Matchup Analysis: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Cowboys 25, Saints 22

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Dallas Cowboys Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Cowboys Offense32.3 (+10.0) (4)179 (+70) (3)302 (+55) (4)
Saints Defense27.3 (+5.0) (26)135 (+25) (26)302 (+54) (30)

New Orleans Saints Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Saints Offense24.0 (+1.7) (11)98 (-11) (19)242 (-5) (17)
Cowboys Defense14.7 (-7.7) (4)90 (-18) (10)246 (-1) (15)

Cowboys Rushing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Saints defense.

There hasn’t been any obvious post-holdout rust on Ezekiel Elliott. After a limited Week 1, Elliott has played his normal complement of snaps over the past 2 games and responded with 236 yards (5.6 per carry). He certainly looked spry and well-conditioned Sunday, erupting through holes and driving through defenders with his trademark burst. Without question, Elliott projects to the full range of his outcomes going forward, and no matchup can contain his week-to-week upside and floor. He’s spelled by dynamic rookie Tony Pollard, who broke out against the Dolphins for 103 yards and a score on just 13 rushes. Much of that came in garbage time, but the explosiveness Pollard showed was no aberration. Quarterback Dak Prescott remains an ever-present threat to run: he ran off a few chunk gains in Week 2 and scored on a rollout last Sunday. And they all run behind one of football’s best lines, currently ranked third (with an A+ run-blocking grade) by Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti. This group is dominant from end to end, with a mauling interior and two early All-Pro candidates at the tackle spots. Any replacement-level runner would benefit from these circumstances, so an elite talent like Elliott projects through the roof.

Through three weeks, the Saints have taken a bit of a step back from a dominant 2018 season against the run. They’ve allowed over 100 yards to each opponent thus far, with running backs averaging 5.0 yards per carry. At least last week brought some improvement, as they swarmed the Seahawks’ strong front and kept Chris Carson from any real impact (53 yards on 15 attempts). Still, the team misses tackle Sheldon Rankins, who’s yet to return from his Achilles injury, and could use more consistency from top linebacker Demario Davis. For his part, Davis did look stronger in Week 3, as did underrated teammate A.J. Klein. The team relies heavily on those two and safety Vonn Bell as the only natural playmakers on the second level. New addition Kiko Alonso may be completely washed out at this point; he’s played just 14 snaps on the year and doesn’t look to be in the team’s plans.

Cowboys Passing offense

Good matchup vs. the Saints defense.

Three games into his fourth NFL season, Dak Prescott has looked like one of the game’s most efficient passers. He currently sits first in completion rate, first in touchdown rate, and a clear second to Patrick Mahomes in most yardage metrics. It’s worth noting that his competition (Giants, Redskins, Dolphins) hasn’t exactly been robust, and that the New Orleans secondary is far more talented and aggressive. Still, when these teams squared off last season, Prescott did manage to complete 24 of his 28 throws. Amari Cooper leads the supporting cast - he drew 22% of targets last week with Michael Gallup sidelined - and continues to show a versatile skill set and a nose for the end zone. Through 3 games, he’s caught 16 balls for 238 yards and scored 4 times. The team would love to have Gallup back, but have received dynamic help from new additions Randall Cobb and Devin Smith. Between the pair, they recreate much of what Gallup did during his two-game breakout. Cobb remains a steady if unspectacular target from the slot, though it’s worth noting he had a 74-yard touchdown called back last week. And reclamation project Smith has run Gallup’s screen and clear-out routes, showing off the speed that once made him a coveted prospect (22.6 yards per catch). Jason Witten continues to provide a dependable set of hands underneath; he’s caught 10 of his 12 targets thus far, two for touchdowns.

The New Orleans pass defense remains a boom-or-bust unit, always equally capable of aggressively dominant weeks and shaky, beatable ones. They’ve opened the season against three of the league’s better passers, but have provided little resistance to any of them. Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, and Russell Wilson have combined to produce a strong 8.9 yards per attempt, with 6 touchdowns through the air. Wilson was particularly great last week, throwing for 406 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wilson consistently worked the ball through tight Saints coverage and wasn’t sacked once over 50 dropbacks. The Saints boast a dynamic pass rush and a fair amount of talent in the secondary but continue to struggle all-around with consistency. Last week, top cornerback Marshon Lattimore allowed a pair of long downfield receptions due to not playing the ball on its path. Lattimore is a talented cover man, yet also exceptionally streaky in his play and has really struggled this year as he has allowed the most yards in coverage on the year with 334. He’ll follow Amari Cooper around a fair amount this week, though he isn’t exactly a prohibitive matchup right now. Across the field, Eli Apple also alternates great coverage snaps with bad ones. But the Saints’ biggest vulnerability remains in the slot, where P.J. Williams continues to struggle mightily. Cooper Kupp posted a huge Week 2 in this matchup (5 catches, 120 yards), while Tyler Lockett feasted for 11 and 154 and a touchdown last week.

