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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
This was the Dallas Cowboys that The Computer predicted would win the Super Bowl last year and would win the division this year. Everyone is so focused on the offense, because the media is so narrow-minded in what they think they see – they are missing and have been missing the one of the best young defenses emerging in the NFL for two years.
I’ve been trying to find the next Jacksonville-DST/2017. My contenders have been the Bengals and the Cowboys for 2018. The Cowboys just took the lead in that chase. Dallas (only 2 weeks in) leads the NFL in sacks (9) and is #5 in passing yards allowed, #9 in rushing yards per carry allowed. This is a really good defense – missing it’s starting safety (Xavier Woods) and, oh yeah, one of the best DTs in the NFL is coming back soon from suspension (David Irving).
For fantasy, hope that everyone blames all this on Eli, so you can grab the Dallas-DST if needed this week.
Part of it was Eli…he’s Sam Bradford East Coast version. All he is a skittish dump passer. The offense has been built around Eli’s issues – all dump passes last week to OBJ vs. JAC, and then all dump passes to Saquon in this game. The Giants were never in this game. Eli is ‘over’, and the Giants have exactly ‘0’ options behind him. I kid you not – a 1-9 start is in range, and no Ben McAdoo to blame.
Well, Giants fans…you wanted to throw a fit about Eli being benched and got the team to fire the coach and install a new group that agreed to Eli starting as terms of their hiring (my words) – you got what you wanted. Hope you enjoy last place and another top 5 slot in the draft. Giants fans, it’s all your fault. You did this, forcing management’s hands. Will you take the blame or just send out stupid, belligerent tweets about how terrible Eli and Pat Shurmur are? No need to answer, I know the answer.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Eli’s problems have the following cascade effect…
Saquon Barkley (11-28-0, 14-80-0/16) becomes a 230+ pound Chris Thompson – little rushing tally but a ton of cheap targets. Only Thompson seems more dangerous after the catch. Another week, another game with Barkley caught easily in the backfield wayyy too much…but then did you see all the work on the dump passes? You likely remember him spinning away from initial tackles, and he did…however, he was then tackled quickly after evading some first tackle attempts on his dump pass work. 5.7 yards per catch, long of 18 yards.
Barkley is human. He is good, but he is human.
…and the Dallas defense is pretty sound.
Odell Beckham (4-51-0/9) is Eli’s primary downfield look. However, when Eli has little time he’s going dump pass. Last week, they ran OBJ on all those cheap dump passes. This week, it was Barkley.
Also note, Byron Jones (6 tackles) is a shutdown corner – another reason why the Dallas-DST is about to pop. One of the reasons why OBJ didn’t have a big week.
OBJ’s WR1 numbers are in trouble as NYG plays a bunch of high-pressure front defenses the first 10 weeks.
Evan Engram’s (7-67-1/7) upside is limited by Eli as well. However, Engram is a great dump pass/crosser option. They run a little drag across the field by Engram, and Eli hits him and it puts EE on the loose being chased by slower LBs. Barkley has guys all over him. OBJ doesn’t have the heart for constant over the middle work. Engram is the secret dump pass weapon that has been working when they use it.
I bet Engram has an 8-10+ catch game ahead, you watch. It just makes sense with limited Eli.
-- Dak Prescott (16-25 for 160 yards, 1 TD/0 INT, 7-45-0) played one of the best games I’ve seen him have – he played like a future Super Bowl winning QB. The better Blake Bortles – heavy run game, great defense, no name receivers, mobile QB…only Dak can actually throw the ball like a real QB. Bortles is a limited passer (except Week 2 of 2018, where he out-Brady’d Brady).
Dak may not hit fantasy QB1, but he’s secretly a great NFL QB.
-- Speaking of my all Dallas praise…let give some to a guy I never praise: Ezekiel Elliott (17-78-1, 5-9-0/6).
EE doesn’t have the run blocking he used to, so he’s having to fight harder for yardage and he ran like a grown-ass-man in this game. Completely the opposite of Saquon Barkley. Elliott just ran into danger with reckless, punishing abandon…not a dancer like Saquon. Ezekiel earned all of his 78 rushing yards in this game. One of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen out of him, in one of his worst statistical days.
-- I heard The Sixth Sense (Jason Garrett), and please go read my summer Dallas-Amazon documentary series/reviews from this summer to understand the nickname, speaking about his WR and TE group. He’s crowing about his ‘wide receivers by committee’ and ‘tight ends by committee’. Which means, he’s not changing off this because he’s delighted with himself by it.
Three things for fantasy because of that:
1) There will not be a Michael Gallup (1-5-0/2) uprising coming anytime soon. Garrett is going ‘committee’ versus ‘playmakers’, and thus Gallup will be harnessed.
2) Tavon Austin (2-79-1/2) could be a breakout star, but ‘committee’ is the star…and Garrett will be the reason a Super Bowl team doesn’t win it – when Terrance Williams or Deonte Thompson lets them down in a big spot because Gallup and Austin weren’t pushed. Austin is a touchdown in a bottle, and Garrett will only open the bottle 1-2x per game…instead of ‘a lot’.
3) Rico Gathers started showing up as a red zone option. He may be a guy who catches 15 passes this season and has 5-8 TDs.
-- OK, the Dallas-DST…
I get it. I liked them last week but kinda liked the Pats more and NE-DST responded by making Blake Bortles into Tom Brady, so I’m sure I will get hyped by Dallas more this week and they’ll give up 50+ to the Seahawks next week, but…
SEA-DET-HOU – Weeks 3-5, three of the worst O-Lines in the NFL.
JAC Week 6, just lost a top OL (Cam Robinson).
Week 7 vs. WAS is not major threat.
Week 8 is a BYE.
Week 9 vs. TEN is a gift.
Weeks 10-12: PHI-ATL-WAS…three offenses that don’t look that scary at all.
Week 13 vs. Saints is always scary.
Week 14 vs. Philly is OK.
Weeks 15-16 of IND-TB may be nice.
Tavon Austin returning punts is a bonus as well.
Besides Drew Brees Week 14 and Russell Wilson Week 3 (but with a bad O-Line), Dallas doesn’t face an elite QB otherwise.
Snap Counts of Interest:
30 = Beasley
27 = Hurns
25 = Gallup
23 = D Thompson
18 = Austin
10 = Terr Williams
50 = Swaim
14 = Jarwin
05 = Gathers
53 = Ogletree
30 = B.J. Goodson