Kickoff: Sunday, November 22nd, 4:25 PM ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Betting Odds: MIN -7.5, 48 total via Oddsshark
Andy Dalton (Sit, QB2)
After a spell on IR and the COVID-19 list, Andy Dalton is expected to return against the Vikings. What to expect is anyone’s guess as surely it couldn’t get any worse than what we saw before he missed time. The Cowboys offense has averaged a miserly 10.2 points per game since Dak Prescott‘s injury. The weapons are mouthwatering but Dalton is still Dalton and that is a big issue. He is not recommended as a starter against an improving Vikings defense and an opposing offense that will look to control the clock by running Dalvin Cook all day.
Ezekiel Elliot (Start, RB2), Tony Pollard (Sit, FLEX)
Ezekiel Elliot has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points for 3 straight weeks for the Cowboys and what has been more concerning is his poor ball security. Elliot has been nursing a niggling hamstring injury which has limited his snap count and left the door ajar for the impressive Tony Pollard. Elliot is the clear starter and will likely improve upon his recent run, however, Pollard will vulture key touches and limit Elliot’s upside to a high-RB2.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Amari Cooper (Start, WR2), CeeDee Lamb (Start, FLEX), Michael Gallup (Start, FLEX), Dalton Schultz (Sit, TE2)
Just 2 receiving TDs tells the story for Amari Cooper this season – it may be that there are too many mouths to feed in Dallas, however, what is certain is that Cooper’s production has fallen off a cliff since Prescott went down. The same goes for poor Michael Gallup – the popular fantasy breakout pick has failed to haul in 40 receiving yards in 4 of the last 6 games. This Vikings defense has struggled to deal with slot receivers and coverage down the middle of the field so CeeDee Lamb should have the opportunity to use his movement and speed to expose that weakness. The Vikings are strong at covering TEs from the nickel corner position so Dalton Schultz is not a recommended starter this week for fantasy purposes.
Kirk Cousins (Start, QB2)
After a composed and considered winning-performance against a tough Bears defense on Monday Night Football, Kirk Cousins is finally starting to find a balance with this Gary Kubiak-orientated offense. Cousins threw the ball 36 times (his 2nd-highest total of the season) and completed 25 of them for 292 yards, 2 TDs (to Adam Thielen), and 1 INT. Cousins now has 6 multiple passing touchdown games through 9 contests this year. The interception, which was the fault of Thielen after he juggled a pass straight into the arms of the defender, was his first in 3 games and this aspect has made Cousins more fantasy-viable. Cousins faces a Dallas defense that has allowed 21 passing TDs in 9 games. Even if the Vikings lean on Dalvin Cook once again, there is plenty to go around through the air too.
Dalvin Cook (Start, RB1), Alexander Mattison (Sit)
Start. Always. Even a quiet night for Dalvin Cook yields RB1 numbers. The Bears managed to corral Cook for 96 yards on 30 rushing attempts with additional 16 yards on 4 receptions resulting in his lowest fantasy score of the year, 15.20 points in Yahoo! leagues. Akiem Hicks was sensational against Cook all night but he left with a hamstring in the 3rd quarter and Cook immediately took advantage breaking off his two longest runs of the game. The horrendous Cowboys defense ranks 28th in rushing defense DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) according to Football Outsiders. Dalvin is ready to feed!
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Adam Thielen (Start, WR1), Justin Jefferson (Start, WR2), Irv Smith Jr. (Start, TE2), Kyle Rudolph (Sit)
It was really tough to not elevate Justin Jefferson to WR1 status in front of teammate Adam Thielen after his performance against the Bears. Jefferson is emerging as the primary receiver in Minnesota after leading the Vikings in targets, receptions, and yards against the Bears in what was a masterclass of elite-caliber NFL route running. Lining up all over receiving formations, Jefferson is proving to be the steal of the 1st round rookies taken at the position, registering his 4th 100-yard game in just 9 NFL starts. He is a solid start again this week against a Cowboys secondary bereft of talent. The new flashy toy offers excitement but sometimes in fantasy you just want to rely on your old security blanket – Adam Thielen provides this week in, week out. His 2 touchdown grabs on Monday Night Football propelled Thielen back into the top 10 fantasy producers at the position. The matchup against the Cowboys provides another opportunity to build upon yet another WR1 season from the former UDFA.
Sadly, Irv Smith Jr. was ruled out of MNF after a 2 TD outing the week before. If he is back he a TE2 with TD upside. Kyle Rudolph failed to take advantage of an increased target share in Smith’s absence against the Bears, catching 4 passes for 63 yards but also losing a fumble. He is not recommended if Irv returns.
-Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)