Saints Rushing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Cowboys defense.

Thus far, Latavius Murray has yet to simulate Mark Ingram’s past role as the Saints’ grinding interior back. He’s taken just 53 snaps through 3 games, producing a meager 52 yards on the ground. The team has put more and more trust in Alvin Kamara, who’s taken on a dominant 76% of team rushes. Kamara is known for his speed and open-field dynamism, but like Warrick Dunn did last generation, he uses those traits to win battles inside in his own right. Even with more usage, he’s still averaged 5.0 yards per rush and remains strong in short yardage. Last week, Kamara successfully iced the win over Seattle with 69 yards and a late touchdown. There’s no longer many questions about his week-to-week ability to anchor one of the league’s best ground games. He and Murray operate behind an elite front line, one built for powerful, ball-control running. Guards Andrus Peat and Larry Warford are technical maulers, while Ryan Ramczyk has developed into one of the game’s best all-around right tackles.

The Dallas run defense has looked dominant over the past 2 weeks, allowing just 87 yards (2.6 per attempt) with a single touchdown. It’s worth noting, though, that they were facing arguably the NFL’s two worst running games in Washington and Miami. Before those matchups, they gave up 120 yards (10.9 per rush) to Saquon Barkley in Week 1. Barkley exploited vulnerabilities both at the line and on the second level, where the Cowboys have underachieved. Tackle Maliek Collins is solid but is currently the last man standing with rotational teammates Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford both on the shelf. Neither looks likely to return for Week 4, so Collins will again bear the inside load on early downs. Behind him, linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Brown have disappointed to open the year. Vander Esch was a rookie prodigy but has struggled with consistency as an NFL sophomore. And Brown has been even more of a liability, even giving up 25 snaps to backups Joe Thomas and Justin March-Lilard last Sunday. It doesn’t help matters that top safety Xavier Woods is out with a hamstring injury; fellow starter Jeff Heath is fairly shaky in run support. This unit has the makeup of a true powderkeg, one with enough weak points that a strong ground opponent could blow it open. The Saints’ elite front line - and Alvin Kamara’s skill set - could well be that spark.

Saints Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Cowboys defense.

Bridgewater endured a shaky camp and preseason, leading some to wonder whether Taysom Hill could bump him from the backup job. Bridgewater has won that battle definitively - Hill has yet to throw a pass on the year - but doesn’t have much of a leash in this offense. In Week 3, coach Sean Payton carefully limited his impact, calling mostly short, quick throws and not asking for any heroics. Yet Bridgewater still played erratically, throwing a few ill-advised balls that could have easily been intercepted. He did throw a pair of touchdowns, but both came almost entirely from the play of his receivers. With Brees sidelined, the Saints aren’t only missing his pinpoint precision, but also his downfield accuracy. If Bridgewater can’t push the ball effectively, this will be a one-dimensional attack that scares no one - and keeps defenses in tight on top weapons Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Both are special players, of course. Thomas is one of the league’s most physical and fundamental intermediate targets, and he’d win one-on-one battles for throws from any quarterback. And Kamara is dynamic enough, on both check-downs and called routes, to maximize the situation. Both maintain their strong volume outlooks (63% of Bridgewater’s Week 3 targets), but their ultimate ceilings could be limited for a while. Splash plays and touchdowns will be in much shorter supply than usual. And with Bridgewater under center, none of the supporting receivers are on the fantasy map. Ted Ginn and Tre’Quan Smith aren’t factors on deep balls, while tight end Jared Cook has suffered through a brutal start to his time in New Orleans (just 69 yards on his 12 targets).

