Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Noah Brown missed practice on Wednesday for the Cowboys, while the Bears were without two members of their offensive line.
- The Bears have had one of the highest early-down rush rates in the league this season, which has routinely placed them in long down and distance-to-go situations – last week against the Patriots, we saw the offensive play-calling shift as the team dialed up 11 first down pass plays, and seven combined quarterback or wide receiver rush plays.
- Ezekiel Elliott missed practice Wednesday due to a knee contusion/sprain suffered in Week 7, while Noah Brown also missed with a foot injury.
- The biggest personnel news for the Bears is the departure of defensive end Robert Quinn via trade to the Eagles. Additionally, two members of Chicago’s offensive line missed practice Wednesday.
How chicago Will Try To Win ::
There’s something that must be understood about the Bears before we dive into this specific game. The complete overhaul this organization underwent this offseason will take time. Everyone from the GM to the majority of the coaching staff to a new analytics department was either new or changed this offseason. It takes time to introduce an entirely new offense under those conditions, and we’ve had front-row seats to the struggles that can induce this season. That said, we saw a glimmer of hope as the nation watched Monday Night Football in Week 7. Whether or not those steps forward continue remains to be seen, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Prior to last week, the Bears had scored 20 points or more only twice all season. They ended up scoring 20 points in the first half en route to a convincing 33-14 victory over the Patriots. That said, we know this team wants to be extremely run-biased (dead last in overall pass rate and pass rate over expectation), control the clock and tempo of the game, and stifle teams on the defensive side of the ball (seventh in points allowed per game). The biggest problem thus far has been the predictability of that game plan and the lack of dynamic play calling, which is what we saw open up a bit on Monday Night Football. The team ran the football at a 68.2% clip last week, but it was how they ran the football that gave us hope. The Bears had 29 first downs against the Patriots, only seven of which were first-down running back carries before the final two drives when the game was in hand. There were six Justin Fields designed runs, one wide receiver jet sweep, and a whopping 11 first-down pass plays (that’s big considering Fields threw only 21 passes). This team will be far more successful if they can continue the dynamic early-down play calling instead of routinely placing their team in long down and distance-to-go situations.
In his four fully healthy games prior to last week, David Montgomery saw snap rates of 66%, 80%, 72%, and 78%, with running back opportunity counts of 21, 17, 16, and 16 in those contests. Last week, his snap rate fell to 56%, and he saw 15 running-back opportunities. This is also a team that runs “heavy” personnel alignments (21- and 12-personnel) at about a 20% clip each, meaning a below-average percentage of plays come from the standard 11-personnel alignment. Whether or not the dip in Montgomery’s snap rate and running back opportunity share is a signal of a new trend or was simply due to the game environment remains to be seen, but there is no questioning the fact that backup Khalil Herbert has looked like the more explosive back this season. Herbert’s 5.5 true yards per carry ranks fourth in the league, while his 6.5 yards per touch ranks third, whereas Montgomery currently sits at 3.9 true yards per carry (47th) and 4.8 yards per touch (27th). I would tentatively expect that we see a bit more Herbert moving forward, bringing this backfield closer to a true timeshare than a lead back/change of pace back situation. The pure rushing matchup yields an above-average 4.51 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Dallas defense allowing 4.34 running back yards per carry. The biggest boost to the overall offense came through the legs of Justin Fields, who finally saw designed runs to utilize his rushing acumen. That said, it wasn’t all roses and rainbows for Fields, who put the ball on the ground four total times last week, luckily losing none of the fumbles.
