Titans at Cowboys -6.5 O/U 41
- WR Tavon Austin (groin) – OUT
- Cole Beasley is seeing 3.7 percent more targets with Austin off the field this year
- Dak Prescott’s YPA drops from 7.909 to 5.92 with Austin of the field
- LB Joe Thomas (foot) – OUT
- DT David Irving (ankle) – OUT
- TE Geoff Swaim (knee) – Doubtful
- Blake Jawrin leads TE’s in snaps when Swaim is off the field. He has seen 9.7 percent of the team targets, but just a 2.67 aDot
- Randy Gregory (knee) – Questionable
- Cowboys defensive numbers are better across the board with Irving off the field.
- Zack Martin (knee) – Questionable
- OLB Derrick Morgan (shoulder) – OUT
- Titans are giving up 9.14 YPA when he is off the field and 6.62 YPA when is off the field. Pass success rate jumps 8.8 percent and explosive pass percentage goes up 6.3 percent without Morgan on the field
- The Titans have been a better run defense with Morgan on the field, giving up 4.49 with him on the field and just 3.86 with him off of it.
- ILB Will Compton (hamstring) – questionable
Dak Prescott takes on a Titans defense that is missing Derrick Morgan and that has meant big things for the opponent’s passing game. The Titans have allowed 5.19 yards per carry on QB runs this year, and Prescott is taking off just under six times per game. He is averaging 33.71 yards on the ground and the defensive matchup should allow him to meet or exceed that, creating a nice floor, and if he can run one in, a very nice ceiling. Prescott has been bad this year, averaging only 6.88 yards per attempt and 1.14 touchdowns per game this season. The Titans have been good holding QBs to 1.29 touchdowns per game this season but averaging a pedestrian 7.88 YPA against. Prescott gets Amari Cooper in this one, who’s a field stretcher and a playmaker. Prescott offers a nice floor and ceiling, is a strong consideration for Captain on FanDuel, and an excellent play on both sites.
Marcus Mariota is the other mobile, underwhelming quarterback in this game, but he has the tougher matchup. The Cowboys are 91st percentile in fantasy points allowed to QBs, 92nd percentile in touchdowns allowed, and are limiting quarterbacks to just 234.43 yards per game. Meanwhile, Mariota is averaging just 171.67 yards per game, averaging less than a touchdown per game, and throwing the ball just 25 times per game. In four of six games this season, Mariota has not thrown a touchdown. His one big time fantasy output this season came in a game where he attempted 43 times and ran it an additional 10 times. In a slow paced game versus a good defense, that is unlikely to happen again.
The interesting thing for Mariota is his running upside against a Cowboys defense that is allowing the most QB carries against them of any team this season. Mariota is unlikely to make my single entry build, but is in play for MME.
Coming off a bye week, Ezekiel Elliott is the only Cowboys running back in consideration for me. He takes on a Titans team that has done a good job limiting rushing touchdowns and targets against, 77th percentile and 95th percentile scores. They have been much better against the run than against the pass without Derrick Morgan this season. In an ugly, slow paced game Zeke may not have the dream matchup, but his volume gives him far and away the highest floor of any positional player. Only James Conner has seen more of his team’s running back touches than Zeke. He has scored less than 15.4 DK points just once this season, and a floor like that is hard to ignore. He may not be the captain I look to, but I want to try and fit him on as many rosters as possible.
Note: The Cowboys have a new offensive line coach and they may get back to more outside zone running where Zeke has historically had a lot of success.
Dion Lewis is an awesome play on both sites tonight. He is seeing 17 percent of the targets this year for the Titans, and 80.4 percent of the running back targets on the season. He takes on a Cowboys team that’s allowed 8.29 targets per game to running backs. Lewis is too cheap on DraftKings for his target floor in this game and is the vastly superior play to Derrick Henry.
Derrick Henry has only seen eight targets on the season, is averaging 12 carries per game, has a ridiculously low 3.25 yards per carry and takes on a Cowboys defense that is in the 95th percentile in success rate against. Feel free to have no exposure to Henry in this one.
