The Dallas Cowboys’ 22-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins is akin to opening a gift clad in festive wrapping paper, opening the box inside to find absolutely nothing—a hollow result for a treat with so much promise. Like the Cowboys, many of their fantasy options had much to offer in their matchup but fell short of expectations, leaving fantasy managers feeling “Scrooged.” Here’s a recap of your Dallas Cowboys in the semifinal week of the fantasy playoffs.
QB, Dak Prescott – 30 Yahoo fantasy points
I’ll come clean. Admittedly, I had advised fantasy managers to steer clear of Prescott in their lineups based on the threat the Miami Dolphins posed on defense and Prescott without Tyron Smith. The Dolphins were somewhat troublesome, and Smith’s replacement, Chuma Edoga, didn’t do an adequate job of protecting Prescott, and as a result, Prescott got sacked four times. Depending on your league format, that’s four points off the board.
While Prescott did lose points, he seemed well on his way to a productive day early before he left some meat on the bone. Prescott started with a bang and was in a rhythm early on the Cowboys’ first two drives; however, after the second drive that saw Prescott connect on a 49-yard touchdown to CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys offense throttled down.
Prescott only threw nine pass attempts in the first half despite having 117 yards by halftime. Again, it appeared that Prescott was in for a much bigger day, but he and the offense didn’t rev things up until much later in the second half. Prescott’s 253 passing yards, which included a 45-yard strike to Jalen Tolbert, and two touchdowns are a respectable showing matched up against a Dolphins defense that gets a lot of pressure and sacks on the quarterback. Prescott also added some rushing upside with 25 yards on the ground.
RB, Tony Pollard - 4 Yahoo fantasy points
Pollard is becoming harder to trust every week. The Dolphins are a challenging matchup for most fantasy running backs, but for Pollard to post only four fantasy points is a new low this season. Pollard’s poor performance and fantasy season is summarized by a sequence on the game’s first drive.
On 2nd and 1 from the Miami 2-yard line, Pollard received the ball and looked to have a clear path to the end zone before being stopped short of the goal line by Miami safety DeShon Elliott. Pollard could have taken the angle to the pylon to likely outrun the defender, but instead took Elliott head-on, only to be stopped short of the end zone. On the ensuing play, Dak Prescott and Hunter Leupke mishandled the exchange on the handoff and turned the ball over.
Two burning questions: What happens if Pollard takes the outside angle to the end zone? And why not give Pollard a chance to redeem himself in the next play? The Cowboys may look for alternatives to Pollard deep in the red zone. Aside from his struggles to score, Pollard could have been more efficient running elsewhere. Pollard had 12 carries for 38 yards and was barely involved in the passing game, with one catch for five yards—a dismal day for Pollard.
WR, CeeDee Lamb – 30 Yahoo fantasy points
CeeDee Lamb was targeted ten times for a 31% target share, but it feels like even that wasn’t enough. Lamb established himself early in the game and got off to a great start after his big catch and run for a touchdown. However, the Cowboys’ coaches and the Dolphins’ defense froze Lamb out of the game plan afterward, and he wasn’t targeted until the fourth quarter. His decreased volume is puzzling, if not inexcusable. It’s not as if Jalen Ramsey was shadowing Lamb, as he didn’t follow Lamb when he lined up in the slot.
The Dolphins are a defense that blitzes sparingly, so you’d expect Lamb to have been able to roam the field for favorable matchups, but somehow, the Dolphins managed to take him away. On the bright side, Lamb eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the seventh time this season. Lamb now has 1,424 yards on the season on 109 receptions. Lamb could go for a lot more to end the fantasy season having a good matchup against the Detroit Lions, who yielded 141 yards to Justin Jefferson last week.
TE, Jake Ferguson – 8 Yahoo fantasy points
In the game against Miami, Prescott targeted eleven different receivers. Based on Ferguson’s fantasy output, you’d never guess, but he was one of Prescott’s favorite targets. Ferguson was targeted by Prescott eight times, only catching four for 45 yards, including a 20-yard catch and run. The problem is Ferguson didn’t get any quality targets inside the end zone. The Dolphins’ pressure also affected Ferguson’s output. Miami’s pass rush on Prescott relegated Ferguson to short check-downs and many misfires in his direction. The Miami defense also dictated the target depth and prevented Ferguson from attacking the seams, as we’ve seen in the past.
DEF/ST – 5 Yahoo fantasy points
Sure, the Cowboys’ defense held the Miami offense to five field goals and held them to one touchdown, but that wasn’t enough. Entering the game, the Dolphins were the eighth toughest matchup for fantasy defenses, and Sunday proved why. Miami puts up a lot of yards to get in the plus side of the field and score points. Jason Sanders had 22 points, making three kicks from 50 or more yards out. The Cowboys’ defense only recorded one sack and forced the Dolphins to just one three-and-out. The bright side is the Cowboys did have five tackles for loss, but five fantasy points indicates a defense that could not make any game-altering plays as we’ve seen them do so often this season.