WAS (18.25) @ DAL (28.75)
We will cap off a Christmas weekend full of more NFL football than you can shake a stick at with a Sunday night battle between the Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is a sizable favorite over a middling six-and-eight Washington squad. Let’s look at the matchup from a DraftKings showdown perspective.
Washington’s offensive attack will be led by Taylor Heinicke under center. This will be a tough matchup against Dallas’ number one DVOA pass defense. I would not expect much from Heinicke, yet, he will likely go low-owned for a quarterback on a single-game slate.
Antonio Gibson in the running game would be the best play here from Washington. He is currently questionable but seems reasonably likely to suit up. If Gibson does not play, Jaret Patterson should step into a lead-back role and becomes an exciting option on this slate at just $6,600. He’d likely be very popular as well. I would also expect Gibson to be quite high-owned if he can take the field. There isn’t much to love on Washington, and Gibson is a consistent fantasy asset.
Anyone in the Washington wide receiver corps other than Terry McLaurin is a total tournament dart throw. You could consider Adam Humphries or DeAndre Carter, but they aren’t even priced that low. This should, however, lead to very low ownership. Curtis Samuel (questionable) and Cam Sims are cheaper but even thinner plays. McLaurin is the only guy you can play here without holding your nose, but he just hasn’t been the same guy this season for the most part. Not to mention going up against the Cowboys’ secondary. However, we know what he is capable of in an upside game.
Ricky Seals-Jones at tight-end may be the third-best option on this Washington team as he does have a pretty strong stranglehold on the tight-end passing work for Washington. It would be hard to recommend the Football Team defense in this matchup, but it would likely be contrarian. They are cheap, and there’s not much to like in terms of offense. You would have to also consider Brian Johnson at kicker, considering the sheer lack of attractive options.
Dallas will be led by Dak Prescott, who should be one of the slate’s most popular and optimal plays. He has the highest raw projection and ceiling of any player on the slate by a considerable margin. I’d undoubtedly play him if I can find ways to differentiate my lineup enough elsewhere in large-field tournaments.
We continue to have a timeshare between Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in the running game. Elliott appears to be bothered by a nagging injury, limiting his work and effectiveness. Pollard is considerably cheaper even though he’s arguably an equal option. In the DFS community, it is a common sentiment that Tony Pollard is a better running back than Ezekiel Elliott. Between the sizable pricing discrepancy, Elliott’s health, and the perception of the two backs, I would anticipate ownership swaying in the direction of Pollard. Pollard is undoubtedly attractive at an almost 3K in savings. Still, I would consider that Elliott may be lower-owned than he should be for his ceiling potential. I also see no problem with running both of them in tournaments.
The Cowboys receiving corps is healthy, with CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup all good to go. Although Lamb is the alpha here, targets should be pretty spread out. All are viable, and I’d keep an eye on ownership projections to guide me in tournaments. Cedrick Wilson is a fringe GPP punt play with everyone else healthy. The Football Team has been pretty bad against the pass and better at defending the ground game. This could bode well for Prescott and his receiving corps.
Dalton Schultz at tight-end at $6,200 may be fairly low-owned on this slate with the Cowboys’ big-three receivers all healthy. He should be a good tournament play considering that he is very boom-bust and can put up 20+ DraftKings points or three. At that price, much of the field will likely gravitate away, considering the inconsistency.
Against what should be a struggling Washington offense, you have to like Dallas’ defense here. An interception for a touchdown, and you are in business. If you need the savings, kickers are always in play and usually come at reasonable ownership. You’d undoubtedly consider Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein on this single-gamer. However, he may be somewhat higher-owned than you often see with kickers due to the nature of optimal constructions and him being known as a good kicker.
Dallas is in a much better spot here, and most of the field will gravitate that way. We should see a lot of builds with four or five Cowboys. I can’t recommend much on the Washington side from an optimal perspective. Still, it would be contrarian to play a more Football Team-centric build with at least three Washington players. Four or five gets you even more off the beaten path. Stranger things have happened, and we are trying to win large-field tournaments here. You may still want to play a Cowboys-heavy build. It could be so optimal that you can’t get away from it. I’d suggest getting different with lower-owned options, leaving salary on the table, negative correlations, odd constructions, or other differentiation methods in large-field tournaments.
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