How bout them Cowboys! As the Cowboys try to build on a season that saw them win their 17th NFC East title and their first playoff game since 1996, they will be led by Tony Romo who led the league in yards passing (4,483 pass yards) alongside Miles Austin, whose league high 1,320 receiving yards and 11 TD was an unexpected emergence. The Cowboys also welcomed in the state of the art home stadium that seems to give them an advantage, going 7-2 in the inaugural year at Cowboys Stadium hitting the end zone 24 times.
Division: NFC East – Projected Finish: 1st Place
Strength of Schedule: 28th = 3rd Toughest. The NFC East has gotten tougher and being defending NFC East champ gives them a tough road ahead.
Dallas Cowboys 2010 Fantasy Football Draft Targets
In his fourth year as starter for the Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo took his game to new heights as he had a career high 4,4483 passing yards, and threw for 26 TD for the second consecutive year; he also had a career low nine interceptions. Romo also established club records for attempts (550), completions (347), passing yards (4,483) and 300-yard games (eight).
Romo’s TD passes came in bunches last season as he had six games with three-or-more touchdowns. In total, Romo has 17 career games with three-or-more touchdowns which is tied for second in franchise history with the great Roger Staubach and three behind Danny White (20).
Tony Romo's rise from undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois to Pro Bowl quarterback has been one of the greatest NFL and fantasy stories, we all better hope he doesn’t leave the NFL to become a professional golfer.
The Cowboys running back situation is an intriguing one to most fantasy draft boards. The three headed monster of Marian Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice all got to the end zone and all spent time on the sidelines or injured list. Overall, the Cowboys as a team still ranked seventh in the NFL in rushing yards per game (131.4).
- Felix Jones – Although Jones has started only one game in his Cowboys career, this is poised to be a breakout year for the third year player out of Arkansas. Jones showed late last season he could carry the load running for 308 yards on 45 carries in the last three games of the season. All indications are Jones will be the starter this season for the Cowboys and you should target him like that in all fantasy drafts.
- Marian Barber – Not ready to give up his starting position Marian the Barbarian came into the Cowboys OTA’s 10 pounds lighter. If possible you should handcuff Felix Jones to Marian Barber in your fantasy draft for both players have spent considerable amount of time on the injured list in their short careers. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Barber go back to his ’07 role as he was the closer for Julius Jones scoring 10 TD and averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
Miles Austin surprised almost everyone last season with his meteoric rise and this season will look to prove that his season was not an aberration, but a building block for a budding NFL superstar.
- Miles Austin – Busted onto the scene in his first career start in Week 5 game vs Kansas City that saw him catch 10 balls for 250 yards, 2 TD including the game winning touchdown in OT. Then there was no stopping the fourth year player out of Monmouth, New Jersey as he caught 11TD and even more impressive 8 catches of 40+ yards. Expect more of the same from Austin this season even with defenses paying more attention to him; expect Austin to be the third receiver to come off the fantasy draft boards.
- Dez Bryant – What, you thought I was going to spotlight Roy Williams? Dez Bryant is one the biggest high risk, high reward player out there for fantasy owners. The first-round pick is already running with the first team in the clubs OTA’s and has been getting high praise from all his teammates. Even knowing that rookie WR usually do not have much impact in fantasy sports Dez Bryant could be a good fantasy sleeper to keep your eye on.
If you are in a Point per Reception league Jason Witten is one of the top tight end options out there as he has averaged 90.3 receptions the last three seasons. Witten is Romo’s favorite big target as they have connected 312 times for 3,664 and 14 TD in their four year relationship. If you are not in a PPR league then Witten might not be your target as he has only scored 6 TD in the last two seasons that being said you could do worse as he was third in the league in receiving yards for tight ends (1,030)
The Cowboys defense is on the rise as the core players are in their prime. The team Defense and Special Teams ranked seventh in fantasy points last year and gave up only 15.6 points per game, good for second in the NFL but was near the bottom with only 21 takeaways.
Dallas Cowboys 2010 Schedule
1 Sep 12 DAL @ WAS FedEx Field 8:20 PM NBC 2 Sep 19 CHI @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 1:00 PM FOX 3 Sep 26 DAL @ HOU Reliant Stadium 1:00 PM FOX 4 Bye 5 Oct 10 TEN @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 4:15 PM CBS 6 Oct 17 DAL @ MIN Mall of America Field 4:15 PM FOX 7 Oct 25 NYG @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 8:30 PM ESPN 8 Oct 31 JAC @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 1:00 PM CBS 9 Nov 07 DAL @ GB Lambeau Field 8:20 PM NBC 10 Nov 14 DAL @ NYG New Meadowlands Stadium 4:15 PM FOX 11 Nov 21 DET @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 1:00 PM FOX 12 Nov 25 NO @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 4:15 PM FOX 13 Dec 05 DAL @ IND Lucas Oil Stadium 4:15 PM FOX 14 Dec 12 PHI @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 8:20 PM NBC 15 Dec 19 WAS @ DAL Cowboys Stadium 1:00 PM FOX 16 Dec 25 DAL @ ARI University of Phoenix Stadium 7:30 PM NFLN 17 Jan 02 DAL @ PHI Lincoln Financial Field 1:00 PM FOX
In 2009 the Dallas Cowboys offense had club record 6,390 yards good for 399.4 yards per game which was second behind only the Super Bowl Champions New Orleans (403.8). Finding the end zone though was a little bit more difficult as they were 14th in points (22.6 points per game).
Jason Garrett fourth year as the offensive coordinator of the Cowboys has to build on his success from last year as the highest paid assistant continues his rise towards head coaching. In his previous three seasons the Cowboys offense has averaged 24.5 points per game and 369.9 yards per game as he has oversaw the development of Tony Romo, Marian Barber and now Miles Austin.
The high octane offense needs to turn all those yards into touchdowns this season for the Cowboys offensive players to be fantasy studs.
Two places they hope to improve to make these players fantasy studs are the red zone and offensive line. The Cowboys ranked 14th in the league in red zone efficiency, with 26 touchdowns on 50 trips (52.0%). The offensive line gave up 34 sacks, tied for 15th in the league, and was a place for an upgrade this off-season, as they acquired a new left tackle in former first round pick Alex Baron, taking over for Flozell Adams.
The Cowboys defense took a turn for the best when head coach Wade Phillips jumped into the flashback machine and took over play calling. The defense finished the regular season with a bang with back-to-back shutouts of division rivals Redskins and Eagles.
They were led in sacks once again by DeMarcus Ware who followed up his 2008 20 sack performance with 11 sacks last season. Jay Ratliff continued his rise to one of the best interior rushers as he recorded six sacks last season.
The Cowboys were one of only four teams that boasted a top-10 offense and defense. The ninth ranked defense allowed 315.9 yards-per-game last season and was much better against the run (90.5 per-game) than through the air (225.4 yards-per-game). Those passing defense numbers will be tested as they play three of the top passing teams from last year (Texans, Colts, and Saints). Like their offense they will need to improve in their red zone defense as opponents scored on 18-of-32 trips (56.3%) which was 23rd in the league last season.