Minnesota Vikings

It must not be easy for Dallas Cowboys fans to sit down and comfortably watch their team every week. After a devastating loss to the Detroit Lions last week, the Cowboys managed to make it interesting again in week nine on Sunday against a much weaker opponent — the Minnesota Vikings. 

One moment, Cowboys fans were probably cringing, watching Vikings running back Adrian Peterson bulldoze his way — carrying four Cowboys defenders — into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown run, giving the Vikings a slight 23-20 lead with 5:41 remaining in the game.

The next moment, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo throws an interception.

Just as Cowboys fans are getting ready to throw their remotes at their television sets, Romo tossed what would be the game-winning 7-yard pass to wide receiver Dwayne Harris with just 35 seconds left, capping a 90-yard drive.

At last, Cowboys fans could go on with their Sunday, relax and enjoy a 27-23 victory over the Vikings. 

Romo finished with 337 yards through the air, two touchdowns and one interception that could have caused him a lot of criticism this week. Jason Witten had eight catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. 

For the Vikings, Peterson ran for 140 yards and a touchdown. What’s new?

Meanwhile, the running game was nonexistent for the Cowboys as the team rushed for 36 yards on nine carries with no touchdowns. 

Cowboys starting running back DeMarco Murray returned for the first time since being injured in week six and was expected to bring some sort of attack, especially against a 29th-ranked defense. This was not the case. Lance Dunbar got most second-half carries.

I could get into the fact that the Cowboys are undefeated when Murray is given 20 or more carries, but I won’t because the Cowboys won Sunday despite the lack of a running game.

It’s difficult to figure out what the Cowboys want to do on offense week-in and week-out,=. 

The reality is that the Cowboys do not seem to have a running game, and they seem to want to ride Romo and put the ball in his hands. 

The Cowboys weren’t sharp Sunday, but they got the job done, and a win is a win. The NFC East still belongs to the Cowboys as they improve to 5-4. 

Dallas will travel to New Orleans next week to take on the Saints, who are coming off a road loss to the New York Jets. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has had this game circled, highlighted and put in bold letters since the team hired him after being fired as the Cowboys defensive coordinator in January. 

Ryan will have many different packages and plans lined up for the Cowboys, so Romo and the offense need to bring their A-game if they want to stand a chance. Not to mention, the Saints are playing at home in that loud dome where quarterback Drew Brees and the offense thrive. 

The Cowboys have only won one of the last eight games against the Saints. 

The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday Night Football on NBC.

With fantasy contenders beginning to emerge in many leagues, the emphasis now is on staying competitive and not falling behind in the standings. Whether the goal is to remain in first place or climb out of last, it only takes a few key lineup modifications:

Players to start:

1) LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are an anomaly for a number of reasons, one of them being their inability to consistently get the ball to the explosive McCoy. However, with Michael Vick struggling to hold onto the football and the Eagles facing a Lions defense that has allowed over 100 rush yards per game this season, “Shady” McCoy should have a solid week. Expect him to get plenty of touches and reach the end zone.

2) Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
After looking practically invisible the first two weeks of the season, Fitzgerald has emerged as the fantasy stud people thought he would be, averaging just under 90 receiving yards over the past three games. With a weak Buffalo Bills defense coming up Sunday, Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb will be looking in Fitzgerald’s direction any chance he gets.

3) Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
While everyone has been talking about another Redskins rookie, Morris has quietly put together a very solid season. Morris has been the model of consistency, topping 89 yards rushing in all but one game this year, including back-to-back 100-yard games the past two weeks. Whether quarterback Robert Griffin III plays or not Sunday against the Vikings, look for the Redskins’ offense to lean on Morris.

Players to sit:

1) Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans
After a big game against the Detroit Lions three weeks ago, Washington has been held in check and out of the end zone by opposing defenses. Much of this can be attributed to the absence of starting quarterback Jake Locker, who injured his shoulder against Houston in Week 4. With Matt Hasselbeck under center for the Titans and the Steelers defense coming to town, Washington cannot be considered a reliable fantasy threat.

2) Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
After his debacle against the Bears on Monday Night Football a couple of weeks ago, can we really trust Romo again? Yes, he has had dud games like that throughout his career and has been able to bounce back from them, but this year’s Cowboys are much less explosive offensively. With a weak offensive line to protect him from the Ravens’ tenacious defense, Romo will have to improvise early and often, which will lead to some mistakes.

3) Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Prior to last week, Ponder was playing mistake-free football for the Vikings. He faltered Sunday against the Dolphins, however, tossing his first two interceptions of the season. True, he is set to face a Redskins defense which has allowed big games to several quarterbacks this year. However, Washington looked better last week against the Falcons’ high-flying pass attack, and Ponder does not have the offensive weapons Matt Ryan had.

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: McCoy a slick pick in fantasy this week

Fantasy Frenzy: Vince Young poised for another big game

Plaxico Burress, center, eludes several Broncos in a recent game for the Jets. Burress found the end zone last week against Buffalo and could do the same Sunday against Washington.
Plaxico Burress, center, eludes several Broncos in a recent game for the Jets. Burress found the end zone last week against Buffalo and could do the same Sunday against Washington.

Week 13 of the fantasy season is upon us, and it is getting down to crunch time in the playoff races. Here are a few tips for who to start and who to sit this weekend.

Start:
1. Vince Young, Philadelphia Eagles — With Mike Vick injured, Young got his second start of the season last week and played well in a loss to the Patriots, passing for 400 yards and a touchdown — good for 22 points in standard ESPN leagues. Vick is out once again this Thursday, so the Longhorn legend will once again be under center. Expect him to put up top-10 numbers this week against a Seattle defense ranked 20th against the pass.

2. Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings — Adrian Peterson is a fixture in every fantasy lineup, but unfortunately for his owners, he has been hampered by an ankle sprain of late. This injury gives the opportunity for others to step up though, and former Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart would like to fill that role. Gerhart got his first opportunity last week against Atlanta, and while he didn’t perform well, with only 44 yards on 17 carries, he still managed to have 11 fantasy points, thanks to a touchdown. The Vikings take on Denver this week, and Gerhart is well worth a start in your lineup, as it will be a grind-it-out game with the Broncos, who allow 120 yards on the ground per contest.

3. Plaxico Burress, New York Jets — Burress has quietly put up an impressive season in his first year back in the league after serving a two-year prison sentence. He has 34 receptions, 479 yards, and seven touchdowns thus far, with many of those catches coming in the red zone. His 6-foot-5 frame makes him a load to contain down there, and the Jets target him often. Expect more of the same this weekend against a Redskins team that loads up to stop the run.

Sit:

1. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings — While his teammate Gerhart is a smart play this Sunday, owners should stay away from the rookie quarterback at all costs. Ponder has been off and on all season, with a 54-percent completion percentage and an equal number of touchdowns and interceptions (6). This week Ponder faces Denver, who has had one of the hottest pass defenses in the league the last three weeks, allowing only two touchdowns in that span while causing three turnovers and scoring one touchdown.

2. Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants — The Giants’ season is essentially on the line this week as they face a date with the undefeated Packers after getting shredded by New Orleans on Monday Night Football. The combo of Jacobs and Bradshaw might not get too many carries, as New York might have to throw a lot to keep up with Green Bay’s high-octane attack.

Printed on Thursday, December 1, 2011 as: Young poised for big game against Seahawks

Fantasy Frenzy: Week 10

Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans

Week 10 of the fantasy season is upon us, so here are the players you should start and those you should sit.

Start:

1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans — It’s hard to believe that anyone would ever consider sitting Johnson after his fantasy performances his first three years in the league, but 2011 has been terrible for him. Johnson has been the biggest bust of the year for fantasy owners, averaging only three yards per carry. However, last week he showed signs of his past form against Cincinnati, rushing for 64 yards, which included a 20 yard run. This week he takes on the 26th-ranked rushing defense the Carolina Panthers. He is a must start.

2. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings — Harvin has been riddled with injuries much of the year. Combine that with a rookie quarterback throwing him the ball, and he has been an ineffective player all season. But this week, the Vikings go against the high-powered Packers. Expect the Vikings to fall behind quickly and throw the ball to catch up, making Harvin an intelligent play this week.

3. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos — He certainly doesn’t look pretty throwing the ball, but he is effective as a fantasy player, averaging 19 points a game. While the majority of his points come from his running ability, as an owner, they’re points either way. Tebow is a must start in any league.

Sit:

1. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals — He has been scorching as a quarterback early on in his career, leading the usually terrible Bengals to a 6-2 start. But this week he will face his biggest test so far, in the form of Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Unfortunately for his owners, it’s hard to expect him to fare well against that particular defense the first time he faces them — sit Dalton this week.

2. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders — The early season rushing leader has been out with a foot injury the last few weeks, and he was expected to be back tonight to face the San Diego Chargers. However, he has yet to even test out his foot and is highly doubtful to play. Sit McFadden tonight before the game, and if you can, play his backup Michael Bush.