Dallas Cowboys: Marion Barber vs. Felix Jones
Opening up with the NFC East we have the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys finished 11-5 last year thanks to a defense that shut down seemingly everybody until the divisional playoffs came about and Brett Favre and Co. put 34 points on them. The Cowboys offense was somewhat inconsistent, and often broke some fantasy team owners’ hearts, but this year they don’t look to disappoint.
Take a look at the top five fantasy predictions for the Dallas Cowboys in 2010:
1. Felix Jones Will See the End Zone More
Jones started taking carries away from Marion Barber in 2009, and didn’t really disappoint, except that he didn’t get into the end-zone as much as fantasy owners would have liked.
After recording just three scores on 116 carries, Jones came into the offseason driven, putting on about 10-15 pounds of muscle without losing an ounce of speed. Keep in mind that the Cowboys have installed their own form of the Wildcat called “Razorback” (original, right?), in which Jones and Tashard Choice share the backfield to throw the defense off as to who will get the ball.
Jones averaged 5.9 yards per carry last season, and continues to show explosiveness, as he can take the ball down the field at any time. Marion Barber’s longest carry over the last two seasons has been 35 yards, compared to Jones’ 60 yarder in 2008 and 56 yarder in 2009. Add in the fact that he can catch very well out of the backfield and you have an all around back. Target Jones to be your RB2, or Flex position if you can get him to fall. He’s going to shine this season.
2. Tony Romo Is Still a Quality QB1
Romo isn’t a bad quarterback by any means. He may seem to struggle at times in NFL playoff games, but in fantasy football, what he does in the playoffs doesn’t even matter. In 2009 Romo was mostly impressive in the turnover column, keeping the interceptions under 10, however, his touchdowns also decreased as he only threw for 26 after teasing us in 2007 with 36.
The emergence of Miles Austin in mostly the second half of the season made things much easier for Romo and allowed the Cowboys to put more points on the board. Adding rookie Dez Bryant should only help that, and the Cowboys are going to give Roy E. Williams another chance to start games.
I think that Romo can eclipse the 30-touchdown mark this season with Witten, Austin, Bryant, Crayton, and even Williams catching passes. I don’t see him keeping the interceptions down under 10, but if he stays around the 12-15 mark, then he will be worth the add, and you can draft your RB1 and RB2, or RB1 and WR1 and grab Romo in the third or fourth round.
3. Miles Austin Will Continue His Roll in 2010
Austin exploded onto the scene in 2009 in the Kansas City game, catching 10 passes for 250 yards and two scores. After that, he became a staple for Romo and the Cowboys offense finishing the season with 81 catches, over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite the addition of Dez Bryant, we’ll see Austin catch the ball quite a bit in 2010. He can stretch the field with his speed, and doesn’t drop many passes.
Keep an eye on Austin in PPR leagues, especially. Right now, he’s a top 10 wide receiver in fantasy football, assuming he can post another 80 receptions and around 1,200 yards or more. If you can get him as a WR2, you’re in a great seat.
4. Jason Witten Is Still a Top-Five Fantasy Tight End
This is really nothing new here. Witten has caught at least 90 passes in two of the last three seasons, and 80+ in each of the last three. He’s Romo’s favorite target because he doesn’t drop passes and knows how to get behind the linebackers. He’s one of the most athletic tight ends in the game, and can run after the catch. The only negative on Witten is his touchdowns, which have regressed each of the last two seasons.
Overall, feel confident to grab Witten as he’s a top four TE in regular leagues and top two TE in PPR leagues. He’s also a guy you can feel comfortable with in leagues with no TE, but a Flex WR/TE spot. He will be one of the first tight ends off the board.
5. Don’t Overvalue Marion Barber, But Don't Ignore Him, Either
As I stated above, Felix Jones is taking carries away from Marion Barber. It’s clear that the Cowboys see that Jones is more of a fit for their offense than Barber. Barber barely eclipsed the 200 carry mark in 2009, however, he still averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and had seven scores, which made him a decent RB2 or RB/WR.
The problem is that it’s too hard to tell how many touchdowns he will get if the carries are split in half with Jones. I fully expect Jones to see the end zone more often than he did last season, so I expect Barber’s numbers to drop.
That being said, Barber can be had in a later round and could end up being a steal if you can get him as a backup RB, or Flex RB. He can be a good matchups player as well, and he should still get some touchdown opportunities.
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