COMMENTARY | Say what you will about the Dallas Cowboys' organization, one thing they've excelled at is providing a yearly stock of premium fantasy football playmakers.
Not a lot of teams can boast that their starting running back, quarterback, tight end, and both starting wide receivers all came off the board in the top half of the draft. According to ADP data compiled by Fantasy Football Calculator, the Cowboys entire starting offense was drafted before the completion of the 7th round. Only two other teams, the Packers and Falcons, were equally represented.
So regardless of where the Cowboys rank in real football, they're a powerhouse in fake football.
The 2013 season will carry on that tradition and provide plenty of enjoyment for those of us that stocked a few 'Boys on our rosters. In fact, right off of the bat we're treated to a Week 1 matchup that promises a hefty surge of fake football points.
Here's a position-by-position look at how things are shaping up for the Sunday Night Football showdown with the New York Giants.
If you have start/sit questions, feel free to throw them at me via Twitter: @justinbonnema. I'll be happy to give you my best educated guess.
The Miles Austin Show
Here's what we know about the Giants secondary: they lost their best safety for the season, cornerback Prince Amukamara has shown signs of high potential but he's no match for Dez Bryant, Carry Williams was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the fourth worst cornerback in 2012. In other words, it's ugly. Or beautiful depending on your perspective.
You don't need me to tell you to start Bryant. He's a no-brainer who will repay you weekly for spending an early draft pick on him. In his current form, there isn't a secondary in the league that should make you consider leaving him on your bench.
The bigger question here is Miles Austin. Actually, it's not a question; it's an answer to giving you an edge in your first matchup. He's healthier than he's been a in a long time and if he is lined up against Williams, or whichever nickelback follows him into the slot, it's going to be a target-happy night for No. 19. Last year he compiled 13 receptions on 20 targets for 206 yards and one touchdown against the Giants. Look for that trend to improve.
Tony Romo Giant Slayer
Tony Romo represented one of the best fantasy values this year. His ADP of 81 meant you could wait on a quarterback, stock your rosters with depth and still get a top passer. Since taking over as the starter, Romo has finished as a top-ten fantasy scorer in every year but two (including 2010 when he played in only seven games).
He has faced the Giants three times over the last two seasons on Sunday Night Football, during which he averaged 305 yards and thrown nine touchdowns to two interceptions. That history translates beautifully to the aforementioned secondary problems of the G-men.
With the likes of Bryant and Austin toying with defenders and an improved (we think it is anyway) offensive line, I like Romo to have a huge game. He may not throw seven touchdowns (see Peyton Manning), but four isn't out of the question as the Cowboys finally beat the Giants at home.
Temper Expectations for Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray
It's not that I don't expect Witten to be heavily involved in the Cowboys' offensive game-plan Sunday Night, but I doubt we'll see him score. I also doubt he'll lead the team in receptions this year, as he has done for the last seven years. Bryant is the go-to now and even with Bill Callahan running more two-tight end sets, I think Witten's days as a must-start fantasy player are waning. You probably don't have a better option this week. Just hope he has a huge game and then consider trading him.
DeMarco Murray is a great flex option this week and nothing more. He'll find close to 100 yards between running and receiving. And he should have opportunities to punch in a score but I think those TDs end up in the hands of receivers. I'm not sold on the idea that the Cowboys will have a run-heavy offense.
The Other Guys
Both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz make for decent, if not solid starts. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are great corners and they handled this group well last year. However, the Cowboys defensive line is a major question mark and I don't think they'll put enough pressure in the quarterback's face. Carr and Claiborne can only hold coverage for so long.
David Wilson is going to have a great season and may very well provide you with a ride to the playoffs. But despite a banged up defensive line, the Cowboys have some of the fastest linebackers in the NFL and will limit opportunities for him display his burst and speed. I doubt he finds the end zone in this one.
Never start a Giants' tight end.
Hopefully you have a better option than Eli Manning to open your fantasy season with, but if not you can expect stat line that's a notch above mediocre. I figure 245 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It's not world beating but should be enough to keep you afloat.
No defenses should be started in this game. The Cowboys offer some good plug-and-play spot matchups later in the season.
Kickers are kickers.
Justin Bonnema is a freelance writer and a featured columnist covering the NFL and fantasy football. Follow him on Twitter: @justinbonnema.
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