DFS Preseason Roundtable: Saturday Slate Strategies and Player Picks

Footballguys staff discussing strategies and player picks for the Saturday DFS Preseason Slate.

There are seven games on todays Preseason DFS Slate and the Footballguys staff is going to discuss strategies and player pick options based around those particular games.

Cincinnati vs Dallas -3.0 / 41.5
Tampa Bay vs Tennessee -3.0 / 41.0
San Francisco vs Houston -2.5 / 41.5
Chicago vs Denver -3.0 / 42.5
Seattle vs LA Chargers -3.0 / 39.5

Question #1 - Preseason DFS Strategy

What are some of your Preseason DFS strategies heading into Week 2? (Where do you find info, the importance of playing time and touches, backups vs starters, stacking, etc.)

Dan Hindery - Beat writers are the best source of information for preseason, since 90% of the research is into figuring out who is most likely to see the most snaps. Sigmund Bloom has a great list of beat writers that you can subscribe to on Twitter that he keeps updated. Something as simple as googling “Bears Broncos preseason” and going to the News tab is also helpful and will lead you to at least a handful of stories from local papers, team sites, and blogs with game previews that often have helpful information.

My favorite part of preseason DFS is that strategy takes a back seat to figuring out which young players are ready to prove their bona fides as NFL playmakers. Preseason is enjoyable because it is an opportunity for rookies and other inexperienced players to show they are good enough to play in the NFL and deserving of sticking around. Especially if you are a fan of following the NFL draft or college football, these are the first chances to see players in real action. The key to winning is figuring out which players are most likely to take the handful of targets or carries available to them and prove their playmaking ability. So it is fun to see someone like Dallas Goedert, who I started writing about (Devy Top 100) and following last spring, go out and make the most of his opportunities.

Phil Alexander - Dan nailed it here. Preseason DFS is less about game theory and more about figuring out who is going to be on the field. Beat writers on Twitter are your number one source. Some of them are even plugged into fantasy football and are happy to give you their best guess at which players will receive the most field time if you ask them.

Our Training Camp Reports are often useful for finding out which lower-rung depth chart players are creating the most buzz. Once you find out who they are, a Google News or Twitter search for that player typically reveals more useful nuggets on the player/team.

Week 2 is especially tricky because it's not just young guys and backups you're aiming for. Already this week, we've seen Tom Brady be one of the best quarterback plays on a slate after it was revealed earlier in the day he was likely to play the entire first half of the Patriots second preseason game. And just last night, Tyreek Hill and Christian McCaffrey were top plays at their respective positions. Our Ryan Zamichieli was on both of these guys because it was clear Kansas City and Carolina starters were going to see significant playing time.

Bottom line -- the edge in preseason DFS is information. Period. It's out there if you know where to look for it.

James Brimacombe - The old days of finding a huge edge in DFS are generally gone and even with Preseason DFS you have to be careful as many label it now as a huge potential money maker. The Preseason edge is pretty much gone in cash games as those playing in that format are likely in the same boat as you searching for all the information in all the right spots. As far as GPPs for the preseason, yes there is still a strategy as casual fans will enter those and even pick a lot of players that will not even play in the games.

I am looking on Twitter for my info and often times will search "Preseason DFS" to see what type of the latest information I can find. I also like to go to individual teams websites and see the latest news they have and often times you can find writers on their sites previewing the game and will have information from the coaches of who might play an extended role. Just like Phil mentioned as well our Training Camp Reports are full of insights as well and could help with your research on who is standing out in camp and who might get some additional playing time.

Devin Knotts - In week two, playing time becomes a little more predictable as you don't have the choppiness trying to get everyone playing time as you did in Week 1. With that said, I am typically looking at the fringe first team players or the second team players as they seemingly get the most playing time in these games. What I mean by fringe first team players are guys who are fighting to be on the first team, or are with a new team trying to establish themselves.

Question #2 - Preseason DFS Strategy

Week 2 of the preseason, teams start giving their starters additional playing time. Are you looking to target backups/rookies or are you shifting to playing the starters?

Dan Hindery - Week 1, I’m generally looking for backups who have a chance at extended playing time. Week 3, it is almost always worth targeting starters. Week 2 is wide open because you can go either direction. If we get some confirmation that the starters are going to play the entire first half, they are usually the safest play. Plus, because it is kind of an in-between week, it often makes sense to look at young players who aren’t quite locked in as starters but who are definitely going to make the team. James Washington, who had a monster game Thursday night, is an example of the type of young almost starter who often sees heavy playing time in Week 2.

Phil Alexander - Starters are definitely in play, as evidenced by the aforementioned performances of Brady, McCaffrey, and Hill this week. If we hear a team is playing their starters for an entire half, their core starters and big play threats warrant heavy ownership.

