiver off the board in your draft. In ESPN scoring he finished just 30 points behind Brown, and had 44 less targets. Dez also scored in 7 of the final 9 games of the season. If you pick in the bottom end of the first round, there should be serious consideration about taking Dez Bryant. He’s that good.
2: Tony Romo, QB
Love him or hate him, Tony Romo played great football behind the best line he’s had of his 11 seasons in Dallas. He wasn’t a top 5 quarterback, but he stayed healthy and was a beast down the stretch, throwing mulitple touchdowns in six of his final seven games. With that line and a formidable ground game, Romo should continue that success into 2015.
Romo’s health has been a concern in recent years, particularly his back. That’s changed, as successful surgeries have allowed Romo to participate in his first offseason activities since 2012. Romo has taken every snap for the Cowboys this offseason, and that should help him build chemistry with not only Dez, but Terrence Williams and the rest of the receiving corps. Romo wasn’t top in total points, but he did have the fourth-most TD passes after Rodgers, Manning, and Luck. If the absence of Demarco Murray turns out to be a big loss, Romo might have to step up again, further increasing his fantasy value. I’m not sure if I want Romo as my starter, but I’m not sure if I’d want to play against him either. He’s a first-tier QB.
3: Terrence Williams, WR
Williams was a flex option throughout last season, but another year in the system should improve his chances to break out. Williams hasn’t missed a game heading into his third season, and has been a solid big-play alternative to the often blanketed Dez Bryant. Williams only caught 37 balls on 66 targets last year, slightly less than his rookie season. He made up for it with eight touchdowns, as many as Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall.
Williams never saw more than seven targets in a game last year, so he may not be the best fantasy option. But when an elite receiver commands attention, it can and will free up space for other receivers. Williams is better than Cole Beasley, and will have opportunities to score in 2015. Given the deep receiver class, Williams will probably end up as a week-to-week flex option that people will tweet Matthew Berry for advice about.
4: Dan Bailey, PK
Dallas moved the ball better than anyone last year, and finished fifth in scoring. However, they finished second in points per drive, meaning they scored more with less possessions than some of the league’s other high flyers. They finished with 2.49 points per drive, and Bailey was a big contributor to that. He also made more extra points (56) than any other kicker, and didn’t miss a PAT all season.
If Bailey doesn’t make as many extra points this year, it only means he’ll make more field goals, right? Bailey was 13-16 on kicks from beyond 40 yards, including 5-7 on kicks past 50. Everybody needs a kicker, and Bailey will most certainly be one of the first three off your draft board.
5: Joseph Randle, RB
Randle goes all the way down here because he just hasn’t convinced me yet. In his third year out of Oklahoma State, Randle watched as Demarco Murray chased history behind the league’s best line. Now Randle gets handed the keys, and it’s still unclear if he can step up and have the same kind of performance we saw in Murray. Randle only carried 51 times last season, and had an impressive 6.7 yards per rush. That can be misleading though, because when Randle got his first major share of playing time in Week 13, he posted just 37 yards on 13 carries.
At a position some deem expendable, there has been substantial pressure put on Randle. If he can’t do the job, other young backs like Lance Dunbar and Lache Seastrunk are more than willing to step to the plate. Darren McFadden is a nonfactor here. It’s the best offensive line in football, and somebody gets to run behind it. Whoever locks down the job, they will be a major fantasy asset. Randle is worth a pick as early as the third round, but buyer beware.
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