Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott drops back to pass during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) stiff arms New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker (27) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) is tackled by Detroit Lions defensive back Will Harris (25) and cornerback Darius Slay during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
DETROIT (AP) The Dallas Cowboys ’ offense is having a great year - statistically at least.
Dallas is leading the league in total yards for a fourth straight week and has a chance to close the season as the NFL’s top-ranked offense for the first time in 42 years.
“It’s all kind of clicking for them,” Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay said.
Despite the success of Dak Prescott and Co. - they are averaging 437-plus yards a game and are the league’s best offense on third down - the Cowboys are not rolling into the Motor City with much momentum.
Dallas (5-4) is coming off a loss to Minnesota at home and has dropped four of six games.
The Cowboys are tied with Philadelphia atop the NFC East, but they probably can’t afford to lose to the slumping Detroit Lions (3-5-1) because their schedule down the stretch is challenging with games against New England and the Eagles on the road.
“This is a confident group that knows we’re going to peak at the right time,” Prescott said. “We’ve got all the faith and trust that we’re going to get there and handle the things that we need to handle.”
The Lions, meanwhile, have lost five of six after a solid start and don’t want the season to slip away.
“Nobody’s wants to say the last few weeks haven’t gone the way we wanted and just lay an egg,” Detroit offensive tackle Taylor Decker said.
Here are some things to watch Sunday at Ford Field:
FEAST OR FAMINE
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had five 100-yard rushing games in his first eight games for the first time in his career.
However, Elliott has been held to four of the nine lowest rushing totals in his career when he hasn’t run for 100 yards.
The two-time rushing champion struggled in the 28-24 loss last week to Minnesota. His longest carry was 6 yards, and he was limited to 47 yards on 20 carries.
A chance to win escaped when Dallas went to Elliott three straight times inside the Minnesota 15 late in the game. He had two rushes that for a combined minus-3 yards before he was the target on an incomplete pass on fourth down.
“Take it with that chip on your shoulder and use it as fuel when you go back to work the next week,” he said.
Detroit will be without quarterback Matthew Stafford for a second straight week because of hip and back injuries, giving Jeff Driskel another opportunity to show the NFL what he can do under center.
The fourth-year pro was 27 of 46 for 269 yards passing and 37 yards rushing - all career highs - with a touchdown and an interception in his sixth career start in last week’s loss at Chicago.
“He’s a really talented guy,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s big. He’s athletic. He can throw it. He played a lot of football in college and just seemed like a really smart guy who understood the game and just needed an opportunity. So, it doesn’t surprise us one bit that he’s playing.”
Driskel got his first opportunity to play last season with the Cincinnati Bengals, starting five games in place of the injured Andy Dalton, with mixed results.
“Everybody wants to be out on the field and playing and competing,” Driskel said. “Kind of how we all got here is our competitive nature.”
PLAYING A MAN DOWN
The Cowboys already know one way they can improve the defense against screen passes after Dalvin Cook tied his career high with 86 yards receiving, most of it on screens. Dallas can start by making sure 11 men are on the field. There were just 10 on a 30-yard play by Cook that set up the second Minnesota touchdown for a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. The play was made worse for the Cowboys when defensive end Robert Quinn was called for roughing the passer.
TAKING AWAY TURNOVERS
Detroit got off to a 2-0-1 start and had chances to win the next two games in part because its defense forced 11 turnovers in five games. The Lions’ defense has not recovered a fumble or made an interception in two straight games and has forced only one turnover over a four-game stretch.
“We’re trying to find new tricks and trades to turn the ball over,” Slay said.
OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLE
Dallas left guard Connor Williams will miss several weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. Right tackle La’el Collins (knee and back) and right guard Zack Martin (back, ankle and elbow) are also banged up, but are expected to play at Detroit. Xavier Su’a-Filo played well when Williams was out with a knee injury last year and is taking his spot again.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert handled 10 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. He also caught two balls for 40 yards and a second score. For the second consecutive week, Mostert dominated backfield snaps and was a beast after first contact. His touchdown catch came in the second quarter on a 35-yard trick play from wideout Emmanuel Sanders. Mostert later exploded through a hole for a 10-yard running score to close out the half. Playing the best football of his five-year career, Mostert has assumed firm control over the Niners rushing committee, outplaying both Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. He deserves RB2 consideration in Week 15s favorable matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders recorded 157 yards and a touchdown on seven catches in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. He also threw a 35-yard touchdown pass. After battling a rib injury the past few weeks, Sanders looked fully healthy in Sundays shootout, leading the team in catches, targets and yards. His touchdown came on a 75-yard bomb in the second quarter when he smartly got up from the turf and raced to the house. His passing score came later in the quarter on a nifty trick play to running back Raheem Mostert. With the Niners clicking offensively, Sanders fantasy value appears supported despite the emergence of wideout Deebo Samuel and Mostert. Hell carry WR3 value in Week 15 against a weak Atlanta Falcons secondary.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen threw for 293 yards and a touchdown on 28-for-41 passing during the loss to the Falcons. He also had two interceptions and fumbled twice. After not throwing a pick in his first four games after taking over Cam Newton (foot), the 23-year-old now has 12 throughout his last seven games. Don't expect much from Allen moving ahead as the team enters survival mode to finish out the year.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught four of six targets for 41 yards in a 20-15 win over the Washington Redskins. It didn't help that quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for only 195 yards and one touchdown. Rodgers' poor performance and game script are likely why Adams saw a season-low six targets after compiling double-digit opportunities from Rodgers in four straight contests. Adams will look to be more involved in Week 15 against the stingy Chicago Bears.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman toted just three carries for six yards in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. In a 48-46 thriller, Colemans second consecutive bust confirms that hes been sidelined for Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida. He was seen early in the game but not much afterwards. After accruing just 128 rush yards in his last six games, Coleman is impossible to start heading into Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald (concussion) left Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals for further testing and is listed as questionable to return. The 29-year-old caught his only target for three yards in the game, which is a disappointing performance against the defense who has allowed 13 touchdowns to tight ends. It will be interesting to see if he passes protocol before next Sunday's game against the Bills, where he would likely be a non-fantasy factor.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate was forced to exit Sunday's loss to the Browns with an apparent knee injury. After recording his first and only catch of the game, the 22-year-old limped his way back to the locker room after initially being evaluated in the medical tent. Tate has been a semi-regular target for the team this year, logging 39 catches for 559 yards and a touchdown on 76 targets. While he wasn't a consistent source of production, he does have value in deeper leagues. Look for an update regarding his status for the Week 15 encounter with the Patriots, but if he is out, look for the recently-returned John Ross to serve as the primary beneficiary.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead was having a below-average performance in Week 14's matchup with the Buffalo Bills before reeling in a four-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Snead caught 3-of-4 targets for a measly 13 yards but was quarterback Lamar Jackson's most impactful receiver in the game. If tight end Mark Andrews, who exited the game in the first quarter with a knee injury, is unable to go Thursday Night, Snead could see more involvement in the offense. Baltimore matches up against a Jets Defense in Week 15 that has been relatively vulnerable against opposing wide receivers in 2019.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert caught all four of his targets for 49 yards during the loss to Cleveland on Sunday. After failing to surpass 21 receiving yards in each of his last four outings, this was one of the most efficient performances from the veteran on the year. Nonetheless, this season has still been a major disappointment for 29-year-old, with not much expected to change moving forward, especially in Week 15 against a rough Patriots Defense.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed for 50 yards on 15 carries in Week 14's win over the Buffalo Bills. Ingram added 29 yards on three receptions as a pass-catcher. The veteran struggled to break free, averaging 3.3 yards per carry with his longest gain being just nine yards. With Lamar Jackson clogging up the run game for Baltimore, it will be hard to view Ingram as anything more than a low-end RB2 against the New York Jets in Week 15. Ingram will look to bounce back next week against a Jets Defense that's allowing just 63 yards per game to opposing running backs in 2019.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams picked up 24 rushing yards on seven carries and failed to register a reception on one target. Williams played second fiddle to Aaron Jones, who exploded for 192 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. It's entirely possible that Williams, who was a late addition to the injury report on Thursday, was battling through a sore knee in this one. Perhaps that would explain why he was out-touched 22-seven by Jones. Still, Williams was in for 42 percent of the snaps, indicating that he'll maintain his role in the offense going forward. Williams and the Pack will take on the stingy Chicago Bears in Week 15.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross had two catches for 28 yards during the loss to the Browns on Sunday. Ross made his return to the lineup for the first time since Week 4 after missing some time with a chest injury. The upside is there, but his outlook for the remainder of the season is less than favorable, especially in Week 15, against a problematic Patriots Defense. Nonetheless, he still has value in deeper formats for those who are looking for the 24-year-old to duplicate the success that he had through the first two weeks of the year.
