NFL Preseason Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 8/18/16

Rookie running back DeAndre Washington impressed in his debut last week. Are we in store for an encore performance in Week 2?

Regular season football games are still weeks away, yet you're here reading a preseason daily fantasy football article. So I'll assume that you're a huge football fan? Oh, perhaps you're just a person who likes easy money. If that is the case, then preseason daily fantasy football is for you.

If you're new to preseason DFS, let me introduce you to the beautiful opportunity it presents.

With every player listed at the same price tag, it really comes down to being able to identify which players will see the most playing time. If you are willing to dig deep and find those players, you have a huge advantage.

The purpose of this article is to help you identify which players possess the right combination of talent and opportunity on each slate and give you an edge over your opponents.

Quarterbacks to Target

Landry Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers -- Landry Jones was near the top of the league in quarterback snaps in Week 1, playing 41 percent of Pittsburgh's snaps, and he's in store for even more this week. Starter Ben Roethlisberger has already been declared out, while third-string quarterback Bruce Gradkowski just tore his hamstring and will likely miss the rest of the preseason. As a result, Pittsburgh will be left with just Jones and fourth-stringer Dustin Vaughan. Jones is perhaps the safest bet for volume on the slate.

Sam Bradford/Chase Daniel, Philadelphia Eagles -- This is a very interesting situation to monitor as we get closer to kickoff. Rookie Carson Wentz has already been declared out with a rib injury, meaning Philly's only quarterbacks will be Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson (who doesn't appear to be a part of their long-term plans). In his past two preseasons at Kansas City, Coach Doug Pederson allowed his first-string quarterback to play extensively in Week 2, averaging 20 passes a game, compared to 8 passes a game for the backup, who also happened to be Chase Daniel. Most people will likely be on Daniel this week, but Bradford may end up being the one who sees more volume. Keep an eye out for news on how the playing time will be split.

Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots -- Jimmy Garoppolo ranked second among all quarterbacks in snap percentage last week, playing 58 percent of New England's offensive snaps. That is a trend that should continue, as Coach Belichick said "he has to get all the quarterbacks ready, but Jimmy's the priority." With an advantageous matchup against Chicago tonight and plenty of expected volume, Garoppolo once again is one of the top quarterback plays on the slate.

Trevone Boykin, Seattle Seahawks -- Last week, we saw Trevone Boykin play extensively, logging 66 percent of snaps, the most among quarterbacks. He could certainly see an entire half of playing time again, but it is worth noting that Coach Carroll has allowed Russell Wilson to throw 14 passes per game in Week 2 over the past two seasons. If news breaks that Boykin will see two-plus quarters of playing time, his big-play ability makes him worth a look (see below). However, without the assured playing time, the quarterbacks mentioned above are probably better bets.

Running Backs to Target

DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders -- Rookie DeAndre Washington added more fuel to the hype train in his preseason debut, ranking sixth in fantasy running back scoring and second among backs who didn't reach the end zone. He averaged a healthy 5.4 yards per carry and showed off his receiving ability with one 32-yard catch and run. Washington also led Oakland running backs in snaps and ranked eighth among all backs in snap percentage (33 percent). He should get plenty of opportunity to showcase his ability again this week, and his profile as a pass-catching back only further boosts his value on sites that give full points per reception.

Zach Zenner, Detroit Lions --
The Preseason Hero was at it once again in Week 1 of the preseason, collecting 8.6 full PPR points, fifth-most among running backs and the most among backs without a touchdown. Zenner also led the team's backs in snaps, accounting for 29 percent of their snaps (10th-most among all backs). Zenner's competition for the team's 'big-back role', Stevan Ridley, struggled last week, collecting just 14 yards on 5 carries. With word that Zenner has taken the lead over Ridley, it wouldn't be surprising to see an even larger split in their snaps and touches as they get closer to the regular season.

Brandon Wilds, Atlanta Falcons -- Terron Ward has already been declared out for tonight's game, meaning Brandon Wilds will get a chance to build on his impressive Week 1 performance and show that he deserves the number-three spot on the depth chart. Last week, Wilds ranked fifth among running backs in snap percentage, receiving 41 percent of Atlanta's running back snaps. He parlayed that into 8.7 PPR points, which was fourth among running backs. With Atlanta's number-one and -two backs already set in stone, Wilds should get every chance to shine this week as he competes for a job.

Tyler Gaffney, New England Patriots -- Tyler Gaffney built on the reports that he was ready to have a big preseason, ranking third among running backs with 11.1 PPR points during the first week of the preseason. He easily led New England's backfield in snaps and touches, and his 39 percent market share of running back snaps ranked sixth among all backs last week. Look for New England to give him plenty of opportunities again this week as he battles for a roster spot. He's also an interesting game theory pairing with Garoppolo, because if Jimmy G leads New England to a few scoring drives early on, we could see Gaffney get lots of second-half work as New England runs out the clock against a suspect Chicago defense.

