Kickoff Sunday, Oct 23rd 1:00pm Eastern

Lions (
21.25) at

Cowboys (

Over/Under 49.5


Key Matchups
Lions Run D
3rd DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O
15th DVOA/19th Yards per carry
Lions Pass D
16th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O
11th DVOA/14th Yards per pass
Cowboys Run D
9th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per carry
Lions Run O
4th DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D
6th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per pass
Lions Pass O
9th DVOA/9th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

  • Lots of moving pieces on the Detroit injury report, with Amon-Ra St. Brown getting in his first full practice since injuring his ankle in Week 3, D.J. Chark and Josh Reynolds listed as DNP on Wednesday, and D’Andre Swift returning as a limited participant for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in Week 3.
  • Dallas appears set to get quarterback Dak Prescott back from injury this week.
  • The Lions’ overall 58.26% pass rate and below average pass rate over expectation in three of five games reminds us of how they would like to win – they just have largely been unable to do so this season due to the routine negative game scripts they have found themselves in.
  • Dallas should be afforded the opportunity to get a run game going that has largely struggled this season, particularly considering how good Ezekiel Elliott looked in Week 6, the likely positive game script, and the elite matchup.

How DETROIT Will Try To Win ::

It is clear that the Lions would like to return to smashmouth football behind a top five offensive line, but a defense playing man coverage at the highest rate in the league has not afforded them much opportunity to continue that game plan deep into games. As such, it’s likely we see them start the game this week attempting to control things on the ground, but a Dallas defense holding opponents to 4.35 yards per carry and the fourth lowest drive success rate against is likely to turn the Lions to the air sooner rather than later. When that happens, look out, friends. The Cowboys have a relentless pass rush and Jared Goff is back to being #notgood when under pressure, which is likely to lead to sacks and the potential for turnovers, placing the Lions deeper into negative game script. Overall, expect the Lions to be forced into a linear increase in aerial aggression as the game progresses.

The Lions are expecting D’Andre Swift back from an extended absence due to ankle and shoulder injuries. Coming off their bye, there is no reason to expect a decrease to his workload, assuming he returns to a full practice at some point this week. Swift has played only two fully healthy games this season, seeing 18 and 10 running back opportunities in those contests. Jamaal Williams saw 13 running back opportunities in those same two games and will be involved regardless, with the ultimate split in opportunities likely coming down to Swift’s level of health. The pure rushing matchup yields a robust 4.685 net-adjusted line yards metric behind the league’s third-ranked run-blocking offensive line. Craig Reynolds is on hand to handle any change of pace work dependent on the health of D’Andre Swift.

It is likelier than not that the Lions are forced into increased aerial aggression as the game progresses. Amon-Ra St. Brown returned to a full practice on Wednesday, signaling a return to full health coming out of the bye. St. Brown averaged 11 targets per game over the first three weeks of the season before missing Week 4 and playing on an injured ankle in Week 5. Josh Reynolds and D.J. Chark failed to practice on Wednesday, which is not good news coming out of the bye week. Kalif Raymond and Tom Kennedy would be next men up, likely in that order, should either miss again this week. St. Brown ranks second in the league in targets per route run rate at 34.8% and should lead this team in receiving for the rest of the season. Tight end T.J. Hockenson ranks in the top 12 at the position in routes run, route participation rate, targets per route run, and team target market share, but he fails to crack the top seven at the position in any of those metrics and holds a modest 7.4 aDOT (13th). This pass offense is legitimately “Amon-Ra and then everyone else,” particularly if Chark and/or Reynolds can’t go. The primary detractor of the pass offense here is the elite pressure rate forced by the Dallas defensive line and second level, which is likely to limit the average intended air yards from quarterback Jared Goff. As such, volume should be the primary indicator of fantasy goodness here. 

How DALLAS Will Try To Win ::

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  • It seems probable that the field will view the Cowboys as a team that is likely to start increasing their aerial aggression with Dak Prescott under center, but Mike McCarthy has made it clear in multiple press conferences over the last two weeks that this is unlikely to be the case (most telling was a press conference in Week 6 where he discussed conversations he had with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore this offseason, in which he essentially told Moore that he saw the Cowboys’ defense as the identity of this team, and wanted the offensive game plan to be structured accordingly); we should see a greater willingness to let it rip when necessary, and once Dak gets his feet under him, we should see a more efficient attack, but this should still be an offense built “from the inside out”
  • While that’s important to note, it’s also true that CeeDee Lamb — in spite of playing in this run-leaning offense — has target counts on the year of 11 // 11 // 12 // 8 // 8 // 10, while leading the NFL in team target market share; he’s a solid bet this week, in spite of the fact that he’s likely to be extremely popular (that said: his chances of a “had to have it” game are relatively low)
  • Zeke is interesting here, albeit as a guy who will likely need two touchdowns in order to really pop, whereas all of Pollard, Schultz, and Gallup are guys who can outperform their salaries while taking away points from more popular players on the Dallas offense if everything breaks just right
  • While there are a number of players in consideration for me on the Dallas side, “Amon-Ra or bust” is my likeliest approach with the Lions; while early ownership projections can sometimes move dramatically before the weekend, it’s noteworthy that ARSB is currently projected to carry ownership under 8%, which would increase my interest in him as the engine of an offense that is likely to be trailing as this game progresses
  • Probably the top piece from this game is the Dallas defense. Once the Cowboys are able to force the Lions into more drop backs, their relentless and organic pass rush should absolutely tee off on Jared Goff – and we know what happens when Goff is under pressure. He currently holds a 49.1% completion rate and a three-to-two touchdown-to-interception ratio when under pressure. Detroit’s offensive line has given up only seven total sacks this season, a number that legitimately could double here (the Cowboys lead the league with 24 sacks through six games).
  • Going back to the discussion on how running backs are putting up GPP-worthy scores in today’s NFL landscape, which is primarily coming through 100-yard games and multiple scores outside a select few backs, leads us to Ezekiel Elliott as a viable candidate to hit those thresholds from this game. As in, if Zeke is seeing 18-22 carries against a poor run defense, after looking better last week than I have seen him run in over two years, there is a legitimate path to a GPP-worthy game. I can’t see him garnering much ownership which helps.
  • On the other side, Amon-Ra St. Brown should be absolutely peppered with targets here based on the matchup and likeliest game flow, which keeps him circling my late week condensed player pool. Zeke and St. Brown make for a very naturally, “likeliest scenario” correlated pairing, one that should go largely overlooked this week.
  • CeeDee Lamb is likely to gain both steam and interest as the week moves along. How quickly the field forgets that Dak Prescott is an above average NFL quarterback, one that continues his progressions and reads at a quicker rate than someone like Cooper Rush, who targets his top option relentlessly. I say that for a few reasons – (1) Lamb played in one game last year without Amari Cooper, seeing only four targets in that game, (2) the assumption that the Cowboys will lean more pass-heavy with Dak back is likely incorrect, (3) there aren’t many pay-up options at wide receiver, so Lamb is likely to be extremely popular, and (4) Lamb’s modest 9.8 aDOT means he likely requires double-digit targets to get him to the 100-yard bonus, and still has to get in the end zone to put up a GPP-worthy score.
  • I don’t have much interest in any other pieces from this game – ranked in order, my interest goes Dallas defense, Ezekiel Elliott, Amon-Ra St. Brown.