After the NFL delivered a horrific matchup on Sunday Night Football, they redeemed themselves a little bit with tonight’s game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys. The Chargers are coming off their bye week with a 2-2 record, but they’ve won their last two games and more importantly, they’ll have Austin Ekeler back for this matchup. The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a brutal beating at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers last week on Sunday Night Football. Mike McCarthy has taken some criticism early on regarding the play calling and the pace of the offense, but they get an incredibly inviting matchup against the Bolts defense for this primetime affair. Be sure to take advantage of our NFL DFS Tools for this matchup including our NFL DFS Projections and NFL DFS Lineup Generator. Let’s take a look at how we’ll approach building our winning NFL DFS Showdown lineups as we close out Week 6!
Spread: Dallas Cowboys (-1.5)
Weather: This game will be played in a controlled environment.
- C.J. Goodwin, Defensive Back – OUT (Pectoral)
- Juanyeh Thomas, Defensive Back – Doubtful (Hamstring)
- Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker – OUT (Neck/Concussion)
- Chuma Edoga, Guard – Questionable (Illness)
- Joey Bosa, Defensive End – Questionable (Toe)
- Joshua Palmer, Wide Receiver – Questionable (Groin)
- Alohi Gilman, Safety – Doubtful (Heel)
- Deane Leonard, Defensive Back – Doubtful (Hamstring)
- Donald Parham, Tight End – Doubtful (Unspecified)
- Nick Williams, Defensive Tackle – Questionable (Back)
NFL DFS MVP/Captain
Ekeler makes his return Monday night and I would expect no limitations on him. We haven’t since him since Week 1 but in that game against the Miami Dolphins he rushed for 117 yards, caught four-of-five targets, and he found the end zone as well. The running back production in his absence has been a little ugly to watch.
Assuming he’s back and gets his usual workload then he’s an outstanding play as always. The Dallas Cowboys have been hard to read against running backs. They limited the Giants to just 65 rushing yards in Week 1, then the Jets had just 24 rushing yards in Week 2. In Week 3, the Cardinals running backs racked up over 100 rushing yards and found the end zone. And even last week the San Francisco 49ers ran for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground but that’s mostly because Christian McCaffrey is a cheat code. I’m firing up Ekeler at Captain and given that he can catch passes out of the backfield, you should be stacking Justin Herbert with him as well.
I’ll never have a bad thing to say about Keenan Allen. But in this matchup, he either breaks the slate or he’s a bit of a dud. On Sunday afternoon I was feeling pretty good about Allen at Captain. Yes, the Cowboys are incredibly tough to throw on and opposing wide receivers haven’t performed well against Dallas. The Cowboys have allowed just 569 receiving yards to opposing wideouts through five games on just 37 receptions. That’s incredible for a five-game sample size. And sure, they’ve faced some awful quarterbacks in that span as well. But this news broke on Twitter around 3:00pm ET on Sunday…
This gives me pause because the Cowboys probably give a ton of attention to Keenan Allen and they could invite Los Angeles to beat them on the ground. If Palmer’s out we can assume it’s more work for Allen out of the slot, but if the defense gives him extra attention that’s not ideal. But we still know the upside in this matchup. We’ve seen him go for 30+ fantasy points on DraftKings on two occasions already this year so it’s awfully hard to ignore that kind of upside.
It hasn’t been the greatest of starts for Pollard in his first year as “the guy” in Dallas sans Ezekiel Elliott. Of all running backs with at least 50 rush attempts, he has a 7% avoided tackle rate (lowest among qualified running backs), and he has the third-lowest rushing grade (65.5) according to Pro Football Focus. But as we mentioned last week in the Showdown preview for the game between the 49ers and Cowboys, Dallas has been in some very odd game scripts. We haven’t seen many “competitive” games for them. The matchup couldn’t get any better for Dallas. The Los Angeles defense is awful. Opposing running backs have scored in three of four games so far. If there was ever a “get right” game for Pollard, it would be this week in a smash spot.
