Our first Sunday of football has arrived! After we’re done sweating out a full slate of games, we can still get in the action with Sunday night’s showdown slate. We should see plenty of offense in this one, with the Cowboys visiting the Rams.
Let’s break down Cowboys-Rams from a Showdown perspective.
The Cowboys are going to be a fun team to target from a fantasy perspective this season, especially on showdown slates. They have tons of weapons to air it out, a star young QB and RB, and just an awful defense.
Dak Prescott ($10,600) was a very high upside play last season, throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Dallas destroyed the Rams in this matchup last season, but Dak surprisingly scored just 17.68 DKFP with the Cowboys putting up 44 points. Ezekiel Elliott ($10,400) did the bulk of the damage with this game getting out of hand early, and he finished with a 24-117-2 line on the ground for 34 DKFP. I think we’ll see a closer game this time around, which leaves more upside for Dak. The Rams did allow just the fourth-fewest DKFP to QB last season, so if that gets us any depressed ownership here, I like the play even more.
‘Zeke’s upside is obvious. He’s the safest play on the slate, and crushed this defense in a home game last season. Do I like ‘Zeke’s outlook for this game? Absolutely, but if he winds up as the highest owned play, I’ll pivot elsewhere. If you play cash games for showdowns, there’s no justification to fade Elliott.
Amari Cooper ($9,000) is no longer on the injury report with a hamstring injury that was hampering him, which is good news for the Cowboys. It’s not necessarily good for Cooper, who still isn’t 100%, and will likely have to deal with a lot of Jalen Ramsey. Cooper was completely shutdown in this matchup last season, catching just one of two targets for 19 yards. I think there’s something to that. The matchup, the injury and the price tag leave Cooper as a fade.
If we trust Dak to air it out, but think Cooper could be blanketed, that means stacking him with the WR2/3. Michael Gallup ($8,000) and CeeDee Lamb ($5,800) should see an uptick in targets if Ramey’s able to dominate his matchup with Cooper again. Gallup had a strong start and finish to last season, but was also a bust in the game against the Rams. I like the spot he’s in this time around, although the salary is a bit high. I know we haven’t seem Lamb on the field in an NFL game yet, but he feels like a terrific value. Dallas has been using him on the outside and in the slot so far, and his versatility should wind up being tough to defend. Playing behind such talented WRs is really the key here. Lamb is used to be the focal point of defenses, and now is an afterthought in this offense.
Blake Jarwin ($6,200) didn’t dominate this matchup the last time around, but the was the TE2 behind Jason Witten. Witten wound up with a 4-36-1 line in that game, while Jarwin managed 40 yards. I like the spot for him as the TE1 this season in this matchup. The Rams ranked just below average in DKFP allowed to TE, which was the worst position for them defensively.
In terms of value, a high scoring game should mean kickers getting on the board. Greg Zuerlein ($4,200), the former Ram, is in a good spot. Tony Pollard ($2,200) is at least worth consideration as a punt play. He got more involved towards the end of last season, including a 12-131-1 line against the Rams. That was an outlier because of the blowout, but nice to see him get some touches.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff ($9,400) takes a lot of heat for the Rams taking a step backwards last season, but he finished the season strong statistically. He threw at least two touchdowns in each of the last five games, slinging it 43-plus times in four of those contests. The Rams are working on a revamped running game, which I do think holds some value in this game, but the offense may still need to lean on the passing attack.
Cooper Kupp ($8,400) and Robert Woods ($7,800) were already a couple of the most trustworthy WR plays, and with Brandin Cooks out of the way, that should only further stabilize their production. Kupp had a tremendous start to the season, and after falling off a bit, finished strong. He caught a touchdown in each of the last five games of the season, including 16.1 DKFP against Dallas. Woods was even better down the stretch, exceeding 20 DKFP in four of his last five, but the one bust (5.7 DKFP) was against Dallas. Woods saw at least nine targets in each of the last five games, though, While Kupp only hit that number once. I’ll take the savings on Woods if I’m picking between the two, but a full-blown Goff/Kupp/Woods stack is an option I like.
Josh Reynolds ($3,200) is an afterthought as the WR3. His role should grow in Cooks’ absence, but he had some of these opportunities last season, and didn’t capitalize. I’d much rather look to TE, where Tyler Higbee ($7,200) has a great matchup. Higbee was one of the weirder breakout players last season, coming out of nowhere in Week 13, and scoring 20-plus DKFP in every game to end the season. The Cowboys ranked 31st in DKFP allowed to TE last season, and gave up a 12-111-0 line to Higbee last season on 14 targets.
The running game gets a bit tricky to figure out here. We know we’ll see some kind of split between Cam Akers ($6,800) and Darrell Henderson ($3,400), and as the salaries indicate, Akers should see the majority of the work. Dallas ranked above average in DKFP allowed to RB last season, so I much prefer targeting the passing game, but this could be a way to get a little contrarian. If you build multiple GPP lineups, I like rostering Akers and Henderson in different lineups. Akers should emerge as the main guy over the course of the season, but if Henderson is really in a 50/50 split to start, he’s a good value.
I actually like the Rams to get this one as home dogs, and it’ll be a great showdown slate with a ton of offense expected. Ezekiel Elliott ($15,600 CP) is the safest captain play, but I like going off the board unless you’re playing cash. CeeDee Lamb ($8,700 CP) is intriguing on the Dallas side, while Tyler Higbee ($10,800) makes a lot of sense on the Rams.
Final Score: Cowboys 27, Rams 30
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.