Kickoff Sunday, Sep 29th 8:20pm Eastern

Cowboys (
25) at

Saints (
22.5)

Over/Under 47.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Cowboys Run D
18th DVOA/16th Yards allowed per carry
Saints Run O
28th DVOA/15th Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D
1st DVOA/20th Yards allowed per pass
Saints Pass O
20th DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Saints Run D
1st DVOA/4th Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O
17th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Saints Pass D
4th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O
7th DVOA/2nd Yards per pass

>>>> More Showdown Cash Game thoughts added by Xandamere this week. If you’re still trying to turn this edge to your favor, some of the thoughts here will be really valuable. (Note: As this is part of the Mastering Showdowns course, it is available only to Annual subs. Apologies to the Weeklys out there!)

Showdown Slant ::

Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!

At first glance I thought the Over/Under for this game seemed low at just 47 with the Cowboys roughly field goal favorites, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Even though this game is at the Superdome, both teams boast strong defenses and the Saints, especially, can really slow the game down.

The Saints will certainly try to slow things down and lean on their run game (they are highly unlikely to get aggressive with Teddy Bridgewater unless the Cowboys jump out to a big early lead and force them to do so). Last week, without Drew Brees and in a run-heavy game in which they led for the duration, Alvin Kamara outsnapped Latavius Murray 51 to 12 and outtouched him 26 to 2. I think it’s fair to assess here that the Saints believe that, without Brees, leaning on Kamara gives them the best chance to win (and they’re right). The matchup isn’t ideal, but Kamara should see 20+ touches again here with plenty of work in the short passing game. Murray may see a few more touches here but, even priced down, he’s a touchdown-or-bust option unless you want to bet that last week’s usage was a total fluke.

The Saints’ passing game under Bridgewater is ugly. Teddy himself did fine, leading two scoring drives and not turning the ball over while completing over 70% of his passes, but he also only averaged 6.6 yards per attempt. Michael Thomas saw seven targets, leading the receiving corps, but MT is always a low-aDOT guy to begin with, and it’s reaching cripplingly-low levels with Bridgewater under center. He’s come down in price a bit from his normal levels, but his ceiling is lower as well. He would need broken plays, multiple touchdowns, or massive volume in order to smash. The rest of the Saints’ pass game seems like it’s operating on a wing and a prayer with Bridgewater. Ted Ginn was the only other receiver to see more than two targets last week, with five, but a deep threat with a QB who doesn’t throw deep is an awfully risky play (especially against a Cowboys defense set up well to limit deep passing). Behind those two you’re looking at scraps; Jared Cook was on the field for 76% of the snaps and has a good matchup, so there’s some upside here with a scary-low floor. Austin Carr seems to have the WR3 role locked up but only played about half the snaps last week as the Saints went with more heavy personnel sets to support their run game. Carr is stone minimum but has a floor of zero (and, keep in mind that even for a minimum price guy, you still generally need at least 10 or so points to make a player tourney-viable).

The Cowboys bring us more attractive plays to think about. Ezekiel Elliott only saw 67% of the snaps last week to go along with 22 touches, but that was in a blowout win with Tony Pollard getting some volume late in the game. As long as the game is competitive, Zeke is going to be out there, albeit in a very difficult matchup. Volume and a three-down role keeps his ceiling intact but his floor is lower than usual here.

The Saints are much more vulnerable in the air than on the ground, as Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, and Russell Wilson have eviscerated them so far this year. Amari Cooper is an elite play on this slate and I might even consider him safer than Zeke in this matchup, as Marshon Lattimore has been getting blown up so far and Amari put up two touchdowns against tougher shadow coverage last week. Randall Cobb is overpriced for his role at $7k but, I suppose, fairly safe. If you’re looking at other Cowboys receivers, Devin Smith looks like a great value at $5,200. He saw more targets and air yards than Cobb last week, and he carries more upside as a perimeter receiver. If Lattimore does manage to stifle Amari, look for Devin Smith to become the beneficiary. Finally, the Cowboys’ tight end situation is mostly a fantasy bust — neither Jason Witten nor Blake Jarwin has seen more than four targets in a game this year, and they’ll both disappoint you without a touchdown. For some reason, Witten is over 5x more expensive than Jarwin, so I’ll lean in the latter direction if looking for a value play.

