Game Predictions & Player Projections - DAL vs. SF

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: DAL 24, SF 23 (Line: DAL by 2.5, O/U = 44)

UPDATE: Both Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald are questionable to play but had limited practices. I am leaving their minimal projections as is but they are not safe starts until listed as active. Dez Bryant is listed as questionable with his hairline fracture to his knee. He did not practice this week and is not expected to play. I have removed him from the projections and added to both Williams Terrance and Cole Beasley. Brice Butler should also be involved.

The 2-1 Cowboys have only a one point loss in the season opener from being unbeaten. The 1-2 49ers were destroyed in both road games but are back at home where their only game was the shutout over the Rams. This is a coin flip game but at least the Cowboys are already very familiar with that Chip Kelly offense.

Dallas Cowboys

1 NYG 19-20 10 @PIT ---
2 @WAS 27-23 11 BAL ---
3 CHI 31-17 12 WAS ---
4 @SF --- 13 @MIN ---
5 CIN --- 14 @NYG ---
6 @GB --- 15 TB ---
7 BYE --- 16 DET ---
8 PHI --- 17 @PHI ---
9 @CLE ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL @ SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Dak Prescott 20,1 260,1
RB Ezekiel Elliott 100,1 1-10
WR Cole Beasley 7-70
WR Terrance Williams 5-50
TE Jason Witten 6-60
PK Dan Bailey 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Cowboys have faced a good schedule so far but that will change soon. Dak Prescott continues to play nearly error-free football and Ezekiel Elliot is getting better every week. The defense has quietly exceeded expectations though they have yet to face an elite offense. The offense is still not running on all cylinders but has been just good enough in recent games. That should continue against the 49ers.

QUARTERBACK : While Dak Prescott has yet to turn the ball over, he's thrown only one touchdown and that was at home against an injury depleted Bears secondary. Prescott rushed in a score the last two weeks and is keeping the offense moving. As popular as he has been in Dallas, there is still a large delta between what Prescott is doing and what Tony Romo is capable of accomplishing.

RUNNING BACK : Ezekiel Elliott comes off his first big game - 140 yards on 30 carries against the hapless Bears defense but it was the first game that he failed to score. Alfred Morris takes only a few carries per game and yet scored in each of the last two. Even Lance Dunbar came in for one run last week - a touchdown at the goal line. Elliott is going to be a 20+ carry workhorse every week but the Cowboys reliance on touchdown hawks is limiting his fantasy production.

WIDE RECEIVER : Dez Bryant finally caught a touchdown this year but only ended with three catches for 40 yards. He also twisted his knee during the first quarter but continued to play although not much or well. He was slated to have an MRI on Tuesday but there was no report by this writing. All signs so far point at Bryant playing this week. Cole Beasley was also banged up but continued to play and ended with seven receptions for 73 yards as Prescott's favorite outlet. Even Terrance Williams finally made it out of the doghouse for fumbling away a chance to win the opener and caught four passes for 88 yards.

The assumption is that Bryant can play with no real limitation but that will be updated as needed. Last week was the first time that Prescott finally used all three starting wideouts.

TIGHT END : Jason Witten started with nine catches for 66 yards but is decreasing his role each week. In the win over the Redskins, Witten only managed two catches for 25 yards and those were his only targets. As Prescott is expanding to other wideouts, he is leaving Witten behind.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The 49ers defense has been all over the map. They crushed the Rams in the only home game but then allowed Cam Newton four scores and 353 yards. The Seahawks combined for 305 yards and two scores. Now back at home, they will be better and the Cowboys have just one passing score this year anyway.

So while there is probably not many passing scores, the Cowboys should get production from Elliott against a defense that has allowed over 100 yards to runners the last two weeks. He doesn't act as a receiver much but should have a shot at good yardage and a score unless it gets hawked away yet again.

The 49ers have been very weak in the secondary. These last two weeks have seen a wideout and a tight end from each team both top 100 yards and score on them. Witten has been on the decline but should pick up this week against a defense that is getting dinged by tight ends. Bryant is worth a start as well barring any bad news about his knee.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 15 8 26 16 4 25
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 20 15 12 28 28 18

San Francisco 49ers

1 LA 28-0 10 @ARI ---
2 @CAR 27-46 11 NE ---
3 @SEA 18-37 12 @MIA ---
4 DAL --- 13 @CHI ---
5 ARI --- 14 NYJ ---
6 @BUF --- 15 @ATL ---
7 TB --- 16 @LA ---
8 BYE --- 17 SEA ---
9 NO ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
SF vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Brian Hoyer 260,2
RB Carlos Hyde 90,1 2-10
WR Pierre Garcon 4-40
WR Marquise Goodwin 3-40
TE Garrett Celek 3-20,1

Pregame Notes: The 49ers were dominated in the recent road games against far better teams. The defense was exposed and while the Cowboys may not be elite yet, they'll bring more than the Rams did in the season opener. After this game, the 49ers will host the Cardinals for another big divisional matchup but so far any good will and hope generated by the initial win is gone. This is looking like Chip Kelly's Eagles offense only with even less talent.

QUARTERBACK : Blaine Gabbert remains the starter but comes off an embarrassing 119 yard performance in Seattle. HC Chip Kelly is no longer adamant about Gabbert's role and said that Colin Kaepernick is nearing full healthy and that puts him into consideration for playing time. This week is still Gabbert but a change could happen at any time. Kelly's comments may flag a coming change and Kaep won't stand to see his team continue to lose.

RUNNING BACK : Carlos Hyde has a respectable four touchdowns on the season and he ended with loss in Seattle with 103 yards and two scores mostly because he continued to run the ball even after the game was over and the 49ers should have been throwing. He still has only a minimal role as a receiver and the previous week was held to 34 yards by the Panthers who still cared about stopping them late in the game.

Hyde may have his bad games, but he's the closest thing this offense has to a consistently productive player. Shaun Draughn takes only a few relief carries per game and Hyde gets nearly all the work. He's topped 20 carries in two of three games.

WIDE RECEIVER : This unit remains predictably bad and totals just one touchdown this year. No wideout has gained more than 61 yards and no wide out has topped 50 yards more than once. No wideout has caught more than three passes in the last two games.

TIGHT END : Vance McDonald left with a hip injury in the loss to the Seahawks and his status is not currently known. His two scores puts him in the lead of all 49er receivers but he's yet to catch more than two passes in any game. I will hold him out and update later in the week when his status becomes clear. The Cowboys are weaker against tight ends than any other position and McDonald might even exceed his two receptions per game if he plays.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The only fantasy starter on this entire team is Carlos Hyde who should turn in at least moderate yardage and a chance for one score. Gabbert is likely to pass for one score but where that would go is without any trend or real justification. Until this offense picks up, Hyde is the only realistic fantasy option.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 26 16 32 15 25 9
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 23 10 13 30 9 2

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