Sunday Night Football throws down the gauntlet in the NFC as the Dallas Cowboys visit the San Francisco 49ers for what could potentially be a preview for a playoff matchup. Both teams tout unbelievable defenses, allowing 99 points combined through four weeks and they’re a combined 7-1 heading into Week 5. This NFL DFS Showdown slate offers so many different options at MVP/Captain and unfortunately, I can’t write them all up for that section. But the NFL got this one right putting it in primetime which is more than I can say for the Monday Night Football game. Be sure to check out our NFL DFS Projections and NFL DFS Lineup Generator for this matchup on DraftKings and FanDuel. The main slate has locked for Week 5 but let’s see how we can continue to make a little more money Sunday night!
Spread: San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
Over/Under: 45 points
Weather: (Update Sunday Morning)
- Elijah Mitchell, Running Back – OUT (Knee)
NFL DFS Showdown MVP/Captain
Do we even need analysis here? He’s an absolute cheat code. He’s played 18 games with the 49ers and totaled 1,443 rushing yards, 82 catches, 666 (The Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden) receiving yards, 20 total touchdowns (he also threw for another), and he is absolutely fed on a weekly basis. At a certain point, this kind of workload does become problematic. The wear and tear takes its toll and he’s already lost two seasons to injury. But we’ll address injury concerns in future fantasy football draft prep seasons. This is write-up is for Sunday night after all. I don’t really worry about matchups here. They get him the ball and while the Dallas Cowboys have been the toughest team against opposing running backs through four weeks, this is the most explosive offense they’ll have faced to date. But from a lineup theory standpoint, we should understand that CMC costs us 35.4% of our salary on DraftKings if we plug him in at Captain. Despite that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was rostered at Captain in 20% of lineups while still played in about 80% of builds overall. This is a tremendous leverage spot if you have the stones to go elsewhere with your Captain.
Pollard enters this slate without a ton of fanfare. He’s been fine this season, but he hasn’t really gone off the last two weeks. He hasn’t scored since Week 1 and has just a single 100-yard rushing effort on his resume through four weeks. The 49ers, on paper, have been tough on opposing running backs. They haven’t allowed a single team to gain 60 yards on the ground yet. But most teams are also playing from behind against this group. So when you take that into consideration, we still have a running back that is involved in a negative game script that can catch passes out of the backfield. Pollard leads the league in red zone carries through four games with 27. So we should see some positive touchdown regression for Pollard and I actually think he scores in this matchup…
With a healthy offensive line, I really like Pollard as a Captain candidate and think there’s a chance he comes in as a leverage play for us.
Lamb popped up on the injury report for Sunday night’s game with a knee injury but logged full practices later in the week. Technically he lines up in the slot on over 70% of his snaps but I don’t view him as a traditional slot receiver given his route tree. But alas, if he draws coverage against anyone it is likely Isaiah Oliver, so this is a big test for Oliver but I think the 49ers disguise some coverages as well. We’ll see how it shakes out but Lamb obviously has immense upside. He can pop off for eight or nine catches for well over 100 receiving yards and multiple scores. I really like the game script for him with Dallas listed as underdogs. He only has 13 targets in his last two games, but last week was a blowout against New England and even the week before, the Cardinals did a great job taking advantage of a beat-up offensive line. This matchup should be right in Lamb’s wheelhouse for several targets.
Aiyuk is a special talent. And while he’s listed beneath CMC, Pollard, and Lamb… Aiyuk is my favorite Captain/MVP candidate for this game. If he stays healthy we’ll surely witness a huge breakout season. He has 17 receptions this year and per Pro Football Focus they’ve all gone for a first down or a touchdown. His chemistry with Brock Purdy is on display so long as he’s on the field. Not to mention, he makes defenders look silly out on the field…
Aiyuk is second in the NFL at the wide receiver position with 4.71 yards per route run which is behind only Marvin Mims and his unsustainable 6.05 YPRR. Deebo Samuel is a little beat up and George Kittle may be asked to block more in this matchup. The Cowboys play a ton of man coverage and Aiyuk draws a 30% target share and 2.89 YPRR against this coverage compared to 17% and 1.17 YPRR for Deebo. So for that reason, I give Aiyuk the edge.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
I’m perfectly fine correlating any Dallas Captain with Dak Prescott. It’s almost a necessity. Prescott’s numbers through four weeks haven’t been great. And this is one of those situations where fantasy football players are blinded by box scores and they think he’s been terrible. But try to remember, and this applies to every player on Dallas, that they haven’t had a “normal” football game in the truest sense. Week 1? The defense puts up two defensive touchdowns and shut out the New York Giants. The offense wasn’t really needed. Week 2? CeeDee Lamb has a big game and again, the defense came up big holding the Jets to just 10 points. Week 3 was the tricky one against Arizona where they lost. But even last week the defense came up big against New England and the offense wasn’t called upon. By all accounts, the weapons on the Dallas offense are arguably buy-low candidates. They just haven’t been called upon to win the game for Dallas yet, but that could be the case Sunday night. The 49ers have given opposing quarterbacks fits through four games, but there should be passing volume in this matchup and without Trevon Diggs on the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers may be able to get out to a lead and Dak will be called upon to get them back in the game. I wouldn’t go overboard with him at Captain but he’s certainly worthy of some exposure in that regard.
