2022 Week 11: Cowboys 40, Vikings 3 (By Ross Jacobs)
Don't try to read too much into this one. Sometimes these things happen, just a bad day at the office for the Vikings. They started the game on even footing with the Cowboys but got into a hole in the 2nd quarter which forced them to start passing heavily. Then they lost left tackle Christian Darrisaw to an injury (he was dealing with a concussion coming into the week) and it was game on for the Dallas pass rush. They just toyed with the Minnesota offensive line after that and nothing could stop the tidal wave of pressure. Cousins was under duress literally every snap and that's always a recipe for disaster.
Minnesota will be fine. Getting Darrisaw back is critical for any kind of playoff run, but they should be able to survive without him. The schedule is relatively weak, but this team is a bit overrated at 8-2 so I won't be the least bit surprised if they stumble to the finish line a little. I don't think they are quite ready to take on the better NFC teams...as I've said since this summer they still need depth. That was the key ingredient missing. At full strength they are a good, well-rounded team, but as soon as the injuries start hitting they are falling down a peg or two. Even without Darrisaw I'd expect this offense to bounce back a little. They aren't going to face a front seven as daunting as Dallas every week.
Dallas gets a nice looking win, but I still maintain this team isn't as good as a lot of people think. They are solid, fringe top 10, but flawed...it just so happens that their flaw (the secondary) was covered up by the pass rush here. That's going to happen sometimes, it's happened a few times already this year when Dallas faces a beaten up offensive line and just crushes them (Cin/LAR). But if an offense can keep Micah Parsons in check (no small feat), they can take advantage of these corners. The remaining schedule is quite favorable for Dallas, and they'll probably stay right on the tail of Philly and force them to keep winning but I have a hard time seeing Dallas catch them unless they can beat the Eagles heads up. That will likely be a huge game.
Fantasy Player Notes:
– Everyone is going crazy for Tony Pollard after this game, and I get it, I really do. He's a much better player than Zeke at this point and should be the starter and getting the most touches, but I have to comment here that this particular game was a bit weird from a fantasy standpoint for Pollard. He was good on the ground, 15 carries for 80 yards but Zeke punched in the short TDs and that's not going away. What put Pollard over the top for fantasy was catching all 6 targets for 109 yards and 2 TDs. I'm sorry but that's an outlier and not remotely going to happen every week.
Almost all of his fantasy numbers came on two catches. One was a simple pass in the flats, he made one guy miss and just had green grass ahead, a bit of a broken play but still a good job by him. The second TD though was a 68 yard bomb on a wheel route out of the backfield where he was matched up with a linebacker and Dak put it on him perfectly in stride, again totally untouched. It's a good play and something Dallas absolutely should be trying to do on a regular basis but that just doesn't happen very often. That one play was worth about 14 ppr points.
I'm not trying to discount what Pollard is doing by any means. You need to start him every week at this point. He's the RB10 in both ppg and on the season despite being the “backup” to Zeke. All I'm saying is there are going to be a lot of meh games where he takes 12 carries for 55 yards and 2 catches for 20 yards with no TDs because Jerry Jones is still a slave to Zeke. That's not going to change no matter how many awesome plays Pollard makes.
Zeke only played less snaps here because of the knee injury that caused him to miss the last two games. Once he's more healthy he'll go right back to being the lead. Hell, he technically started this game even though he was on a pitch count, and the first four offensive plays all went to him. That's how you know nothing has changed here. If you have Pollard, start him, but just be ready for frustration as he's very likely going to be held back and not given the opportunities he should, especially in the passing game.
– My only other note of interest is on Michael Gallup. He was my DFS darling this week for a reason...he's about to pop a huge game. I can see it coming from a mile off. Dak is really starting to look for him more heavily. He and Lamb are 1a and 1b now, there is no favorite. Dak is going to work whoever is open and Gallup is really starting to look like his best self again, gaining confidence in his movements.
What held him back here was two things:
1) Dallas got a big lead early and then just salted it away and…
2) Andrew Booth was back from injury and held him in check...I'll talk more about him in the IDP section. But I absolutely guarantee Gallup is going to have a 6-144-2 game soon...I just don't know when.
– Everyone else in this game...just ignore what happened here. Nothing has changed really. For Minnesota keep an eye on the Darrisaw injury. If he's out it takes the passing game down 10-15% but Jefferson won't be too affected. He's the only one you really care about anyways other than Hockenson. Hock will be the least affected by Darrisaw's absence because he's the default short throw for Cousins now.
Cousins was sacked 7 times and hit 13...I'm not kidding when I say he was under siege. Again, just pretend this game didn't happen. Nobody else is going to kill a backup tackle the way Parsons can. Cousins is still a solid QB2.
– As mentioned above, Andrew Booth was back this week. I missed that he was back and playing last week (was on special teams two weeks earlier actually) because he only played about half the snaps. He's fully healthy now and Dallas obviously was going after him early on, but they quickly abandoned that when it was clear the rookie wasn't letting anything come easily. He did give up a couple catches but they were hard-earned, perfect throws by Dak. That's why Booth had 9 tackles here to lead the team. I do not expect that to happen much from now on. Teams may try him a little bit but it's not going to work too well. He's already a damn good corner and will only get better with more playing/practice time.
I'm not sure we'll be seeing teams hammering the Minnesota pass defense now. Booth shores up that weakness. I'm guessing now we'll see offenses attacking the Vikings with the run game, particularly up the middle after what Dallas did here. Something to watch for.
Snap Counts of Interest:
54 = Brown
47 = Lamb
45 = Gallup
46 = Schultz
39 = Pollard
21 = Zeke
45 = Jefferson
44 = Thielen
42 = Osborn
44 = Hockenson
34 = Cook
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