Shark Bites

Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens has been out since Aug. 15 with a bruised foot, and the Dallas Morning News reports that he won't get back onto the field until the end of the preseason. Hitchens had been in a walking boot but got out this week and still appears to be on track to start in the middle for the Cowboys. He's an OK shot to take as an IDP reserve but not a player to get excited about at this point.

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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (hamstring) returned to practice on Thursday.  He ended up missing about 2 weeks.  Bryant looked "fantastic" in his return, according to insider Bryan Broaddus.  The hammy isn't a concern.  Bryant remains an elite WR1 worth considering in the back half of Round 1.

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Cowboys RB Darren McFadden got the start in Sunday's preseason game against the 49ers.  He didn't do much with the opportunity, turning 3 carries into 4 yards.  He also caught 1 ball for 3 yards.  RB Joseph Randle entered on Dallas' 3rd possession and finished the night with 7 carries for 30 yards.  This backfield remains wide-open heading into the all-important 3rd preseason game.  Randle's ADP is still sitting in the 5th round, while McFadden is going in the 12th.

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Cowboys RB Joseph Randle exited practice on Thursday with an oblique issue.  “Same thing I had earlier. It just flared up on me again,” he said afterward. “We’ll get it right. We’ve been working real hard. We’ll get it right.”  Randle missed time last week, including the preseason opener, with this oblique problem.  RB Darren McFadden, meanwhile, has returned from his hamstring issues and received lots of 1st-team work.  It's unclear if either guy will play in Dallas' 2nd preseason game this weekend, but this backfield remains unsettled.

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Cowboys RB Darren McFadden got 1st-team reps in Tuesday's joint practice against the Rams.  He scored 2 TDs and received unanimously positive reviews from the Dallas media in attendance.  It's a reminder that McFadden is still  in the mix for the starting job.  We'll see if he can stay healthy long enough to make a run at it.

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Cowboys RB Darren McFadden (hamstring) has been activated from the PUP list and will resume practicing.  He missed over 2 weeks of training camp and the 1st preseason game.  But RB Joseph Randle has also missed time with an injury of his own, so the starting job is still up for grabs.  We're just not betting on McFadden doing enough to win it.

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Cowboys RB Joseph Randle put in only limited work off to the side Tuesday after an oblique strain ended his Monday workout early, according to ESPN Dallas. Randle's questionable for the Thursday night preseason opener, but the issue doesn't look particularly worrisome. His absence would give more opportunities to undrafted free agent Gus Johnson, who posted big numbers and some impressive measurables out of Stephen F. Austin.

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Cowboys WR Dez Bryant has been sidelined since injuring his hamstring in Thursday's practice.  There's been no indication that it's a serious issue, but it's a situation worth tracking for the 1st-round fantasy pick.  For now, we're not moving Bryant in the WR rankings.

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Cowboys HC Jason Garrett said Saturday that veteran RB Darren McFadden is expected to finally take the field Aug. 15. That's next Saturday, a timeline that doesn't seem to match with team V.P. Stephen Jones' assertion that McFadden could practice now. Or perhaps the team is just being overly cautious. Either way, we're not betting on D-Mac charging back and taking over a top role in the Dallas backfield. Barring a surprising resurgence, he's not worth considering until the double-digit rounds of your fantasy football draft.

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Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones told the Dallas Morning News that RB Darren McFadden could be practicing right now but that the team is using extra caution. "We want to make sure that he's 110 percent," Jones said. "I think that's been a little bit of his problem in the past. He wants to be out here and then comes out here 90 percent and then it doesn't work out well. We want to make sure he's 110 percent. He could very easily be out here right now, but we decided to not do it that way." The "110 percent" concept is nonsense, of course, but it's mildly encouraging that McFadden's apparently near full health. At the same time, we can't help but wonder when the last time was that D-Mac actually hit 100 percent health -- and how long he managed to stay there. This still looks like a washed-up RB who might just steal carries from more able-bodied (and valuable) runners.

