RotoViz DFS Preseason NFL Kickoff
The NFL is back, well sort of…well, preseason DFS is in full swing…err. We do get a 2 game slate to start the year.
There is money to be made playing preseason DFS, I’ll have a game theory article out before the first full slate next week. In the meantime do your research, listen to the coaches (they are much more forthcoming this time of year), and beat writers about playing time.
In past years the best thing to do with the Hall of Fame game was simply to fade it (last year hundreds of line ups had players from the game even though THE GAME WAS CANCELLED. This year we don’t have that option, on a two game slate we must use players from both games.
I’m going to talk about players from both the HOF game with the Cowboys vs. the Cardinals and the Wednesday game that has the Houston Texans visiting the Carolina Panthers.
However first let me say a couple of things about the overall slate and preseason DFS in general. With only two games it’s harder to find an edge. The fact that the games are six days apart and we have next to no info on the second game makes it even tougher. This is not the week to go all in. I would not play more than half of what I would any other week. We have also found in years past that there can be very little difference between the pay line in cash and GPP. For that reason I only play tournaments during the pre-season. With limited playing time and touches in the pre-season IT may take as few as 50 points to cash.
Now let’s get to the games:
Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals (Hall of Fame Game)
History tells us that it is very rare for any player to log heavy minutes or have a high number of touches. Bruce Arians has told us none of his starters will play. My gut tells me the Cowboys will try to win the game with Jerry Jones being inducted this weekend.
Let’s look at the Cardinals. Arians stated that neither Carson Palmer nor Drew Stanton will play. That leaves just Blaine Gabbert, who will play the 1st half, and Trevor Knight, who will play the 2nd. It’s very rare to get a full half from a QB this early. On a two game slate the Cardinals QBs move to the head of the class. I have a definite preference for Gabbert as a former starting QB in this spot. However, you can make a case for the rookie Knight, as he is a duel threat QB.
The rest of the Cardinals are a little sketchier. The only RBs I have any interest in are the veteran Kerwynn Williams and second-year UDFA Elijhaa Penny, the dark horse who spent last year on the practice squad.
There isn’t one receiver likely to play that I could pick out of a line up. I have no interest in any Cardinals receiver. The same could be said about TE. I would have been interested in Troy Niklas, but he very well may not play.
The only other Cardinal I’m likely to roster (on FanDuel) is K Phil Dawson who is without competition in camp.
The Cowboys will likely play some of their starters. I just don’t see any of the getting enough run to make them DFS startable. We also know WR Ryan Switzer did not make the trip.
The Cowboy QB situation seems to be similar to the Cardinals, with only two possibly playing: Kellen Moore and Cooper Rush, I’m a little leery until we hear this from Jason Garrett. If Garrett does confirm a two-man rotation then Moore is in play for me, as he will be playing in the 1st half with better talent around him, facing no starting Cardinal defenders.
The Cowboys have three RBs who should split most of the load. Rod Smith, Ronnie Hillman, and Alfred Morris. All three are very playable. I prefer them in the order listed.
Wider receiver offers a couple of playable pokes. Brice Butler who has been reportedly tearing up camp is my favorite. I also have interest in Andy Jones. Jones is a small school UFDA who had a great camp last year only to fall flat in the pre-season. After spending 2016 on the practice squad, Jones is squarely on the bubble this year. With starters receiving little to no playing time, rookie Ryan Switzer injured, and fellow rookie Noah Brown receiving all of the hype, Jones could be a low-owned difference maker.
Tight end has been a MASH unit for the Cowboys. Rico Gathers sits third on the depth chart and figures to start. He merits consideration at a weak position although the Dallas depth chart goes six deep at TE, so he’s no lock.
Just like Dawson in Arizona, Dan Bailey is unopposed in Dallas. He is a fine option in leagues that require kickers.
Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers
These thoughts will be shorter as the game is still a week away. I will publish an update as we get closer and get more news.
First, the Texans. Houston has only three QBs in camp. If Tom Savage gets the starter’s treatment, DeShaun Watson could play a lot in the first half and Brandon Weeden could play the entire second half. If so, I like the veteran journeyman vs. a bunch of players who won’t be on NFL rosters come September.
There are Houston running backs I like. I’m interested in D’Onta Foreman mostly for the goal line touches. Six points are huge in preseason DFS. I also like Tyler Ervin. The speedy back was a fourth-round pick last year who now finds himself fighting to make the team. He could see time at RB as well as on special teams.
With the news Will Fuller broke his collarbone the Texan receiving corps took a big hit. Braxton Miller figures to see more time and I have a little bit of interest. The receiver I’m going to target is Wendall Williams. He is blazing fast and also plays on special teams. He will make a good combo with the Houston Defense if you want a shot at the double dip.
Right now Stephen Anderson is the TE I am targeting for this slate. He’s a capable, athletic TE who should get a decent amount of playing time.
The Texan Defense is my favorite, however they will be extremely chalky. If you are playing multiple lineups you should pivot of the Texans on some of your teams.
Carolina has four QBs on their roster. There is a better chance of me playing than Cam Newton, this week, so that leaves us with just three. Joe Webb is the only one to consider until we get more news.
At RB, both Jalen Simmons and Cameron Artis-Payne are worthy of a look. Both should garner playing time in an effort to win the third-string job.
I have interest in a couple of receivers. First the newly acquired Trevor Graham, who had a few good weeks in Buffalo where he was known as T.J. Graham. Also, Brenton Bersin, who has been the talk of Panthers’ camp.
There isn’t a TE on Carolina I’m interested in this week.
To recap, here are the players I’m most interested in, by position.
QB: Gabbert, Weeden, Knight, Moore
RB: Smith, Ervin, Hilman, Forman, Artis-Payne, Morris
WR: Jones, Williams, Butler, Bersin, Graham
TE: Anderson, Gathers
PK: Bailey, Dawson
DEF: Houston, Pivots off Houston
That’s going to do it for now. I’ll update as we get more news on the Houston vs. Carolina game.