The Dallas pass defense has been solid to start the year, allowing just 258 yards per game and only 3 touchdowns through the air. And much of that production came in Week 1 garbage time, once the Cowboys had built a healthy lead. But closer inspection shows that the quarterbacks they’ve faced - Eli Manning, Case Keenum, and Josh Rosen - may play a role in those marks. This Sunday, they’ll again face a bottom-tier starter in Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater, who has looked unsure and extremely cautious thus far. Up front, the Cowboys still lack a difference-making second edge rusher. Demarcus Lawrence has looked fantastic, but this unit as a whole has still totaled just five sacks. That’s put added pressure on the secondary to hold downfield coverage, where there have been several lapses. There’s a clear bright spot in cornerback Byron Jones, who has blossomed into one of the league’s best cover men. Jones’ snaps have been limited after offseason hip surgery but remains sticky and aggressive when on the field. He doesn’t shadow but will make things difficult for Michael Thomas when they square off. Chidobe Awuzie is shaky on the other side, and their safety help is lacking with starter Xavier Woods on the shelf. Jeff Heath and journeyman Darian Thompson are clear liabilities in his place. As a result, there are frequently lanes and open spots down the field in which to beat this unit. It will just take better quarterbacking to truly take advantage.

Saints vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)32 (+13.2)32 (+13.2)32 (+12.4)32 (+12.4)
1Deshaun Watson67203026831440134.434.431.731.7
2Jared Goff701928283104-2124.
3Russell Wilson84325040620751245.445.441.344.3

Dak Prescott (FanDuel: $8400, DraftKings: $6300)

1vs NYG65253240540412037.537.533.436.4
2@ WAS70263026931569031.431.428.728.7
3vs MIA72193224621271262623.523.5
4PROJ-Dodds22322551.70.74200.322.722.722.7 (H=53)22.7 (H=70)
4PROJ-Tremblay21332461.613180. (H=43)20.1 (H=57)
4PROJ-Bloom212922520.63140. (H=47)21.2 (H=62)

Saints vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)6 (-3.2)7T (-3.3)6 (-3.7)6 (-4.0)
1Duke Johnson429570543309.
1Carlos Hyde251083011208.
2Todd Gurley4516631434012.715.714.215.7
2Malcolm Brown256370111004.
3Chris Carson371553011-
3C.J. Prosise46450553804.

Ezekiel Elliott (FanDuel: $8800, DraftKings: $8900)

1vs NYG371353121.010012.313.312.813.3
2@ WAS5323111122.090182019.023.0
3vs MIA4819125032.014013.915.914.918.9
4PROJ-Dodds19920.62.9240.115.818.717.3 (H=31)18.7 (H=35)
4PROJ-Tremblay18800.51.9140.11314.914.0 (H=21)14.9 (H=24)
4PROJ-Bloom20880.72.0120.114.816.815.8 (H=27)16.8 (H=29)

Tony Pollard (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $4600)

1vs NYG221324000.0002.
2@ WAS17422011.0302.
3vs MIA2313103133.025018.821.820.324.8
4PROJ-Dodds7310.21.21005.36.55.9 (H=8)6.5 (H=11)
4PROJ-Tremblay7310.21.41105.46.86.1 (H=9)6.8 (H=12)
4PROJ-Bloom5220.11.0803.64.64.1 (H=4)4.6 (H=6)

Saints vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)30 (+10.8)30 (+12.1)30 (+11.5)30 (+13.8)
1DeAndre Hopkins66138111200023.
1Kenny Stills28333710009.712.711.212.7
2Brandin Cooks684374112013.616.615.116.6
2Cooper Kupp6695120016012.617.615.120.6
3Tyler Lockett821411154100021.432.426.935.4
3DK Metcalf71626700006.

Amari Cooper (FanDuel: $7900, DraftKings: $7300)

1vs NYG5296.0106100016.622.619.625.6
2@ WAS6454.044100010.414.412.414.4
3vs MIA6176.088200020.826.823.826.8
4PROJ-Dodds5.8790.600011.517.314.4 (H=25)17.3 (H=38)
4PROJ-Tremblay5.3750.500010.515.813.2 (H=22)15.8 (H=32)
4PROJ-Bloom6.0620.50009.215.212.2 (H=19)15.2 (H=30)

Randall Cobb (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $4400)

1vs NYG4854.069100012.916.914.916.9
2@ WAS5365.024021103.
3vs MIA5342.02300002.
4PROJ-Dodds4.0440.31206.410.48.5 (H=15)10.5 (H=26)
4PROJ-Tremblay3.7480.31306.910.68.8 (H=16)10.7 (H=27)
4PROJ-Bloom4.0540.41508.312.310.4 (H=22)12.4 (H=35)

Devin Smith (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3700)

