The Week 17 TNF Showdown features the Cowboys vs the Titans. I’ll guide you through the important aspects to watch in each Thursday night matchup. I’m sure you’re all excited for this riveting game. Without further ado, let’s see what Dallas and Tennessee have in store for us as we kick off fantasy championship week!
Advanced stats and analytics will be utilized to identify favorable matchups and players to avoid. The purpose of this article is to paint a picture of how the teams play and match up with one another in less than 1,500 words.
As the season continues, less emphasis will be put on last season and early season’s stats. Vegas trends will also be implemented to help predict the game flow. I’ll conclude the article with a Cliff Notes section and give the readers my prediction for the game.
- Dallas is 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games on the road.
- Dallas is 16-8 ATS in their last 24 games as a favorite.
- The total has gone OVER in 8 of Dallas’s last 10 games following a win.
- Tennessee is 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games.
- Tennessee is 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 games as an underdog.
- The total has gone UNDER in 13 of Tennessee’s last 17 home games.
- Tony Pollard (Thigh, Questionable)
- Leighton Vander Esch (Neck, Questionable)
- Michah Parsons (Hand, Questionable)
- Jayron Kearse (Elbow/Back, Questionable)
- Demarcus Lawrence (Foot, Questionable)
- Ryan Tannehill (Ankle, OUT)
- Jeffery Simmons (Ankle, OUT)
- Amani Hooker (Knee, OUT)
- Derrick Henry (Hip, OUT)
- Bud Dupree (Pectoral, OUT)
- Zach Cunningham (Elbow, OUT)
- Nicholas Petit-Frere (Ankle, OUT)
- Dylan Cole (Ankle, OUT)
- Kristian Fulton (Groin, OUT)
The Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott is getting a lot of hate for his erraticism lately, as he’s thrown an interception in eight of 10 games this season, but he’s been an effective fantasy quarterback. His hyper-efficient 7.8 (No. 6) Yards per Attempt and 0.56 (No. 9) Fantasy Points per Dropback allows Prescott to rack up fantasy points on a shortage of pass attempts. He takes on a lot of risks and has folded under pressure, but overall Prescott is an accurate quarterback with the surrounding talent to terrorize defenses. He’s cruising managers through the fantasy playoffs, producing 25.6 (No. 5) fantasy points per game since week 15. He’s thrown for at least 250 passing yards and two touchdowns in seven of his nine games since returning from injury. This is a smash spot against a Titans defense that’s given up the No. 3 most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Absolutely epic Dak Prescott nuke pic.twitter.com/FuFctR7ap6
— JetPack Galileo (@JetPackGalileo) December 27, 2022
If you bought your ticket to the Tony Pollard Show back in August, you may find yourself reading this article with a championship on the line. Pollard is THE RB1 in fantasy points per game since Week 8 in standard scoring (RB2 in PPR). He’s topped 100 total yards in five of eight games in that stretch. Pollard’s got more juice than the energizer bunny, bursting through defenses with a 9.1-percent (No. 3) Breakaway Run Rate and 3.39 (No. 8) Yards Created per Touch. He’s given the offense a huge boost through the air, racking up 1.98 (No. 3) Yards per Route Run. He’ll face a pass-funnel Titans defense allowing the No. 4 most targets to running backs this season. While Tennessee has been solid against the running back, this is a perfect spot for Pollard to take back the spotlight.
TNF Prop No. 1: Dak Prescott UNDER 0.5 Interceptions
It’s no surprise that Ezekiel Elliott is not the same back he was “back in the day,” but he’s been a rock-solid option all year. He’s produced at least 13 fantasy points in each of his last eight games and has scored in every one of them. While it’s tough to hitch yourself to that wagon, Elliott ranks No. 2 among running backs with 11 goal-line carries, and the Cowboys have generated red-zone opportunities all season long. He’s an inefficient plodder who will see a positive Game Script against a struggling team. Fantasy Championships aren’t a beauty contest. Elliott is nearly guaranteed to have a usable week, which is incredibly valuable to lineups.
While he hasn’t lived up to his ADP in terms of points per game, CeeDee Lamb surely is living up to the expectations set before him as a player. Without Amari Cooper, he is soaking up opportunities, earning a 28.9-percent (No. 8) Target Share and 30.5-percent (No. 5) Target Rate. He’s putting defenders in the torture chamber as he’s chalking up a 48.5-percent (No. 19) Route Win Rate and 4.6 Yards After Catch per Reception. He the alpha for the Cowboys and the go-to target in the passing game. You’re starting Lamb with confidence tonight.
TNF Prop No. 2: Michael Gallup OVER 2.5 receptions
It’s tough to predict who the Cowboys’ WR2 is on any given week. One of Michael Gallup and Noah Brown has scored over 10 fantasy points in every game since Week 12. In Weeks 12, 13, and 16 it was Gallup, and in Weeks 14 and 15 it was Noah Brown. Gallup has out-targeted Brown on the season and has a surplus of red zone usage, tallying eight red zone targets in the last four games. Gallup plays almost exclusively out-wide where Tennessee has been hurt all year. Brown plays the slot, which the Titans have excelled at defending. The Titans also have given up the No. 2-most touchdowns to receivers this season. Because of this, Gallup has low-ceiling flex appeal while Brown is too risky to trot out.
An unsustainable touchdown rate in 2021 caused Dalton Schultz to go over-drafted this season. The assumption of an increased target volume following the departure of Amari Cooper proved to be a naive one. Even with a 22.8-percent Red Zone Target Share, his “touchdown luck” has swung to the other side as he’s scored only three times this season. While you’ve seen Arizona touted as the perfect streaming opponent for tight ends, it’s Tennessee who has given up the most targets and receiving yards to the position. The matchup is good, but the opportunity is likely to be sparse. I’d avoid streaming Schultz.
