Washington Football Team (6-8, 5-8-1 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (10-4, 11-3), 8:20 p.m.
Brolley’s Washington Stats and Trends
Washington is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six games.
The Football Team is 7-2 toward unders in their last nine games.
Antonio Gibson averaged just 1.8 YPC (15/26 rushing) behind Washington’s makeshift offensive line, but he got home for fantasy with a rushing touchdown and 6/39 receiving with J.D. McKissic out for the year. He could’ve had another score but he got pulled on top of the goal line to give Jaret Patterson a short rushing touchdown. He now has 5+ catches in three of his last four games to make up for his ugly 3.4 YPC average in that same span. He also has a 68% snap share or better in four straight games. Gibson managed just 10/36 rushing and 2/5 against the Cowboys on a 68% snap share two weeks ago.
Taylor Heinicke will return to the lineup this week after missing the Eagles’ game with COVID. He also picked knee and elbow injuries against this week’s opponent back in Week 14, which knocked him out of the game early. Heinicke completed just 11/25 passes (44.0%) for 122 yards (4.9 YPA), one TD, and one INT against the Cowboys. He’s now finished with fewer than 225 passing yards in four straight games, and he’s thrown for one or fewer TDs in seven of his last nine games.
Terry McLaurin has fallen below 10 FP in four straight games and half of his 14 games this season. He managed just 2/51 receiving on four targets with Garrett Gilbert last week. McLaurin suffered a concussion against the Cowboys two weeks ago, and he went catchless on three targets before he left.
Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends
Dallas beat Washington 27-20 as 6.5-point road favorites in Week 14 in a game totaled at 48 points.
The Cowboys and Packers own league-best 11-3 ATS records.
Dallas is 7-1 toward unders in its last eight games.
Dak Prescott has fallen below 13 FP, 240 passing yards, and two passing TDs in four of his last five games after posting 217/1 passing against the Giants last week. He’s averaging just 6.1 YPA with five TDs and five INTs in his last five games. Dak posted just 211/1 passing with two INTs while averaging 5.4 YPA in this matchup two weeks ago, but Washington is still giving up the most FPG (22.9) to QBs.
CeeDee Lamb has posted 6+ catches, 9+ targets, and 50+ yards in three straight games since missing Week 12 with a concussion. He also owns a 28% target share in that span so he’s clearly emerged as Dak’s preferred target. Lamb posted 7/61 receiving on 10 targets against Washington two weeks ago.
Michael Gallup had his four-game run with exactly five catches per contest and 8+ targets snapped last week, posting just 3/32 receiving on five targets against the Giants. He’s sitting at a 20% target share over the last three weeks with the Cowboys’ receiving corps back to full strength. Gallup posted 5/60 receiving on nine targets in this matchup two weeks ago.
Amari Cooper is really flaming out to end the season with just one double-digit FP performance since Week 8. It did happen to come against this week’s opponent, as Coop went for 5/51/1 receiving on seven targets against Washington two weeks ago. He’s seen an ugly 12% of the targets since returning to the lineup in Week 13 after missing two games with COVID.
Dalton Schultz is coming off his second-best game of the season, hauling in all eight of his targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. He’s cooled off since the beginning of the season, but he’s still topped 40+ yards and 9+ FP in four of his last five games. His one down game in that stretch came against this week’s opponent, whom he had just a four-yard catch on three targets against in Week 14.
Ezekiel Elliott continued to look completely mediocre last week, but he did have a rushing TD on his way to 16/52/1 rushing and 3/20 receiving. He’s averaging an ugly 3.3 YPC and 5.3 YPR over his last six games since Week 9, but Zeke has sat between 62-69% of the snaps in five straight games. Meanwhile, Tony Pollard continued to look like he’s shot out of a cannon even with his foot injury, posting 12/74 rushing and 3/13 receiving last week. He’s averaging 5.8 YPC and 7.3 YPR in five games since Week 9 while playing around 40% of the snaps. Zeke posted 12/45 rushing and 1/15 receiving on six targets against Washington with Pollard out of the lineup two weeks ago.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 30.7 (30th)
Plays per game: 65.7 (8th)
Pass: 55.6% (25th) | Run: 44.4% (8th)
Pace: 24.3 (1st)
Plays per game: 67.8 (3rd)
Pass: 64.1% (7th) | Run: 35.9% (26th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
Dallas is in a well-known slump, but just how bad is it? Well, over the last week this offense has scored a TD on just 18% of their possessions – which is eighth-fewest in this span and around the likes of the Bears (18%), Lions (17%), and Panthers (17%). Yikes. That’s a direct polar opposite of their start to the season in Weeks 1-6 where they scored a TD on 33% of their drives (fourth-best) before Dak Prescott injured his calf and missed time.