Dan had another great point about young players who are locked into roster spots. These guys will often see some snaps with the starting unit and continue to play into the second half.

James Brimacombe - Just like Dan suggested that the dress rehearsal for these teams and players comes in Week 3 of the preseason but there are still teams that have been giving their starters an entire half of play here in Week 2 of the preseason. The Chiefs are an example of this last night with Mahomes, Hunt, Hill, and Kelce all seeing extended playing time and all making plays. I want to mix and match my starters with backups at this point and will look more to the younger players that are either a higher drafted rookie or a second or third year player looking to make a splash. If I get news that some of the veterans are going to play a couple of quarters or more I will be surely locking them in to lineups and pairing them with some of the younger upside talent.

Devin Knotts - I look for starters or guys who will get in the game early as the last thing that I want to have happen is that the starters or the second team stays in a little longer than anticipated due to struggling thus reducing the playing time of the third string player who is slated to just play in the second half.

Question #3 - The Player Picks

Name one player from each of the ten teams on the slate that you are targeting. Explain why you like them.

Dan Hindery -

  • Bengals- WR Auden Tate- The rookie had a big preseason debut and made a bunch of plays in practice this week. He should be a go-to player for the Bengals in the second half.
  • Cowboys- TE Blake Jarwin- Jarwin is running second string to Geoff Swaim in the Cowboys wide-open battle to replace Jason Witten. However, he is the best pure pass catcher and the Bengals have consistently struggled against opposing tight ends.
  • Buccaneers- RB Ronald Jones- Jones has struggled in camp and had a couple fumbles in practice on Thursday, which may actually lead to more playing time for him in the preseason. Tampa Bay needs to get Jones going and try to figure out how much they will be able to count on him in Week 1 of the regular season.
  • Titans- RB Akrum Wadley- Wadley is in a battle with David Fluellen for the #3 running back position and should again see a heavy workload (12 touches in Week 1). He is especially attractive on DraftKings due to his receiving ability.
  • 49ers- WR Dante Pettis- Pettis was reportedly dominant in joint practices this week. He is exactly the type of emerging young talent who can break out for a big game in Week 2 of the preseason.
  • Texans- RB Troymaine Pope- Bill O'Brien said that since the starters got in a lot of work in joint practices against the 49ers this week, they will play "about as much as last week," which wasn't very much. Houston doesn't have many running backs healthy and Pope should again see plenty of work.
  • Bears- TE Adam Shaheen- With Dion Sims out, Shaheen should continue to see most of the snaps as the Y Tight End. He has had a strong camp and looks to be making a leap in his second season.
  • Broncos- QB Chad Kelly- It looks like Kelly has essentially won the competition against Paxton Lynch, but he still has to win enough trust that the Broncos won’t look to bring in a backup from outside the organization in the next couple weeks. Kelly is a risk-taker and has the talent to put up some fantasy points in what should be a couple quarters of work.
  • Seahawks- RB C.J. Prosise- The Seahawks are beat up at running back but Prosise is healthy enough to play after missing Week 1 with a hip injury. Pete Carroll said of Prosise, “we’d like to see him play quite a bit in this game.”
  • Chargers- WR Mike Williams- Williams is having a nice camp and should get some chances to work with both Philip Rivers and the backup quarterbacks.

James Brimacombe -

  • Cincinnati - WR John Ross had plenty of opportunity last week with five targets his way and really just missed having a big game as he only finished with a single catch for 20 yards. I think he will be heavily targeted again this week and they will try to get him in the endzone.
  • Dallas - I like RB Bo Scarbrough tonight as he saw 11 touches last week and should look to get a similar amount again this week. He rushed nine times for 33 yards and a touchdown and added a pair of catches for 19 yards.
  • Tampa Bay - TE Cameron Brate is one of the starters tonight that I am excited about. He was targeted five times last week and caught all five of them and I think that Tampa Bay will be playing around with two tight end situations and seeing how it works while still in the preseason.
  • San Francisco - WR Dante Pettis is my selection here as I like his four targets he received a week ago and even though he only caught one of them, it was for 53 yards so he should see opportunity again tonight and have big play upside.
  • Houston - QB Joe Webb III is always a preseason favorite and I see it no differently this year. He passe for 56 yards last week and added 42 yards rushing. He has a safe floor and should see a decent amount of playing time.
  • Chicago - TE Adam Shaheen is my pick for the Bears as he will continue to get a look in the preseason and is coming off a three catch for 53 yards Week 1 Preseason game.
  • Denver - QB Chad Kelly looked very good last week, completing 14-of-21 passes for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He will likely be the highest owned player tonight at the quarterback position.
  • Seattle - RB J.D. McKissic is always a name you have to consider in full PPR scoring as he can see 3 or 4 targets and possibly break one for a touchdown.
  • LA Chargers - WR Geremy Davis has been standing out in camp and is battling for a roster spot and he is also coming off a 4/88/1 game on six targets.

