COMMENTARY | 14 targets, 10 receptions, 250 yards, and two touchdowns.
That was Miles Austin's stat line the last time he played the Kansas City Chiefs. It was his first time as a starter and he made the most of it, resetting the record books in the process. Unfortunately, he was on waiver wires and benches across the fantasy football universe. As you can guess, he became the number one overall waiver priority the following week.
I wouldn't expect those kinds of numbers from Austin this week in KC. In fact, this game is setting up as a possible disappointment in the world a fake football.
As I outlined last week, the Dallas Cowboys have always offered a solid squad of fantasy players. But no team is without its tough matchups. The Chiefs represent a less than ideal situation for some of the game's most reliable playmakers. Here's a quick rundown of what to expect at Arrowhead Stadium.
Cowboys' fans had a major scare after Tony Romo was sandwiched between three Giants defenders at the end of the first half last week. He was down for a while before walking gingerly to the sideline. But he returned in the second half and finished the game with 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
X-rays came back negative and Romo is participating in practice. He doesn't seem to be in any danger of missing time but bruised ribs are going to affect his game. Most quarterbacks have a tendency to be more tentative and cautious when dealing with a painful injury. As tough as Romo is, I wouldn't be surprised to see him hitting the deck instead of forcing throws. Expect the Cowboys to limit his attempts and focus more on the ground game.
Oh, and as if the Romo injury wasn't terrifying enough, Dez Bryant had his ankle folded up on right before the game's end. He limped off the field and showed understandable frustration on the sidelines. But ultimately came back and contested for a two-point conversion attempt (it failed).
As of this writing, Bryant was a full participant in practice and indications point to him playing on Sunday. The question becomes how well? Is he going to be sent out as a decoy like Roddy White was for Atlanta last week? We'll have to closely monitor practice reports. My guess is he'll be designated as probable come week's end. And the truth is you'll need a solid alternate (which you don't have) in order to bench someone with Bryant's skillset.
Jason Witten: last week I suggested you pray for a big game out of Witten and then put him on the trading block. I still think that strategy, at this point in the season, is a good one. But it's also possible the future hall of famer could be in for a career year. He'll be busy this week.
Cowboys Defense: as it turns out, these guys might be really good at turnovers. And there's a chance Anthony Spencer sees some action this week. No matter what, this team is worth rostering because once that defensive line gets healthy, watch out.
Dez Bryant: I just threw up a little bit in my mouth as I plugged Bryant into this spot. As mentioned, he fully participated in practice and barring a setback, is in no danger of missing Sunday's game. But you saw what the Giants' bracket coverage did to him and if he's even somewhat slowed by his ankle…The only saving grace here is if the Chiefs pull some pressure off of him to stop Witten and all of the other receiving threats on this team. Just consider that Brandon Flowers will be locked on him all day and, according to Pro Football Focus, only allowed three touchdowns in all of last season.
DeMarco Murray: truth be told, we don't know how good this Chiefs defense is yet. They shutdown Maurice Jones-Drew last week but that doesn't really tell us anything. As much as I think the Cowboys will try to ride Murray, I don't think he finds much success against the likes of Justin Houston and Eric Berry, who lines up all over the field.
Tony Romo: this is a situation where you probably don't have another option or don't dare play a matchup via the waiver wire, but Romo is going to see a ton of different looks against the Chiefs' attacking 3-4 defense. I don't doubt he'll find the end zone once or twice, but he could see a lot of time in the dirt and suffer a couple of interceptions.
Miles Austin: I'll admit I'm getting greedy here. He's not exactly getting snoozed on but he's not getting much love either. Last week he was targeted 11 times catching 10 of them for 72 yards. That's great for PPR and not so great in standard leagues. I think we can expect similar results this week with an additional touchdown to seal it off.
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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- Tony Romo
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- Miles Austin
- Dez Bryant