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Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar was out of the boot Thursday that he'd had on his sprained ankle, according to Rob Phillips of the team website. Dunbar said he "just rolled it a little bit" and that he's "day to day." Sounds like a minor issue that should resolve soon and not impact Dunbar's pursuit of more touches in 2015.

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Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar left Wednesday's practice after hurting his right ankle, but don't worry too much. According to ESPN Dallas, team V.P. Stephen Jones said the injury doesn't appear serious. “I think that was an awkward tackle or hit that was made on him and I think it just tweaked something,” Jones said. “But we don’t think it’s serious at this point.” Dunbar has reportedly started camp well as he faces a nice opportunity to help fill the void left by DeMarco Murray's departure.

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ESPN's Todd Archer believes the Cowboys would "optimally" give RB Joseph Randle 225 carries this season.  Archer has RB Darren McFadden penciled in for 150 carries and RB Lance Dunbar for 75.  That'd be 450 total carries after Dallas' top 3 RBs combined for 472 last year.  225 carries for Randle would have ranked 12th league-wide last year.  We always take beat-writer projections with a grain of salt, but the takeaway here is that Archer believes Randle will be the clear leader of a 3-man committee backfield.  That jibes with everything else we've been hearing lately.  Randle continues to climb our RB Rankings.

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Here's the least surprising news you'll hear all day: Cowboys RB Darren McFadden will open training camp on the PUP list with a hamstring injury.  He missed time early this offseason with hammy trouble but got back on the field for June minicamp.  It looks like he suffered a setback between then and now.  McFadden, of course, has had major durability problems since entering the league.  He's missed 29 games over 7 seasons with a variety of injuries.  We'll see how long the latest sidelines him for.

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talked up RB Joseph Randle on Wednesday.  "We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential -- and we based that on, not on what he did at Oklahoma State or how we drafted him, but by literally being a teammate around here for the last two years -- but he has the potential to be the kind of back that would step in there and be your No. 1 back," Jones said. "If he were not here, then I wouldn't feel as good as we go into the season and what might happen."  There's no doubt that Randle is the current favorite to open the season as Dallas' lead back.  The questions are whether he can hold off RBs Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar, and just how many touches he'll get.  Jones later suggested that Randle and McFadden could form a committee.  "That's the kind of back -- if you add those two together -- we had in (DeMarco) Murray," Jones said.

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Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com both predict that RB Darren McFadden will lead the team in carries this season.  "I think Joseph Randle will get the early nod but something tells me Darren McFadden will end up getting more carries," Eatman explains.  Broaddus writes, "I have put my eggs in the McFadden basket but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see one of the other backs step up and have the type of camp that makes this front office and coaching staff sit up and take notice."  Both guys are clearly expecting some sort of committee attack (Eatman also mentions Lance Dunbar), but it's interesting that they have McFadden leading the way.  That's in stark contrast to fantasy football drafters, who have pushed Randle into the late 4th round.  McFadden, meanwhile, is going in the 10th.  Our money is still on Randle leading Cowboys RBs in fantasy points this season, but he's going too early in drafts considering how unsettled the situation is.

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The Cowboys are planning to limit WR Dez Bryant's reps early in training camp after he held out all spring.  “We want to make sure that you just don’t throw him right to the wolves,” VP Stephen Jones said. “I know he works hard but there is nothing like working with your teammates in a competitive environment. I think it’s a little different.”  We've seen plenty of guys go down with injuries after holdouts, so consider this good news for Bryant's fantasy outlook.  He'll be ready to rock by the time Week 1 rolls around.

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1 month ago

The Cowboys and WR Dez Bryant have agreed to a long-term deal less than an hour ahead of the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign.  Per multiple sources, it's a 5-year, $70 million contract with $45 million guaranteed.  The average salary and guaranteed money make Bryant the 2nd-highest-paid WR in the league -- just behind Calvin Johnson.  More importantly, we don't need to worry about any kind of holdout.  Bryant's MFL10 ADP sunk to the late 1st round over the past couple of weeks.  We suspect it'll quickly climb at least a few spots with this long-term deal reached.

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