Fantasy Football 2012: Breaking Down the Dallas Cowboys

What can the Dallas Cowboys do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.

Inside the Locker Room
with Charean Williams, Fort Worth-Star Telegram

If you could only have one fantasy wide receiver on this team, who would it be?
Tony Romo trusts Miles Austin more than he trusts Dez Bryant, so at crunch time, the quarterback is going to look for Austin more than Bryant. If Austin can stay healthy, he is the choice.

Can DeMarco Murray hold up for a full season of work?
Murray entered the NFL with questions about his ability to stay healthy. He had a dislocated kneecap, a hamstring injury and a knee injury during his career at Oklahoma, which was a contributing factor in his being available for the Cowboys in the third round in 2011. Murray was on pace for a 1,000-yard season as a rookie until breaking his right ankle and requiring surgery. Murray does not have a history of staying healthy, so it is risky to rely on him without a backup plan.

What type of role can we expect to see from Felix Jones?
Unless DeMarco Murray is injured, Jones’ role with the Cowboys will be relegated to a kickoff returner and third-down back. But if Murray goes down, Jones’ role, and thus his fantasy value, will increase.

Is Jason Witten still an elite fantasy tight end?
Witten just turned 30. He did not have 1,000 yards receiving in 2011, the first time since 2008 that happened. Still, Witten led the team with 79 catches, and he had 942 yards and five TDs. He remains Tony Romo’s favorite target and still should be productive this season. He just might not reach 1,000 yards, and his history says he will score only four to five touchdowns.

Athlon's Best Bets

Sleeper: Felix Jones, RB
Deep-Sleeper: Kyle Orton, QB
Overvalued: DeMarco Murray, RB
Top Rookie: Morris Claiborne, CB
Bounce-Back: Miles Austin, WR
Top IDP: Sean Lee, LB

2012 Draft Class

1. Morris Claiborne CB 6-0 185 LSU
3. Tyrone Crawford DE 6-4 275 Boise State
4. Kyle Wilber OLB 6-4 249 Wake Forest
4. Matt Johnson S 6-1 212 E. Washington
5. Danny Coale WR 6-0 200 Virginia Tech
6. James Hanna TE 6-4 243 Oklahoma
7. Caleb McSurdy ILB 6-1 242 Montana

Fantasy Impact: Addressing a shaky defense was the Cowboys' offseason priority. Cornerback was addressed in free agency by signing former Chief Brandon Carr and selecting Morris Claiborne. Claiborne and Carr should give Dallas a much-improved secondary. Tyrone Crawford and Kyle Wilber are solid fits in the 3-4, but neither will produce IDP value this year. The additions in the secondary and the front seven should make the Cowboys a top-15 fantasy defense. Danny Coale is a steady possession receiver but is unlikely to emerge as a fantasy option in 2012.

Fantasy Playoff Run: Weeks 14-16 (at CIN, PIT, NO)

Starting up the fantasy playoffs against two AFC North defenses stinks. Cincinnati was 14th-best against QBs and WRs and 10th-best against RBs. Pittsburgh was second-best against fantasy QBs, WRs and TEs and fourth-best against RBs. The saving grace is that Pittsburgh is in Dallas for the semifinals, and the Cowboys then play host to a Saints team that was one of the worst against QBs (26th), WRs (24th) and RBs (29th).

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