The Chicago passing game has been a veritable disaster this season – there’s no getting around that fact. The team has ranked dead last in pass rate over expectation (PROE) and overall pass rate for the entirety of the season to this point. The only pass-catchers to play near every-down roles are wide receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet, but the overall low pass volume of the offense has meant Mooney has only one game all season with more than six targets (12), while Kmet has only one game all season with more than a modest three targets (4). Neither player has found the end zone. Things got even messier this past week with the return of N’Keal Harry to the lineup, who mixed in primarily for blocking duties at the direct detriment of Dante Pettis’ snaps. Equanimeous St. Brown typically plays about 60% of the offensive snaps primarily as a blocker as well, which, when combined with Harry’s 42% snap rate last week, who also played primarily as a blocker, left only a 31% snap rate for Pettis – his lowest of the season. Blocking tight ends Trevon Wesco and Ryan Griffin typically puts the team in 12-personnel about 20% of the time, as previously mentioned. Basically, it’s Mooney or Kmet as legitimate pass-catchers on this offense, then everyone else – and even then, the low overall volume leaves a lot to be desired here.
How dallas Will Try To Win ::
- I don’t typically place bets on lines or Over/Unders, given how efficient those markets tend to be; but this game offered an exception for me, as I gladly took the Under on 42.5 — for exactly the reasons Hilow laid out :: both teams prefer to lean on the run, which means that in order for this game to exceed 42.5 total points, Fields will likely have to have a really nice game against a Dallas defense that is better-suited to stopping him than the man-heavy Patriots were
- None of that, of course, is to say that this game is guaranteed to finish under 42.5 total points; but it is to say that this is comfortably a better-than-50/50 bet, which is worth keeping in mind when assessing this game for DFS goodness
- I’ve actually been very impressed with Fields over the last few weeks — and perhaps most importantly, I’ve been impressed with Luke Getsy’s play design and play-calling, as he is using pre-snap motion at one of the highest rates in the league, and is putting together a creative run scheme that is in some ways reminiscent of what the Ravens were doing with Lamar Jackson early in his career (in fact, Getsy has spoken about borrowing some concepts from that Baltimore offense — a sharp approach given Greg Roman’s savant-like ability to scheme up run game concepts that create open space, a far more difficult task than creating pass game concepts that create open space); that said, Fields is still lacking in ball security and short-area accuracy, which is a tough combo against a disciplined, attacking Dallas defense; the likeliest scenario has Chicago running into some problems on offense, and Dallas controlling this game
- If Dallas is controlling this game, passing volume is likely to be an issue (as Hilow and I hammered last week, and as the DFS field is going to continue to be slow to catch up to), which puts the Dallas backfield in the spotlight for me
- We saw last week just how limited Zeke’s ultimate ceiling can be in this yardage-and-touchdown role (two touchdowns scored; still under 20 DK points), but if Zeke is out, the Cowboys will really have no choice but to unleash Pollard in a workhorse role, which would effectively give us one of the most explosive backs in football, in a good matchup, in a role that’s just about guaranteed to yield a minimum of 18 touches; Pollard will be popular if Zeke is out, but the popularity will be justified
- Outside of Pollard, there are no skill position players from this game I’m particularly drawn toward; even in large-field play, this spot is likely “Pollard or bust” for me
- Ezekiel Elliott has missed one game in his entire career. In that game, Tony Pollard was the de facto lead back and rushed 12 times for 69 yards and two scores, adding six catches on nine targets for an additional 63 yards. That highlights the higher end of Pollard’s upside as the lead back in this offense but also highlights the type of workload to expect in a matchup that has been proven to be fruitful this season. That was a lot of words to say that Tony Pollard is a legitimate top-five option at the running back position on paper this week.
- CeeDee Lamb – see the above writeup and see JM’s comments.
- The Dallas defense (similar to Philadelphia) is priced up at $4,000 this week, and the field has an allergic reaction to expensive defenses. I played this unit last week with great success, and this is arguably a better pure matchup than last week. Should this game follow the likeliest outcome, the Dallas defense will have numerous opportunities to wreak havoc in the backfield against an indecisive quarterback. That’s something I have an interest in. What it does to the rest of the roster as far as salary allocation goes is simply a bonus.
- That’s really it for me from this game – Pollard or Dallas D/ST. Nothing else jumps out to me as a solid combination of floor and ceiling for late-week condensed player pools, and the ceiling present from individual plays is objectively lower than the field thinks here.