Week 2 Game Hub: DAL-LAC

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Week 2 Game Hub: DAL-LAC

Dallas Cowboys (0-1, 1-0 ATS) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-0, 1-0), 4:25 p.m.

  • Implied Team Totals: Cowboys 26, Chargers 29.5

  • Spread/Total Movements: 2.5 to 3.5, 51.5 to 55.5

  • Weather: Dome

  • Cowboys Injuries to Watch: WR Michael Gallup (calf, IR), RT La’el Collins (suspension), DE DeMarcus Lawrence (foot, IR), DE Randy Gregory (COVID, doubtful)

  • Chargers Injuries to Watch: RT Bryan Bulaga (back, out), CB Chris Harris (shoulder, out)

Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends

  • The Cowboys are 4-1 ATS in their last five games and 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog.

  • Dallas is 5-0 toward overs in its last five games as an underdog.

  • The Cowboys are 6-2 toward overs in their last eight games.

  • Dak Prescott answered any and all questions about the health of his leg and his throwing shoulder by throwing 58 times for 403 yards and three touchdowns against the Buccaneers in Week 1. Prescott isn’t likely to throw 58+ passes many times going forward since the Buccaneers are the top pass-funnel defense in the league, but OC Kellen Moore still showed he has complete faith in Prescott. The Chargers allowed a league-low 135 passing yards last week but Washington did lose Ryan Fitzpatrick early in the game.

  • Amari Cooper finished as the WR1 in the season opener with 13/139/2 receiving on 16 targets last week. Coop has now posted 6+ catches, 9+ targets, and 80+ yards in each of his last five full games with Dak dating back to the start of last season. Terry McLaurin managed 4/62 receiving in this matchup last week with a less than ideal QB situation.

  • CeeDee Lamb posted 9/105/1 receiving on 14 targets for 23.4 FP and it could’ve been even better if not for a pair of drops. The Cowboys stuck to their word and moved Lamb around as he ran a route out of the slot 56% of the time after a 93% rate last season. Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup’s replacement, saw 85% of his snaps in the slot (Gallup was at a 10% rate before his injury) so Lamb could be playing on the perimeter even more while Gallup is out. Lamb tied Marvin Jones for the most end-zone targets with three last week.

  • Michael Gallup suffered a calf strain midway through the third quarter in Week 1, and he’s expected to miss the next 3-5 weeks after ending his night with 4/36 receiving on seven targets. Cedrick Wilson stepped right into Gallup’s spot in the lineup as the team’s #3 WR and the Cowboys played only four WRs in Week 1. Tony Pollard could also factor in at WR after he played a solid 24% of the snaps in the opener. He looked good in the passing game catching all 4 of his targets for 29 yards.

  • Dalton Schultz is in a TE committee with Blake Jarwin but was the top option in Week 1. He caught all six of his targets for 45 yards on 39 routes against the Buccaneers compared to 3/20 receiving on four targets and 35 routes.

  • Ezekiel Elliott played on a promising 83% of the snaps in Dallas’ season-opening loss, but he simply wasn’t a part of their game plan against the league’s most formidable run defense from 2020. He managed just 11/33 rushing and 2/6 receiving against the Buccaneers while Pollard had an increased role in the passing game (4/29 receiving, 24% of the snaps). Perhaps more concerning than his lack of touches was the fact that he couldn’t beat a cornerback to the end zone out in space at the goal line in the early third quarter. The Cowboys will be much more committed to running the ball with Zack Martin back in the lineup this week against a Chargers’ defense that allowed 4.7 YPC to Washington last week.

Brolley’s Chargers Stats and Trends

  • The Chargers have won five straight games outright and ATS.

  • The Chargers are 8-17-1 ATS as a home favorite since they arrived in Los Angeles in 2017.

  • Justin Herbert’s fantasy production (15.4 FP) didn’t match his real-life performance against Washington last week as he posted 337/1 passing (7.2 YPA). Perhaps more concerning for fantasy is that he’s now finished with no rushing yards or worse in four of his last seven games. Tom Brady torched the Cowboys for 379/4 passing in the season opener.

