Written by: James R. Harrison Jr. (@TheGrandstandUS)
Head coaches in the National Football League use the preseason as a way to tune and tweak their squads for the regular season. But smart daily fantasy sports players use the NFL Preseason to not only fine tune their DFS skills, but to build their bankrolls before the NFL season officially kicks off.
The reason NFL DFS is the easiest sport to make money on is because it is the most popular sport in the United States, and typically, you’re going to find the most casual fantasy sports players trying their hand at DraftKings for the first time. Although many people believe that because they’re fans of the NFL, they’re experts, that is almost always not the case.
The fact of the matter is, you’re going to see a ton of people playing names they recognize in the preseason, and these are usually players that are going to get minimal snaps (if any), and give educated DFS players a huge advantage. Just like you’ll see at any poker table in Las Vegas, there are fish, and there are sharks. The sharks are players that take money from fish, who are just here for the experience, and, A; don’t know what they’re doing, and, B; don’t mind losing their money. Since they don’t mind losing their entry fees, I’m going to show you how to take it tonight.
Jimmy Garoppolo – New England Patriots
If you missed it, I wrote an article earlier this summer on how important the first four games of the season are going to be for New England Patriots’ backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. Tonight, Garoppolo will start at quarterback for the Patriots, and most likely play three full quarters under center, as Bill Belichick looks to get him acclimated to the starting job. While Garoppolo probably won’t have the star-quality targets such as Rob Gronkowski for more than a couple series, this isn’t the time to get cute with your DFS picks, and Garoppolo is the easy choice. I would expect mostly everybody who has one of their brain cells fixated on DFS to have Garoppolo as their quarterback tonight, but for anybody who doesn’t, this is how you take them out of contention early. Garoppolo, who threw the ball 80 times last preseason (4th among NFL passers), should be getting the call more often than not tonight as Belichick and the Patriots prepare for four long, Brady-less weeks to start the regular season.
Mike Glennon – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you’re going to completely ignore my advice and get cute with contrarian plays tonight, Mike Glennon of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a pretty solid choice at quarterback. The fourth-year man is in the final year of his rookie contract, and since the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston with the number one overall pick last season, I think it’s fair to say that Glennon is going to want to make an impression tonight, and the entire preseason, so he can make a case for a shot at a starting job next offseason. Since sources at the Bucs camp are saying that the Tampa Bay front office likes their third string quarterback, Ryan Griffin, a lot, the Buccaneers should be giving Glennon ample opportunity to showcase his talent tonight in hopes of landing a trade for him before the season begins. On the football side of things, Glennon is nothing to write home about, but he is in his fourth season, and has a pretty good grasp on how the NFL game works. It’s also safe to assume that he will be going up against an abysmal second defensive unit for the Philadelphia Eagles, which should allow him to score early and often if he finds a groove. I like Glennon as a GPP option only tonight on DraftKings.
Also Consider: Paxton Lynch, Josh Johnson, and Gerrett Grayson
| Running Backs
Keith Marshall – Washington Redskins
Who is Keith Marshall? Marshall was a seventh round pick out of the University of Georgia in April’s NFL Draft, who has already established himself “firmly” into the running back rotation in Washington according to sources at the Redskins’ camp. Colt McCoy, who will be the number two option at quarterback this season for the Washington Redskins, should see the majority of play tonight, as will all number two quarterbacks. That being said, Marshall should get the bulk of the carries tonight for the Redskins, as Matt Jones will likely only play a few series with Kirk Cousins, and Chris Thompson being nothing more than a change-of-pace back. Marshall should be quite contrarian in terms of running backs tonight and presents a ton of upside potential.
Dominique Williams – New York Jets
Dominique Williams is relatively unknown around the league, but he should see a ton of action in tonight’s New York Jets game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Matt Forte, who is down with a hamstring injury, will not play tonight, and Khiry Robinson just came off the physically unable to perform list and most likely won’t even dress tonight, so Dominque Williams will be second on the depth chart behind Bilal Powell. Powell listed as the starter, should only play a few snaps, so Williams is going to get a ton of run tonight, and opportunity is everything.
Kenneth Dixon – Baltimore Ravens
Since tonight’s DFS action is exclusive to DraftKings (dumb move, FanDuel), Kenneth Dixon should be a great option for DraftKings’ PPR format. While there has been a lot of hype around Baltimore Ravens’ back, Terrance West, who should also be considered tonight, Dixon gets the edge for me as the back who should see the bulk of passing plays out of the backfield. Dixon isn’t only a passing back though, as he also has the ability to run between the tackles, and after Justin Forsett and Buck Allen exit after the first quarter, Dixon could, and very well should, see two full quarters of action Thursday night with Ryan Mallett at the helm.
