2013 Team Outlook: Dallas Cowboys
WR Dez Bryant, DAL - Stud (low risk)
In his third season, Dez finally produced the kind of starry campaign the fantasy world has been waiting for: 92 receptions, 1,382 yards, 12 touchdowns. Guess what? Everyone is expecting a similar season in 2013, if not a little better. Guess what? Outside of injury (or a return to his off-field shenanigans), that's a reasonable expectation. Bryant is a top-5 WR in all formats except those that downgrade for excitement.
WR Miles Austin, CLE - Quality Backup
Update (10-4): Here we go again. Miles Austin did not practice again on Friday, his third consecutive missed practice. In his absence, the Cowboys are expected to start Terrance Williams out of Baylor. Last week, the rookie caught seven passes for 71 yards. In what should be a shootout against the Broncos, WIlliams has WR3 appeal. As for Austin, hang on for now and fight through the frustration.
Update (9-23): FFToolbox news on Austin, of the injury kind. - Stop me if you've heard this before: Miles Austin has a hamstring injury. OK, I won't stop there, but yes, Austin injured his hamstring during yesterday's win against St. Louis. Head coach Jason Garrett said Monday that he doesn't think Austin has a "severe hamstring injury, but we'll take his injury day to day and see how he progresses as the week goes on." Austin has suffered three hamstring injuries in the past couple of years, and missed six games in 2011 due to separate hamstring injuries.
Anyone that hears the name Miles Austin and still thinks fantasy darling, it is time to change your outlook (though that doesn't mean the 29-year-old's days as a viable option are over). It has been four seasons since Austin's breakout campaign and three since he posted 1,000 yards in a season, though he almost made it there last year with 943 yards on 66 receptions. Of course, constant hamstring woes limited his availability, though he played in at least portions of all 16 games last season. Dallas used him frequently in the slot and that should continue, though his productivity from that spot was marginal at best. Don't let the name brand fool you, but at the same point, monitor Austin's health this summer. If he's running with ease, he could make for a nice value if selected in the 35-40 range.
WR Terrance Williams, DAL - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update (10-5): Miles Austin did not practice again on Friday, his third consecutive missed practice. That means a likely second straight start for Terrance Williams, who last week caught seven passes for 71 yards. In what should be a shootout against the Broncos, the rookie has WR3 and Flex appeal, especially in PPR formats.
Ideally a third round selection comes and contributes immediately, even if sparingly. Based on his productivity during his senior season at Baylor - 97 receptions, 1,832 yards, 12 touchdowns - one might think Williams can do just that. Well, maybe not, or at least one can infer that seeing as his position coach in June said Williams "still has a long way to go." The 6-foot-2 target will battle Dwayne Harris for the WR3 job out of camp, but more opportunity could come if Miles Austin's hamstring injury flares up. A flyer today, Williams could become a main cog in two years once Austin moves on.
WR Dwayne Harris, DAL - Deep-league Only
Other than the brief Laurent Robinson era, the Cowboys have been sans a third wide receiver for a little while now. Tony Romo owners would certainly welcome a viable option, especially since Miles Austin's health is always dicey. For the long haul, rookie Terrance Williams could be that player, but for this season Harris is the one to watch. Only caught 17 passes for 222 yards and one touchdown last season, but OTA buzz had Harris making great strides as a route-runner. Probably not worth a draft pick in leagues with 12 or fewer teams, but could pick up a bump in value with a strong training camp. In addition, that star on the helmet always helps create buzz.
TE Jason Witten, DAL - Stud (low risk)
This just in: the fantasy tight end position is not a deep one this year - and that assessment initially came when we all believed New England had two strong options. Now, hmmm. There is the one true stud in Jimmy Graham, but then lots of uncertainty even those options boasting considerable potential. There is no doubt what Witten provides; last season he hauled in a career-best 110 receptions for 1,039. He's missed just one game in 10 seasons. Then again, his 9.4 ypc was the lowest of his career and Witten had just three touchdowns. At 31, there is no question that father time will start winning the war soon, but for now Witten can dominate another battle or two. It is conceivable he could become a top-3 option by August, but he remains a strong TE1 regardless.
TE Gavin Escobar, DAL - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Wanting to get into the two tight end act (and perhaps because starter Jason Witten is closer to the end then the beginning of his career), the Cowboys selected the 6-foot-6 Escobar in the second round. Escobar hauled in 93 receptions for 13 touchdowns over his last two seasons at San Diego State. At this stage his game is about catching passes and little else. At this stage of his career, his value is greater in dynasty leagues than redraft because Witten isn't going away anytime soon. Even if the Cowboys indeed employ multiple TE sets, there probably won't be enough targets coming Escobar's way to justify drafting, but let's watch training camp for sure.