Fantasy Football: Breaking down the Dallas Cowboys

Which Dallas Cowboys are worth taking or skipping in your draft.

Which Dallas Cowboys are worth taking or skipping in your draft.

• Inside the Locker Room

With Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Is Dez Bryant's possible reward worth the risk?
Bryant needed the offseason more than any other player on the Cowboys. He was hurt all season as a rookie and never fully grasped the playbook. He finished the season on injured reserve, breaking his right fibula in a Dec. 5 game against the Colts. Bryant could have used an offseason in the weight room, the training room and on the practice field at Valley Ranch. While supremely talented, until he has an offseason in the system and with strength coach Mike Woicik, Bryant still will be hit or miss.

Can Felix Jones become more than just a third down back?
Jones is what he is: He is a feature running back who is going to get around 15 touches a game. Jones isn’t big enough to handle being an every-down back. He started seven games last season and will be the team’s starting running back this season. Jones will get most of the carries, as he did last season when his 185 carries represented 43.2 percent of the team’s rushing attempts. But he won’t get much more than that, or he will wear down. He will be replaced on third down.

Can DeMarcus Ware get 20 sacks again, as he did in 2008?
Ware has led the league in sacks two of the past three seasons. He has averaged 14 sacks per season the past five seasons and has posted double-digit sacks every season except his rookie season. And he could be even better in Rob Ryan’s defense. But 20 sacks? Lawrence Taylor had only one 20-sack season in his career, as did Reggie White. Bruce Smith never had a 20-sack season. Ware has had his 20-sack season, so another seems unlikely.

• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: NYG, @TB, PHI
Two familiar NFC East opponents (Giants and Eagles) make for a tough playoff draw. Add in an up-and-coming Tampa defense at its place and you’ve got a difficult fantasy playoff schedule. All three defenses were in the top 14 against the pass, but perhaps one of the Cowboys’ running backs can do some damage against the Bucs (28th vs. the run) or Eagles(15th).

• Athlon Best Bets
Tashard Choice, RB
Deep-Sleeper: Jon Kitna, QB
Overvalued: Miles Austin, WR
Top Rookie: DeMarco Murray, RB
Bounce-Back: Tony Romo, QB
Top IDP: DeMarcus Ware, LB

• Try to Avoid

Jason Witten hasn’t missed a start since 2006, and in the last four seasons, the backups have combined for 957 yards and eight scores. Witten does that in a season. Martellus Bennett is not worth a look. 

• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
Protecting Tony Romo from another season-ending injury is crucial, which is why Dallas had to select Tyron Smith at No. 9 overall. Smith can play on either side of the line, which should provide some stability to a group that allowed 31 sacks last season. The Cowboys’ running back corps has been difficult to pin down from a fantasy perspective, and the addition of Murray only adds to the uncertainty. Murray is an explosive player, but how the carries will sort out as the season unfolds is a huge question mark.

More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs

011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Exclude From Games: 
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<p> Which Dallas Cowboys are worth taking or skipping in your draft.</p>


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