XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 6 wraps up with the Cowboys visiting the Chargers for the week’s highest total game at 51 points with Dallas favored by two. High total, close spread . . . Vegas is saying “shootout.” Is that what we’re likely to get? Well, the Chargers have scored 27.5 points per game (albeit against relatively weak defenses) while allowing 26. Dallas has scored 26.8 points per game but has allowed just 16.6. There are two dynamics in play here. First, is that the Chargers are projected to score pretty close to their season average (implied total of 24.5) while going up against one of the league’s premier defenses. The second dynamic is that while the Cowboys have averaged 26.8 points per game, their scoring is wildly volatile with 30+ in three games while scoring just 10 and 16 in the other two. Dallas scoring is also inflated by FOUR defensive touchdowns thus far, so offensively they’ve averaged just 22 points per game. I’m not a totals bettor, but this one feels at least a bit more likely to go under than over. Let’s see if we can figure this one out.
The Cowboys run game is led by Tony Pollard, who I think has a really nice role right now, but it’s also kind of hard to figure out because three of their five games have been complete blowouts, with one more a 30-10 victory that they put away kind of late. In the two more competitive games, Pollard has opportunity counts of 33 and 26, with 48 total carries and 11 targets. In the blowouts, his opportunities go down (duh). If we expect this game to be competitive, Pollard is highly likely to see at least 18-20 touches with solid passing game involvement. At $9,600, he’s not priced for that kind of volume given his talent and a matchup against a Chargers defense that can give it up to opposing run games. Rico Dowdle is the RB2, and at $2,000, belongs in the “RB2s in Showdown are useful” conversation, with Deuce Vaughn and Hunter Luepke filling out the backfield as MME punt options.
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In the passing game, the Cowboys will trot out CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, and Michael Gallup as their primary wide receivers. Lamb is the alpha here (duh), though due to blowouts he’s only averaging seven targets per game. In competitive games, however, he’s averaging ten targets per game, and at $9,000 in a good matchup, he’s pretty clearly too cheap. Lamb is an awesome play who I was frankly too slow to come around on as having a strong ceiling once Amari Cooper left the Cowboys. Cooks and Gallup are risky options as neither has really done much this year. Cooks had all the preseason hype about his quick connection with Dak but has a 9/73/0 receiving line on 19 targets, while Gallup is at 15/180/0 on 22 targets. Gallup is also $2,800 vs. $5,400 for Cooks. Both have significant upside as both guys can house one from anywhere. Given the savings, I’ll take Gallup as my preferred play of the pair. Gadget guy KaVontae Turpin is back after leaving last week’s game with an injury (sigh) and should resume his heavy red zone usage role (remember I noted that in last week’s writeup, then he scored a 26 yard touchdown in the first half . . . and then got hurt). He’s a punt play, but one who is consistently involved close to the end zone with both targets and carries. He’s risky but with ceiling for his $1,600 price. Jalen Tolbert rounds out the wide receiver group and has very minimal upside with Turpin back.
At tight end, Jake Ferguson is a consistently solid play as long as he’s priced in the $5k range, with Dak having a long history of productive tight end lines. Ferguson’s massive red zone role (11 red zone targets, Lamb is second with just five) also gives him plenty of upside. He hasn’t really “hit” yet this year with a season-high of 14.7 DK points, but as long as the usage continues, stronger results are coming. TE2 Luke Schoonmaker is only minimally involved in the passing game and is a punt option.