Week 1 NFL DFS Preseason Friday/Saturday Slate Breakdown
The task of creating profitable preseason daily fantasy lineups does not come easy. You’re basically trying to figure out who will get the most playing time amongst a 90-man roster—on both FanDuel and DraftKings, all players are priced equally in the preseason, so there's no need to consider value. Often times, coaches will elude to who they plan to give the most playing time to, but it can backfire. In this first week of the preseason, you’ll usually see the first unit play only a series, if at all. The second string often finishes out the first half, then the third and fourth string get the second half. There are exceptions but, usually, that’s pretty close to how it will be split up.
This week we don’t want to roster many first-string players because of their limited playing time. Can Alvin Kamara break a 50-yard run on one of the seven snaps he gets? Sure, but our goal is to maximize opportunity. It’s even possible to cash in tournaments with a zero in your lineup because of the unpredictable nature of these games.
What I’ll be doing in this article is curating all the playing time information that I find from reviewing beat writer articles, twitter, and coach press conferences. Oftentimes, we end up rostering players from teams whose depth charts are thin, forcing only one or two players to take all the snaps at a certain position.
Falcons at Jets
- At quarterback, we can expect to see little to no Matt Ryan, with Matt Schaub likely playing the first half. Kurt Benkert and Garrett Grayson will then split the second half. Benkert is the only player I'm interested in here as he has impressed in camp with some big plays, though the lack of substantial playing time in a four-quarterback rotation hurts. If we get word Ryan isn't suiting up, then Benkert becomes an even better play.
- Ito Smith has turned heads the past two weeks in Flowery Branch. Smith is a good pass-catcher who I enjoyed watching at Southern Missouri. He'll be my favorite running back play from the Falcons' RB depth chart.
- Everyone can't wait to see Calvin Ridley, though it hasn't been explicitly stated how much he'll play. Marvin Hall, Reggie Davis and tight end Eric Saubert have stood out the most in camp as far as reserve pass-catchers are concerned,
- According to Jets beat writers, Sam Darnold will play the most at quarterback tonight. They suspect a series or two for Josh McCown, the rest of the first half for Teddy Bridgewater and the second half for Darnold.
- Thomas Rawls didn't practice Wednesday, which means Trenton Cannon should shoulder a heavier workload with the second and third units. Cannon has been stellar this summer, so let's hope the buzz is real.
- Darnold is locking onto his tight ends in camp. The problem is there are multiple. Neal Sterling, Chris Herndon and Clive Walford. At wide receiver, Chad Hansen should get a good amount of snaps tonight in an effort to win a spot in the Jets' crowded wide receiver depth chart.
Lions at Raiders
- Matt Patricia took a play out of the Patriots' playbook, deflecting all questions about playing time. Therefore, all Lions takes will have to be camp performance or depth chart focused.
- I'd expect to see Jake Rudock the most of all Lions quarterbacks tonight. He'll probably get the second half. Matthew Stafford will get a series or two and Matt Cassel will finish out the first half. Rudock had a solid first preseason game last year and provides added upside with his legs. I think he can definitely take advantage of the Raiders' third defensive unit
- The best pass-catchers who should be on the field at the same time as Rudock tonight include WR Teo Redding, WR Brandon Powell, TE Michael Roberts and TE Hakeem Valles. They've all impressed in camp, making them solid stackable options
- The Lions backfield is a crowded mess. Kerryon Johnson figures to mix in with Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner tonight. You can sprinkle them in a bit, but with Patricia not divulging any playing time news it's hard to decipher.
- I'm most excited about Raiders RB Chris Warren. He's a load of a back that has been trucking guys in practice. The Raiders know what they have in there veteran ball-carriers, so I bet he gets a decent amount of action in the second half.
- Oakland's quarterback situation doesn't excite me. Derek Carr won't play enough to warrant consideration. Connor Cook and E.J. Manuel will probably divvy up three quarters or so and could be sprinkled in if you are multi-entering.
- I think you'd be foolish not to have a piece of Martavis Bryant tonight. After being criticized by Jon Gruden, he's had some very good joint practices. Additionally, Marcell Ateman and Johnny Holton have received praise from the coaching staff.
Vikings at Broncos
- Right from the beat writer's fingers, Kirk Cousins will get a series, Trevor Siemian will get the rest of the half, and Kyle Sloter will get the most of the second half. Siemian is intriguing because of the revenge.
- I really like Mike Boone tonight. He's a good pass-catcher and should play a lot in the second half. Mack Brown and Roc Thomas will also get reps.
- So there's this local undrafted pass-catcher with ties to the area that's been impressing camp-goers. Adam Thielen? No that was two years ago. Brandon Zylstra, a former CFL star and Minnesota native, will try to earn a roster spot this pre-season and it starts tonight. The only issue is Zylstra is dinged up and may not play, so check status near lock. If he was guaranteed to make the team, I'd say no way he plays, but bubble guys usually push through. Stacy Coley and Cayleb Jones will be my targets, especially if we get word Zylstra isn't in uniform.
- Update: Brandon Zylstra did not travel to Denver according to a few beat writers, obviously will not play.
- Tight end is a bit tougher for the Vikings, I'll be using some Tyler Conklin, though.
- Much like every other team that has three quarterbacks on the roster, the Broncos will give starter, Case Keenum, a handful of snaps. Paxton Lynch will get the remainder of the first half, then Chad Kelly will finish out the game. Lynch hasn't looked great in camp, or for the last two years, but he will be playing with some interesting pass catchers. When asked for clarification about second and third team reps, Vance Joseph indicated that after the first team, there really isn't much of a delineation between players and that perhaps Lynch and Kelly might overlap with second and third team receviers. This can mean one of two things. Either Lynch will be given extended reps and play into the third team reps or he'll be pull earlier and Kelly will get in before the second team reps are over. Both are rosterable
- One of the most difficult situations to predict in pre-season are the reps for inexperience players who project for regular season playing. Will the staff treat them like a first-teamer and limit their reps or leave them in the game to get them experince? That said, Devonte Booker and Royce Freeman will split reps with the first team. Whether Freeman remains out there for second team reps, remains unclear. He's worth a sprinkle but as of now he's not a core play. DeAngelo Henderson will be worth rostering based on the amount of snaps he should see. Phillip Lindsay has turned heads in camp and is the kind of back you need in pre-sesaon. He's a playmaker that doesn't need volume necessarily. He can meet value on one swing pass.
- River Cracraft. A few years ago when I was rostering him every week in CFB DFS, I didn't think it was possible for me to be doing so in 2018, but here we are. He's got great hands and has surely impressed Broncos' coaches in camp as he landed on the 3-deep depth chart. It seems odd I'm excited about Cracraft, being that Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton will be on the field tonight. They are all rosterable. Sutton and Hamilton should play more with the first and second unit, while Cracraft will play with the second and third. To finish out the game, Isaiah McKenzie, John Diarse, and Jordan Leslie will get reps with Chad Kelly.
- With John Heurmann on the shelf, Jake Butt, Austin Traylor, and Matt LaCosse will play the tight end spot. For stacking purposes, Butt will play with the ones and twos, Traylor and Lacosse will divy up the remainder of the game.
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