FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Preseason Helper: Thursday 8/17/17
Football is back -- sort of.
It's the preseason, and FanDuel is offering up some DFS slates. You might be thinking that preseason DFS isn't for you, but really, you can have a lot of success if you're tuned into the news and expected workloads for players.
At the very least, it'll give you a reason to tack on an extra four weeks to your football-viewing season.
Here's what you should know for tonight's three-game slate. (Note that in the preseason, all FanDuel salaries are $6,000.)
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,000) -- Jameis Winston and the starters will play most of the first half, according to Coach Dirk Koetter, who went as far as to single out Winston, saying, "I'd like Jameis [Winston], if we have the ball, to get into a two-minute situation at the end of the second quarter." Winston is already the best starting quarterback on this slate, and with potentially a half of playing time at his disposal, he easily stands out as the top quarterback option. Don't overthink this one in cash games.
Matt McGloin, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,000) -- While the consensus top-option is normally the way to go in preseason, sometimes the chalk doesn't hit. Remember the first 15 minutes of last week's Pittsburgh Steelers game, when the chalk-play Joshua Dobbs appeared determined to break the preseason record for interceptions thrown?
So when you recognize a situation in which there will be a clear-cut chalk option in the preseason -- which contains far more variance than regular season -- you almost have to make some contrarian tournament teams on the off-chance that someone like Winston has a sub-par game.
On this slate, one of the best quarterback options to lead your tournament teams is Matthew McGloin. Coach Doug Pederson doesn't want Carson Wentz to play more than "a drive, maybe two at the most" this week, and while Nick Foles made a return to practice, his status is firmly in question for this game. In a similar situation last week, McGloin was allowed to attempt an absurd 42 passes, which easily led the NFL. If he sees anywhere near that volume again -- not out of the question -- McGloin could post a higher score at lower ownership than Winston.
Nathan Peterman, Buffalo Bills ($6,000) -- Speaking of contrarian, Peterman came in under 1% ownership in most contests last week, despite appearing to be in line for significant volume. (If you are one of those who like to claim that preseason DFS is just luck, there's a clear example of an edge!) Peterman threw the ball 25 times and topped 10 FanDuel points, while more FanDuel players rostered the likes of Tyrod Taylor, who had 8 pass attempts.
The Buffalo Bills apparently liked what they saw out of their rookie quarterback, as Peterman has since then surpassed T.J. Yates on the depth chart. Buffalo is still carrying just three quarterbacks and has made it a priority to keep Taylor on the sideline for the majority of their previous preseason games (just 24% of the snaps in this game last season). If that pattern holds true tonight, Peterman could again be looking at 20-plus pass attempts, which gives him the potential to outscore some of the higher-owned quarterbacks like Winston and Blake Bortles.
Corey Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- If the name Corey Grant sounds familiar, it is because he has been relevant on perhaps the only NFL stage that can challenge preseason DFS for "degen-status" -- Week 17 of the regular season. Last season, Grant put on a show in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Indianapolis Colts, turning 20 touches into 137 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
Last week, Grant picked up where he left off, showing off his blazing 4.25 (pro day 40-time) speed on his way to 120 yards and a score on 8 carries.
Another big play for the Jaguars offense: RB Corey Grant breaks free for a 79 yard rushing TD! pic.twitter.com/2IyVuE3Ria
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) August 11, 2017
With Leonard Fournette out for this game and Chris Ivory unlikely to play much, Grant could be looking at all the touches he can handle. His breakaway speed gives him the ability to change the complexion of a preseason DFS slate on a dime. As part of a weak running back pool, he is an inadvisable fade, even in tournaments. Cut the chalk elsewhere.
Taquan Mizzell, Baltimore Ravens ($6,000) -- The back who earned himself the nickname "Smoke" was a workhorse for the Baltimore Ravens in the first week of the preseason, which wasn't surprising after glowing reports from camp leading up to the game. Baltimore gave Mizzell 16 touches, which he turned into 54 scrimmage yards, as opposed to Javorius Allen's 32 yards on 11 touches.
The two are still locked into a battle for the third spot in Baltimore's backfield depth chart following Kenneth Dixon's injury, a role that could turn out to be valuable if anything happened to Terrance West. Baltimore played it cautious with their starters in this game last season -- which is the norm -- not playing any of their first-team skill position players over 26% of the snaps. So we could get an extended look at Mizzell and Allen again, making both viable plays.
Jonathan Williams, Buffalo Bills ($6,000) -- Jonathan Williams did his best to separate himself as Lesean McCoy's primary backup in the first week of the preseason, ripping off a big run seemingly every time he touched the ball. He finished with 46 scrimmage yards on 5 touches. It could have been a much bigger day for Williams, but he was forced to exit the game with a minor hamstring stain. Williams said the injury was “not bad at all” and that he could have returned to the game. He returned to practice with no limitations on Sunday.
