San Francisco 49ers
The Cowboys are a team that has been depleted along the defensive line. Due to suspensions or injuries, the following players have yet to see NFL action this season: Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Rolando McClain, and Jaylon smith. What this has done is create opportunities against the run for Dallas’ opponents. The Giants, Redskins, and Bears (none of which are particularly talented at the running back position) managed 4.7, 4.8, and 4.9 yards per carry respectively against the Cowboys in weeks 1 through 3. However, the Cowboys offensive philosophy calls for running the ball behind their highly touted offensive line so they can control the time of possession. This generally leads to smaller stat-lines for opposing offenses, in particular running backs who rely on heavy volume. To counter this, the 49ers will run more plays on Sunday than the Cowboys have seen in a game yet. Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense should allow Carlos Hyde to get the volume he needs to exploit the inefficient Cowboys run defense. Start Hyde this week as he is the 49ers best hope for offensive production.
The Cowboys play a defensive scheme that seeks to limit the big-plays from happening. Torrey Smith is a bad play this week, and here is why: The Cowboy’s safeties and cornerbacks keep everything in front of them, which limits the upside of big-play threats against this team. Players like DeSean Jackson, (3 catches, 40 yards) Odell Beckham Jr. (4 catches, 73 yards) and Alshon Jeffery (5 catches, 70 yards) have not had explosive games like we are used to seeing from these players due to this scheme. However, this does leave the short throws open to be taken advantage of. Slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs out of the backfield thrive against the Cowboys. Vance McDonald is a sneaky play this week, but due to the emergence of other tight ends, I would only recommend starting him in deeper leagues. Shaun Draughn and Jeremy Kerley are also a what-the-heck flex plays for deeper leagues hoping to exploit the underneath weaknesses of Dallas. 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert should be left on the waiver wire, as he is only worth considering in A+ matchups.
Players to start for the 49ers:
- Carlos Hyde
- Vance McDonald (Deep Leagues)
- Shaun Draughn (Deep league flex)
- Jeremy Kerley (Deep league flex)
Players to sit for the 49ers:
- Torrey Smith
- Blaine Gabbert
- Can Carlos Hyde expose this average defense?
The 49ers were sitting pretty after 1 week. Then weeks 2 and 3 happened. Holding Todd Gurley to 47 yards on 17 carries isn’t as impressive when you factor in that Gurley is the only weapon in that offense. Against the Panthers, the 49ers let backup running back Fozzy Whittaker gain 100 yards on 16 carries, and then allowed 106 yards on 20 carries to Christine Michael. Ezekiel Elliott shouldn’t have a problem putting up points against this squad, and he is a surefire RB1 this week.
The Niners starting safeties, and converted cornerback Jimmie Ward all rate fairly will in Pro Football Focus, but they couldn’t stop Cam Newton from racking up 353 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air in week 2. The Panthers high scoring offense can do this to good defenses, so this doesn’t say much.
With Dex Bryant out, QB Dak Prescott will look for Cole Beasley and Jason Witten often. Beasley has been Dak Prescott’s best friend in the passing game through 3 weeks, and despite a matchup with Ward, Beasley should still catch enough balls to warrant a flex play in PPR. Jason Witten has been getting similar attention to what Beasley has been receiving. He is a borderline TE1/TE2. Dak is a low-end QB1 because of his rushing ability and propensity to limit turnovers.
Players to start for the Cowboys:
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Cole Beasley (WR2/flex)
- Dak Prescott (Low-end QB1)
- Jason Witten (borderline TE1/TE2)
Players to sit for the Cowboys:
- Can the 49ers make their talent work in their favor?