Houston Makeover Vs Dallas Rookie Takes Over

Houston Makeover Vs Dallas Rookie Takes Over by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt

The Preseason is winding down and we’re now a week away from the start of the season. You’re all deep into draft mode or have already completed your drafts. I have 2-3 drafts left, I can’t remember because I over committed this season. It’s like I’d rather spend all my free time on football than anything else. Not a bad thing, just means this is the time of year when my friends know I’m unavailable on Sundays (and Mondays.. and Thursdays..).

This week I want to focus on the Texas teams. I’ve been wanting to tackle the makeover in Houston and the hype in Dallas for a while now. Arguably, the Houston Texans have sustained the biggest overhaul this offseason. After the QB shuffle they had last season, they went for it with signing Brock Osweiler. They moved on from Arian Foster signing Lamar Miller, who’s been frustratingly under utilized in Miami. Finally, they picked up some talented rookies in WR Will Fuller & RB Tyler Ervin. Meanwhile in Dallas, we have the much hyped first round pick, crop top legend,  Ezekiell Elliott. We also have the sad reality that Tony Romo may need to consider retirement after sustaining another injury. Followed up the the new hype train of the rookie Dak Prescott.

Brocklobster Time

Osweiler is the shiny new QB the Texans have been looking for. Despite only having 8 career starts, he’s been in the league 4 years and been learning from under one of the greatest to ever play the game, Peyton Manning. If Manning’s attention to detail has rubbed off at all on Osweiller, you can bet that Brock will the be classic “student of the game”.  He’ll eager to learn and live up to the needs in Houston. It also helps having the incredible talent of DeAndre Hopkins as your #1 WR and the newly signed, seasoned vet in Lamar Miller behind you. Agree with all the hype or not, but you can not deny the fact this move does anything but help the offense in Houston. Let’s hope Brock is able to break the trend of QB uncertainty in Houston. I’m drafting Brock in 2 QB leagues as a late round pick, because why not? He’s throwing to Hopkins, can’t be that bad right?

QB Situation in Dallas

In the first few minutes of Tony Romo taking the field for his first preseason game, he goes down and stays down from a hard hit. We now know he suffered a stress fracture to his L1 vertebra and estimated return is 6-10 weeks. According to medical specialists this approximation could easily be shorter or longer. This recovery is highly symptomatic and monitored by pain the player is feeling. It is important to note this is his third back related injury. Running down his list of injuries really quick from 2008 to now: Broken pinkie, broken left collarbone, ruptured disk, two transverse process fractures, left collarbone (again), and now this. It would be sad to see Romo’s career end based on injury, but you can’t deny the thought of retirement has to be in his mind. How much more can his spine and body really take? Moving onto the Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott, who’s had a great showing this preseason. Defenses are significantly less intense in the preseason, so he has yet to be fully tested. He will get that test game 1 against  their #1 division opponent the NY Giants, upside being they’ll be at home. Am I drafting Prescott? Probably not, but I’ll be keeping an eye on his numbers to see if he’s a viable QB 2 option for 2 QB formats.

Which RB to Own  

Do you take the unproven, much hyped rookie? Or the under utilized seasoned vet? The Ezekiel Elliott vs Lamar Miller debate is an interesting one. There’s no doubt that Elliott is incredibly talented. However rookie RBs are risky. He could have an outstanding season or sustain a week 1 injury and you’ve now blown your first round pick. Elliott has already had a minor hamstring issue this off season and that’s enough to create a pause in your drafting him. Based on the beating RBs take I’m hesitant to take an untested rookie. I can agree he’s worth a late 1st round pick but I wouldn’t pick him over Todd Gurley or David Johnson.

Meanwhile you have Lamar Miller, who in many drafts is going right after or right before Elliott. Houston ran the most running plays last season of any NFL team. So you have no doubt Miller will be getting used early and often. The question: is he ready to be used this much? Is he conditioned and ready for that responsibility? Answer: I think so. He had struggled last season going unused and many chanted “Free Lamar Miller.” We know he’s talented because despite his low targets, he maximized each opportunity he had leading him to a top 10 finish last season. Miller is an obvious second round choice though I’d easily understand him going late in the first round.