  • Keenan Allen posted a casual 9/100 receiving on 13 targets in the season opener. He’s now seen double-digit targets in his last five full games and he’s done it in 11-of-13 full games with Herbert. Chris Godwin ripped the Cowboys for 9/105/1 receiving and he even left some production on the field.

  • New OC Joe Lombardi raved about Mike Williams as his X receiver this summer and he didn’t disappoint in his first action. He turned his 12 targets into a healthy 8/82/1 receiving for 24.2 FP against Washington, and his aDOT sat a promising 9.8 yards. He’s never seen more than 90 targets in a season and his aDOT has sat at 14.5 yards or more in each of his first three seasons. He could be shadowed by Trevon Diggs this week, who helped limit Mike Evans to 3/24 receiving last week.

  • Donald Parham drew plenty of buzz during Los Angeles’ training camp, but it was the 34-year-old Jared Cook who led the position in the season opener. He posted 5/56 receiving on eight targets (17% share) and 31 routes against Washington while Parham failed to catch his lone target on 14 routes. Cook hadn’t seen eight or more targets in a game since Week 12 in 2019 with the Saints

  • Austin Ekeler played on 58% of the snaps after sitting out of practice for most of last week with his hamstring injury. He saw both of Los Angeles’ goal-line carries last week and he turned one into a touchdown on his way to 15/57/1 rushing. On the downside, he failed to see a target for the first time since Week 9 of 2018, which was likely more related to his hamstring injury but he is playing under a new coaching staff. We’ll see how it plays out this week with Ekeler getting more reps in practice this week. Tampa’s RBs managed just 14/47 rushing and 6/35 receiving against Dallas last week.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies

Cowboys

Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 21.1 (3rd)

Week 1 – Plays per game: 79 (6th)

Week 1 – Pass: 77.2% (3rd) | Run: 22.8% (30th)

Chargers

Week 1 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 21.6 (6th)

Week 1 – Plays per game: 82 (4th)

Week 1 – Pass: 64.2% (13th) | Run: 35.8% (20th)

Pace Points

This is it right here. The game of the week. According to my adjusted matchup rating, this game grades out as the best matchup of the week in a landslide. Both of these team’s ranked top-6 in pace on offense and play volume in Week 1 while Dallas’ frenetic pace and pass-heavy ways were a continuation of what we saw early last season when Dak Prescott was healthy. The Cowboys went 77% (!) pass-heavy on early downs against Tampa last week (which led all teams) after going 68% pass-heavy on early downs in Weeks 1-5 last season with Dak (that also led the league). With the Cowboys playing fast and throwing a ton on offense combined with a bad defense that is missing DeMarcus Lawrence (foot), this game is going to go to the moon. In fact, Cowboys’ games have combined for a monster 67.2 total points in Prescott’s last six games. Whew. This is going to be the most popular game of the week in DFS and for good reason.

(Note: We’re dealing with very small sample sizes early in the season – so I’m saving the deep dive into play-calling tendencies until Week 4.)

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

Week 1 is always a good time to learn about new coaches, though we can’t draw full conclusions just yet.

For the Chargers, it was rather surprising to see the rate of spread personnel decrease by 15% under new OC Joe Lombardi. The only individual of note who would suffer from the change is rookie Josh Palmer. Lombardi also focused the run blocking approach toward a Zone-heavy system.

Meanwhile, Dallas OC Kellen Moore reduced spread formations by 23% from last year, though the injury to Michael Gallup (calf) was likely the reason, as was the Cowboys’ limited offensive line. It’ll be interesting to see if he keeps an extra blocker in to help Terence Steele on the right side, as he fills in for the suspended La’El Collins.

The Chargers have a couple of key players listed on their early week injury report — CB Chris Harris Jr. and S Derwin James. James will play, but Harris won’t. I really like that for WR CeeDee Lamb, but of course you’re playing Lamb in season-long formats anyway.

