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2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 13: Cowboys 27, Saints 17 (By Ross Jacobs)

Date:
December 8, 2021 1:11 PM
December 8, 2021 1:09 PM

2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 13: Cowboys 27, Saints 17 (By Ross Jacobs)

 

Where to begin with this one?

The easy narrative that the mainstream is running with is that the Cowboys spanked the Saints in large part because Taysom Hill isn't a real QB. Of course they have to stick with that story because it's what fits their Jameis Winston narrative. Can't have people running off thinking that Taysom is far more effective than our beloved Jameis now can we?

What actually happened is far different.

The Cowboys struck first on offense, but the Saints quickly equalized. It was obvious from the get-go that Taysom should have been starting for the Saints all year. He provides a spark with his legs that New Orleans has been desperately needing. Of course, genius that he is, every time Taysom would string together a great drive running the ball, Sean Payton would suddenly throw 3 times in quick succession to WR's that can't get open and voila the drive would evaporate.

This was in addition to the fact that Taysom hurt his middle finger on his throwing hand very early in the game and was obviously struggling to throw the ball as effectively as usual. Did that stop Payton from attempting 41 passes while his QB was tearing up the Cowboys on the ground? Absolutely not.

This game was only 13-7 Cowboys at the half despite a couple of interceptions by Taysom. He would throw 4 in the game, and again the media makes it sound like they were all his fault, all terrible throws that no respectable starting QB would make, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. In reality only 1 or 2 were really Taysom's fault, and at least one he was essentially forced to throw late in the game into coverage simply trying to make a play. Do not for a second believe that he threw 4 bad picks on his own. This was a mix of bad luck, bad WR's, a bad game plan, and an injured finger. Taysom is fine and should absolutely remain the starting QB.

Despite everything going against Taysom and the Saints, they still had chances until late in the game. Eventually Tony Pollard broke a long run for a touchdown that gave Dallas a comfortable lead. A Taysom interception that happened to go straight to a defensive lineman rolling out was returned for a score and it was too much for the Saints to overcome. Without all the BS that held the Saints back I'd say they were actually the better team. Do not count them out if Taysom continues to start and is healthy.

Dallas lucks their way to an 8-4 record and are trying to hold off surging Philadelphia and Washington. The Cowboys still have Arizona to contend with in addition to the Giants, Eagles, and Washington twice. Those divisional games will decide the ultimate winner. If Dallas loses this week to Washington all hell is going to break loose and who knows how it will end.

The Saints fall to 5-7 but aren't out of the playoffs yet. They have 3 easy games that they should win against the Jets, Panthers, and Falcons along with two more games against the Dolphins and Bucs. If they can win all 3 of the easy games and split the other two 1-1, they'll be sitting at 9-8 with an outside chance of a wildcard spot. Lose any of those games though and they are likely done.

 

 

Fantasy Notes

 

--So the most important fantasy question from this game is obviously Taysom's health and viability moving forward. As far as his effectiveness as a fantasy QB, there's nothing to worry about. You see what he can do on the ground. He's a QB1 if he's healthy and starting, a Jalen Hurts-alike. Taysom could have run for 200 yards here if Payton didn't have his head up his ass.

Health is a different question. We still have to monitor the situation closely, but as best I can tell Taysom is going to try to play through the injury. So what is the exact injury and should we be scared of it?

Taysom has what is called a “mallett finger” injury, the same injury that Russell Wilson suffered earlier this year. The tip of the finger gets bent forward and it cannot be straightened because the ligament is stretched or torn. The hand will also be quite swollen and painful.

In Taysom's case, he won't require surgery because the damage isn't nearly as bad as Wilson's was. He played the entire game with the fresh injury after all. The trouble is, he isn't going to be able to grip the ball like normal. You saw how his accuracy was off during the Dallas game. He'll likely be dealing with more of the same, although with some time off to rest it and a proper splint or tape job, he might be a bit better off.

The Saints also have all week to work on a run-heavy gameplan, and I have to imagine that's the direction they take, limiting Taysom's passing as much as possible or giving him lots of short passes and screens to work with. Playing the Jets they likely don't have to do too much, just control the clock and target 20-23 points or so.

I think you can play Taysom this week barring a change in his diagnosis. Don't expect heavy passing volume though. Very likely he'll only throw 20-25 passes or so and should come in at or under 200 yards passing. What we're hoping for is 50+ yards rushing which should be easily attainable and maybe two touchdowns total. Doing that he could still hit 20 points for the game in 4-point leagues. Continue to follow any developments with the injury, but my best guess is he's going to play and be effective enough as a runner to finish as a QB1.

 

--Deonte Harris (4-96-1/8) will be suspended the next 3 games due to a DUI from this past summer. Harris appealed the suspension and was unsuccessful. This is a painful time to get hit with it as he has been establishing himself as the top target for New Orleans and their only genuine playmaker.

 

--With Harris suspended and Kenny Stills getting cut (finally), somebody is going to get some targets. My best guess is Tre'Quan Smith will be the “beneficiary” for what that's worth. Even as the default #1 WR though he's still probably a WR3-4 at best. If you're desperate that's where I'd go, but don't count on anything big happening here.

 

--Good news for Alvin Kamara owners, the RB should be back this week against the Jets. The Saints have been staying cautious with his knee injury, but he got in multiple limited practices last week and is expected to return this week. The Jets are a sweet spot to come back, and with Taysom's injury I think we can expect a good bit of Kamara including some nice ppr work.

 

--Oh no, Ezekiel Elliott (13-45-0, 2-2-0/3) only averaged 3.5 ypc again! The sky is falling! Tony Pollard (7-71-0, 2-3-0/4) is obviously so much better! Take out the one broken play where Pollard was nearly tackled for a loss but broke open on the edge for 58 yards, and he got 13 yards on his other 6 carries. The Saints simply have a very good run defense.

I'm holding fast in my stance from last week: there's nothing wrong with Zeke, nothing major anyways. Both backs were ineffective while Tyron Smith was out for a month, but now Smith is back, Zeke is still taking two thirds of the carries, and he won't be facing a very tough New Orleans run defense this week. Washington is no pushover certainly, their run defense has been trending up, but I'd say this is a middle of the pack matchup.

I think Zeke takes a good workload, 15-18 carries for a bit over 4 yards per carry, so maybe somewhere in the 65-80 yard range, with 3 or 4 catches and a good shot at a TD or two. It doesn't sound sexy, but those are solid numbers for fantasy. If he fails again here at Washington, then we might have a problem, but I really don't think that's the case.

 

 

Snap Counts of Interest

 

45 = Ezekiel Elliott

28 = Tony Pollard

 

48 = Marquez Callaway

47 = Tre'Quan Smith

36 = Ty Montgomery

30 = Lil'Jordan Humphrey


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R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

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