Monday Night Football
Dallas @ Washington
Their season circling the drain following Tony Romo's year-ending collarbone re-fracture, the Cowboys visit the NFC East-leading Redskins as 4.5-point dogs in a game with a 42-point total. Dallas' team total is below 19 points. ... The Cowboys' strongest fantasy play is Darren McFadden, who will continue to be leaned on heavily with Matt Cassel at quarterback for the rest of the year. Having logged 20-plus touches in five of Dallas' last six games, McFadden will take on a Redskins run defense that ranks 21st in Football Outsiders' DVOA and gives up 4.58 yards per carry to running backs. McFadden is a high-floor RB2 whose ceiling is raised by this plus draw. ... Cassel has made four starts this season, notching weekly fantasy finishes of QB22, QB26, QB6, and QB27. I'm going to guess his top-six week was an outlier against a truly embarrassing Eagles defense. Cassel is a low-talent game manager with no fantasy appeal.
Cassel's target distribution with Dez Bryant in the lineup this year: Dez 28; Jason Witten 20; Cole Beasley 17; McFadden 16; Terrance Williams 15. ... Sure to remain a roller coaster post-Romo, Bryant's stat lines in Cassel's starts are 2-12-0, 5-104-1, and 5-45-0. (He missed one with a foot injury.) Working in Dez's favor is a matchup with a Redskins defense yielding the fifth most fantasy points to wide receivers. Working against him is suspect health and a severe quarterback downgrade. On Monday night, expect Bryant to be shadowed by Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland, who often traveled with Odell Beckham last week. ... Witten's stats with Cassel at quarterback are 6-73-0, 2-16-0, 6-43-0, and 5-42-0. Scoreless since Week 1, Witten lacks any hint of upside as a dad-running tight end in a low-scoring offense. ... Situational slot man Beasley has gone 0-0, 0-0, 9-112-2, and 1-8-0 in Cassel's starts. Cassel did hit Beasley for a two-yard TD in garbage time on Thanksgiving, after Romo left the game. Low-volume role players Beasley and Williams are safe to ignore.
Favored by four at home, the Redskins' team total is a shade above 23 points. ... Kirk Cousins has been a usable fantasy quarterback in home games this season, posting weekly finishes of QB11, QB1, QB1, QB5, QB27, and QB29 in Washington compared to QB24, QB25, QB27, QB23, and QB20 on the road. Cousins' TD-to-INT ratio at home is 11:2 with a 74.8% completion rate versus 5:8 and 61.9% in away games. As Dallas' ability to execute its keepaway-based offense is diminished with Cassel under center, Cousins makes for a viable streamer and belongs in two-QB-league lineups. ... 26th in run-defense DVOA, the Cowboys pose an above-average matchup for enemy running backs, but Alfred Morris (3.54 YPC, 0 TDs) has proven ineffective in Washington's new power-oriented run scheme, while fumble-prone rookie Matt Jones' playing time has been cut. Chris Thompson suffered a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during last week's win over the Giants and may not be needed if the Redskins play with a lead.
Cousins' target distribution since DeSean Jackson returned from his early-season hamstring tear: Jordan Reed 28; D-Jax 23; Pierre Garcon 20; Jamison Crowder 18; Thompson 10; Jones 9; Derek Carrier 7; Morris 4. ... Second in PPR points per game behind only Rob Gronkowski among tight ends, Reed gets a tough matchup with a Dallas defense that surrenders the tenth fewest fantasy points to tight ends and will be strengthened in tight end coverage with SPARQ freak Byron Jones returning to safety, where he's much more likely to match up with Reed. Jones played left cornerback while Morris Claiborne was out with a hamstring injury. Claiborne is back this week and will primarily draw Garcon. ... Playing all over the formation, Jackson will get a near-equal number of chances against Claiborne, burnable slot CB Tyler Patmon, and up-and-down LCB Brandon Carr. With stat lines of 5-87-1 and 2-66-1 in his last two games, Jackson is a boom-bust WR2 play versus Dallas. Jackson's 63-yard touchdown in last Sunday's win over the Giants occurred on a designed first-down play-action pass where D-Jax dusted slot CB Jayron Hosley and FS Brandon Meriweather. ... Crowder and Garcon have both taken clear backseats since Jackson got healthy four games ago. Garcon's receiving lines are 4-70-0, 2-10-0, 3-43-0, and 3-35-0 during that stretch. He's devolved into a WR4/5.
Score Prediction: Redskins 23, Cowboys 17