Also Consider: Kenjon Barner, Mike James, and Tyler Gaffney
| Wide Receivers
Rashad Ross – Washington Redskins
Rashad Ross was an absolute stud in the preseason last year, and we’re hoping that it continues tonight as the Washington Redskins take on the Atlanta Falcons. Ross led all receivers in catches, yards, and touchdowns last preseason, and he should see a bulk of the action tonight with Colt McCoy and the Redskins’ second unit.
Jeremy Butler – Baltimore Ravens
Jeremy Butler should see a ton of action tonight with injuries to more than one of the Baltimore Ravens’ receivers, and like I’ve said several times in this article, opportunity is everything. Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace will lead the charge for the Ravens’ at receiver, but once they leave the game, Butler should be seeing more than two full quarters of action. Butler was also, by far, the best of Baltimore’s backup receivers last season, averaging 11.7 yards per reception.
Aaron Dobson – New England Patriots
What is NFL DFS without a little preseason stacking action? While I would recommend Dobson without having Garoppolo in your lineup, adding the two together could add some serious punch to your lineups tonight. Aaron Dobson has been gettin praise from head coach, Bill Belichick early this season, which should translate to plenty of time on the field tonight once the starters vacate the premises. The Patriots don’t have a lot of options at wide receiver tonight, and unlikely to give their starters a lot of snaps regardless, and the Patriots wanting to get Garoppolo prepared for his regular season starts, I expect Garoppolo and Dobson to be a fierce combo tonight.
Also Consider: Michael Thomas, Rashad Greene, Cody Latimer, Deonte Thompson, and Brandon Coleman
| Tight Ends
Jace Amaro – New York Jets
My father is a Texas Tech University product, as is Jace Amaro, so I’m going to be putting him in my lineups tonight based solely on fandom, but that doesn’t mean he is not a top option anyway. Jace Amaro will also be playing with extra motivation tonight, tweeting, “I just can’t wait to run out of that tunnel, wearing my Jets jersey. This one is for you. TK.” TK stands for Tim Killough, who is the father of his best friend and high school quarterback, who passed away this past summer. Amaro is also out to prove his critics that say he is a bust wrong. Amaro is listed second on the depth chart tonight, which means he should see close to three quarters of action, and with a lot to prove and a heavy heart, I am hoping for a big performance.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There has been a ton of buzz surrounding Austin Seferian-Jenkins after a highly disappointing campaign in 2015-16, and we’re hoping that all of the positive talk comes to fruition tonight. Apparently, Jenkins has been making plays in team drills and making “great” catches all throughout camp, so my expectations are high. This is a very high-risk, high-reward choice tonight, as he’s listed as the starter and should be one of the top targets in the red zone throughout the first half of tonight’s game, and after getting kicked out of practice earlier this summer, Jenkins has a lot to prove tonight.
Maxx Williams – Baltimore Ravens
I’m aware that I just said that I’d be rostering Jace Amaro tonight, but it’s going to be hard to pass up Maxx Williams of the Baltimore Ravens after reading up on the opportunity he is being given tonight. What have I been saying throughout this article? Oh yeah, opportunity is everything. Ben Watson, who is 36-years-old, is not expected to play at all tonight, and if he does, I wouldn’t expect more than a series or two. Dennis Pitta is out of tonight’s matchup with a sprained finger that he suffered in a training camp fight last week. Crockett Gilmore is recovering from a hamstring injury and shoulder surgery and will not be paying tonight. That means that Maxx Williams, the 6-foot-4, 257 pound beast, is going to be on the field almost all night. The University of Minnesota product has been compared to Greg Olsen in the past, and coming from a Minnesotan and a University of Minnesota product myself, I wouldn’t bet against this guy. He could be the biggest dark horse on tonight’s slate.
Also consider: Trey Burton, Jeff Heuerman, and Austin Hooper
| Defense/Special Teams
Carolina Panthers Defense/Special Teams
I’ve laid out a few options on Baltimore’s offense tonight, but that’s because I’ve said opportunity is everything, and the Ravens are severely banged up. That means that this deep Panthers’ defense should be able to keep the Baltimore Ravens’ second and third units at bay, and if you’re going against having Ravens in your lineup, then the Panthers D/ST is the obvious choice here.
New York Jets Defense/Special Teams
The New York Jets are the obvious pivot choice from the Carolina Panthers, and going against a pretty weak Jacksonville Jaguars team, should be able to keep you in the action tonight. Remember that the Jaguars’ offense will be lead by Chad Henne, so sacks and interceptions are very much in play here, and as a relatively contrarian option considering the Panthers, I think this is the smarter play.