Kickoff: Thursday December 29th, 2022 8:15p Est
Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville TN
Betting Odds: TEN +10, 40.5 O/U, per oddshark.com
Network: Amazon Prime
Writer: Dustin Ludke (@theDunit13 on Twitter)
Dak Prescott (Start, QB1)
Dak Prescott may end up being a league winner this year. There were questions going into Week 16 about his turnovers and how he would handle a tough defense after giving the game away to Jacksonville in Week 15. Dak came out against the Eagles and put up three touchdowns, 347 passing yards, and only one interception. He also added 41 rushing yards, the most he has had in a game since 2019. Now, in most leagues’ championship week, he faces the Titans who are giving up the third most points to quarterbacks at 19.99. The only thing that could keep Dak from putting up massive points would be the Titans failing to score and possibly the Dallas D putting up points. If the Cowboys do get a massive lead, they will rely heavily on the run game and limit Dak’s opportunities. You are still starting him as a QB1 this week.
Ezekiel Elliott (Start, RB2), Tony Pollard (Start, RB2)
Everyone who thought that Ezekiel Elliott was washed before the season is probably kicking themselves now. Zeke hasn’t seen under 15 carries in a game since Week 6 and has gotten into the endzone in his last eight games played, while averaging 4.06 yards per carry. He hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game this season, mainly due to the split with Tony Pollard. Pollard is playing close to 50% of the team’s snaps, but he only has four games this season with 15 or more carries. However, in the passing game, Pollard has gotten at least five targets in six games, including in four of his past seven. The Titans pose a tougher matchup for one of the best running back duos in the league, as they are only giving up 19.97 points to running backs, sixth fewest in the league. You are still starting both of the Dallas rushers. Zeke should be a solid RB2, as he is getting plenty of carries, and if his scoring streak continues, he will easily be in that range. Pollard should be a solid RB2 as well. His pass-catching work gives him a solid floor in PPR leagues. The Cowboys could also get an early lead on the struggling Titans and lean on the rushing game more than usual.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
CeeDee Lamb (Start, WR1), Michael Gallup (Sit, FLEX), Noah Brown (Sit), Dalton Schultz (Sit, TE2)
The Cowboys have done a great job this season moving CeeDee Lamb around in the formation to get better matchups and create space for the talented receiver. He has been playing more and more in the slot: This past week, he lined up there 80% of the time. Despite only playing on 85% of the team’s snaps, he still saw 11 targets, catching 10 of them for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He put on a route running clinic, and Dak was able to get him the ball with ease. If he continues to line up in the slot this week, he will see coverage from Joshua Kalu who rates at 59.6 in coverage per PFF. It’s a favorable matchup for Lamb and with the ways that the Cowboys have been able to find space for him, he should be a solid WR1 this week.
Michael Gallup has been a solid wide receiver for the Cowboys but has been hit or miss for fantasy. He is coming off a week where he was in the WR3 range but has only hit that three other times this season. He has games where despite playing over 70% of the team’s snaps and running close to the most (if not the most) routes run, he barely makes it into the FLEX range. If he sees coverage from Tre Avery, who rates at 69.9, it could be a long day for Gallup. I struggle to trust him, and he will probably get into the FLEX range but will be on the lower end, and there isn’t any upside for him so I’m not starting him in such a crucial week.
Noah Brown and T.Y. Hilton aren’t fantasy options this week. If the Titans play Kalu on Lamb in the slot, then they will be covered by Roger McCreary who rated at 61.5 in coverage. Brown is just barely reaching the 75% snap share threshold that we want to see from wide receivers. Both he and Hilton are touchdown-dependent plays and not worth trusting this week even if the Titans are giving up the second most points to wide receivers at 40.93.
Dalton Schultz has played on over 80% of the team’s snaps the past three weeks and now faces the Titans who are giving up the sixth most points to the tight end position. Schultz has only seen over five targets in four out of the past seven games and only has over 50 yards twice. It’s a good matchup for Schultz, but the low volume is enough for me to pause. He should get into the TE2 range but I’m not expecting a high-volume passing game for Dallas this week so I’m sitting Schultz.
Malik Willis (Sit)
With Ryan Tannehill being done for the season, the Titans are getting some games to see what they have in Malik Willis. It wasn’t the best performance this past week. Willis had 23 passing attempts but only had 14 completions for 99 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. He now faces the Cowboys’ defense, which is giving up the ninth fewest points to quarterbacks at 14.28. Willis might be without his leading rusher so the Cowboys can game plan to put the ball in Willis’s hands and force him to make more throws than he or the coaching staff might want. I’m not starting Willis until we see him produce. He has yet to throw a passing touchdown in the NFL but has three interceptions. Sit him.
Derrick Henry (OUT), Hassan Haskins (Sit, FLEX)
Rest well sweet King. It looks like Derrick Henry will miss this game with a hip injury. The Titans don’t have much to play for this game as it comes down to next week to determine the division, so they should be resting Henry this week. This will open the door for Hassan Haskins. He has played mostly special teams earlier in the season but has played more of a backup role as of late. He failed to register a carry this past week and only has eleven on the season, nine of which came back in Week 2. The Titans are built as a rushing team, but I don’t expect Haskins to get the workload that Henry normally sees. Willis has a rushing upside and has at least five rushes in each of his three starts this season. I’m not willing to risk Haskins this week. He might not even be a good addition. Henry should be back for the crucial game next week and Haskins will be back to no opportunities.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Robert Woods (Sit, FLEX), Treylon Burks (Sit), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (Sit), Chigoziem Okonkwo (Sit)
As the passing game goes down, so does the value of the receiving weapons for the Titans. Rookie Treylon Burks did not play in the two games earlier in the season that Willis started. This past week Burks only saw two targets and failed to haul in either of them. He did play on 82% of the team’s snaps and ran 25 routes. This week he will be covered by Trevon Diggs who rates at 65.2 in coverage. Diggs can be caught trying to undercut routes and get burnt over the top, but he seems to have worked on that this season. I’m not looking forward to having Burks in my lineup at all this week.
Robert Woods seems to have been Mr. Reliable the past few weeks. He has played on over 80% of the team’s snaps over the past five weeks. He has seen at least four targets in the past seven weeks. Still, it’s not a huge volume. On the season he only has two games with over 50 yards on the season. While he might be getting a solid and reliable number of targets, it’s a low floor with very little upside. The Cowboys are giving up the fourth most points to wide receivers at 37.09. Woods would be covered by DaRon Bland who rates at 75.3 in two receiver sets. In three-receiver sets, he would see primarily Nahshon Wright who rates at 62.0 in coverage. It’s a tough matchup for Woods who will probably end up in the FLEX range. If Tannehill was playing, I might start him but not with Willis in the line-up.
Nick Westbrooke-Ikhine has been playing mostly from the slot. He ran 90% of his routes from there in Week 16. He would see Bland in coverage which is a tough matchup. N.W.I. is barely playing 75% of the team’s snaps and only saw three targets last week. He isn’t overly involved against a tough matchup and a low-volume pass offense. Sit him this week.
Chigoziem Okonkwo had a very disappointing Week 16 after being a breakout tight end the past few weeks. He played on 46% of the team’s snaps, which is low but not outlandish compared to his previous weeks. He only saw two targets catching one of them for 10 yards. Part of what has made him such a solid tight end has been his high yards per catch, lots of which were coming after the catch. The Cowboys are giving up the third-fewest points to tight ends at 8.79. It’s a really bad matchup for Chig, and I’m sitting with him this week.