New York Giants (1-3, 2-2 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1, 4-0), 4:25 p.m.
Brolley’s Giants Stats and Trends
The Giants covered in both matchups with the Cowboys last season, which snapped Dallas’ six-game cover streak against New York from 2017-19.
New York has covered five straight games against NFC East opponents.
The Giants are 20-6 ATS in their last 26 road games.
New York is 10-2 toward unders in its last 12 games.
Saquon Barkley is officially back to full speed off of his ACL injury after posting 13/52/1 rushing and 5/74/1 receiving against a good Saints’ defense last week. He now has 21+ FP in consecutive games after he managed just 12.6 FP in his first two games. Barkley’s snap share has also sat at 84% or better in three straight games. The Cowboys are facing a league-low 11.5 carries per game from RBs but they’re allowing 4.7 YPC and a league-high 8.3 catches per game to RBs.
Is Daniel Jones turning a corner? He has just two turnovers and he’s averaging 8.2 YPA and 47.0 rushing yards per game through four weeks. He just ripped a good Saints defense for 402/2 passing (10.1 YPA). The Giants could make some noise if they can clean up their red-zone woes as they rank dead last in touchdown scoring rate from inside the 20-yard line (33.3%). Dallas has an NFL-best eight-game streak with multiple takeaways.
With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton out with hamstring injuries last week, Kenny Golladay had his best game in New York with 6/116 receiving on six targets in a tough matchup with the Saints. He’ll get another brutal matchup this week against top CB Trevon Diggs, who has interceptions in every game this season after picking off two more passes last week — he has eight INTs in his last nine games dating back to last season.
The Giants finally took the reins off of rookie Kadarius Toney last week, and he produced a promising 6/78 receiving on nine targets (23% share). His aDOT rose from -.8 yards in Weeks 1-3 to 8.5 yards last week, and he showed he could handle being used downfield more. Slot CB Jourdan Lewis is giving up just .75 yards per slot coverage snap this season.
Evan Engram has looked extremely sluggish in his first two games, totaling just 7/48 receiving on 12 targets even with Shepard and Slayton missing with hamstring injuries. The Cowboys are giving up the eighth-most FPG (16.5) to TEs this season.
Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends
The Cowboys are the only 4-0 ATS team after starting last season 0-8 ATS.
Dallas is 3-1 toward overs to open the season.
Ezekiel Elliott has 18+ touches, 95+ scrimmage yards, one touchdown, and 17+ FP in three straight games since the Cowboys went with a pass-heavy script in the season opener. Tony Pollard has 60+ rushing yards in his last three games but he’s managed just a five-yard catch in the last two weeks, and the Cowboys could have another positive gamescript as seven-point home favorites. The Giants are giving up a generous 158.8 scrimmage yards per game to RBs, and Zeke totaled 166/3 scrimmage against the Giants last season.
Dak Prescott has thrown for 3+ TDs in three of his last four games, and he has an incredible seven TDs on just 48 attempts (14.6% TD rate) the last two weeks. He’s attempted just 75 passes in the last three weeks after logging 58 attempts against the Bucs in the season opener, but he did at least run for 35 yards last week, which he hasn’t done much of since coming back from his injury. The Giants have given up 20+ FP to quarterbacks in three of their first four games.
CeeDee Lamb has seen just eight targets for 5/79 receiving in the last two weeks after posting 9+ targets and 80+ yards in each of his first two games. Marquez Callaway posted 74 receiving yards on two targets against the Giants last week, and Lamb posted 8/124 receiving in the lone game in which Dak appeared against the Giants last season.
Amari Cooper has exactly three catches in each of the last three games after posting 13 catches in the season opener against the Buccaneers. Amari Cooper struggled against James Bradberry and company last season, including 2/23 receiving on four targets in his lone game with Dak at the helm.
