After letting league-leading rusher DeMarco Murray go in free agency, and not making a move for any replacement, or trading for a guy like Adrian Peterson, the Cowboys seem determined to go with their running back by committee.
In Saturday’s game against the Vikings, Joseph Randle started and had six carries for 15 yards. Darren McFadden took the second quarter and added four carries for 37 yards. While it may not be Murray, getting 10 for 52 out of the pair of them is a solid start.
“I thought they both did a good job,” quarterback Tony Romo said, via Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com. “I thought the looks were a little tougher for Joe early on with the way they played it, then we got to some runs we could attack them with and it opened up some holes. Darren obviously did good on those and made some explosive runs.
“But sometimes the dirty ones are some of the best ones too.”
So as much as it made sense that they might pursue more of a bell-cow back, Jones seemed content going with the duo into the regular season.
“I see how we can line up certainly this coming week but I see how we can line up against the Giants, yes, I do,” Jones said. “You say, ‘Well, couldn’t you see it before?’ Now, I saw the same things before. I expect [Randle] to give us and has the talent to make some of the plays we saw him make tonight. I certainly know [McFadden] can make them and [Lance] Dunbar can do the same. If they’re healthy, I’ll take their skill and what they can bring and go to the game against the Giants and won’t ask for any more.”
Going with that approach is going to put more pressure on Romo and their offensive line this year, but they seem comfortable with that for the time being, the story pointed out. Maybe more importantly, it's going to be a headache for fantasy owners. Add Lance Dunbar in the mix, especially in the passing game, and there's potential for a three-headed backfield. Randle is still our pick to have the most fantasy value out of the three.
Cole Beasley caught a career-high four touchdown passes last year and emerged down the stretch as a Tony Romo favorite. So far in training camp, Beasley has not been defended. His quickness in the slot makes him a matchup nightmare. Cornerbacks just can’t stay with him and he has built-in options that whatever the defender guesses will be wrong. In an offense with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, it will be hard to get a huge amount of opportunities, but with how camp is shaking out, Beasley looks like he should have a 50-55 catch season.
We currently project Beasley for 41-485-3 after he posted 37-420-4 last season. He averaged 3.7 catches over the final seven games (including the playoffs) which extrapolates to 59 catches over a full season, so the 50-55 projection is certainly possible. If he posts 53 catches at last year's YPC (11.35), he would gain 602 yards. Throw in five touchdowns and you have the makings of a fantasy WR5 in PPR formats. He'll be a waiver wire stopgap option that can get owners 8-10 points in a given week.
Tony Romo is expected to get his first action, albeit briefly, but this game will mean more for the running backs: Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. None played last week against the San Diego Chargers and all three will be available Sunday.
Nobody will run away with the job, but they can at least ease the fears some have about the position group with a positive showing, the story said. But, fantasy owners will hopefully be able to get a look into the future in terms of which one has the most value for their team. The odds-on favorite is Joseph Randle, of course, but all three are expected to have some role in the offense.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 6:00pm
During Monday's practice, yet another Dallas Cowboys running back missed practice when Joseph Randle sat out with an oblique injury. With Darren McFadden Lance Dunbar on the shelf, it was undrafted free agent back Gus Johnson who got the call over 2014 draft pick Lache Seastrunk. In his first real opportunity with the first team offense, Johnson shined.
Johnson looked good throughout practice, and he stood out specifically during the team's goal-line drills. At 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, Johnson has an ideal build for short-yardage situations. His build is also unique to the rest of the Cowboys' depth chart at running back.
"Gus did a good job yesterday. We had a short yardage and goal line," Tony Romo said on KTCK-AM 1310 via the Dallas Morning News. "It's hard because you don't have live so you don't have the chance to show your ability to break a tackle, maybe get through a gap with a thud, not being a thud, it's not a tackle. I just think he showed a little bit when we were live yesterday in some of the shortage. He's got a chance."
