With real-life sports in the midst of an extended time out, DraftKings has been helping to fill the void with some very entertaining simulated sports action. Each day, there are six Madden Streams and eight free contests, with a single-game Showdown for each game along with a pair of classic contests. Each of the simulations is played out via an online Madden Stream using Madden 2020 with rosters and ratings from the end of the 2019-20 season. In this format, you can enjoy watching the game stream on the DK Live app or right here in this post. Follow along to watch your fantasy team rack up some big fantasy points.
In the first game of the day on Tuesday, the Cardinals will be visiting the Cowboys at virtual Jerry’s World in Dallas. The teams have headed opposite directions during our sim season with the Cowboys rising to the top of the virtual NFC East with a 15-10 record while the Cards have sunk to the bottom of the virtual NFC West with a woeful 7-18 record that is among the worst in the league. The Cowboys have multiple strong playmakers on offense, and Arizona’s offense has flashed potential but struggled with inconsistency. Can they find a way to pull off the upset on the road or is this another win for the Cowboys in a good matchup at home? I’ll give you my pick as well as breaking down which players you should have in your lineup below.
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The Arizona offense is built around QB Kyler Murray ($10,600), who is the only player from Arizona in the top-four on this salary structure. He’s averaging a team-high 15.8 DKFP per sim. As a passer, he has been very inconsistent, averaging 174.8 passing yards per sim with 22 passing touchdowns. However, he is still a fantasy option to take a look at due to his work on the ground as a rusher. He has scrambled for 45 yards per sim with three rushing touchdowns. That production has helped him to over 14 DKFP in five straight games. Even though he doesn’t have a high ceiling, he is the most productive Cardinal and worth a look if you can fit his hefty salary into a flex spot.
When Murray does throw, his options are led by WR1 Larry Fitzgerald ($9,400) and WR2 Christian Kirk ($5,400). Fitz has an 83 overall rating, but his 83 speed rating and a 65 elusiveness make him mostly a possession receiver. He has scored in each of his past two games but only has seven touchdowns in his 25 contests. While Kirk hasn’t been quite as involved, he does have good upside for such an affordable option. He has averaged just over three catches per sim on the season but has a 92 speed rating and 85 elusiveness rating, which give him a high ceiling even though he only has a 78 overall rating. Another affordable option with a high ceiling is WR3 Damiere Byrd ($3,600), who has a 95 speed rating with his 74 overall rating. He has been quiet recently with under 10 DKFP in six straight contests. However, he does have a high ceiling with that speed and has posted over 17 DKFP in three of his 24 sims. He’s very boom-or-bust but has the potential to go off.
Another key part of the passing game lately has been TE Charles Clay ($6,400), who has at least four catches and 9.0 DKFP in four of his past five games due to a recent increase in volume. He doesn’t have the upside of the speedy Byrd or Kirk but has been more reliable with his 77 overall rating and 83 catching rating.
In the backfield, Kenyan Drake ($8,200) has been a disappointment, averaging just 3.7 DKFP per sim despite a decent 81 overall rating, 91 speed rating and 82 elusiveness rating. He loses so much time especially in passing situations to third-down back and power back David Johnson ($2,600), who actually makes a ton more fantasy sense. He has a solid average of 7.3 DKFP per contest but has been held under 10 DKFP in ten straight sims. Johnson gets enough work to avoid being a total bust at this salary, but he hasn’t been a great value find lately.
The Cardinals DST ($3,000) has actually been pretty solid allowing 21 points or fewer in seven straight games. Unfortunately, with their offensive struggles, they have still gone just 1-6 during that run. They have piled up 48 sacks and 12 takeaways in 25 sims, for an average of 5.3 DKFP per contest. You could also consider Zane Gonzalez ($3,800), who has a solid 74 overall rating due to his 96 kick power rating and 75 kick accuracy rating. He has averaged over 5.0 DKFP per sim but sometimes isn’t given many chances by the struggling offense. I’d go Johnson over both these options, but they could also work as salary-saving plays.