1vs NYG600.000000000.00.0
2@ WAS1833.074100013.416.414.916.4
3vs MIA6652.03900003.
4PROJ-Dodds2.7440.20005.68.37.0 (H=11)8.3 (H=21)
4PROJ-Tremblay3.0410.20005.38.36.8 (H=11)8.3 (H=21)
4PROJ-Bloom4.0540.40007.811.89.8 (H=21)11.8 (H=38)

Cedrick Wilson (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

2@ WAS600.000000000.00.0
3vs MIA1410.000000000.00.0
4PROJ-Dodds0.000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
4PROJ-Tremblay0.790.10001.52.21.9 (H=1)2.2 (H=2)

Saints vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)12T (-0.8)12 (-1.3)12 (-1.0)12 (-1.5)
1Jordan Akins47211701.
2Tyler Higbee24322102.
3Will Dissly467662112.

Jason Witten (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $3900)

1vs NYG4543.01517.510.59.010.5
2@ WAS5444.02518.512.510.512.5
3vs MIA3743.05405.
4PROJ-Dodds3.2300. (H=8)7.4 (H=16)
4PROJ-Tremblay2.7280.246.75.4 (H=7)6.7 (H=13)
4PROJ-Bloom3.0210. (H=10)8.1 (H=19)

Blake Jarwin (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $2800)

1vs NYG2733.03919.912.911.412.9
2@ WAS2411.02202.
3vs MIA3531.0300.
4PROJ-Dodds1.5170. (H=3)3.8 (H=7)
4PROJ-Tremblay1.7160. (H=3)3.9 (H=7)
4PROJ-Bloom1.0140.1232.5 (H=2)3.0 (H=4)

Saints vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10T (-0.9)10T (-0.9)10T (-1.6) (+0.0)
1Kaimi Fairbairn0044444.04.0
2Greg Zuerlein2233999.09.0
3Jason Myers0033333.03.0

Brett Maher (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1vs NYG0055555.05.0
2@ WAS1144777.07.0
3vs MIA1244777.07.0

Saints vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4 (-3.1)4 (-3.1)6 (-2.9)6 (-2.9)
1Houston Texans3051011000332.02.0
2Los Angeles Rams924421000448.08.0
3Seattle Seahawks3326500100222.02.0

Dallas Cowboys (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $3000)

1vs NYG17.0047010200556.06.0
2@ WAS21.0025510000111.01.0
3vs MIA6.00283301005512.012.0
4PROJ-Dodds19.203332.40.80.700. (H=19)9.3 (H=31)
4PROJ-Tremblay21.503552.10.70.700.4888.0 (H=14)8.0 (H=24)

Cowboys vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)8 (-3.7)8 (-3.7)5 (-4.6)7 (-4.2)
1Eli Manning6430443061016019.919.914.818.8
2Case Keenum622637221201-1019.019.016.716.7
3Josh Rosen67183920000313011.311.39.39.3

Teddy Bridgewater (FanDuel: $7100, DraftKings: $5200)

1vs HOU000000000000.00.0
2@ LAR561730165002508.
3@ SEA57192717720312018.118.116.316.3
4PROJ-Dodds22342301.30.8270. (H=38)17.2 (H=53)
4PROJ-Tremblay21332371.30.7290.117.817.817.8 (H=41)17.8 (H=56)
4PROJ-Bloom12201711.50.5280.115.515.515.5 (H=32)15.5 (H=44)

Cowboys vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)14 (-1.4)19 (+0.2)14 (-1.0)21 (+0.5)
1Saquon Barkley551112006419013.917.915.920.9
1Wayne Gallman1421713324010.113.111.613.1
2Adrian Peterson181025122709.
2Chris Thompson28230854805.110.17.610.1
3Kenyan Drake4612380633407.
3Kalen Ballage258170311002.

