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2014 Player Outlooks – Dallas Cowboys

By: — June 19, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

Tony Romo

Tony Romo is expected to be 100% for the start of training camp.

QB Tony Romo
(2013 QB Rank—#10, 24.1 FPts/G)

Tony Romo underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disc in December, but is expected to be 100 percent by the start of training camp. Head Coach Jason Garrett believes Romo is in the prime of his career, but considering the quarterback is now 34 years old, that statement is likely May/June “coach speak.” On the plus side, the Cowboys have hired Scott Linehan as their new passing-game coordinator, a move the veteran Romo is reported to be thrilled with. Under Linehan, the Lions’ Matthew Stafford averaged 4,885 passing yards over the last three seasons, and he never attempted fewer than 630 passes. Contrast that with Romo, who has only surpassed 550 attempts once in his career. Romo is perpetually underrated in fantasy circles and should prove to once again be a boon for owners who wait on drafting a QB. In four of his eight seasons as an NFL starter, he has topped 4,000 yards in passing, and he threw for 3,828 yards with 31 TDs in 15 games last season. If his attempts were to rise significantly under Linehan, Romo could put up a career year even at 34 years of age.

RB DeMarco Murray
(2013 RB Rank—#8, 14.8 FPts/G)

DeMarco Murray is coming off his best season as a professional, but still did not manage to play a full season—an issue that has plagued Murray throughout his three years in the NFL. Last year he did manage a career-high 14 games, and gained almost 1,500 total yards, while finding the end zone 10 times. He also caught 53 balls last season, a number that could increase in Scott Linehan’s offense. Linehan has claimed that he will lean on the running game in Dallas, but his past history speaks otherwise. Still, with recent improvements to the offensive line and a talent like Murray, the Cowboys should have a very effective running game and Murray could be poised to set career highs across the board. As always, health could be an issue for a running back who doesn’t always find himself able to avoid contact due to an upright and violent running style. However, at 6’0” and 220 pounds, and with impressive straight-line speed, Murray can dish out the punishment as well. An owner could do worse than picking Murray somewhere near the Round 1/Round 2 turn in drafts later this summer.

RB Lance Dunbar
(2013 RB Rank—#93, 3.0 FPts/G)

Lance Dunbar only managed to play in nine games last season, but he was impressive before a national television audience on Thanksgiving Day, rushing for 82 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game and missing the rest of the season due to injury. Dunbar has earned rave reviews from new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan this offseason, and beat reporters have touted him as a breakout player to watch in 2014. The 5’8”, 188 pound Dunbar should be an effective weapon in the passing game, especially when you consider that Linehan’s offense in Detroit allowed both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to thrive while running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield. He’s a must-have handcuff for Murray owners due to Murray’s penchant for injuries, but should also have some fantasy value in his own right, especially in PPR leagues.

WR Dez Bryant
(2013 WR Rank—#5, 12.7 FPts/G)

Scott Linehan is used to working with star wide receivers, having helped guide Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson to great heights while with Minnesota and Detroit respectively. At times last season, it seemed as if Dallas wasn’t willing to force-feed its stud WR the way Linehan has shown he’s willing to do in past stops. In fact, Bryant had eight games last year where he didn’t see double-digit targets. This year Linehan plans to move Bryant around more, making it difficult for opposing teams to cover him, and he has never been afraid to have his quarterback utilize his best weapon, even when the receiver is covered. Combine that with a contract year for Bryant and it’s very reasonable for fantasy owners to expect Bryant’s best season to date in 2014. Bryant is one of the league’s most physically gifted WRs, with a combination of speed and strength not seen in most of his peers. He should be capable of taking over a game, and Linehan is likely to give him the opportunity to do so. Don’t be shocked if Bryant sits atop the WR rankings at the end of the season.

WR Terrance Williams
(2013 WR Rank—#40, 6.9 FPts/G)

Second-year wideout Terrance Williams will be thrust into a starting role in 2014, after a fairly successful rookie season that saw the former Baylor Bear grab 44 balls for 736 yards and 5 TDs. Williams spent some time in the starting lineup last season in place of the oft-injured Miles Austin, and the team saw enough potential in him to release Austin this offseason. Williams will have the benefit of not being the focus of opposing defenses, with Dez Bryant lined up across from him and tight end Jason Witten commanding targets, but of course the flip side of that is the two veterans will generally be Tony Romo’s preferred options almost every time he drops back and scans the field. Nevertheless, the 6’2”, 200 pound Williams flashed some big-play ability (despite sometimes showing questionable hands) and is a breakout candidate under the pass-happy offense of Scott Linehan. Williams will need to show consistency early in the season in order to gain Romo’s trust. If he’s able to do that, there should be enough targets to make him at worst a low-end WR3 for fantasy teams.

