Dallas won 30-10 over NYG, but it’s easy to forget this game was a sad 10-10 tie/‘slugfest’ going into the 4th-quarter…and the Cowboys didn’t break through to take a 17-10 lead until 7:38 left in the game.
Dallas was trying to put NYG away with 5+ minutes left and a 7-point lead…and then a short pass to Rod Smith turned into an 81-yard TD, giving them a two-score lead and ‘ending it’ essentially. Dallas would score another easy TD with 2+ minutes left after they picked off an NYG desperation pass and the blowout was official, but for about 50+ minutes it was an even/back-and-forth game between two teams struggling to find offense.
You can understand the Giants scuffling against a back-to-healthy Dallas defense. Dallas floundering against a battered Giants’ defense – not good.
I point out the Dallas offensive issues because we’re five games into the non-Elliott era and we have three disasters with ATL-PHI-LAC, all three games where Dallas scored less than 10 points in each game. Dallas then scored 38 against Washington, but 7 on a punt return TD and two scores (10pts) aided by Washington turnovers setting up Dallas for gifts…and Dak throwing for only 100 or so yards. Game #5 sans-EE…50+ minutes and 10 points against the sad Giants. Dallas is still scuffling on offense…it’s not necessarily a gimme Week 15 vs. a weak Oakland defense.
I ran several scenarios on the NFL playoff race, for fun…because that’s how I party hard…and as I look at the data -- Dallas is in a pretty weak position to get into the wild card, even if they win out. Carolina beating Minnesota Week 14 was the Dallas dagger to the heart. Carolina is likely the 5th playoff team in the NFC, and then Dallas-Seattle-Atlanta-Green Bay could all be tied with 10 wins for the 6th-spot and Dallas is sent packing in those tie-breakers. Dallas needs Green Bay to lose one game, Carolina to lose 2 games or lose out, and Seattle to lose to the Rams this week. PLUS Dallas has to win out. The more I look at it, the more I have to admit…my Super Bowl pick probably isn't going to make the playoffs.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I have to start with the RB situation for Dallas because my Monday morning memory was a lot different than the reality of re-watching this game for study purposes later in the week…
I thought Rod Smith (6-47-1, 5-113-1/5) was more of an afterthought with a fortuitous play late (81-yard TD) as the game got out of hand. My recollection of all this was poor, considering what I just watched.
The Dallas Cowboys non-Ezekiel plan is to run Alfred Morris on 1st and 2nd-downs, to try to get a lead and run Morris safely 15-20+ times a game. On 3rd-downs, Rod Smith is coming in…because Morris cannot catch a football. Normally, this overall plan leads to Morris touching the ball 15+ times and Smith, maybe, gets 5-8 carries and 0-3 targets? We’re used to/it feels like this is all about Morris (because he starts and gets the most touches), but the guy actually making real plays, making a difference is Rod Smith.
It’s not that Morris is ineffective…it’s just that the game changes when Smith enters. He’s quicker. He’s a threat for a short pass. I think Dallas is starting to realize that…and we might see more Smith in Week 15. When Dallas is in need of a play to be made…they’re going to go to Smith over Morris.
Smith’s 81-yard TD…it was 17-10 Dallas, 3rd & 2 on their own 19. If NYG stopped Dallas there, the Giants would have the ball back and had 5+ minutes to try to tie/win the game. The pass to Smith wasn’t a clever screen and Smith scooting past a tackler and went off to the races. No, it was a Smith lined up as a flanker in five-wide and ran a slant pattern over the middle, caught the rocket pass and split the defense/left them in the dust.
Smith’s 15-yard TD run late/at the end…Dallas got a turnover from Eli and held a 24-10 lead. They just needed to run the clock out. They did the following: Carry for little with Morris…carry for little with Morris…3rd-down pitch-sweep to Smith who read the blockers and weaved through traffic and jolted 15 yards for the score.
How many TDs does Rod Smith have in his last 3 games? 4 TDs. 1-1-2 in each game.
If you’re starting Morris against Oakland because ‘starter’ or ‘carries’…there’s merit to that argument. Morris will see 15+ carries Week 15. But Smith seems to be where the FF points are, especially the PPR ones.
