According to sportsbooks, this may not be the most friendly fantasy football game on the Week 4 slate. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of questions. For the New England Patriots’ fantasy outlook, we are all curious as to what the touch split will look like in this backfield. On the other side, the Dallas Cowboys’ fantasy preview revolves around the passing game in a bounce-back spot after an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals.
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New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: Cowboys -6.5
- Total: 43
- Patriots implied points: 18.3
- Cowboys implied points: 24.8
Mac Jones: On the PFN Fantasy Podcast, we cautioned betting on this Patriots offense, despite the positive showing in Week 1, and with Jones finishing outside the top 20 at the position in each of the past two weeks, I’d say we had that right.
The Pats are better off in low-possession, grind-it-out games, and that just isn’t fantasy-friendly. There isn’t a player on this offense I feel good about, and their signal-caller is certainly no exception.
Dak Prescott: Somebody is going to have to explain the desire to make Prescott a thing to me. He lacks consistent touch, his mobility isn’t what it once was, and he lacks pass catcher help outside of WR CeeDee Lamb.
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His 102 pass attempts this season have resulted in just three scores, and as a result (per the Week 4 Cheat Sheet), he has yet to finish a week better than QB17. I’m not sure Prescott needs to be rostered in standard-sized leagues, let alone started.
Rhamondre Stevenson: Stevenson held a 46-27 snap edge over RB Ezekiel Elliott last week in their win over the Jets, but the veteran had more yards on fewer carries and had the longest run of the day. Early this summer, Stevenson was being drafted as an RB1, and while that dipped with time, managers who invested in him were looking for at least one top-15 finish early in the season.
With just 13 total receiving yards over the past two weeks, the versatility that made Stevenson a breakout performer in 2022 hasn’t been as visible so far this season.
#Patriots Week 3 RB Usage
– Rhamondre Stevenson: 19 carries, 19 routes, 4 targets (62 yds)
– Ezekiel Elliott: 16 carries, 6 routes, 1 target (87 yds)
He's had a couple tough matchups to start but def getting a little worried about Stevenson
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) September 24, 2023
This offense isn’t going to offer much in the way of scoring potential, and a flaw will be required for Stevenson to be efficient and return to top-20 value.
We’ve yet to see that this season, and he is in danger of falling outside of my top 20 this week.
Ezekiel Elliott: Last week was a vintage performance, and it is clear that he is on this team to touch the ball (he had an opportunity on 63% of his Week 3 snaps). That said, I still don’t think he has much of a path to the lead role in this offense. Given the limitations of this team, he’s never going to be ranked as a legitimate starter for me.
The revenge angle is fun to talk about, but with him ranked outside of my top 40, I don’t think we see much in the way of production.
Tony Pollard: With 58 touches over the past two weeks, Pollard is a perfect example of what can happen when talent meets opportunity. Given the injuries and/or struggles at the top of the running back position, it wouldn’t be difficult to argue Pollard as the RB2 moving forward. That is exactly where I have him slotted this week.
Kendrick Bourne: I don’t want any member of this passing game if I can help it, but with 25 targets this season, Bourne has volume on his side. The veteran receiver has had his moments throughout his career. Considering that he has never had more than 55 catches in a season, you’re reaching if you want to consider him viable for the rest of the season.
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I think it’s possible this week looks a lot like last for the Pats. That means no receiver gets to seven fantasy points.
DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster: For one reason or another, both of these options hold name value, but neither deserves to be on rosters. They have combined for 142 yards this season and offer no real weekly upside in any matchup, let alone this showdown with one of the best defenses in all the land.
CeeDee Lamb: Need proof that this offense is an underwhelming unit? Lamb has looked unguardable at various points this season and has one top-30 performance on his ledger. He’s one of the best in the game and clearly should be started in all formats, but if you’re trying to gauge the rest of the season ranks, the limitations of Prescott push Lamb down.
Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup: Both of these secondary options saw seven targets last week. Gallup produced viable fantasy numbers (six catches for 92 yards), while Cooks struggled (two catches for 17 yards). That could flip this week. Or we could return to the point where the WR2 doesn’t hold value in this offense. I don’t have any confidence in either consistently producing, and the scoring opportunities will be few and far between.
Cooks and Gallup rank outside my top 50 at the position and don’t need to be stashed in leagues with shallow benches.
Hunter Henry: New England has gotten strong fantasy numbers from the TE position through the start of the season. It just happened to be a big catch from Pharaoh Brown last week.
My wanting to cash in the Henry chip after a few strong outings was less about the player and more a bet against the offense. Sportsbooks are penciling the Patriots in for 17-ish points, and if that’s going to be the case, I like my chances with a TE14 ranking on Henry this week.
Jake Ferguson: Is he the Cowboys’ second-best pass catcher? That’s how I have it ranked. I have Ferguson as a top-10 tight end. He has emerged to be a consistent threat with seven targets or a touchdown in all three games this season, a rate of involvement that gives him enough of a floor for me to feel comfortable in starting him in all formats this weekend.
Should You Start Rhamondre Stevenson or Isiah Pacheco?
This one is simple: which offense is going to put their back in a better spot to score?
Pacheco wins out in that regard, and with Ezekiel Elliott seemingly pushing Stevenson in New England these days, he’s my pick. The quality of carry should be higher for the Chiefs’ lead back. If last week was any indication, I’m not sure he’s that far behind in the quantity of carry department.
Should You Start Jake Ferguson or Dalton Kincaid?
In a battle of young tight ends, I’m siding with volume. Ferguson has carved out a role as the second option in this Dallas pass game, while Kincaid has weeks where he is the second tight end in Buffalo.
I do think Kincaid offers the greater ceiling given the scoring environment he is likely to find himself in. But I rank for mean outcomes, and in that exercise, he holds the edge.
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