The Tennessee Titans
Disclaimer: I’m avoiding ALL Titans this week as they are hinting at resting all starters or at least pulling them early. I’ll highlight the main starters as if they’ll play in full as there are no playable backups.
If you’ve found yourself in a position where you have to ponder starting Malik Willis… let’s just say I’m praying for you. Willis notched a career-high 12 fantasy points against the Texans, wilting for 99 scoreless passing yards and two interceptions. His saving grace was found in the run game where he did manage to gain 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Facing the No. 2-best defense in terms of pass DVOA, this is the production you’ll have to rely on. The Cowboys have only seen two dual-threat quarterbacks all season. They held Jalen Hurts in check but allowed 60 yards and a score to Justin Fields. He’s one of the last options I’d consider for the position but has the capability to give you 15 points if you absolutely have to start him.
Malik Willis FIRST NFL TD 👀🔥 pic.twitter.com/XwhF5pA073
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) December 24, 2022
Those who drafted King Henry have gone from riches to rags in the blink of an eye. Henry suffered a hip injury, and the Titans have no motivation to make him play through it. No matter what the result is tonight, the AFC South comes down to Week 18. Even if the starters are all active, it’s very possible they’re pulled as soon as the game becomes out of reach. He’s a risky play even if he’s active, but I expect him to sit.
With Dontrell Hilliard on IR, Hassan Haskins will step into the lead-back spot in a bad matchup. The rookie possesses an intriguing college metrics profile but hasn’t had much opportunity to showcase his skills. An offense led by a rookie QB, rookie RB, and rookie WR is not generally a fantasy-friendly one, especially when facing an opponent like Dallas. Haskins is likely a mid-to-low RB3 based purely on the expected opportunity, but he’s a desperation play for championship squads.
TNF Guest Prop No. 1: “Julius Chesnut Anytime Touchdown Scorer” – Ahaan Rungta (Featured on Rotounderworld’s The Juice)
Speaking of rookies, Treylon Burks is the Titans leading receiver since Week 11. That’s not saying very much as he’s averaged just 51.5 receiving yards and 11.5 fantasy points in that span. His struggle to produce, it seems, may be more on the Titans’ offense than Burks as an individual. He currently boasts a 52.2-percent (No. 12) Route Win Rate and a mildly efficient 2.16 (No. 24) Yards per Route Run. Under normal circumstances, you’re starting Burks against a defense allowing the most touchdowns to wide receivers. With Willis at the helm, you’re relying on a touchdown to even produce a usable week. That type of matchup profile is best kept away from your starting lineup.
One player who may be immune to the sitting of starters is Chig Okonkwo mainly since he’s listed as Austin Hooper‘s backup. Despite the backup designation, he’s the preferred fantasy option of the two. Sunday’s outing against the Texans broke a four-game streak of five-plus targets and a three-game streak of 10-plus fantasy points. His 31.7-percent (No. 2) Target Rate and his incredible athletic profile are allowing him to generate 3.2 (No. 1) Yards per Route Run and 7.96 Yards After Catch per Reception. Okonkwo is the real deal, and if the Titans sit starters, it will likely lead to no Hooper and a higher Target Share for the rookie. In redraft, I’m choosing a different streaming candidate, but I’ll be slotting Okonkwo into any DFS lineups I make.
TNF Guest Prop No. 2: “Treylon Burks OVER 21.5 receiving yards” – Aaron Stewart (Featured on Seth Diewold’s Writer’s Roundtable)
Having only five receivers rostered, one of Tennessee’s starting receivers is likely going to play the entire game (barring any last-minute practice squad call-ups). That guy is likely Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. Burks has struggled with injuries, and Robert Woods is an aging veteran. No matter the situation, you can’t start Westbrook-Ikhine in seasonal leagues. However, this tidbit plays heavily into DFS lineups. He’s drawn a red zone target in five of his last seven games and could be locked onto by whichever quarterback is leading the offense. If Tennessee’s backups are in, it’s highly unlikely Trevon Diggs will be on the field.
- Start the main Cowboys players unless Titans rest all starters. Try to make any possible contingency plans you can.
- Michael Gallup is a solid DFS option given his matchup and scoring potential.
- Sit every Titan no matter what.
- Chig Okonkwo is a DFS play if Austin Hooper sits.
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine will likely suit up for most of the game no matter what.
As badly as I don’t want to lay any stake on the game lines, I will persist. The Cowboys are rightfully 12.5 point favorites, and it’s hard to consider a reality where they don’t cover that number. Tennessee will be without Derrick Henry, so even if every other starter plays, they have nothing to compete with against Dallas. The Cowboys are going to get up early, the game will get ugly, then both teams will pack it in a little after halftime. I do not like this line to actually play, so place any bets with extreme caution, but my pick is for the Cowboys to cover the spread.
The point total is set at 39.5 points. The Titans are going to struggle to score 10 points, so we’re relying on the Cowboys to lay a beating down on the Titans for this over to hit. It’s the toughest to predict point totals when there exists a game script where starters will likely be pulled at some point. The Cowboys will score a few times but will grind the clock in the second half. I do not expect there to be much scoring overall and will take the under tonight. Once again, this is a line I would play with extreme caution. This is not a game script that I would normally bet on.
- Spread: 8-10
- Total: 10-8
- Props: 22-11
- Guest Props: 2-1
Prediction: Cowboys 27-10