Each week I’ll rank the Top 5 fantasy starters on the Dallas Cowboys and why in Dallas Cowboys Fantasy.
1. RB Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys didn’t draft him to take it easy with him, and you didn’t draft him not to start him. The Cowboys are going to use Zeke early and often. I figure at least 25 carries, if the game develops the way the Cowboys hope. You have to figure they’ll want to mix in Alfred Morris and, perhaps, even Darius Jackson (if Lance Dunbar can’t go). But they’ll pound Elliott early and, if the Cowboys have the lead, they’ll pound him late. The Cowboys are facing a Giants team that was worst in total defense and No. 24 in rushing defense a year ago. Outside of pass rusher Olivier Vernon, I don’t think the Giants did that much to improve their defensive line. If that Cowboys O-Line blocks for Elliott the way it blocked for him in the preseason game in Seattle, Elliott should clear 100 yards and score at least once.
And here's some more of Elliott vs. Seattle.
2. WR Dez Bryant. Dak Prescott showed us in the preseason that he’s willing to stick in the pocket and look for the Cowboys’ top receiver. Elliott connected with Bryant for a TD in both the Rams and Dolphins games before the team decided to shelve Bryant for the rest of the preseason. Unlike last year, I have more confidence that Tony Romo’s replacement is going to get Bryant the ball. It isn’t a fantastic day for statistics for Bryant. Our Mark Lane wrote earlier this week that Bryant’s average on opening day is just five catches for 56 yards and has never had a 100-yard game on opening day. Bryant has six receiving touchdowns against the Giants since 2010, however. I suspect Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will draw Bryant in coverage. Until the Cowboys prove they can run the ball effectively, the Giants will probably roll safety coverage over to help DR-C out. The best thing that can happen for Bryant is an effective run game early so the Giants have to commit more guys in the box, leaving him in single coverage on DR-C or one of the other Giants corners. A 100-yard game with a TD isn’t out of the question.
3. QB Dak Prescott. Starting a rookie quarterback in the season opener in fantasy football is not advisable. So you probably have better options on your roster. But let’s just say you play in a two-QB league. Prescott might be a solid No. 2. He should benefit from the run game, as we’ve already discussed. He has two sure-handed pass-catchers in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. The Cowboys have proven this preseason that their game plans will put Prescott in favorable play calls. And his ability to run give him a Russell Wilson-esque value-add. I suspect his numbers won’t be overwhelming, but I could see him rushing for 50 yards and a score and pitching in 175-200 passing yards. If he can do that without a turnover, that’s a great stat line for a second quarterback in a two QB league. Now, if you HAVE to start him in a one-QB league, well, the stat line above won’t kill you. I suspect, though, that Prescott will make a couple of mistakes on Sunday. That just seems logical. The Giants are going to bring a lot of pressure early in the game as a way of testing Prescott’s composure. But if he weathers that storm and the run game is effective, Prescott has a good chance of posting a solid afternoon.
4. TE Jason Witten. I was in a 14-team, 15-round PPR league and this guy didn’t get drafted (yes I passed on him too, but I already had two tight ends). Prescott showed in the Seattle game he likes throwing to Witten and should be an effective third-down security blanket. You know Tony Romo has been whispering in Dak Prescott’s ear about this guy. If you don’t like your tight end options and he’s available, I’d snap him up before Sunday.
5. WR Brice Butler. I think he carries over his solid preseason into the regular season and starts the season with an effective game, perhaps 50 yards receiving. You likely have better options, but if you’re getting into flex leagues or leagues with larger starting lineups, he’s worth considering.
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