Kickoff Sunday, Sep 19th 4:25pm Eastern

Cowboys (
26) at

Chargers (

Over/Under 55.0


Key Matchups
Cowboys Run D
9th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Chargers Run O
23rd DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D
6th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Chargers Pass O
6th DVOA/18th Yards per pass
Chargers Run D
26th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O
21st DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Chargers Pass D
27th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O
7th DVOA/9th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

  • Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Keenan Allen set up well for additional targets
  • Many will look to Cedrick Wilson as a possible salary-saver, but I am much more interested in Jaylen Guyton from the other side if searching for blowup potential at a low price and low ownership
  • Both primary running backs bring massive question marks (expected usage for Ezekiel Elliott, and seemingly out of nowhere lack of pass game usage for Austin Ekeler)
  • Both tight end stables feature split work and non-bankable volume


Dallas’ overall offensive philosophy remains consistent in 2021 when compared to early 2020, the last time quarterback Dak Prescott was healthy. We should continue to expect an elevated pace of play and elevated pass rates as the norm under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore moving forward. The biggest thing we need to understand about this offense, however, is the fact that Moore is entirely willing and able to turn “elevated pass rates” into “extreme pass rates” in negative game scripts, as evidenced by Week 4 of 2020 and Week 1 of 2021. The overall pass rates for Dallas in the first four games of 2020 were 67.7%, which jumped to 76.62% and 76.32% in Week 1 of 2021 and Week 4 of 2020, respectively – both games that Dallas fell behind early. The Cowboys also increased their 12-personnel rates significantly to start the season, running two tight end sets a massive 35% of the time in Week 1 (in 11-personnel only 49% of the time – likely due to OL/DL mismatch against Tampa Bay, but things don’t get easier this week). When evaluating how the Cowboys are likeliest to try and win here, we must take the multitude of injuries (and suspensions) this team has experienced yet again early in the season. Standout offensive lineman La’el Collins was suspended for six games for failure to appear for a league drug test, wide receiver Michael Gallup was placed on IR after Week 1, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence injured his foot in practice and it is reportedly of the “long-term” variety, and cornerback Kelvin Joseph and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore are both out with long-term injuries.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott is still a top-five running back, at least as far as snap rate and running back opportunity are concerned. We saw him flounder last season after Prescott was lost for the year, while the team also dealt with numerous injuries along the offensive line. This season, La’el Collins will miss the next third of the season and the Cowboys’ defense seemingly got worse, indicating a situation where they should be forced into more aerial aggression over the coming six weeks than they would otherwise like. That said, All-Pro guard Zack Martin returns for Week 2 after missing the season opener on the COVID list. The matchup on the ground for this one is also less than ideal. Opposing defensive tackle Linval Joseph is one of PFF’s top-rated run-stoppers over the previous three seasons and the Chargers are fresh off a stifling performance against fellow borderline-elite-usage running back Antonio Gibson, giving up only 4.17 yards per running back opportunity (23 carries and seven targets). In all, this is definitely not a “get-right” spot for Mr. Elliott.

We should see the inflated 12-personnel rates continue into Week 2 after perimeter wide receiver Michael Gallup suffered a calf injury in Week 1, who was subsequently placed on IR. This should spell additional snaps for Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, and Simi Fehoko, likely in that order. The overall setup for the Cowboys’ pass game expectation points to primarily short-intermediate routes through Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and the tight ends (Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin) as the Chargers look to allow their vaunted pass rush to create organic pressure without the need for elevated blitz rates, allowing their second level to settle into complex zone assignments. Consider both Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb favorites to end the week amongst the top five wide receivers in targets.


Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offense appeared similar to how it did from his time in New Orleans as the quarterbacks coach, with heavy utilization of the “X” receiver (Mike Williams) and power run scheme, but he carried over the high pace of play from the 2020 Chargers team. The most surprising aspect of the Week 1 usage was the zero targets for running back Austin Ekeler, who is not best utilized as a power back. That usage contradicts Lombardi’s public statements this offseason which indicated his desire to maximize the talent available (which would be getting the ball to Ekeler out of the backfield in space). Finally, a whopping 33 of Herbert’s 47 pass attempts in Week 1 flowed through three primary players: Keenan Allen (13), Mike Williams (12), and Jared Cook (8). If that usage continues, all three should be considered weekly in what would be a highly concentrated passing attack.

The power run game filtered primarily through Austin Ekeler, but he only out-touched backup Larry Rountree III 15 to 8. Furthermore, all Chargers running backs saw a grand total of ONE target in the passing game in Week 1 (which went to third stringer Justin Jackson), which absolutely nobody would have predicted. The matchup is a good one on the ground (contrary to last week against the Football Team), so there is a chance Lombardi dials up more usage for these backs, but a bet on this backfield is exactly that – a bet on usage and scheme changing from Week 1. The running back snap rate for Week 1 broke down to 58% for Ekeler, 27% for Roundtree III, and 14% for Jackson. Without the typical usage through the air for Ekeler, he is relegated to “yardage and touchdown back” status and would require the bonus and multiple trips to the end zone for utility.

Things get interesting when dissecting this passing attack. Both starting defensive ends will be out for Dallas after Demarcus Lawrence suffered a broken foot in Wednesday’s practice. Coupled with a now top of the league pass blocking offensive line for the Chargers, and Herbert should have all the time in the world to pick the secondary apart. It will be interesting to see how Dallas chooses to deploy cornerback Trevon Diggs in coverage, who is really the only member of their secondary considered above average in coverage (and is fresh off a game in which he shut down Mike Evans, primarily due to sticky coverage). Either way, the heavy slot snap rate for Keenan Allen and likely coverage by Anthony Brown when on the perimeter lead to plus matchups. The tight end snap rates played out as predicted leading into the season in Week 1, with aging Jared Cook seeing the field for 58% of the team’s offensive snaps and physical specimen Donald Parham seeing the field for 51% of the team’s offensive snaps. That led to eight targets for Cook and only one for Parham, but the usage is suspect at best. Jaylen Guyton actually ran the third most routes for the Chargers in Week 1 at 35 (only 30 for Jared Cook), who appears entrenched in the WR3 role (rookie Josh Palmer saw only 14 offensive snaps and ran only eight total routes). Finally, if ever there were a matchup for Ekeler’s targets to increase, this would be it. If they fail to bump in this spot, we might have to accept a low pass game role moving forward.


We have an interesting case where we’re likely to see the Chargers dictate the actual game flow while the Cowboys dictate the overall pace. What I mean by that is this: Dallas is likeliest to force an uptempo game through elevated pass rates to the short and intermediate areas of the field while Los Angeles is likeliest to force varying game flows based on their success on both sides of the ball to start the game. Either way, the avenues each team is likeliest to attack here remain constant whether the game scripts plays to a slugfest (highly unlikely), a shootout, or the Chargers taking and holding an early lead. The only game flow that alters how each team is likeliest to attack would be one in which the Cowboys jump out to a multi-score lead, which is highly unlikely here. This gives us a high confidence scenario for the top plays from the game.

DFS+ Interpretation ::

By Alex88 >>


  • The Cowboys played at a slower pace than all of last year in Week 1
  • They passed at the second-highest rate in Week 1, while the Charges passed at the 11th
  • The Chargers were 4th in plays in Week 1
  • The Cowboys were still 5th in plays despite the slower pace

Dak Prescott

  • Prescott’s 58 attempts in Week 1 led the league
  • Coming off of injury, with a depleted offensive line and against a strong pass rush in Tampa, he took only one sack
  • Dak’s 31.4 DK points were 4th on the week, his 62 dropbacks 2nd
  • Dak’s DK totals in games with 50+ points under Kellen Moore, excluding the game he was injured last year: 36.4 // 28.7 // 29.2 // 22.5 // 29.9 // 34.6 // 20.5 // 17.7 // 33.6 // 43.8 // 33.5 // 42.3 // 31.4

