If you were to ask the global community of fantasy managers to rate the usefulness of each NFL team, we'd focus on two traits: 1) total offensive output and 2) clarity of roles.
For obvious reasons, we like to see high-scoring, yardage-devouring offenses — prolific passing games and productive rushing attacks, with big-play potential all over the field. It's nice when a coordinator shows us something inventive, sure, but it's not necessary. Fantasy owners also prefer to know in advance — and with a high degree of certainty — where all the points and yards are going to go. That is, we like to see a small number of players dominate the stats.
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Thus, the Dallas Cowboys are a gift to fantasy managers. The real-life shortcomings of this eternally 8-8 team are scarcely relevant in our game. We don't care about Tony Romo's various failings in win-or-go-home games. We don't care that the Dallas defense regularly underperforms relative to its talent. We don't care that head coach Jason Garrett manages a clock as well as Jim Schwartz would manage a screaming toddler.
None of those things matter. The fact is, the Cowboys offense is going to look awfully good when all the numbers are in — at least in fantasy terms. And we can confidently project stats in Dallas at an individual level. There really aren't many mysteries here, fantasy-wise.
Let's review this roster, bullet-style...
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Murray's biggest problem, as most of you know, has been durability. I sincerely wish he didn't finish so many runs by seeking contact, but that's part of his profile (also part of his charm). An ankle fracture brought an end to his first pro season; a foot sprain limited him to just 10 games in 2012. Eventually, Murray is going to give us a full 16-game season — he swears it's going to be this year — and fantasy owners will love the results. This is a full workload back tied to a productive offense, and he's an excellent receiver, perfect for the Cowboys' screen game. Murray caught 71 passes in his final collegiate season at Oklahoma.
If you drafted DeMarco as a third-round RB2, you've landed a player who could easily outproduce his ADP. (Or who could break both collarbones in Week 1 when he decides to launch himself into a gang of Giants, rather than step the [profane] out of bounds.) My hunch is that no single back would replace Murray in the event of an injury, so I haven't made much of an effort to land Lance Dunbar or fifth-round rookie Joseph Randle. Not every back demands a handcuff.
I'll make no bold predictions about the Cowboys' win total or their playoff odds or Garrett's future (though when they take away your play-calling duties, maybe the writing is on the wall). But as a fantasy owner, I appreciate this bunch. Dallas may not be a serious threat to win another Lombardi, but you can certainly claim a fake title with Cowboys.
2012 team stats: 23.5 points per game (15), 312.0 passing yards per game (3), 79.1 rushing yards per game (31)
Previous Juggernauts: 32. NY Jets, 31. Oakland, 30. Jacksonville, 29. Buffalo, 28. Cleveland, 27. Tennessee, 26. San Diego, 25. Miami, 24. St. Louis, 23. Pittsburgh, 22. Arizona, 21. Minnesota, 20. Kansas City, 19. Chicago, 18. Baltimore, 17. Philadelphia, 16. Indianapolis, 15. Carolina, 14. Cincinnati, 13. NY Giants, 12. Detroit, 11. New England, 10. Tampa Bay, 9. Seattle, 8. Washington, 7. Houston, 6. New Orleans, 5. San Francisco, 4. Denver, 3. Green Bay
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