Week 9 Game Hub: DEN-DAL

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Week 9 Game Hub: DEN-DAL

Denver Broncos (4-4, 4-4 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (6-1, 7-0), 1 p.m.

Brolley’s Broncos Stats and Trends

  • This week’s matchup is totaled around 49 points (with Dak), and the Broncos haven’t played in a game totaled above 45 points in the first eight weeks.

  • The Broncos snapped a four-game outright and ATS losing streak last week.

  • Denver is 4-1 toward unders in its last five road games.

  • Teddy Bridgewater has fallen below 15 FP and 35 pass attempts in two consecutive games. He completed 19/26 passes for 213 yards (8.2 YPA) and one touchdown in a victory over Washington in Week 8. He gets another good-looking matchup on paper, but the Cowboys haven’t allowed opposing QBs to reach 17+ in three straight games.

  • Jerry Jeudy made his much anticipated return to the lineup in Week 8 after missing the last six games because of a high-ankle sprain. The Broncos eased their second-year WR back into the mix with the third-highest snap share (72%) at the position, and he hauled in all four of his targets (15% share) for 39 yards. Bridgewater targeted seven different players in Week 8 and each player saw either three or four targets, but it shouldn’t take Jeudy long to become Teddy’s preferred target out of the slot in this passing attack. Jeudy appeared to be moving fairly well and he didn’t suffer any setbacks so his playing time should tick up in the upcoming weeks. The Cowboys are giving up the eighth-most FPG (39.2) to WRs through eight weeks.

  • Courtland Sutton tied for the team in lead in targets last week…with four looks. He finished with 2/40 receiving, which now gives him four games with fewer than nine FP — he also has three games with 23+ FP. He should see the most of top CB Trevon Diggs, but he did suffer an ankle injury late last week. The Cowboys are giving up 14.6 YPR to WRs, but Justin Jefferson struggled in this matchup with just 2/21 receiving.

  • Tim Patrick actually led the Broncos in routes (29) and yards (64) as he caught all three of his targets last week. He played on 94% of the routes, which should go down as they ramp up Jeudy’s workload in the future. The Cowboys have given up eight receiving TDs to WRs through seven contests.

  • Albert Okwuegbunam also returned to action after a three-week layoff for a hamstring injury. His presence in the lineup has been bad news for Noah Fant’s fantasy output, including against Washington when he posted a season-worst 2/8 receiving on four targets on a season-low 77% of the snaps. Fant is now averaging ​​4.0/32.8 receiving on 6.2 targets per game with two overall touchdowns in five contests with Albert O, compared to Fant’s 5.7/52.0 receiving on 7.3 targets per game with one touchdown in three contests without Albert O. Fant is on the COVID list and will be in a race to play against a Cowboys’ defense that 5/57 receiving to Tyler Conklin in Week 8.

  • Melvin Gordon has finished with a higher snap share than Javonte Williams in four consecutive games, and he’s coming off a two-touchdown game. Over the last four weeks, Gordon has seen more touches per game (11.8 to 11.5) while Williams has been far more effective with 63.6 scrimmage yards per game compared to 52.6. The Cowboys limited Dalvin Cook to 18/78 rushing and he didn’t have a catch last week.

Brolley’s Cowboys Stats and Trends

  • The Cowboys are the only team that is still unbeaten ATS, and they’ve covered 10 of their last 11 games dating back to last season.

  • Dallas is 4-1 toward overs in its last five contests.

  • Dak Prescott will look to return this week after suffering a calf injury before their bye in Week 7. He completed 36/51 passes for 445 yards (8.7 YPA), three TDs, and one INT in his last game against the Patriots, which gives him 3+ TDs in his last four games. The Broncos are giving up the second-fewest FPG (15.0) to QBs, and no QB has reached 23+ FP against them.

  • CeeDee Lamb has reeled off consecutive games with 110+ yards and 6+ catches, and he’s now posted 80+ receiving yards and 17+ FP in 5-of-7 games. The Broncos limited Terry McLaurin to 3/23 receiving on seven targets last week.

  • Amari Cooper saw a season-best 32% target share with Cooper Rush at quarterback last week, and he turned his 13 targets into 8/122/1 receiving. It was his first game with 70+ receiving yards or 9+ targets since the season opener. The Broncos are giving up just 11.4 catches per game to WRs (6th-fewest) but WRs are averaging 14.6 YPR on those limited catches.

