2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 16: Cowboys 56, Washington 14 (By Ross Jacobs)
This might possibly have been the most one-sided beatdown I've watched all year. Washington was never in this game, not even for a second and they knew it. By now I'm sure everyone has seen the clip of Jonathan Allen taking a swing at Daron Payne. It was that kind of game.
Washington needed to win this game to have any chance at the playoffs however remote. Instead, they are going to be pondering off-season changes after a promising season got derailed by injuries and ineffective play. The strangest part of their season has been the total lack of the dominant defense we saw emerging late last season. It seemed like things were improving the past month or two, but this game was a real wake up call that there are serious issues to work out.
Dallas, meanwhile, is feeling pretty good about themselves. They are on a four game win streak and just demolished whatever was left of Washington. They've already sewn up a division title and playoff spot. Now it's just a question of how high a seed they can get. If they go in this week and pound the weakened Cardinals into submission, then with a little luck and a GB loss they might find a way into the top seed which would be huge for their Superbowl aspirations. Lose to the Cardinals and old doubts may start to creep in.
It's easy to get caught up in the idea that Dallas is going to roll over Arizona, but I wouldn't be so sure. The Cardinals are still one of the most talented and dangerous teams in the league when they are playing well, and no offense to the Cowboys, but their recent schedule does not exactly strike fear into the hearts of men.
Who is the best team they've beaten all season? The Chargers? The Patriots? Not exactly a ringing endorsement. I'm not trying to suggest they are frauds, but I do think expectations are getting a little wild. This looks like a strong but not dominant team to me. I think GB is better, and if the Cowboys have to go into the blistering cold of Wisconsin I don't think they are going to fare well.
--So what caused the resurgence in the Dallas passing game? Mostly it was because Washington has collapsed in the secondary while dealing with injuries. William Jackson, Landon Collins, and Jamin Davis were all out here. It left Jeremy Reaves and Darryl Roberts to get picked on over and over.
Since week 9, when Dak returned from his injury, he's thrown for more than 250 yards only 3 times, against the Falcons, Raiders, and now Washington. In his other 5 games, he's been hovering around 225 yards or so each game. However, his opponents in those five games were the Broncos, Chiefs, Saints, Giants, and Washington, all very tough pass defenses if you include Washington a few weeks ago when they were healthy.
I'm not worried overly much about Dallas's passing attack. Look for them to have another muted game against the Cardinals this week but then bounce back against the Eagles in week 18 (if the starters are playing). In the playoffs I think we'll see Dak up closer to the 250-300 range most games except against the Packers.
*RC NOTE: I’m a bit more optimistic on the Dallas passing game Wk17 vs. ARI…in part because the Cardinals defense, especially their secondary is falling apart in part due to injury. In the past two weeks Jared Goff and then Carson Wentz had no problems with the once vaunted Arizona pass defense. Something has changed, and with Dallas likely getting Tyron Smith back Week 17…Dak & Friends might be alright Week 17.
--Antonio Gibson has been dealing with nagging foot, shin, and ankle issues all season, but until now he hasn't missed any time. That might change this week as his latest injury is something with his hip and he wasn't at practice on Thursday. Owners may be tempted to assume Gibson will power through this injury the same as he's done all year, but I think this time might be different. It seems like there might be too many issues for him to work through now, and with the Washington season effectively done, it's entirely possible Gibson gets shut down here.
Even if he plays against Philly this week, I would be very careful starting him (assuming he gets cleared). The Eagles have been crushing the run game recently, and it's very likely they'll get an early lead which will prevent Washington from running the ball. If you have other options I would avoid Gibson and pray that so many things will work out right for him to have a good game.
--RC and I both really like Ricky Seals-Jones as a TE1 hopeful against the Eagles this week. The Eagles aren't a great pass defense, but they are particularly weak to TE's, and RSJ is a pretty solid option. He had a bad time against the Cowboys, but so did the entire offense and eventually he was just benched along with most of the other starters.
It's not a guarantee, but if you need a streamer at TE for your championship game, this is likely the best matchup you're going to find.
--If you've read my stuff at all the past few years you'll know that I am a huge fan of Terry McLaurin. I think he's possibly the most underrated receiver in the league, and a large part of it is because he plays with absolute crap QB's. It's the Allen Robinson problem all over again.
McLaurin has had a few splash games throughout the season where he came down with some 50-50 balls, but by and large he's been a huge disappointment for fantasy.
Over the first 7 games of the season McLaurin was averaging 10 targets per game with three 100 yard games and 4 TD's.
Over the last 8 games he's averaged a shade under 6 targets per game with one 100 yard game and 1 TD.
As much as I like him, McLaurin has officially fallen into WR3 territory and I don't see any change coming, not with Heinicke at QB...
--Speaking of Taylor Heinicke (7-22 for 122, 1 TD/2 INT's), why does anyone keep pushing this guy as some kind of viable option for fantasy or real life?
He's not. He never has been. I mean, he's not terrible like the way a Sam Darnold is. He's not totally inept. But he's backup material. He runs around a little bit and can complete a few passes, but there's just no upside with this guy.
He's only cracked 245 yards 6 times all season, and in those games he averaged 38 attempts per game. In all his other games he's averaged 26.5 attempts per game.
He's only thrown for 2+ TD's five times all season.
He's only run for 50+ yards ONCE all season and he only has ONE rushing TD on the season.
So he's not a great passer and he's not a great runner...why would I want him for fantasy then? Why would I want him as the QB of my real football team?
--Jeremy Reaves (11 tackles) has averaged 11.5 tackles per game at safety since he became a starter the last two weeks. It's not because he's good, but it's working for fantasy and if he's starting again this week he should have a fantastic game against a run-heavy Philly team. Lots of tackles to be had on this suddenly leaky Washington defense.
Snap Counts of Interest
42 = Elliott
25 = Pollard
54 = Lamb
52 = Cooper
48 = Gallup