Brock Purdy feels like the exact same play as Dak Prescott but for the opposition obviously. Purdy does everything that the 49ers ask of him. He gets the ball into the best player’s hands and he does it quickly. He only has five touchdown passes this year, but zero interceptions. The passing volume is low, which is why I can’t commit too many shares at Captain. But I do like that he’s scored a touchdown on the ground in two of his last three games, but he also has four fumbles (one lost) on the season. He provides a good floor as a Flex play and could potentially put up 20+ fantasy points for the third straight week. But there are clearly other players on this slate that have a higher ceiling. The Cowboys have held three of four opposing quarterbacks to under 10 fantasy points and they’ve allowed just two passing touchdowns so far this year. So maybe we don’t need to lock him into every lineup.
The big issue with Deebo right now… Injuries. He was limited in practice this week with rib and knee injuries but still played through them last week but was limited to just six rushing yards. This is a matchup where I’m of the mindset it likely benefits Aiyuk and the 49ers could deploy Decoy Deebo. I’ll still have exposure of course, but I have my reservations in this spot. These two teams have met in the playoffs each of the last two years and Dallas has had some success keeping Deebo in check in the passing game, but on the ground he did rack up 13 carries for over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. He’s a unique weapon for sure, but I’m going to be looking for updates on his involvement heading into this matchup.
Kittle isn’t off to a great start in fantasy football. But he doesn’t really care. He has just 14 receptions on 19 targets through four games and he’s yet to find the end zone. But he’s also the ultimate team player and won’t complain. He actually enjoys being asked to block which could be on the table this week. But in Week 4 he did have a 96% route participation rate so it’s just unfortunate he had only one target. But I do think there’s an emphasis to get him into the end zone as well. I just don’t know if it happens this week. Dallas hasn’t allowed an opposing tight end to catch a touchdown yet, but in three of four games this year they’ve allowed five receptions for at least 50 yards to opposing tight ends. The price tag is pretty fair for Kittle, but it is a tough matchup.
There hasn’t been anything too promising about Cooks’ season so far. He has just eight receptions on 15 targets through three games. 66 total receiving yards isn’t what fantasy managers had in mind. He has big play upside, we know that. We’ve seen big performances from him in the past. You’ve heard of Coach Speak, right? How about QB Speak?
Cooks may not command a ton of exposure for this Showdown slate because the $5,600 price tag leaves a lot to be desired. But he stretches the field and the 49ers should respect his speed. I prefer him in the Flex but if I were to make 150 lineups he’d certainly make the Captain in maybe 10 lineups, which would probably provide enough leverage over the field.
Ferguson had his best game of the season last week against New England. He caught all seven of his targets for 77 yards for 14.7 fantasy points on DraftKings. The 49ers have been tough against opposing tight ends. Pat Freiermuth scored against them in Week 1, but since then they’ve allowed just 98 receiving yards to the position. Zach Ertz had six receptions for 53 yards last week on 10 targets, but I’m not as sold on Ferguson as others might be. He’s also a really affordable pivot off Brandin Cooks so several players could easily give exposure to Ferguson in this spot. But he’s earning a target on almost every three routes run this season and according to Jacobs Gibbs of CBS Sports, Ferguson is tied with Davante Adams with 10 red zone targets through four games. We also know that when facing pressure, Dak likes to target his tight ends. The 49ers can get pressure on the quarterback with ease and we saw Dak lean on Dalton Schultz for years when pressured. Sunday night, when under pressure, we should expect Dak to look Ferguson’s way.
