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.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon couldn't get anything going in a road loss to the Packers on Sunday. After three straight games of emerging as a preferred option for Dwayne Haskins, Harmon caught just one of four targets at Lambeau. He took the lone reception for 30 yards, but this game has to be viewed as a step back for a young receiver who was starting to carve out a role for himself. There isn't enough time left in the season for Harmon to gain much PPR momentum, likely rendering him a deep-league dart throw at the very best for the final three weeks of 2019.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin rejoined the ranks of the fantasy-relevant on Sunday, catching four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Packers. It's worth mentioning that the touchdown itself--a 13-yard catch with just over a minute to go in the game--salvaged what otherwise would've been a low-end fantasy day. But his investors will take it, and the fact that McLaurin continues to see a healthy share of opportunity (seven targets) in an admittedly low-octane offense keeps him on the flex bubble. Consider him a matchup-dependent option, but he can clearly still provide value in lineups.
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell hit all three field goals and both extra-point attempts in Sunday's 23-17 win over the Cardinals. The 28-year-old has missed just twice all season, and while he doesn't always boot 50-plus yard field goals, his consistency has made him a fantasy asset for leagues that use the position. In Week 15's home game against the Bills, Boswell should have much of the same opportunities, thus making him a start-able fantasy option.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams failed to do much on his four targets as the Titans rolled to a 42-21 Week 14 victory on Sunday. He hauled in three catches for 35 yards as he's now been held to under 50 yards in five of his last six contests. With Derek Carr failing to utilize Williams' deep threat ability, he's been a fantasy non-factor over the past month and a half. Owners can afford to cut bait on the veteran, if they haven't already, as the passing offense just doesn't have enough volume to keep him afloat. Williams will be a TD-dependant WR4 next week when the Jaguars come to town for the final home game ever played in Oakland.
Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson hauled in seven of a team-high eight targets on Sunday against the Packers. He only produced 43 yards, but the sudden uptick in opportunity is a welcome change of pace for the pass-catching back. It's worth noting that Thompson's increased role coincides with an injury that knocked Derrius Guice out of this game, so if the latter is unable to go in Week 15, Thompson may emerge as a fringe flex play in PPR leagues. It may be worth grabbing him off the waiver wire if Guice's outlook for Week 15 is grim, just in case this opportunity is set to continue in a matchup with the Eagles.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 24-of-30 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown in Week 14's win over the Detroit Lions. Cousins rebounded from a tough Week 13 by completing 80% of his passes and finding 11 different receivers in a very efficient outing. He found rookie wideout Olabisi Johnson in the first quarter for his lone touchdown. Fantasy owners were surely expecting a bit more scoring from Cousins in this one, but the Vikings got up early and were in complete control from the get-go. Start Cousins with confidence as a QB1 in Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley had seen an uptick in usage lately, but that usage was virtually non-existent in Sunday's loss to the Chargers. Conley caught just one pass for seven yards and was targeted three times. Maybe the change in quarterback was bad for Conley's fantasy value, or maybe it was just a bad day, but if you'd been counting on Conley to produce solid, low-ceiling outings in deep leagues, Sunday wasn't a good day for you.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 349 yards and five touchdowns along with a one-yard rushing score in a 48-46 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It was one of the best performances of Brees' career against an elite pass defense. He threw touchdowns to four different receivers in what was his 11th career game with five or more touchdown passes, most in NFL history. Brees even led a game-winning drive, but the Saints Defense couldn't stop Jimmy Garoppolo from doing the same. The veteran signal-caller will look to stay hot in Week 15 against an Indianapolis Colts Defense that allowed 467 passing yards and four touchdowns to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense yielded 46 points despite securing a victory in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints. The ferocious pass rush couldnt touch veteran quarterback Drew Brees all day, mustering just one fumble recovery on the stat sheet. The Saints racked up 465 total yards but the Niners offense was able to respond to every blow and the team wound up with the win. After the shootout, the Niners will look to return to form hosting the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15. Theyll be a must-start fantasy unit.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was very quiet in Week 14 as he picked up two catches for 11 yards in a win over the Detroit Lions. Rudolph came into the contest on a four-game touchdown streak but was not featured at all in the victory. Rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. had more snaps, catches, and yards and wideout Olabisi Johnson snagged the game's only touchdown reception. Rudolph is still best viewed as a touchdown-dependent TE2 who's touchdown equity will definitely take a hit if Adam Thielen (hamstring) returns in Week 15.
Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson was forced back into a featured role on Sunday when Derrius Guice suffered a knee injury. Peterson's output on 20 carries wasn't especially efficient, but 76 yards and a touchdown were welcome sights to any fantasy owner who rolled him out as a hopeful flex option. The longtime workhorse remains a volume-based fantasy back, and volume may once again tilt in his favor if Guice's injury is serious enough to keep him out going forward. As such, you will want to monitor this situation in the coming days, regardless of which Redskins running back you roster.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller picked up a team-high 73 receiving yards as the team fell 42-21 to the Titans in Week 14. He finished tied with Deandre Washington for six receptions, proving to be Derek Carr's most reliable pass-catcher once again. Waller nearly found the end zone in the second quarter but came up two yards short of the goal line. The drive ultimately ended in Foster Moreau catching a one-yard TD pass, but that was the final time the Raiders hit paydirt. The offense struggled to move the ball in the second half, which impacted Waller, but it was good to see him involved regardless. Treat the 26-year-old as a mid-range TE1 versus the Jaguars in Week 15.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense held the Arizona Cardinals to just 17 points and 236 yards of offense in their 23-17 victory on Sunday. Joe Haden picked off two passes, while TJ Watt also recorded his second interception of the season. This marks the 11th time in their 13 games that they have recorded multiple turnovers in a game. They'll have a tougher assignment in Week 15 when they host Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, but this defense might be the best in the NFL right now, so you'll start them with ease.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook caught six passes for 25 yards in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. With Gardner Minshew back under center, it was back to being one of those "Westbrook only gets targeted close to the line of scrimmage" days that makes him unplayable in standard scoring leagues. That's likely the norm the rest of the way, with Westbrook's value being mainly in deeper PPR leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Nick O'Leary caught his first touchdown since joining the Jags in Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. On the day, O'Leary caught four passes for 30 yards and the score. He was targeted five times. O'Leary's been targeted at least four times in each of his games with his new team, but I still don't think fantasy owners should overreact to Sunday's score. Even at a shallow position like tight end, you aren't trusting O'Leary in the fantasy playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers Defense produced four sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception in a 20-15 win over the Washington Redskins. It was a strong effort by Green Bay- the only blemish was a late garbage-time touchdown allowed to Terry McLaurin. Packers linebacker Preston Smith got in on the fun, posting two tackles and adding a sack, giving him 11.5 for the season.
Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake rushed 11 times for 37 yards and caught three balls for 30 yards in Week 14. He's still receiving twice as many touches as running back David Johnson, but he's not doing much with them. Johnson caught a touchdown pass this week, and there's a big enough sample size that he could start taking touches away from Drake. Drake will be a flex option against the Cleveland Browns next week.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson rushed three times for 19 yards and caught two receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown in Week 14. He did almost as much with his five touches as running back Kenyan Drake did with his 14. With Drake struggling to make an impact, Johnson could see more touches against the Cleveland Browns next week. Keep an eye on this situation in practice this week.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught just three passes for 20 yards in Week 14. He was second on the team with seven targets, but he was unable to make his mark. Fitz is a lackluster WR3 option the rest of the way against the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
Washington Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins hadn't thrown a touchdown in either of his team's last two games, but he tossed one on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Haskins completed 16 of 27 passes for 170 yards in a loss to the Packers, complete with his eighth turnover of the season. The rookie's lone touchdown was a 13-yard connection with Terry McLaurin late in the fourth quarter that brought the Redskins within one score of the Pack. Haskins will look to build on a somewhat promising performance next week against the Eagles.