Last updated: November 21st at 2:07pm ET.
Team Totals: Patriots 26, Cowboys 20
Leading the NFL in total offense and yards per play (6.7), the Cowboys face by far their toughest to-date challenge at Foxboro, where the Pats have allowed 14 points or fewer in seven straight regular season games at Gillette Stadium. Dallas may view Ezekiel Elliott as its best Week 12 offensive focal point since enemy backs roughed up New England for 130/655/1 (5.04 YPC) rushing over its last seven games. While the Patriots can be willingly giving on the ground, keep in mind they’ve allowed just one running back touchdown all year and have long specialized in a bend-don’t-break approach. Zeke maintains one of the highest workload projections on this week’s slate. … Even as top-13 fantasy passer in 9-of-10 starts with eight top-eight finishes, Dak Prescott’s spot is more worrisome based on New England’s allowance of the NFL’s fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and absurd 4:19 TD-to-INT ratio against. Amari Cooper’s (knee/ankle) questionable health creates further cause for pause, especially in his date with Stephon Gilmore. While Dak seems highly unlikely to hit his ceiling at Gillette, Prescott’s positive man-coverage splits should come in handy for a decent-floor performance against New England’s man-heavy scheme.
Dak’s post-bye target distribution: Cooper and Michael Gallup 29; Randall Cobb 23; Jason Witten 21; Blake Jarwin and Tony Pollard 7; Zeke 6. … While Cooper’s Week 12 availability doesn’t appear to be in doubt, his effectiveness certainly is after Amari struggled to get open versus Darius Slay last week and now projects to draw Gilmore. Typically an elite WR1, I’m downgrading Cooper to a boom-bust WR2 at Foxboro. Cooper ranks top six in the NFL in 20-plus-yard receptions (14), while New England has given up an AFC-low 21 completions of 20-plus yards. … Gallup has 1,037 yards over his last 16 games, showing he’s capable of capitalizing should Amari get taken away. No member of Dallas’ passing game has a truly favorable matchup, but Gallup is positioned for WR2-caliber volume. … On an absolute tear following consecutive 100-plus-yard performances, Cobb has a shot at beating WR3/flex expectations facing a Patriots defense against which fellow slot WRs Golden Tate (6/102/1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (6/78/0), Cole Beasley (7/75/0), and Jarvis Landry (5/65/0) produced PPR-useful results. … Scoreless since Week 2 and held under 60 yards in all ten games, Witten is the kind of low-risk possession threat Bill Belichick would probably prefer to force Prescott to target over more-explosive Cooper and Gallup. Witten is a PPR-specific streamer with four-plus catches in six of his last nine games.
New England’s struggling offense is expected to get back LT Isaiah Wynn (toe) against a Dallas defense that continues to disappoint, yielding top-12 fantasy results to four of its last five quarterbacks faced and point totals of 28 (Vikings) and 27 (Jeff Driskel’s Lions) in its last two. Injuries to Phillip Dorsett (concussion) and Mohamed Sanu (ankle) throw wrenches into Tom Brady’s supporting cast, however, and Brady hasn’t banked a top-12 fantasy score since Week 6 with three results of QB20 or worse over his last four. In a potentially low-scoring affair, I’m shying away from Brady as a season-long start. Per Sports Info Solutions, Brady leads the NFL in throwaways under pressure and is averaging a league-low 2.9 yards per attempt under duress. Despite its other deficiencies, Dallas’ defense has generated a league-high 43.3% pressure rate this season. … Since New England’s pass-catcher corps is banged up and the Cowboys have conceded the NFL’s fifth-most receiving yards to running backs (519), Week 12 sets up better for James White than Sony Michel, particularly with the Patriots getting nothing from their traditional rushing attack lately. Michel has averaged 3.09 yards per carry over New England’s last four games, ranks 24th among 35 qualified backs in Football Outsiders’ rushing Success Rate, and has played over 50% of his team’s offensive snaps once all season. Michel is a low-floor, touchdown-or-bust flex option versus Dallas. … Rex Burkhead has logged largely uneventful touch counts of 4 > 5 > 7 on snap rates of 19% > 36% > 28% over the Patriots’ last three games, doing more to curtail White and Michel’s fantasy viability than carve out his own.
Julian Edelman looks to rebound from his year-worst game wherein he dropped a would-be touchdown pass and finished with 53 scoreless yards on ten targets, his box score salvaged only by a trick-play TD bomb to Dorsett. Dallas’ secondary is most vulnerable inside, having allowed completions on 55-of-75 slot targets (73%) for 575 yards (7.7 YPA). Edelman’s WR1-level volume remains bankable with double-digit targets in five straight games. … Sanu is much riskier after spraining his ankle early in last week’s win over Philadelphia, then ineffectively returning to gain four yards on four targets. The Cowboys are allowing the NFL’s fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Just three individual wide receivers have cleared 75 yards against Dallas’ stingy zone this season. … Dorsett’s concussion moved first-round pick N’Keal Harry up the depth chart against the Eagles for four targets on 43% of New England’s offensive snaps, playing over Jakobi Meyers (2, 26%). Even in a tough draw, Harry will offer opportunity-based WR4 appeal in deep leagues should Dorsett sit. … Despite Matt LaCosse’s Week 11 return, Ben Watson kept New England’s primary tight end role with a 3/52/0 receiving line on four targets, playing 80% of the snaps. Especially with most of the Patriots’ wide receivers in bad Week 12 spots, Watson is a legit streamer against a Cowboys defense allowing the league’s fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Update: Reports have Mohamed Sanu battling a multi-week high ankle sprain, while Phillip Dorsett is practicing this week and sounds likely to face Dallas. In that case, I suspect the Patriots’ three-receiver set would place Dorsett outside across from N’Keal Harry with Julian Edelman in his customary slot role.
Score Prediction: Patriots 21, Cowboys 20