Sorry for getting the NFL Hot Sheet out a little later than usual for Week 13. However, with us past all the byes and my attempt to change up the format a little bit it has taken me longer to write than normal this week. The format changes are in an attempt to make it a little more readable by breaking things up into separate chunks for Injuries, Running Game (with weekly rank), Passing Game (with weekly rank), Top Targets and my favorite new feature, TD Predictions. Give it a look and let me know any feedback you have on the new format and predictions on Twitter @Rotopilot.
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Note: DVOA referenced in this article stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average which is a metric from FootballOutsiders.com.
So, let’s get right to the numbers and analysis…
New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys
|New Orleans Saints||55||54||36||29||54||55||52||-7|
- Tre’Quan Smith will play
Pace/Vegas: Saints have won 10 straight games and have scored at least 30 points in five straight games. Saints as a touchdown favorite on the road suggest they will be more run-heavy than normal.
Running Game (14th): Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will have their typical split of the backfield carries. The Cowboys rank 8th DVOA against the run and have allowed just 3.64 YPC (5th) to opposing RBs on the season but 4.01 YPC (14th) over the last five weeks. A battle of strengths with a good rush offense against a solid rush defense. Look for Kamara and Ingram to produce slightly below their typical level of production.
Passing Game (9th): Drew Brees will look to continue his sensational season against a Cowboys pass defense that ranks 20th DVOA and has allowed 290 yards (25th) per game over the last five weeks. Brees is typically not as productive on the road as he is at home, however.
Top Targets: Look for the Saints to go back to their big guns after spreading the wealth on Thanksgiving. Michael Thomas should continue to dominate targets with the best individual matchup of the WRs. Kamara should fare well against a Cowboys defense that ranks 24th DVOA against pass-catching backs.
- Drew Brees to Michael Thomas
- Drew Brees to Dan Arnold
- Alvin Kamara rushing TD
Pace/Vegas: Cowboys have won three straight games. They will look to slow the game down with the running game to keep the Saints offense off the field but if they fall behind as the Vegas line suspects they could need to pass more often than usual.
Running Game (26th): The running game behind Ezekiel Elliott is their strength but the Saints bring in the 3rd DVOA ranked run defense that has allowed just 3.24 YPC (1st) this season. They have been a little more forgiving recently allowing 4.0 YPC (13th) over the last five weeks and give up a rushing score in about half of their games. Yards will be hard to come by for Elliott, but he should find the end zone.
Passing Game (10th): Dak Prescott’s production will likely depend on game flow. If they fall behind they could take advantage of the Saints 21st DVOA ranked pass defense that has surrendered a bunch of yardage this season with 303 per game (31st), including 296 per game (26th) over the last five weeks.
Top Targets: The Cowboys top targets should be fairly condensed. Elliott has been targeted at least five times in five straight weeks and faces the 28th DVOA ranked defense against pass-catching backs. Amari Cooper is coming off a huge game and gets a plus matchup, while Cole Beasley could be the surprise this week with the best individual matchup working out of the slot.
- Ezekiel Elliott rushing
- Dak Prescott to Cole Beasley
- Alvin Kamara (*)
- Michael Thomas (*)
- Ezekiel Elliott (*)
- Amari Cooper (*)
- Cole Beasley (**)