Washington’s recent defensive improvements were put on hold at least last week against the Eagles, but that’s probably just an outlier. Philadelphia is – no joke – arguably the most efficient offense in football right now. The Team held Dallas to just one TD when these two teams met back in Week 13.
Overall, this game profiles as the top matchup in the pace / plays model – which is largely driven by the Cowboys offense ranking 1st in pace and 3rd in play volume. That said, this is still a late-year divisional matchup and those always tend to be lower scoring. Mix in Dallas’ recent issues offensively and Washington recovering from their COVID nightmare and there is certainly a recipe for this game to underwhelm.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The matchup for Amari Cooper across from William Jackson III will be brutal. CeeDee Lamb was benched for around 25% of team passing plays last week, possible due to a string of dropped passes.
Meanwhile, Michael Gallup has been very impressive as of late. And he’ll be going up against Kendall Fuller after he was activated off the COVID list on Friday. I don’t have any type of data to support the level of health for the players who missed Week 15 due to COVID positives. But it’s worth making a mental note of the situation. Prior to the Cowboys riding its ground game to a 21-6 victory over the Giants last week, Gallup had been averaging 14.7 FPG in his previous three games. Fuller is providing his coverage with 1.09 YPCS (29th-most), 0.25 FP/CS (31st-most), 0.11 AY/CS (16th-fewest), and an 88.1 TPR (33rd-lowest among 76 qualified outside CBs). Is it a perfect matchup? No, but none of the matchups in this game fit inside that category.
Terry McLaurin was bullied about in Week 14 by Trevon Diggs. However, it was a situation that F1 McLaurin could do nothing about. The Cowboys devoted a high safety over McLaurin throughout the game until he was ruled out with a concussion.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
As we mentioned last week, both the stats and the tape are backing up a slump for the Cowboys’ offense right now. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Dak Prescott before his calf injury (Weeks 1-6): 73.2% completion rate, 8.4 YPA, 115 passer rating, 302.2 YPG, and 22.8 FPG. Prescott since his calf injury (Weeks 9-15): 64.9% completion rate, 6.5 YPA, 84.9 passer rating, 255 YPG, and 16.1 FPG.
The Cowboys have simply been unable to make big plays in the passing game. Over the last three games, Prescott is averaging 5.7 YPA with 3 TD and 3 INT. And just 35 of his 76 completions over that span — 46.1% — have gone for first downs.
Since returning to the lineup in Week 9, Dak Prescott has completed 16-of-49 (32.7%) passes 15 yards or further from the line of scrimmage with 1 TD and 3 INT.— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) December 20, 2021
Prior, he was 16-of-31 (51.6%) with 6 TD and 2 INT on those throws.
To be fair to Prescott, CeeDee Lamb had several awful drops last week, but there’s something not working.
It was even worse for Amari Cooper. In an ugly game against the Giants last week, Cooper posted 2/8 receiving on 5 targets. It wasn’t for lack of usage — he ran a route on 39 of Prescott’s 40 dropbacks, which led all Cowboy receivers. But Cooper had 55 or more receiving yards in five of his seven games before Prescott got injured and before Cooper landed on the COVID list. Since Week 9 — which includes a two-game COVID absence for Cooper and a third limited game when his conditioning wasn’t right — Cooper hasn’t recorded more than 51 receiving yards, and he’s fallen below 10.0 FP in a PPR in four of five games. Of the two, Lamb is the much better fantasy play.
In the backfield, who knows what exactly the injury Tony Pollard is dealing with in his foot, but one week off surely did him a hell of a lot of good. Against the Giants in Week 15, Pollard carried 12 times for 74 yards and added 3/13 receiving while playing 41% of the offensive snaps. While Ezekiel Elliott did have a solid overall day for fantasy — he posted 16/52/1 rushing and 3/20 receiving on a 62% snap share, good for solid RB2 production — Pollard simply looked more explosive, as he has all season to this point. It’s certainly a volatile situation given Pollard’s achy foot, but as we get deeper into the fantasy playoffs, it’s clear he’s going to be in enough of a rotation to warrant weekly FLEX consideration.
As for Washington… it’s brutal out there.
Beat writer Ben Standig has some fantasy advice.
As for Gibson's status against Dallas... Well, Ron Rivera wasn't exactly oozing with optimism about him playing with the toe injury after not practicing all week. Said it's about his "comfort level" now on short week. I'd have Jaret Patterson on my fantasy roster just in case.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) December 24, 2021
The Team has been awful for fantasy, straight up. It’s even hard to trust Terry McLaurin out here.