Week 8 Fantasy Breakdown of Eagles vs. Cowboys: Playoff Hopes Will Be Slashed

Jeremy Alpert@@pyroman1acSenior Analyst IIOctober 30, 2011

Week 8 Matchup:  Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-4)

Rankings based on top 26 QBs, 50 RBs, 75 WRs and 30 TEs


Dallas Cowboys

Opponent Defensive Ranks

Philadelphia Rush Defense – 2011: 123.8 Yards Allowed/Game (23rd) || 6 TDs Allowed (T-21st)

Philadelphia Pass Defense – 2011: 217 Yards Allowed/Game (10th) || 11 TDs Allowed (T-20th)

Dallas Offensive Cast

Tony Romo (QB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 10)

2011 Season: 140/217 – for 1,756 yards, 10 TDs and six INTs

The Eagles may have the league’s best looking pass defense on paper, but games aren’t played in the books…they’re played on the field. Especially in divisional rivalries such as this one, you can expect all the norms (and sometimes a few players) to be thrown out the window as things tend to get just a little bit messy. 

Even though Philly’s pass D was torched by another inter-division QB earlier in the season when Eli Manning lit them up for four touchdowns in their own place, they seem to be getting better by the week, so I wouldn’t expect the world from Romo in this one. Then again, in the NFC East, you just never know.

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Running back DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys breaks free for a 91-yard touchdown run against the St. Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

DeMarco Murray (RB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 13)

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2011 Season: 49 carries for 324 yards and one TD || Four receptions for 23 yards and 0 TDs

As a rookie running back, DeMarco Murray couldn’t have dreamt up a more ideal situation for his first NFL start; playing indoors on turf against the worst rush defense in the league by far. Of course, it only got better once the real game started as Murray would go on to break the Cowboys franchise record for rushing yards in a game with 253 (Emmitt Smith; 237).

This week he’ll take on an Eagles defense that is no doubt better than the Rams, but not by a hell of a lot. Murray won’t set any records this Sunday night, but he should be able to put up a nice stat line with Philly allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season.

Phillip Tanner (RB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 47)

2011 Season: Six carries for 34 yards and one TD || 0 receptions for 0 yards and 0 TDs

Undrafted rookie RB Phillip Tanner made the most of his opportunity last weekend rushing for 34 yards and a six-yard touchdown on only six carries. With Tashard Choice looking like he won’t be suiting up for this game, Tanner should get at least that amount of work again in a back-up role this Sunday night.

Tashard Choice (RB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: QUESTIONABLE)

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9:  Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys runs after a catch in the second quarter alongside Sheldon Brown #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlingto
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

2011 Season: 28 carries for 75 yards and 0 TDs || 11 receptions for 71 yards and 0 TDs

Choice was limited in practice this week with the shoulder injury he sustained in Week 7 and might not play in this one. Don’t just bench him; dump him. (Choice was cut by Dallas today - ED.)

Felix Jones (RB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: OUT)

2011 Season: 64 carries for 255 yards and one TD || 14 receptions for 105 yards and 0 TDs

Felix (ankle) will be inactive again this week. There is an outside chance he plays in Week 9, but the following week is a more reasonable time to expect him back in the lineup.

Miles Austin (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 14)

2011 Season: 23 receptions for 323 yards and four TDs

With the Cowboys tailoring back their passing attack due to Tony Romo’s rib injury, Austin hasn’t had much of a chance to be his explosive self the last couple of weekends. Romo is getting closer to 100 percent, but not enough to open things up for Miles just yet.

Besides, the Eagles and CB Asante Samuel did well to bottle him up last season, allowing him to grab just four catches for 84 yards and no TDs in their two games. Austin certainly has the talent to overcome the odds, but you can’t really expect more than WR2-type numbers.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 12:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles huddles the offense at Cowboys Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dez Bryant (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 10)

2011 Season: 19 receptions for 339 yards and four TDs

Dez finally seems to be over the quadriceps injury he sustained during the first week of the season and it shows out there on the field.

His combination of speed, strength and will to dominate is awesome to watch, but is it enough to put up top-flight numbers against this strangling Philly secondary? I’m not so sure, but it certainly should be one of the spicier matchups to watch this Sunday night.

Laurent Robinson (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 63)

2011 Season: 14 receptions for 233 yards and 0 TDs

Laurent has looked pretty impressive over the last few weeks as the Cowboys WR3 and is one of the few third receivers in the league who have a legit chance of putting up nice fantasy stats, but I wouldn’t chance it unless you absolutely have to.

Kevin Ogletree (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: Unranked)

2011 Season: Nine receptions for 106 yards and 0 TDs

Ogletree has fallen down to the WR4 spot on this team and isn’t worth rostering.

