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Sunday Divisional Round Preview: Cowboys at Packers

ice bowl

Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
Sunday January 11, 2015. 1:05 p.m. EST, FOX

This is by far the most hyped game of the weekend. It’s a bit surprising how much it has trumped Peyton Manning taking on Andrew Luck and the Colts, but I guess the Cowboys are very polarizing thanks to their lovely and always intelligent fan base (not including our brilliant editor who actually grew up in Texas). The Cowboys have had a storybook season. The storybook was aided by nightmarishly bad somewhat questionable officiating, but a storybook tale nonetheless. This week they head to Lambeau Field to take on the man who will most likely be named the league MVP at the end of this month. If the Cowboys have any chance of winning this one, they will need DeMarco Murray to have a monster game. It doesn’t seem feasible that a very average Cowboys’ defense will shut down Green Bay’s high-octane attack. But the Packers may be able to slow down Tony Romo, which is why Murray will be the key to their unlikely success. With all that being said, this game certainly isn’t a lock, but the Cowboys are significant underdogs.

Dallas Cowboys: What to look for

Quarterbacks
Romo is surprisingly somewhat cheap this week on DraftKings.com with a price tag of only $7,600. That’s sixth out of eight starters. It would not be surprising to see him be the most owned QB this week. The issue Romo may have is that the Packers’ strength on defense is pressuring the QB and forcing mistakes. They are awful against the run. So Dallas may lean heavily on Murray and limit Romo this week. While his downside always scares us, he does have a ton of value this week. Unfortunately, for Romo’s fantasy owners, this game probably won’t be a blowout by Green Bay. They should be able to stick with their game plan for at least most of the game and avoid must pass situations.

Running Backs
The Packers await the league’s top rusher while toting the league’s 23rd ranked rush defense. He’s the most expensive RB this week at $8,400, and it’s always risky paying for the most expensive player at a position. But Murray is well worth it if you can afford to budget him in. He was my personal runner up for fantasy MVP this season and there is little reason to believe that he won’t continue his superior play this week. There may be a few RBs with better value this week, but none are better fantasy options when all things are even. So play him if you can.

Wide Receivers
Dallas actually has a few options here. Obviously Dez Bryant is an elite level WR and is priced as such. If you’re grabbing an elite WR you can’t go wrong with Bryant, but the same can be said for most all elite fantasy wideouts. If you feel he’s the best WR this week, play him. It’s as simple as that. When things get interesting is when you get down to the bargain bin and find Terrance Williams ($4,100) and Cole Beasley ($3,900). Williams was a TD or bust guy for most of the season but has actually played very well the past three weeks. He still doesn’t have a ton of PPR value, however he’s putting up decent yardage and finding the end zone. Beasley on the other hand is a guy that has PPR value. He lacks big play ability though. Odds are he will catch more passes than Williams, so his floor is a bit higher. Williams ceiling is way higher. If you want to grab one of these guys get Williams. Play the hot hand and swing for the fences. Beasley isn’t anything special.

Tight Ends
The writing is clearly on the wall for future Cowboys’ Ring of Honor member Jason Witten. He is nearing the end and this could even be his last hoorah. With that said, he does still have something left in the tank for this playoff run. He has a fair but not great price tag this week at $4,800. You could take him or leave him this week. There are better players at a higher price and better value at lower prices. Go with your gut here. He is priced fairly and his performance could really go either way. We’ve seen him play great at times and terrible at times this season. Don’t expect him to flop, however, odds are he won’t put up monster numbers either. If you want him, plug him in. If not, that’s fine too.

Green Bay Packers: What to look for

Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers is by far the best QB in the league right now. What else is there to say? He was historically great at home this season throwing 25 TDs and no INTs. There is also little doubt that he will be this season’s MVP. This week he plays a mediocre defense at Lambeau. He costs $8,900 but of course he’s worth it. If you want to go with a value pick at QB and grab someone cheaper that is completely understandable. Nonetheless, if you want to grab Rodgers, that makes a whole lot of sense as well.

Running Backs
The once two-headed monster of Eddie Lacy and James Starks has turned in to “The Eddie Lacy Show” and with good reason. Lacy has a punishing style rivaled only by BeastMode in Seattle. His combination of size and speed is unbelievable. As long as he can stay healthy, he can be as good as almost any RB in the NFL. This week his price tag is $7,200, which is the lowest of the elite. Lacy has great value this week and could be in for a monster game. It wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a lot of carries on the frozen tundra and with Rolando McClain in the league’s concussion protocol, the Cowboys may really struggle to slow down Lacy. Do not be shocked if he outperformers his counterpart Murray on the other sideline.

Wide Receivers
Jordy Nelson and Randal Cobb are great. Both are elite and they’re good enough that you can start both and win. That’s of course if you can afford both. Cobb comes $1,000 cheaper so he may have slightly better value all things considered. They also have Davante Adams at only $3,100. He is of course a very risky play but with Rodgers at the helm and the top WRs drawing a ton of attention, Adams has the upside, maybe the most upside of any of the desperation receivers in that price range. We would never say start Adams. All we are saying is if that’s all you can fit in your budget, you could do worse.

Tight Ends
The highest priced Packers TE is Andrew Quarless at only $3,000. That should tell you all you need to know about the Packers TEs. Unless you need a very cheap desperation play, it’s best to avoid all the Packers’ TEs. If you play one it’s pretty much just a cross your fingers and hope situation.

Predictions

Final Score
Dallas: 27
Green Bay: 38

Best Play
Cowboys: Demarco Murray
Packers: Eddie Lacy

Sleeper
Terrance Williams

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