Dalton Schultz has moved ahead of Blake Jarwin after posting 6/58/1 receiving on eight targets (36% share) against the Panthers in Week 4, which gives him 12/138/3 receiving and 43.8 FP in the last two weeks. Schultz ran 74 routes to Jarwin’s 71 routes through three weeks, but he saw 10 more routes (19 to 9) in their Week 4 win. Schultz has produced 6+ targets and 10+ FP in three straight games, and the Giants have given up a league-high four TDs to the position so far.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27 (10th)
Plays per game: 64.5 (22nd)
Pass: 62.9% (12th) | Run: 37.1% (21st)
Pace: 26 (5th)
Plays per game: 68.5 (13th)
Pass: 54.2% (29th) | Run: 45.8% (4th)
Unfortunately for fantasy, it doesn’t seem like the Cowboys are going to return back to their extremely pass-heavy ways. I was preaching caution in our Cowboys’ Franchise Focus that Dallas’ pass rate had to dip because their defense was so much improved this year, but this is more of a fundamental shift than a game-script based one. On their early-down plays this year, the Cowboys are a perfect 50% pass | 50% run after going 64% pass-heavy on early-downs last season. Dallas has been extremely effective on their early-down runs so far in 2021 – they lead the league in YPC (5.8) on these plays – and this game sets up as another run-heavy plan. Dallas are touchdown home-favorites and the Giants run defense has been shaky at best so far and are giving up 4.61 YPC to RBs (eighth-most). Overall, this is the third-best game in my pace/play model just behind Browns-Chargers and Chiefs-Bills. Both teams are top-10 in pace and we’ll likely see Daniel Jones have to throw a ton to try and keep up with the Cowboys scoring.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
It took the New Orleans WR unit for Giant CB James Bradberry to shake a three-game streak of surrendering a TD. After watching last week’s Cowboys/Panthers game twice, as well as viewing the coaches tape on each of his routes, the only explanation for CeeDee Lamb’s 2/13/0 line last week is game script. Dallas entered the fourth quarter with a 22-point lead over Carolina. If you simply look at the final 36-28 score, that context is entirely lost. This will be the first time Dak Prescott has faced the Giants since suffering his brutal Week 5 ankle injury. In that game, after New York jumped ahead 17-3 early in the second quarter, the score differential never exceeded eight points before the Cowboys took the contest 37-34.
In the early stages of his breakout season in 2020, Bradberry spent his time shadowing Amari Cooper toward a 2/23/0 final line. With Lamb working exclusively out of the slot, he torched a variety of Giants for an 8/124/0 line. He doesn’t work out of the slot nearly as much anymore — just 28% of his snaps — but he can go get Bradberry with Bradberry’s 2021 struggles.
As for the Giants, Kenny Golladay didn’t “simply” put 6/116/0 on 2021 third-rounder Paulson Adebo. He acquired half of that production inside the coverage of Marshon Lattimore. If Golladay emerges as the player he was in Detroit, things could get interesting in East Rutherford.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Cowboys are still a pretty easy fantasy team — you almost certainly will be starting Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb in your leagues — but a more efficient passing game has made things a little more complicated.
Prescott has thrown fewer than 30 passes in three straight games for only the second time in his career — the first since 2018. In fact, in Prescott’s last fully healthy season in 2019, he did it just twice overall. Combined with Cooper dealing with various nicks and bruises (the latest to a hamstring), this passing game hasn’t provided us with the fantasy floor or ceiling we anticipated. Unfortunately, Dallas is unlikely to care, as they’ve won all three of those games with Prescott barely throwing it.
That’s been good news for Elliott, who looks as good as he ever has. While Tony Pollard does continue to be involved, there’s enough meat on the bone here for two Cowboy backs to succeed when Dallas clearly wants to limit how much Prescott drops back. In Week 4 against the Panthers, Zeke might have looked the best he has all season, posting 20/143/1 rushing while playing 75% of the snaps. It was his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, and it’s now propelled him to ranking as the RB5 on the season so far… pretty much exactly in line with his ADP. He’s an RB1, and Pollard a middling FLEX.
At tight end, it’s now the Dalton Schultz show, over Blake Jarwin. His rate of team passing routes has risen consistently over the last three weeks (50%, 63%, and 76%). And his target share spiked from 7% in Week 2, up to 28% in Week 3, and finally to 37% last week. Jarwin being involved could make this annoying, but Schultz is the guy you want to use — the Giants have solid CBs, so it’s a funnel matchup, with the Giants allowing the 4th-most FPG to opposing TEs.
It’s another good matchup for Daniel Jones — the Cowboys are surrendering the 4th-most FPG to opposing QBs, but Jones won’t have either Sterling Shepard or Darius Slayton, both with hamstring injuries. Jones is playing the best football of his career in a prove-it season, but I don’t blame folks if they’re a little hesitant to go back to the well when he disappointed in a blow-up spot against the Falcons two weeks ago. Additionally, LT Andrew Thomas (foot) is questionable.
Saquon Barkley is back to elite RB usage, and it was great to see his pure joy after scoring his long receiving TD last week. He’s an RB1.
“In Week 4, with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both out, Golladay finally posted a “start”-worthy performance, catching 6 of 7 passes for 116 yards. But he’s a fairly easy “sit” this week.
He’ll get shadow coverage from Trevon Diggs this week, who has shadowed in all four games this season. Through the first three weeks, he held Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, and DeVonta Smith to a combined 6 catches for 96 yards and 0 touchdowns. Of course, D.J. Moore went nuclear last week against (mostly) his shadow coverage, totaling 31.3 fantasy points, but only 39% of that was actually credited to Diggs. And I think that’s more a testament to Moore than anything else, and I don’t yet see Golladay being on that level. Nor do I envision him seeing as much usage in the slot and out of the backfield as Moore saw last week. And, I suspect, given his league-high 5 interceptions, the Giants are a bit less aggressive and more wary of looking his way. And as such, he’s just a WR3 this week.”
Meanwhile, I’m picking up Kadarius Toney.