With the 2013 NFL season just hours from kicking off, fans of the game that play fantasy football have finished their drafts, and are getting their Week 1 line-ups set. For years I had friends that wanted me to join their fantasy leagues, but I always resisted and declined these offers. However, last year I finally made an exception and decided to join some friends in a league here in Dallas. This year I have joined three leagues (10, 12, 14 owners) to find out which type I like best. I think 10 owner leagues have way too much depth and all the teams are all too loaded and deep that it takes the fun away. I think I like 14 team leagues the best because it forces owners to draft well, or they will pay the price with no depth and be forced to watch the waiver wire all year. When preparing for the drafts I’ve noticed that this year’s Cowboys team has multiple guys with high fantasy appeal.
Last year I went into the draft unprepared and did not know how the league was scored except that touchdowns were worth six points. Last year in a 15 team league, I drafted Andre Johnson, Rob Gronkowski, Willis McGahee, and Jermicheal Finley with my first four picks as I just took the best talents on the board instead of considering how the fantasy game is played and won. I didn’t draft anyone one from the NFC East, including the Cowboys as I didn’t want to jinx my team nor did I want to root for division rivals. I finished 7-7 in my league, but was saved by drafting Doug Martin in round 8, Andrew Luck in round 10 and finding a few other late round steals. Also due to my poor draft, I had to be a waiver wire king to try to make up for my lack of draft preparation.
This year I went in with a draft board that went plenty deep so that I could continue to find value late in the draft so my roster would be deep enough hopefully to withstand injuries and bye weeks. When looking at the Cowboys and my draft board, here are some notable observations:
Tony Romo I ranked 12th overall. I had him ranked behind Rodgers, Brees, Manning, Brady, Ryan, Newton, RGIII, Wilson, Kaepernick, Luck, and Stafford. Romo could be higher and is on some people’s boards, but he can be prone to interceptions. Hopefully this year with a better line and more protection, that won’t be the case.
DeMarco Murray was rated 20th on my board due to his injury concerns. If he is able to stay healthy and dependable, I would have ranked him inside my top 14.
Dez Bryant came in at 2nd on my board, only behind Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. I feel Dez is going to be in for a huge year if he can stay healthy, and he may outscore Johnson by season’s end.
Jason Witten was my 2nd highest tight end, behind only fantasy monster Jimmy Graham. Witten is Romo’s security blanket, and could very well end up with 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns this season.
Dan Bailey rated 6th on my list, only behind Gostkowski, Bryant, Prater, Tucker, and Walsh. Bailey has been a great find for the team and is a very dependable kicker. Hopefully this trend continues for another decade for Bailey and the Cowboys.
The defense this year should rank top 20 in fantasy, and I would be more bullish if the defensive line wasn’t so depleted. With Ware and Spencer rushing, and Kiffin’s working daily on teaching creating turnovers, this team may end up a top 10 fantasy defense.
I’m in one league that is run by a guy who going for a Ph.D., and he has us also using one DL, LB, and DB. I’ve rated DeMarcus Ware 2nd as a fantasy defensive linemen only behind J.J. Watt. Sean Lee is my 5th rated fantasy linebacker, and I was able to secure his services in this league.
With the team rating so high in many key positions the team looks to possibly have a bright outlook for the upcoming season. With Tuesday’s signing of Brian Waters, the Cowboys have finally solidified the offensive line, which has been the biggest weakness this offseason. Although this position group was not addressed as properly as it could had been in the draft, the team looks to have a nice group of players now at this position. The weakness now is on the defensive line, which earlier was looked upon as strength. With the retirement of Josh Brent, season ending injury to Tyrone Crawford, Anthony Spencer still not right as we get into Week 1, and Jay Ratliff starting the season on the PUP list, the team is awfully thin up front. Again this position was neglected in the draft, and Richard Seymour would be too expensive to bring in to shore this group up. If this group can hold up, the team may have a fantasy season as a team on the field as well as the individual players in these fantasy leagues.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH