Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Two teams on vastly different trajectories as far as how they approach games.
- Keep an eye on the status of Trevon Diggs as the week progresses, who missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury sustained in Week 5.
- For the Patriots, keep an eye on the status throughout the week of primary running back Damien Harris and the entirety of the offensive line.
- Not a ton to love for me as far as prospective fantasy production goes in a game I’ll be wagering American Dollars on the under.
- Post-letdown Jakobi Meyers, maybe? At bare minimum he should have volume on his side here.
How dallas Will Try To Win ::
After starting the year with a 77% situation-neutral pass rate in Week 1 (second highest in the league), Dallas has been the most run-heavy team in the league over the previous three weeks with a very Clevelandian 43% situation-neutral pass rate. On the season, the Cowboys lead the league in adjusted line yards (5.47), running back yards per carry (5.59), and second-level yards (1.67). All of that to say, the drastic shift in play calling and offensive design has worked. But (why is there always a “but”?), their Week 1 opponent just happened to be the Buccaneers, a team that once again leads the league in both opponent rush yards per game and percentage of pass plays faced. Their subsequent four opponents represent three of the bottom six in rush yards allowed per game, with the only outlier being Carolina’s eighth-ranked standing, and even then, Carolina currently ranks eighth in rush DVOA and fifth in pass DVOA (first in yards allowed per pass attempt). Keep this in mind for the remainder of the season as it is much more likely that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is simply tailoring his offense to attack the path of least resistance in his opponents as opposed to taking the stance that the Cowboys are always going to be a rush-first offense.
It just so happens that their opponent this week presents the Cowboys with one of the most run-funnel matchups in the league as the Patriots come into this game ranked 29th in defensive run DVOA and second in pass DVOA, which means we can confidently project Dallas to approach Week 6 in a similar fashion as we’ve grown accustomed to over the previous four weeks. The matchup yields a borderline elite 4.93 net-adjusted line yards metric on the backs of Dallas’ top-ranked standing. Tony Pollard saw his highest snap rate of the season in Week 5, which can primarily be attributed to Ezekiel Elliott’s missed snaps with a rib injury. Expect the split between the two to regress to the 70/30 split range as far as snaps go here, with Zeke a near lock to land in the 20-24 running back opportunity range as the Cowboys continue to manage his workload with a healthy Pollard. That is likely to leave a solid 14-18 running back opportunities in Pollard’s capable hands, furthering the variance associated with a backfield highly reliant on trips to the paint.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has averaged just 26.75 pass attempts over the previous four weeks, and there is nothing in the matchup that is likely to force that number to increase by a significant margin here. Furthering the complications for the Cowboys, at least as far as pass-catchers go, is the fact that they have run 12-personnel at the league’s fourth-highest rate over the previous four weeks and all of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Cedrick Wilson, Dalton Schultz, and Blake Jarwin typically land in the 50-85% snap rate range. Not only have they passed less, but Moore has mixed offensive personnel enough to leave all primary pass-catchers of little utility outside of multi-touchdown games (which has only happened with tight end Dalton Schultz over that span). With the running back duo typically combining for five to seven targets of their own, there simply isn’t a lot of meat left on the proverbial bone for this passing game for as long as we can confidently project their elevated rush rates to continue (with that being the case this week).
How new england Will Try To Win ::
Similar to how Kellen Moore has shaped and molded the offense in Dallas dependent on personnel available and weekly opponent, so too has Josh McDaniels with the Patriots. The bulk of that offensive game plan for New England revolves around the skillset of rookie quarterback Mac Jones, whose game is built around timing, accuracy, and game smarts as opposed to arm strength and mobility. This understanding helps us rationalize the low 7.5 intended air yards per pass attempt and low 3.4 completed air yards per pass attempt values. When we then consider the plethora of injuries and COVID issues along the offensive line, it makes sense that the Patriots hold a 70% situation-neutral pass rate over the previous three weeks.
The ground game has taken a substantial hit lately with the issues along the offensive line and injury to lead back Damien Harris, who did not practice on Wednesday with a rib injury sustained in Week 5. I’d tentatively expect Harris to go this weekend, but the bigger story is the four offensive linemen that missed last week’s game. Keep an eye on their individual statuses as the weekend approaches, as it is likely to have a significant impact on the way the Patriots choose to attack here. The matchup on the ground yields a low 3.945 net-adjusted line yards metric, which could theoretically be lower assuming backup linemen. Should Harris play, he is likely to lead the backfield in snap rate and opportunities in the absence of James White. Rhamondre Stevenson would be likeliest to step into any early-down work vacated by Harris, with Brandon Bolden on hand to handle passing down and change of pace duties.
