XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday night’s game should be an interesting one as the perpetually underachieving Cowboys visit one of last year’s surprise teams in the Giants. Both team’s offenses look more interesting on paper (at least for DFS purposes), with the Cowboys getting rid of Ezekiel Elliott and adding Brandin Cooks, while the Giants picked up Darren Waller. That means a lot of offensive weapons for us to choose from in this one. The game currently is sitting at a 45.5 total with Dallas favored by 3.5, so, essentially a coin flip if it were a neutral field (home field advantage is worth about a field goal in Vegas).
The backfield has been handed to Tony Pollard with Zeke off to New England, thrilling fantasy fans who have wanted this for years. We also know that Dallas, for whatever inexplicable reason, has historically loved the run game (but more on this in a bit). The question is if Pollard is going to be treated like a bell cow. We don’t have much of a record of how the Cowboys have used Pollard without Zeke, as there have only been three games with Zeke out and Pollard in, but historically Dallas has shied away from giving Pollard 20+ carries (only once in his career). He has some passing game role to help make up for that, though. I think a reasonable estimate for Pollard is around 14-16 carries with another 3-6 targets, so he does get into the 20 touch range, but not full-on bell cow status. Behind Pollard are Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn. Dowdle is listed first in the depth chart but we know that doesn’t necessarily mean much. I don’t know who the RB2 is here, but personally, I’m not going to play much of either and will have a “max 1” rule between them.
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Let’s talk about the passing game. As noted before, Dallas is viewed as a run-first team, but with a more dynamic receiving back in Pollard as their primary back, the signing of Brandin Cooks, and Michael Gallup being fully healthy, and with Mike McCarthy calling offensive plays this year, it sure looks like this team is built to pass more. We’ll see if my hunch here is right or not. CeeDee Lamb is obviously the primary receiver on the team, having shown last season he’s more than just a floor guy (to my personal dismay) and overall really freaking out and establishing himself as one of the league’s premier pass catchers (his target share also spiked last season up to nearly 30% with Amari Cooper’s departure). Dallas has brought in more talent around Lamb, so we’ll see if that 30% mark holds up . . . but I suspect even if it doesn’t, it’ll be close to that. The dude is elite. And, no knock on Lamb, but I’m actually excited to play Cooks and Gallup in this one because the Giants are trotting out two rookie cornerbacks on the perimeter that Cooks, especially, stands a good chance of being able to exploit (note here: these rookies include a 1st rounder, and we don’t know how the Giants will deploy them. If they stick to their sides, Dallas can line their guys up how they want, but if they decide to stick the 1st rounder on Cooks, Gallup could well end up with the easier matchup). Their prices are pretty close so overall I want more Cooks, but I intend to be overweight on both. At tight end, we have “just a guy” Jake Ferguson taking over for departed Dalton Schultz. Ferguson isn’t really any sort of special talent, but he’ll be on the field plenty and Dak Prescott has historically created reasonable production for his tight ends. At $4,800, I don’t love the play, but you’re just banking on the “some random tight end always seems to score in Showdown” dynamic. He’s “fine.” The Cowboys tend to lean heavily on their main guys, so I don’t think we should expect to see much in the way of rotational receivers in this game, probably a smidge of Jalen Tolbert here and there, maybe a bit of KaVontae Turpin or Jalen Brooks, a little bit of Peyton Hendershot at tight end . . . those guys are all thin MME punt options.