  • Dalton Schultz failed to catch five passes last week for the first time since Week 2. He still saw a promising seven targets (17% share) and he’s averaging 7.2 targets per game over his last five games. The Broncos have yet to allow a touchdown to a TE this season, and they limited Ricky Seals-Jones to just 2/12 receiving last week.

  • Michael Gallup (calf, IR) should see his first action since the season opener, but they could ease him into action with a rotation with Cedrick Wilson, who posted 3/84/1 receiving against Minnesota last week.

  • Ezekiel Elliott had his worst fantasy output (11.3 FP) since the season opener with 16/50 rushing and 4/23 receiving, but he still saw 20+ touches for the fifth straight game. Tony Pollard saw his lightest workload since the season opener with just 8/27 scrimmage on a 26% snap share. The Cowboys RBs have a great chance to rebound as nine-point home favorites against a Broncos’ run defense that had been gashed in recent weeks until they ran into the injured Antonio Gibson last week. D’Ernest Johnson posted 22/146/1 rushing and 2/22 receiving in this matchup two weeks ago.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies

Broncos

Pace (seconds in between plays): 31.1 (31st)

Plays per game: 65.8 (23rd)

Pass: 64.0% (11th) | Run: 36.0% (22nd)

Cowboys

Pace: 26.2 (3rd)

Plays per game: 72.7 (4th)

Pass: 56.6% (26th) | Run: 43.4% (7th)

Pace Points

Dak Prescott is back and everything is right in Dallas again. The Cowboys put up a whopping 34.2 points per game in Dak's first six starts, which, for reference, would lead the league over the Bills (32.7) this season. Dallas’ high-powered, fast-paced offense led their games to going 5-1 towards the over in Weeks 1-6 and this sets up as another potential blowup spot. Before facing an injured Baker Mayfield on a short-week on TNF two weeks ago and Washington in Week 8, the Broncos yielded 23 points to the Ravens, 27 to the Steelers, and 34 to the Raiders in three-straight losses.

As 10-point road underdogs, Denver is going to be forced to throw way more than usual here. And their tendencies this season point to a massive spike in their volume in this spot. Through eight weeks, the Broncos are the second-most pass-heavy team in the league when trailing (73.8%) behind only the Buccaneers and Tom Brady (76.8%). That trend combined with this matchup (as you’ll read below from Wes) gives the Broncos passing attack a huge ceiling.

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

NOTE: Each week, Huber’s Key Matchup Notes in the Fantasy Points Game Hubs are little snippets from Wes Huber’s industry-best, comprehensive Advanced Matchups bible. A DFS-slanted article typically available to only our Premium Subscribers, we are making this week’s edition FREE to coincide with our midseason price drop, with rates reduced by 50%. There is still plenty of time to get on board!

Teddy Bridgewater fell short facing a featured Cover 1 last week, but will enter Week 9 across from another team with a high Cover 1 rate. The Cowboys feature the third-highest Cover 1 rate. They are endorsing the fourth-most passing YPG (278.1), 11th-highest YPC (7.35), eighth-highest completion rate on throws of 20-plus yards (17.3%), and 11th-most FPG to QBs (19.3).

Dating back to the 2018 season, Bridgewater has compiled 0.56 FP/Db (third-best), a 114.9 passer rating (third), and with a 24% spike to his YPA (second). On 21% of dropbacks during that time, Bridgewater has found a home for 37% of his total TD strikes. Dallas’ offense is generating the third-most PPG at 32.1. That’s a huge factor forcing opposing offenses to take to the air. The Broncos’ chances of making the playoffs are only at 28% after defeating Washington last week to even out their record. It should go without saying that this matchup in the Lone Star state is of the must-win variety.

Let’s just get the whole Trevon Diggs shadow narrative out of the way. Diggs is defending from the right side of the field on just under 75% of coverage snaps. If you want a determination from someone that’s studied all of the film, Diggs is not shadowing opposing No. 1 wideouts. And the alignment percentages support that opinion, as shadow corners do not devote a massive chunk of their time to one side of the field. While Diggs will not shadow Courtland Sutton, the alignment numbers will place Sutton on Diggs’ side of the field on well over half of his reps.

