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Desert Swarm: Recapping the fantasy impact of the Dallas 28-16 loss to Arizona

The defense disappoints in the loss column, and fantasy

Syndication: Arizona Republic Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

What a difference a week makes. Last week, the Cowboys were anchored by their defense and thoroughly contained their opponent’s offense. This week was an entirely different outcome and was stunning across the fantasy landscape. However, the Cowboys’ inability to score points near the end zone did carry over. This ripple effect on the Cowboys’ fantasy output left Cowboys fans and fantasy managers alike in utter frustration and disbelief. Here is your Dallas Cowboys fantasy recap for week three.

QB-Dak Prescott, 15 PTS on Yahoo, 16 PTS on Sleeper

The underlying theme of this fantasy matchup for Prescott is missed opportunities. The Cowboys had chances inside the red zone several times and could not find the end zone. Prescott underthrew a pass to Michael Gallup on one play that would have been a touchdown. Understandably, Prescott had a more difficult task, not having three-fifths of his offensive line. Prescott found the end zone once, but against the Cardinals’ defense, he should have gotten multiple scores either by the pass or the run. Prescott has yet to post a 300-hundred-yard passing game, and his interception near the goal line at the tail end of the fourth quarter summed up a disappointing day for Prescott. He was so close the entire afternoon, yet so far; he was underwhelming in a favorable matchup.

RB- Tony Pollard, 17 PTS on Yahoo, 17 PTS on Sleeper

The red zone quandary of the Dallas Cowboys also impacts Tony Pollard. Perhaps against conventional wisdom, the Cowboys handed the ball to Pollard in the red zone on their last possession, and Pollard could not muster a trip to the end zone. Furthermore, his day in Arizona frustrated fantasy managers in PPR format as he had only three targets for minus one yard. One silver (and blue) lining for Pollard’s fantasy output is that he got plenty of volume. Pollard had 23 carries on Sunday and was able to get 122 yards. Thus far, Pollard is firmly entrenched as the RB1 in Dallas and Rico Dowdle as a far distant second in the pecking order, although he churned out 13 fantasy points on only eight touches.

WR- Trio of wide receivers

There were a few shots that the Cowboys tried to connect in the red zone. However, there needed to be more deep shots attempted. CeeDee Lamb was the recipient for the longest passing play of the day, catching a 32-yard gain down the right sideline. Lamb’s performance is a change of course from last week as Lamb received a different workload than he did against the New York Jets. Prescott opted to spread the ball around and didn’t necessarily have a favorite target. Lamb and Micahel Gallup were each targeted seven times.

Speaking of Gallup, it was a return to the Gallup of old. Prescott peppered Gallup with several slant passes over the middle of the field, with Gallup working a 17% target share as a possession receiver. Gallup is owned in 20% or less in Yahoo Fantasy and Sleeper leagues, so if you had him in your starting lineup, congratulations. In any event, proceed cautiously if you choose to roster Gallup. Lastly, Brandin Cooks posted a total of three fantasy points this week. Prescott targeted Cooks twice, and none of his targets were 20 yards or more down the field.

TE- Jake Ferguson 9 PTS on Yahoo, 9 PTS on Sleeper

Jake Ferguson tied with Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb for the team-high in targets. He caught five of those targets for 48 yards. Not too shabby of a performance, given the volume he received. We’ll have to wait for the snap counts to be officially released, but it would appear Ferguson played a much higher snap count than his tight end counterparts on the team. Luke Schoonmaker and Peyton Hendershot received two targets between the two of them. Ferguson is still the alpha of this group and will continue to get the lion’s share of these opportunities. The Cowboys have shown they will play all three tight ends near the goal line, making Ferguson’s ceiling a bit volatile.

DEF/ST- 4 PTS on Yahoo, 1 PT on Sleeper

Without question, the most significant fantasy dud for the Cowboys was their defense. Their outing was defined by undisciplined football and mental errors. After the team had forced the Cardinals to punt, KaVontae Turpin had a 63-yard return that was ultimately wiped away by a penalty. The defense had many penalties in the first half that allowed Arizona to sustain drives. Their penalties at the end of the first half enabled Arizona to make a 62-yard field goal to close the second quarter.

The defense nearly tripled their point-per-game allowed average due to numerous fundamental breakdowns. At times, the defense was not tackling in space and taking poor angles to the football. A perfect example was Rondale Moore’s 45-yard touchdown run, the second 40-yard plus run allowed on the day.

Countless times, Arizona extended drives on third down predicated on the Cowboys’ lack of composure on the field. Dallas allowed Arizona to score on their first four drives of the game. The key missing factor in this game was the absence of sacks and forced turnovers. The Cowboys had caused seven turnovers entering the game and could not add to their season total.

Sunday was a stunningly bad performance from a defense that is viewed as head and shoulders better than their opponent. Yahoo Fantasy expected the Cowboys to score 22 points against the Cardinals and were far below that mark. Micah Parsons and the defense need to come out with their skulls on fire against another plus matchup facing the New England Patriots next Sunday.

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