Alvin Kamara (FanDuel: $8000, DraftKings: $8500)

1vs HOU501397087.072016.923.920.423.9
2@ LAR421345031.0150676.57.0
3@ SEA5116691109.092128.137.132.637.1
4PROJ-Dodds16710.55.3500.216.321.619.0 (H=41)21.6 (H=48)
4PROJ-Tremblay18780.55.5460.216.622.119.4 (H=42)22.1 (H=50)
4PROJ-Bloom14550.55.0440.415.320.317.8 (H=36)20.3 (H=43)

Latavius Murray (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $3900)

1vs HOU18643132.04010.712.711.712.7
2@ LAR2357011.01602.
3@ SEA1222000.0000.
4PROJ-Dodds5200.21.0703.94.94.4 (H=5)4.9 (H=8)
4PROJ-Tremblay5230.21.1804.35.44.9 (H=6)5.4 (H=9)
4PROJ-Bloom390.10.0001.51.51.5 (H=0)1.5 (H=1)

Cowboys vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)5 (-5.5)6 (-5.6)6 (-5.4)5 (-6.9)
1Cody Latimer61837400007.410.48.910.4
1Sterling Shepard68764200004.
2Terry McLaurin569562100012.217.214.717.2
2Paul Richardson54331610007.610.69.110.6
3Preston Williams691246800006.810.88.810.8
3DeVante Parker69635600005.

Michael Thomas (FanDuel: $7700, DraftKings: $7000)

1vs HOU591310.0123000012.322.317.325.3
2@ LAR641310.08900008.918.913.918.9
3@ SEA5175.054100011.416.413.916.4
4PROJ-Dodds7.7850.500011.519.215.4 (H=29)19.2 (H=47)
4PROJ-Tremblay7.2880.500011.81915.4 (H=29)19.0 (H=46)
4PROJ-Bloom6.0630.60009.915.912.9 (H=21)15.9 (H=34)

Ted Ginn (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $3800)

1vs HOU4977.0101000010.117.113.620.1
2@ LAR3900.000000000.00.0
3@ SEA3952.01500001.
4PROJ-Dodds2.5350.20104.87.36.1 (H=9)7.3 (H=16)
4PROJ-Tremblay2.4320.20004.46.85.6 (H=7)6.8 (H=14)
4PROJ-Bloom3.0340.20004.67.66.1 (H=9)7.6 (H=17)

Austin Carr (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3000)

1vs HOU000.000000000.00.0
2@ LAR000.000000000.00.0
3@ SEA2700.000000000.00.0
4PROJ-Dodds1.3150.10002.13.42.8 (H=2)3.4 (H=5)
4PROJ-Tremblay0.000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

TreQuan Smith (FanDuel: $5200, DraftKings: $3800)

1vs HOU4222.02610008.610.69.610.6
2@ LAR3833.04900004.
3@ SEA000.000000000.00.0
4PROJ-Dodds0.000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)
4PROJ-Tremblay1.0150.10002.13.12.6 (H=2)3.1 (H=3)
4PROJ-Bloom0.000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Cowboys vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+1.2)26 (+3.1)25T (+2.2)27 (+3.9)
1Evan Engram531411116117.628.623.131.6
2Vernon Davis46432902.
3Nick OLeary28111901.

Jared Cook (FanDuel: $5300, DraftKings: $3600)

1vs HOU4232.03703.
2@ LAR4472.02502.
3@ SEA4421.0700.
4PROJ-Dodds3.2350. (H=9)7.9 (H=19)
4PROJ-Tremblay2.8350. (H=8)7.5 (H=18)
4PROJ-Bloom2.0240. (H=5)5.6 (H=10)

Josh Hill (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2600)

1vs HOU3211.0-20-
2@ LAR2800.000000.00.0
3@ SEA3421.0400.
4PROJ-Dodds0.760. (H=1)1.9 (H=2)
4PROJ-Tremblay0.780. (H=1)2.1 (H=2)
4PROJ-Bloom1. (H=1)2.2 (H=3)

Cowboys vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)9 (-1.6)9 (-1.6)8T (-2.3) (+0.0)
1Aldrick Rosas1122555.05.0
2Dustin Hopkins0033333.03.0
3Jason Sanders2300666.06.0

Wil Lutz (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1vs HOU3433121215.015.0
2@ LAR33009912.012.0
3@ SEA0034333.03.0

Cowboys vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)2T (-4.1)2T (-4.1)2 (-6.9)2 (-6.9)
1New York Giants354940000000-4.0-4.0
2Washington Redskins3147411000332.02.0
3Miami Dolphins3147611000332.02.0

New Orleans Saints (FanDuel: $3600, DraftKings: $2500)

1vs HOU28.0041461000887.07.0
2@ LAR27.0038030100555.05.0
3@ SEA27.0051500102141414.014.0
4PROJ-Dodds24.003732.50.80.600.4888.0 (H=20)8.0 (H=29)
4PROJ-Tremblay24.503792.110.600.4888.0 (H=20)8.0 (H=29)