Overall, I want to note that this slate is short on value. The guys priced cheaper than $5k are backup RBs, Jared Cook, Ted Ginn, Blake Jarwin, and a smattering of other backup players. This means that the defenses and kickers are more in play than they are in most slates, as the odds of these various value plays outscoring them are lower than usual.

The likeliest way for this game to play out is the Saints trying to control the clock with a ground and short-pass focused game. The Cowboys should eventually break it open somewhat with their new pass-heavy play action-focused offense. Where the game goes from here will hinge on if the Cowboys can build a big enough lead to force the Saints to really open up the playbook and put the game in Bridgewater’s hands — it’s a scary thought, but that’s the path to more upside for any Saints player not named Kamara. If the game stays close, it’s hard to see any Saints beyond Kamara and Will Lutz being valuable, but if the Cowboys go up by a couple of scores we could see enough volume for MT to bust out and perhaps even some deeper shots to Ginn.

Other ways the game could play out:

  • The Cowboys could be more successful on the ground than we expect. The Saints have a strong run defense on paper but have surrendered almost 5 YPC so far on the season, so perhaps the Cowboys can find success here.
  • I don’t really expect the Cowboys to get trucked here, but every year teams go on the road and inexplicably fail in good spots. Saints onslaughts should be very, very low owned here and are worth exploring some exposure to if you’re multi-entering.
  • Kamara is, hands down, going to be the highest owned player on the Saints, while I expect the Cowboys ownership will focus on the pass game. Builds that suppose an inversion of this scoring with the Saints scoring in the air and the Cowboys on the ground should be pretty uncommon.

My favorite captains are Cooper and Kamara, in that order, but they’re also two of the most expensive plays on the slate. I think Devin Smith is also an intriguing captain choice — he already has a 74 yard touchdown on the year and has plenty of ceiling, while allowing you to afford more of the studs.

Some groups to consider:

  • At most 1 defense
  • At most 1 kicker (I’m even torn on this one — generally it’s a rule I follow, but the value on this slate is thin, so I might consider waiving this rule on at least some of my lineups)
  • Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
  • Pair captain receivers with their QB
  • At most 1 Cowboys TE
  • Pair Michael Thomas with at least 1 of Zeke, Amari, or Smith (MT is unlikely to have a big game unless the Cowboys score, so we want exposure to Cowboys who are likely to put up points in MT lineups)

JM’s Original Notes on this game for those building Thursday-to-Monday rosters ::

  • This game carries a low-for-these-teams mid-week Over/Under of 47.0, with neither team carrying a Vegas-implied team total north of 25.0; Vegas is giving credit to the defenses; but moreover, Vegas is giving credit to Sean Payton and his ability to somewhat control this game when the Saints have the ball
  • The Saints are very comfortable playing Marshon Lattimore in man coverage against an opponent’s top weapon (oftentimes: too comfortable for their own good); and while Lattimore occasionally flashes with a shut-down performance, this would be a good spot for Amari far more often than not if we played out this slate a hundred times
  • The run matchup is difficult for both Zeke and Kamara, though Kamara should be funneled targets, both by the Cowboys defense and by Payton’s play calling
  • On a 15-game slate, everything in the Saints passing attack (with Bridgewater, in a tough matchup) is completely speculative
  • Given how ugly running back is on this slate, Kamara stands out on the Thursday-to-Monday; he would likely find his way into Tier 1 if this game were on the Main Slate
  • Amari is a solid Tier 1 option if paying up at wide receiver, with only a few paths to a disappointing game, and with numerous paths to a big score
  • Zeke would be more in line with CMC this week: workload keeps him in the monster-ceiling conversation, but there are fewer paths to a big game this week than normal
  • Dak is a solid QB bet again; below guys like Mahomes // Lamar (and possibly Russ // Kyler), but with plenty of paths to the top score on the slate

Advanced Showdowns

Xandamere’s Advanced Showdown Course is now available through OWS :: Marketplace! This is his tournament course for Showdowns; and given the tangible edge in this contest type, it should pay itself off pretty quickly(!).