The Cowboys’ offense tries to build around star RB Ezekiel Elliott ($10,000), who gets all the work in the backfield and has averaged 16.2 DKFP per sim on 77.9 rushing yards per game, 16.4 receiving yards per game and 2.1 receptions per game along with 16 total touchdowns. Zeke brings a 93 overall rating and the exclusive Superstar ability of “Inside Zone Guru,” which means he receives better blocking on inside zone plays. He’s the Cowboys’ highest-rated offensive skill player and has an impressive 90 speed rating, 95 agility rating and 85 elusiveness rating, which makes him a tough matchup for any defense to contain. He is in a great spot to dominate since the Cardinals have been beaten badly by elite RB this season giving up huge games to Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders and others. Zeke should feast on this matchup and get a heavy workload if the Cowboys play from ahead.
Zeke is only the third-most-expensive Cowboy though, behind Dak Prescott ($11,200) and Amari Cooper ($11,400). Dak has been good overall averaging 18.9 DKFP per sim. He has thrown for under 200 yards in six straight games, though, and failing to reach even 20 DKFP. He has added some decent rushing totals, but lately, Dallas has been winning with their defense and a heaping helping of carries for Zeke. Dak does have upside due to his 81 overall rating with an 83 speed rating, which he can use to pile up yards on the ground. He has been a solid rushing threat but hasn’t been quite as good in Madden as he was in real life this past season when he was a top-five QB on DraftKings.
Cooper is the only Cowboys offensive player with an X-Factor. He has “RAC ‘Em Up,” which is activated by making multiple receptions for 20-plus yards. When he’s “in the zone”, the ability increases his success rate on RAC catches against single coverage. He has also “Double Move Specialist” and “In-Out Specialist” as his superstar abilities which makes him more effective on those specific kinds of routes. Cooper had picked things up for a bit but has slowed down with only seven total catches over his past three games including a one-catch performance against Jacksonville in his most recent sim. I do think he’ll bounce back to a degree, but I don’t see a massive game against Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals’ secondary.
WR2 Michael Gallup ($6,000) has an 80 overall rating, but he has struggled to produce consistent points, averaging just 6.8 DKFP per sim. He does have double-digit DKFP in each of his two most recent sims but has only scored four touchdowns all sim season. WR3 Randall Cobb ($4,200) has contributed at times for Dallas as well, averaging 6.8 DKFP per sim. He can be a nice value since he has a 78 overall rating and a 90 speed rating, but he also has a tendency to disappear at times. With the WR struggling, TE Jason Witten ($7,400) has become more involved with touchdowns in each of his past two contests. Witten can still be boom-or-bust and seems a little over-priced due to some recency bias. However, the matchup against Arizona is a great one for TE, so Witten does have a very high ceiling as well.
My favorite Dallas value play is actually the Cowboys’ DST ($4,400), who has been solid overall with 39 sacks, 17 takeaways and five defensive touchdowns. They have averaged 15.0 DKFP over their past three matchups and should be able to shut down the Cardinals offense in this matchup.
My top Captain’s Pick option is Ezekiel Elliott ($15,000 CP) since he should get a ton of work and run wild over this Arizona defense. Both QBs could also make sense if they end up picking up yards on the ground, so take a look at Kyler Murray ($15,900 CP) as a contrarian play as well. If you don’t want to pay that far up for a Captain’s Pick, Charles Clay ($9,600 CP) or even Jason Witten ($11,100 CP) should be involved enough to be a solid choice there if you stack up your flex spots with top options.
The Cardinals offense just hasn’t been able to find any kind of consistency and has wasted some good efforts by the defense. I don’t expect this game to be high-scoring since it will likely be very rush-heavy and move along quickly. I do think Zeke will feast, though, and carry the Cowboys to a nice win at home.
Final Score: Cowboys 21, Cardinals 13
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.