Games with big spreads have a way of being difficult for fantasy football managers to properly evaluate. How confident can you be in the Dallas Cowboys that may chew clock or rest starters? What will playing from behind do to the playcalling of the Arizona Cardinals? Find those answers and more as we take a look at this potentially one-sided matchup in the desert!
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Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
- Spread: Cowboys -12
- Total: 43
- Cowboys implied points: 27.5
- Cardinals implied points: 15.5
Dak Prescott played a good football game against a solid New York Jets defense last week. That’s a fact. Completing 31 of 38 passes is impressive against anyway, and it was great to see following a low usage Week 1.
Another fact: Prescott was QB17. It was his first 30-completion game since November 2021, and it required 42 minutes of possession for him to get there. I simply don’t trust the volume. Dallas’ first three plays last week went the way of Tony Pollard, and that is going to be the formula moving forward.
The floor isn’t awful, especially as a big favorite in this spot, but the ceiling isn’t high enough for me to put him inside my top 12.
He picked up 109 yards on 32 touches against the Jets, and I’m more encouraged by the last number than I am encouraged by the first.
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I mentioned the fact that Tony Pollard had 75 air yards in 2022 after posting -24 for his career prior. The Cowboys began to explore what he could do as a route runner as opposed to just a catcher of swing passes, and it paid off. Through two weeks, he’s doing it all and getting as many touches in scoring position as anyone in the league.
“I feel like he’s definitely built for it”
That’s what Mike McCarthy had to say following the heavy usage in Week 2, and with the belief of his play-callers, a healthy Pollard is a top-three running back the rest of the way.
With at least 19 touches in each of his past six games (42 this season), James Conner owns a nice floor. The per-play upside is limited, but volume often pays the bills at the running back position, and that is what will keep Conner as a viable Flex option every single week he suits up.
Even without a reception last week, Conner was able to post a second consecutive top-25 finish. He’s not exciting, and this offense isn’t going to do much to help him, but the ability to pencil him in for 10-12 half-PPR points holds value.
He’s again a fine Flex play, even in a tough matchup, ranking ahead of backs in true committee situations like what we have in Chicago, Baltimore, and even potentially New Orleans this week.
Against the Jets, the Cowboys kept CeeDee Lamb on the move, and he was simply unguardable. He caught 11 of 13 targets for 143 yards, flashing his skill on all sorts of routes. He has a 30-yard catch in both games this season and is soaking up high-percentage targets to elevate his floor in the process.
CeeDee Lamb finished with 11 receptions and 143 yards in the Cowboys 30-10 victory over the Jets.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 17, 2023
He has now been held out of the end zone in three straight games, matching his longest streak from last season. Without the aid of a touchdown, Lamb is fantasy’s WR11. He’s on the list of receivers that are capable of leading any week in fantasy points, and there’s a chance this is one of those weeks.
Brandin Cooks suffered a sprained MCL in the season-opening win over the Giants and missed last week as a result. It’s unclear exactly how long this injury will keep the veteran sidelined, and a compromised version of Cooks isn’t worth your time.
Heck, I’m not sure a healthy version of him is ever going to crack my top 30 at the position. There is role upside that he has access to in an offense we trust, and that’s enough for him to remain rostered, but you shouldn’t consider him for your starting lineup until we see proof of consistent usage.
With Cooks sidelined, Week 2 was Gallup’s chance to prove to us that he is worth a roster spot. He failed. Miserably. Yes, the matchup with the Jets is a tough one, but he earned just two targets, ranking sixth on the team (one catch for three yards).
At this point, Gallup is closer to the fourth pass catcher than the second that we thought he had an outside chance to compete for – if you’re still holding onto him, you can move on.
He posted a 34.5% target share in Week 2 and even found the end zone. With those two boxes checked, you’d expect the receiver to put up top-10 numbers for the week — not so much. In a week that you could argue was a ceiling outcome, Hollywood was fantasy’s 26th-best receiver.
If that’s the best-case scenario, I’m not sure how Brown is considered for starting lineups. I have him easily outside of my top 40 receivers, behind risk-reward options like Gabe Davis and Donovan Peoples-Jones, who at least have the hope of paying off optimism with a single reception.
Dynasty managers need to have their eye on this 6’2”, 213-pound rookie out of Stanford (16.1 yards per catch in his final season with the Cardinal) who led the Cardinals in receiving yards last week. He caught all three of his targets for over 15 yards. This offense isn’t built to give him much of a chance at sustained value this season, but don’t write him off as a long-term project.
With seven targets in Week 1 and a score last week, Ferguson is approaching top-10 status. Prescott is looking his way in close (missed him on another scoring opportunity in Week 2), and without a bonafide second option in this passing game behind Lamb, expecting 5-7 targets weekly is reasonable.
My volume concerns for this passing game carry over to the rookie tight end, but we are talking about a position that requires so little to be viable. Ferguson is my TE12 this week and is on the list of streaming options I prefer to Kyle Pitts.
The 30.5% target share through two weeks is nothing short of remarkable. Calling it sustainable is a completely different claim and not one I’m willing to make.
The hyper-usage has him as a fringe tight end in a two-week sample that saw many of the elite options battle an injury. If this is the best-case scenario, I have no interest in sticking around for the inevitable decline. Ertz ranks outside of my top 15 at the position. I’d rather roll the dice on Taysom Hill this weekend.
Who Should You Start in Week 3?
Should You Start Dak Prescott or Jared Goff?
In Week 3, I’m leaning toward Jared Goff, and I feel good about it. The Detroit Lions should be able to move the ball consistently (they always do at home, 32.9 PPG since the beginning of last season) in what is expected to be a competitive game. Prescott, on the other hand, will likely be nursing a big lead for a team that prefers to run the ball.
That’s not to say Prescott will be bad, I just don’t think the game plan will be a fantasy-friendly one for him. He wasn’t a top-15 QB last week in a similar situation. A repeat performance is my fear.
Should You Start Zach Ertz or Taysom Hill?
This is a bit of a leap of faith, but with the New Orleans Saints running out of options in their backfield and boasting two elite deep threats, is this not shaping up for a Taysom Hill game? We saw it a bit last week on Monday night and I think we see more on Sunday with the Saints looking to get creative.
Hill offers upside that simply isn’t in Ertz’s portfolio. In half-PPR leagues, Ertz is hanging onto value due to his elite target count, but 12 catches and just 77 yards with no real chances to score is unappealing. The floor may be higher for Ertz, but the narrow range of outcomes isn’t something I want at the streaming level of TE. Give me some upside!
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