COWBOYS // SEAHAWKS OVERVIEW
Through the first two games of the season, the Seahawks rank 27th in the NFL in total yards on offense, while the Cowboys rank 30th. While touchdowns and catches are obviously things we want to pile up in DFS, we need to pile up yardage as well. With this game also pegged with an Over/Under of 41.5 (third-lowest mark on the Main Slate), we should be able to make fairly quick work of this spot.
COWBOYS PASS OFFENSE
The poor play of the Cowboys starts with the passing attack (or…”attack”), which is featuring Cole Beasley as its number one weapon. Through two games, Dak Prescott has only 35 completions, for 330 total yards and only one touchdown. Dallas ranks 26th in Situation Neutral pace of play and 31st in plays per game, while passing the ball at the third-lowest rate in the NFL. Add it all up, and you end up with Dak averaging only 27 pass attempts per game.
In case you care, here are the target counts so far for the Cowboys’ primary receivers:
11 — Cole Beasley
5 — Allen Hurns
3 — Michael Gallup
3 — Terrance Williams
Three different tight ends have seen at least one target for this offense as well.
COWBOYS RUN OFFENSE
The Cowboys’ “Ugly Ball” approach — shortening the game as much as possible and leaning on Ezekiel Elliott to be their workhorse — is fine for maximizing this poor offense’s chances of winning games, but it’s a bit rough on Zeke’s production, as defenses are able to stack the box without any worry whatsoever. Zeke has still managed to beast his way to a solid 4.6 yards per carry, though he has yet to top 80 yards in a game. He has also turned eight catches into only 26 yards.
The work will be there this week against what has proven to be an average Seattle run defense (15th in DVOA, 18th in yards allowed per carry), and Zeke has the talent to pop off for a big play or two on his own; but don’t expect the Cowboys’ offense as a whole to march up and down the field setting up Zeke for the sort of bunny scores that guys like Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley get gifted to them. Zeke will have to do all the work on his own in order to post an elite fantasy score.
SEAHAWKS RUN OFFENSE
Seattle ranks 29th in pace of play to begin the season and 28th in plays per game, while Cleveland is the only team that has punted the ball more times than the Seahawks to begin the season.
There are two major issues for the Seahawks on offense. Okay, three. (Okay, more than that…but we’ll cap things at three.) Firstly, they cannot run the ball. Secondly, they cannot block pass rushers. Thirdly, they have no weapons to throw the ball to.
Even with Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks rank 27th in yards per carry to begin the season, behind an offensive line that ranks 28th in adjusted line yards. Chris Carson is averaging 8.0 touches per game to start the season, while Rashaad Penny is averaging 10.5 touches per game. This rushing attack is a mess at the moment, and with uncertain usage and ineffective line play, each of these guys is nothing more than a hope-and-pray option.
SEAHAWKS PASS OFFENSE
The Cowboys’ pass rush ranks third in the NFL in adjusted sack rate to begin the year, and they should be adding Randy Gregory to the mix this week for the first time — against a Seattle line that has allowed the most sacks in the NFL.
When Russell Wilson gets time to throw this week, he’ll be working with Will Dissly (5.0 targets per game), Brandon Marshall (6.0 targets per game), and Tyler Lockett (5.5 targets per game). The Cowboys run a tight zone scheme that aims to force short passes — and in the same way that this matchup set up poorly for Cam Newton and his downfield tendencies in Week 1 (he ended up going only 17 of 26 for 181 yards), this matchup sets up poorly for Russ as well.
With all that said: the Seahawks have to move the ball somehow; and even if they fall shy of 300 yards again, those yards have to come from somewhere. Russ has only 22 rushing yards through two games, but perhaps he takes off a few more times in this one. And while Russ has thrown three interceptions already, trying to force the ball to receivers who can’t get open, he is always willing to take those risks, and this has led to five touchdown passes as well. As with Cam: Russel’s legs and aggressiveness keep him in the tourney conversation each week.
I could see a tourney shot on Zeke or Russ in this game, but I don’t imagine I’ll be the one to take that shot myself. Each guy retains his ceiling, but the chances of hitting that ceiling are not appealing in this slow-paced, low-volume spot. Everything else on these offenses is miles away from consideration for me with so many better spots on the slate.
I do like the Cowboys’ defense in this spot. Seattle tends to play much better at home, so perhaps it’s a bit of a thin play; but we get a top-three pass rush against a bottom-three offensive line, with a quarterback who is often forced to either throw into coverage or take a sack. With 12 sacks taken and three interceptions thrown so far this season, Russ has not been anyone’s idea of a quarterback we need to be afraid of attacking.
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