Game Predictions & Player Projections - DAL vs. PHI

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: DAL 20, PHI 17

(Line: DAL by 2.5, O/U = 43.5)

UPDATE: Cole Beasley is out with the flu.

As if it wasn't bad enough to lose Carson Wentz, now the Eagles have clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have nothing to play for other than a bit of tune up and then avoid injuries. The Eagles won 37-9 in Dallas thanks to Wentz (among others). And this game will be in 23-degree weather so on the chilly side.

There is no way to know who plays or sits and when. The Cowboys will play in earnest but as of last week it is not impressive even with Ezekiel Elliott back.

Dallas Cowboys

1 NYG 19-3 10 @ATL 7-27
2 @DEN 17-42 11 PHI 9-37
3 @ARI 28-17 12 LAC 6-28
4 LAR 30-35 13 WAS 38-14
5 GB 31-35 14 @NYG 30-10
6 BYE xxx 15 @OAK 20-17
7 @SF 40-10 16 SEA 12-21
8 @WAS 33-19 17 @PHI ---
9 KC 28-17      
News | Statistics | Roster
DAL @ PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Dak Prescott 30,1 190
RB Ezekiel Elliott 90,1 5-30
WR Dez Bryant 5-60
WR Terrance Williams 2-30
TE Jason Witten 3-30,1
PK Dan Bailey 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: Flopping hard last week versus the Seahawks not only denied the Cowboys a chance to reach the playoffs but set in motion questions about HC Jason Garrett's job security, OC Scott Linehan's play calling and even a heavy dose of "Why do we have Dez Bryant?" The Cowboys catch a break with the Eagles likely to not care what happens here but the drama in Dallas is only beginning. Jerry Jones has expressed confidence in Garrett but even the Cowboy fans are starting to balk at yet another "well, maybe next year."

QUARTERBACK: Dak Prescott faced the Eagles without Ezekiel Elliott last time in the middle of the three-week stretch where the Cowboys offense almost lost all scoring ability. Prescott threw for 21 touchdowns and ran in six more, but starting around Week 8, his play dropped a notch. He's getting little help from his receivers but last year's Cinderella threw a touchdown in only three of his last nine games.

RUNNING BACK: Ezekiel Elliott is an obvious upgrade and playing in cold Philly while their starters discuss New Year's Eve plans on the sideline should help. Elliott has been the only consistent weapon for the Cowboys but the problems passing have led to at least a few lesser efforts from him. Elliott broke 100-rushing yards only three times but scored nine touchdowns over his nine games. All other running backs lose their fantasy value when Elliott is active.

WIDE RECEIVER: The Cowboys receivers have been far less effective this year and that mostly means Dez Bryant since Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams were never a factor anyway. Bryant really did himself no favors last week when he openly complained on the sideline about not getting any passes and then fumbling the first one he got that set up the Eagles touchdown. He also dropped two passes and popped one pass in the air where it was intercepted.

Bryant never broke 100 yards this year and rarely topped 60 yards despite being paid $13M. He's failed to be much of a factor since signing his lucrative contract after 2014. Now three seasons later, the fans are wanting him gone. The "X Factor" has been a strike out. He did have a season-best eight catches for 63 yards in the first meeting with the Eagles. But he did not score and had just two touchdowns over the last ten games.

TIGHT END: Jason Witten only caught one pass for seven yards in the first meeting. He's tended to have his more productive efforts in road games though he rarely has more than 50 yards.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: Throw a dart. The Cowboys are struggling outside of Ezekiel Elliott, just lost a traumatizing game that sparked dissension and head to play the best team in the NFC in the freezing cold only they probably won't care as much since they have nothing to win.

Elliott is an obvious start and should roll up good to potentially great stats. The Eagles have not allowed a 100-yard rusher but Elliott needs 120 yards to break 1,000 yards for the season. That's about all the Cowboys have to play for anyway.

As poorly as the Cowboys have passed in most weeks, playing in the cold is not likely to help. If Dez Bryant drops passes inside a dome, he's not likely to improve in 23-degree weather. Witten is a consideration for moderate yardage and a chance for a touchdown. But what will happen here depends in part to what defenders the Eagles rest.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points DAL 13 14 22 17 19 19
Preventing Fantasy Points PHI 16 3 22 15 6 11

Philadelphia Eagles

1 @WAS 30-17 10 BYE xxx
2 @KC 20-27 11 @DAL 37-9
3 NYG 27-24 12 CHI 31-3
4 @LAC 26-24 13 @SEA 10-24
5 ARI 34-7 14 @LAR 43-35
6 @CAR 28-23 15 @NYG 34-29
7 WAS 34-24 16 OAK 19-10
8 SF 33-10 17 DAL ---
9 DEN 51-23      
News | Statistics | Roster
PHI vs DAL Rush Catch Pass
QB Nick Foles 100
QB Nate Sudfeld 50
RB LeGarrette Blount 60,1
RB Corey Clement 70,1 2-20
WR Nelson Agholor 2-30
WR Alshon Jeffery 1-20
WR Torrey Smith 3-30
TE Zach Ertz 2-20
PK Jake Elliott 1 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The Eagles have already clinched and there is nothing to win here other than treating the home town fans to a victory over the Cowboys. But HC Doug Pederson has been non-committal about playing starters which rarely means he wakes up on Sunday and decides "Yeah. let's go all out and try to win this." More likely, one player will get dinged and he'll start yanking them like they were free beers on the bar counter. This is exactly why using Week 17 for fantasy championships is bad - the team that got you there is suddenly drinking Dr. Pepper on the sideline and playing dominoes.

QUARTERBACK: Nick Foles may start but there is little chance the Eagles want to risk losing another quarterback. Nate Sudfeld, come on down for your first NFL pass.

RUNNING BACK: The Eagles rushed for 198 yards in Dallas but at least Jay Ajayi should likely see some rest if he even plays. Corey Clement could end up as the primary back or even LeGarrette Blount. The Eagles had no problem running on the Cowboys though LB Sean Lee was out that week. The backfield is hard enough to forecast when the Eagles are playing their best players.

WIDE RECEIVER: If Nate Sudfeld takes over at quarterback, there's no way to tell what happens or even if anything happens. Alshon Jeffery (4-67, TD) and Torrey Smith (3-28, TD) both scored in Dallas but Nelson Agholor only caught one pass for a two-yard loss. Starting any of these is risky.

TIGHT END: Zach Ertz had a season-worst eight yards on two catches in Dallas. He's too big of a part of the offense to risk injury. Unlikely he finishes the game.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The safest tact is to assume that the biggest stars get to take the bench early. That would be Foles (lack of other options), Ajayi and Ertz. The situation seems to scream for Clement and Blount to shoulder most of the load in this meaningless game. But no way of knowing.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 2 20 13 1 8 4
Preventing Fantasy Points DAL 20 10 27 18 3 22

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