Effects on Top WRs  

Now, how can we realistically expect the new QB situations in each camp effect their top wide receivers. I think both situations have a lot in common. Both QBs are brand new to their respective systems, while both have seasoned wide receivers that are very comfortable in their leading role. It’s really just a matter of the QBs not screwing it up. Prescott will likely be throwing frequently and quickly so it’s a good thing Bryant is getting back up to speed post injury and still has the hands to make brilliant catches. I do not see Bryant’s numbers going down. I see team meetings going like this:  “Dak your first job is: hand it off to Elliott. 2nd: throw the ball to Dez. That’s it. You have two jobs, don’t get fancy.”

As for DeAndre Hopkins, we know he can make beautiful music with any QB throwing to him. He had 192 targets and 111 receptions, for 11 TDs, behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Hopkins is an open and shut draft case. He’s young, talented, and will see a large volume in targets. Draft him, just do it.

The Back Ups  

The rookies and vets to keep an eye on are also draft worthy on both teams. In Houston you have the highly touted rookie Will Fuller, his deep speed has potential for numbers worthy of a late draft pick up. (Depth behind Fuller: WRs Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong.)
Terrance Williams on the other hand has seen marginal improvement season to season, and after Bryant’s foot injury last season, Williams did little to rise to the occasion.

(Depth behind Williams: Cole Beasley, Bryce Butler, Lucky Whitehead -Punt return opportunities)

Tyler Ervin is in a great position as the backup to Lamar Miller. Despite his smaller size he’s aggressive and highly athletic. His abilities in pass catching are a big help too. He leads his RB rookie class with 45 receptions from San Jose State. All making a great handcuff to Miller.

Alfred Morris has reportedly taken the lead over McFadden, and would be a worthy starting RB2 if Elliott gets hurt. He’s a must own handcuff for Elliott owners.

Check Your Draft Boards

When prepping for your draft be sure to take note of these players (if you haven’t already). Despite the hype and new situations surrounding a lot of them, there is no denying they’re worth owning. If you’re lucky enough to pick up Hopkins in a PPR format of Elliott second round in standard, know you’ve made a great draft pick. More importantly if you already own Miller and/or Elliott, be sure you’ve picked up their handcuff, because if I’ve learned anything from fantasy, it’s that anything, and I mean ANYTHING can happen. Happy Drafting!

Sam Holt

Follow Sam’s 2016 quest for another Dynasty Fantasy Football championships on twitter @SamanthaRHolt

Also by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt…”This is How We Dynasty Football”

and Fantasy Stock Drops From 2016 Draft by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt

 

1st and 10 with DFF Week 7

1st and 10 with DFF Week 7 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

“1st and 10 with DFF” is a weekly segment of fantasy insights and a joint endeavor between the Dynasty Football Factory and Utter-Fantasy Football. We will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which may carry major fantasy implications.

Michael Goins is the owner of Dynasty Football Factory, which is a website that you must visit daily, or you are missing out on great fantasy football, especially dynasty formatted fantasy football. Follow him on twitter @DynastyFFactory

 

On Monday afternoon, approximately 2:00 PM Central, I will post the latest segment in “1st & 10 with DFF.”  If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any fantasy football questions for Michael, really let us know.

 

Week 7-  May 5th, 2016

Special Guest Writer-Dynasty Football Factory’s Michael Vincent. Be sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MVtweetshere

 

Utter-Fantasy #1) Many speculated that Denver would take QB Paxton Lynch in the 2016 NFL Draft, and that’s who they got. They now head into the season with QB Mark Sanchez as the week 1 starter and Lynch possibly under center later in the season. Is Denver content with their roster now, or do you anticipate any more movement at the quarterback position between now and the season opener.

