Editor’s note: See below for Ian’s favorite values for the Friday-Sunday slates. For Sean Koerner’s complete DFS projections for Week 2 of the preseason, check out our NFL Models.
Week 2 of the preseason is officially here. Expect to see more starters play for at least a possession or two across the league, and some teams might even be feeling themselves enough to play their studs for a quarter or two.
What follows is an analysis on the optimal daily fantasy strategy and picks for the Preseason Week 2 DraftKings slate.
General Preseason DFS Strategy
Action Network NFL expert Chris Raybon wrote an incredibly helpful and actionable piece titled The Definitive Guide to Crushing Preseason DFS that tackles some of the unique nuances of preseason daily fantasy football.
Some of Raybon’s key takeaways were:
- Fade starters/weekly regulars outside of Week 3.
- Target players who are considered in the running for a spot on the 53, but without much prior tape of live NFL game action.
- Feel free to target undrafted players at running back, wide receiver and/or tight end, but quarterbacks who post top-10 preseason results tend to be drafted more often than not.
- Experience is not a big factor at quarterback. Less experience has also been better at running back and wide receiver. Experience has historically meant the most at tight end.
- Running backs have had a slight edge as flex options, but wide receivers have been similarly productive. The tight end position should generally be avoided in the FLEX and faded completely in one-game contests.
- Target teams with only one kicker on the roster and don’t hesitate to use a kicker or D/ST in the 1.5x spot in one-game contests.
- Limit quarterback stacks to one pass catcher on large slates.
- Stack DSTs with running backs or wide receivers vying for return jobs.
- Don’t overrate Vegas odds.
- Be aware of preseason coaching tendencies.
- Local team beat reports are key.
- Preseason lends itself to tournaments.
As you’ve probably realized by now: Evaluating opportunity is more important than ever compared to discerning talent gaps when it comes to preseason DFS.
Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday Slate Breakdowns
The following players are my top picks for the rest of the slates.
- Tyree Jackson, Bills
- Josh Rosen, Dolphins
- Chad Kelly, Colts
- Brian Hoyer, Patriots
- Easton Stick, Chargers
- Nick Mullens, 49ers
- Elijah Holyfield, Panthers
- Devin Singletary, Bills
- Mike Weber, Cowboys
- Nick Brossette, Patriots
- Darwin Thompson, Chiefs
- Mike Boone, Vikings
- Khalfani Muhammad, Broncos
- Preston Williams, Dolphins
- Robert Foster, Bills
- Justin Watson, Buccaneers
- Deon Cain, Colts
- Jakobi Meyers, Patriots
- Cedrick Wilson, Cowboys
- D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks
- Deebo Samuel, 49ers
- Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
- Mo Alie-Cox, Colts
- Dan Arnold, Saints
- Friday: Bills at Panthers (40)
- Saturday: Patriots at Titans (40)
- Sunday: Vikings at Vikings (42) and 49ers at Broncos (42)
Thursday Slate Breakdown
Everyone costs $5,500 on DraftKings this week, so there’s no need to concern ourselves with any pricing discrepancies.
The following quarterbacks are my favorite plays on the board this week.
Trace McSorley, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens’ sixth-round pick didn’t quite ball out in his NFL preseason debut, completing just nine of 22 passes (40.9% completion rate) for 85 yards (3.9 yards per attempt) with zero touchdowns and an interception. McSorley did chip in another 16 yards on the ground and displayed some of his familiar elusiveness.
Despite the initial down performance, McSorley remains incredibly intriguing thanks to his dual-threat talent that makes him an ideal backup for Lamar Jackson. McSorley might not boast the same top-end speed as Jackson, but he did manage to rush for 1,697 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground in 46 career games at Penn State.
More important is the fact that McSorley remains on one of the few preseason depth charts that consists of only three quarterbacks. Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed that Jackson will play “about the same” number of snaps this week as he did in the opener, which consisted of 16 snaps in three series of work. McSorley (23 dropbacks) easily received more time than journeyman Joe Callahan (five dropbacks) during that game.
Brett Hundley, Arizona Cardinals
The Eagles, Raiders and Falcons join the Ravens as offenses expected to utilize just three quarterbacks, but I can’t bring myself to confidently tout the likes of Clayton Thorson, Nathan
Vick Peterman or Matt Simms. Can’t do it.
This brings us to Hundley, who looked much more comfortable in Kliff Kingsbury’s air-raid attack compared to what we saw during his time with the Packers. Hundley always carries a decent floor considering he averaged 24.5 rushing yards per game during his 11 games with the Packers in 2017. He managed to rack up another 14 yards last Thursday night.
Hundley’s weaponry with the Packers was essentially Davante Adams … and that’s it. The Cardinals’ abundance of talented rookie receivers in Andy Isabella (hamstring), KeeSean Johnson and Hakeem Butler gives credence to the idea that the Cardinals should have plenty of firepower on the field Thursday night even once Hundley eventually comes into the game to face the Raiders’ backup defense.
More QBs to Consider:
- Dwayne Haskins, Redskins
Our search for preseason fantasy football stars at the running back position will involve identifying players with…
- Three-down size
- Receiving ability
- A fairly barren depth chart
The following running backs especially stick out as potential workhorses come Thursday night…
Trenton Cannon, New York Jets
The Jets are tentatively again not expected to play Le’Veon Bell this week, leaving them with primary backups Ty Montgomery (please change your number if you’re reading this) and Bilal Powell (neck), as well as the likes of Eli McGuire, Valentine Holmes and Trenton Cannon.
