Divisional Round Showdown: Cowboys vs. 49ers

by Aaron Stewart · Analytics & Advanced Metrics

This is Divisional Round Showdown: Cowboys vs 49ers! Fantasy football is over, but the NFL Playoffs bring us the best matchups of the 2022 NFL season. With DFS, Player Props, and more still going on, there is a reason to still follow the playoff matchups even if your team is eliminated from playoff contention. Dallas and San Francisco took care of business in the Wild Card and boast two of the best defenses in the NFL. Who will win in a rematch of last year’s Wild Card matchup?


The Dallas Cowboys are above-average in Offensive Weighted DVOA according to Football Outsiders. They’re a balanced offense with a slight edge to their rushing offense. On defense, the Cowboys are No. 6 in Defense Weighted DVOA. As shown last week, they have multiple ways of beating opponents utilizing their passing game weapons and strong defense to dominate Tampa Bay.

Dak Prescott

Last week, Dak Prescott went against a defense that allowed the No. 2-most passing touchdowns and had the No. 6-fewest interceptions. This week, it’s reversed. The San Francisco 49ers have the No. 2-most interceptions against quarterbacks this season.

The 49ers’ defense allows the No. 5-lowest Adjusted Yards Per Attempt according to Pro Football Reference. They also have a Pressure Rate of 22.8-percent, the No. 11-highest among defenses.

Prescott will certainly struggle against these strengths of the 49ers. He was No. 19 in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (6.4) and No. 25 in Pressured Completion Percentage (35.2-percent). The path to success is the Red Zone again. As discussed last week, Prescott is the most accurate passer in the red zone, and the 49ers are below average in red zone conversions.

Cowboys Running Backs

The 49ers have THE most dominant run defense in the NFL, allowing a league-low 1,014 rushing yards and under 3.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Similar to Tampa Bay last week, the 49ers allow a minuscule 6.2 yards per reception to running backs.

Last week, I faded Tony Pollard in DFS and took the under on his receiving yard prop (22.5 yards). Tony Pollard is the No. 5-most expensive player on DraftKings’ Captain Showdown Mode at $8400. I will once again FADE Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott in DFS against the elite run defense of the 49ers.

Cowboys Pass Catchers

Last week, I successfully called a big game from Dalton Schultz. I am not expecting a repeat performance this week from Schultz. The 49ers are allowing the No. 6-fewest fantasy points to tight ends and only three defenses allowed fewer receiving yards AND touchdowns than the 49ers.

CeeDee Lamb Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

There is one crack in the armor of the 49ers’ impregnable defense: wide receiver production. The 49ers allow the No. 6-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including 16 (No. 7) receiving touchdowns to the position. CeeDee Lamb and his 439 (No. 6) Slot Snaps will likely avoid seeing much of Charvarius Ward and will be a DFS lock this week.

A deep, cheap play in DFS is T.Y. Hilton ($2800 on Showdown). In his last three games, he’s played at least 25-percent of the snaps and seen 4+ targets in EACH game. He’s had over 50 Air Yards in all four games this season, and the 49ers’ defense has allowed the No. 8-most completed Air Yards.


The San Francisco 49ers are the No. 2 team in Offensive Weighted DVOA according to Football Outsiders. Their Rush DVOA is above-average, while their Pass DVOA is surprisingly No. 3 in the NFL. On defense, the 49ers are No. 2 in Defense Weighted DVOA, finishing in the top-5 in both Pass and Run Defense DVOA.

Brock Purdy

Brock Purdy‘s impressive Cinderella story is going to come to an end. From Week 14 to Week 18, Purdy was a top-10 fantasy quarterback, but he faced defenses in the top half of fantasy points allowed per game to quarterbacks. The Cowboys are right outside the top 10 in the fewest fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Simply put, Purdy hasn’t played a defense remotely close to Dallas’ caliber.

Purdy’s 16 (No. 21) Money Throws to 17 (No. 34) Danger Plays ratio is concerning since the Cowboys’ defense is on a seven-game streak of recording an interception in a game. Can Purdy handle the Cowboys’ 25.2-percent (No. 3) QB Pressure Rate on defense? He’s yet to face a defense in the top 10 in that category.

49ers Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey has been a top-12 RB in fantasy in 12 of 17 games this season. Is there a trend in the five games that he did NOT finish top-12? Well, in one game he played under 30-percent of the snaps. A second game was back in Week 1 against the Browns.

The final three games were against teams in the bottom five in receiving yards allowed to running backs. The Cowboys are slightly behind those teams, allowing 463 receiving yards (No. 8-fewest) to running backs. Because of his expensive price tag in DFS, pivoting off McCaffrey might be the contrarian play to win a big tournament.

49ers Pass Catchers

It’s worth repeating from last week that no defense has allowed MORE receiving touchdowns to wide receivers than the Dallas Cowboys (22), and the Cowboys have only allowed one receiving touchdown to tight ends. The Cowboys played Dallas Goedert and T.J. Hockenson twice each (Hockenson played the Cowboys as a Lion and a Viking). In those four games, the Cowboys allowed fewer than 10 fantasy points in EACH game. Sorry, George Kittle. You’re a fade in DFS this week.

Deebo Samuel Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Brandon Aiyuk should see more Trevon Diggs than teammate Deebo Samuel this week. Because we’re fading Kittle, playing BOTH Aiyuk and Samuel is acceptable in DFS. Because of the Cowboys’ pass rush, Samuel is the better fantasy option of the two thanks to his 4.2 (No. 102) Average Target Distance.

DraftKings PLAYS – Showdown Captain Mode

CeeDee Lamb – $10,400

Deebo Samuel – $7,200

Cowboys DST – $4,000

DraftKings FADES – Showdown Captain Mode

Tony Pollard – $8,400

George Kittle – $7,600

Dalton Schultz – $5,600

Score Prediction: Cowboys 24, 49ers 16

The Cowboys went nearly three quarters before allowing Tampa Bay to score. Their defense is healthy now and capable of disrupting San Francisco’s offensive flow. Playing from behind is new territory for Brock Purdy and the 49ers, leading to another impressive road win for the Cowboys in the 2022 playoffs.