DFF Response) I think content is probably the right word. Denver survived last season with a subpar quarterback play for most of the year with Brock Osweiler and Peyton Manning under center. They went 12-4 and won the Super Bowl on the back of their defense and relegated Manning, Osweiler, and then Manning again to effective game manager, making enough plays not to lose. While that formula can eventually blow up in their face, that defense is in their prime and they could probably get by with Sanchez doing just enough and Lynch developing in that system long enough to have a successful 2016. If Sanchez can bring any semblance of consistency and the defense plays at the level they did last year, they are a shoo- in to compete for a playoff spot. If Sanchez costs them games, and Lynch is brought in much quicker than anticipated, that’s when there may be the need to bring in another arm. Street free agent quarterbacks come by the bushel, so perhaps some camp competition for Sanchez while Lynch learns the system. Coach Kubiak will rely on the running game and defense regardless.

 

 

Utter-Fantasy #2)   Fantasy football has helped the NFL become the most popular sport in America, and it is not even close. Is it there an opportunity now to re-examine the possibility of another league, such as the United Football League, that failed to catch on before?

DFF Response) I don’t think so. What makes the NFL so popular through fantasy football are the people in the NFL. All of the characters, athletes, heroes, villains – narratives, storylines, and emotional attachment to players for whatever reason. Fantasy football builds a bridge of an investment that goes beyond the game. There is no chance the UFL, or whatever else would spring up, could ever compete with the NFL and what it has to offer. They own a day of the week because of who and what they are. The NFL is where it is because of the people involved and the fact that they are the greatest athletes in the world, not the other way around.

 

Utter-Fantasy #3)  DeMarco Murray says that he “loves” the selection of Derrick Henry in the second round of the NFL draft. He’s got to be a little disappointed…right? ( Who ever WANTS to split carries?)

DFF Response) Murray may be trying a different approach after a humbling 2015 season. He is saying the right thing and looks like he is saying what is in the best interest of the team and what may bring him competition. The answer is yes, after thinking he’d be the lead dog again in Tennessee, he may be in a situation where he is splitting touches and snaps on the field with the rookie. Hard to imagine Tennessee using a second round pick on a player that is not their immediate future, but with so many picks in 2016, they may have been looking to stock up at the position. Tennesse couldn’t pass up on the value. Can’t fault the Titans for looking ahead as DeMarco is 28 and came off his most unproductive season as a starter. Henry will push him in camp and it will ultimately lead to the same headaches any RBBC creates.

 

Utter-Fantasy #4)  Rotoworld’s Evan Silva gave the 49ers the worst grade of the 2016 NFL Draft for drafting of these players….do you agree?

1 (7). Oregon DE DeForest Buckner
1 (28). Stanford OG Josh Garnett
3 (68). Mississippi State CB Will Redmond
4 (133). LSU CB Rashard Robinson
5 (142). Appalachian State DE Ronald Blair
5 (145). Georgia OT John Theus
5 (174). Ole Miss OT Fahn Cooper
6 (207). Louisiana Tech QB Jeff Driskel
6 (211). Florida RB Kelvin Taylor
6 (213). Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge
7 (249). Western Kentucky Prince Charles Iworah

DFF Response) What jumps out is the lack of immediate contributors after Buckner and Garnett; even Garnett at 28 was a stretch considering they traded up to get him. For the amount of picks, the sheer volume of new faces does not address any immediate needs except depth, with very little guarantee that all of the picks end up on the 53-man roster after camp. My sleeper in the draft and a player that I have targeted in the late rounds is Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge, who may surprise people by winning a receiving job over the likes of Eric Rogers, Bruce Ellington and Deandre Smelter. Burbridge was a machine for the Spartans last season as they won the Big Ten Championship and may thrive in Chip Kelly’s system.

