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.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley had a strong showing in Week 15 against the Raiders. He was targeted a team-high eight times and wound up with four catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns in the game. The team was without D.J. Chark (ankle) this week and both Conley and Keelan Cole took advantage. Cole led the team with 76 receiving yards in the game. If Chark remains out next week, Conley is a viable option as a WR3 of flex with a favorable Week 16 matchup against the Falcons.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott managed his team to a big win in Week 15. He completed 15 of his 23 pass attempts for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He added 13 yards on the ground on six scrambles. The Cowboys ended up dominating the Rams on both sides of the ball, and Prescott simply didn't need to do much, even taking a seat near the end of the fourth quarter while backup quarterback Cooper Rush finished things out. Prescott should have more chances to throw in a crucial game for the NFC East next week against the Eagles.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran all over the Los Angeles Rams Defense in Week 15. He ran the ball 24 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns, adding three catches for 43 more yards. "Zeke's" first score came on a one-yard plunge with his second coming from three yards out. It was a strong game from Elliott, who will be needed again in a critical battle for the NFC East title next week against the Eagles.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard led the Cowboys in rushing in Week 15, running the ball 12 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. He added two catches for 12 more yards. Pollard's score came on a 44-yard run in garbage time with the Cowboys just trying to run out the clock. Pollard wasn't expected to do this much, but with the Cowboys destroying the Rams on both sides of the ball, starter Ezekiel Elliott yielded fourth quarter playing time to the rookie Pollard.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook had a quiet game against the Raiders in Week 15. He was targeted four times in the game and wound up with two receptions for 14 yards. The team was without D.J. Chark (ankle) in the game, but it was Keelan Cole and Chris Conley who were able to take advantage. Cole led the team with 76 receiving yards while Conley scored two touchdowns. Westbrook has been held under 30 receiving yards in two straight games now. If Chark remains out, Westbrook could be worth consideration as a WR3 or flex next week against the Falcons.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas finished with two catches for 23 yards during the Week 15 loss to the Seahawks. After the 23-year-old compiled five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons in Week 14, Sunday's performance was a major disappointment. Greg Olsen (concussion) may be back against the Colts, but if he isn't, Thomas still has some value for those in need of a streamer at the tight end position.
Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo connected on both of his field goal attempts in Week 15, a 28-yarder and a 43-yarder. He also hit both of his extra-point attempts in the game. Lambo has converted on 28 of his 29 field goal attempts this year, which is of course fantastic. However, the Jaguars haven't been able to get him a lot of attempts lately. He had only one field goal attempt in four of his past five games. Because of his efficiency, he's a possible low-end starting kicker option, but you may want to go with someone who receives more steady opportunities.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette performed adequately in Week 15 against the Raiders. He rushed the ball 15 times for 42 yards while adding 5 receptions for 31 yards on seven targets. You can live with the production in PPR, but it's a bit of an underwhelming performance for non-PPR. Fournette has been held without a touchdown and under 100 total yards in three straight games now. He'll look to break that streak in Week 16 when the Jaguars face the Falcons.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Ryquell Armstead rushed the ball just one time and gained only a single yard in Week 15 against the Raiders. Armstead had just three carries in his past five games coming into Week 15, so the minimal workload was no surprise. He's shown some promising flashes this year, most notably a five-catch game against the Texans in early November, but he would need an injury to the team's No. 1 running back Leonard Fournette in order to gain fantasy relevance.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole had three catches for 76 yards on six targets in Week 15 against the Raiders. Cole led the team in receiving yards, but he was third in targets behind Chris Conley and Leonard Fournette. Cole benefited from the absence of D.J. Chark (ankle) in this game, and he could remain a viable low-end fantasy option for as long as Chark ends up being out.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew had a solid game against the Raiders in Week 15. He completed 17-of-29 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He was turnover-free in the game and also added 27 rushing yards. Minshew had disappointed in his past three starts, failing to top 200 yards in two of the games while throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns in the third game. So it was encouraging to see him take advantage of a favorable matchup. He has another favorable matchup against the Falcons in Week 16.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught two of three targets for 14 yards in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Lazard has come back down to earth the last two weeks after exploding for 103 yards against the Giants. He can't be counted upon for fantasy when he's averaging 2.7 targets per game in his last four contests
Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen had another miserable performance, finishing with 277 yards on 25-for-41 passing while adding three interceptions and a touchdown during the loss to the Seahawks. He also had five carries for 25 yards. After an impressive debut earlier in the season against Arizona, it has been all downhill for the 25-year-old, who logged his 15th pick on the year in Week 15. With two games remaining, Allen will have to get it together if he hopes to remain the starter come next season in the event that Cam Newton (foot) gets traded during the offseason.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught two of four targets for 19 yards in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Allison's day included a drop on a ball Aaron Rodgers put right in his hands. Allison has now failed to exceed 50 receiving yards in all but one game this year. He's certainly off the fantasy radar for the remainder of the season.
Cleared from concussion protocol, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson didn't do much for those owners who took a chance on the speedy wide receiver ahead of a prime matchup with a bad Giants Defense. Wilson's eight targets led all Dolphins wide receivers and he managed to convert five of them for a total of 59 yards, finishing his day with just five points in standard leagues. Even with a matchup in Week 16 against the hapless Bengals, Wilson is only a desperation play for those fighting for a fantasy championship.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught seven of 13 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown in a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Adams hesitated on his route, then left Bears corner Buster Skrine in the dust for a 29-yard score. A great day could have been even better for Adams, if not for a few uncharacteristic drops. Still, Adams saw double-digit targets for the sixth time this year and remains Aaron Rodgers' most trustworthy receiver. He'll get a good matchup for fantasy receivers in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick turned in another solid performance in a losing effort on Sunday, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-20 loss to the New York Giants. Fitzpatrick didnt throw an interception for the first time in more than a month but still managed to contribute a brutal turnover, fumbling on Miamis first drive of the second half after New York had just taken the lead with a touchdown. Fitzpatrick finished with 19 points on the day, rewarding the many who took a chance on the veteran even with as their playoff hopes were on the line. He'll have another solid matchup in Week 16, as the Cincinnati Bengals come to town in a battle of two of the NFL's worst teams.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins was overshadowed by teammates Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce during the Week 15 win. Watkins caught three of four targets for 49 yards in the win over the Broncos. Hill and Kelce are going to continue to be the favorite targets in KC. Watkins should be considered a boom-or-bust WR3 for his Week 16 matchup with the Bears. Watkins has some fantasy value, but hasn't caught a touchdown since Week 1.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has shown the ability to make big plays, but has been lost in the shuffle lately. Having both Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins back healthy has basically killed Hardman's fantasy value. He saw two targets and caught one of them for 10 yards in the Week 15 win over the Broncos. Hardman has seen three total targets over the last three games. He belongs on the bench or waiver wire in most formats at this point. He'll be a boom-or-bust WR5 for his matchup with the Bears in Week 16.
The last man standing in the backfield, Miami Dolphins running back Patrick Laird was a non-factor in fantasy on Sunday, rushing for 46 yards and scoring just four points in standard leagues. Laird was even more ineffective in the passing game, catching two of his five targets for eight yards. In theory, Laird will have a better matchup in Week 16, facing a Cincinnati defense thats allowing the seventh-most points to running backs this season but its not as if the Giants were that much better, having had allowed the 15th-most prior to the matchup with Miami. Even facing the one-win Bengals, Laird is only a desperate play with fantasy championships on the line.