We know the Chargers are a bit of a pass funnel on defense. Through four games they’ve allowed six touchdowns to opposing wideouts and despite all the name recognition on defense, they’re pretty horrendous and recently traded J.C. Jackson back to the New England Patriots. There are some concerns about Lamb’s workload and usage. He has a 22.2% target per route run rate which was 30th in the league entering Week 6 and a pretty big drop off from the rate of 27.4% last season. It’s shocking they haven’t tried to get Lamb the ball more, but similar to Pollard, the game scripts have been odd so far. He’s still the Alpha in this passing game and it’s a great spot to blow up Monday night.
Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays
Herbert is obviously viable at Captain. If I was building 150 lineups for this game, he’d probably be Captain in maybe 10% but there isn’t as much leverage there so you should go over that or maybe limit the Captain exposure to 5% and find leverage elsewhere. Herbert’s off to a fantastic start. Prior to the bye week, he had thrown seven passing touchdowns while grabbing three more on the ground. This is definitely a game script where he could go for 300+ yards and get the bonus on DraftKings. As mentioned up above, Dallas has been tricky to throw on. However, there is a revenge game narrative for Kellen Moore who used to be the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. And we also saw Brock Purdy drop four touchdowns on Dallas last week.
Dak Prescott has not played well this year. He doesn’t have a single 20-point performance to date for fantasy football. He has a 5:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he’s done nothing on the ground. Sure, there were some odd games where the defense put the team on their backs, but fantasy managers have been disappointed this year with Prescott. This is obviously the best matchup he’s had yet. The Chargers defense gave up the 300-yard bonus and three touchdowns to both Tua Tagovailoa and Kirk Cousins already this season. Prescott certainly has that kind of ceiling and after last week’s embarrassing showing against the 49ers it’s likely he could do the same.
I don’t have a ton to work off of regarding Cooks in this matchup aside from the fact that the Chargers don’t have a great secondary and Prescott has mentioned in recent interviews he wants to get Cooks going more. Cooks has at least four targets in the four games he’s appeared in so far but he’s yet to put up more than 30 receiving yards. The issue is that, to the eyeball test, he’s struggling with creating separation and getting open. He’s still reasonably priced on DraftKings and most will see the fantasy output and look elsewhere. But he still has upside especially against a defense like the Chargers.
He’s been a bit of an anomaly. I don’t know as much about tight ends as Andrew Cooper does, but the production just hasn’t matched the usage so far. But at the same time, the Cowboys are leaning more and more on Ferguson as the season has progressed.
Ferguson has a 24% target per route run rate and is averaging 1.65 yards per route run. Per Jacob Gibbs of CBS Sports, Dalton Schultz’s best rates as a Cowboy were 21.3% TPRR in 2022, and 1.48 YPRR in 2021. Ferguson is arguably outpacing Schultz so far and from the tweet I attached, he could get even better. The Chargers have been pretty tough on opposing tight ends. T.J. Hockenson had a spectacular game against them, but they’ve mostly kept the position in check. I’m hesitant to play him at Captain but there’s no denying the Cowboys are actively trying to get him more involved.
There are plenty of signs that Johnston could be lining up for a post-bye week, rookie breakout. He was a first-round pick in April’s draft and with the loss of Mike Williams, we all anticipated a big game happening at some point. With Joshua Palmer popping up on the injury report Sunday afternoon, he seems poised for more work in this matchup. He had just 44 receiving yards prior to the bye week. But remember, there were plenty of reports just highlighting that he simply wasn’t ready for a larger role. It could’ve been that he was struggling with the Playbook, but if Palmer is out he has a tremendous opportunity and should see plenty of targets if the Cowboys scheme for Keenan Allen. I think you could even play him at Captain in maybe 6% of your lineups. Johnston likely becomes the most popular Flex play that’s priced beneath both kickers. If Palmer is active, then yes he’s also worth exposure. The groin injury popping up on Sunday is a big concern, but he did have 15 targets in the two games leading up to the bye week, but a groin injury can easily flare up mid-game so there’s risk. Update: About 10 minutes after this article was published, Tom Pelissero reported that Palmer is expected to play tonight.
