Dallas Cowboys: Logan Paulsen

Fantasy fix: Start your Cowboys

November, 30, 2012
Because we all spend way too much time each week working on our fantasy teams anyway, here at the NFC East blog we like to take one post a week and focus it entirely on fantasy football. This is that post. It shows where our division's key players fall in this week's rankings by ESPN.com's fantasy football experts. Click on the position to see the full rankings for that position.


T5. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants (Mon.)

9. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

10. Eli Manning, Giants at Washington (Mon.)

I honestly think Romo's too low. The past two quarterbacks to play the Eagles have won NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards. Romo himself was 19-for-26 for 209 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles three weeks ago, but Philadelphia's pass defense has reached new depths since then. They're literally not covering anyone. On the flip side, neither Nick Foles nor Michael Vick is in this week's top 25. Vick looks to be out again with a concussion, and Foles isn't doing anything in his stead.


9. Alfred Morris, Redskins vs. Giants (Mon.)

13. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants at Washington (Mon.)

14. Bryce Brown, Eagles at Dallas

T27. Felix Jones, Cowboys vs. Eagles

41. David Wilson, Giants at Washington (Mon.)

43. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys vs. Eagles

I picked up Wilson in a league in which I've already secured a playoff spot, but I didn't do it because I expect him to assume Andre Brown's touchdown-maker role. I did it because of the reasonable chance he's the Giants' starting running back in at least one of the next four games. If you're desperate, you could use him this week on the off chance he breaks a big one, but Bradshaw's likely to get those goal-line carries Brown was getting, as long as he stays healthy. Speaking of healthy, it appears Murray might play Sunday night, but that situation is murky enough that I might stay away from it and just play the Cowboys passing-game guys this week against Philly. Especially since you might not know Murray's status until after all of the early games are over.


8. Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Eagles

T9. Victor Cruz, Giants at Washington (Mon.)

11. Hakeem Nicks, Giants at Washington (Mon.)

24. Pierre Garcon, Redskins vs. Giants (Mon.)

28. Miles Austin, Cowboys vs. Eagles

39. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles at Dallas

46. Santana Moss, Redskins vs. Giants (Mon.)

Nicks and Cruz are every-week musts, and the matchup against the Redskins' pass defense is enticing. But man, those Redskins have a way of giving the Giants' passing offense fits. Other than the one big play that won the Giants the Week 7 game, Manning hasn't thrown a touchdown pass against Washington over the past two seasons. Austin's low ranking is health-related, I have to assume. Ed Werder has been reporting this week that Austin will play, and if he does I would start him. Garcon as a low WR2/high WR3 in 12-team leagues seems about right, especially with 10 days' rest.


3. Jason Witten, Cowboys vs. Eagles

12. Martellus Bennett, Giants at Washington (Mon.)

22. Brent Celek, Eagles at Dallas

25. Logan Paulsen, Redskins vs. Giants (Mon.)

Starting to feel redundant, but yeah, Witten. If I'm trying to make the fantasy playoffs and I can start a guy who's going to be running pass routes against the Eagles, I'm going to start him.


1. Lawrence Tynes, Giants at Washington (Mon.)

9. Dan Bailey, Cowboys vs. Eagles

T17. Kai Forbath, Redskins vs. Giants (Mon.)

All of the division's kickers have been good, including unranked Alex Henery of Philadelphia. Tynes' team gives him the most chances, though.


9. Cowboys vs. Eagles

16. Giants at Washington (Mon.)

24. Redskins vs. Giants (Mon.)

T27. Eagles at Dallas

Yeah, Cowboys are the only NFC East defense I'd start this week. But I'd feel pretty good about doing it.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Redskins review

November, 22, 2011

Scout's Eye
When getting ready for this game, there was no doubt in my mind that the Washington Redskins would give the Cowboys their best shot. Defensively, the Redskins were still playing hard despite being put in terrible position by their offense. The Redskins' offense was as bad as any as I've studied this season, and the majority of their struggles had to do with the quarterback play of Rex Grossman and John Beck.

I really felt the Cowboys defense would be able to take advantage of how poorly Grossman had played since being put back into the lineup after Beck proved he couldn't handle the job. But when you struggle to get consistent pressure and you struggle with communication problems, even poorly playing quarterbacks can enjoy success.

Redskins' receivers had too much room to operate

For the previous two weeks, the Cowboys secondary had been outstanding. Against the Redskins, however, there were too many plays where receivers had room to operate. It all really started to fall apart when Orlando Scandrick was flagged for holding after he was beaten off the line because he wasn't in good position and had to grab his man. There was another time where the Redskins spread the Cowboys' defense across the field, forcing Terence Newman to play between two receivers on the outside because Gerald Sensabaugh failed to get over in coverage and replace Abe Elam, who had blitzed. It resulted in an easy pitch and catch for Grossman.

Scandrick also failed to get his hands on David Anderson during an out-and-up route, which resulted in a nice gain for the Redskins. If Scandrick gets his hands on Anderson in the 5-yard zone, he has no shot at getting that ball.

The Redskins drove into the Cowboys' red zone, and Grossman was able to deliver a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Jabar Gaffney. On the play, Sensabaugh thought he had inside help from Frank Walker, who was lined up at the other safety. At the snap, Gaffney runs up, nods to the outside and then gets Sensabaugh to have to try and adjust to him. Sensabaugh got turned and was unable to get back inside, and Walker wound up jumping an across-the-middle route underneath when he should've been helping Sensabaugh with Gaffney.