 

Utter-Fantasy #5)  Rotoworld’s Evan Silva gave the Ravens the best grade  of the 2016 NFL Draft for drafting of these players….do you agree? ( Note: Only one true wide receiver selected in this draft for the Ravens, and not until the 4th Round)

1 (6). Notre Dame LT Ronnie Stanley
2 (42). Boise State OLB Kamalei Correa
3 (70). BYU DE Bronson Kaufusi
4 (104). Temple CB Tavon Young
4 (107). Cincinnati WR Chris Moore
4 (130). Nebraska OT Alex Lewis
4 (132). Michigan DT Willie Henry
4 (134). Louisiana Tech RB Kenneth Dixon
5 (146). Grand Valley State DE Matt Judon
6 (182). Navy ATH Keenan Reynolds
6 (209). Virginia CB Maurice Canady

DFF Response) The Ravens addressed many needs that they had including both lines, the secondary and the pass rush. The Kenneth Dixon draft pick is an interesting one and it makes me think they are not sold on Buck Allen to be the future at the position. Along with Allen and Dixon, the Ravens will open camp with Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Terrance West and Trent Richardson. Other than that pick, Baltimore did what some teams failed to do, which was filling as many needs as possible in one draft class. Sixth round pick Keenan Reynolds out of Navy will be a fun player to watch as he is listed as a receiver but played quarterback in college.

 

Utter-Fantasy #6) Dallas came in last in their division in 2015 because they did not have a reliable back up for QB Tony Romo. In my opinion, they still don’t. Do you agree?

DFF Response) I agree that they don’t have a reliable backup, however they do have a Schrödinger’s cat in Dak Prescott now. I think that if Romo goes down again the team is better equipped to succeed in a short term situation without him with Zeke and a healthy Dez. If another long term injury occurred I’d like to see the Cowboys spend a little money on a guy like Fitzpatrick if he holds out through the season. If Romo goes down again this season for considerable time there’s no doubt the Cowboys will go all out for a QB of the future in 2017 with what’s projecting to be a much better crop of quarterbacks.  ( Answered by DFF Pigskin Paradise’s Justin McCasland @MacLandJ )

 

Utter-Fantasy #7) No NFL team addressed their offense like the Rams did in the 2016 NFL Draft with the selections of Cal QB Jared Goff, TE Tyler Higbee, WR Pharoh Cooper, TE Temarrick Hemingway, and WR Michael Thomas.  in the 2016 NFL Draft, With with the exception of RB Todd Gurley and WR Tavon Austin, LA could be putting an entirely new offense on the field in 2016, which includes the rookie QB. Can they be competitive at all in the NFC West or should they just be given a pass this season?

DFF Response) Every year, each organization, from players to GM, will tell you that they plan on winning the Super Bowl. While it’s a given that these teams will always try their best, being competitive in a division with the Cardinals and Seahawks may be difficult with a handful of rookies joining the offense. That being said, the Rams did a great job of reloading their offense with immense talent. Goff is clearly the best quarterback in this class and, while he may not see immediate success, he will certainly have plenty of opportunities to hone his skills as the expected starter for the 2016 season. Pharoh Cooper is a perfect match for the Rams as his skill set has been compared to Tavon Austin. Conversely, Michael Thomas may be one of the best true receivers in this class and could quickly win the starting position over Britt and Quick who are only signed through 2016. Adding depth at the tight end was a big need after the Rams released veteran Jared Cook. Both Hemingway and Higbee are considered move tight ends and should be used heavily in the passing game. Outside of Hunter Henry, Higbee is the best tight end prospect to be drafted this year and, despite his off-field legal issues, should still see plenty of playing time. The bottom line is that the Rams needed more offensive talent and they were fortunate enough to draft some of the best talent available in a fairly thin draft class. ( Answered by DFF’s Zach Van Kirk @DFF_Zach )

 

Utter-Fantasy #8) In a surprising move right after the draft, the Bears released OG Matt Slauson, who finished No. 18 in Pro Football Focus’ 2015 guard ratings and only allowed one sack in 16 starts last season. If he’s unemployed for a week I’d be even more surprised…how about you?