For the Chargers, Keenan Allen draws a dream matchup with CB Jourdan Lewis when he aligns in the slot. And though, theoretically, Mike Williams will have a tougher go of it on the perimeter with CB Trevon Diggs, the Cowboys will have a lot of trouble getting rushers home in the absence of Demarcus Lawrence.

Dolan’s Vantage Points

I mean, this is pretty much a “start ‘em if you got ‘em” kind of game, with a preposterously high 55.5 total as the highest on the slate.

You might have questions about Cowboy RB Ezekiel Elliott, but while RT La’El Collins is suspended, the return of RG Zack Martin from the COVID list is likely a bigger factor. He still played 83% of the offensive snaps, and while I think Dallas correctly decided to go pass-heavy to keep up with Tampa last week, I do wonder if they’ll adjust in Week 2 as they are down perhaps their most critical defender in EDGE Demarcus Lawrence.

You’re obviously playing CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, but one guy to look at if you’re desperate for a lineup filler is WR Cedrick Wilson, who essentially replaced Michael Gallup 1-for-1 in three-WR sets. Wilson ran 21 routes and caught all 3 of his targets in Week 1. The absence of slot CB Chris Harris (shoulder) is good for all Cowboy receivers.

Also factoring in as a receiver — and splitting out at times — was backup RB {{Tony Pollard|RB|DAL}. He played a solid 24% of the snaps in the opener. He looked good in the passing game, catching all 4 of his targets for 29 yards, and could factor in if Wilson doesn’t impress.

Meanwhile, both Cowboys TEs produced in Week 1, though the slight edge goes to Dalton Schultz right now if you need someone. Schultz caught all 6 of his targets for 45 yards on 39 routes against the Buccaneers compared to 3/20 receiving on 4 targets and 35 routes for Blake Jarwin.

Just like QB Dak Prescott for Dallas, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert is in a must-play spot here — the loss of RT Bryan Bulaga is offset a bit by Lawrence’s injury.

With a matchup against slot corner Jourdan Lewis, who got (to borrow from a former Cowboy) debacled by Chris Godwin last week, the Chargers’ Keenan Allen is in play to be the #1 overall WR on the slate. Mike Williams had a fantastic Week 1, so you’re free to chase points in this projected track meet with him as your WR3.

In the backfield, Week 1 was a mix of good and bad news for Austin Ekeler. Let’s start with the good. First and foremost, he played! After missing a few practices last week with what ended up being a minor hamstring strain, Ekeler was able to play 58% of the team’s snaps in the Chargers Week 1 win over Washington. And more good news… Ekeler might be the goal-line back! Ekeler got both of the Chargers carries inside-the-5 and turned one into a TD. Keep in mind, Ekeler got exactly 2 goal-line carries across 9 full games last season. If this new coaching staff is going to let Ekeler score TDs, that is simply huge for his 2021 ceiling. Now for the bad news. Ekeler wasn’t targeted in the passing game at all and only ran a route on 26 of Justin Herbert’s 52 dropbacks (50%). While some of the reason why Ekeler wasn’t targeted has to be his hamstring injury, the flipside is that this new staff may envision a new role for Ekeler in the offense as a whole. Ekeler scored more receiving fantasy points per game than Alvin Kamara did last season and that was largely because he saw 20% of the team’s targets. There is a chance Williams taking on a bigger role eats into Ekeler’s target share a bit, but we aren’t going to overreact. Everything else about Ekeler’s Week 1 was positive. (We also found out Larry Rountree is likely the top backup, for now.) He’s a high-end RB2.

He isn’t dead yet — 34-year-old TE Jared Cook posted 5/56 receiving on eight targets (17% share) and 31 routes against Washington while Donald Parham failed to catch his lone target on 14 routes. Cook hadn’t seen eight or more targets in a game since Week 12 in 2019 with the Saints, and the Cowboys gave up 2 TD to Rob Gronkowski last week. Cook is a strong streaming play in Week 2.

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