NFL Preseason Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 8/11/16

Michael Thomas has been making noise at New Orleans training camp. Will it translate to a productive preseason?

Regular season football games are still over a month 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. This tweet almost perfectly encapsulates what it's all about.

What that means is that 33 percent of the field is playing without a full lineup -- you'd already have an advantage on a huge chunk of the field!

There will also be a surprising amount of the field that rosters veterans based off of name recognition, even though they likely won't play more than one series.

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're 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 in order to give you an edge over your opponents.

Quarterbacks To Target

Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos -- First-round pick Paxton Lynch is set to play the entire second half for Denver, which automatically puts him in play. Lynch has shown flashes at camp this offseason, and these preseason games might be the only real opportunity he gets to show he deserves a shot at the starting gig. Lynch is also appealing due to his ability to scramble. With such limited volume during preseason, quarterbacks who can pick up easy points by getting yards on the ground are very valuable. Combine that with the matchup against a suspect Chicago defense, and Lynch is one of the more appealing quarterback plays on the slate.

Josh Johnson, Baltimore Ravens -- Joe Flacco has essentially been ruled out by Coach Jim Harbaugh for this game, meaning Ryan Mallett will likely draw the start for Baltimore. Mallett is certainly worth consideration, but if choosing between the Baltimore passers, my money is on backup Josh Johnson. Over the past two seasons, Harbaugh has only let his starting quarterback throw 11 combined passes in Week 1 of the preseason, while the second string threw 39. While Mallett will likely get more run than Flacco has the past two seasons, Johnson will likely end up with a larger slice of the pie for Week 1. Johnson is also a capable scrambler, which increases his floor.

Garrett Grayson, New Orleans Saints -- In 2014, Sean Payton's second-string quarterback threw 10 passes, while his third-string threw 23. In 2015, the second-stringer once again threw 10, while the third- and fourth-stringers combined for 29 pass attempts. Garrett Grayson, the Saints' third-round pick from 2015, should see two-plus quarters of action, making him one of the most interesting plays of the night by default.

Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots -- In the exact same situation last preseason -- with Tom Brady facing suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo the presumtative regular season Week 1 starter -- Brady started the game and threw four passes, while Jimmy G finished the game, throwing 30 passes. The Patriots did bring in Jacoby Brissett in the third round of this year's draft, so I wouldn't expect Garoppolo to see quite that much volume again, but he's likely going to get close to two quarters of play against the Saints defense, which is enough to put him in play. Keep an eye out for news of Brissett potentially playing a larger role in this game, though. The time to roster Garoppolo may not come until next week.

Running Backs To Target

Kenjon Barner, Philadelphia Eagles -- Ryan Mathews has been dealing with an ankle injury and is unlikely to see many reps in the first preseason game. Backup Darren Sproles really has nothing left to prove, while rookie Wendell Smallwood has already been ruled out with a quad injury. Kenjon Barner looked like the play of the week early on as the only back remaining with experience, but he went down with a quad injury recently and his status for Thursday's game still hasn't been determined. If forced to sit, Byron Marshall and Cedric O'Neal would carry the bulk of the workload for Philly. Any time you can target a back competing with only one other guy for carries, you have found preseason gold. If Barner is out, Marshall would be my bet here, as he has flashed more in training camp. Either back is worth consideration if Barner is out, though.

Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Starting running back Doug Martin likely won't get much run, while backup Charles Sims appears unlikely to suit up following reports of an ankle injury. As a result, Mike James and Storm Johnson are left as the only two backs with any real experience. James is the more highly-touted back and will likely see the larger workload this week, but both are worth consideration.

Dominique Williams, New York Jets -- The Jets' backfield is another one worth keeping an eye on the injury news leading up to game-time. Matt Forte and Bernard Pierce have both already been declared out, while Khiry Robinson has yet to put in full practices since returning from the PUP list. The most likely scenario involves Bilal Powell getting limited snaps with the first-team offense, followed by Dominique Williams and Romar Morris to compete for carries. According to several tweets, Williams looks like the back to roster out of the two.

Keith Marshall, Washington Redskins -- A talented rookie with 4.31 speed, Keith Marshall has made a fast impression at Redskins camp. Given Washington's past running back usage in Week 1, Marshall makes for a very interesting play. In 2014, Washington's third- and fourth-string runners saw 21 combined carries, accounting for a 68 percent market share of all running back carries. And in 2015, they saw 12 carries, which accounted for 48 percent of the market share. Marshall doesn't have the guaranteed workload by default that some of the previously mentioned backs do, but the potential is there for 5 to 10 carries. He also has the ability to take one to the house at any time.

Tyler Gaffney, New England Patriots -- With New England dealing with injuries to several of their backs, Gaffney will likely see a large role on Thursday, and Patriots beat writer Doug Kyed believes he is ready to put it all together and have a big preseason. With rumors that LeGarrette Blount isn't even a lock to make the team, Gaffney has a lot to play for, as he is auditioning for New England's "big-back" role. Gaffney is an exciting risk-reward option.

Brandon Wilds, Atlanta Falcons -- Undrafted rookie Brandon Wilds has been showing flashes in camp and could be the player to watch following an injury to third-string back Terron Ward. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman aren't expected to see much work this week, leaving the majority of the carries to go to Wilds and Gus Johnson, with Ward still in a walking boot.