As mentioned earlier, Buffalo has played it pretty close-to-the-chest in the preseason, and it would be quite the surprise to see McCoy exceed the 22% of snaps he saw in this game in 2016. Williams should handle most of the playing time in the second quarter and could lead the backfield in the third-quarter. He's an exciting upside play.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Bucacaneers ($6,000) -- Last week, Mike Evans turned one quarter of play into 4 catches on 7 targets, good for 58 yards and 7.8 FanDuel points. This week, he should get close to a half of playing time. In case you missed his 2016 campaign, Evans is pretty good at this football thing. The Winston-Evans pairing tonight will likely be the most popular stack of any slate this entire preseason -- and for good reason.
Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills ($6,000) -- With Sammy Watkins in Los Angeles and newly acquired Jordan Matthews currently listed as week-to-week, talented second-round selection Zay Jones will get every opportunity to shine. Jones played just eight snaps last week, and as we've discussed, Buffalo is cautious in the preseason. It would make a ton of sense for them to try to get an extended look at Jones in the upcoming weeks, though.
The playing time is enough of a concern that Jones might not be the foolproof home run play some will sell him as, but he certainly has tantalizing upside on a somewhat ugly three-game slate.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- Marqise Lee and Rashad Greene both missed practice on Tuesday and are considered unlikely to play, which might offer Westbrook another opportunity to showcase his ability this week.
Westbrook ran a 4.34 on his Oklahoma pro day, after earning unanimous first-team All-American honors in 2016 with 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns. However, accusations of domestic abuse caused the extremely talented youngster to fall to the fourth-round in this year's draft.
He received just one target last week, which is somewhat concerning, but he made the most of it, taking it 42 yards to the house. With a dinged-up group of wideouts, Jacksonville could give Westbrook more looks this week. He is an enticing boom-bust option, perhaps suited for tournaments.
Dede Westbrook made a 43 yard TD look easy pic.twitter.com/WFicvKAUzb
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 11, 2017
Rod Streater, Buffalo Bills ($6,000) -- Rod Streater received a lot of buzz heading into last week's game and rewarded those who rostered him with a big fat zero. Hopefully that keeps his ownership down this week because he should see lots of opportunities for redemption. Along with Matthews, Jeremy Butler -- with whom Streater is directly competing for a spot -- will miss this game.
Streater also provides a stackable option with Peterman, as the two should get a lot of face-time in the second and third quarters. He is likely better reserved as a tournament play after receiving just one target last week, but he certainly has upside. It's possible we were all just one week early.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,000) -- Many will want to take a shot on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round selection O.J. Howard, and while the Bucs have spent all offseason raving about Howard's blocking ability, it is still Cameron Brate who remains atop the depth chart. After catching 8 touchdowns and totaling 660 receiving yards as the starting tight end in 2016, Brate looked every bit the part of the team's primary tight end last week, catching 2 passes for 27 yards, as opposed to Howard's catch-less day on one target. He should be in for most of the first-team's snaps tonight, so if the Bucs' starters do indeed do get an entire half of action, Brate profiles as one of the strongest plays at an unpredictable position.
Trey Burton, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,000) -- Trey Burton is no stranger to preseason DFS hype, as he was a popular play on multiple occasions last season -- on one of those occasions, he rewarded us with 5 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown. With Jordan Matthews out of town, some are already hyping up Burton as a potential beneficiary of additional slot targets, which is something worth keeping an eye on tonight.
Some will be inclined to take a chance on starters from teams other than the Bucs, such as Zach Ertz. It is worth noting, however, that Ertz played just 23% of the team's snaps in this game last season, as did Philadelphia's first-string wideouts. Instead, it should be Burton who leads the team in playing time, making him worth a dart throw.
Choosing a preseason kicker should be simple simple: take the ones who will get 100% of the opportunities. According to ourlads.com, Steven Hauschka, Caleb Sturgis, Andrew Franks, and Jason Myers would appear to be the kickers to target on this slate.
The Miami D/ST unit gets a date with Ryan Mallett and Thaddeus Lewis. The only real concern is that Smokin' Jay Cutler isn't in good enough "cardiovascular shape" to chase down any potential pick-sixes he throws, giving Baltimore free points.
The contrarian pick would be to go with Tampa Bay D/ST, who could go under-owned due to the multitude of exciting Jacksonville Jaguars offensive options on this slate. Any time you can get a team facing the likes of Bortles and Chad Henne, it's worth taking a shot, due to the potential for turnovers.