DAL Passing Attack

  • In Week 1, Dallas used 11 personnel 49%, 12 personnel 35%
  • Amari Cooper played on 89.2% of snaps
  • His 16 targets led the position
  • CeeDee Lamb’s 15 targets were tied for second most with Tyreek Hill
  • Amari finished Week 1 with 13 receptions, 139 yards, & 2 TDs
  • His 41.9 DK points not only led WRs but ALL fantasy positions in Week 1
  • Amari’s DK totals under Kellen Moore in games with 50+ points: 25.6 // 14.4 // 42.6 // 18 // 34.7 // 6.8 (<60% snaps) // 20.3 // 2.9 // 13.8 // 19 // 17.6 // 36.4 // 4.1 // 14.1 // 26.2 // 16.3 // 2.3 // 19.1 // 41.9
  • Lamb played on 73.5% of the snaps
  • He caught only 7 of his 15 targets for 104 yards and 1 TD, good for 26.4 DK points
  • Lamb’s DK totals under Kellen Moore with 50+ points: 20.5 // 11.6 // 25.2 // 23.4 // 16.6 // 7.1 // 10.6 // 19.5 // 23.4 // 26.4
  • Michael Gallup had 7 targets before going down with an injury
  • Cedrick Wilson was the next man up
  • He finished the game with three catches on three targets for 24 yards, and played out of the slot on 85.2% of his 34 snaps (41% of the team total)
  • Tight end Dalton Schultz led in team snap percentage with 68.7
  • He caught all six of his targets for 45 yards, good for 10.5 DK points
  • His PFF grade was 63.0
  • In games with 40+% of the snaps and totals greater than 50, Dalton’s DK points under Kellen Moore are: 22.8 // 8.8 // 17.2 // 1.6 // 12.5 // 7.4 // 8.4 // 9.4 // 5.1 // 10.5
  • Blake Jarwin played on 57.8% of team snaps
  • He caught all three of his targets for 20 yards, 5 DK points
  • His PFF grade was 46.5
  • In games with 40+% of the snaps and totals greater than 50, Jarwin’s DK points under Kellen Moore are: 6 // 0 // 5
  • In all games with 50 totals under Moore: 11.4 // 3.2 // 0 // 11.2 // 6.5 // 5.8 // 11 // 6 // 0 // 5


  • Ezekiel Elliott led the league in snaps at the RB position for Week 1 with 70
  • That was good for 84.3% of team snaps, 4th in the NFL
  • Out of 70 snaps, Zeke had just 11 rushing attempts (for 33 yards) and two targets (6 yards)
  • Zeke’s 5.9 DK points was his second lowest total under Kellen Moore
  • In games with 50+ points, Zeke’s DK totals have been: 13.3 // 23 // 17.1 // 16.9 // 8.3 // 20.3 // 23.3 // 34 // 30.4 // 23.2 // 17.8 // 21.5 // 23.5 // 22.4 // 3.9 // 13.5 // 20.9 // 5.9
  • On the road against current LA Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley’s LA Rams defense in Week 1 2020, Zeke had 27.7 DK points
  • Tony Pollard played on 20 offensive snaps, for a team share of 24.1%
  • Pollard rushed 3 times for 14 yards and caught all four targets for 29 yards, good for 8.3 DK points
  • Pollard’s DK scores with 24%+ snaps: 2.4 // 24.8 // 2.8 // 25.3 // 7.5 // 10.2 // 6 // 3.2 // 6.8 // 12 // 4.2 // 3.8 // 12.8 // 31.2 (Zeke was inactive against the 49ers) // 3 // 6.4 // 8.3