Loose coverage proves costly for Newman

While Scandrick and Sensabaugh had their struggles, so did Newman. He didn’t play near as aggressively as he had against Buffalo or Seattle. Maybe it had something to do with the chopped-up condition of the field and he didn't have confidence in his footing. Nevertheless, he played way too cautious on routes.

There was only one time where he drove on a ball, and that was on a pass over the middle to Anderson. Newman read it well, avoiding Anderson and knocking the ball down. Newman's problems were a result of always being four to five yards off in coverage. On third-and-11, Newman allowed Gaffney to run up the field and turn inside with plenty of room to catch the ball. Newman was a good four yards off.

There was another time where Newman got bumped off coverage when covering Donte Stallworth and couldn't rally to make the play. In previous games, Newman had been played much more physical.

Hatcher, Ratliff stand out on defense

When teams were able to run the ball against the Cowboys, it was mainly because of the poor play of the defensive ends. When the defense had success stopping the run, it was because Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lissemore did a nice job of holding blocks at the point of attack.

If I had to give a game ball to one of these ends, I would hand it over to Jason Hatcher, who clearly outplayed former teammate and Redskins DE Stephen Bowen. Hatcher was able to get pressure several different ways. Ryan used him on twist stunts and over the guards in the nickel. Hatcher was always working his way up the field in the passing game, but he also did a nice job of stacking blockers at the point of attack.

Jay Ratliff keeps putting outstanding games together as well. He is one of those players that you really don't appreciate until you go into the lab and break his work down. Ratliff was strong at the point in the running game, overpowering center Will Montgomery several times, causing problems inside for the Redskins' zone running scheme. Ratliff was able to draw a holding call that brought back a nice gain on a pass play to tight end Logan Paulsen in the flat. In this game, the numbers were there for Ratliff, who has played well the last several weeks.

Where was Ware on game-tying drive?

Nobody appreciates the fine work of DeMarcus Ware and what he means to this team on a weekly basis more than I do. There is no questioning his talent and passion, but it's my job to point out flaws that I see during my film study. In this game, the defense allowed the Redskins to drive the ball down the field and score the game-tying touchdown. The 12-play drive -- for another weekend -- showed the Cowboys' defense couldn't close the game out, much like they couldn't against the Jets, Lions, and Patriots. On that final drive in regulation, the Redskins only doubled Ware once. On four of the plays, he was matched up against Jammal Brown. On the other eight, he went against young LT Trent Williams. The result for Ware: Not one sack or even a pressure.

Romo makes most of second-chances

Tony Romo won this game for the Cowboys, plain and simple, through his abilities to buy a second chance with his feet, think on the move and deliver a play when his team needed it the most.

There was no doubt in my mind that the Cowboys were going to have difficulties running the ball against the Redskins' defensive front. As well as DeMarco Murray had been carrying the ball, this was a game where the blocking was less than perfect and he had to fight for every yard.

Romo's reads and execution were spot on. Where he was at his best was his ability to feel the pressure and move to avoid it. Two examples were on touchdown passes to Laurent Robinson and Jason Witten.

Romo on the run: Example No. 1

Robinson did an outstanding job of getting in position to catch the ball. When the play started, it looked like Robinson was going to be brought in motion to create a bunch formation, but Romo did not bring him inside. At the snap, Robinson had to work up to the goal line and then sprint across to get Romo's attention. On the other side, Dez Bryant was jammed at the line.

With the pocket closing around him, Romo moved to his left to buy more time, and Bryant was trying to work himself free in the corner of the end zone. At the same time, Robinson is in the clear but is quickly closing ground to the Redskins corner on the other side of the field.

Romo, moving to his left, pointed to the left corner of the end zone to try and freeze the defender to that side. Bryant tried to work back that way, but Romo really was trying to create space for Robinson along the goal line.

At the moment of truth, Romo, instead of leading Robinson with the ball into the defender, throws the ball behind Robinson so he can brace for the catch. Robinson is able to adjust, make the catch and secure the touchdown.

Romo on the run: Example No. 2

On the TD pass to Witten, it was really a heady play by two veteran players.

Once again, Romo has to deal with pressure, but he's able to spin to his left to avoid the rush. Witten, on the right side of the formation, runs a curl at about 12 yards. When he turns, Witten sees Romo spinning out of the pocket, so he starts across the field to mirror the direction that his quarterback is turning.

Romo doesn't see Witten at first, but Witten makes himself available up and across the field. The Redskins had no safety help in the middle of the field where Witten attacked. Moving to his left and with pressure in his face, Romo delivered a strike to Witten, who was able to finish the play by getting to the end zone.

Less is more for DeMarco Murray

I knew it wasn't going to be easy for Murray, but the way he carried the ball was more impressive than his 250-yard effort vs. the Rams. On fourth-and-1 in the third quarter, with the Cowboys trailing 17-10, Jason Garrett decides to go for it.

On the field, Garrett has three tight ends, one wide receiver and Murray in the backfield. John Phillips is lined up as a wing to the left and comes in motion across the formation. Martellus Bennett is lined up on the line right, with Witten slightly off the line to his right. WR Robinson is wide left.

At the snap, the Redskins defense pinches down inside on both sides in an effort to clog the middle. Montrae Holland pulls from his left guard to the right. On the front side, Witten, Bennett, Tyron Smith and Kyle Kosier all block down inside to cave the edge.

Holland managed to get around the corner with Phillips out on the support. Holland pulled to block London Fletcher, but missed. Murray is now heading for the edge as Phillips loses contact with DeAngelo Hall, who is able to grab Murray in space. Murray, however, is much too strong for the cornerback and is able to finish the run by carrying Hall an extra four yards for the first down. The drive later was capped with the game-tying touchdown pass to Robinson.