Week 4 Rankings & Game Flowbotics
Three weeks is enough time to develop a solid feel for most NFL teams and their fantasy players, but there are plenty of situations where we should need to make assumptions, and we must remain willing to question those assumptions. For example, are the Dallas Cowboys a true juggernaut? All signs point to yes on the Magic 8-Ball, but the ‘Boys have faced the softest schedule imaginable through three games (vs. NYG, at WAS, vs. MIA). Their matchup this week against the Saints projects to be more competitive, but how much more? Let’s dig into the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet and see how Dallas stacks up against New Orleans:
The Cowboys rank second in total DVOA, while the Saints rank 21st. That’s a big discrepancy, but weighted DVOA closes the gap with the Cowboys at third and the Saints at eighth. However, because the weighted values factor in preseason projections with Drew Brees, I’m more inclined to believe the raw DVOA chasm is more indicative of how these teams match up. Advantage: Dallas.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys will pit DVOA’s second-best passing offense against a Saints passing defense ranked 25th. New Orleans’ pass rush ranks ninth in Adjusted Sack Rate, but that strength is mitigated by Dallas having the best offensive line in the league. Those blockers in the trenches for Dallas have an even better matchup in the running game, where they rank third in Adjusted Line Yards while the Saint’s defensive line ranks 17th. In rushing DVOA overall, the Cowboy’s offense ranks first and the Saints defense ranks 29th. If all these stats hold true on Sunday, Dallas should have no trouble moving the ball and scoring in the Superdome.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints’ offense is in a decent spot. The 27th-ranked pass rush from Dallas will have difficulty getting to Teddy Bridgewater through New Orleans’ sixth-ranked O-line. The Big Easy faces a tougher test on the ground, where they rank 23rd in rushing offense DVOA against Dallas’ seventh-ranked rushing defense. But are you willing to bet against Alvin Kamara? I’m not.
While home field advantage might give some hope to Saints fans, the stats point to Dallas being an elite team while New Orleans is more middle-of-the-pack, and I’m inclined to believe the Cowboys will cover the spread of 2.5 points. But as noted above, all bets are off if the stats have been warped by Dallas’ ease of schedule to this point. Regardless, both teams should be able to generate offense, so some semblance of a shootout is likely. On that note, taking the over on 47 points seems like a solid bet, and the key offensive players for both teams are fine plays in fantasy. To see how they compare to the rest of the players on the slate, check out my Week 4 rankings below.