Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 2
Giants vs. Cowboys
Will the Giants defense be able to stop Zeke?
Last week was only the third time in RB Ezekiel Elliott’s career that he rushed for under 70 yards. The Giants held the Jaguars’ running backs to a combined 92 yards, which is less than encouraging because RB Leonard Fournette exited the game in the first half. “Zeke” is a more talented back than both Fournette and T.J. Yeldon, so projecting a YPC of 4.6 (what Fournette averaged) with their combined total of carries, Zeke would have 106 yards on the ground. However, history shows that the New York Giants have been able to contain Zeke to an average of 93 yards per game, so with the Cowboys’ passing game looking similar to that of the Jaguars (below average), they should be able to outperform their norm.
Will Saquon be able to get it going more consistently?
Half of RB Saquon Barkley’s rushes went for 2 yards or fewer last week. I don’t think Dallas has the same caliber of run defense that Jacksonville has, and I’m generally less bullish on them than our own Alex Silverman. Norv Turner and the Carolina Panthers offense ran rampant through them last week, averaging 4.6 yards per carry with a long run of only 29 yards. The Giants will not run the option like Carolina did because, well, you know, Eli Manning lacks mobility. However, Barkley is more dynamic than all of the weapons in Carolina’s backfield, so he should be able to churn out quality runs more consistently.
How many receiving yards will OBJ have?
Please excuse me for being an WR Odell Beckham Jr. apologist, but he absolutely should have had a more productive game last Sunday. There was no lack of targets, no complete shutdown against arguably the league’s best secondary, but also no touchdowns. I think the Giants will be more effective at spreading the ball around this game, but OBJ will score twice; one will be in the red zone, the other will be a classic Beckham slant route turned explosive 40+ yard TD run.
Total Yards Prediction: 103
Head Coach Jason Garrett began his 9th season as head coach in the most Garrett way possible, with a disappointing performance but a typical close game, dropping to 4-5 in season openers. The offense looked awful and the collective fantasy community took this week to write off the team and downgrade every relevant offensive player on the roster. This week the Cowboys get a primetime spot on Sunday night when they visit the New York Giants.
You’ve been a strong supporter of Dak Prescott, what are your feelings after Week 1?
Not much has changed from a fantasy outlook, the Panthers are a strong defense and I thought this was a tough opening week matchup but there certainly are some alarming trends. Dak is only averaging 186 yards passing in his last 9 games, with just two +200 yard performances. He’s also only thrown 6 TDs but 9 interceptions when he started his career with a very low turnover ratio. You can’t expect to win consistently without at least the threat of a dynamic passing game. Prescott is deadly in the middle of the field but he only attempted one pass of 20+ yards. Defenses will begin to take the middle of the field away if you show that you cannot attack downfield. Dak will need to improve his 8.9 yards per completion. In today’s NFL that’s more than 3 yards under league average.
Ezekiel Elliott had a decent outing in Week 1 but not the RB1 numbers that owners were expecting. What does this week’s matchup look like?
This week Zeke Elliott gets a favorable matchup, after drawing what should turn out to be his toughest matchup of the year. The Cowboys bread is buttered with the outside zone run, a scheme that depends on centers and guards out in front and blocking the second level. The Panthers just don’t allow you to play like this, you can’t block Luck Kuekley at the second level and the speed of their linebackers is evident on outside runs. Late in the game, the Cowboys went power with some success but called misdirection to slow down the linebackers. This was the only reason why Zeke salvaged his day. This week Dallas will feed Zeke and New York doesn’t have the linebackers to slow him down. Alec Ogletree, the Giants off-season signing, is historically awful in the run game and Week 1 was no different. Zeke should have a nice game on Sunday night.
This Cowboys wide receiver depth chart is a mess after just one week but is there anything positive to look at headed into Week 2?
I have more questions than answers after Week 1. The biggest problem I see with the passing attack is a lack of defined roles. On the positive side, Cole Beasley will again be Dak’s favorite target this season but 70 receptions for about 800 yards is his ceiling. A lead wideout with those numbers just can’t carry an offense. But there are no other clearly defined receivers, they still don’t have a deep threat and coaching abandoned Tavon Austin as a multi-threat weapon early in the first quarter. Dak struggles with trusting his pass catchers if they are not “open” and this group was covered all day. The few times Dak did try and fit a tight pass, his accuracy was lacking. This inaccuracy is a direct result of not trusting his receivers to separate.
If there is a silver lining after opening weekend, it is that this Cowboys defense looked good. What are your thoughts?
Just as I’ve said all preseason, this defense has a chance to be something special. They surrendered 293 yards, good for 7th in Week 1 and gave up just 16 points, 5th in the league. The limited Carolina to just 146 yards in the air for no touchdowns, a remarkable number, and the tape will show Carolina was covered all day. Cam Newton took the team apart early in the game on the ground, which accounted for early scores. Dallas did grade out as one of the worst tackling team in Week 1 and that was evident when you saw Newton running downhill. They added three sacks and a turnover. This will be a long season for Dallas offensively but this defense will keep them in every game and is an easy waiver wire add if you’re looking for a team that won’t give up huge days.