XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
We get a rematch of the opening Thursday game from last season but this year Dallas is at home. These teams look quite a bit different now and I’m somewhat surprised to see this game at a 50.5 total and equally surprised to see Tampa only favored by two points when Dallas receiving corps is “CeeDee Lamb and….who?”
The run game started to see more of a split between Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard as last year’s season went on, and the question is, will that continue over into 2022? Pollard was more effective in both the run game and the passing game, averaging 5.5 yards per carry to Zeke’s 4.1, and catching over 80% of his targets for 8.5 yards per catch vs. Zeke’s 70% catch rate for 6 yards per catch. More importantly, Dallas is incredibly thin on offensive weapons. Amari Cooper is gone and Michael Gallup is injured. We often hear coachspeak in the offseason about teams using multiple running backs on the field at the same time, and generally, I just ignore it because it almost never happens but maybe this is when it will? Given their prices, and given the overall situation with the Cowboys offense, I’m not grouping out lineups that pair Zeke and Pollard together, and I’m including Pollard as a pass catcher in my optimizer rules for Dak captain rosters. I think Zeke might come in underowned in this one because he finished last season so horribly, but despite that, he still rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns. He was also playing hurt so he should be fresher now. Could he recapture his old form? I don’t know, and of course, the matchup is absolutely atrocious against a Bucs defense that is nearly impossible to run against but if all of this causes his ownership to be minuscule, I think it’s worth a bite.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, Dallas has CeeDee Lamb as the only locked-in wide receiver, and Dalton Schultz at tight end. Beyond that, rookie Jalen Tolbert has apparently not impressed in camp and I saw beat reporter speculation that he may even be a healthy scratch; it’s hard for me to imagine that given how thin they are but it’s certainly possible that he doesn’t play a lot. Lamb and Schultz should both see as many targets as they can handle, and while Lamb is priced like an alpha WR, Schultz looks a bit on the cheap side relative to the targets he could see. It’s safe to say that it’s a bit of a mess behind Lamb and Schultz. Noah Brown should have a safe role but has never been any kind of special talent, I view him as having a median projection similar to a kicker (and at a similar price) but with a wider range of outcomes. Simi Fehoko should see some run here and at just $200 he makes a reasonable punt option. If Tolbert is inactive we could see . . . good lord, someone like Dennis Houston, Jake Ferguson, or even tiny KaVontae Turpin. This is a tough situation to unravel and it could easily be the case that the offense just flows through Lamb, Schultz, and the running backs with none of the other wide receivers doing much of anything, so personally, I wouldn’t lock-button even a min price guy like Fehoko. I wish I could clarify this for you all, but I think we’re going to have to wait for beat reporter info and inactives to try and figure this one out. This is a game for which I would really, REALLY encourage you to be active in our Discord leading up to it as we try to figure out what the hell the Cowboys are going to do.