Historically, a much better home player (averaging seven more DK points per game at home in 2018), I am less concerned about Brees on the road this week because it is an indoor game in Dallas. The Saints have moved the ball around a lot the last four weeks. Dan Arnold, Keith Kirkwood, and Josh Hill have the same target share as Alvin Kamara in the last four games. Brees has taken what the defense gives him. Something has to give as the Cowboys are only allowing 1.36 touchdowns per game this season (92nd percentile) and Brees has thrown for four or more touchdowns in three of four games. Brees has the safest floor and maybe the highest ceiling, will spread the ball around and is an excellent captain play.
The Saints defense has been so much better of late. Forcing two-or-more turnovers, getting sacks and not allowing more than 17 points in their last three games. They are finally playing like they were expected to coming into the year. At the same time, Dak Prescott has turned the corner since the arrival of Amari Cooper, averaging 20.17 DK points per game and has rushed for a touchdown in three straight games. This matchup is much tougher than one would think with the Saints playing much better ball of late, but they have allowed more rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks than any other team in the league and Dak comes with a nice mixture of floor and ceiling in this one. The biggest concern for Dak is the bad splits without Tyron Smith, in 2017 his explosive pass percentage dropped two percent and his YPA dropped from 7.26 to 6.28 when Smith was off the field.
Kamara has not seen more than five targets since Week 8 versus the Vikings, and his snap count has been 65 percent or less in the same time span. He and Dan Arnold have the same target share over that time span if you can believe it. The Cowboys, led by two stud linebackers, have done a good job limiting pass-catching backs to just 45 yards per game and allow only 3.69 yards per carry. Kamara has slate breaking upside, but as one of the higher owned projected players in this game, I am comfortable fading in single entries.
Cowboys have been stingy upfront and Ingram will not be heavily involved in the passing game with just seven targets the last four weeks. For him to pop as a receiver, he will need to break one of his two screen targets for a big run or touchdown. He has played less than 50 percent of the snaps in every game other than his initial one and is a touchdown-dependent player in this matchup. He could easily end up with two touchdowns and should be owned in MME, but in single-entry, he is too expensive to bet on being the one to score the Saints spread out touchdowns.
The volume and snaps are there despite the matchup being tough. Since Cooper has arrived, Zeke has seen 20% of the targets, with a five-target floor and has rushed for over 120 yards in three of four games. Cooper has taken pressure of him and the Cowboys have been riding Zeke to victory. Zeke will have his toughest matchup of the year facing a Saints team that is best in the league at rushing yards allowed, yards per carry allowed, weighted opportunity against, and allow the least rushing attempts per game. The matchup is scary, but his volume gives him a nice floor and you know he will get the ball. After the QBs, Zeke is the guy I want as much action on as I can get.
People will look at Thomas only having 10 targets the last two games and may be scared off. However, in the last four weeks, he still leads the team with 27 percent of the targets and has seen 24 percent of the air yards. The Cowboys have one of the league’s best corners in Byron Jones, but he stays on one side of the field and the Saints have moved Thomas all over the formation. I look for them to do that a lot tonight and find ways to scheme Thomas open. Twenty-two percent of targets against the Cowboys this year have gone to opponent’s WR1 as teams have found ways to target their top options away from Byron Jones. I much prefer Thomas to Kamara in this one.
Tre’Quan Smith/ Christian Kirkwood/ Austin Carr
Because of how I expect Thomas to be moved around the field tonight, I expect the Saints secondary pieces to be stuck on Byron Jones more often because of it. Kirkwood and Carr aren’t in consideration for me, as they split a roll with Smith back this week. Since the bye, when Smith plays, no other receiver has seen more than 45 percent of the snaps.
Smith’s last game versus the Eagles, he caught 10 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown and that has driven his price up and will make him very popular tonight. He is a big-play-or-bust guy, and at his price tag plus spending more time against Jones, I will look to go in other directions tonight, outside of the MME dart through.
The Thanksgiving special at under one percent ownership will be more popular this week but is very reasonably priced on DraftKings, less so on FanDuel. He is still playing limited snaps (only 21 percent last week) but is a natural receiver with big-time athleticism who has seen two-or-more targets in three straight games. On the season the Cowboys are giving up 22 percent of the targets against them to tight end. Look for the Saints to see if they can exploit this matchup up the seam and get Arnold involved, who has seen four more targets than either Watson or Hill the last four weeks.
Amari Cooper/Michael Gallup/ Cole Beasley
Figuring out what the Saints will do will determine your night. Marshon Lattimore has been a shadow corner this year, and thus the Saints have struggled to stop opposing WR2 and WR3s so far this year, with a league-leading 22 percent of the targets going to opposing No. 2 wide receivers. Marcus Mosher, who covers the Cowboys, anticipates that the Saints will bracket cover Cooper and put Marshon Lattimore on Gallup, which would leave Beasley in the slot versus P.J. Williams, the corner we have looked to attack more than any other this year. I personally believe the Saints will keep Latimore on Cooper, but it could easily be a combination of both.
Cooper is absolutely in play despite a tough matchup and or bracket coverage. Since he has come over to the Cowboys he has seen 24 percent of the targets and 33 percent of the air yards. That is a similar workloud to Michael Thomas at a discounted price.
Gallup has seen 32 percent of the air yards and other than last week has been second on the team in snaps sine the bye week. While Gallup hasn’t had the big game yet, he is the big play threat on the offense. On Fanduel at 6,000, he is the perfect punt play who could help you take down a GPP because box score hunters will be ignoring him.
Beasley is likely the better play on Draftkings in a PPR format. Since Cooper has come over, Beasley is one of only three players to see double-digit targets, seeing 14 percent of the targets and 13 percent of the air yards. If the Saints bracket Cooper and put Lattimore on Gallup, they would be forcing the ball to Beasley against P.J. Williams, and at 4,000 that would provide Beasley with a very nice floor.
Will Lutz over Brett Maher for me, but both kickers are in play. In a high total game, with two good defenses, in a dome, expect both Kickers to have a real shot to crack double digits.
Can’t play the Cowboys defense against Brees who has taken just 10 sacks this year and only throw two interceptions. Brees kills upside of opposing defenses
Saints defense has been forcing pressure and turning teams over and if they route the Cowboys like some expect double digit points is a realistic possibility.
Eliot Crist is the Sports Product Manager for The Quant Edge.He is a fantasy analyst with a background in scouting, analytics, and fantasy research. Formerly he has contributed at PFF, 4for4, Bleacher Report, Powerhour, and NDT Scouting. Eliot combines watching tape with analytics to try and take angles that other analysts aren’t to gain an edge for you.