The New York Jets Defense allowed plenty of yards to the Dolphins Sunday, but never let Miami in the end zone. The Dolphins scored all 21 of their points via the field goal and the Jets defense added an interception and two sacks for a mediocre fantasy day. Anyone using the Jets defense as a streamer may want to stop now ahead of a matchup vs MVP candidate Lamar Jackson and the high-flying Ravens in Baltimore on a short week.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon was inactive for the seventh straight game in Week 14 against the Ravens. The Bills are rolling along with Devin Singletary and Frank Gore as their lone rushers. Singletary had a big game in Week 14, gaining 89 yards on the ground and another 29 yards through the air. Gore has been a decent No. 2 behind Singletary, despite struggling in Week 14. Yeldon has no business on fantasy radars at this point.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst had his best performance of the season after Mark Andrews exited the game with a knee injury. Hurst caught all three of his targets for a season-high 73 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown in Baltimore's Week 14 win over the Buffalo Bills. If Andrews is unable to play Thursday Night, quarterback Lamar Jackson will likely heavily target tight ends Hurst and Nick Boyle. The Ravens face a Jets Defense in Week 15 that has held opposing tight ends to two touchdowns in 2019.
New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken made three field goals on three attempts including a game-winning 44-yarder as time expired. Ficken also hit from 42 and 37 yards out. It wasn't all good for Ficken who only went 1-for-2 on extra points but he made the big kick when it counts. Ficken has been good for the Jets but there are better kicking options on better offenses to use in fantasy, especially with the Jets brutal remaining schedule.
New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery rushed nine times for 31 yards and made three catches for 30 yards in a win over the Dolphins Sunday. As expected, Montgomery took a backseat to Bilal Powell in the absence of starter Le'Veon Bell (illness). Powell (ankle) left the game late, however, and the status of both running backs is up in the air for a Thursday night game in Baltimore. The Jets will provide an update on Bell and Powell Monday but if either is out Montgomery should have a role Thursday, albeit in a tough matchup at Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews exited the game in the first quarter with a knee injury. Andrews caught 1-of-3 targets for 14 yards before heading to the locker room in the Ravens Week 14 win over the Bills. According to ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley, Andrews' injury isn't considered serious and head coach John Harbaugh explained it could just be a bruise. Baltimore faces the Jets on Thursday Night in Week 15 and Andrews will likely be questionable going into the matchup.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd caught five of his six targets for 75 yards during the loss to Cleveland on Sunday. While he was still semi-productive from a fantasy standpoint, he was relegated to a lesser role by Joe Mixon, who had 23 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown. The 25-year-old had a touchdown in each of his last two games coming into Week 14 but failed to find the end zone in this one, and though he always has a shot to score, his outlook is less favorable than usual against a tough Patriots Defense in Week 15.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones posted a season-high 134 rushing yards on 16 totes with a touchdown and caught six of seven targets for 58 receiving yards in a 20-15 win over the Washington Redskins. With game script on his side, Jones was fed the most touches since Week 8- and he responded by gashing the Redskins' run defense for 8.4 yards per carry. The 24-year-old was Green Bay's leading rusher and receiver. Jones also found his way back into the end zone for the first time since Week 10. Up next for the star running back is a Week 15 matchup with the stout Chicago Bears Defense.