Wide Receivers To Target

Jeremy Butler, Baltimore Ravens -- Baltimore is dealing with injuries to several receivers, which means Jeremy Butler could end up seeing a lot of playing time after Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace leave the game. He's clearly the most proven commodity of Baltimore's backup receivers, after averaging an impressive 11.7 yards per catch on 31 catches in 2015.

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints -- Thomas has lived up to his Twitter handle @Cantguardmike during training camp, repeatedly torching New Orleans defensive backs (not much of an accomplishment, to be honest). The talented second-round selection has looked like a bona fide playmaker, and with Brandon Coleman listed ahead of him on the depth chart, we should get plenty of chances to watch Thomas tomorrow. He is an exciting play, albeit one that might have very high ownership following all of the hype that has built over the past few weeks.

Rashad Ross, Washington Redskins -- Both Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder are out for the Skins, so Ross should get every opportunity to play his usual role of preseason hero. Last season, Ross was incredibly consistent, topping 11 fantasy points in every preseason game and finishing the preseason with an average line of 6.25 catches, 66.5 yards, and 1 touchdown. Ross is a safe play that offers big-time upside as well (two games of 23-plus points last preseason).

Rashad Greene, Jacksonville Jaguars -- The reports out of Jacksonville camp have been nothing but positive regarding Rashad Greene, who is fully expected to win Jacksonville's starting slot job. Keep an eye on the news leading up to game-time regarding playing time, because there's a chance Greene has already locked up the job and only runs with the first-string. If he is going to play most of the first half while battling for the third receiver spot, he is a very interesting play.

Aldrick Robinson, Atlanta Falcons -- Aldrick Robinson has been quietly impressive in training camp thus far, and Thursday's game gives him an opportunity to further separate himself from the competition. With Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Justin Hardy locked into their spots, getting Robinson and Nick Williams involved will likely be Atlanta's focus.

Daniel Braverman, Chicago Bears -- Braverman has reportedly been the breakout receiver for the Bears at camp, and with Chicago dealing with injuries to Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson, he should get every opportunity to show his body of work in Thursday's contest.

Tight Ends To Target

Jace Amaro, New York Jets -- If you're one for Narrative Street, Jace Amaro is the man for you in Week 1 of the preseason, as he will be playing with some extra motivation. In addition to any external motivation, Amaro should already be plenty motivated to prove that he is not a bust after being a second-round pick for the Jets. Reports out of camp is that he is finally catching on after injuries have derailed his career thus far. The talented tight end is still listed as second on the depth chart, so he should get plenty of opportunities for playing time on Thursday. Amaro's combination of ability and opportunity make him one of the most appealing plays on the slate.

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons -- Per the, Levine Toilolo is questionable with a hand injury, and 2016 third-round pick Austin Hooper has really been coming along nicely. Our own Austin Gayle wrote a piece regarding Hooper's ability to fill the tight end void for the Falcons this year, and if he carries over the impressive play he has shown this offseason to the preseason, he will likely get every opportunity to fill that void. With Toilolo out, Hooper should get an extended look after the first team offense leaves the game.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- It's going to be difficult to stomach rostering Austin Seferian-Jenkins after his disappointing 2015 campaign, but all the buzz out of training camp recently has been positive. He has reportedly been making plays in team drills and making great catches all over the place and, as a result, will get his share of opportunities to show that he can be Tampa Bay's starting tight end and a weapon in the red zone. Seferian-Jenkins has responded well to Coach Dirk Koetter kicking him out of practice earlier in the offseason, and has a lot of motivation to play well in this game, making him an interesting risk-reward option.

Jeff Heuerman, Denver Broncos -- Reports out of Bronco camp are that 2015 third-round pick Jeff Heuerman has been playing well and is ready to contribute in big way for the Broncos this season. He is still listed behind Virgil Green on the depth chart, meaning he should get plenty of looks in tomorrow's game. He is one of many interesting tight ends on this slate, and one of the few truly interesting stacking options, as you can pair him with Paxton Lynch and hope for some second-half magic.

Darren Waller, Baltimore Ravens -- I really wish Waller was playing on a different slate, as this one is actually loaded with tight end options. As a result, he is probably too risky to give serious consideration to unless making multiple lineups. However, with the current state of Baltimore's pass-catchers, especially at the tight end position, Waller is very interesting as an off-the-wall high-upside play. Benjamin Watson is the only healthy tight end ahead of Waller on the depth chart other than Nick Boyle, a 260-pound blocking tight end who has 5.04 speed. With Watson unlikely to play much, if at all, the former wide receiver, Darren Waller, is worth a shot in some tournaments.

Defense/Special Teams To Target

Carolina Panthers -- The Panthers get a matchup against a banged-up Baltimore offense that will likely be playing without starting quarterback Joe Flacco. While there's a chance that Baltimore's reserves could pile up some points, Carolina seems like the most obvious choice at D/ST on this slate.

New York Jets -- lf you're looking for a pivot off of the Panthers, the Jets also have a solid defense and will be facing a Jacksonville offense who will be directed by Chad Henne.