Close your eyes. Or, if you want, leave them open, as I’m not actually sure obstructing your vision helps you think more clearly and, well, you physically have to read what I’m writing. Anyway, the three-win Eagles head to Dallas to take on the three-win Cowboys this Sunday night in a tilt that might have a lasting impact on the NFC East’s eventual champion. Dallas is in the midst of a free-fall, while Philadelphia is coming off a sound beating at the hands of Stefon Diggs and Minnesota. So, I ask you, try to envision the most confidence-inspiring victory either of these two teams has had so far in 2019. It’s difficult, right? The Cowboys started undefeated, yet that success was clearly inflated with triumphs over the Redskins, Dolphins and Giants. Things haven’t been much rosier for the Eagles, who did secure a Thursday Night win over the Packers but have only otherwise taken advantage of Jay Gruden and Luke Falk. Heck, Philadelphia lost to Atlanta. That’s not a good look.
Still, someone has to win tonight’s contest and they’ll suddenly be relevant again. That’s just sort of how football works. If you’re having trouble figuring out which team that’s going to be, allow me to break it all down from a Showdown perspective.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
SUNDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN SPOTLIGHT
Dallas CowboysNot to suggest that there’d be a week where having all three of your top wide receivers limited in practice wouldn’t be a big deal, but, when you’re going into a matchup with the Eagles, the circumstance surrounding that position is amplified. Philadelphia can simply not cover opposing WRs. They just can’t do it. Yes, there’s a chance that Ronald Darby is back for this prime time contest, yet that’s not going to be enough to turn around a secondary that’s surrendered the most DKFP to receiving corps on a weekly basis. They are allowing the most touchdowns per game to the position (1.8), they are one of only three teams conceding 200-plus receiving yards per game to the position, they are giving up 9.0 yards per passing attempt to the position. Honestly, the Eagles only hope at limiting the damage that the Cowboys can do through the air is by having their front generate enough pressure to rattle Dak Prescott ($10,800) in the pocket. That’s a nice idea in theory, however, at 3.8%, Dallas’ offensive line has the lowest adjusted sack rate in the NFC. The lone question you have to answer is this: Does Amari Cooper ($10,200) or Michael Gallup ($9,600) deserve more exposure?
Cooper is coming off a disappointing performance against the Jets and has been dealing with a quad issue. Fortunately, both he and Randall Cobb ($7,400) practiced for the first time on Friday, hinting that both will be ready to go in Week 7. Still, even with a week of negativity, I’m a little shocked there’s only a mere $600 difference in Cooper’s and Gallup’s salaries. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all in on the Gallup breakout we’ve been witness to in 2019. There’s actually just a single qualified wideout who’s generated more yards per route run this season than the sophomore’s mark of 2.80: Michael Thomas. If you’re ever going to be compared to anyone in terms of efficiency, Thomas is a pretty damn good WR to emulate. Anyway, feel free to use Gallup. Heck, there’s more than enough reason to even consider rostering Gallup as a Captain’s Pick. Yet, I personally can’t shake the feeling that Cooper’s being undervalued on this slate. Since being traded to the Cowboys, Cooper’s played eight games at AT&T Stadium. In those eight contests he’s averaged 28.25 DKFP with 11 touchdowns. The biggest showing in that span was also against these very same Eagles, with the former first-round pick going off for 217 yards and three scores in Week 14 of 2018. As someone that wants as many pieces of this passing attack as possible, you could maybe split the difference and simply Captain Prescott – a man known to call his own number near the goal line – but, when push comes to shove, I want the upside of Cooper.
Editor’s Note: Cooper (ankle/quad) and Cobb (back) will be active for tonight’s game vs. the Eagles.
Obviously, if you’re reading between the lines here, I’m not going to have a lot of exposure to Ezekiel Elliott ($11,000) with my current lineup construction orientation. I think I can live with that. While there might be a case to be made that Elliott’s always tantalizing when at a depressed ownership level, Philadelphia is just not a defense that’s been inviting for running backs. They have the second-best overall run defense according to DVOA and they’ve allowed the fewest adjusted line yards per carry to opposing backs at 2.85 – also making them the lone unit surrendering less than 3.00 yards per rush. Yes, the touchdown expectancy remains high for Elliott, as Dallas has an implied team total above 25 points and the Ohio State product leads the NFL in red zone attempts (26). However, the pass catching element of his repertoire has fallen off significantly from last year. It’s basic supply and demand. Cooper is going to get his opportunities in the aerial system, that’s set in stone. Yet, where the Cowboys directed 21% of all throws to their backfield in 2018, that figure is now down to 14%. More telling still, that number’s fallen to 11% the four weeks Gallup has been active. It’s tough to swallow $11K for an asset in a bad matchup with a decreasing role.