WR Cole Beasley
(2013 WR Rank—#94, 3.5 FPts/G)

Diminutive third-year wide receiver Cole Beasley entered the PPR radar midseason in 2013 with a couple of six-catch games, but finished the season with only 39 catches at less than 10 yards per reception, and 2 TDs. Receivers coach Derek Dooley has talked Beasley up this offseason and has said that he expects an expanded role for the former SMU receiver. Being a small (5’8”, 180 pound) white slot WR, Beasley naturally draws plenty of Wes Welker comparisons, but he’s not nearly as quick or strong as the underrated Welker. However, Beasley does run good sharp routes and is sure-handed, so he could carry some PPR value this year as a bye-week filler.

WR Dwayne Harris
(2013 WR Rank—#120, 2.3 FPts/G)

Thus far in his career, Dwayne Harris’ contributions have been mostly limited to his special teams play. He is one of the best return men in the league, but only has 26 receptions in his three-year career. He is competing with Cole Beasley to be the Cowboys’ WR3 this season, and if he wins that job he could have some fantasy value in their high-volume passing attack. He’s probably not worth a draft pick in leagues that don’t award kick return yardage, but could be someone to monitor should injuries strike players in the Dallas passing game. He has big-play potential but lacks the consistency to be a reliable difference maker for your fantasy team.

TE Jason Witten
(2013 TE Rank—#5, 8.3 FPts/G)

Jason Witten turned 32 years old in May, and while he looked as if he had lost a step last season, no player in the league is more trusted by his quarterback. Witten has been a top-six tight end in each of his last four seasons, and with Miles Austin out of the picture and the new offense expected to be even more pass-centric than ever, it would be unwise to bet against that streak continuing in 2014. While he’s never been an athletic specimen on the level of a Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates, Witten has been every bit as productive, surpassing 1,000 yards in four NFL seasons. Surprisingly, Witten has never reached double-digit TDs in a season, and the eight he scored last year was the second-highest total of his career. While second-year TE Gavin Escobar’s role is expected to expand, it really should not come at Witten’s expense. Witten knows how to get open, presents a big target for Romo, and has sure hands, so even if he loses yet another step in 2014, his floor is still that of a fantasy starter at the position.

TE Gavin Escobar
(2013 TE Rank—#50, 2.8 FPts/G)

Gavin Escobar had very little production during his rookie season, but that is not uncommon at the tight end position. Reports indicate his role will be expanded in 2014 and he could end up on the fantasy radar. Blocking was an issue for Escobar last season, but Jason Witten has praised his fellow TE’s improvement in that area, and in Scott Linehan’s new offensive system, Escobar’s pass-catching skills are much more needed anyway. Linehan says he is excited to see what the young TE can do, and during the coach’s seasons in Detroit, second- and third-string tight ends like Tony Sheffler and Joseph Fauria were able to make contributions in the passing game behind starter Brandon Pettigrew.

2014 Player Outlooks – Kansas City Chiefs

By: — June 17, 2014 @ 11:01 am

Jamaal Charles

Top Chief: Jamaal Charles heads into 2014 as one of fantasy football’s top players.

QB Alex Smith
(2013 QB Rank—#16, 14.9 FPts/G)

Former No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith proved that the success he enjoyed during his final years in San Francisco was more than just a product of being on a great team, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to the best record in the league through the first half of the 2013 season. Unfortunately, he and the Chiefs were unable to hold off the eventual AFC champion Denver Broncos in the division, but fantasy owners were pleased at the production they got from their quarterback over the second half of the schedule. Despite the team struggling in the wins column and sitting its starters in Week 17, Smith was able to contribute a total of 17 touchdown passes from Week 11 through Week 16, and whereas previously in his career he had never thrown more than 20 touchdown passes for an entire season, he was able to finish 2013 with a total of 23. His 431 rushing yards were also sixth best among all quarterbacks, making him an underappreciated fantasy asset in the running game. With a more difficult schedule on the horizon in 2014, Kansas City is unlikely to replicate the kind of success it had in 2013, which could mean less wins for the team but perhaps more passing opportunities for Smith, particularly late in games. A reduction in efficiency should also be expected due to the Chiefs strength of schedule, but the potential for more total pass attempts could make Smith a high-end QB2 option with low-end QB1 upside.

