By Christopher Harris


Week 17

Dallas Cowboys


Philadelphia Eagles


Analysis: In Week 17, the Cowboys will: almost certainly go with Stephen McGee under center. McGee wasn't great in relief of Jon Kitna against the Cardinals last Saturday, but he made a few nice throws and didn't turn the ball over. In Week 17, the Eagles will: not be worth relying on. We already know Michael Vick won't play this meaningless contest -- Philly is locked into the playoffs as the NFC's No. 3 seed, no matter what happens here -- and while, as of this writing, no final decision had been reported, there's a great chance DeSean Jackson will rest his injured foot, too. How long the other skill players will go is anyone's guess. Boy, that woeful Eagles effort Tuesday night (which knocked Philly out of contention for a first-round bye) just keeps on giving, doesn't it?

Fantasy Up: The two guys you probably feel best about using here are Miles Austin and Jason Witten. Austin was unstoppable against a supposedly competent Arizona secondary (I take issue with that assessment, but I digress), often shredding double teams to make plays. With Asante Samuel likely to play, at best, only part of the game, seeing some of Austin on Dmitri Patterson would be worth the price of admission. And no tight end is hotter that Witten, who finally has taken over the fantasy points lead from the ever-idle Antonio Gates and who'll take the crown going away. (The fact that it has taken him this long is a testament to how good Gates is.) [e] What about Felix Jones? Well, all he does is give you 80-plus yards from scrimmage every week these days, and the Cardinals game was no exception; it's much to his credit that he racked up the stats he did even after the Cowboys fell behind big. But there's risk, and it actually doesn't seem likely to come in the form of Tashard Choice. No, Marion Barber is back (you can't kill him, apparently), and his three games off seemed to do him right, because for one night, at least, he punished tacklers again (in Phoenix), got outside a couple times, and bullied his way into the end zone on a 24-yard run late in the third quarter. Jones is definitely flex-worthy, and has been so steady. But I'm not sure his upside is what you'd like out of a flex, because Barber could be a vulture once again.

Fantasy Down: Along with the Jets, Patriots and probably Bears, the Eagles are going to be frustrating on Sunday. We know Vick won't go, we suspect Jackson won't play, and after that it's anybody's guess. Kevin Kolb is probably their best fantasy option; we know he's a good system quarterback who's familiar with the offense and has some fine (though not Vick-like) athleticism. But will he have weapons enough to rack up a good fantasy day? Maybe Jeremy Maclin plays for a while, but I think you'll probably see a better day out of Jason Avant. Riley Cooper has been battling a knee injury, but if he winds up active, he could be a surprise performer, as could fellow rookie Chad Hall. Brent Celek has definitely re-emerged lately and we know Kolb loves the guy, but maybe Clay Harbor is a smarter play at tight end? And LeSean McCoy will probably cede some time to Jerome Harrison. Messy, messy. [e] Be aware that the Cowboys brought in Kris Brown to kick in practice this week, and there's been speculation that he might play in Week 17 instead of David Buehler. Buehler makes a good start if he's active, but this is a late game; if you don't get confirmation he's playing before Sunday, feel free to look elsewhere.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at and follow him at

Fantasy Focus Football

Stephania Bell and Dr. Melissa Womble discuss neurocognitive testing and the five phases of the NFL concussion protocol.


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?