DFF Response) It was a strange move but it looks like they’ve drafted their future left guard in Whitehair. He wasn’t an issue in the locker room and he has helped mentor some of the younger players, but it may just be the case of an older player from a previous regime that does not fit in the future plans for Chicago. He has already made visits to other teams such as San Diego and Buffalo and will find a landing spot before training camp. He is 30, which is not that old for offensive linemen and his productive 2015 will help him latch on somewhere. The Bears are gambling on their depth and may look silly if they lose any of their projected starting guards without at least letting Slauson earn his spot in 2016. With Slauson gone, only Kyle Long remains from the 2013 Chicago Bears offensive line that played every offensive snap together until from Week 1 until the last game of the season. Only Long, Alshon Jeffery and Jay Cutler remain from that starting offense that was one play fourth down conversion away from defeating Green Bay and capturing the NFC North in 2013.

 

Utter-Fantasy #9) A recent Fox Sports article was titled “the Philadelphia Eagles are the most dysfunctional mess in the NFL.” I feel that there is a stronger case to be made for the Cleveland Browns getting that inauspicious title, or even the Detroit Lions, who fired team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew in December, and most recently fired 2 more scouts in post draft shakeup. Who would you nominate?

DFF Response) The Colts. Even though many believe the Eagles front office out to be “dysfunctional” that statement is inaccurate. Though some of the decisions made this offseason can be questioned it’s apparent that the front office is all pulling in the same direction since the removal of Chip Kelly. On the other hand the Colts still employ Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano. Last season it was widely reported that the front office would tell the coaches what players should receive playing time. The Colts players held a players only meeting to remind each other to focus on actually playing football and not the drama between the coaching staff and front office. Last season there was rampant speculation that Pagano would be fired after every loss, at no point did Grigson support his coach publicly. At the conclusion of last season it was widely assumed Pagano would be going his own way and the Colts would go theirs. Jim Irsay, the Colts owner, decided he liked the Pagano/Grigson dynamic and decided four more years of it would be just awesome. So the Colts go on with no change, well except for firing all of the coaches, Offensive coordinator being the most prominent, that Grigson forced upon Pagano. I for one cannot wait until the Colts next 3 game losing streak. (Answered by DFF’s Shane @DFF_ShaneShame)

 

Utter-Fantasy #10) What would we be saying about Cleveland WR Josh Gordon now, if he had been an exemplary player in the NFL since being drafted in 2012, with no suspensions to speak of?

DFF Response) So many moving parts in Cleveland, Gordon or not, to really put any quantified level of success for Flash whether or not he had been suspended and missed parts or all of the last three seasons. When he has played, he has shown flashes of brilliance. He has the skill set and the metrics to be one of the bigger impact players in the NFL; there is a reason that he is lauded among fantasy players and defended tirelessly against those who want to just write him off. The talent is there, and he is in Cleveland. He would probably still be getting his numbers and put up an average of 70 catches, 1200 yards and a handful of touchdowns, much like Calvin Johnson, but ultimately he would be lost in the shuffle on a bad team. He could have been, and still could be, as productive as Megatron and Julio Jones as long as his team stabilized the quarterback position.

 

Next week Utter-Fantasy will have 10 new questions for the Dynasty Football Factory

 

1st and 10 with DFF Week 6
1st and 10 with DFF Week 5
1st AND 10 WITH DFF WEEK 4
1st and 10 with DFF Week 3
1st and 10 with DFF Week 2
1st and 10 with DFF Week 1

Dallas Cowboys Team Profile 2016

Dallas Cowboys Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Somebody is going to make a lot of money in 2016, and they may not even have to play a single down of football. Most assuredly, Dallas owner Jerry Jones is never going into another NFL season with a sub par quarterback backing up QB Tony Romo. He’ll empty a bank (one of his) to make sure of it. Despite starting the season 2-0 and leading the NFC East, the Cowboys lost their next seven games and finished the season by going 2-12 in their final 14 games. Romo played in those first two games, then two in Weeks 11 & 12, before injuring his left clavicle………….again.

