Watching the Dallas Cowboys offense sputter to a 31-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 15 was a dreadful sight. The Cowboys entered the week with the motivation to cement themselves as a legitimate contender and stake their claim for an inside track at the NFC East before the Philadelphia Eagles were upset on Monday by the Seattle Seahawks. The Cowboys’ horrendous showing came at the worst possible time in the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
Aside from the Cowboys, there were many other fantasy flops and disappointments. Injuries ravaged Week 15 of fantasy football as several stars were injured this week like Ja’Marr Chase, Michael Pittman, Marquise Brown, and Zack Moss.
Let’s revisit the Cowboys’ fantasy output and assess their Buffalo blues.
QB, Dak Prescott – 4 Yahoo fantasy points
A lack of opportunity underlines Prescott’s poor performance. The Bills controlled the pace of the game from the opening whistle and possessed the ball for 35:05 versus only 24:55 for the Cowboys. The Bills elected to drop defenders in coverage and rush Prescott with four or five rushers and still managed to get pressure.
Prescott was sacked three times and left scrambling for most of the contest. The explosive plays that we’ve seen from the passing game went missing. The Cowboys are one of the most explosive offenses in the league and routinely make big plays (plays of 20 yards or more). That aspect of their passing game was non-existent. Their longest passing play was 16 yards, a far cry from the usual.
Prescott did have a chance to make a meaningful impact early in the game but missed what would have been a long touchdown throw to Brandin Cooks. Prescott’s misfire as he overthrew Cooks would have been a 71-yard touchdown score, but alas, close but not close enough. Prescott had only 134 passing yards and threw his first interception since week 10. Overall, it was a performance he’d like to forget, and he’d better do it fast. Dallas will need to score next week to keep up with the fast-paced Dolphins.
RB, Tony Pollard – 7 Yahoo fantasy points
Pollard’s 52 rushing yards are close to his season average of 60.6 yards per game. Plus, his average of 4.72 yards a carry is respectable. The problem for Pollard is that the Cowboys sputtering so poorly on offense took Pollard out of the game until it was far too late. The most disappointing part of Pollard’s abysmal day is that he was not featured in the passing game, even when Buffalo made sure to limit Dallas’ deep and intermediate passing game.
The Cowboys opted not to give Pollard a steady volume of short checkdowns. Pollard was targeted only three times, catching two passes for five yards. Sunday snapped a four-week streak where Pollard averaged more than double-digit fantasy points. The only positive of Pollard’s outing is that he appeared more explosive and demonstrated some short-area bursts and quickness.
Last week, Pollard also looked like he ran swiftly versus the Eagles and could be revving up in the latter weeks of the fantasy playoffs, with Dallas having more optimal weather conditions in Miami and likely not a repeat of being on the wrong side of time of possession for a second consecutive week.
WR, CeeDee Lamb – 18 Yahoo fantasy points
Thank goodness for garbage time. On the Cowboys’ lone scoring drive, the Cowboys made Lamb a central part of the plan. Lamb scored 10 of his 18 fantasy points in that sequence, catching three passes for 15 yards and culminating the drive with a three-yard rushing touchdown.
Lamb’s ten targets are on the downside for him despite having a near 30% target share in Buffalo. Sunday was the third time this season Lamb totaled precisely 53 receiving yards. Furthermore, it was an awful showing for the Dallas wide receivers. The Cowboys’ second leading receiver at wideout was Cooks, who had 10 yards, followed by Michael Gallup, who had nine yards. Yikes.
TE, Jake Ferguson – 10 Yahoo fantasy points
Another beneficiary of garbage time, Ferguson has a decent stat line. However, he was looking like another bust in the Dallas offense in the game’s early stages. He was held to zero fantasy points in the first half and recorded his first reception in the third quarter. Ferguson continued to dominate the snap count amongst the Cowboys’ secondary weapons. He also maintained the lead target share for the tight ends, far ahead of Luke Schoonmaker and Peyton Hendershot. Ferguson’s six receptions for 44 yards for eight targets salvaged his week 15.
DEF/ST – 1 Yahoo fantasy point
Although the Cowboy’s defense has allowed a lot of points on a few occasions, it’s not indicative of who they are. What is the routine about them and the team as a whole? Penalties. The Cowboys are the most penalized team in the NFL, with 102 penalties. Against Buffalo, their three personal foul penalties extended drives, which resulted in points for Buffalo. The Cowboys appeared to have forced Buffalo to field goal on their opening drive until DeMarcus Lawrence was flagged for roughing the passer on Josh Allen, which led to a touchdown score. Then, Sam Williams had another penalty that led to another score after he whiffed on a punt block attempt.
31 points allowed in a game where Josh Allen barely had to lift a finger is certainly not what anyone expected. James Cook dominated the matchup and ran wild against the Cowboys’ defense. Cook had 179 yards rushing on 25 carries at 7.2 yards per carry. The Cowboys had an opportunity for a turnover. The instant replay showed a fumble by Stefon Diggs that Dallas recovered, but since Diggs was ruled down by contact and the Cowboys never got a good look at the replay to challenge the call, the Bills maintained possession.
The Buffalo ground-and-pound approach rendered the Cowboys’ vaunted pass rush meaningless. Micah Parsons was virtually invisible in the game at Buffalo and registered two tackles and no sacks. With a date against the Miami Dolphins and their exotic rushing attack, it may be wise to look at some possible defensive streaming options in Week 16.