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NFL DFS Showdown Spotlight: Week 8 Sunday Night Football DraftKings & FanDuel | Cowboys vs. Vikings

Eric MacPherson

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For each of the featured games, typically Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football slates, we will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks for today. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown picks to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 8 Sunday Night Football slate featuring the Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings.

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NFL DFS Showdown Picks: Week 8 Sunday Night Football

The key news for Dallas will be the status of Dak Prescott (calf); otherwise there is nothing new to report for as they come out of their bye week. Minnesota is relatively healthy aside from Dede Westbrook (ankle), who is well down the receiving depth chart, though he does return kicks.

Dallas Cowboys: 24.25

Quarterback

This is going to be an interesting matchup for the single-game slate. Dallas has been much better on defense than most gamers realize, with the 15th run DVOA and 10th pass DVOA. The status of Prescott is not going to change that aspect of the analysis, and the Cowboys are coming off a bye week, which should have everyone ready to go.

Dak Prescott is a game-time decision, and if he is unable to take the field, it will be Cooper Rush in his stead. Will Grier would serve as the desperation backup, which is terrifying to say the least. Team owner Jerry Jones is feeling positive about Prescott, though coach Mike McCarthy is not as much. If Prescott plays, he is going to have a higher-than-normal in-game risk of injury, though the passing game becomes viable. If Prescott is out, then the Cowboys will likely lean on the run, and the Vikings will be waiting for them.

Running Back

Ezekiel Elliott is fourth in the league in rushing yards per game with 86.8, though if he struggles, his detractors will be out in full force on Twitter. If it is Rush under center, then Minnesota will surely stack the box, though they have been in the bottom third of the league against the run. Tony Pollard will also see an uptick in touches without Prescott. He is a viable play in all formats regardless of which quarterback is leading the team.

Wide Receiver

CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper are among the most talented receivers in the league, but even with a healthy quarterback the volume has been disappointing, with Lamb seeing 22 targets over the last three games and Cooper getting 18. Keep in mind that Michael Gallup has not played since the first week, and Cooper and Lamb have not seen the expected uptick that people forecasted. In the last game Cedrick Wilson did have seven targets, but he had just three in the preceding two matchups.

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Tight End

Dalton Schultz is tied with Lamb in targets, having seen 22 over the last three games. Clearly Dallas is making an effort to get him the ball, as there have been a couple designed plays each game targeting him over the last month. Blake Jarwin is also a capable pass catcher, but he is seeing only a couple targets per game and only has five in the last three.

Defense/Special Teams

Minnesota has allowed just 1.5 sacks per game, and Dallas is in the bottom five of the league. On the turnover front, the Vikings have lost three fumbles and suffered only two interceptions. The Cowboys are second in the league in takeaways with 2.3 per game, though the opportunities may not be there tonight if there is a heavy dose of Dalvin Cook and the ground game.

Minnesota Vikings: 27.25

Quarterback

Like Dallas, Minnesota is also coming off a bye week, and in theory they should have had time to work on their offensive consistency. Kirk Cousins has limited the turnovers this year, though his fantasy performances have been uneven. He had just one touchdown against both Detroit and Cleveland and failed to top 15 fantasy points in either. He has 25-plus fantasy points and multiple touchdowns in each of his other four starts, while averaging 323 yards passing. While the Cowboys have allowed the fifth-most yards per game (295), that has come on volume, as they have a top-10 pass DVOA.

Running Back

Dalvin Cook should be close to full health, having had the bye week to recover from his nagging injuries. Tonight the real question is how many lineups will not have him, as he projects as the best fantasy producer in this matchup. Dallas has been slightly above average against the run, but Cook is one of the best five running backs in the game right now. Alexander Mattison typically only sees a handful of looks when Cook is healthy, though that is factored into his salary on DraftKings ($1,400) and FanDuel ($7,500), and he is in play on both sites for his potential mop-up duty if this game gets out of hand.

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Wide Receiver

Justin Jefferson has continued to show that he is an elite option after his breakout rookie campaign. The volume has been there, with a tick shy of double-digit targets each game. Adam Thielen is getting two fewer opportunities on average than Jefferson, though he has five touchdowns to Jefferson’s two, and Thielen still has a spooky connection with Cousins in the red zone. K.J. Osborn has taken control of the third wide receiver role, and he is benefiting from the lack of a true tight end threat to syphon away targets. Though he is a boom-or-bust option, Osborn has three games with 75-plus yards receiving, and he scored in two of those.

Tight End

Tyler Conklin had just 42 targets through 28 games in his first three seasons. Known mostly as a blocker, he has made the most of his fourth season as the last man standing at the position. Through six games he has 30 targets for 22 catches, 240 yards and a touchdown, and those four or five projected targets also come with salary cap flexibility.

Defense/Special Teams

If Prescott plays, this unit is a neutral option. In the likely event he is out, at $2,600 the Vikings become an excellent source of salary relief. By no means is this a shutdown unit, but on a single-game slate they could be difference makers.

Sunday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those taking the MME approach, remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.

Week 8 Sunday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Dalvin Cook: Easy choice.
  2. Justin Jefferson: Game breaker that can score from anywhere on the field, and he gets volume.
  3. Ezekiel Elliott: Benefits if Prescott plays since it should loosen up the defense; will get plenty of opportunities either way.
  4. Adam Thielen: Gets the nod over his quarterback for the discount and better touchdown odds.
  5. Kirk Cousins: Vikings onslaught 5-1 and 4-2 builds with their QB and D/ST are going to be popular.
  6. CeeDee Lamb: Moves above Thielen if Prescott plays.
  7. Dak Prescott: If he were 100%, he would be ranked second or third; even if he plays, he is unlikely to be at full health.
  8. Dalton Schultz: Similar play to Cooper but coming in at half the popularity.
  9. Amari Cooper: Moves above Cousins if Prescott plays.
  10. K.J. Osborn: May not get the volume but has flashed big-play upside, which is a bonus for single-game slates.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Cooper Rush: He has been with the Dallas since 2017, though has only appeared in six games. Attempted three total passes, all in his rookie year in two mop-up appearances.
  2. Greg Joseph: Out of the league last year; has played in just 22 games and is 30-for-37 (81.1%) on field goals for his career, including 5 of 6 from 50-plus this season.
  3. Greg Zuerlein: only 4-for-12 from 50-plus since the beginning of last season.
  4. Tony Pollard: Clearly behind Elliott in the pecking order and just eight targets in his last four games.
  5. Tyler Conklin: Not sexy but also not popular, which is appealing for a handful of targets at a bargain salary.

Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Minnesota D/ST: They will be popular if it is Rush leading the Cowboys tonight.
  2. Alexander Mattison: Great salary, but in a standard game flow he will only get half a dozen looks.
  3. Cedrick Wilson: Ranking is unchanged regardless of quarterback.
  4. Blake Jarwin, Dede Westbrook and Noah Brown: They do just enough to stay out of the special team and backups of backups scrum below.
  5. C.J. Ham, Chris Herndon, Corey Clement, Jeremy Sprinkle, Kene Nwangwu: Just say no.
  6. Will Grier, Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, Troy Aikman and Tony Romo: Trick or Treat!

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If you’re interested in other DFS NFL stats for multiple game slates, head over to DFS NFL projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, daily fantasy football rankings, and NFL DFS stacking. We also have single-game projections and single-game ownership projections. View our DraftKings NFL DFS rankings and our FanDuel NFL ownership rankings. Take a look at our inactives list, NFL line-ups and NFL depth charts.

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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