The Dallas Cowboys are preparing to host the New York Giants in a game that may well define their 2012 season and, while the team has been beset by significant injuries on both sides of the ball recently, it appears that they may have gotten a bit of good news on that front Thursday.
Running back Felix Jones—who suffered a sprained knee last week while filling in for the injured DeMarco Murray in a win over the Carolina Panthers—returned to practice Thursday, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN, albeit in a limited fashion and with a brace on his injured knee.
The 25-year-old Jones, who picked up 74 total yards on 20 touches last week against Carolina, is expected to start on Sunday against New York.
The Cowboys could certainly use his services as they attempt to get their sputtering offense on track.
Since their Week 1 win over the Giants in New York in which Murray topped 100 yards on the ground and quarterback Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes, the Dallas offense has been incredibly inconsistent, ranking 20th in the NFL in rushing and a moribund 27th in the league in scoring.
With that said, Felix Jones is something of a conundrum for his fantasy owners, due in large part to the fact that his fantasy value is inextricably linked to the status of DeMarco Murray's injured foot.
The second-year pro has missed the last two games and, while Murray told Watkins that the foot was "getting better" on Thursday, head coach Jason Garrett offered no timetable for Murray's potential return according to yet another report filed by Watkins on Wednesday.
"Hopefully he's just progressing," coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday morning. "He's moving around better, he's in the meetings and we'll just see where he is. We don't anticipate him practicing (Wednesday), and we'll see where he is going forward."
In the short term, Jones gets a matchup this week with a New York defense that has been average against the run this season, ranking 13th in the NFL in run defense and allowing the 15th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.
That, coupled with the fifth-year pro's balky knee, leaves Jones at best a low-end fantasy RB2 option for Week 8.
Moving forward it would appear that now is the time to act if you are a Felix Jones owner. Granted, running back depth is worth its weight in gold in fantasy football, but with Murray's foot improving and the Cowboys about to hit a three-game stretch that includes games with the Giants, Falcons and Eagles, Jones' trade value is about as high at the moment as it's going to get.
So, unless you're hard up for a Week 8 starter at running back—or already own DeMarco Murray—it's time to slap a bow on Felix Jones and start shopping him, starting with the Murray owner in your league.
Better now than later, because getting some return on your investment beats getting none at all.
The window of opportunity appears to be closing.