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Week 13 kicked off with the Dallas Cowboys visiting the New Orleans Saints in the noisy atmosphere of the Superdome. The Cowboys were looking to get a win after losing two in a row to the Chiefs and the Raiders. They finally had both wide receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb back after COVID-19 and a concussion respectively, but running back Ezekiel Elliott entered the game banged up with a knee injury. To make matters worse, the Cowboys played without their head coach Mike McCarthy who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
The Saints weren’t without their set of woes. Mark Ingram was able to return to the New Orleans’ backfield but Alvin Kamara was still sidelined with a knee injury. To add a spark to the wavering offense, head coach Sean Payton switched out Trevor Siemian for Taysom Hill who is still dealing with a plantar fasciitis injury. Unfortunately for Hill, they were also down two crucial offensive tackles.
Both teams had issues entering into last night’s matchup and both teams desperately needed a win.
Slow Start, Exciting Finish
The matchup had all of the hallmarks of being a snooze-fest through the first quarter. The Saints started on offense, but they could not get much going. On the ensuing drive, the Cowboys didn’t do much better. In fact, nothing really happened in terms of scoring until 4:15 seconds. Then, the Cowboys put their offense into high gear with a beautiful drive. Dak Prescott hit Cooper for a 41-yard play, then found Lamb for a 33-yard play, and then finished off the drive with an incredible catch by WR Michael Gallup for a Dallas touchdown.
The Saints responded with a touchdown from WR Lil Jordan Humphrey. Hill was not only dealing with his foot, but he also sustained an injury to the middle finger of his throwing hand. That injury may have played a role in the inaccuracy of his throws for the rest of the game.
The game took a turn after the half with the Cowboys leading 13-7. There were turnovers, scrambles, and incredible defensive plays on both sides. The Saints brought the score within three points early in the third quarter, but that was as close as the game would get. RB Tony Pollard scored on a 58-yard run to extend Dallas’ lead 20-10. A pick-six on Hill added another seven for the Cowboys. The Saints were brought the game within ten points with a 70-yard touchdown by Deonte Harris, but it was too little too late for the home team.
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Hill Is Both Electrifying and Terrifying to Watch
The Saints needed a spark on offense and that is exactly what Hill brought to the field. With a busted middle finger early in the game, he was only able to complete 19 passes out of 41 attempts. However, that totaled 264 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also threw a whopping four interceptions.
Despite the sub-par passing game in terms of completion percentage and turnovers, Hill’s ability to gash defenses does not come through the air. With Kamara still out, Hill led the team in rushing with 11 carries for 101 yards and averaged 9.2 yards per carry. Ingram rushed ten times for only 28 yards and 2.8 yards per carry and was second behind Hill in the run game.
It’s not just the bottom line that is impressive in the run game.
This is both awesome and awful at the same time. If you had to start Hill, every play was nail-biting, waiting for the injuries to finally take their toll or hoping every pass would not result in an interception or a pick-six.
Considering his first completion of the game was only Hill’s ninth completed pass of this season, he did just fine for fantasy purposes. Granted, most of that came on his legs. However, there were some excellent passes he completed and crucial third-down conversions in favor of the Saints.
Despite the four interceptions, Hill amassed 20.66 points and rewarded the more risky fantasy managers who started him in Week 13. Despite the win, Prescott scored only 11.22 points on 238 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
Both Ingram and Elliot were woefully underproductive with 6.7 and 3.6 respectively. Tony Pollard was the lone back with double-digit points at 15.4 on 71 yards and touchdown.
The wide receivers had a better showing with Deonte Harris and CeeDee Lamb scoring just above 19 points. Gallup’s touchdown added to his bottom line to give him 14.6 points on five receptions and 36 yards. The only other wide receiver to see double-digits was Lil Jordan Humphrey with 12.9 on only two receptions, 49 yards, and a touchdown.
Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz had an early injury scare, but he was able to log five receptions and 43 yards for 9.3 points. For the Saints, Nick Vannett had the next highest score of 7.8 on three receptions for 48 yards.
If you took the gamble and started the Cowboys DST, you have a massive leg-up on your competition this week. They had four interceptions, a pick-six, and sacked Hill twice for 17 points.
A word of caution. As we approach the fantasy playoffs, it’s intriguing to go chasing points. Harris could be facing possible suspension, so avoid spending FAAB or wasting a waiver claim until we know more about his status.
Quick Hits/Injury Updates/COVID-19
Seahawks RBs Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer practiced in full on Thursday. … Rams WR Odell Beckham Jr. did not practice. RB Darrell Henderson did not practice with a quad injury. … Raiders RB Josh Jacobs popped up on the injury report with an ankle and TE Darren Waller did not practice for the second day in a row. … Lions RB D’Andre Swift is not expected to play in Week 13 with a shoulder injury.