FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Preseason Helper: Thursday 8/24/17
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 two-game slate. (Note: in the preseason, all FanDuel salaries are $6,000.)
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,000) -- Given the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles gave their first-string quarterback 58% of the snaps in this game last preseason, Carson Wentz was already a candidate for a large workload. With news that Nick Foles is out again, Wentz becomes the most attractive on-paper quarterback on the slate. Philly coach Doug Pederson said he is still figuring out rotation for Thursday, but also said "starters typically play into the third quarter." So there's a good chance that Wentz's workload is similar to that of the 58% of snaps that Sam Bradford saw for Philly in Week 3 of the preseason last year.
Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins ($6,000) -- With just four teams to choose from, and one of them being the Jacksonville Jaguars, there are really only going to be a few viable quarterback plays on the slate. Cam Newton is expected to be back in action, but he may potentially see only two series' worth of snaps, so smokin' Jay Cutler is firmly in play.
Cutler is expected to get extended playing time in this one, potentially playing into the third-quarter. That in itself is enough to make him a worthwhile play on such a small slate.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers ($6,000) -- As if there wasn't enough hype around Christian McCaffrey heading into his rookie season, he has lit it up this preseason, turning his 12 touches into 105 yards and a score. The hype train is officially out of control at this point.
It's tough to predict how much work McCaffrey will see in this one, but a look at how the Carolina Panthers handled their running back rotations in their Week 3 game last season might offer some insight. In a game in which their starters played into the second half, Jonathan Stewart saw just 15% of the snaps. Meanwhile, their then-second-string back, Cameron Artis-Payne, led the backs with 39% of the snaps.
Carolina may not go with an identical approach this time around, because McCaffrey already has a solidified role and Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker are still in the midst of a battle for a roster spot. However, McCaffrey has already proven the ability to put up numbers in limited action this preseason, and he should get more playing time in this week's dress rehearsal than any other preseason contest.
Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,000) -- Wendell Smallwood reportedly may be the starting running back this season, but he has yet to handle a single preseason carry. Running backs coach Duce Staley claimed Smallwood was "having the best camp of any in his position group before the injury," and had no doubt Smallwood would be able to pick up where he left off when he got back.
Well, Smallwood finally is back and is ready for his first preseason action of the year. Pederson acknowledged that Smallwood could be looking at a large workload in his first game back, saying “With me resting [Darren] Sproles in these games and all that, it taxes some of the younger guys out there, and now he can take some of those reps. And he needs those reps, too. He's missed some time. It's a chance to get back into the offense and pick up kind of where he left off.” Smallwood also anticipated getting plenty of reps, saying “This is one of the biggest games of the preseason. I definitely know we’re going to play a lot, and it will be good to get those game reps.”
Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- With both Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon out for tonight's game, Chris Ivory and Corey Grant will be left to take on the majority of the first-team snaps. Coach Doug Marrone has already said he is hoping to get more out of Jacksonville's running game, so if they do focus on running the ball more, Ivory could end up with a large workload. While Ivory has been unspectacular thus far, turning 13 preseason carries into just 24 yards, we've seen him be productive at the NFL level. He is expected to be Jacksonville's short-yardage back this season, so he will likely get goal-line carries over the smaller Grant.
Corey Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- Grant is the lesser-known of the two Jacksonville Jaguars' backs in line for a large workload, but that doesn't make him any less exciting of an option. In fact, they don't get much more exciting than Grant, whose speed (4.25 pro day 40-time) has been on full display this preseason. He has turned his 12 carries into 133 yards, highlighted by a 79-yard touchdown run. With Jacksonville hoping to get more out of their running game, look for more than the four carries we saw from Grant last week. He is an enticing boom-bust option.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins ($6,000) -- Is everybody back on the DeVante Parker bandwagon? Well, Jay Cutler certainly is, claiming Parker is “a faster Alshon [Jeffery].” Parker finished last week's game with just 1 catch for 16 yards on 4 targets, but he also had a 20-yard catch from Cutler called back because of a holding penalty. He has been one of the Miami Dolphins' preseason winners thus far, and Parker may continue to build on his positive momentum tonight.
No team on this slate featured their starting wideouts more than Miami in their Week 3 preseason game last season, as the Dolphins' top-three receivers all played into the second half a year ago. If Parker sees a half-plus of playing time with Cutler, he should be peppered with targets and he has the big-play ability to be one of the top wideouts on the slate.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers ($6,000) -- Kelvin Benjamin has quickly quieted offseason doubters, catching all 4 of his targets through the first two games, good for 71 yards and a touchdown. Sorry, simply adding the words "and a touchdown" to the end of that sentence didn't seem to do it justice.
30 yard extended TD catch by Kelvin Benjamin pic.twitter.com/5tpP1L9icO
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 9, 2017
The only thing that has kept Benjamin from really posting huge numbers has been his playing time. However, he saw 43% of the snaps in this game last year, while 2016 fellow starting wideout, Ted Ginn Jr. saw exactly 50%. If Benjamin plays the entire first half, it is hard to make a case against him on a two-game slate, especially with Cam Newton back under center for at least a couple drives.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,000) -- Alshon Jeffery saw just 25% of the snaps last week in his first preseason action with the Eagles, but that was enough for him to lead the team in targets (5). He has reportedly been dominating Miami defensive backs in joint practice this week, and it will be exciting to see him put that into action on the game field. With Wentz coming in as the top-ranked quarterback on this slate, adding Jeffrey makes for a great stack, as the Wentz-to-Jeffrey connection has reportedly looked unstoppable in practice.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- With the three receivers we just talked about all likely to be fairly chalky on such a small slate, let's focus on someone who might fly a bit under the radar. While Allen Robinson's 10 targets this preseason certainly make him a viable play, if you're taking any receiver catching passes from the likes of Chad Henne and Blake Bortles, your best bet is likely to roll with someone who has big-time after-the-catch ability, such as Dede Westbrook.
Westbrook is an enormously talented player, but he fell to the fourth-round due to accusations of domestic abuse. He boasts 4.34 speed (his 40-time from pro day) and finished last season fourth in the Heisman voting.
In two preseason games, he has shown off his speed and elite ability to create separation, catching 7 of 8 targets for 173 yards and a score. With Marqise Lee dealing with an ankle injury and Allen Hurns still yet to play this preseason, as Jacksonville possibly shops him, there is plenty of opportunity for Westbrook to carve out a real role for himself in the offense. He isn't a core cash-game option, but Dede is certainly in play as a risk-reward tournament play.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,000) -- Zach Ertz saw 55% of the snaps in this game last season, which is far more than any of the other starting tight ends on this slate are expected to get. He is the de facto number-one tight end tonight, and Ertz will likely be the chalk option at the position.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,000) -- If you're looking for a darkhorse play at a gross tight end position, Marcedes Lewis should carry much lower ownership than Ertz. He has accounted for four of Jacksonville's seven tight end targets this preseason,and has a real chance to be the starting tight end following the offseason departure of Julius Thomas. With Mychal Rivera out for this game, Lewis should continue to dominate the snaps for Jacksonville.
Choosing a preseason kicker should be simple: take the ones who will get 100% of the opportunities. According to depth charts at ourlads.com, Caleb Sturgis and Andrew Franks stand out as the best options on this slate.
The Carolina D/ST face a mess of a Jacksonville team that is going with Henne as their starting quarterback and is playing without Fournette or Yeldon. Using game theory, you might be able to justify fading the Panthers due to ownership percentage concerns, but they are the clear optimal play on a slate in which all defenses cost the same.