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Thursday Night Showdown: Game flow, rankings, sleepers

We take you through the best strategy to win your TNF DraftKings Showdown matchup.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott reacts as he walks off the field after a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.  Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In single game DFS slates, the key is often on how accurately you can predict game flow. Will one team get up quickly and force the other team to play from behind? Will it be close throughout, keeping both teams at their average run/pass ratio? We need to think big picture to help us identify how teams will game plan and then what they will do if that game plan goes awry.

After projecting the big picture, we can then move into which players are best suited to take advantage and if their salaries work well in building a lineup.

This Thursday, we dive into the Cowboys at Bears.

Plays per game

Bears: 61.3 (25th), Last 3: 68.3 (5th)
Cowboys: 66.2 (7th), Last 3: 67.3 (8th)

Run/pass Ratio

Bears: 23.1 run, 35.4 pass, Last 3: 24.3, 42
Cowboys: 27.5 run, 37.3 pass, Last 3: 23, 42.7

Points scored/allowed

Bears: 17.7 scored, 17.3 allowed, Last 3: 16.7, 17
Cowboys: 25.8 scored, 19.7 allowed, Last 3: 19.7, 22

Run/pass defense DVOA rankings

Bears: Run 12th, Pass 8th
Cowboys: Run 17th, Pass 23rd

Odds

Dallas favored -3, over/under 43

Game Flow

The Cowboys are favored on the road, and given their offensive pieces; the odds are in their favor due to their offense. Their offense is inconsistent, but on average, they’re better than most of the league. Dallas runs more plays than the Bears, giving them more rushing and passing attempts per game, but we have seen the Bears upping their pace of late, including their passing attempts. That could fit right in with what they’ll need to do against Dallas if they trail early.

We can’t expect Dallas to get a big lead and roll, as the Bears defense, though not as good as last year, is still good. Dallas getting a lead and the Bears keeping it close would be the most likely scenario.

The Cowboys haven’t run as much with Ezekiel Elliott of late, as their season average is 27.5 attempts, but they’re down to 23 attempts over their last three. That could change this week, as Jason Garrett is in the hot seat, and the team has lost two in a row. Returning to the run on the road against a team that doesn’t score big points, will likely be the plan.

The Bears have won two in a row, and Trubisky has played better. They aren’t winning games by feeding David Montgomery, and against a good offense like Dallas, they should look to throw the ball, which has happened on average 42 times a game over their last three.

Showdown player rankings

Ezekiel Elliott leads the way, as he should be the focal point of the better offense. Tony Pollard also has yet to practice this week with an ankle injury.

Mitchell Trubisky and his two top receivers are highly ranked due to the Bears pass-first offense, and the funnel effect of Taylor Gabriel and all the Bears tight ends being out.

Allen Robinson’s lines when Taylor Gabriel is out: 7/77 (9 targets), 7/97/2 (9), 10/87/1 (16), 6/131/1 (10), 8/86/1 (12) according to NFL.com’s Graham Barfield.

Dak Prescott and his top receivers are just too good not to consider, and the Bears will be without cornerback Prince Amukamara, giving undrafted free agent Kevin Toliver the start.

Tarik Cohen is always a decent play in PPR leagues, and Dallas allows the sixth-most receptions to running backs.

TNF Showdown Rankings

Rank Pos Name Price Pts/gm
Rank Pos Name Price Pts/gm
1 RB Ezekiel Elliott 11200 19.3
2 QB Mitchell Trubisky 8800 13.71
3 WR Allen Robinson II 9600 16
4 QB Dak Prescott 10800 24.06
5 WR Amari Cooper 9400 17.92
6 WR Anthony Miller 7000 7.4
7 RB Tarik Cohen 6600 9.8
8 RB David Montgomery 7600 11.48
9 WR Michael Gallup 8200 15.56
10 WR Randall Cobb 6400 11.77
11 TE Jason Witten 5600 9.07
12 DST Cowboys 4400 6.75
13 WR Javon Wims 3200 2.64
14 DST Bears 4000 7.67
15 K Brett Maher 3800 8.25
16 K Eddy Pineiro 3600 6
17 TE Blake Jarwin 2200 5.51
18 TE Jesper Horsted 2000 5.1
19 WR Tavon Austin 1200 3.16
20 RB Tony Pollard (Q) 2600 5.37

Showdown Sleepers

Javon Wims will start on the outside with Taylor Gabriel out. The Cowboys are tough against outside receivers, but his price gives him value as a starter. On Thanksgiving, he caught 5-of-6 targets for 56 yards against Detroit.

The Bears are weak against tight ends, and this is a game Jason Witten could see some extra work underneath. He’ll need to score a touchdown to be worth a play, but that isn’t out of the question.

Tarik Cohen isn’t exactly a sleeper, but he’s not too expensive, and I’d rather have him than Montgomery on DraftKings this week.