First, if you’re still playing fantasy football in Week 17 — unless you’re in a daily league or in a scoring-based league where you don’t play head-to-head — get your league to change its rules next season. Because this Sunday’s game with the Eagles is what fantasy nightmares are made of. The Cowboys are playing a meaningless game with the Eagles and, while they’re being somewhat coy about who will play and how much, common sense dictates that the usual starters probably won’t play the whole game. So if you have better options on teams that will logically play their starters the entire game, play them. But if you need some Cowboys, here are my best guesses below.
1. RB Darren McFadden. I think McFadden ends up play more than a half in this game, taking the usual third series rotation from Ezekiel Elliott and most, if not all, of the second-half carries. The matchup isn’t great — the Eagles are No. 12 in fantasy against running backs — but they have nothing to play for. The Eagles can’t even screw up the Cowboys’ first-round bye at this point. So if McFadden gets plenty of carries in this game he could be worth the start. The great thing is if you’re in a daily league you can probably get him cheap. I figure 8-10 points is possible. If he keeps returning kickoffs, there is some extra value there for you if he’s able to break one and score.
2. RB Ezekiel Elliott. I know — this seems ridiculous, right? But look at what Elliott did last week in limited duty — 12 carries, 80 yards, two touchdowns. That could be the amount of carries he gets on Sunday against Philadelphia. I don’t think he’ll hit those heights on Sunday, but he could sprinkle in 7-9 points. Of course, that’s sort of production is not why you’re starting him.
Again, I think Zeke starts, with McFadden getting the bulk of the second-work.
3. WR Cole Beasley. If you have questions about whether Dez Bryant will start or play deep in this game, you’re not alone. The Cowboys might be better served resting Bryant, as he’s missed three games with injuries. If that’s the case, or even if Bryant only plays a half, Beasley is the big beneficiary, and he produced well in those games where Bryant was out. The Eagles’ defense is now the No. 31 pass defense in fantasy, so they’ve fallen hard since their October meeting with Dallas. Beasley actually has the highest ceiling in this matchup, in my opinion.
4. WR Terrance Williams. Williams has caught 14 passes in his last three games. This is one of those games where he could break a couple of long ones and be a real value-based daily or waiver pickup. (T-Will missed Thursday's practice due to the death of his grandmother; here, he may get more looks when it's time to rest Dez Bryant.)
4. QB Dak Prescott. And here's the most notable one.
I think the Cowboys will play Prescott for a half and, given the Eagles’ poor ranking against wide receivers in fantasy football, that plays into Prescott’s hands. I think he could throw for two scores and 150 yards before he hits the bench. But then comes the storyline that goes beyond fantasy.
CowboysHQ.com is told by sources that during Wednesday's walkthrough, Tony Romo was essentially a non-participant, which is ... odd. Then on Thursday morning, coach Jason Garrett suggested that Romo and the third-stringer Mark Sanchez, split scout-team reps, which is ... odd. (But true, Fish reports.) And on Thursday afternoon, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan hinted that he thinks there is sense in Tony Romo getting a few snaps -- a slight break from the "Tony Romo Rainy-Day Plan.''
Did Linehan petition for Romo snaps? Did Romo himself do so? Did Romo talk to the GM? CowboysHQ.com is firm in its belief that in practice this week, going into Friday, Romo's snaps in practice made him THIRD-team ... but that doesn't mean three can't play ... and indeed ...
ESPN is now noting that all three QBs could play, and I think there is something to that. In fantasy terms, it won’t match that because I believe the Cowboys will keep the ball on the ground for most of the second half. But in terms of headline-grabbing? Romo's involvement in a three-headed QB Sunday -- because from what we're hearing, I think Romo wants in -- is a biggie.
Want to talk more Cowboys? Hit the CowboysHQ.com message boards or hit up Postins @PostinsPostcard or Mike Fisher @FishSports on Twitter.null