Fantasy Football is back. Sort of. We’re still over a month away from regular season action and true daily fantasy football as we’ve grown to know it, but DraftKings know how much we love it, so they’ve pushed out some daily fantasy football leagues for NFL preseason games.
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) August 3, 2016
It’s a glorious thing, indeed. Week one is the toughest week to gauge in NFL preseason play, whether it be due to injuries, which players are even active, how long players play and the list goes on. We may see starters for one series, or we may not see them at all. Other teams are crazy and push their starters out there for a quarter or longer right away in week one.
Those are things we can’t really bank on, so at least for the first week, the best thing to do is target guys we are assuming will at least be active and then probably will get several opportunities out on the field to show what they can do.
The first week of preseason fantasy football includes a solid 7-game slate, starting with this Saturday’s Hall of Fame game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts. From there we get six Thursday night games, and then we’re sure to get more DFS leagues for games later in the weekend.
For now, we’ll help you warm up with that initial 7-game slate. Let’s see who could be worth targeting in your DFS lineups at each position at DK this week:
With most of the starters seeing little to no action, we’re probably going to see a lot of time on the field from second and third string quarterbacks. Some could see more time than others, of course, as they need to be evaluated as they learn/run the offense and face NFL defenses.
The list of competent options is actually fairly long, but the guys we’re eyeing the most are Brett Hundley (Packers), Scott Tolzien (Colts), Mike Glennon (Buccaneers), Chase Daniel (Eagles), Carson Wentz (Eagles), Ryan Mallett (Ravens), Jimmy Garoppolo (Patriots) and Paxton Lynch (Broncos).
Narrowing that list down, we would imagine Jimmy G is near the top of the list, as he needs to prepare to start for the Patriots for the first four weeks of the season due to a Tom Brady suspension. He’ll likely see a lot of playing time throughout the preseason and a good chunk of it could come here in week one.
The same should go for rookies Lynch and Wentz, who actually could be playing with a few talented receiving options and just as importantly, could see 1-2 quarters of action. Lynch has also specifically been improving at a rapid pace in Denver’s camp, so he could potentially have a big first showing.
Paxton Lynch is already turning heads at Broncos camp. https://t.co/ivuGTZMLux
— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 2, 2016
My favorite pick of the lot here could be Green Bay backup Brett Hundley, however. The Packers shouldn’t play Aaron Rodgers much (if at all), so we should see a ton of Hundley, who was a bit of a sensation last year during the preseason. He’s big, athletic and can chuck the rock, plus he’ll have some solid receivers like Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis to work with.
BTW, #Packers QB Brett Hundley sat out with an injured ankle. He was at practice the whole time and not limping noticeably as he walked.
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) August 4, 2016
Just make sure Hundley (and everyone you use) is active, as he has an ankle injury and the preseason is the most difficult time of year to trust NFL injury news.
All of these guys could be suitable picks, but if you want some real upside, roll with one of Lynch, Wentz, Jimmy G or Hundley.
Running back is similar, but there are way more bodies and you don’t know what level of defense some of these guys will be facing or what situations they’ll be in. That makes any of them risky plays, but the first trick is to steer clear from the main starter and maybe even his top backup. Teams aren’t going to risk the health of their best two running backs very deep into the first preseason game – at least not normally.
Instead, you’re looking for young, unproven backs who bring some solid talent to the table and/or should see the field a good amount as they try to win a role or roster spot.
That is going to put a ton of guys on the radar, but the backs we like the most for week one are John Crockett (Packers), Storm Johnson (Buccaneers), Terrance West (Ravens), Jonas Gray (Jets), Daniel Lasco (Saints), Jordan Howard (Bears), Juwan Thompson (Broncos) and Devontae Booker (Broncos).
Booker is a mild question mark as he continues to rehab a February knee surgery, but he’s super talented and could get some good run here if active. Thompson and maybe even fellow Bronco Kapri Bibbs could be worth a longer look if Booker is held out.
Chicago’s running game appears pretty fluid behind expected starter Jeremy Lanford, so we could see a lot of rookie Jordan Howard. He’s one of our favorite week 1 preseason plays and Ka’Deem Carey could even be worth a look, although he’s failed to impress in the past.
Jonas Gray has routinely impressed in camp and preseason play in the past, and we all remember him for his insane 200+ yard and 4-score game with the Pats a couple years back. He could be worth a cursory glance, while Terrance West has really turned heads as a slimmed down, productive options in camp with the Ravens.
Storm Johnson is close to flaming out of the league, but he gets a crack with Tampa Bay and could see the field a bit to try to prove himself. The same goes for Green Bay’s Crockett, who has impressed in camp in the past and should see a ton of field time with Eddie Lacy either limited or out.
— Packers News (@PGPackersNews) August 2, 2016
Our favorite plays are Howard, Crockett and Booker (if he plays), and you could package all three in the 2RB and Flex spots.
Once again, we’re staying away from the star names, as we can’t have any clue how much they’ll play – or if they’ll play at all. In other words, use the Randall Cobb’s and Julio Jones’ at your own risk.
With that said, there are a lot of solid secondary options to consider, with guys like Jeff Janis (Packers), Phillip Dorsett (Colts), Josh Huff (Eagles), Ryan Grant (Redskins), Charone Peake (Jets), Michael Thomas (Saints), Cody Latimer (Broncos), Kevin White (Bears) and Jordan Taylor (Broncos) leading the way.
There is some very hit or miss talent here, but Janis, Dorsett, Huff, White and Latimer offer major big play upside. Taylor has also been a camp hero, making insane catches like this look normal:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 29, 2016
We like all of these guys, but Janis has been a huge preseason guy in the past and is playing for a bigger role. It’d be shocking if he didn’t play a good amount to get the preseason started and if he’s on the field, he’s likely to produce. It’s unclear how much Kevin White (a projected starter) would play, but if he’s set to knock the rust off, he could be a fun try. We also don’t mind using Thomas, Huff and Taylor, as they’re all talented and still need to prove themselves within their respective offenses.
This is an impossible position to gauge during preseason play. Tight ends don’t light it up during preseason and the starters never seem to stay on the field long or make a big impact. You’re firing in the dark here, but a few guys stand out.
Trey Burton scored twice last year, rookie Austin Hooper brings upside to the table for the Falcons, Ed Dickson could see some playing time in Carolina with Greg Olsen limited or out and Denver’s Virgil Green could be prepping a breakout season with a nice run in August. He’s already been crushing it in camp, so he may be the top tight end to consider on this 7-game slate.
Defense is even worse than tight end, as you don’t know how long the starting unit will play or how long the opponent’s starting unit will play. Beyond that, it’s virtually impossible to predict how backups will fare against each other. All you can do is gauge a team’s backup talent and try to use a solid defense against an opponent that looks weak on paper.
For this 7-game slate, the Packers, Redskins, Panthers, Ravens, Jaguars, Patriots and Broncos all feel like decent tries. Jacksonville may lead the way for us, just because New York’s quarterbacks are dreadful. It’s tough to imagine the Jets generating a ton of interest with such flawed passers.
Got your own favorite options for this first slate of preseason DFS action? Tell us all about them in the comments below!