2016 Team Outlook –
Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants all live in the NFC East Division. Since 1998, every team in the division has won the division at least 4 times. Dallas could win it in 2016. Or perhaps Washington, or Philadelphia….or the New York Giants.


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– In Week 12, Tony Romo left the Thursday game against the Carolina Panthers after he was sacked by Thomas Davis. It was Romo’s second game back from a broken collarbone he suffered in Week 2 that kept him out of seven games. The Cowboys went 0-7 with Romo out and fell to the bottom of the NFC East. In 2015, the Dallas QB carousel went Romo, Weeden, Cassel, Romo, Cassel and Kellen Moore. Jerry Jones says Romo is good for 3-5 more years. Maybe. Now for a reliable back up….could be RG3, it won’t be Manziel. ( 10 Reasons Manning Becomes A Cowboy )

RBs– In 2015, RB DeMarco Murray went to Philadelphia so RBs Joseph Randle and RB Darren McFadden started the season as the two running backs for Dallas. Utter-Fantasy warned fantasy football owners not to get excited about RB Darren McFadden. Written in the pre-season….”Don’t even consider RB McFadden as the starter. This guy is insurance only.”  Truth is 1) Utter-Fantasy got this WRONG! RB McFadden rushed for over 1000 yards…..2) The O-Line in Dallas is as good as it gets. McFadden took advantage of it, and had one of his best seasons. Joseph Randle was cut in November 2015, and has been arrested 4 times in the last 17 months. UPDATE: Cowboys signed RB Alfred Morris, formerly of the Redskins, to a two-year, $3.5 million contract. Alf looked worn down in 2015, and will likely be a change of pace back and insurance for Dallas.


WRs–
WR Dez Bryant is Dallas’ big-time play maker and was the #3 wide receiving for the 2014 season. His stats took a huge hit in 2015, and he dropped to #78 with only 401 receiving yards and 3 TDs. Their was absolutely no chemistry with back up QB Matt Cassel, and Bryant’s injuries limited him to only 9 games in 2015. WR Terrance Williams was the top receiver in Dallas last season, but even then he was only the #44 wide receiver on the year. Even WR Cole Bessley topped Bryant’s numbers. He was the #54 wide receiver on the year, with 536 receiving yards and 5 TDs. 6’3″ 5th rounder Devin Street was drafted in 2014 ( 2014 NFL Draft) and has been slow to make an impact- 114 yards and 1 TD in 2015


TEs-
Unlike the wide receivers in Dallas for 2015, TE Jason Witten’s numbers weren’t hurt as badly with all the turmoil at the  quarterback position. In 2014, Witten was the #10 tight end at the end of the season with 703 yards and 5 TDs.
In 2015, Witten was the #12 tight end at the end of the season with 712 yards and 3 TDs. ( 2 of his 3 TDs came in Week 1 with Romo playing quarterback.)


K– 
In 2015, no place kicker had a better FG% than Dallas’ Dan Bailey ( 93.8%) He went 30 for 32 on field goals, and nailed all 25 of 25 extra points ( even with the extra yardage added in 2015)  As of October 2014, when his 100th made field goal made him eligible for ranking, Bailey became the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, and is the only kicker to convert over 90 percent of his kicks.

DEF–
Dallas can’t stop the run! At least not in 2015. Dallas ranked #29th vs the run last season, with Buffalo, Chicago and San Diego the only teams worst. With an offense still in tact ( other than a quality QB back-up for Romo, and depth at running back)…. the Cowboys will concentrate on solidify it’s defense.

2015 Dallas Fantasy Surprises–
It has to be RB Darren McFadden as Utter-Fantasy’s surprise for 2015. Even with the best O-Line in the NFL, it was hard to imagine this guy rushing for over 1000 yards. Here are his stats previous to 2015….2014- 534 rushing yards…2013- 379 rushing yards…2012- 216 rushing yards. An under-achiever most of his career, but an over-achiever in 2015.