Wide Receivers to Target

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals -- Tyler Boyd's 41 percent market share of receiver snaps easily led the Bengals last week, as Cincinnati clearly wanted to get a good look at Boyd's route-running ability both in the slot and on the perimeter. Following an injury to Brandon LaFell, it may be even more of a priority to get Boyd ready to play a big role for the Bengals early in the season, so he could again lead them in snaps in preseason Week 2. Expect more than the two targets he received last week.

Sammie Coates, Pittsburgh Steelers --
Sammie Coates was expected to play a big role for Pittsburgh last week with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant both out, but instead delivered just 3 catches for 18 yards and 2 fumbles. On the bright side, he did play 66 percent of Pittsburgh's offensive snaps, which tied for second among all receivers last week. Both Brown and Bryant will be absent again this week, meaning Coates should get plenty of opportunities to redeem himself. After all of the hype that came out on Coates this offseason, it's time for him to step up and deliver in a game scenario.

Aldrick Robinson, Atlanta Falcons -- Aldrick Robinson was expected to play a big role last week after impressing throughout training camp, and he didn't disappoint, catching 3 passes for 118 yards, making him the second-highest scoring receiver on the slate and the highest scoring player at any position to not score a touchdown. He ranked just behind third receiver Justin Hardy (also not a bad play this week) for snaps among Atlanta wideouts. Hardy played in 44 percent of their offensive snaps, while Robinson played in 38 percent. This week, Julio Jones gushed about Robinson when asked, saying "He’s a great deep ball threat, great speed, great hands.” We should get every opportunity to see Robinson build on his impressive preseason this week as he competes for the fourth spot on Atlanta's receiver depth chart.

Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots -- Aaron Dobson tied Coates with a 66 percent market share of his team's offensive snaps, and he turned in a respectable line of 3 catches for 27 yards on 4 targets. With several Patriots receivers banged up these past few weeks, Dobson has stepped up and led the way at practice, a trend that should continue in Week 2.

Tight Ends to Target

Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers -- Nobody knows what is going to happen with the ongoing Ladarius Green situation, meaning the Steelers have no choice but to view Jesse James as their starting tight end entering 2016. Considering James has just eight career receptions to his name, it seems safe to assume Pittsburgh will continue to ride him heavily over the next two weeks of the preseason. Last week, James saw 50 percent of the tight end snaps, which was the fourth-most among tight ends for the week. With an athletic 6'7" frame, Pittsburgh's fifth-round selection from 2015 could certainly carve out a role for himself in the red zone if he performs well over the remainder of the preseason.

Cole Wick, Detroit Lions -- Last week, we expected Wick to play extensively with Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, and Matthew Mulligan injured. While his playing time was there (38 percent of Detroit's snaps, 11th-most among tight ends), the production was ultimately disappointing, as Wick came down with just one 10-yard catch. Given his profile as an athletic pass-catching tight end, as well as his impressive training camp, Wick should do more with his snaps this week. Considering the volatility of the position in preseason (just two tight ends finished with five-plus targets last week), all you can do is target players who will see the field a lot, which Cole should.

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles -- While Zach Ertz doesn't have the assured playing time that James, Wick, or C.J. Uzomah will, he saw a surprising 49 percent of Philadelphia's snaps last week, and his five targets ranked second among tight ends. If the scenario envisioned above unfolds and Bradford and the starters play more than expected, Ertz could be looking at near 50 percent of Philly's snaps again. Considering Bradford doesn't have his most reliable receiver in Jordan Matthews, Ertz could certainly be targeted early and often throughout the first half. Just keep an eye on Trey Burton's status leading up to the game. If word comes out that he'll see a larger role, Ertz may make an earlier exit than he did in Week 1.

Defense/Special Teams to Target

Philadelphia Eagles -- When targeting defenses in preseason, we're hoping for turnovers. If you've targeted Philly's defense in the preseason over the past two years, they've rewarded you with plenty of those. After their defense/special teams scored a touchdown in all but one preseason game last year, Philly forced five turnovers against the Bucs last week. This week, they will face the Steelers who will use a combination of Landry Jones and Dustin Vaughan. Jones threw two interceptions last preseason and had four more picked off during the regular season, despite attempting just 55 passes. Vaughan threw 67 passes last preseason, but still managed to throw two picks, lose one fumble, and take nine sacks.

New England Patriots -- If not rolling with the Eagles, the Pats appear to be the next team most likely to pile up some turnovers, as they take on a Chicago offense that turned Denver's defensive unit into a tournament winner last week. Chicago's offensive line is a complete mess right now, and Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer are not world-beaters by any means. The potential is certainly there for the Patriots to pile up the fantasy points in a hurry.