This is a stupid price tag on Gallup. And if the chalk doesn’t fall on Ferguson, it likely lands on Gallup. Again, this just opens up Cooks as a great pivot in Tournaments since he’s more expensive and has done nothing so far. Gallup had a 7% target share in the team’s first two games but over his last two outings that number has jumped to 18% and he has 11 catches for 152 yards. That’s a great return for a $4,600 Flex play on DraftKings.
We love kickers here! Brandon Aubrey and Jake Moody have appeared in eight games combined (duh) and only once have either of them not delivered double-digit fantasy points. And that was Moody’s game last week where he didn’t attempt a field goal but at least kicked five extra points. This is a great spot to utilize both in the Flex. Again, I’m not a big fan of playing a kicker at Captain but you are more than welcome to go that route. Both offenses are great. Both defenses are great. Maybe we see an uptick in ball movement but the offenses stall out in the red zone. That’s what kickers need to get at least three field goal attempts so this is a pretty strong spot for both players to return 10+ fantasy points. Again, this position is dependent on the offenses still having success so you don’t want that positive correlation with a teammate at Captain. Both D/ST’s have been nightmarish matchups for opposing kickers but I’m putting my faith in both offenses in this game.
Here we get to a very difficult spot for this Showdown slate. Both teams have great defenses. But they both have (presumably) elite offenses as well and for that reason, the D/ST’s are priced down. We’ve already seen Dallas score four defensive/special teams touchdowns this year. They’ve put up 15+ fantasy points in three games already. Dallas did lose Trevon Diggs for the season, but they didn’t miss a beat last week against New England.
An interesting aspect of this matchup is the dynamic between Dallas defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, and Kyle Shanahan, head coach of the Falcons. Shanahan was Quinn’s offensive coordinator when the two were both in Atlanta. Quinn knows Shanahan’s offense probably better than most people. The Cowboys have done well to keep the 49ers offense in check in their last two matchups. But my biggest concern with Dallas is simply that I don’t know how many turnovers they’ll force in this matchup. Purdy is more comfortable and confident in his second year and he’s yet to throw an interception. Sure, he’s fumbled four times, but he’s only lost one to the other team. Vegas seems to think this could be a 24-20 type game so both defenses will need sacks and turnovers to return value. Both offenses have been bad matchups for opposing D/ST’s but it’s an affordable spot for both. I have faded D/ST’s entirely the last two Showdown slates. It did not work out in my favor Monday night since Seattle was optimal at Captain, but it did go my way Thursday night. I’m still on the fence if I’ll pursue the D/ST fade for a third straight primetime game.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
Not a great play, but one that garners some interest. Jennings is also dealing with a shin injury but was a limited participant earlier in the week for this matchup. He did log full sessions later in the week, but if he’s out for a second consecutive week, we’ll have some cheaper pass catchers for the 49ers become available to us.
Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn, RB, Dallas Cowboys
You kind of pick your poison here. Vaughn provides more salary relief but neither have a great workload to consider. This should be more of a Tony Pollard show since this projects to be the closest game Dallas has played in to date. Rostering either Dowdle or Vaughn certainly saves salary but production may not be great from either. If you do need a cheap option on the Dallas side, I wouldn’t sleep on Luke Schoonmaker for $200. He did play 35% of the snaps last week and had three targets. Not a slam dunk by any means, but nobody ever is when they’re this cheap on a Showdown slate.
As of Friday afternoon, Elijah Mitchell was trending in the wrong direction for this matchup (he’s since been declared out). Mason didn’t do much last week but he did have four touches and returned 3.3 fantasy points on DraftKings. Now that’s okay if he’s under $1,000. For this game he’s $1,800 on DraftKings so you want a little more preferably. Unfortunately, it’s shaping up to be another matchup where Christian McCaffrey touches the ball 25+ times.
Bell is going to be a popular salary saver if Deebo Samuel and Jauan Jennings are going to be inactive or limited. That might even put Willie Snead in play for just $200 since he’d be called up from the practice squad. Bell came up huge in Week 3’s Thursday Night Showdown slate where he caught a touchdown at just $200 and was a slate breaker. The price is reasonable at $1,200 but he will be popular if Samuel and/or Jennings are ruled out.