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Tony Romo lost most of the 2015 season with another shoulder injury and at 36-years old, he is officially on the downslope of his career. However, he still has game left when healthy and there is no reason to expect him not to reach the strong passing numbers he put up from 2011 to 2014. His career numbers are pretty special with 247 passing touchdowns against only 117 interceptions and a career completion percentage of over 65%. The year off should leave him feeling both refreshed and driven and I expect a big season for him and the Cowboys passing attack in 2016.
Kellen Moore stepped in for a few games last year and did a decent job, completing 58.7% of his passes with 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He is not a legitimate starting quarterback at this level though.
Soon to be the backup and then possibly the starter when Tony Romo retires is rookie Dak Prescott of Mississippi State who is athletic, talented young quarterback with a live arm. He is a better runner than a passer at this point comparable to a Tim Tebow but unlike Tebow has enough arm skills to actually progress and become a legitimate NFL passer. He has a couple of years to learn from Tony Romo but he may surprise when he gets his chance.
The Cowboys picked up dynamic running back Ezekiel Elliot and he will immediately pay dividends for the club. He has the mix of size, speed, quickness and vision that only the top running backs have and he also comes into the NFL as a tenacious, capable pass protector. The only thing holding him back from a top fantasy performance is two veteran running backs already on roster in Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris but Elliot will get the majority of the touches sooner than later.
Darren McFadden was able to resurrect his NFL career last year behind an exceptional Cowboys offensive line, rushing for 1089 yards on 236 carries and adding 40 receptions. He only found the endzone three times though. He displayed some of the talent that made him a fantasy beast in 2010 but the pickup of veteran running back Alfred Morris and the 1st round pick of Ezekiel Elliot will cut into his numbers.
The Cowboys quietly made one of the biggest free agent splashes this offseason in my opinion with the acquisition of Alfred Morris. Morris shocked the NFL world with the Redskins in 2012 as a rookie rushing for over 1600 yards but his numbers have dropped in each of his four seasons. Last year he only managed 3.7 yards per carry and scored just one touchdown. However Morris, much like McFadden a year ago, may find himself again behind the best offensive line in football. He is a great one-cut back and he will fit the scheme in Dallas very well. I liked him to surprise in Dallas but the addition of Elliot will change things in Dallas.
UPDATE: June 28th / 2016 - Darren McFadden underwent elbow surgery and while expected to be back for the start of the season, the surgery has opened the door for Ezekiel Elliot to win the starting job prior to the start of the season.
Lucky Whitehead, Vince Mayle
Dez Bryant is a beast on the football field. He has great size, speed, strength and all the
receiving skills necessary to be an all-time great at the position. He had a poor season last year with the injury to Tony Romo and he himself missed 7 games. By all accounts his foot injury is recovering nicely. I would simply forget the poor stats a season ago and project him back up to his 2012-2014 statistics. He will rebound to finish as a top-five fantasy performer once again this season.
Terrance Williams, a 3rd round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft from Baylor has emerged as a wonderful option across from Dez Bryant. He has great size at 6'2 and 208 pounds and has developed nice chemistry with Tony Romo. He also suffered once Romo went down with injury but he still caught 52 passes for 840 yards. He has the talent to make defenses pay if they roll coverage over to Bryant. Expect similar stats to last season with a few more touchdowns.
Beasley is an undersized (only 5'7) fan favorite who has carved out a role within the Dallas offensive scheme.
He is very quick and dependable on underneath pass routes and he is similar to Wes Welker in that nickel cornerbacks struggle to contain him in those routes. He is a great 3rd down option in the passing game and finished with 50+ receptions and 5 scores last year. His fantasy value is limited though with a healthy Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams ahead of him.
Witten has been playing at a high level for so long than he seems older than his 34 years. He has 1020 career receptions and has cemented himself as one of the best tight ends to have ever played this game. He may have lost a step but his intelligence and chemistry with Tony Romo offset it. He has at least 64 receptions in every season since 2004 so mark that down as his low end possibility with 80 receptions being an upside. He is consistently a top twelve fantasy performer.
Gavin Escobar is buried behind a future Hall of Famer in Jason Witten but this former 2nd-round pick has lots of upside if he gets a chance to start at tight end. He is big, fast and talented enough to be a top-ten fantasy weapon himself if he gets that opportunity. Limited fantasy value as long as Witten is able to play.
Projected Starters: LT Tyron Smith, LG La’el Collins, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT Doug Free
Key Backups: Ronald Leary, Joe Looney
Not only are the Cowboys one of the most talented offensive lines in football but they also have the advantage of all five starters from last season back ready to go this season. La’el Collins learned on the fly last season and could become a dominating lineman in his second season. Tyrone Smith is already a beast on the left side and the two together will open up huge holes for the running game. The right side is not quite so sexy but Zach Martin and Doug Free are no slouches as well and when you add all five starters up, this is the best offensive line in football and it could develop into one of the best offensive lines in history. Yes they are going to be that good in 2016.
Bailey is as automatic as they come. Perhaps the best kicker in the game today. He has only missed 15 of 159 NFL field goals.