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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
The Dallas-Carolina game feels like this dull 16-8 final score game between two ‘good-ish’ teams; teams most people discount…and, thus, this was painted as one of the forgettable games of Week 1. What if it was a game between two of the better teams in the NFL…and it was just a slug-fest war that one team out-slugged the other?
This game is going to have major ramifications later in the season – it may be the deciding factor on one of them getting the final wild card spot over the other. That is…if Carolina doesn’t win the NFC South first.
You know who has been a great team for three years? The Dallas Cowboys…when Sean Lee is playing (Dallas is 21-4 in their last 25 games Lee played majority of). One of the best records in football over the past couple years when he is fully playing in games. Rivaling that – Carolina when Luke Kuechly is fully playing in games (Carolina is 31-11 in his last 42 regular season games).
Sean Lee and Luke Kuechly are arguably two of the five best players in the NFL…the most valuable players. Only the high-end QBs are more valuable. When Lee or Kuechly are gone their defenses/teams usually go into the tank, big time.
What if this was just a slug-fest between two very good NFL teams in 2018, and one of them out-slugged the other? And then it’s not as much ‘What’s wrong with the Cowboys? What’s wrong with Dak?’
Carolina takes a huge step for the 2018 playoffs with this win. They also take a step forward as a top 3-4 NFC team in my mind…but as soon as I get excited, Kuechly is questionable this week and they lost a top O-Lineman for the year in this game.
Dallas does have issues…they are not as good as Carolina. Dallas may have a better roster, but their coaching staff is destroying this team from within. The Dallas O-Line is starting to corrupt, and the coaching staff has shown no ability to adjust to anything going on in-game. It’s a Super Bowl roster thrown away, once again, by dumb Jerry Jones decisions on people. I’m sure he fancies himself a great judgement of talent/staff by ‘looking a man in his eye’, but two decades of failure with this organization later says he’s not good at talent assessment in this arena. Might be a businessman genius everywhere else, but terrible at football…surrounded by lapdogs/family members.
Carolina’s new owner seems like he wants to build a dynasty. Dallas’s owner wants a plaything to reflect back to him how cool he is. And thus, justice was served here – Panthers win 16-8.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- My biggest takeaway from this game was watching Michael Gallup (1-9-0/1) slowly creep into this game as a ‘starter’ as time went on…more so, as the offense went nowhere, and they started rolling out Gallup more to maybe provide a spark. I think the Gallup as starter era is right around the corner.
Gallup was in and out a bit early but in the 4th-quarter when Dallas was being shutout and needed offense…Gallup started showing up in the WR trio more and more.
For reasons only The Sixth Sense (Jason Garrett) understands, they are starting Cole Beasley-Terrance Williams on too many passing plays, and then rotating that 3rd WR in and out between Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and then Gallup.
When Gallup becomes a comfortable starter, he will be the best WR from Dallas to have for FF…and that means WR2 in PPR with upside because he’s a great WR, still raw but going to be terrific.
-- I’m not as used to seeing ‘this’ Dak (19-29 for 170 yards, 0 TD/0 INT)…the Dak that doesn’t have a run game and is semi-scrambling for his life too often. It’s like Dak back when Ezekiel was suspended, and Tyron Smith was hurt in 2017.
The Dallas O-Line struggled in this game (Dak sacked 6 times), somewhat because of the Carolina defense…but we all think the Dallas O-Line overcomes all. It didn’t here. Something looks wrong. OC Frederick is out. Not sure how healthy Zack Martin is. Something isn’t right.
For fantasy, you don’t want Dak with a weak running game, terrible WRs (that Garrett is starting so far), and a so-so O-Line. Dak entered the league with an ace O-Line, killer run game, and a respected WR group. He may have none of that for a while in 2018. I’m bailing on Dak, even though I like him and his game…I don’t trust the Dallas staff to adjust things to help him. The O-Line woes will bring this whole franchise down…it was the one straw stirring all the drinks, and that straw may have a tiny hole in it now.
It’s why Ezekiel Elliott (15-69-1, 3-17-0/4) might be a slight disappointment this year. Teams push the Dallas O-Line around some now. Not respecting the passing game and overplaying Elliott – and Garrett will keep running right into and not adjusting.
-- Christian McCaffrey (10-50-0, 6-45-0/9) has a similar-ish problem…he’s great, but his O-Line is falling apart due to injury.
McCaffrey is going to be fine, and in PPR, I wouldn’t be shocked if he finishes ahead of Ezekiel in 2018. I worry the O-Line injuries are going have CMC taking too many hits/taking away chances for short scores (and Cam takes them). These are just generic worries. I’m not trading or bailing on McCaffrey, I’m a buyer. I just hope Carolina can keep their remaining OLs healthy…they are getting to critical concern levels of injury/depth. They can’t take much more bad news.
McCaffrey was OK in this game, statistically OK. Credit the Dallas front line in this as well. It’s a tough group to penetrate.
-- I’m guessing Greg Olsen (2-33-0/2) will not return until very late in the season – he’s going to get ready for his final playoff run. He won’t rush back unless the playoffs are in question.
Rookie Ian Thomas (2-4-0/2) is a good prospect, but it’s asking a lot for him to jump up and become a fantasy factor on a low-volume passing game, as a rookie TE. When Ed Dickson popped up for injured Olsen last season, he has a great debut game and then disappeared shortly after. I don’t think we can trust Thomas here more than a desperation flyer at TE.
-- IDP Shaq Thompson (9 tackles, 1.0 sacks) keeps getting better and better. Another big game with Thomas Davis out. The good time will roll for 3 more games until Davis returns.
-- I’m a fan of the Dallas-DST. Love the front-line…one of the best in the league rushing the passer. The linebackers, as long as Sean Lee is playing, are nice. The DBs are very undervalued. They are building a quite a secondary…better when Xavier Woods returns.
They held Carolina to 293 total yards, 33% on 3rd-downs, and registered 3 sacks.
Considering Dallas likes to run the ball too much and has all this defensive talent…they are like a mini-Jacksonville from last year. Not fully there yet but heading in that direction…just like the Bengals, if they can put it all together.
Dallas faces Eli Week 2, and he’s very sackable/pressurable…they get Eli in Dallas. They then face Seattle’s corrupted O-Line in Week 3. They then get Detroit’s bad O-Line Week 4. They then get Houston’s weak O-Line Week 5. They then get Blake Bortles Week 6. Dallas’s DST is a play the next five weeks…in a sea of confusing DSTs in 2018 with bad matchups all over the NFL/fantasy.
Snap Counts of Interest:
57 = Funchess
51 = Torrey Smith
31 = Jarius Wright
17 = D.J. Moore
43 = Beasley
38 = Hurns
30 = Deonte Thompson
29 = Gallup
19 = Terr. Williams
10 = Tavon Austin
66 = Byron Jones
66 = Awuzie
37 = Anthony Brown
00 = Jourdan Lewis