FANTASY FOOTBALL IMPACT: Cowboys, concussions and compression fractures

Ex-Lion Cliff Avril showed us all we’re all really just one hit away from having our preseason fantasy football rosters in shambles.

Welcome to a weekly fantasy column of overreaction and fearless forecasting. Let’s start with the biggest news: Tony Romo.

Sure, the compression fracture in his back shook up the Cowboys but fantasy rosters are also feeling the pain. Romo is expected back by midseason, but that’s pretty nebulous considering the reports have him at 6 to 10 weeks coupled with the fact of his back problem history. The Cowboys bye is week 10, meaning he would return in time for a fantasy postseason push.

The reality for fantasy owners is this – Ezekiel Elliot’s sky-high stock just went up a little more, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten’s has fallen.

Winner: Elliott.

The rookie running back’s expected workload will increase – and with the league’s best offensive line in front of him, that’s a good thing. Elliott is still a first round pick and should be first or second running back off the board. Granted, a rookie starting QB and RB usually screams expansion team, but in this case, don’t worry.  Last year when the season pretty much went up in flames for the Cowboys, they still ranked ninth in rushing led by the corpse of Darren McFadden who should have been wearing a recycled logo on his jersey and after Joseph Randle went AWOL among other issues. Be sure to grab the Alfred Morris handcuff while you’re at it, just as a protection.

Rookie Dak Prescott is a great dynasty league pick and might make a nice last round lottery ticket, but don’t expect much consistency. Likely the passing game playbook gets cut in half and the offense gets more conservative with more rushes.

Consider this, of the other two RBs at the top of the draft board the Rams even with Todd Gurley, ranked 32nd in yards on offense last year and the Adrian Peterson-led Vikings have averaged about 200 passing yards a game the past two seasons. Neither has the quality of wide outs that Dallas has, allowing for play action passes to take some of the defensive attention. Also by the time division opponents see Elliott for the second time around, Romo *should* be back to help carry the offensive load.

Losers: Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, et. all

Start with Dez, who after suffering a concussion last week, made me believe he was no longer a borderline first round pick. Now his second round grade is in jeopardy and all things being equal, likely a end of the second round, top of third rounder IMO.

Prescott has played great in the preseason but the learning curve is going to hit him. That said, he makes a nice last pick of the draft lottery ticket, and I think his mobility and arm make for a good fit. But the fact is Bryant will suffer with him in, as will Terrance Williams and Jason Witten.  I personally love Bryant, but not crazy about the concussion or the new Dallas passing game. If you’ve already grabbed him in one of your drafts, be prepared for some wild spikes in productivity.

The Le’Veon conundrum

It boggles the mind to see Pittsbugh RB Le’Veon Bell going in the first round of most drafts. Bell is amazing and plays on a great offense – but … do you really want to make such a big investment in a player who won’t play four times this year?

He’ll be suspended for three games and has a bye on Week 8. For about a third of the fantasy regular season, owners will have a plug-in starting for Bell who also is coming off a knee injury that, lest anyone forget, shelved him for 10 games last season. DeAngelo Williams showed he was arguably the top No 2 tailback for any team last year by stepping up in Bell’s stead. But he isn’t Le’Veon, and four times last year was held to under 70 yard rushing yards when he was starting.

Those who draft Bell will have to commit to the fact they will be drafting Williams sooner than he should go – maybe as soon as the tail end of the middle rounds -  just to avoid being sniped by another owner. In essence, this ties up two roster spots for one starting running back. In the first or second round, my advice is look elsewhere. I love the productivity and potential, but let someone else take the risk. If Bell falls to the third round, he looks a lot more appealing.

But Brady …

Yes, do it, take him. Although Tom Brady will be suspended for the start of the season and also later have a bye to deal with, his ADP is considerably lower meaning a less risky investment. Plus finding another QB to start the season with won’t be hard. For instance, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco (who I think is better in reality than fantasy) can be had in the uber-late rounds and opens the season at home against Buffalo, at Cleveland, at Jacksonville, and home vs. Oakland for Week 4. ESPN’s live a draft average draft position has Brady going in round 7 while Flacco is going in the 17th round. Yes. Please.

Don’t like Flacco? Raiders QB Derek Carr (at the Saints, Atlanta home, at Titans, at Ravens) would make a nice plug-in and his average draft position is in the 11th round.

About the Author:

David Komer is a web producer/multimedia journalist for FOX 2. He is a former fantasy sports columnist for SportsIllustrated.com where he wrote for three years and he has won more than 20 Michigan Press Association awards in news and sports coverage in his career.

 

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