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Daily Fantasy Week 13: Blueprint for Cowboys-Saints

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By Jeff Hicks, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo's single-game offering has a roster construction of one "Superstar" that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the "Superstar" salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

A healthy(er) Dallas Cowboys team travels to New Orleans to take on a potentially healthier Saints squad.

It is vital to remember that single-game slates are not simply a “max salary, play as many big names as possible, and submit” format, especially in larger tournament fields. We need to identify players that can be pieces in their offense’s success, whether in the lead or trailing, as well as the players that could be focal points in a neutral game script. The ability to then take those players and identify which will succeed in the single-game format will put us in a better position to succeed as daily fantasy players.

Vegas Total and Spread

Dallas is 4.5-point road favorites with an Over/Under of 47.5 points. The Cowboys have an implied team total of 26 points, while the Saints have an implied team total of 21.5 points.

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

Both teams have questions about how their offenses will be executed Thursday. Ezekiel Elliott ($24) may or may not have his workload altered depending on who you ask, while the Saints turn to Taysom Hill ($20). Elliott and Hill have had injuries slow their effectiveness in 2021.

The Cowboys lost a shootout in Week 12 and were a field goal away from overtime despite playing without Amari Cooper ($27) and CeeDee Lamb ($28). Both are back and get the 28th-ranked Saints defense ($16) against wide receivers according to 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA). Dak Prescott ($35) will be playing behind a healthier Cowboys offensive line and against a Saints defensive line missing Marcus Davenport and Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Those losses also help Elliott and teammate Tony Pollard ($21) because the Saints' defense is a pass funnel, meaning it is easier to pass on the Saints than run. Missing two of your better linemen makes running the ball easier. Since Prescott returned from injury, the Cowboys have run at least 62 plays each week and have run the ball over 20 times in each contest. It is safe to expect the Cowboys to touch 70-plus plays on offense because it is one of the best in the NFL and because the Saints' offense has struggled.

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Alvin Kamara will miss his fourth consecutive game because of a knee injury. Thankfully for the Saints, Mark Ingram ($15) will be back after missing Thanksgiving’s loss to Buffalo. It may not matter with the Saints also missing their starting tackles once again. In Week 12 without Kamara and Ingram, the Saints ran the ball 25 times for 44 yards. Much like the Saints, the Cowboys' defense ($18) is a pass funnel, so any success on the ground with Hill, Ingram, and friends is not expected, especially one week after Josh Jacobs uncharacteristically battered the Cowboys run defense.

Mark Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Saints
It could be tough sledding for Mark Ingram against the Cowboys. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

That puts a lot of pressure on Hill and the Saints' passing offense. Despite his jack-of-all-trades role with New Orleans, he is not as bad a passer as one would think considering he could not top Trevor Siemian ($26) on the depth chart. His yards per attempt in for starts in 2020 were 10.13, 4.88, 6.27, and 7.66. Not excellent, but not awful considering how he is used. Hill’s targets are an issue, though. Tre'Quan Smith ($13), Deonte Harris ($13), and Marquez Callaway ($13) all have nice qualities, but none are good enough to be a lead pass catcher.

If Hill is caught holding the ball too long with a patchwork o-line, it could be a long night one week after being embarrassed on national television.

Close, low-scoring game

Dak Prescott

Ezekiel Elliott

Tony Pollard

CeeDee Lamb

Cowboys defense

Taysom Hill

Mark Ingram

Saints defense

Close, high-scoring game

Dak Prescott

Ezekiel Elliott

Tony Pollard

Amari Cooper

CeeDee Lamb

Michael Gallup

Dalton Schultz

Taysom Hill

Mark Ingram

Tre'Quan Smith

Deonte Harris

Marquez Callaway

Blowout for home team

Taysom Hill

Mark Ingram

Tre’Quan Smith

Deonte Harris

Marquez Callaway

Saints defense

Dak Prescott

Tony Pollard

CeeDee Lamb

Amari Cooper

Blowout for road team

Dak Prescott

Tony Pollard

CeeDee Lamb

Amari Cooper

Michael Gallup

Dalton Schultz

Cowboys defense

Taysom Hill

Deonte Harris

Ty Montgomery

Cheap/Unique Stacking Option

Traditional stacks such as QB/WR1 or WR2, QB/TE, and RB/DEF are stacks seen used in winning lineups. The obvious choice is not always the winning choice. Below is a cheap stack with at least one unique quality that could break the slate.

Taysom Hill ($20), Tony Pollard ($21), and Cowboys Defense ($18)

Fading Zeke could be a mistake, but Pollard is more explosive and is also utilized on kick-off returns. Will Pollard return another kick-off for a score this week? Probably not, but with a secure role in a high-powered offense the possibility is a nice sweetener. Hill’s upside is tied to his feet and I expect him to be running, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) returning from injury and Micah Parsons looking like an All-Pro linebacker. The Cowboys' defense will get home and score enough points to offset Hill’s rushing production.

[Visit 4for4, where 92% of subscribers made the playoffs, for more]

Low-Salary Volatile Plays

Ty Montgomery ($10)

Tony Jones Jr. ($10) was awful in Week 12 as the lead back, which meant more overall work for Montgomery. Monty was the pass-catching back on Thanksgiving and saw seven targets in a negative game script. Nothing about the Saints' offense leads me to believe they will be leading much tonight.

Juwan Johnson ($11)

Nick Vannett ($10) is more likely to be asked to block than Johnson, a former wideout. If that is the case, Johnson has a chance of finding the end zone like Vannett did in Week 12. Vannett caught the only target thrown to tight ends last week for a score and played three fewer snaps than Johnson.

Deonte Harris ($13)

All Saints wideouts are volatile and salaried the same, so picking the correct one to roster could be the difference between being out of the money and seeing green. Harris has the lowest average depth of target (aDOT) among the Saints receiving corps and while the others have more boom in their scoring outcomes, Harris may be the desperation dump-off target Hill needs since he will see his fair share of pressure.

Superstar Picks

Dak Prescott ($35)

Prescott has all of his top wideouts, a healthy offensive line, and two capable pass-catching backs.

CeeDee Lamb ($28)

It is unknown if Amari Cooper is 100% past his COVID-19 symptoms and he should see a fair amount of Marshon Lattimore as an outside receiver. Lamb is Dallas’ best receiver and was on the verge of playing Week 12. He has been practicing in full this week, a great sign for his availability to cause havoc downfield.

Taysom Hill ($20)

Hill’s rushing floor and red zone role make him the most valuable Saints player active tonight. Outside of Mark Ingram, it is difficult to trust any Saints players besides Hill.

Dalton Schultz ($15)

Schultz has the most difficult passing matchup as a tight end, but if Cooper ends up being limited look for Schultz to own the middle of the field. New Orleans is 12th in aFPA against tight ends but allowed Dawson Knox to get two touchdowns in Week 12. Dallas has an excellent offense and it is difficult to account for each skill position player every play.

Longer Shot Superstar Options

Tre’Quan Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Mark Ingram, and Marquez Callaway

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

Jeff has played fantasy sports since 2001. He has covered fantasy and traditional sports at the pro, semi-pro, and amateur level for the better part of a decade. Born in Illinois and currently living where James Robinson made a name for himself in college, Jeff enjoys running (establish it), followed by doing absolutely nothing.

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