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Offseason Primers: Dallas Cowboys

Senior Fantasy Writer
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If the only NFL game you ever watched was the Cowboys at the Giants in Week 1 of the 2012 season you would have thought Kevin Ogletree was the best receiver in league history. He dominated in that game with eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets.

As you can imagine, things kind of went downhill from there -- for Ogletree and the Cowboys. Dallas struggled to an 8-8 finish, and the Cowboys again failed to live up to the usual lofty expectations as being the best team in the NFL.

The good news for Fantasy owners is Dallas is loaded with talent. Tony Romo is a No. 1 quarterback, DeMarco Murray is a No. 1 running back, Dez Bryant is a No. 1 receiver and Jason Witten is a No. 1 tight end. They are some of the best players at their respective positions.

2012 Touches Leaders
789 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
DeMarco Murray 196 (161 car., 35 rec.) 24.8%
Felix Jones 136 (111 car., 25 rec.) 17.2%
Jason Witten 110 rec. 13.9%
Dez Bryant 94 (2 car., 92 rec.) 11.9%
Miles Austin 66 rec. 8.3%
All Others 187 23.7%

Now, the Cowboys have their offensive flaws. Romo needs to be more consistent, Murray needs to stay healthy and Witten needs to score more touchdowns. Bryant also needs to stay healthy, and Miles Austin needs to regain his form from 2009.

The Cowboys also need to replace Ogletree, who signed with Tampa Bay this offseason. Dwayne Harris is the likely choice as the new No. 3 receiver, and we hope he can have a shining moment like Ogletree did in Week 1 last year. We just hope his highlight reel is a little more in depth than just one week.

DeMarco Murray -- Bounce-back candidate

2012 Target Leaders
658 pass attempts
Jason Witten 147 22.3%
Dez Bryant 138 20.9%
Miles Austin 119 18.1%
Kevin Ogletree 55 8.3%
DeMarco Murray 41 6.2%
All Others 158 24.0%

Murray has a lot to prove heading into his third year in the NFL. He's battled injuries and inconsistent play through two seasons, but now is his time to shine. Murray is starting to look more like Darren McFadden than Adrian Peterson, which is not a good thing. He's already missed nine games through two seasons, and Fantasy owners are frustrated. He should be ready to go for the start of this year, and we hope he can put together a full season of quality outings. In 2012, Murray appeared in just 10 games. He had at least seven Fantasy points in every outing with double digits in points in five games, so he's capable of being a big point producer. But he has to stay on the field to live up to the hype. Based on talent, Murray is a first-round pick, but we would let him fall to Round 2 at the earliest. He should be considered at least a Top 15 Fantasy running back, and if he can play 16 games we could be looking at a Top 10 option in all leagues.

Dez Bryant -- Worth the price

Something clicked with Bryant midway through last season, and we hope he doesn't stop heading into this year. Bryant closed 2012 with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in seven of his final eight games, including playing the last four with a broken finger. His final stats were 92 catches, 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, as he definitely had a breakout season in his third year in the NFL. Bryant now has 27 touchdowns to his name, and he's set his sights on 2,000 receiving yards this year. While that's highly unlikely, he should continue to post dominant stats, and we consider him an upper echelon Fantasy receiver. Bryant should be among the Top 5 receivers drafted this season, and he could come off the board as early as Round 2. Most likely you'll draft Bryant in Round 3, but he should be a beast once again. He had just 138 targets last year, and we hope that number will rise. The one concern with Bryant is injuries since he also hurt his back last season, but as long as he's on the field you can expect tremendous production from this dynamic receiver.

Jason Witten -- Still going strong

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Tony Romo 60-67 overall
DeMarco Murray 11-16 overall
Dez Bryant 22-26 overall
Miles Austin 98-106 overall
Jason Witten 57-64 overall

Witten continues to prove he's among the best Fantasy tight ends, and he should post quality stats again this season. Witten had a career-high 110 catches in 2012, and he also added 1,039 yards and three touchdowns. This is the fourth time since 2007 he's had at least 94 catches and 1,000 receiving yards. The problem for Witten is his lack of touchdowns since he's scored more than five times just once since 2008. But that hasn't kept Witten from being an elite Fantasy option since he's been a Top 5 tight end four times since 2007 (he was No. 5 last year with 115 points in a standard league). Witten also has Romo's eye since he led the team and all tight ends with 147 targets, and we expect Romo to continue looking in Witten's direction a lot. He's worth drafting as early as Round 4 in the majority of leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
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(6:42 pm ET) Lions rookie linebacker Kyle Van Noy suffered a thumb injury during practice Monday, MLive.con reports.

"I'm fine," Van Noy said. "I just got a little banged up, but I should be fine."

Van Noy had to get his hand taped in the locker room, cutting his first training camp practice short. The rookie believes he'll be able to practice Tuesday, though coach Jim Caldwell said the team would have a better feel for the extent of the injury after practice.


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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown missed his third straight practice Monday due to a calf injury, ESPN.com reports.

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Godfrey, who is returning from a torn Achilles, has what coach Ron Rivera calls "dirty eyes," peeking into the backfield during plays and getting beat deep. He has an uphill battle ahead if he wants to win a starting job before the beginning of the season.


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"He's healthy. He's really running well. It was tough last year with the numbers of getting him into the rotation," coach Sean Payton told the paper. "This year I definitely see him as someone who competes and factors in for not only playing time, but for touches. He has done well these first few days."


Pats release Josh Hull
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:47 pm ET) The Patriots released linebacker Josh Hull, who was signed by the team in April. Hull excels on special teams and should find a job soon.

Seahawks sign Terrell Thomas
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:36 pm ET) The Seahawks signed cornerback Terrell Thomas, reports ESPN's Adam Caplan. Thomas played in all 16 games for the Giants last year, recording 67 tackles, eight pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a sack.

Giants shuffle offensive linemen
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) The Giants claimed center/guard Mark Asper off waivers from the Bills and waived offensive tackle DeMarcus Love.

Report: Cordy Glenn expected to be ready for opener
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:26 pm ET) Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn, who's missed the first week of camp with an undisclosed illness, should return in time for the season opener, reports the Buffalo News. Glenn is on the non-football illness list and can be activated at any time.

 
 
 
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