Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season wraps up with Monday Night Football as the Dallas Cowboys play host to the Philadelphia Eagles. Here is my fantasy football preview to the game, offering up my starts and sits for Monday night action.
QB Jalen Hurts — Dallas’ friendly defensive-front will be short staffed in primetime. DE DeMarcus Lawrence remains on IR, LB Keanu Neal is unlikely to play (COVID-19/Reserve List), and DE Dorance Armstrong (ankle) has been deemed Out. DE Randy Gregory is expected to clear the COVID-19/Reserve list though. Regardless, fantasy’s QB6 should stay hot this week in what looks like a back-and-forth affair. Hurts’ 3.9% Completion Percentage Above Expectation (CPAE) is 10th best in the league and his 144 rushing yards are 2nd best at the position. He’s a mid-tier QB1.
WR DeVonta Smith — The rookie phenom has hogged a monstros 50.82% of the team’s air yards through two weeks, the third highest sum in the NFL, and his 15 targets lead the team by a healthy margin. Smith is a locked-in WR2.
WRs Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins — Hurts continues to feed slot receiver Reagor. Fellow slotsters Chris Godwin (5-of-7 for 121-yards and 1 touchdown) and Keenan Allen (4-of-4 for 108-yards) both had big games vs the Cowboys, which bodes well for Reagor returning WR3 value. CB Trevon Diggs is no pushover but opponents have pummeled CB Jourdan Lewis and Jayron Kearse. The duo has surrendered a combined 10-of-15 (catches/targets) for 110 yards and just 1 interception when lined up on the interior (per PFF.com). Meanwhile, Z-receiver Watkins quietly posts a hyper efficient 5-of-5 for 140-yards two-game line. Watkins’ low-volume usage renders him a high-floor WR5. He can do a lot with a little though so don’t count him out in DFS.
TEs Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz — Ertz was just activated from the COVID-19/Reserve list on Saturday so he’s good to go tonight. Tight end committees should typically be avoided but those in need of help at the position should give the Philly duo a long look. Dallas is allowing 15.6 .5PPR PPG to the position, 5th most in the NFL. Had LAC TE Donald Parham’s 36-yard touchdown not been called back due to a penalty last week, they’d be up to 19.7 .5PPR PPG allowed, 2nd most. Although risky, there’s room for both guys to produce as TE1s this week.
RBs Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell — This is a 1A/1B backfield. Sanders owns a healthy lead in the snap share department but Gainwell is getting solid usage for a backup RB. Sanders’ 28 carries and 7 targets are sturdy yet Gainwell, 15 and 6 respectively, isn’t far behind. Both backs have been featured in scoring position. Gainwell has the lead in red zone carries, two to one while Sanders owns the backfield’s lone carry inside the five-yard line. Both have converted two-point conversions, per PFF.com. Sanders is a rock-solid RB2 and Gainwell is a dependable RB4/flex.
QB Dak Prescott — Bounce-back spot for Dak and the ‘Boys this week. The Eagles tragically lost stalwart pass rusher Brandon Graham to a torn Achilles in Week 2. Prescott’s an elite QB1. Looking ahead: the loss of RT La’el Collins (five-game suspension) could be consequential in the coming weeks (ie. Week 4 vs. CAR and Week 6 at NE).
WRs CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper — Both players are still top-12 in .5PPR scoring despite Dallas’ flop last week. Cooper is impressively battling cracked ribs while leading the NFL in receptions (16) through two games. Lamb’s transition to an inside/outside receiver is going smoothly. His 33 slot snaps actually trail Cooper’s 35, per PFF.com. This is likely the best WR duo in both real football and fantasy football. They’re locked-in WR1s this week.
WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. — Wilson hasn’t done much with his increased reps. He’s a WR5/DFS play.
TEs Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin — Both a decent but this isn’t an especially soft match-up. Best leave them in free agency for redraft purposes.
RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — Pollard actually leads this backfield in .5PPR points scored, 27.8 to 21.6. But Elliott still owns a far higher snap share (114 to 41). Dallas has too much money and ego invested in Elliott to actually make this a real 1-2 RB punch so don’t sweat Zeke’s slow start to the year. Expect 20+ touches for the veteran back en route to a top-15 RB performance. Pollard and his perfect 7-of-7 reception/target stat line are much safer flex options in full-point PPR leagues. In .5PPR/non-PPR, the explosive play-maker can only be deployed as an RB4/flex.