Last week, we looked at the current average draft position for all the various Cowboys in the Fantasy Football world. One of the first things I mentioned when joining the front page was my obsession with fantasy football. A lot of people simply love playing armchair GM. While some hardcore fans say that roto-leagues are ruining NFL fandom (which I find utterly hilarious), others look at fantasy football as an extension of cheering for the sport. In my humble opinion, fandom is silly in and of itself. We cheer our hearts out, write about, argue about the physical merits of a collection of people we never truly interact with. Logically, rooting for a team for whatever reason is pretty silly- so I find it a bit hypocritical when people say that FF ruins the experience. Some fans can't for the life of them reconcile the concept of cheering for individual players that are rivals of 'their team'. Great, if that works for you. But fandom in general isn't very logical, it's adoration of people that will never know you exist. How do you make a judgment on something so specific, and ignore the elephant in the room? Fandom is a personal experience, and your rules don't apply to anyone else but you. Personally, I know the names of probably 70% of skill players across the league. I have a general feel for who produces early in the season, who tends to get injured and can't be counted on down the stretch, and which defenses are better than their reputations. I owe this knowledge of the league beyond the Cowboys, at least initially, to fantasy football research.
The majority of knowledgeable football fans that run fantasy teams, know that fantasy stats don't truly indicate a player's worth. Those fans that do rely on fantasy rankings to determine their player hierarchy... would probably be frowned upon by the in-the-know fans for some other reason. It will always be something. Is the knowledgeable fan's viewing really hindered by a scroll at the bottom of the screen that adds fantasy impact to the raw stats? In game announcing has been on a downhill slide for decades, as a result of networks looking to provide more entertainment than knowledge in its broadcasts. That's not a result of fantasy football's growth. It's simply something that less talented announcers weave into their game broadcasts. Besides, fantasy football doesn't detract from regular coverage, they just develop more football talk shows!
Follow the jump for my full fantasy forecast for the 2011 Dallas Cowboys.
(Writers Note: This portion of the article was originally posted as a guest blog for Hesaidshesaidfootball.com)
There's not much that can beat watching the Dallas Cowboys score touchdown after touchdown, making a mockery of the opposing defense. I think I can remember back that far, because we sure didn't see much of that for most of 2010.
If there is something better, it could be having the Cowboy that reaches said promise land, penciled into the starting lineup of your fantasy football team. America's Team and still undisputed, despite the 6-10 campaign from '10. Cowboys fans take part in fantasy football just like everyone else; rabid enthusiasm until the requisite week 3 catastrophic injury to RB1. The difference is that with so many Cowboys fans worldwide, a publicly assigned fantasy league is destined to have at least one fan that drafts Cowboys players way too high.
If you're playing in a league comprised of NFC East rivals though (#Redskinsdontscore), you should be able to get your Cowboys players in the perfect round. This will allow you to maximize the value of the pick and form your strategy. What's that you say, you don't have a strategy? Well at least you'll know what kind of production to expect out of the Cowboys you reached for three rounds too early.
Quarterback Tony Romo is almost always a must get for me. His production is consistently above average, and he is consistently hated on by non Cowboys fans. In a pass happy offense, Romo has a career average of 8.0 yards per attempt. That's guaranteed production. He has 118 career touchdowns in 61 games, close to a 2 per contest average. Over the past three years he's averaged over 34 attempts per game. That's an average stat line of 270+ yards and 2 TDs. I'll take that all day and twice on Sundays.
All these stats occurred with Marc Colombo at right tackle, who by most advanced metrics was the third-worst tackle in the entire league last year. The upgrade on the line should allow Romo more time and cut the interceptions down. If healthy, expect Romo to throw for over 4400 yards, over 30 touchdowns with 10-13 interceptions. He should be looked at immediately after the first tier of QB's goes, target end of 3rd, early fourth round. QB1 material all the way.
Running backs Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray should be targeted in the 4th and 7th rounds respectively in you play in a points per reception league. Drop them a round each if it's a pure yardage/touchdown scoring system. Jones shouldn't be counted on to be a RB1. Expect 1100 yards rushing with 5 TDs, plus 40 catches for 500 yards 2 TDs. If you draft Felix, you should definitely handcuff him with Murray as there is an injury history to be concerned with. Felix averages 9 yards a reception and never drops a pass. Murray is a Jones clone and can run routes as well. A Jones injury turns Murray moves Murray up from a RB4 to a RB2. Tashard Choice is a RB4/5, as both ahead of him have a history of dings.
Wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant make a dynamic one-two punch. Austin is WR1 material, and his off year without Tony Romo should allow you to grab him in the second round after you acquire a stud running back in the first round. Bryant's injuries and offseason nuisances could allow you to steal him in the fifth or sixth round, but I wouldn't count on it if you really want him on your squad. Early fifth round at the latest. He is definite WR2 material with WR1 potential. Roy Williams isn't worth the consideration. Austin could go for 1600 yards in 2011 and double digit touchdowns are a possibility. Expect Bryant to approach 1000 yards and 6-8 touchdowns. In leagues where return yardage counts for offensive players, bump him up a notch.
Jason Witten is Mr. Consistent. Fifth or sixth round value. You'll get 1000 yards, 90 catches (big number in PPR leages) and about 5-7 TDs. The Cowboys defense had a down year in 2010, but you can normally wait until about 6-8 defenses are picked and still get great production from the unit. That should get you going for when your league's draft rolls around. As always, Go Cowboys!