RB Jamaal Charles
(2013 RB Rank—#1, 20.8 FPts/G)

Not since the days of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson have the Chiefs had a fantasy producer anywhere near the level of running back Jamaal Charles. Charles, who was a consensus round 1 pick in 2013, lived up to the hype and then some with a monstrous fantasy season that made him the top-scoring fantasy back in practically all formats. Although he finished third in rushing yards, his 693 receiving yards were nearly 100 yards better than the next best back (Danny Woodhead), and his 19 total touchdowns were five more than that of any other rusher. You will hear whispers about increased opportunities for backup Knile Davis, but Charles will likely shoulder another heavy load in 2014, which makes him one of a few candidates for the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy football drafts this season. Of course, the high number of touches also makes Charles a candidate for injury, but given the lack of true “feature backs” remaining in the league, the potential reward far outweighs the risk of drafting Charles with your top draft pick this season.

RB Knile Davis
(2013 RB Rank—#53, 3.3 FPts/G)

The tremendous season Jamaal Charles had already made the backup running back position in Kansas City an afterthought, but a measly 3.45 YPC average made Knile Davis even more irrelevant in the Kansas City offense. Although he did vulture two touchdowns from Charles earlier in the year, Davis’ only real value in 2013 came in Week 17 when the Chiefs sat their offensive starters, leading to a 27-carry day. He made the most of that opportunity, at least from a fantasy perspective , by rushing for 81 yards and two scores. Davis could see more touches in 2014, but he will remain essentially a non-factor for fantasy purposes unless there is an unfortunate injury to Charles. Even then, Davis is not nearly the talent that Charles is and could still end up sharing carries, most likely with 2014 fourth-round draft pick De’Anthony Thomas. Davis is a handcuff, but not a particularly enticing one until he can prove that he is a more effective runner.

WR Dwayne Bowe
(2013 WR Rank—#47, 5.6 FPts/G)

A disastrous 2013 season for Dwayne Bowe owners is now in the rearview mirror, but those who took a chance on the formerly elite wideout will find it hard to forget the horrendous production they received. Bowe delivered just five touchdown receptions on the season despite having some of the best quarterback play the team has seen in years, and failed to surpass 70 yards in any single game. He led the team with 105 targets, but caught just 57 of those and appeared to be a victim of the age bug, as he seemed slower and perhaps even less motivated than in years past. However, in spite of his disappointing output a year ago, Bowe remains the clear top target in the Kansas City offense. Unfortunately, that also means the team hasn’t invested in other options at the position to help pull away the defense’s attention, which could translate to another frustrating season for Bowe owners. His days as a WR1 are likely over, but the veteran’s savvy still gives him WR2 upside with a WR3/4 price tag. For what it’s worth, Bowe has changed his diet and training routine and reported to the team in the best shape of his career.

WR Donnie Avery
(2013 WR Rank—#64, 4.1 FPts/G)

A few long passes throughout the course of the season made Donnie Avery’s numbers look at least serviceable, as he caught 40 balls for 596 yards on the season, but those stats alone do not tell the story of the 12 games of three or fewer fantasy points that Avery gave fantasy owners. Although he was very clearly the No. 2 option in an uninspiring group of Kansas City wideouts in 2013, his upside is very limited. He and A.J. Jenkins will enter the season in what will likely be an open competition for the spot across from Dwayne Bowe, but Avery doesn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value, especially given his tremendous inconsistency.

WR A.J. Jenkins
(2013 WR Rank—#131, 0.7 FPts/G)

A former first-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, A.J. Jenkins is now getting a second chance at an NFL career, this time with the Kansas City Chiefs. The team traded for him prior to the 2013 season, but to say they used him sparingly would be an understatement. Jenkins caught just five total passes through the first 16 games of the season before getting a bit more of an opportunity in Week 17 when the Chiefs rested their starters. In that game, Jenkins showed flashes of what made him a first-round NFL draft pick, catching three passes for 67 yards. He will need to mature both on and off the field before he is given an opportunity to start across from Dwayne Bowe, but his potential upside is certainly higher than that of Donnie Avery. Jenkins is not likely to be drafted in most fantasy leagues unless he wins the job outright. Even then, he would be a late-round flyer with a high likelihood of terrible fantasy production.

TE Anthony Fasano
(2013 TE Rank—#42, 2.1 FPts/G)

Anthony Fasano became the Chiefs’ primary tight end in 2013 after a preseason injury sidelined Tony Moeaki. Given the success that Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker had with Alex Smith back in San Francisco, fantasy owners likely expected better from Fasano than the 32 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns that they got. Surprisingly enough, Fasano wasn’t even the team’s most-targeted tight end in 2013, as Sean McGrath was targeted 40 times compared to Fasano’s 33. Nevertheless, Fasano remains in line to be the team’s top tight end in 2014, more likely due to his ability as a blocker than as a pass catcher. The opportunities for goal line catches are there, as usual, but there’s nothing to suggest that Fasano is suddenly going to emerge as a fantasy star in 2014.