What this devolves into is that the likeliest game plan involves a heavy reliance on the short-to-intermediate pass game. New England’s slightly below average 11-personnel usage leaves significant room for both 12- and 21-personnel alignments, with Jakobi Meyers operating as the only near-every-down pass-catcher. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and even N’Keal Harry have seen meaningful snaps over the previous two weeks. Nelson Agholor leads the team in aDOT at 14.4, with every other member landing at an aDOT of 10.3 or below. With Meyers seeing almost 83% of his snaps out of the slot, he is the likeliest to avoid the hottest corner in the league in Trevon Diggs (assuming he plays). In a somewhat surprising development, Hunter Henry has run almost double the routes as fellow tight end Jonnu Smith through five weeks (133 to 70). That said, Jonnu has seen a target on 23 of his 70 routes, while Henry has only seen 26 targets on his 133 routes. The big picture here is the Patriots are quite comfortable taking what the opposing defense gives them and spreading the ball around as necessary. The matchup tilts away from Diggs, making Jakobi Meyers and the tight ends the best bets to move the football.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
Digging into this game confirmed my early-week suspicion that the game total was set too high. After writing the under up in my Early Week Line Inefficiencies piece, we’ve actually seen the game total increase by a full point to 50.5. Dunno emoji. I do not see the path to a shootout-style game here, with the likeliest scenario leaving the Cowboys formulating an attack built around the run game and the Patriots left to try and build sustained drives through a short area (and low upside) pass game. That said, each team lands in the top half of the league in a situation-neutral pace of play, but the heavy rush rate for the Cowboys and low per-pass depth of target for the Patriots leads to a game where splash plays are less likely. Both teams also reside in the top half of the league in drive success rate allowed on defense (fourth for the Patriots and 13th for the Cowboys), furthering the likelihood of stalled drives and lowered scoring. The actual likeliest game flow sees the Cowboys controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which should keep them biased towards the run once more. With the Cowboys controlling the pace and tempo of the game, the Patriots are likely to be forced to primarily move the ball through the short-area pass game.
TOP PLAYS OF THE WEEKEND
SORTABLE GREEN ZONE TOUCHES
TEAM & PLAYER DK POINTS
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- DAL points: 29 // 20 // 41 // 36 // 44
- NE points: 16 // 25 // 13 // 17 // 25
- DAL final totals: 60 // 37 // 62 // 64 // 64
- NE final totals: 33 // 31 // 42 // 36 // 47
- Jones passing: 281:1 // 186:0 // 270:1:3 // 275:2:1 // 231:1:1
- In NE’s two wins, Jones has thrown just 30 pass att in each
- In NE’s three losses, Jones has thrown 39, 51, 40 pass att
- NE is a four-point home underdog to a DAL team that has faced pass att of 50, 41, 39, 39, 38
- QB pass yds vs DAL: 379 // 338 // 326 // 301 // 294
- DAL ranks 7th in defensive pass DVOA
- Targets: Meyers (9, 6, 14, 12, 5) // Agholor (7, 3, 8, 5, 4) // Bourne (3, 3, 8, 5, 3)
- NE’s highest scoring WR by game: Agholor (18.2) // Meyers (7.8) // Bourne (21.6) // Meyers (16.8) // Meyers (9.6)
- Best WRs vs DAL: Brown (5:121:1), Godwin (9:105:1) // Keenan (4:108), Williams (7:91:1) // Reagor (5:53) // Moore (8:113:2) // Toney (10:189)
- Trevon Diggs snaps: LCB (26.9%) // RCB (57.6%) // SLCB (13.1%)
- Jakobi Meyers snaps: LWR (15.8%) // RWR (23.9%) // SLWR (59%)
- Meyers snaps W4/5: LWR (17.5%) // RWR (42.1%) // SLWR (39.5%)
- Meyers dropped from 70.4% slot snaps in W1-3 to 39.5% in W4-5
- DAL has allowed the 9th lowest success rate to WRs on the 4th most WR targets faced
- DAL has still allowed the 3rd most WR yds