2016 Free Agents that Dallas Needs to Address – QB Matt Cassel, RB Lance Dunbar, RB Robert Turbin, TE James Hanna, FB Tyler Clutts, DE Greg Hardy, DE Jeremy Mincey, MLB Rolando McClain, CB Morris Claiborne, OLB Kyle Wilber, OG Ronald Leary,  DT Jack Crawford, NT Nick Hayden, OG Mackenzy Bernadea


2016 NFL Draft –
The immediate needs of Dallas is fixing this #29 ranked defense. They need new corners to help safety Byron Jones, and a reinforced defensive line. Better linebackers will also help to stop the run, which Dallas couldn’t do last season. Dallas’ entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- DALLAS’ DRAFT

Did You Know–
  Longtime Cowboys head coach Tom Landry was drafted by the New York Giants in 1947 as a defensive back. He was also the first coach to ever win 100 games with one team in one decade.

All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team home page: www.dallascowboys.com

Team Profiles- Dallas Cowboys

Team Profiles- Dallas Cowboys by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Two years ago, Jason Garrett, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, had to listen to daily rumors that he was on the way out of Dallas. That’s what happens when the team you are coaching goes 6-10 in 2010, then 8-8 the next 3 years in a row. Owner Jerry Jones stayed with Garrett for 2014, and consequently the Cowboys had a dominating 12-4 season, won the NFC East Division and went to the playoffs. Garrett’s job is safe for a couple more years. It’s hard to tell where Garrett’s coaching ends and Jerry Jones’ begins, but as a team, they understood the value of a strong offensive line, and in 2014, they had one of the best…if not THE BEST. Opposing teams knew RB DeMarco Murray would carry the ball on the first down (he did it nearly every set of downs), and yet the O-Line made holes and RB Murray got his 6-8 yards. It happened all season. That’s when you know you have a great O-Line, when they know it’s coming, and can’t stop it. RB Emmitt Smith had a gigantic O-Line back in the 90s that made holes your grandmother could run through, so it’s no surprise that Dallas is built that way again.

2015 Team Outlook –
Dallas runs in the NFC East Division with Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants. It’s a quirky division, because all 4 of these teams take turns winning the NFC East. Dallas won it in 2014, Philly in 2013, Washington in 2012 and the Giants in 2010. Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants have a lot of question marks heading into the 2015 season, so with the Cowboys as the most stable team, it’s a pretty good guess that they’ll win the division 2 years in a row. (Philadelphia and Washington aren’t committed to their current QBs and the Giants ended the 2014 season 6-10, so they have issues to address.) Whether Jones can buy a Superbowl like he tried to in 2014, is a wait and see.

2015 Fantasy Outlook –

QB– Owner Jerry Jones will tell you that he got very lucky landing QB Tony Romo, who was not selected in the 2003 NFL Draft, and signed on as a free agent with the Cowboys. All Romo has done since, is being selected to the Pro Bowl in the 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014 seasons…all years in which the Dallas has made the playoffs. In 2014 he ranked as the #13 quarterback in the NFL, the same ranking he had in 2013. He ended 2014 with 3766 total yards, 34 TDs and only 9 INTs. He’s as solid for fantasy owners as he is the Cowboy organization, but he’ll need a Superbowl ring to ever be considered great.

RBs– Going into the 2014 season, the knock on RB DeMarco Murray was his durability, a word used a lot when discussing running backs. Murray shut up all the doubters however, becoming the #1 running back in the league this past season, playing in all 16 games, racking up 2261 total yards from scrimmage and scoring 13 TDs. He even played Week 16 vs the Colts with a broken hand. On January 31st, the Associated Press named DeMarco Murray its 2014 Offensive Player of the Year. Murray is a free agent, so his return to the Dallas line-up is questionable. The Cowboys also have their star receiver as a free agent this year, so getting both signed is currently Dallas’ dilemma. (If Dallas can’t resign RB Murray, The Dallas Morning News believes Joseph Randle will be the Cowboys’ starting running back in 2015…if Randle can stay out of prison.) UPDATE: Cowboys losing RB DeMarco Murray to Philly, makes RB Randle the front-runner for the starting running back. Dallas signs RB Darren McFadden, who will be a back-up only.

