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.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is a decent kicking option in a Week 15 game against Washington. The Eagles shouldn't have too much difficulty scoring on a weak Washington defense, but Elliott does seem to be in a bit of a slump lately. After starting the season off with 12 perfect weeks without a missed field goal, Elliott has missed two of his last six tries. He's still a K1, and should be fine in a fantasy lineup this week.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense have an excellent matchup in Week 15 against Washington. While the Eagles looked rough against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13 and came out slumping in the first half of Week 14 against the New York Giants, they were able to put it together and play well for the second half of Monday's win. The Eagles defense is a little risky because they have shown the capacity to fall apart against lesser competition, but the Washington offense is last in the NFL in scoring and allows the fifth most points to opposing fantasy defenses. The risk should be worth the reward this week.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert is a strong option for Week 15 fantasy lineups. Going up against an easy Washington defense, Goedert has the added benefit of working as one of the top receiving options for Carson Wentz. Dealing with a decimated wide receiver corps, the Eagles will almost certainly rely on their running backs and tight ends to move the ball in this matchup. Goedert could end up behind only Zach Ertz in passing game pecking order. He's a mid-range TE1 with touchdown upside.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Greg Ward will play a significant role in Week 15's game against Washington. At the end of Monday night's overtime win against the New York Giants, Ward was literally the only healthy wide receiver left wearing an Eagles uniform. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (hamstring) is expected to be ready to go on Sunday, but he and Ward make up the entire Eagles wide receiving corps for now. Ward saw nine targets in Week 14 after seeing 10 total in the 13 weeks before. The Eagles will likely focus their passing game on their running backs and tight ends, but Ward could be a sneaky-good play this week, especially in DFS leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside should play a significant role in Week 15's game against Washington. With the Eagles wide receiver corps decimated, Arcega-Whiteside is one of only two healthy receivers left on the roster. He showed flashes of dominance in the preseason but has turned that into just eight catches for 130 yards and one touchdown this season. He came up limping with a hamstring injury at the end of Monday night's game, but he is reportedly "fine" and will be ready to go on Sunday. Arcega-Whiteside comes with some nice upside this week, but he has a very low floor, as the Eagles could just focus on running backs and tight ends in their passing game.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz will likely be the focus of the Eagles offense in Week 15 against Washington. With a wide receiver crew made up of unproven rookies and guys no one has ever heard of, the Eagles will likely rely on their running backs and tight ends in the passing game. Ertz got off to somewhat of a slow start this season, but he's turned back into his elite TE1-self lately, including his two touchdowns in Week 14. He's one of the top three options at the position for Week 15.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor's Week 15 status is still "up in the air" according to Eagles coach Doug Pederson. Agholor wouldn't be a recommended option even if he were to suit up for this one. Despite a good matchup against a struggling Washington defense, Agholor would be at high risk of reinjury and an early exit. Besides that, his upside is not nearly high enough to be worth the risk of him being used as a decoy or having to leave the game early. Fantasy owners in redraft leagues still holding onto Agholor may want to consider using his roster spot for someone with more upside and a better chance to contribute in the next two weeks.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is an okay option in fantasy lineups for Week 15. Wentz has an excellent matchup against the Washington defense, but he will be without most of his wide receivers in this one. Short passes to running backs and crossing routes to tight ends should be the name of the game in this one, limiting Wentz's upside. He still comes in as a low-end QB1 and looked great in stretches on Monday night, but also had some not-so-great moments mixed in.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders should play a big role in Week 15's game against Washington. Sanders will be relied upon heavily as seemingly every wide receiver on the Eagles roster is injured at this point. The name of the game for the Eagles offense will likely be short passes to running backs and tight ends. Sanders was thoroughly outplayed by Boston Scott in Week 14, but Sanders is the more talented, better regarded back and should have a chance to establish that against the struggling Washington defense. He's a strong RB2 option with some extra upside in PPR leagues.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott could be a suddenly fantasy-relevant option in Week 15. Taking on a struggling Washington defense, Scott could reprise his role from Week 14, where he ran the ball 10 times for 59 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 69 more yards. Scott will still be playing behind Miles Sanders in Week 15, but if he shows the burst he did against the New York Giants, he'll certainly be in line for more touches. He's a risky play because of his position on the depth chart, but he's basically free in most leagues and could make a significant impact if things go his way.
Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice will not play again this season after being placed on IR with an MCL sprain. Both Guice's real-life team and fantasy owners have to be starting to wonder just how many serious knee injuries one player can withstand. After missing the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL and now this move to IR, Guice will wrap up the first two years of his career having appeared in just five games. Adrian Peterson will lead Washington's running game for the rest of the season, while Chris Thompson figures to step back into a somewhat prominent pass-catching role for the Redskins.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is done for the year after suffering a non-contact foot injury during Monday night's game. Jeffery went down in the second quarter and won't return until next season. It's a huge blow to the Eagles, who have one of the thinnes9wide receiver groups in the NFL. Jeffery looked like he'd lost a step this year and it's unlikely he'll look any quicker next season. With such a shallow group at wide receiver, Jeffery will probably be back with the Eagles next season, but his days as a strong fantasy starter are almost surely behind him.
The San Francisco 49ers placed wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (foot, knee) on injured reserve on Tuesday. The seven-year pro has been dealing with chronic leg issues and will be shut down to undergo treatment. Goodwin managed just 12 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown in 2019 and its probable his three-year tenure with the Niners is over. The speedster will likely find his way onto another roster next year but at 29 years old, Goodwin holds minimal dynasty value. With Goodwin shelved, wideout Kendrick Bourne will continue operating as the primary third receiver. With five scores over his past six games, Bourne has emerged as a red zone threat and will be a low-volume WR5 in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons.
San Francisco 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a knee injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
New York Jets S Jamal Adams (ankle), OT Chuma Edoga (knee), TE Ryan Griffin (ankle), CB Arthur Maulet (calf), CB Brian Poole (concussion), RB Bilal Powell (ankle, illness), WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) and DL Quinnen Williams (neck) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. OT Kelvin Beachum (ankles), S Matthias Farley (ankle), DL Steve McLendon (knee, hip), RB Ty Montgomery (foot, hip) and DL Nathan Shepherd (ankle) were limited. RB Le'Veon Bell (illness), CB Maurice Canady (shoulder), OL Tom Compton (ankle), QB Sam Darnold (knee, thumb), QB David Fales (elbow) and LB Paul Worrilow (quad) participated in full.
Baltimore Ravens LB Chris Board (concussion), DB Anthony Levine (ankle), OT Ronnie Stanley (concussion), RB Mark Ingram (non-injury), S Earl Thomas (non-injury) and DT Brandon Williams (non-injury) did not practice Tuesday, Dec. 10. TE Mark Andrews (knee), QB Lamar Jackson (quad) and DE Jihad Ward (elbow) were limited.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (abdominal) and CB Desmond Trufant (forearm) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Tuesday, Dec. 10. LB Ahmad Thomas was signed to the active roster, while TE Carson Meier and LB Quentin Poling were added to the practice squad.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (foot) is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury he suffered in Week 14 against the New York Giants, according to a source. The team is still reportedly gathering opinions about the exact injury, however.
Fantasy Spin: This injury wraps up yet another injury-shortened season for the 29-year-old, who has played a full season once in the last five years - averaging only 12 games over that span. Jeffrey is still due $12.75 million over each of the final two years of his deal, so he's probably not going anywhere this offseason. With Nelson Agholor also ailing, the Eagles could be forced to finish the season with Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and a few practice squad players at the position.
Arizona Cardinals DL Rodney Gunter (toe) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a toe injury on Tuesday, Dec. 10. DL Caraun Reid (Cardinals) was re-signed to an undisclosed contract to replace him on the roster after getting released over the weekend.
Washington Redskins CB Simeon Thomas was handed a four-game suspension by the NFL on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for violating the league's policy and program on substances of abuse.