For Sean Koerner’s complete DFS projections for Week 3 of the preseason, check out our NFL Models.
Week 3 of the preseason is the closest thing we’ll get to real NFL action before the regular season kicks offs. Expect to see plenty of starters play for at least a half, and some teams might even be feeling themselves enough to play their studs for up to three quarters.
What follows is an analysis on the optimal daily fantasy strategy and picks for Saturday’s Preseason Week 3 DraftKings slates.
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.
Saturday’s NFL DFS Slate Breakdown
Everyone costs $5,500 on DraftKings this week, so there’s no need to concern ourselves with any pricing discrepancies. Now let’s dig into my favorite plays on the board for Saturday.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings: The Vikings might just have Saturday’s coziest matchup when it comes to opposing secondaries. The Cardinals will at least have Patrick Peterson, but David Amerson (No. 96) and Tramaine Brock (No. 84) ranked outside Pro Football Focus’ top-80 cornerbacks last season, while rookie Byron Murphy remains unproven. The Cardinals ran the third-most zone coverage in 2018 and are now led by ex-Broncos coach Vance Joseph, who utilized the second-highest rate of man coverage last season.
Sam Darnold, Jets: The Jets suddenly have weapons everywhere in their passing game, as Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, Chris Herndon and even backup running back Ty Montgomery have flashed this preseason. Fire up Darnold against the league’s most-pronounced pass-funnel defense from last season in terms of difference in Football Outsiders’ pass/run DVOA rank.
Tony Pollard, Cowboys: The talk of the league this week proved to be deserving of the hype in Week 2 of the preseason, converting six touches into 51 total yards and a touchdown. Pollard played 100% of Dak Prescott’s snaps and offers fantasy-friendly three-down ability that has earned Alvin Kamara comparisons from the team and fantasy analysts alike.
Marlon Mack, Colts: Mack worked as the Colts’ featured back with Jacoby Brissett under center last week. Mack figures to continue to benefit from the team’s injury-ravaged depth chart at running back and has a chance for double-digit touches if the Colts choose to utilize their starters for up to a half.
Kerrith Whyte, Bears: The Bears are expected to continue to largely rest their offensive starters. This should produce even more opportunities for Whyte, who ranks third among all players in broken tackle this preseason. Whyte has a solid blend of size (5-foot-10 and 197 pounds), speed (4.42-second 40-yard dash) and overall athleticism (86th-percentile SPARQ-x score).
Stefon Diggs, Vikings: Adam Thielen has posted a superior 4-79-0 receiving line this preseason compared to Diggs (1-6-0), but it’s never safe to count out Diggs when inside the friendly confines of U.S. Bank Stadium. Overall, Diggs has averaged 16 PPR in 25 career games indoors compared to 13.4 PPR in 33 outdoor contests.
Robby Anderson, Jets: The Jets are moving forward with Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa and Anderson inside of three wide receiver sets. Anderson figures to continue to be a weekly boom-or-bust option, but he’s continued to show off enhanced chemistry with Darnold and has the highest ceiling of the group.
Deebo Samuel, 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo truthers haven’t had a good past seven days. Still, this 49ers offense boasts improved weaponry everywhere thanks to the additions of Samuel, fellow rookie Jalen Hurd and Tevin Coleman. Samuel has converted four touches into 120 total yards in just 59 offensive snaps.
Courtland Sutton, Broncos: The return of Emmanuel Sanders has rightfully stolen headlines, but Sutton could still potentially emerge as Joe Flacco’s favorite target in the Broncos’ new-look offense. He boasts a fantasy-friendly combination of size (6-foot-3 and 218 pounds) and athleticism (85th-percentile SPARQ-x score) that helps him win on both down the field as well as in the red zone.
Irv Smith Jr., Vikings: The Vikings seem to have realized that their best offensive formation consists of getting Dalvin Cook, Thielen, Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and their shiny-new second-round pick on the field at the same time. Smith averaged an absurd 16.1 yards per reception during his final season at Alabama and has the size (6-foot-2 and 242 pounds) to be a factor inside the red zone.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs: The Chiefs figure to get their starters at least a few series of work in Week 3. That’s all Kelce needs to return value in a slate that won’t include either of Zach Ertz or George Kittle.
- Bears at Colts (40.5)
- Texans at Cowboys (40.5)
- Seahawks at Chargers (40.5)