This Sunday, the 7-4 Dallas Cowboys will face off against the 4-7 Arizona Cardinals in the desert. Both sides of the ball have various fantasy studs that are must starts in what is expected to become an aerial shoot-out. Here are my starts, sits and a sleeper pick for the big game.
Larry Fitzgerald – Arguably the best wide receiver in the game should be an every week starter for you. But you might have had some luck later in the draft or through the waiver wire with names like A.J. Green and Victor Cruz. So sitting Fitzgerald could be in the realm of possibility. But Fitz has scored three touchdowns in his last three games and it appears he’ll have Kevin Kolb back in the pocket. The Dallas defense will be focused in on stopping Beanie Wells and getting pressure on Kolb. I see a lot of throwing in this game and Fitzgerald stands to benefit due to his size. The Dallas corner backs have struggled against taller receivers all year. Here are the numbers from opposing “big” receivers versus the Cowboys secondary in the last three weeks alone: Brandon Marshall (6’4) – 5 recs, 103 yards, 1 TD; Jabar Gaffney (6’2) – 7 recs, 115 yards, 1 TD; David Nelson (6’5) – 4 recs, 31 yards, 1 TD. Based on the data, Fitzgerald is pretty much guaranteed to score at least once with the possibility for more.
DeMarco Murray – This is a no-brainer. The rookie running back has averaged 108.5 yards on the ground over the last four games. He’s also averaged five receptions a game over that same span, making him a must-start in all PPR leagues. Arizona’s rushing defense ranks 19th in the NFL. Here’s what the Cardinals have allowed to opposing running backs in their last four games: Steven Jackson, 64 rushing yards and 3 receptions. Frank Gore, 88 rushing yards, one reception. LeSean McCoy, 81 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 1 TD. And Steven Jackson again, this time with 130 rushing yards and one reception. Based on the data, I’d expect Murray to have 80+ rushing yards and at least four receptions.
Laurent Robinson – The former Ram has been Tony Romo’s favorite target for the last month. Robinson has scored a touchdown in each of his last five games and was targeted more than Jason Witten and Dez Bryant combined in the last two. With Miles Austin out yet again with a hamstring injury, the light is green for Robinson. If you have him on your squad, you’ve been starting him. And there’s no reason to stop this week. Expect Robinson’s touchdown streak to continue as Romo faces the 24th worst pass defense in the league.
Beanie Wells – The big brusing back is finally healthy and he showed it last week. Wells ran through the St. Louis Rams to the tune of 228 rushing yards and a touchdown. But take into account that the Rams are the worst rushing defense in the league. These are the same Rams that allowed rookie DeMarco Murray to rush for 253 yards back in Week 7. Despite being ranked as the 10th best rushing defense in the league, Dallas has been susceptible to the run. Here’s what the Cowboys have allowed to quality opposing running backs in the past five weeks: Fred Jackson – 114 rushing yards, Marshawn Lynch – 135 rushing yards, and LeSean McCoy – 185 rushing yards. Expect Wells to post near 100 yards rushing with a chance for a score.
Kevin Kolb – The former Eagle is returning from injury after being out a month to face a Dallas Cowboy team riding a four game winning streak. Kolb will have to shake off the rust quickly as he will be pursued by the league’s best pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware while trying to decipher the heavily disguised blitzes of the Rob Ryan’s defense. Take into account that Kolb wasn’t playing all that well before being injured, leading the Cardinals to a 1-7 record in his first eight games in Arizona, then all signs point to a very disappointing fantasy stat line for the young QB.
Miles Austin – This one is easy. He’s out due to injury. But when Austin does finally play (which should be next week), I’m not so sure that Robinson hasn’t stolen most of his fantasy value.
Early Doucet – The LSU alum seems to really like playing on home-turf. Doucet has recorded his best games in the University of Phoenix Stadium and his best overall game with Kolb at quarterback. He has a total of 17 receptions for 255 yards and two touchdowns through four home games this season. Doucet has also scored three times in his last six games. With Dallas’ defense keying in on Kolb, Wells and Fitzgerald, the young Arizona receiver could reap the fantasy benefits.