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9:  Jeremy Maclin #18 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs for a 76-yard touchdown in the second quarter on a pass from quarterback Michael Vick #7 against the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Jason Witten (TE Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 2)

2011 Season: 36 receptions for 449 yards and three TDs

Witten has been a beast at tight end again this season, averaging six catches for 75 yards and half a touchdown per game. Last year against Philly, Witten had himself a couple of nice games grabbing 11 passes on 16 targets for 115 yards and three TDs in total.

Since the Eagles have allowed each of the three big-name tight ends they’ve faced this year to do well against them (Tony G., Vernon Davis and Fred Davis), I expect nothing less than the same out of Witten. 

Philadelphia Eagles

Opponent Defensive Ranks

Dallas Rush Defense – 2011: 69.7 Yards Allowed/Game (1st) || 2 TDs Allowed (T-3rd)

Dallas Pass Defense – 2011: 231 Yards Allowed/Game (14th) || 9 TDs Allowed (T-11th)

Philadelphia Offensive Cast

Michael Vick (QB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 2)

2011 Season: 123/200 – for 1,573 yards, nine TDs and eight INTs || 45 carries for 372 yards and 0 TDs

As a whole, the Cowboys have a very solid defense, but their pass D leaves a little something to be desired. In his lone game against them last season, Vick threw for 270 yards and two TDs while running a third one in from a yard out.

As far as the Eagles are concerned, they finally showed some urgency two weeks ago in Washington and should continue their all-out play with Andy Reid breathing down their necks. Since Philly is just 2-4 right now and need wins to make the playoffs, I expect Vick and the rest of the guys to pour it on any chance they get.

LeSean McCoy (RB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 7)

2011 Season: 105 carries for 569 yards and six TDs || 21 receptions for 123 yards and two TDs

This is going to be a really tough matchup for McCoy with the Cowboys being a top-three rush defense this season, but the Eagles offense isn’t exactly normal, either. Because of DeSean Jackson’s speed and Michael Vick’s arm, opposing defenses need to play further back than normal while at the same time, they also should probably use a linebacker to shadow Vick because of his legs.

This sort of situation opens things up for McCoy no matter whom the Eagles play, which is just one of the reasons why he’s a top-three fantasy back in the league this season. Another reason, of course, is because he’s simply awesome.

Ronnie Brown (RB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: Unranked)

2011 Season: 13 carries for 38 yards and 0 TDs || 0 receptions for 0 yards and 0 TDs

Ronnie is barely the backup RB at this point as the coaching staff has turned to rookie Dion Lewis as of late whenever McCoy needs a breather. Whatever the case, neither are worth rostering as more than insurance against injury.

Dion Lewis (RB Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: Unranked)

2011 Season: Seven carries for 31 yards and 0 TDs || One reception for -3 yards and 0 TDs

Lewis has impressed the coaches enough to get a little playing time here and there, but unless McCoy gets injured, both he and Ronnie Brown don’t have much use in the world of fantasy.

DeSean Jackson (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 9)

2011 Season: 24 receptions for 456 yards and two TDs

It is not easy to predict games played within the division such as this one. Some players step up to the challenge and make these contests their own; others falter under the pressure leaving both glory and recognition to be had by others.

DeSean Jackson is a rare breed in that he can disappear for nearly a full game and then suddenly reappear at the most opportune time to steal the show. What he’ll do in this one is anybody’s guess, but D-Jax seems to like the spotlight, so I’m betting on a big game.

Jeremy Maclin (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 6)

2011 Season: 37 receptions for 489 yards and three TDs

Jeremy is on pace to have his best season to date and should be able to put up a really nice game at home against the Cowboys this Sunday. These inter-division rivalries tend to bring the best out of star players, which is exactly what Maclin has turned into during his third season in the league.

If Dallas tries to turn up the heat on Michael Vick this Sunday night, look for Maclin to get a ton of targets as Vick’s safety blanket over the middle all game long.

Jason Avant (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 53)

2011 Season: 26 receptions for 338 yards and 0 TDs

Avant is being targeted a decent amount with a touch more than six balls thrown his way per game, but he’s still just a WR3 and not really worth playing unless you happen to be in a 14- or 16-man league.

Steve Smith (WR Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: Unranked)

2011 Season: Five receptions for 63 yards and 0 TDs

Smitty isn’t the threat he was a couple of years ago on the Giants, and it shows with him receiving no more than WR4 duties.

Brent Celek (TE Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 27)

2011 Season: 13 receptions for 115 yards and one TD

Celek is primarily being used as a blocker nowadays to keep the heat off of Michael Vick, but he’s been getting more targets lately so you never know. Personally, I’d stay away from using him considering he had zero catches in their two games against them last season.

Clay Harbor (TE Week 8 Fantasy Ranking: No. 29)

2011 Season: Five receptions for 75 yards and one TD

With Celek being asked to stay in and block, Harbor could get some looks from Vick over the middle as the release tight end in this game. I wouldn’t count on much, though.


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