Fantasy Football Team Preview: Cowboys
Meet The ...
The team that decided to become more "Romo-friendly". Tony Romo got rid of two divas this offseason. He broke it off with longtime gal Jessica Simpson and the team released wide receiver Terrell Owens. While neither departure is guaranteed to help the Cowboys, getting rid of Owens with no true number one receiver in house will most likely shift the offense back towards a run-first philosophy, which will be quite a change from the 58% pass offense that Dallas utilized in 2008.
If Dallas is going to have any chance of success in 2009, the breakout player on this roster must be wide receiver Roy Williams. With a five-year resume that features only one 1,000-yard campaign (2006), Williams is primed and ready to show Dallas fans why the team spent $45 million on the 27-year-old Texas grad. Williams is going to finally have some powerful tools around him to assist in his breakout attempt. He'll also enjoy the two-pronged running attack of Barber and Jones which should take a bit of pressure off.
A pinkie toe injury kept Marion Barber from tallying 1,000 yards rushing in 2008. Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will act as Barber's pinkie toe in 2009. You'll see Dallas run the ball a lot this season, which should be good news for Barber. However, the team also plans to get Jones and Choice more involved in the rushing attack. Nothing good from a fantasy football perspective comes from these three runners sharing carries.
The Depth Chart
QB1 - Tony Romo
QB2 - Jon Kitna
RB1 - Marion Barber
RB2 - Felix Jones
WR1 - Roy Williams
WR2 - Patrick Crayton
WR3 - Miles Austin
WR4 - Sam Hurd
TE1 - Jason Witten
TE2 - Martellius Bennett
K - Nick Folk
DeMarcus Ware is a special, special pass rusher and defensive deity. Unfortunately, the rest of the Cowboys defense just doesn't stand out. Dallas imported Keith Brooking, Gerald Sensabaugh and Igor Olshansky to replace Zach Thomas, Chris Canty and "the other" Roy Williams, but these moves don't enhance the defensive unit's skill set, it just maintains the status quo. And that status quo in 2008 saw the Cowboys give up 22.8 points per game, which was good for a 20th ranking in the NFL.
Adam Jones was miserable as a punt return specialist in 2008. He averaged 4.5 yards per return which was easily the worst in the NFL. Crayton will take over punt return duties in 2009 and should perform much better. In limited duty last year, Crayton averaged 9.5 yards per return. While that's still middle of the road, it's a marked upgrade.
Austin ranked 33rd in kickoff return average last season. That means a few teams had two return guys who were better then Austin. This is an area that the Cowboys would love to see some improvement in heading into the new season. If the Cowboys are going to become more of a running team, field position becomes extremely important.
- Witten finished 2008 with 952 receiving yards, which was good for second among tight ends. However, Witten only danced in the end zone four times. For those of you that felt T.O. and his selfish need to be the main target in the end zone kept Witten from becoming the truly elite tight end, we'll finally get to see if you're right. Witten should see many more red zone looks in 2009, but he'll also be focused on by defenses a little bit more as well. Here's where the cream rises, right?
- The best deep threat option of the receiving corps is Austin. He didn't get a chance to overtake Crayton during OTAs because he was sidelined with a hamstring injury. But his 6-foot-3 frame and blazing speed could prove too much for opposing defenses and Crayton to hold back.
- Whether it'll be in a "Wildcat" formation or a "Razorback" formation featuring Tashard Choice at quarterback, Jones should get quite a few carries every week. He'll touch the ball seven to ten times each week and as an explosive runner, could do some serious damage to defenses. Barber will still see the goal-line action, but Jones could make a definite impact, especially in yardage-heavy leagues.