WRs–
The Cowboys have plenty of talent in their receiving corps, with WR Dez Bryant as the big-time play maker. Bryant was the #3 wide receiving for the 2014 season, catching 88 passes for 1320 yards and 13 TDs. WR Terrance Williams lines up opposite WR Bryant and he quietly had 681 yards in 2014 and 8 TDs, WR Williams, a 3rd round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, came on strong in playoffs for Dallas, scoring 3 TDs, 2 vs Detroit. The #3 WR Cole Beasley is a little “Wes Welker” type receiver for Dallas, who finished fourth on Dallas with 48 targets last season, posting a 37/420/4 line. UPDATE: Cowboys signed WR Dez Bryant to a five-year, $70 million contract, including $45 million guaranteed.

TEs-
Who is the second all-time leader in career receptions and receiving yards for a tight end, trailing only Tony Gonzalez, currently in the NFL? Hint: Since I am profiling Dallas, he is a Cowboy. I’ll take a wild stab, and guess that no one got this wrong. Jason Witten has been with Dallas since being drafted in 2003, and every year, Witten is a top 5 tight end in the NFL. Clearly one of the best to ever play the position and a lock someday for the Hall of Fame. At 32, he shows little signs of slowing down, and will be an important factor in Dallas’ offense once again in 2015.

K–
You have to hand it to Dallas, and their knack of discovering undrafted free agent talent. Following the 2011 NFL Draft, Bailey signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He ranked #8 for the 2014 season. As of October 2014, when his 100th made field goal made him eligible for ranking, Bailey became the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, and is the only kicker to convert over 90 percent of his kicks.

DEF–
In 2013, the Dallas Cowboys finished last in the league in sacks per pass attempt and No. 25 in the league in sacks. In 2014 they finished 28th in sacks, which was a little improvement. Dallas simply doesn’t have difference-makers on their front seven, and they need them. The team ranked #19 among NFL defenses last season, but they should be better on 2015. UPDATE: Cowboys sign OLB Keith Rivers, MLB Jasper Brinkley, DT Nick Hayden and claim CB Corey White off waivers.

2014 Dallas Fantasy Surprises–
Easily, RB DeMarco Murray becoming the #1 running back in the league this past season, and playing in all 16 games was the biggest surprise. We expect QB Romo, WR Dez Bryant and TE Witten to be very good, and post big numbers. I’d be surprised if getting the Dallas defense back on track wouldn’t be a priority, 2nd only to getting the free agents signed. I can’t say however, that I believe defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the right guy to do it.

2015 Free Agents that Dallas Needs to Address – RB DeMarco Murray (signed w/ Philly)- WR Dez Bryant (franchise tagged)- FB Tyler Clutts- WR Dwayne Harris (signed w/ NY Giants)- OT Doug Free (re-signed)- DE George Selvie (signed w/ NY Giants)- DT Nick Hayden (re-signed)- OL Bruce Carter (signed w/ TB) – OL Justin Durant Signed w/ Atlanta) – CB Sterling Moore (signed w/ TB)

2015 NFL Draft –
The immediate needs of Dallas are defensive help, keeping their O-line solid, and likely addressing the running back position. Dallas needs a stronger, more effective pass-rush (DE), they need to keep their O-Line solid, especially if they loose anyone to free agency (OT) and roster depth at running back (RB). Additionally, Dallas hasn’t drafted a quarterback since 2009, and Romo can’t play forever (QB). UPDATE: Dallas’ entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- DALLAS’ DRAFT

Did You Know –
The Dallas Cowboys have an estimated value of $2.3 billion, the Cowboys are the most valuable team in the NFL, they are the 5th most valuable sports team in the WORLD, they generate $560 million in revenue which is the most of any NFL team AND YET…The NFL hasn’t paid a dime in taxes since the 1960’s and is still considered a “non-profit organization”.

All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team home page: www.dallascowboys.com