Johnson was the 2014 Southland Conference Player of the Year after rushing for 1,683 yards and 23 touchdowns on 256 carries. Over the course of his collegiate career, Johnson averaged 6.2 yards per carry and finished with 51 rushing touchdowns and 3,892 rushing yards. With all the injuries and not really a clear-cut RB1 on the team, it's not out of the question the team could ride an unknown who steps up in camp.
The relationships between quarterbacks and offensive coordinators have to be incredibly close.
They must see things the same way. They must be willing to listen to each other. They must trust each other.
“If there’s four criteria you want, he hits all four,” Romo said. “You want someone who obviously has the ability to come up with a good game plan for each week. You want someone who has experience, who has went against multiple looks, multiple coordinators and has a history with them. And then you want to have the interaction between the quarterback and the coordinator where you can have that. The last thing is just his ability to just ...”
Romo went into technical aspects of playing his position to describe the fourth criteria, and it came down to making necessary adjustments. The decisions Romo has to make on a play-to-play basis are nearly infinite. He wants quick answers to solve problems immediately.
When Jason Garrett called plays in 2011 and '12, they could not communicate as much in between series because Garrett had to worry about the entire team as the head coach. In 2013, when offensive line coach Bill Callahan called plays, the Cowboys were running an offense that was not his. Callahan came from the West Coast background, not Garrett’s timing-based offense favored by Norv Turner and Ernie Zampese in the 1990s. With some question marks in the running game, more may fall on Romo's shoulders this year. Romo is ranked 11th on our QB list but he's going a round or two quicker than those around him in our rankings, so fantasy owners are liking his upside.
Saturday, August 1, 2015, 7:03pm
Romo had a sty below his left eye treated after Thursday’s walk-through and did not take part in the afternoon practice. The sty had been troubling Romo for a little bit and the decision was made to treat it so it would not be an issue as camp progresses.
“I don’t want to get into specifics of what we did, but we don’t think it’s a major thing and we do anticipate him practicing today,” coach Jason Garrett said.
You’ve heard about the 30-30 club. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell could redefine it. 30-20.
Less than 30 sacks for Roethlisberger, more than 20 carries a game for Bell.
These are modest goals that can vault the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense from a high-yardage attack to possibly the league’s most potent one.
Last season felt like a breakthrough for Pittsburgh’s offense, not only because of its 6,577 total yards -- second in the NFL behind the Saints -- but for Roethlisberger’s best sack rate since 2005. His 33 sacks in 16 games symbolized progress for a quarterback who’s been sacked nearly twice as much as Tony Romo. Romo has 242 sacks in nine seasons as starter, and Roethlisberger has 419 sacks in 11 years.
Less hits will equal a longer career for the 33-year-old Roethlisberger. And though Todd Haley’s offense protects quarterbacks with a quick passing game, the Steelers’ running game can make that transition easy for Roethlisberger, the story added. It doesn't hurt that Bell has emerged into one of the better do-it-all backs in the league and the addition of DeAngelo Williams as a backup should help the run game. This news could make Bell a bit more attractive to fantasy owners, even with a looming suspension to start the season.
The coaches lauded the work of Terrance Williams in Bryant's absence during the offseason program. Williams became the de facto leader of the wide receiver room. He and QB Tony Romo were much more in-tune with each other.
"He's not only taken a tremendous leadership role in the group, really setting the example of how you do things, he's expanded his route inventory," wide receivers coach Derek Dooley said at the conclusion of last month's minicamp. "He's played X. He's played Z. He's played in the slot and every day he went out there and was the same player. Every route, every opportunity he had he took advantage of it. So he's made a big jump this offseason."
Devin Street worked with the starters with Bryant absent. He had just two catches as a rookie in 2014 but the coaches liked his development through the year. Getting the extra work with Romo in the spring will help his development this year. Coaches say players make the biggest jumps between their rookie and second seasons. While any work would have been good work for Street, having that work come with Romo is an added bonus.