Last five games Smith v. Morris PPR points in each game…
v. ATL: 6.9 Smith, 5.3 Morris
v. PHI: 1.1 Smith, 9.1 Morris
v. LAC: 12.8 Smith, 5.9 Morris
v. WAS: 8.7 Smith, 18.7 Morris
v. NYG: 22.2 Smith, 11.5 Morris
Five-game PPR average: 10.3 Smith, 10.1 Morris
Which one would you play Week 15 if you had the choice? Morris is safe, Smith is the upside. Morris if you think Dallas sits on Oakland, Smith if you feel Dallas scuffles and needs plays made.
-- Speaking of my bad RB recollections…Wayne Gallman (12-59-0, 7-40-0/9) was a lot more ‘purposed’ here than I remembered. He split touches with Orleans Darkwa (10-29-0), but Gallman was more involved, more important. He also about doubled Darkwa’s snap count (37-19).
Because Eli is awful and has no blocking, he has to dump a lot of passes off…Gallman was that guy.
The Giants RB usage seems to vary wildly each week, but with one week of data with the new head coach…Gallman was ‘the guy’, kinda. Now, keep in mind Gallman isn’t a very good RB. He is a very good receiver. You’re not going to get much from him rushing but he might get 5+ catches in games just because someone has to get passes on this team. He’s legit useful, with risk, this week and for the ROS. I’d rather roll Gallman than Darkwa or a Kerwynn Williams in PPR.
-- I’m as pro-Dak Prescott (20-32 for 332 yards, 3 TD/0 INT) as there is but there’s a reason for skepticism for fantasy still this week…the final ‘without Ezekiel’ game this season.
The numbers for Dak here were very Dak-like. They were great. But with 5 minutes left, on 3rd-down, if Rod Smith doesn’t turn a slant into 81-yard gold, Dak probably ends up with 240 yards passing with his 2 TDs as Dallas ran out the clock. Good but not ‘wow’!
I don’t blame Dak…Dez Bryant dropped two critical passes, again, and Cole Beasley…well, I’m not sure why Cole Beasley is still starting for this team. He dropped at least one key pass to convert a rd-down, which is becoming an every week affair with him. Neither WR is ever open. Dez is getting one-on-one ‘jump balls’ to him from Dak, which are usually on the money throws but Dez isn’t Dez anymore so it usually ends in disappointment. Dak doesn’t have much to work with.
It’s a great matchup with Oakland this week, but will any of his receivers help him out?
-- Watching Evan Engram (4-54-0/7) with Eli Manning makes me long for the days of Geno Smith. Eli is painful to watch and is little hope to get Engram the ball properly.
Engram’s last 3 games with Eli (and Sterling Shepard out/hobbled): 2.7 catches, 27.0 yards, 0.0 TDs on 6.7 targets per game.
In this game, on a blitz, Eli read it…and floated one out to a wide-open Engram for 37 yards. 3 catches for 17 yards otherwise. Eli can only find Engram sitting over the middle for a short pass. He doesn’t seem to be able to hit him on the move to where Engram can breakout and run.
As much as the trends go against Engram of late…he’s a guy that’s one catch away. Turning a simple pass into a 50+ yard catch and run. He always has hope, but the reality has been getting shakier with Eli.
-- Sterling Shepard (2-16-0/3) played 96% of the snaps, so obviously something isn’t right with him still…and/or Dallas did a great job on him. I saw Chidobe Awuzie 3 tackles, 2 PDs) giving him a hard time on various plays.
Shepard is a shaky start until any of us knows he’s 100%.
-- Chidobe Awuzie is ascending. Sean Lee (18 tackles) was back with a vengeance. This Dallas defense has ‘special’ pieces on it and is quite a unit when fully healthy.
In games where Sean Lee has played going back to Week 3, and ignoring games against Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff (I’ll explain the omission), the Dallas defense has allowed the following points in games of (starting Week 14 and going back to Week 3): 10-17-19-10-17.
When Dallas faces not-great, but bad-OK-good offenses…they hold opponents to under 20 points and they register sacks = they’re really good for fantasy. This week they face a dying Oakland offense. I think they hold them under 20 for sure.
-- NYG IDP Calvin Munson (10 tackles, 1 TFL) is not the greatest LB talent, but he’s a sound tackler and has to play considering all the NFG LB injuries.
In his last 5 games, Munson has averaged: 8.0 tackles per game with 0.8 TFLs.
Snap Counts of Interest…
37 = Gallman
24 = Vereen
19 = Darkwa
33 = Morris
29 = Smith
35 = Terrance Williams
24 = Noah Brown
02 = Switzer