The Cowboys were the biggest disappointment of all teams in 2010. On paper, they looked to be one of the most promising teams in the league, a team that should have made a genuine run at the Super Bowl. Coming off one of their best seasons (2009) in the previous five years (2005-2009), the 2010 Cowboys had what their fans can only describe as a disappointing, forgettable season, finishing 6-10, due to an abysmal 2-6 home record. They finished 3-3 in the division. The Cowboys certainly had several key injuries which seemed to affect the team in the first half of the 2010 season. The good news is the 2011 Cowboys have the talent and depth whereby things can only get better. (See earlier preview.) Notwithstanding the disappointing record, the Cowboys still maintain a potent offense, but it was their pass defense that hurt them in 2010.
|Points||Yards||Pass Yards||Rush Yards|
*Top number is average per game in 2010.
** Bottom numbers in parenthesis is the team’s ranking among all 32 NFL teams in 2010.
Before going down to season ending injury in Week 7, Tony Romo (1,605 yards, 11 TDs, 7 INTs) didn’t exactly hurt fantasy owners, but he was expected to play better given the fact that he threw for only 13 interceptions in 2010. Of concern last season was the fact that the Cowboys released LT Flozell Adams after twelve seasons, and there didn’t seem to be another Cowboy that could competently protect Romo’s blind side. It remains an area of concern but no reason not to draft Romo (who projected over the course of the season, would have posted 4,280 yards, 29 TDs, 18 INTs, had he not been injured) late in Round 4 once your No. 1 RB and No. 1 WR have been drafted and the top-6 QBs are off the board. Should Romo go down once again, veteran Jon Kitna (2,365 yards, 17 TDs, 12 INTs, 31 rushes, 147 rush yards, 1 FMBL) showed he could get the job done if called upon.
Miles Austin ascended to the top of the wide-receiver ranks as one of the best wide-out talents in the NFL, and in fantasy, in 2009, where Austin posted 1,300+ yards and 11 TDs. Last season, however, Miles Austin (69 recpts., 1,134 APY, 8 TDs, 1 FMBL) saw his numbers fall a bit with the ascension of rookie sensation Dez Bryant (45 recpys., 561 yards, 6 TDs, 1 FMBL), who missed the rest of the season due to injury in Week 13 (playing ten full games up to that point). Indeed, most of Austin’s stats came over the course of seven games. Even TE Jason Witten (94 recpts., 1,002 yards, 9 TDs, 1 FMBL) posted most of his stats (including 6 TDs) after Bryant went down to injury. If Bryant played the entire season, he would have posted about 900 yards receiving, and 10 TDs. Given all this, it is difficult to evaluate the receiving options for the Cowboys for fantasy purposes. But, it would be difficult to pass on Austin in Round 3 and on Bryant in Rounds 4 or 5, and on Witten if available in Round 5. Indeed, the Cowboys made a genuine effort to get Witten involved in the offense after Jason Garrett took over for Wayde Phillips as head coach in Week 9. Avoid the other Cowboys’ wide-receivers such as rookie Dwayne Harris, Kevin Ogletree (3 recpts., 34 yards), and TE Martellus Bennett (33 recpts., 260 yards) in your fantasy draft.
Felix Jones (185 rushes, 48 recpts., 1,250 APY, 2 TDs, 1 FMBL) is a low-end No. 2, high-end No. 3 RB for fantasy purposes and is draftable in Rounds 4 or 5. Indeed, due to pre-seaon injuries, Jones seems to have solidified his role as the No. 1 RB for the Cowboys. Tashard Choice (66 rushes, 17 recpts., 352 APY, 3 TDs, 1 FMBL) and rookie DeMarco Murray will be battling for the rest and remaining touches while spelling Jones. Indeed, given the third-round draft pick spent on Murray, there is likely an opportunity for him to have a significant role in the offense. Given the uncertainty as to how the Cowboys will handle their backfield, it is a situation to monitor. As such, both Choice and Murray are worth late round fliers in fantasy drafts with Murray the RB to draft sooner rather than later.
The Cowboys DST was one of the worst teams defending the pass last season. Their pass rush wasn’t all that great either. Still, the Cowboys DST had its share of good games especially in the second half of the season. While the Cowboys drafted a corner in Round 5, the Cowboys needed another pass defender in free agency. Unfortunately, while one of the suitors for this off-season’s most prized free agent, Nnamdi Asomugha, the Cowboys fell short. Still, the defensive unit is talented with Jay Ratcliff, DeMarcus Ware, and Gerald Sensabaugh, among others. It will likely be one of the last defensive units drafted in fantasy. Kicker David Buehler (24 FGs/42 XPs) was inconsistent at times, but still kicked well enough to finish top-ten. If the Cowboys are scoring (they should be), so should Buehler. Draft Buehler in the last round of the fantasy draft if you like.
Strength of Schedule – By Position
Projected Fantasy Draft Round
|Tony Romo (QB)||4|
|Felix Jones (RB)||4-5|
|Tashard Choice (RB)||Late Round Flier-Undrafted|
|DeMarco Murray (R-RB)||Late Round Flier|
|Jason Witten (TE)||5|
|Martellus Bennett (TE)||Undrafted|
|Miles Austin (WR)||3|
|Dez Bryant (WR)||4-5|
|Kevin Ogletree (WR)||Undrafted|
|Dwayne Harris (WR)||Undrafted|
|David Buehler (K)||14|
The Cowboys – The Bottom Line
For the Cowboys, the schedule fairs well for them. Given the way Jason Garrett pulled this team together in the second half of the season, the Cowboys still look like they will play some inspiring football in 2011 because the timing is right. Make no doubt, there are more questions than answers, but this is a team that could have finished 10-6 last season but for their 1-7 start. With only the Eagles really standing in the way, the Cowboys have a genuine opportunity to finish 9-7 and contend for the division again.