Fantasy owners can still count on the Cowboys

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - At 2-7, the Dallas Cowboys don't seem primed to be playing postseason football this January, but given that fantasy playoffs typically take place between Weeks 14-17 that should matter little to gamers everywhere.

Though America's team has been letting down fans across the nation all season long, fantasy owners were reminded this past weekend that wins and losses on the football field matter little to the statsheet. Dallas racked up 33 points and 427 yards of offense in a victory over the Giants and still features several solid contributors across the board.

The biggest burst has come from wide receiver Dez Bryant, who has five touchdowns in his last five games and the rookie wideout is coming off his first 100-yard receiving game. Bryant also had a touchdown called back versus the Giants and is emerging as the Cowboys' top receiving threat. Given this Sunday's meeting with the Lions, as well as future games against the Colts, Eagles, Redskins and Cardinals, Bryant is moving into must-start territory.

While Bryant is arguably the Danny Pudi of the Cowboys "community," he isn't the lone talent on the roster. Quarterback Jon Kitna has seven touchdown passes and a pair of 300-yard passing games in his last four appearances, wide receiver Miles Austin showed against New York with a big 44-yard catch and 24- yard TD grab he is still a big-time threat and underused running back Felix Jones is always one play away from making an impact.

Jones, in fact, is the biggest x-factor. He is still averaging under 13 touches per game, but his 71-yard touchdown catch versus the Giants had to open new head coach Jason Garrett's eyes. Keep an eye on him and he could be a big fantasy contributor come playoff time if his chances to make plays goes up.

Dallas' upcoming schedule is also key to the equation. Detroit's defense always has fantasy owners salivating at the mouth and after a tough matchup in Week 12 versus the Saints, the rest of the slate features great matchups.

In order: the banged-up Colts rank 18th in total defense and 29th versus the run; the Eagles allow 23.2 points per game and always seem to allow a number of big plays; the Redskins rank dead last in total defense and 31st against the pass and the Cardinals allow 29 points and 401.8 points per game.


Here are three players I'm loving for Week 11.

Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets - Holmes has taken advantage of two decent matchups the last two weeks (at Detroit and Cleveland) to post 10 receptions, 190 yards and a touchdown, his first of the season. The Jets need to keep running back LaDanian Tomlinson fresh and one way to do that is to throw this weekend against Houston and its 32nd-ranked pass defense.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs - Falling behind big and early to the Broncos forced the Chiefs to throw a lot, but Charles still got his points. Limited to just 41 rushing yards on 14 carries, the back racked up 80 yards on five receptions and caught a five-yard TD. Arizona's defense ranks 32nd in points allowed and gives up 132.4 rushing yards per game.

Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals - Palmer has gotten a little turnover happy over the past few weeks (five interceptions in three games) but the Bills rank 26th in total defense and we all know Palmer has the weapons to rack up points. Yes, Buffalo owns the league's worst run defense, but Terrell Owens will of course want to have a big game against a former club and Palmer is the one that gets him the ball.


Be wary of these three players for Week 11.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears - Though I once was the conductor, count me off the Forte "train." Yes, he faced a tough defense last week in the Vikings, but after already losing goal-line touches to Chester Taylor, Forte saw Taylor take away 11 rushes in last week's game. Forte is starting to become a risk not worth taking this Thursday versus the Dolphins.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders - Yes, you have to start him given that he has been a top fantasy producer this year, but a matchup with the mighty Steelers will leave many nervous. McFadden is coming off the bye and should be fresh, but I can still see Pittsburgh sending him to the sidelines a few times after some big hits given his injury history. You are not sitting Oakland's top back, but don't expect too much either.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Denver Broncos - Gaffney has been a solid compliment and No.2 receiver for Kyle Orton and figures to get chances in the field with defenses targeting Brandon Lloyd. However, expect his middle-of-the-road numbers to take a hit this Monday against a tough Chargers defense.


Here is my top sleeper pick for Week 11.

Troy Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers - Named San Francisco's starter for this weekend's game against Tampa Bay, Smith can make plays with his feet and threw for 356 yards versus the Rams this past weekend. He has plenty of options in Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore and the Buccaneers will give up points. Smith is a sleeper though because of Gore and the Bucs' 31st-ranked run defense.

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