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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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Player News
Seahawks to go with Will Tukuafu at fullback
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:52 am ET) The Seahawks will insert fullback Will Tukuafu into the starting lineup, according to the Associated Press. 

Will Tukuafu signed with the club Wednesday, and will replace Derrick Coleman. Coleman began the year as the team's primary option, but was placed on the IR Saturday. Robert Turbin had served as the team's temporary option at the position with Coleman out, but will assume his normal role as backup running back with Tukuafu in tow. 


Saints K Shayne Graham not asked to do much Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Saints kicker Shayne Graham was not asked to do much in his team's 28-10 victory over the Panthers in Week 9. Graham, who converted three field goals his last time out, was not summoned for a field goal the entire night. He added four extra points.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


Saints WR Robert Meachem makes late-game grab in Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem, who has been an afterthought in the aerial attack, came down with his first grab since the third week of the season in his team's 28-10 victory over the Panthers.

Meachem broke free down the middle of the field for a comfortable 25-yard reception late in the fourth quarter. He was targeted twice in the win. He has five catches for 85 yards on the season.


Saints RB Travaris Cadet does little in Week 9 victory
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Saints running back Travaris Cadet failed to make much of an impact in his team's 28-10 Week 9 victory over the Panthers Thursday night.

The team heavily relied on Mark Ingram, who took 30 handoffs on the night. As a result, Cadet was only limited to five touches. He took two handoffs for only 1 yard and caught three of the five passes thrown his way for 29 yards.

The Saints will host San Francisco in Week 10.


Saints WRs Colston, Cooks each limited to three grabs Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Saints wide receivers Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks each had quiet performances in a Week 9 victory over the Panthers on Thursday.

Colston came down with a 22-yard pass from Drew Bress on the second offensive series of the night and only had two catches the rest of the way. He caught all three of his targets for 36 yards. Cooks had a similar night, as he came down with two receptions -- one for 18 and another for 5 yards -- on back-to-back plays on the opening drive, but was limited to only one grab the rest of the way. He caught all three targets for 38 yards in a 28-10 victory.


Saints WR Kenny Stills racks up 72 yards Thursday night
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills enjoyed another productive performance, cracking the 70-yard mark in a Thursday night victory over the Panthers in Week 9.

Stills had a costly drop on the opening drive which resulted in an interception by D'wan Edwards. He bounced back with catches of 16, 9 and 17 yards in the second quarter. He was targeted eight times and finished with five catches for 72 yards in a 28-10 victory. He has 373 receiving yards through eight games, most by any other rookie receiver this year.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


Saints TE Jimmy Graham scores, looks like old self in Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) Saints tight end Jimmy Graham appeared to be back to his old self, scoring his fifth touchdown of the season Thursday night against the Panthers in Week 9.

After a pass interference penalty that brought the team to the 1-yard line, Graham came down with a reception in the end zone for a 1-yard score with three seconds remaining in the first half. He caught five passes for 50 yards and a score at halftime. He only caught two passes the rest of the way and finished with seven grabs for a team-high 83 yards and score on seven targets in a 28-10 victory.

Graham has scored in back-to-back games. He'll look to extend his scoring streak to three at home in Week 10 against the 49ers.


Saints' Mark Ingram cracks century mark, scores twice Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Saints running back Mark Ingram found the end zone for the second consecutive game, scoring twice and leading his team to a 28-10 victory over the Panthers in Week 9 Thursday night. 

Ingram barreled into the end zone from 3 yards out late in the first half. He also aggravated a right shoulder injury in the first half and played through the pain in the second half wearing a sleeve. walked into the end zone from 3 yards out on a draw play with 5:34 remaining in the game to secure the win.

He took 30 handoffs for 100 yards and two scores, notching back-to-back career highs in carries over a five-day span. He caught one of two targets for 10 yards. He has 272 yards and three rushing touchdowns over that span.

He'll look to stay red-hot Week 10 at home against San Francisco.


Panthers K Graham Gano hits his only field goal Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) Panthers kicker Graham Gano hit his only field goal attempt Thursday against the Saints. 

The Panthers offense had a tough time getting anything going, limiting Gano's chances. His only attempt came with 12:57 left in the contest. Gano managed to hit from 31 yards out. He also managed one extra point attempt.

Gano will look for more Week 10 against the Eagles. 


Saints' Drew Brees overcomes early mistakes to secure first road win
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:02 am ET) Saints quarterback Drew Brees worked past a couple of early turnovers and scored two touchdowns to lead his team to their first road win of the season Week 9 at Carolina.

Brees had two turnovers over the first 10 minutes of the game. He was picked off by Dwan Edwards on a tipped pass from Kenny Stills on the opening drive of the night. On the ensuing drive, he lost a fumble after Erik Lorig got pushed back into him while trying to pass protect. 

Brees bounced back with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham with three seconds remaining in the first half. He gambled on a 4th and goal in the third quarter, leaping over the goal line for a 1-yard score -- his first rushing touchdown of the season.

Brees compiled 297 yards through the air while completing 24 of 34 passes. He added one touchdown and one interception, registering a 94.9 passer rating. He was sacked four times and rushed for 2 yards and a score on four carries in a 28-10 victory.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


 
 
 
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