TE Travis Kelce
(2013 TE Rank—#102, 0.0 FPts/G)

Travis Kelce, a third-round draft pick in 2013, was certainly somebody that Chiefs fans had high hopes for this past season, given the relative lack of firepower in the offense. However, an unfortunate knee injury ended up costing Kelce his entire season, derailing what could have been a year with plenty of opportunities for production as a pass catcher. Kelce was a dynamic tight end in his senior season of college at the University of Cincinnati, where he caught 45 passes for 722 yards and eight touchdowns. The chances of Kelce breaking out as an elite fantasy tight end are slim, but he is probably the most likely player in the offense to be fantasy relevant at the position, even though he is also the kind of player who could end up giving his owners practically nothing. Kelce won’t do much work in minicamp but should be active during training camp at the end of July.

Projections & Rankings Released – 6/4/14

By: — June 5, 2014 @ 9:16 am
Filed under: Forecast

Player Projections, Rankings & Cheatsheets
Change Log – 6/4/14

Here we go! It’s a special time when the rankings hit the site for a new season. Our initial release for 2014 has over 400 offensive players and 345 defensive players projected and ranked. Sporadic updates will occur in June with weekly updates kicking off in July when as we roll towards the meat of the fantasy season. We’ll also do unscheduled updates as needed, typically for significant injuries or news that occurs between scheduled updates.


  • Matt Ryan (#7) – I’m looking for a bounce-back season for Ryan and the Falcons passing game as they move towards a base three-wide receiver set without Tony G.
  • Nick Foles (#4) – I get the impression Foles may be a hot button topic with fantasy owners this pre-season. Can he repeat his gaudy numbers from a year ago? I tend to think he can but Jeremy Maclin needs to stay healthy.
  • Tony Romo (#15) – Everyone expects new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan to air it out on every play. He’s already made comments about leaning on DeMarco Murray and the running game. I’m going to keep Romo (back) a bit lower than most for now until he proves he’s healthy while I formulate a more solid opinion on where this offense is headed in 2014.

Running Backs

  • Marshawn Lynch (#6) – No sooner than I get my rankings posted, it’s revealed that the Seahawks are leaning toward a RBBC with Lynch and Christine Michael. Sigh. Lynch will be moving down into RB2 territory in our next update.
  • Toby Gerhart (#10) – I realize the Jags have issues at Quarterback and have lost one their best receivers, but Gerhart is in line for 300+ touches this season. His current ADP of 5.01 is too low.
  • Arian Foster (#11) – Foster is reportedly in for a heavy workload this season under head coach Bill O’ Brien. Can he hold up?
  • C.J. Spiller (#24) – This is likely Fred Jackson’s last season in Buffalo. Spiller is shaping up as a boom or bust RB in 2014.

Wide Receivers

  • Calvin Johnson (#2) – I can’t remember the last time Megatron didn’t start the season #1. With Decker moving on, Demaryius Thomas (#1) is in for a huge season.
  • Percy Harvin (#12) – Harvin falls into the same boom/bust category as Spiller. It all depends on your tolerance for risk.
  • Andre Johnson (#25) – The disgruntled Johnson wants out of Houston and who can blame him? He’s a pro and will likely have a decent year, but we may see the beginning of the end this season for AJ.
  • Eric Decker (#38) – He becomes a #1 wide receiver on of the handful of teams that runs it more than they throw it. He’s a WR3 at best.
  • Reggie Wayne (#90) – He’ll move up in subsequent updates as long as he has no setbacks in his recovery from knee surgery. Still, even if he starts Week 1, I’m not expecting a WR1 season from the 35 year-old Wayne.

Tight Ends

  • Julius Thomas (#2) – With Decker moving on, Julius Thomas is in for a huge season. I won’t be surprised if he overtakes Jimmy Graham as the #1 fantasy TE by season’s end.
  • Vernon Davis (#3) – Davis is skipping OTAs and likely won’t be at the June mandatory minicamp.
  • Kyle Rudolph (#7) – Norv Turner has a history of feeding the tight end.
  • Ladarius Green (#19) – I pegged Jordan Cameron as my TE sleeper a year ago and would do the same for Green if Antonio Gates wasn’t in the mix… but he is.

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