Monday Night Football Preview
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
Line: Cowboys -2.5 | Over/Under 46
In a battle of two 1-1 teams, the Dallas Cowboys travel to the desert to take on their former NFC East rivals the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football in Week 3. The Cowboys hold a dominant 55-32-1 record over the Cardinals, although they have lost the last four meetings between the two teams. They last won in Arizona in Week 10 of the 2006 season, when Patrick Crayton and Terrell Owens combined for 10 catches, 200 yards and two scores as the Tony Romo led Cowboys won 27-10. However, this is a new Cowboys team, one with a very powerful offense. The Cowboys got a wake-up call last week against the Broncos and should look to bounce back offensively in the primetime time slot against a banged up Cardinals team. Cowboys fans may be looking to take advantage of some free bets if this is the case, such as those available on sites like Oddshecker, especially considering they’re only favored by 2.5 points in this contest. This game should be a good one for prop bets and fantasy performances.
The Cardinals have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to the opposing quarterbacks so far in 2017, although most of these were given up in Week 1 when Matt Stafford of the Lions dropped 292 yards and four touchdowns on them. They restricted Colts signal caller Jacoby Brissett to just 216 yards last week. Dak Prescott only threw four interceptions during his rookie campaign last year, but through two weeks of this season, he already has two. He is still the QB11 through two weeks, and while safe to start him it would be wise to temper expectations.
Carson Palmer, despite two favorable matchups on paper at least to start this season, has been something of a disappointment. He has just two touchdown passes against four interceptions so far and is down at QB19 in fantasy points. The Cowboys have, by coincidence, allowed four touchdowns against two interceptions so far in 2017. All four of the touchdowns came against the Broncos and Trevor Siemian in Week 2. Palmer is not a recommended start this week.
Prior to Week 2, the fewest rushing attempts that Ezekiel Elliott has managed in a game in his NFL career was 12, while smallest yards total was 51. Against the Broncos, he carried nine times for just eight yards. The Cardinals have allowed the 11th fewest fantasy points to RBs, but both of their opponents so far are more inclined towards passing than running. Elliott can be started with confidence this week.
At the start of the season, the Cardinals and David Johnson were a fantasy option in any and all matchups. With Johnson on the sidelines, it is harder to support the Cardinals ground game with any degree of confidence. Against the Colts last week, the trio of Chris Johnson, Kerwyn Williams, and Andre Ellington combined for 22 carries for just 77 yards. The Cowboys have allowed an average of 28.8 fantasy points per game to RBs through two weeks, the 6th most in the NFL, but with no real lead back in this stable all should be ignored this week outside of the deepest leagues.
Dez Bryant has been targeted 25 times in two games so far but has just nine catches for 102 yards and a score. Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams have combined for 17 catches and 150 yards, but have yet to find the end zone. The Cardinals have allowed the 12th most fantasy points per game, but only Bryant should be expected to produce for fantasy owners this week. Expect a high-end WR2 type day for Bryant.
The struggles of Carson Palmer has directly impacted the wide receivers of the Cardinals, with only speedster J.J. Nelson producing anything through two games. He had ten catches from his 13 total targets, for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald has caught just nine of his 19 targets, and his 95 yards are just 22 more than Jaron Brown has managed on five fewer catches. Nelson, despite a warm start to the season, is still a risky boom or bust play, while one would hope that the volume would return for Fitzgerald. However, until it does, much like the running backs the wide receiving corps is not fertile fantasy ground.
As everyone predicted at the start of the season, Jason Witten is the overall TE1 in fantasy points through Week 2. Incredible, isn’t it? Witten has 17 catches from 22 targets for 156 yards and two touchdowns so far. The Cardinals were a tough out for tight ends in 2016, but they have allowed the 18th most fantasy points to the position in 2017. If you have Witten as your fantasy tight end, you don’t have a problem this week.
Tight end is a position that has long held little appeal for Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, and in the early stages of this season, there are few indicators that this will be changing anytime soon. The trio of Jermaine Gresham, Troy Niklas, and Ifeanyi Momah have just nine targets so far, which has been converted into five catches. You do not need to consider any of these players this week, or any week going forward.
Good luck and enjoy the game!
Neil’s been playing fantasy football for ten years, including a victory in 2014 in a league arranged by NFL.com Fantasy expert Adam Rank. Huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, and follows the fortunes of the England cricket team, usually with his head in his hands for both. Neil lives with his fiancé Kate and their daughter Zoe. He is an atrocious Words with Friends player.