Atlanta Falcons @ Dallas Cowboys
I’m not sure what stood out more. The Falcons blowing a 29-10 halftime lead (sound familiar?) or the Cowboys scoring three times in the final 4:57 and recovering a beautiful onside kick on their way to victory. The Cowboys overcame four first-quarter fumbles and a 20-point deficit early to stun the Falcons. Dak Prescott became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 400 yards and rush for three touchdowns in the same game.
Matt Ryan: 24/36, 273 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT, 1 Sack | 4 carries, 16 yards
Matt Ryan threw two early touchdowns off of two of the three Cowboys fumbles. He hit a wide-open Hayden Hurst on a 42-yard catch and Calvin Ridley on his first of two receiving touchdowns. He also added a late red-zone score to Russell Gage. Ryan did mostly what he wanted today, even with stud receiver Julio Jones being clearly hobbled with a hamstring injury. He is currently second in the league in passing yards and tied for the league lead with four passing touchdowns. The Falcons defense is so poor that Ryan and the offense will be in shootouts more often than not. He will face Chicago at home next week.
Todd Gurley: 21 carries, 61 yards
Brian Hill: 3 carries, 14 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards
Ito Smith: 5 carries, 20 yards
The running game for the Falcons could not do much of anything against the strong Cowboys front. That is part of the reason the Falcons struggled to put this game out of reach. They couldn’t take the air out of the ball and chew the clock up. Todd Gurley is averaging a putrid 3.3 yards per carry and has 1 total receiving yard through two weeks. He is still getting the carries we want to see (tied for 4th in the league) but his lack of passing game usage is concerning. Brian Hill and Ito Smith aren’t involved enough to warrant fantasy consideration and if there was a Gurley injury they would likely split the role. They have a fairly tough matchup with the Bears next week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julio Jones: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 24 yards
Calvin Ridley: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 109 yards, 2 TDs
Russell Gage: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 46 yards, 1 TD
Hayden Hurst.: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 72 yards, 1 TD
It was tough watching Julio Jones today; he was constantly limping and did not play his full complement of snaps while dealing with a hamstring injury. He dropped what would have been a long touchdown pass from fellow receiver Russell Gage; it went right through his hands. It would have been better for fantasy owners if Julio had sat out and gotten fully healthy for next week instead of this mostly decoy performance. Calvin Ridley picked up right where he left off last week. He is leading the league in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, averaging over 30 fantasy points per game so far. Ridley was constantly open and was needed on a day when Jones was limited at best. Gage was pretty quiet until he caught a fourth-quarter eight-yard touchdown from Ryan. Gage should be a flex option most weeks when the Falcons are expected to throw a lot. Hayden Hurst had a nice catch and run 42-yard touchdown catch for the Falcons second score of the day. He will be a mid/low TE1 most weeks. Hopefully, we get some clarity on Jones’s hamstring injury this week.
Dak Prescott: 34/47, 450 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 Sack | 5 carries, 18 yards, 3 TDs, 1 fumble lost
Dak Prescott and his fantasy owners benefited greatly from the Cowboys bevy of first-quarter turnovers. They got behind 20 points and then had to throw the ball a lot to catch up. Prescott was 9-for-15 for 243 yards on throws 10 or more yards down the field. He hit four different receivers for more than 50 yards. Unfortunately for Ezekiel Elliott owners, Prescott snagged three short rushing touchdowns scoring three times from (1,2,1 yards out). This passing offense is a force to be reckoned with and Prescott and the Cowboys will travel to Seattle next week.
Ezekiel Elliott: 22 carries, 89 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble lost | 7 targets, 6 receptions, 33 yards
Tony Pollard: 2 carries, 6 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards
Tony Pollard started the game off with a couple of carries and was clearly scripted a couple of plays but was barely seen after that. Ezekiel Elliott fumbled twice early (lost one) but carved out a productive fantasy day throughout this game. It was encouraging that the Cowboys didn’t abandon the run even though they were down big early in the game. Elliott is currently in the top three in both carries and running back targets. He is clearly a top-five running back every week with the amount of usage he gets. He also got a bit unlikely with touchdowns as Prescott had three short goal-line rushing touchdowns.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Amari Cooper: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 100 yards
Michael Gallup: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 58 yards
CeeDee Lamb: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 106 yards
Dalton Schultz: 10 targets, 9 receptions, 88 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble lost
The Cowboys receivers did what they wanted for the most part against this young Falcons secondary. Amari Cooper went for 100 yards on six receptions, picked up four first downs, and had a long reception of 58 yards. He has led or tied for the lead in targets both weeks so far. CeeDee Lamb had a few chunk plays and looked great with the ball in his hands averaging 9.7 yards after the catch. Michael Gallup had a beautiful 38-yard catch down the sideline late but didn’t do much else. Dalton Schultz stepped up nicely with the absence of starting tight end Blake Jarwin. He was the safety blanket of sorts for Prescott, constantly catching balls over the middle, including a nice 10-yard touchdown strike in the fourth quarter. This exciting unit gets the Seahawks’ beatable secondary next week.
-Kevin Taylor (@ktbeast918 on Twitter)