No groundbreaking analysis here. Both offenses should effectively move the ball against the opposing defenses. I’m a little surprised both kickers are more expensive than the D/ST’s. Brandon Aubrey’s price tag is a little gaudy at $5,000 on DraftKings but he did have double-digit fantasy points through each of the first four games. This matchup is favorable because Dallas should move the ball between the 20’s and should have no problem getting into field goal range for potentially three field goal attempts and plenty of extra points. Cameron Dicker isn’t as flashy but if the Cowboys defense can contain the Chargers offense in the red zone then that bodes well for Dicker in this matchup. But kickers are correlation plays and cheap sources of double-digit fantasy points similar to what we saw in Sunday morning’s London game between the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
Obviously the Dallas Cowboys are the far better matchup and they’re pretty underpriced compared to the ceiling we’ve seen from them. They should still generate plenty of rostership because those generating 150 lineups will do so with game scripts in mind where the Cowboys flat out dominate this matchup. The Chargers offense is spectacular and getting Austin Ekeler back is a nice safety blanket. But the Cowboys D/ST has returned 15+ fantasy points in three games so far. But in two of their last three games, they’ve returned less than two points. We say it all the time with D/ST’s: this is a position of variance. On the other side I wouldn’t rule out the Chargers D/ST just given how we’ve seen the Cowboys be duds at some points this year. The Chargers can certainly give up yardage and points. We’ve seen it happen plenty already this year. But I’m encouraged by the fact they’ve been generating more pressure prior to the week off with 16 sacks in their last three games with five takeaways as well. The extra time off for the bye week makes me like them a little bit more as well.
NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains
This is a ridiculously cheap price tag on Gallup. Most will flock to Gallup over Cooks because of the production. But in general, Gallup has 18 targets in his last three games. If you’re averaging six targets per game and you’re under $3,000 for a Showdown slate, then you’re going to be a popular value play. It also doesn’t hurt that the matchup is phenomenal for all pass catchers on Dallas.
I really don’t mind Gerald Everett in this spot either. He’s a little too pricy but truthfully he’s caught 13-of-14 targets this year. If Joshua Palmer is out, that may help Everett and you can absolutely include him in your player pool in that case. But this is a great price tag for Parham who should play despite still being listed on the injury report. He’s a massive target in the red zone and already has three touchdowns on the year. He’s a bit of a wild card but he’s typically only a good play for Showdown slates.
You can essentially pick your poison here between Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn saves you $1,000 but Dowdle does appear to be slightly more involved with a few extra carries and a little more work in the passing game.
If there’s a sneaky player on the Chargers that could benefit from Joshua Palmer being inactive, it could be Davis. He doesn’t garner the recognition that Johnston does. But Davis is a fourth-round rookie who has shown great upside in Austin Ekeler’s absence. He ripped off a huge 51-yard run against the Raiders two weeks ago and has caught all four of his targets on the year. Yes, this is quite the contrarian play but one that is likely a cheap leverage spot. If Palmer was inactive, that likely leaves the Chargers with just Allen, Johnston, Davis, and Simi Fehoko who would come into play as a $200 punt.
Not a ton to get excited about with Tolbert. He does have two games this year with four targets so if this is a shootout and the Cowboys throw it 40+ times then he could see some work. However, KaVontae Turpin should be considered as well as a cheap option ($1,600) and he also gets work in the return game as well.
Anytime I see Schoonmaker on the field for Dallas, I hear Chris Cornell’s voice in my head screaming “Schoon Man! Catch the football with your hands,” so if anybody gets that reference then congratulations, you’re a grunge nerd and probably a cool human being. But Schoonmaker does see a decent amount of snaps (roughly 30% last time I checked) and again, he’s $200. We just need a couple catches in this spot. You never play him in season-long fantasy football. You never play him on the Sunday main slate for DFS. This is where you play a $200 tight end in a positive game script where he’s done nothing the last couple games. There are certainly more popular punts, but the Schoon is going to be my “go to” $200 play for tonight’s game.