Justin Herbert

  • He was the second most pressured QB in the league
  • Week 1 opponent Washington’s defense ranked eighth in pressure rate
  • The Chargers acquired Corey Linsley, PFF’s #1 ranked center, and used their first round draft pick on tackle Rashawn Slater
  • Slater opted out of the 2020 NCAA season, but in 2019 graded out at 90.0 by PFF
  • The new Chargers OL kept Herbert clean on 87.8% of his dropbacks against Washington
  • Herbert did take two sacks
  • His sacks happened on two out of six dropbacks where he was under pressure, neither of which was he facing a blitz
  • Dallas just lost Demarcus Lawrence, their highest graded defensive player by PFF at 91.4, 3rd out of 98 edge defenders overall, and 1st in run defense
  • On the road in Washington, Herbert completed 31/47 passes for 337 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and finished with 18.4 DK points
  • In games with 50+ points, Herbert’s DK totals are: 24 // 27.4 // 41.5 // 23.2 // 26.4 // 21.5 // 30.7 // 31 // 36

LAC Pass Catchers

  • In 11 full games with Herbert last season, Keenan Allen averaged 12.2 targets
  • In Week 1, Allen had 13 targets and a team target share of 27.7% (snap share of 82.7%)
  • That was 7th most in Week 1 at the WR position
  • He caught 9 of them for exactly 100 yards, ending with 22 DK points
  • Allen lined up in the slot 65% of the time, led the team in YAC, and had an ADoT of 8.8
  • Allen’s DK totals in 50+ point games with Herbert: 14.2 // 10.9 // 25.5 // 21.7 // 28.3 // 12.9 // 38.5 // 2.6 (only 36% of snaps)
  • Mike Williams’s DK points in the same games: 30.9 // 1.4 // 21 // 13.1 // 5.8 // 17.2 // 4.2 (only 42% of snaps) // 25.8
  • In Week 1, Mike had 12 targets and a team target share of 25.5% (snap share of 75.3%)
  • Mike produced eight receptions for 82 yards and a score, 22.2 DK points
  • 3rd round draft pick Josh Palmer played on just 17.3% of snaps
  • Jalen Guyton played on 65.4%
  • Guyton had five targets to Palmer’s one
  • Guyton caught three of them for 60 yards, with an ADoT of 16.0
  • Guyton’s notable DK point totals with Herbert: 14.2 // 16.4 // 13.5
  • KJ Hill caught all three of his targets for 30 yards
  • Jared Cook, the new starting TE, averaged 8.6 points for New Orleans last season
  • In Week 1, he led the position with 58% of snaps and 17% of team targets
  • Cook’s 8 targets led to 5 receptions for 56 yards
  • Backup TE, Donald Parham, is 6’8” 240 lbs, with a 7’ wingspan and a 4.68 40 yard dash time
  • Parham had a lone target in Week 1 but no production to show for it
  • Fellow backup Stephen Anderson had 2 targets for a single catch and yard


  • Austin Ekeler averaged 6.5 targets per game in 2020
  • In 2020, no RBs received more than 5 targets in a game versus Washington
  • Ekeler had zero targets for the first time in his career in Week 1
  • Justin Jackson saw the lone RB target
  • Ekeler had two rushes inside the five yard line last season
  • He had two such rushes in Week 1 against Washington, and converted one for his lone TD
  • Ekeler finished the game with 15 rushes for 57 yards and that TD, for 11.7 DK points
  • Ekeler’s DK points in 50+ point games with Herbert under center (excluding the Tampa game where he was injured): 11.9 // 17.1
  • When active and healthy, Ekeler averaged 17 touches and 93.3 yards per game
  • In Week 1, he played on 58% of the team snaps
  • Larry Rountree doubled Justin Jackson’s usage in Week 1, 27.2% of snaps to 13.6%
  • Rountree had eight rushing attempts for 27 yards
  • Jackson had the aforementioned target, which he caught for two yards, and a single rush for five