NFL Preseason Daily Fantasy Helper: Friday 8/26/16
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
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers -- Cam Newton was the best fantasy quarterback last year and should see plenty of playing time in this one. Last year, we saw Newton throw 28 passes in this third game. Considering we've seen him score over 12 DraftKings points on just 18 passes already this preseason, he should be the chalk while likely playing the entire first half.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins -- Washington beat writer Rich Tandler says Kirk Cousins and the first team could see their playing time extended into the third quarter of tonight's game, which puts him firmly in play. Cousins is coming off of a terrific fantasy season, averaging the fourth-most fantasy points among active quarterbacks on this slate, and he could certainly put up a big total tonight. Washington might lean a little more heavily on Cousins in this one, too, with first- and second-string running backs Matt Jones and Chris Thompson out.
Running Backs to Target
Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Doug Martin sat out last week's game and is questionable to suit up tonight's contest. If we get word that Martin is out again, Sims becomes the top play of the slate in a matchup against the Browns. Cleveland ranked as the fourth-worst defense against the run according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric last season, and Sims should play at least an entire half in this game. His pass-catching ability is just an added bonus.
Tyler Gaffney, New England Patriots -- Gaffney has most likely earned himself a spot on New England's final-53 after his impressive preseason showing, but another big performance tonight will help solidify his spot. He has rushed 20 times for 95 yards and a touchdown while also catching all 5 of his targets for 18 yards. His 22.3 PPR points this preseason ranks second among running backs on this slate. With Dion Lewis on the shelf and Donald Brown recently cut, the Pats have little depth at running back, so Gaffney should again be featured. His involvement in the passing game helps provide him with a safe floor, too.
Keith Marshall, Washington Redskins -- Keith Marshall has really struggled this preseason, and he finds himself battling for a roster spot tonight. With both Jones and Thompson out of the picture, Marshall will have every opportunity to show that he deserves to make the team. He also has a favorable matchup against the Bills, who ranked dead last in Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) last season. Rob Kelley has run better this preseason and is also worth a look, but Marshall is the more talented player and has more big-play ability.
Wide Receivers to Target
Rashad Ross, Washington Redskins -- Rashad Ross has picked up right where he left off last preseason, leading all pass catchers with 29.7 PPR points through two weeks. With rookie Josh Doctson still out and slot receiver Jamison Crowder also slated to miss tonight's contest, Ross should once again be heavily involved. Ryan Grant is also worth some consideration as a lower-owned option. Grant is more of a slot receiver than Ross, and could theoretically see more time with the first team. He also is the only one who has been targeted as frequently as Ross, with just two less targets and 33 less yards this preseason.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Mike Evans and the Bucs starters should play the entire first half, which has to put Evans on your radar with all players priced the same. The matchup against Joe Haden isn't ideal, but Evans is one of the most talented players on the entire slate, and if the previous two games are any indication, he should be targeted early and often. Evans leads the Bucs in targets this preseason, despite playing in just 23.5 percent of the snaps.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns -- Josh Gordon is finally healthy, and coach Jackson says he wants to get a good look at him before he serves his four-game suspension. He should be heavily targeted in tonight's matchup against Tampa Bay, who ranked sixth-worst against the pass according to our metrics last year.
Dezmin Lewis, Buffalo Bills -- Sammy Watkins is back for tonight's game, but Coach Ryan said "he won't be in there a whole lot." The Bills will also be without Kolby Listenbee and Marcus Easley, while Marquise Goodwin and Greg Salas both are dealing with injuries and may not suit up. Ryan called out Lewis this week, saying he needs to step up this week if he wants to make the team. With Buffalo's receiving corps banged up, Lewis is an intriguing narrative-street play in tournaments tonight. If looking for a safer way to get exposure to Buffalo's pass catchers, Greg Little has played very well this preseason and should see plenty of playing time.
Tight Ends to Target
Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers -- Getting Vance McDonald the ball was clearly a priority last week, as he saw 6 targets in 10 snaps. He turned those into 5 catches for 92 yards and a score, making him San Fran's top scoring receiving option this preseason. He should see more playing time in this one, but with Colin Kaepernick likely playing more than Blaine Gabbert tonight, he might not be targeted as frequently. Last season, he saw just two targets per game with Kaepernick under center as opposed to five per game without him.
Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots -- AJ Derby has been all the rage among the preseason DFSers, but Martellus Bennett should see more playing time in tonight's game and is the more talented player. He is one of the safest tight end options on the board and has quite a bit of potential touchdown equity with Rob Gronkowski out of the picture.
Defenses to Target
Green Bay Packers -- The Packers draw a matchup against the 49ers, who are likely going to try to get an extended look at Colin Kaepernick tonight. Considering Kaepernick managed to throw five picks while also fumbling five times in just eight starts last season, it's fair to say Green Bay is near the top of the slate in upside tonight.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- The Bucs should see plenty of time against Robert Griffin III, who has played well this preseason, but we have seen be very erratic in the past. In the preseason, we're just targeting defenses that can get sacks and turnovers, and the Bucs certainly have the potential for lots of both against the Browns.