Finally, in terms of tertiary Dallas options, Jason Witten ($5,200) is incredibly viable as the last piece in a stack of the Cowboys’ passing game. The veteran’s snap counts just keep going up. Witten played a season-high 87.8% of Dallas’ offensive snaps last weekend versus New York, seven days after seeing a then season-high 83.1% of snaps against Green Bay. The Cowboys D/ST ($3,800) is in less of an ideal spot, though they’re far more usable than Eagles D/ST ($3,200) with the news that Jason Peters will not be available on Sunday night.
Philadelphia EaglesThe hierarchy of Philadelphia’s offense is pretty clear aside from one position: running back. Though it does seem that Jordan Howard ($6,200) is locked in as the Eagles’ “bell-cow” option in terms of actual carries, his week-to-week fantasy relevance is generally dependent on touchdowns, especially considering he’s registered exactly zero receptions in three of his past four games. So, from a surface perspective, you might argue that this is a decent matchup for someone of Howard’s archetype, as Dallas has conceded the most rushing touchdowns per contest to opposing backfields so far in 2019 (1.2). They’ve also allowed a whopping 4.65 adjusted line yards per carry – the sixth-worst mark in the entire league. However, I think the more impressive aspect of Howard’s recent viability is his snap count from last Sunday’s 38-20 loss to Minnesota. While you would assume a player such as Howard would be easily scripted out of a game that Philadelphia trailed 24-3 mid-way through the second quarter, he still finished the afternoon out-snapping Miles Sanders ($6,400) 40-to-19. Yes, Sanders did walk away from that defeat with 86 receiving yards and a touchdown, yet he only had six touches in total. I understand that Sanders is the “pass-catching back” and that the Cowboys have surrendered a massive 8.8 targets per contest to opposing RBs, but if Doug Pederson wasn’t going to use him in a lopsided affair last week, when can I trust he is going to use him?
Honestly, it might be better to simply focus your attention on the Eagles’ passing attack. I think Philadelphia is going to have to score to keep up with the Cowboys, and Dallas is coming into this matchup on the heels of letting Sam Darnold throw for 338 yards. That alone should make Carson Wentz ($10,000) a pretty enticing proposition on this slate. Wentz’s accuracy has been questionable through his first six starts of the current campaign, however, he’s ranks ninth among qualified QBs in both aDOT (9.6 yards) and fantasy points per drop back (0.51). Another nice aspect of Wentz is how predictable his target distribution tends to be with Alshon Jeffery ($8,800) in the lineup. In fact, among WRs playing in Week 7, Jeffery’s 26% team target share trails only the aforementioned Thomas and Cooper Kupp. It’s not just about knowing Jeffery’s going to eat, though. It’s also being aware that Jeffery’s presence makes Nelson Agholor ($4,600) an afterthought. In the two games Jeffery’s either missed or played fewer than 80% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps, Agholor’s averaged 11.5 targets. The other contests in 2019? Well, that number’s dropped all the way down to 4.0. That sort of juxtaposition seems like something to take note of.
Of course Zach Ertz ($8,000) is also a favorite of Wentz and someone who is always fantasy viable considering his set in stone target share. However, taking price points into account, I believe Dallas Goedert ($1,400) might be the more compelling Philadelphia tight end on this slate. Obviously there’s some risk in that statement, but, with the team down DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have heavily featured 12 personnel the past few games. Goedert’s snap shares have been 69.4%, 74.2% and 70.3% dating back to the beginning of Week 4, and though this hasn’t translated into a ton of DFS value, the opportunity is there. The Cowboys’ overall statistics versus TEs are a little misleading — no one’s managed anything close to Evan Engram’s Week 1 production the past month — yet, we’re still talking about a Philadelphia offense that’s targeted its tight ends 72 times in 2019 — the most of any team in the conference. You’re going to have to save money somewhere and I truly think Goedert is the most appealing way to do so.
THE OUTCOMEThough I began this article stressing that neither of these teams are worthy of being trusted, I think it’s necessary to stipulate that the absolute lack of faith I have in the Eagles’ secondary makes me believe in the Cowboys’ passing game. Because of that, both Dak Prescott ($16,200 CP) and Amari Cooper ($15,300 CP) sit as my top options for 1.5x value on Sunday night, with the latter being my favorite play on the entire slate.
Final Score: Dallas 31, Philadelphia 24
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.