Kickoff: Sunday, October 4th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Betting Odds: DAL -5, 54 total via Oddsshark
Baker Mayfield (Start, QB2)
If you are searching for a weekly streamer at quarterback, take a hard look at Baker Mayfield. Mayfield’s play has been up and down but this Dallas team has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to the position, about 30 points per game. This Browns team wants to run the ball, passing on just 50% of their offensive snaps, but they will need to throw the ball should they want to keep up with this Dallas team. Mayfield is a high-end QB2 with upside.
Nick Chubb (Start, RB1), Kareem Hunt (Start, RB2)
Cleveland has run the ball on 96 of 194 offensive snaps, targetted backs on 16 others, and Mayfield has run play-action on 27 more. This team wants to run the ball and use backs in the passing game. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have both been outstanding in the early season, and have lived up to their draft capital. While this Cowboys defense has been awful against the pass, the strong play on the defensive line has helped them hold down opposing running backs at an above-average clip. However, Chubb should have little trouble early and is a low-end RB1 this week. Hunt should also see plenty of playing time as the Browns are expected to be in more passing situations than their first three games. Hunt has a massive upside this week and should be in your lineups.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Odell Beckham Jr. (Start, WR2), Jarvis Landry (Start, WR3), Austin Hooper (Sit)
Odell Beckham Jr. has been an enigma this season. Beckham is commanding nearly 30% of the team’s target share but an abysmal 1.48 points per target. We have already discussed how little the Browns are throwing the ball and OBJ has just 120 Air Yards on the season. Perhaps it is all of the blocking the team is asking him to do, or perhaps it is his quarterback but Beckham is struggling right now. This matchup presents a chance for OBJ to bounce back, the Cowboys are a team he has torched in the past, but if he cannot take advantage of this weak secondary then it may be time to make a decision on him.
Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper as also players that are suffering from the lack of passing volume on this new-look Cleveland team. Between the two they have just 22 targets through three games. Again this Cowboys defense is an enticing matchup but neither player can be trusted as a must-start until we see it. The matchup for Landry dictates that he is a WR3 if your league starts three, but if you only need a flex you can look elsewhere. Hooper hasn’t scored more than 5.5 fantasy points in any game this season and belongs on your bench this week.
Dak Prescott (Start, QB1)
Dak Prescott is off to a hot start through three games, currently the fantasy QB4 and leading the league in passing yards. Prescott is passing on 70% of his snaps and is throwing the ball with more accuracy than any point of his career. All this while playing behind an injury-riddled offensive line. Last week the Cowboys ended the game with two undrafted free agents, a fourth-round rookie and an All-Pro playing out of position. In the short-term, this line will continue to struggle, but it hardly seems to matter to fantasy managers. As the line gets healthy, his passing touchdowns will climb and managers could be in for even bigger performances. Fire up Prescott this week without hesitation.
Ezekiel Elliott (Start, RB1), Tony Pollard (Sit)
Last week Ezekiel Elliott was held to just 34 yards rushing but he managed to salvage his fantasy day with a short touchdown. Seattle was Zeke’s most difficult early matchup but the Browns are a neutral matchup. While they have held opposing backs to low yardage totals, the Browns have given up three touchdowns on the ground so far. This is a bounceback week for Elliott, look for Dallas to continue to establish Zeke early, in the passing game and near the goal-line. Zeke is playing 93% of the teams’ snaps, a staggering total as most lead-backs are near the 70% mark. Zeke is the unquestioned work-horse in this backfield, and a Tony Pollard breakout will have to wait.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Amari Cooper (Start, WR2), CeeDee Lamb (Start, WR2), Michael Gallup (Start, Flex), Dalton Schultz (TE1)
The Cowboys passing game is a juggernaut, and they show no signs of slowing down. Dak has done a nice job early in the season of spreading the ball around; three receivers, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, are inside the top 15 in receiving yards and Dalton Schultz is in the top 10 among tight ends. The Cowboys are attacking individuals players on opposing teams and going after them this season, something they have struggled to focus on in the past. While this leads to difficult start/sit decisions, all four of these players are returning at least flex value each week. This week looks for Dallas to exploit Tavierre Thomas in slot coverage with Cooper and Lamb. Shultz also has a nice matchup, Cleveland has given up 22 receptions, 179 yards, and three touchdowns already to the position.
-Marc Salazar (@dingwog on Twitter)