- Route share on Jones dropbacks: Jonnu (48%, 42%, 27%, 38%, 19%) // Henry (58%, 76%, 68%, 64%, 65%)
- Targets: Jonnu (5, 5, 6, 5, 2) // Henry (3, 4, 6, 5, 8)
- aDOT: Jonnu (3.7) // Henry (7.4)
- RZ targets: Jonnu (5) // Henry (2); Henry has TD in back to back games
- Henry has 30+ yds in every game (31, 42, 36, 32, 75)
- TEs vs DAL: Gronk (8:90:2) // Cook (3:28) // Goedert (2:66), Ertz (4:53:1) // Engram (4:55); Both Parham & Cook had TDs called back vs DAL in W2
- Those TEs all spend considerable time in the slot; Henry has played 51.3% of snaps in slot
- Rank of success rate & yds/att allowed to TEs: HOU (29th, 25th) // DAL (28th, 28th)
- Henry just went for 6:75:1 vs HOU
- James White is done for the season, JJ Taylor fumbled on his second touch in W4 and hasn’t been heard from since, Bolden is filling the White passing game role (nearly 5 tg/g) but still has just 5 total rush att, and Stevenson ran for just 23 yds on 11 carries with Harris missing time in W5
- Harris is day-to-day with injury; also has now also fumbled the game away in W1, and fumbled at the GL in W5
- Harris with 15+ rush att in career: 17:100 // 16:102:1 // 22:121 // 16:80 // 23:100 // 16:62:1
- Devontae Booker is the only RB to reach 15 att vs DAL (16), and Chuba is the only other one over 10 (13)
- Top RB rush yds vs DAL: Lenny (32) // Ekeler (54) // Sanders (24) // Chuba (57) // Booker (42)
- DAL ranks 8th in defensive rush DVOA
- Booker scored the first RB rush TD vs DAL in W5
- Backfield rec yds vs DAL: TB (39) // LAC (68) // PHI (65) // CAR (62) // NYG (18)
- NE RB rec yds leader by week: White (49, 45) // Bolden (23, 51, 6)
- Dak pass yds in first five games with McCarthy: 266 // 450 // 472 // 502 // 403
- Dak pass yds in last four games with McCarthy: 237 // 238 // 188 // 302
- Dak pass att/g in first five vs last four (TD:INT): 52 att (12:4) vs 27 att (10:2)
- Dak’s 32 pass att last week were his most since W1 vs TB
- Pass att vs NE: 27 // 33 // 21 // 43 // 29
- NE ranks 8th in defensive pass DVOA and has allowed the 6th fewest pass yds on the 4th fewest att faced
- After holding Brady to 269 yds, NE allowed 312 yds to Davis Mills (???)
- In 19 games as a Road Favorite, Dak has just four games of 25+ DK pts (1 of 30+)
- This is Dak’s first game as a Road Favorite since 2019
- Dak’s one career game vs NE: 2019 (212:0:1; Loss 9-13 in NE)
- Seven WRs have 60+ yds vs NE: Parker (81), Waddle (61:1) // Berrios (73) // Evans (75), Brown (63) // Moore (109:1), Conley (84:1)
- Lamb has 60+ yds in 4/5 games: 104:1 // 81 // 66 // 13 // 84
- Cooper’s yds in W1 vs W2-5: 139 vs 179
- Top WR in every Dak/McCarthy game (DK pts): Cooper (18.1) // Lamb (19.6) // Wilson (30.7), Gallup (28.8) // Cooper (34.4) // Cooper (41.9) // Lamb (17.4) // Wilson (9.7) // Cooper (15.9) // Lamb (18.8)
- Each of Cooper & Lamb has maxed out at 6 targets in the last 3 games
- Targets: Schultz (6, 2, 7, 8, 8) // Jarwin (4, 4, 2, 3, 0)
- Schultz already has 4 games of 6+ rec (6:45 // 6:80:2 // 6:58:1 // 6:79)
- NE allowed the 9th highest success rate & 6th highest yds/att to TEs in 2020, but have allowed the 5th & 3rd lowest through five weeks of 2021
- The TEs to face NE so far have been an uninspiring group: Smythe (Gesicki played half as many snaps as his other games this year), Kroft, Brate, Akins
- Schultz leads DAL in targets since Week 2
- DAL RB rush att in last three games: 29 // 31 // 30 // 35
- Rush att: Elliott (11, 16, 17, 20, 21) // Pollard (3, 13, 11, 10, 14)
- Targets: Elliott (2, 2, 3, 1, 3) // Pollard (4, 3, 1, 0, 4)
- Total yds: Elliott (39, 97, 116, 143, 112) // Pollard (43, 140, 65, 67, 103)
- Backfield yds vs NE: MIA (120) // NYJ (162) // NOR (145) // TB (163) // HOU (111)
- RB rush att vs NE: 17 // 28 // 27 // 26 // 23
- NE ranks 22nd in defensive rush DVOA
- NE has allowed just 1 RB rush TD & 1 RB rec TD
- Elliott has four TDs inside the-5, and two more in the RZ
- Elliott vs NE in 2019: 21:86, 4:40