Projecting Cowboys receivers is a guessing game.
Amari Cooper is about to play his first game as a Dallas Cowboy. “He’s going to be starting at wide receiver and playing a significant amount of snaps,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “How many those are we’ll determine that a little bit more the day before the game. We’re not really easing him into the situation. He’s got a pretty big workload and we’ll just keep an eye on him and see where he is and how much he plays in some situations. Right now there is no limit with what we do with him.”
Dak hasn’t historically had a lot of success of big plays down the field. On the season, Prescott has just a 45.5 accuracy percentage (completions + drops / attempts) on throws 20-or-more yards down the field, 29th among quarterbacks. He also has never had a receiver as talented of a route runner as Amari Cooper.
With criticism of the trade and over a bye week to prepare Amari Cooper, I think the Cowboys will look to get him involved. There has been a lot of speculation that the Cooper trade also plays into a Dak Prescott evaluation and could lead to more passing and more situations for Dak to prove himself. Cooper will likely see a lot of Malcolm Butler tonight, who has been targeted 39 times, allowing 26 catches, four touchdowns, and a 127.5 QB rating against. I want to make sure I have some Cooper exposure tonight.
Over the last four weeks, Cole Beasley has seen the highest percentage of the targets for the Cowboys, at 23 percent. His role is least likely impacted by the Amari Cooper signing, and he presents a high floor option in this one. He is priced so that he need a touchdown to pay off his price, and I am not going to count on that.
Beasley will face off versus Logan Ryan, who has only allowed one touchdown this year, and it was on a pass 30 yards down the field. I don’t expect Beasley to replicate that success.
The Titans defense has been most susceptible deep left, giving up 309 yards in seven games this season. On the season, Michael Gallup has run 57.3 percent of his routes there compared to Allen Hurns 30.2 percent. With Gallup being the big play receiver who has played much better of late, I prefer him to potentially get loose down the left sideline tonight. Both players will likely split time, but I prefer Gallup’s ceiling, with his 15.1 aDot attacking a secondary that can be beat over the top.
Without Geoff Swaim, the Cowboys tight end situation is a guessing game. Dalton Schultz played 29 percent of the snaps last week compared to Blake Jarwin’s 14 percent and Rico Gathers’ 11 percent. On the season, the Titans defense has been excellent versus the tight end position. Allowing only 7.7 points per game, 34.14 yards per game, and yet to allow a touchdown, the Titans defense is not one I want to attack here with a Cowboys tight end.
Corey Davis should only see Byron Jones about 27.7 percent of the time as Jones stays on the right side of the field and Davis is moved all over the formation. In the last four weeks, Davis has seen 26 percent of the targets and 36 percent of the air yards. On the season, Davis owns the highest percentage of deep target share of any receiver, is seeing 29 percent of his team’s targets, and 36 percent of the red zone targets. He is a must play for me with that projected volume tonight.
The Cowboys allow the fewest DK ppg to WR two’s in the NFL thus far this year, while limiting opponents WR3 to just nine percent of the targets. Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor are only seeing 16 percent of the teams targets last week and should see a lot of Anthony Brown and Byron Jones in this one. They are the lesser players in their matchups and aren’t seeing the volume you are looking for to be anything other than an MME dart throw.
Jonnu Smith has been playing just under 80 percent of the snaps but has only seen six percent of the targets. He doesn’t have the volume to be in consideration. The Cowboys have been above average against tight ends this year and with the lack of volume, and the mediocre matchup there is no reason to consider him.
Kickers and Defense
In a low scoring, defensive battle both kickers are in play. I always prefer the favorite kicker as he is likely to get more second half opportunities. So I lean Maher over Succop, but both both guys are in play.
Marcus Mariota has three fumbles and five interceptions on the season, and if you can force him out of the pocket is one of the least accurate QBs in the league. The Cowboys have been generating pressure all year and have been night and day in home road games. They are the better defensive play in this one.
Without Derrick Morgan, the splits make me nervous for the Titans, and I don’t have much interest in playing their defense.
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.