Zack Martin loss is critical against the Buccaneers’ pass rush

The Cowboys losing guard Zack Martin will only help the Buccaneers' pass rush of Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, and others.

Losing Zack Martin against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a massive loss for the Dallas Cowboys’ offense. It’s especially difficult for the season opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their stellar pass rush. Vita Vea is one of the most dominant physical forces in football. Additionally, Ndamukong Suh comes off the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, just in time for Dallas on Thursday. Life becomes harder for fantasy football darlings Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in Week 1.

Cowboys sore spots on OL

If losing one of the best interior blockers in the NFL wasn’t enough, the Cowboys could also be without right tackle La’el Collins. Collins will return to practice for the Cowboys, but for how long has remained a question throughout camp as he battles neck stingers. Connor Williams will come off the reserve/COVID-19 list before the game, but he’s missed time because of it.

Health concerns always surround veteran left tackle Tyron Smith, who appears to be in good shape right now. However, he hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season since Prescott was playing football for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Martin is needed for Vea, Suh, and Buccaneers pass rush

Connor McGovern will fill in for Martin at right guard on Thursday night. Even if he plays admirably, replacing just 80% of a healthy Martin is a task too tall for some of the best interior blockers in the NFL. Against a tandem as talented as Vea and Suh, it’s impossible.

Furthermore, if there’s been an issue with Williams in his young career, it’s been with power. Suh might be the most naturally powerful nose tackle in the league. His athleticism, paired with his frame, makes him an absolute menace for interior blockers.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is also making his triumphant return to football after a devastating ankle injury ended his 2020 campaign.

The most challenging thing for a quarterback to overcome is interior pressure. Prescott has already proven to be a wizard manipulating the pocket to finish going through progressions and finding the open man. That becomes much more difficult when he cannot step up or slide horizontally in a collapsing pocket. The Cowboys QB will have his work cut out for him Thursday evening.

What does this mean for your fantasy football team?

(Fantasy analysis provided by PFN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst Eric Moody) Prior to this news, the matchup was already difficult for Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys’ running game. The Buccaneers’ defense allowed the fewest rushing yards per game (82.7) to opponents during the regular season last year. The Cowboys have one of the stoutest offensive lines in the NFL. This matchup will be exciting to watch, but fantasy managers should temper their expectations for Elliott.

Elliott can still be viewed as a volumed-based low-end RB1. As a reminder, he’s averaged 24.4 opportunities per game in his career.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles