If you ask old school scouts what is required to field a championship contender, they will quickly tell you that it takes eight to twelve blue-chip players to compete for a title. This premise has been the standard for general managers around the league and I rely on it to help me identify the players to watch on game day.
With that in mind, I thought I would take a little time to identify the players to watch on the Cowboys' next opponent. We just most of these guys two weeks ago in Washington, but here are WFT's top players against Dallas this Sunday night.
Taylor Heinicke, QB
The starting quarterback is expected to return to the lineup after spending time on the COVID-19 list. If the gunslinger makes the start against the Cowboys, the defense must pay close attention to his improvisational skills to keep the WFTs under wraps. As a streaky passer with the potential to light up a defense when he is on his game, Heinicke gives the WFTs a puncher's chance when he is in the lineup.
Terry McLaurin, WR
The third-year pro is a speedster with big-play potential on the perimeter. McLaurin is capable of taking it the distance on "catch-and-run" concepts or deep balls over the top of the defense. As the WFT's most explosive offensive weapon, all eyes need to pay close attention to No.17 whereabouts at all times. In the last game, Trevon Diggs shadowed McLaurin the entire day, holding him without a catch before the receiver left the game with a concussion.
Antonio Gibson, RB
The hybrid running back is a problem for opponents ill-equipped to handle dynamic weapons out of the backfield. The second-year pro is closing in on a 1,000-yard season while also inching towards the 50-catch mark as a pass-catcher. If WFT gets Gibson going, he could steady an offense that desperately needs a playmaker to lean on in a pivotal divisional matchup.
Jonathan Allen, DT
The disruptive defender has taken his game up a notch since Chase Young and Montez Sweat were sidelined with various injuries. Allen leads the team with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss while emerging as a destructive force at the point of attack. The Cowboys better have a plan for dealing with No.93's explosiveness in the middle or Dak Prescott could spend most of the game running away from the relentless pass rusher.
Daron Payne, DT
Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio wants to stop the run and he has one of the league's best pluggers in the lineup. Payne is a stout defender with the size, strength, and power to control the point of attack against one-on-one blocks and double teams at the line. The Cowboys must control No.90 to get the running game untracked against the WFTs.
Landon Collins, S
On Friday, Washington officially ruled Collins out of the game with a foot injury. So that's one less player the Cowboys will have to deal with on WFT's defense. For Collins, the increased utilization of zone coverage had enabled him to become a bigger factor as a box defender. The former Pro Bowler is a thumper with outstanding instincts, awareness and diagnostic skills. Collins had been near the line of scrimmage lately in three-safety looks, which will now force them into some different schemes.
Kendall Fuller, DB
Fuller is an elite nickel corner with superb instincts and awareness. After spending a short stint on the COVID list, the sixth-year pro returns to upgrade a secondary that excels at playing "eyes" coverage behind a traditional four-man rush and a few zone pressures. Given Fuller's knack for getting his hands on the ball, Prescott needs to be careful throwing the ball in the veteran's direction.