A fun little fact about me is that I am a National League fantasy baseball guru. I couldn’t tell you about anything what goes on in the American League, but I have the depth of all 15 NL teams figured out. The league I play in is at our local pub and there are some pretty savvy managers, including local high school baseball coaches. Year after year, I put together one of the top fantasy teams and have taken home the championship twice over the last five years. The funny thing about it is I don’t really follow baseball all that much. I spend most of my free time doing Cowboys research. Yeah, I’ll read up on some players, but for me - it’s all about the numbers. My opponents - they fall in love certain players and they will spend a premium price to get them. I go bargain shopping.
You might be asking yourself why I’m talking about all this, but my success in fantasy baseball comes from my ability to avoid overpaying for the flashy superstars and instead, collect value. I still select a handful of bigger money guys, but a lot of my auction budget goes toward lesser known players who offer upside. I’ll pay $3 for a player, hoping to get $7 worth of stats. If I do this enough times, I got myself a deep team ready for fantasy contention.
My success using this approach is one of the reasons I applaud the Cowboys organization for the way they go about free agency. Sure, fantasy baseball is nothing like reality football, but the logic applied here still has merit. The Cowboys have their own stars they will pay who they feel will provide strong returns on their investments. They then fill the roster with young, cheap players who offer upside. They’re not not looking for the next big superstar, but if they can get quality contribution for real cheap, it allows them to be competitive. Their approach to free agency so far this season supports this philosophy.
Christian Covington was one of the top run-stopping defensive tackles on the free agent market. And he’s coming off a year where he had a career-high 3.5 sacks. Tyrone Crawford is the only Cowboys defensive tackle who had more sacks last season. At just 25-years-old, why not see what this guy can do?
Kerry Hyder tore his Achilles in 2017 and then last season played as a rotational guy in a 3-4 scheme. The Cowboys were the only team that had him for a pre-draft visit in 2014. He went undrafted before signing a contract with the New York Jets. While he hasn’t amounted to much so far, there’s still a bubble of production that cannot be overlooked. The last time he was healthy and played in a 4-3 system, he racked up eight sacks in a season. At just 28-years-old and being a high character guy - this is a good player to take a chance on.
The Cowboys also have a couple high upside players coming in for visits today with the biggest one being former Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry. He was a five-time Pro Bowler in his first seven years in the league. Unfortunately, injuries have caused him to miss all but three games over the last two seasons. Despite signing a huge six-year, $78 million deal a couple years ago, Berry was a cut to free up cap space and allow the Chiefs to get out of the last $45 million of his contract. Despite his recent struggles to stay healthy, he’s just a couple years removed from being the best safety in the league. What if he’s still got something left in the tank? His cost now isn’t going to be anywhere near what he was getting in Kansas City and that opens the door for a team to potentially get a great value.
And there’s also news that former Michigan State star defensive tackle Malik McDowell is coming in for a visit too. McDowell was the Seattle Seahawks 35th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but hasn’t played a single snap at the pro level. He was injured in an ATV accident just a few weeks before training camp started and missed his entire rookie season. He was released by the Seahawks a couple weeks ago making him a free agent. McDowell has great athleticism for a player his size. He was a freak-talent in college, but what type of player is he now? The Cowboys had 10 different defensive linemen scheduled for pre-draft visits in 2017. Nine of them were edge rushers. The only defensive tackle? Malik McDowell. A signing like this would once again be a dice roll on a player that offers tremendous upside.
The Cowboys aren’t getting the stars of free agency, but that also means they aren’t shelling out a ridiculous amount of money either. We’ve seen teams go crazy in free agency and that hasn’t always worked out so well for them.
You remember when the Giants just killed it in free agency in 2016? And by killed it I mean - killed any chance of being competitive again. pic.twitter.com/xjLiz8S59V— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) March 18, 2019
Instead, the Cowboys continue to look for young guys with high upside that can help the team. A lot of the these moves will flop and some won’t be a part of the 2019 roster. Every one doesn’t have to be a winner and if they just hit on one of them, that’s a big win.