Then we have the height issue. Anthony Brown, the starter on the opposite perimeter, is only 5-foot-11. With Sutton standing 6-foot-3, we can bank on DC Dan Quinn sticking Diggs on Sutton on the most important obvious passing plays. One of the more perfect examples highlighting the importance of using all my Big 4 coverage metrics. Diggs is permitting 1.81 YPCS (80th), 0.32 FP/CS (71st), 0.27 AY/CS (43rd), and a 61.2 TPR (seventh). Before we get too excited about those YPCS and FP/CS, consider that Diggs has been targeted at the 12th-lowest rate among outside CBs. When a corner is either intercepting or swatting away a fourth of all targets, QBs tend to look elsewhere. Nearly two-thirds of the total yardage allowed by Diggs has been collected on six completions. Sutton will have better days ahead.

Dolan’s Vantage Points

The Broncos got WR Jerry Jeudy back last week, and it was good to see him get through a game unscathed while playing an overall pretty hearty role. Here’s Graham from Week 9 Start/Sit on the young receiver:

“After missing the last six weeks with a badly sprained ankle and being “sore” in practice on Friday last week, Jeudy was unsurprisingly somewhat limited in his return to the field in Week 8. He was third on the team in routes run (24) behind Tim Patrick (30) and Courtland Sutton (29) and lined up almost exclusively in the slot as he spent 88% of his routes lined up on the interior. Well, with a game under his belt with no setbacks this could be the spot where we see Jeudy unleashed. The Broncos are massive 10-point dogs to the Cowboys as the markets are weighing that Dak Prescott most likely starts. If that happens, Denver is going to be throwing all day long to keep up with the Dallas offense and it should lead to plenty of volume for Jeudy. The Cowboys haven’t been particularly good to full-time slot wideouts this year, yielding 9/105/1 to Chris Godwin, 4/108 to Keenan Allen, and 10/198 to Kadarius Toney. Pats’ slot man Jakobi Meyers would have hit Dallas for a big day, too, if he didn’t have a TD called back due to a penalty. I’m playing Jeudy as a WR3 with a high-end WR2 ceiling here.”

Jeudy’s impact could be even more important this week, as TE Noah Fant is highly questionable with a positive COVID test. But there’s another guy who would stand to benefit from that — second-year TE Albert Okwuegbunam. The Broncos and QB Teddy Bridgewater affectionately refer to him as “Big O.”

Graham has also noticed how the Broncos rotate “Big O” in even when Fant is active, and it’s clear that the team loves him. From Week 9 Stat-Pack:

  • Okwuegbunam’s return to the lineup after missing three games was not good for Noah Fant. This past week, Fant ran a season-low 21 routes.

  • In the four full games that Okwuegbunam and Fant have played together, Fant has run a route on 69% of the Broncos pass plays and gotten 21 targets while Okwuegbunam has been involved on 42% of the plays and gotten 11 targets.

  • In the three games without Okwuegbunam (Weeks 5-7), Fant was a true full-time player and ran a route on 84% of the pass plays.

So, clearly, “Big O” is a viable TE streamer this week against a Cowboys defense that has given up the 11th-most FPG to TEs this year.

Much of how we project Dallas this week comes down to QB Dak Prescott’s availability, though Cooper Rush played very well in an upset win over the Vikings last week. Rush’s performance gives the Cowboys the luxury to sit Prescott (calf) if they choose to be extra cautious, as they are in a division with three rebuilding/retooling teams. But as Graham mentioned above, the markets — and Prescott himself — are anticipating Prescott starts this one, which raises the floor and ceiling of the entire offense. Prescott is a low-end QB1.

Prescott will not have his star LT Tyron Smith (ankle) though, which does help the Broncos offset the trade of Von Miller to the Rams.

Of course, the Cowboys appear unlikely to have Blake Jarwin (hip) this week, which makes Dalton Schultz extra appealing, and Schultz could be in line for a bigger target share if CeeDee Lamb is at all limited. Lamb has an ankle injury, though it doesn’t seem overly serious.

With Lamb’s status at least a little in question, it’s fair to wonder about the status of Michael Gallup, who has missed the last seven weeks with a calf injury. Reading the tea leaves, it does feel like he’s going to miss an eighth.

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