The latter running back is the most-intriguing option ahead of Thursday’s matchup against the Falcons. While Cannon might not have the size of a featured back at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, the Jets have still been willing to feed him touches in the preseason. Cannon received a team-high nine carries last week and also caught all three of his targets for an additional 17 yards.
Cannon has the speed (4.45-second 40-yard dash) and overall athleticism (79th-percentile SPARQ-x athlete) to make any touch count in a big way. The Jets’ light depth chart at the running back position makes him a prime option against a Falcons defense that has allowed the most receptions to opposing running backs in four consecutive regular seasons.
Dexter Williams, Green Bay Packers
Williams converted 14 carries into 62 yards on the ground and turned his only target into an 18-yard gain during his preseason debut. Aaron Jones (hamstring) is back to practice, but it’d be surprising to see him get much work while Jamaal Williams (hamstring) is also compromised.
This means Dexter could be in for another workhorse role. He has the size (5-foot-11 and 212 pounds) and enough speed (4.57-second 40-yard dash) to warrant bell-cow usage. The only negative is the fact that Williams caught only 22 passes during his four-year career at Notre Dame, but his knack for finding the crease and picking up chunk plays on the ground can’t be ignored.
This is what we saw at Notre Dame from Dexter Williams: one cut and get downhill with explosiveness. Such a perfect fit for Matt LaFleur. pic.twitter.com/Dr2tmUfiuP
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) August 9, 2019
Don’t expect Williams to benefit from too many snaps with Aaron Rodgers on the field, although both DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle deserve credit for each performing admirably in their respective preseason snaps last week.
More RBs to Consider:
- Qadree Ollison, Falcons
- Trayveon Williams, Bengals
Touches are even more scarce at the wide receiver position. Every team has at least 10 wide receivers on their depth chart at the moment, so expect to see low individual target shares around the league.
We can focus on drafting straight-up ballers with this in mind, or at least players that have managed to stand out from their competition to this point in training camp. If our players are going to get only a handful of targets at most, we might as well make sure the receivers have the ability to make big plays with their limited opportunities.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Philadelphia Eagles
The former Stanford Cardinal is a handful for any cornerback to cover in the red zone thanks to his solid size (6-foot-2 and 225 pounds) and ridiculous arm length (87th-percentile among all wide receivers). JAWS displayed all these tools at the NFL level during his debut last Thursday night.
All four JJ Arcega-Whiteside targets from Thursday night.
JAWS is a b-a-l-l-e-r pic.twitter.com/PiXPKRwkIm
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 9, 2019
Eagles beat writers have suggested that Carson Wentz and the offense’s key starters could be held out for the entire preseason. This is particularly true for Wentz after backup Nate Sudfeld suffered a left wrist injury last week that is expected to sideline him for up to six weeks.
JAWS might not be on the field for more than a quarter or so worth of action, but his status as a contributing backup wide receiver who also happens to be a rookie bodes well for his chances at securing additional snaps. His proven red zone and deep-ball excellence is exactly the type of talent that we should prioritize in a slate with few projected target hogs.
Atlanta Falcons Wide Receivers
This play comes down to the fact that the New York Jets are absolutely decimated at the cornerback position.
- No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Johnson (hamstring) is considered week-to-week.
- The Jets chose not to re-sign Morris Claiborne.
- The Jets released Derrick Jones on August 10.
- Undrafted rookie Kyron Brown left Monday’s practice with an injury
This leaves Brian Poole and Darryl Roberts as the only cornerbacks on the roster with even a semblance of effective play at the NFL level. Poole finished last season as PFF’s No. 84 highest-graded cornerback, while Roberts was the No. 47 highest-graded safety.
Marcus Green is my favorite pick to take advantage of the depleted Jets secondary thanks to his chances to rack up additional touches as both a running back and wide receiver. Don’t expect to see Julio Jones Thursday night, and I also wouldn’t expect too many snaps for Calvin Ridley (hamstring) or Mohamed Sanu (knee) as they continue to deal with their respective nagging injuries.
More WRs to consider:
- Miles Boykin, Ravens
- D.J. Chark, Jaguars
- Greg Dortch, Jets
- Jake Kumerow, Packers
- Auden Tate, Bengals
- Terry McLaurin, Redskins
- KeeSean Johnson, Cardinals
Remember to fade the tight end position in the flex spot.
The following tight ends are athletic pass-catching types on shallow depth charts:
- Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals utilized Maxx Williams on all 11 of Kyler Murray’s snaps during his single drive of action last week. This paved the way for RSJ to flash some of the same ability that we saw back in 2017, when Seals-Jones averaged a position-high 2.96 yards per route run (min. 28 targets).
Ricky Seals-Jones skies for the 21-yard catch 👀
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 9, 2019
- Donald Parham, Washington Redskins: NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein described Parham as an “unusually tall, mismatch slot with soft hands and intriguing athletic ability who comes from an extended family of football players.” We didn’t see much of this ability from Parham in Week 1, but he maintains a somewhat well-kept secret in the DFS industry and offers some tantalizing upside.
The following matchups have the smallest game totals (per our Live NFL Odds page):
- Eagles at Jaguars (35)
- Packers at Raven (38.5)
I’m inclined to ride with the hometown Ravens thanks to their continued dominance in staying one step ahead of the competition when it comes to creating general schematic advantages.
Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: Preston Williams