While there's still time before the July 15 deadline, it doesn't hurt fantasy owners to at least think about life without Bryant on the fantasy radar and what it could mean for other players' value. The story went on to say WR Cole Beasley would continue to serve as the No. 3 receiver in the slot, so his role would essentially be the same, but it could change how much the Cowboys use three wide receiver formations. The article added that tight end Gavin Escobar could be used more in a receiver role, which would likely eat more into Street's snaps than Beasley's.
Cowboys beat writer Brandon George thinks Dallas will run the same kind of offense even with the loss of RB DeMarco Murray to free agency.
George: The Cowboys, I believe, will go about their offense the same way as last year with emphasizing the run game behind a dominant offensive line. At least early in the season. If the run game starts to struggle, you could see them start to shy away from it and put the ball int he hands of QB Tony Romo more again. And that hasn't always been positive. They need a strong rushing game again to make this offense click.
In another question, George went on to say he believes Joseph Randle is the team's RB1, but Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden will also have roles in the running game.
George added that things could change but he'd "put [his] money on Randle at this point." We agree with George and have Randle ranked the highest among the Dallas backs - coming in 24th with an ADP of the sixth round in 10 team leagues. If he can manage to keep the RB1 role, he could provide owners with some nice value from that draft slot.
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 4:39pm
Giants QB Eli Manning, 34, signed a six-year, $97 million deal with the Giants in 2009. It's been re-worked frequently to create salary-cap room but Manning's still on the same deal. It expires after the 2015 season.
Despite his age and despite his propensity for throwing picks (he's led the league three times, including 2013), Manning has two Super Bowl MVP awards and certainly qualifies as a top-end quarterback.
From a fantasy perspective, Manning had one of the best statistical seasons of his career in 2014, throwing for 4,410 yards with 30 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. That he did it in a new offensive scheme is only more impressive. It was a rough start for the Giants but the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr at WR certainly helped turn around the offense. WR Victor Cruz should be back healthy and the team signed Shane Vereen as a pass-catching running back. The point of the story is more times than not, QBs tend to get deals done with their current team, so there's a good chance Manning stays in New York - and he has the potential for a nice 2015. He's ranked ninth on our QB list heading into camps. With an ADP of the 12th round, he's a potential sneaky pick because guys behind him in our rankings - Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford - all project to come off the board before Manning.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 12:59pm
During organized team activities and minicamp, Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar has been one of Tony Romo’s favorite targets in third down situations. One of Dunbar’s best traits is his ability to take advantage of open space. Romo targeted DeMarco Murray 130 times over the last two seasons. A large chunk of those passes could be headed in Dunbar’s direction.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams has taken advantage of Dez Bryant’s absence in the Cowboys’ organized team activities. The Cowboys rave about the Williams’ off-season work, with coach Jason Garrett contending Williams has become the pacesetter for the offense “in so many ways.”
“Terrance has had one of the best off-seasons I’ve seen in a while,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “So I’m very excited about his approach, the way that he’s played up to this point in the off-season. He’s just improved, and I’m excited about that development.”
Williams has finished in the top 20 in fantasy points per target in each of his two seasons, but he doesn't see enough targets to be a reliable fantasy option. In fact, his targets dropped from 74 as a rookie to 66 in his sophomore season even though his snaps jumped 18.5% year over year. If the Cowboys move to a pass-heavy offense, then Williams should be fantasy relevant, though he's still competing with Jason Witten and Cole Beasley for Bryant's leftovers.
Thursday, February 19, 2015, 9:06pm
"The first time in a couple of years that he's been able to go through the offseason program, I think that will really help him," Garrett said. "He's worked very hard to come back from some injuries that he's had and handled himself really well once the season started to play as much football as he has coming of those injuries. But I think he's going to feel better having that foundation that everybody else gets by going through an offseason program."
Friday, January 9, 2015, 6:47pm
Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 19. Romo is going through his usual routine. He’ll be fine to face Green Bay this weekend.
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