XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football has the woeful Colts traveling to Dallas to take on the elite defense (and so-so offense) of the Cowboys in a game with a 44 total and Dallas favored by 10.5. This gives the Cowboys an implied team total of 27.25 and the Colts just 16.75 (eek). For as inept as they can occasionally look on offense, the Cowboys have beaten that line in four of six of Dak’s starts this year (with 24 points in one of the two that he missed), often on the back of their defense, but even so, they’re putting points on the board consistently, while the Colts have only exceeded 20 points in one of Matt Ryan’s starts. So, while it’s weird seeing a total as low as Indy’s, it’s probably pretty spot-on. Let’s see how this one could play out.
On the Dallas side, we may finally be seeing the stubbornness of Jerry Jones giving way in the face of the talent of Tony Pollard. Pollard has out-snapped Ezekiel Elliott in each of the last two games and has seen 41 running back opportunities (eight of them being targets) against 33 for Zeke. This came in two wins, as well, so it’s not as if Pollard was just getting catch-up work as he had more CARRIES than Zeke (33 to 31). At very similar prices, it’s pretty clear Pollard is the superior all-around play, but Zeke still has a strong role and has the edge of being the primary goal line back. Ownership is almost certain to weigh heavily towards Pollard, leaving Zeke as a contrarian tournament option where you hope he falls into the end zone once or twice. As large home favorites, I don’t think I’d group them out, because Zeke is still averaging 16.5 touches per game, but I do think that if I had one of Zeke, Pollard, or Dak Prescott in my captain spot, I would max one of the other two unless I was building 5-1 Dallas onslaught rosters. It’s also worth noting that while the Colts started the year off stronger against the run than the pass, at this point in the season they’re slightly above average against both but there is no longer a material difference between their run and pass defense rankings. The Colts are also facing the fourth-highest opposing rushing play percentage (largely because their offense is terrible), which gives plenty of space for both running backs to hit.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, it looks like CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Michael Gallup in (roughly) that order, though a case could be made for Gallup moving ahead of Schultz. Lamb is in kind of a weird spot, in that he’s the kind of receiver who has a very solid floor but a somewhat modest ceiling, and he tends to get there via lots of volume instead of big plays, and this game doesn’t really lend itself towards a script in which he’s likely to see lots of volume. On a one-game slate, we aren’t comparing him to other elite-tier wide receivers as we are on the main slate, so he’s certainly a viable play, but I’m likely to be underweight on him in my “normal” rosters that are built around the idea of Dallas controlling the game. He’s a much, much stronger play on rosters that are built around the Colts playing from ahead or even winning outright. Schultz and Gallup are very cheap given their level of involvement in the offense, and while I prefer Schultz, it’s a pretty narrow gap. Schultz has, however, caught at least three passes in every game with Dak this season and he’s averaging just over five catches per game with Dak at quarterback. Gallup has a more volatile profile, with more per-target yardage upside but less touchdown equity. Noah Brown has the WR3 role though his snaps trended way down last week as Dallas ran more heavy sets. This is something that I think could continue here as the Colts have a solid pass rush and Dallas is likely to adopt a run-heavy game plan, if and when they’re playing from ahead. Brown, WR4 Jalen Tolbert, and rotational tight ends Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot all fall into the MME tournament player pool. I think I’d rank them Ferguson, Brown, Henderson, and then any other random scrub you want to include.