Kickoff Saturday, Dec 30th 8:15pm Eastern

Lions (
24.25) at

Cowboys (

Over/Under 53.0


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


We get a Saturday game this week instead of a Monday game, and it has the 11-4 Lions visiting the 10-5 Cowboys for a whopping 52-point total with Dallas favored by 5.5. Should be a fun one between two playoff bound teams loaded up with good offenses. 


On the Cowboys side, nobody has run worse than Tony Pollard this season in terms of expected fantasy points (based on volume) vs. actual fantasy points. Some of that is luck as Pollard is second in the league in red zone rushing attempts (and tied for third in attempts inside the 5), but has just four red zone rushing touchdowns (4 TDs on 55 red zone rush attempts, while every other RB with more than 40 attempts in the red zone has at least eight TDs). Some of it is inefficiency. Pollard is averaging just four yards per carry on the season, and that goes way down to just 2.7 yards per carry inside the red zone. The matchup here is tough, as the Lions are fourth in run defense DVOA but just 16th in pass defense DVOA (and even worse against the pass lately), but at just $7,800, it’s hard to ignore Pollard’s talent and volume as a home favorite running back with solid goal line and passing game work. I expect he’ll draw a lot of ownership as a result. I think he’s fine because his price is so cheap, but I’m not especially excited to play him and will probably end up either around or a bit under the field on Pollard depending on where his ownership comes in. Behind Pollard, Rico Dowdle is out, leaving Deuce Vaughn in the RB2 role. This has been a reasonably valuable role, as Dowdle put up 9.6 or more DK points in four games this season, and that’s about what we’d probably need in order for Vaughn to have a strong chance of showing up in a winning lineup at $1k. He fits better in builds predicated on the Cowboys winning the game handily, as that’s when we saw Dowdle’s touches spike the most as Dallas cut back on Pollard’s workload once a game got out of hand. 

Showdown Ownership Projections!

Ownership updates automatically

In the passing game, the Cowboys are CeeDee Lamb and then everyone else. Lamb has been absolutely amazing this season: he’s third in the league in targets (151), first in receptions (109), second in receiving yards (1,424), and tied for fourth in touchdowns (9). In a matchup that leans towards the pass, everything lines up for Lamb to have a huge game. He’s priced like it, but he is very clearly the strongest on-paper play in this Showdown. You can fade him and just hope “well, football is weird” (and it is – obviously, Lamb could fail), but there are no metrics that point to failure being in any way likely. Behind Lamb, the Cowboys have Brandin Cooks in a full-time WR2 role, Michael Gallup and Jalen Tolbert splitting the WR3 role, and KaVontae Turpin playing a small gadget-type role. Cooks looks wildly underpriced to me at $5,400. I’m not sure what happened to his salary as it’s tied for the cheapest he’s been all season (and he’s normally at least $6k, more often around $7k). Everyone’s volume behind Lamb is somewhat volatile because of how much Lamb sucks up, but this is just way too cheap of a price for a talented receiver on a good offense in a good matchup. I’m very in on Cooks, but I also expect the field to realize this and he’ll be pretty highly owned. Gallup and Tolbert are splitting work, which has led to mediocrity for both. Tolbert only has one game over 10 DK points while Gallup has four, and Gallup has also out-snapped Tolbert in all but four games (and most of those were very close), so I have a slight lean his way, but both are viable value plays though I would not play them together. Turpin is interesting as a punt option as he sees very little volume (18 targets and 10 carries on the season), but he’s explosive, and he’s schemed looks around the end zone with six of his targets and two of his carries coming inside the 20. He has more red zone targets than Gallup or Tolbert and just two fewer than Cooks, which makes him a “touchdown or bust” dart throw but with a fairly reasonable chance of scoring that touchdown. 

At tight end, Jake Ferguson has an enormous red zone role: his 24 red zone targets lead the tight end position and they are second in the league to all pass catchers (behind just Lamb). Ferg doesn’t tend to get a ton of yardage and has only seen double-digit targets once on the season, so while it’s possible for him to pay off without a touchdown, in all likelihood he’s going to need one, but with so much red zone work and in a good matchup, his likelihood of getting one is strong. Backup TEs Luke Schoonmaker and Peyton Hendershot can be played as MME punt options. This passing offense really revolves around Lamb and Ferguson, then Cooks (and Pollard to an extent) in the next tier, and then everyone else. Finally, remember that while Dallas started off the season being more run-heavy, since their bye week they have had one of the highest pass rates over expectation of any team in the league: they’re throwing a ton, and doing it in almost all game scenarios (this is part of why I’m not super excited to play Pollard despite his cheap price). 


<< Inner Circle! >>

Inner Circle will return for the 2024 NFL season