Phil Alexander - These picks come with the caveat it's currently 10am on Saturday and there's not much access to information just yet, but at first blush...

  • Bengals- WR John Ross - Ross is the type of big-play receiver you'll want to sprinkle into your lineups most weeks, preseason or not. Regardless of playing time, the opportunity for splash plays will be there as the Bengals look to restore a vertical element to their offense.
  • Cowboys- WR Michael Gallup - Fits the James Washington profile. Young, skilled touchdown maker who can get some run with the first and second strings.
  • Buccaneers- WR Chris Godwin - Trying to stake his claim for a starting position on the outside in Tampa Bay. Produces every time he's given snaps. Also looking at Bobo Wilson, who led Tampa Bay wide receivers in snaps and targets in Week 1.
  • Titans- Won't have much exposure to the Titans offense.
  • 49ers- RB Raheem Mostert - Mostert is a preseason darling what seems like every year. He ran for 57 yards on eight carries in the opener and is guaranteed snaps with the injuries to Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida.
  • Texans- WR Braxton Miller - If playing time shakes out the way it did last week for Houston's starters, as Dan said, Miller will once again be the receiver on the field most for the Texans.
  • Bears- TE Adam Shaheen - Starting to draw comparisons to Rob Gronkowski with a strong training camp. Should play with both the first and second teams.
  • Broncos- QB Chad Kelly- Kelly climbed the depth chart with a strong Week 1. Talent has never been the issue and he should play for about a half.
  • Seahawks- RB C.J. Prosise- Wanted to use him last week before he scratched with a hip injury. He's otherwise having a great camp and has a lot to prove.
  • Chargers- WRs Geremy Davis and/or Artavis Scott - These guys both were impressive in Week 1 and should play the entire second half against backup defenders.
Devin Knotts -

  • Bengals- RB Mark Walton- Walton who is a very talented rookie out of Miami only saw
  • Cowboys- RB Bo Scarborough - The Cowboys are going to want to continue to get Scarborough as many touches as they can this preseason to prepare him for the #2 role in the offense.
  • Buccaneers- WR Mike Evans - Mike Evans is the one player that I typically like to roster in the preseason as the guy just has big games as we saw with going over 50 yards in both of his preseason games that he played last season. He started a bit slow in Week 1 this year but expect big things from him this week.
  • Titans- RB David Fluellen- Akrum Wadley got most of the work in the first week, but David Fluellen is fighting with Wadley for the third running back position. Expect Fluellen who entered the game before Wadley last week to get a significant role this week.
  • 49ers- RB Jeremy McNichols - With Breida and McKinnon out, the glowing reports out of camp have been for Jeremy McNichols. Expect the 49ers to see what they have in the once promising running back talent.
  • Texans- WR Braxton Miller - As the others have mentioned, Miller is fighting to make the team and earn playing time with rookie Keke Coutee, expect a good game out of Miller this week.
  • Bears- TE Trey Burton - A lot of play will be on the other tight end in Chicago with Adam Shaheen, but Trey Burton fits my classification as a new guy trying to integrate into the offense. Expect Trubisky to go to Burton often in this game in order to get game reps with the free agent signing.
  • Broncos- WR Daesean Hamilton- The Broncos are a little banged up at wide receiver as Jordan Leslie has a finger injury, Courtland Sutton has a minor knee injury, expect Daesean Hamilton who the coaching staff has been very high on to get some extra snaps in this game after a quiet Week 1.
  • Seahawks- RB Chris Carson- All the talk out of Seahawks camp has been about how good Carson has looked. With Rashaad Penny not playing this week, Carson should get plenty of looks with the first team offense.
  • Chargers- QB Geno Smith- Geno Smith is battling for the backup quarterback job with Cardale Jones, while both are decent plays this week as they both should see about a half of work, Geno takes the edge as he looked tremendous last week.

Question #4 - Top Player Picks and Stacks

List your top two targets at QB, RB, WR, and TE on the slate and give your favorite player to stack with a quarterback.

Dan Hindery -

Stack: Andy Dalton and John Ross- The Bengals starters should play most of the first half. Dalton and Ross need to work on their chemistry and we should see the duo try to connect on at least one deep ball target.

James Brimacombe -

Stack: I like C.J. Beathard and Dante Pettis this week as my favorite stack. They should see plenty of action together and Pettis just missed having a big game last week as he finished with a single catch on four targets for 53 yards.

Phil Alexander -

Stack: Dalton/Ross or Dalton/A.J. Green

Devin Knotts -

Stack: Chad Kelly and Daesean Hamilton