NFL Preseason DFS and niche sports disclaimer
Niche sports in DFS are interesting. They take a new age, statistics heavy approached numbers game back to the stone age. Before everyone had good projections and optimal builds. NFL Preseason requires a lot of attention to beat reports, a lot of deciphering coach speak and even more game theory. The winners of these contests understand chalk, leverage and ceiling more than the rest. Each position requires a different approach and takes different things into contests. Today I'm going to go over todays slate as an example with the objective to dissect based on game theory.
Quarterback is extremely simple. Anyone that is going to play significant time is in consideration. Today that means we start with McSorley who should play a half, Love who could play 3 quarters, Allen and Browning who will get a half each for the Bengals and Lawrence who is supposed to get between 2-4 series.
The chalk here seems to be McSorley and Love for good reason, but Allen and Browning are being completely overlooked even though they are getting as much playing time. Lawrence ties in because he is a legit starting QB that could get a quarter. What's that worth compared to playing time from backups? To me, not very much for a quarterback. The difference between McSorley and Allen is that one runs frequently and the other does not. Just like Willis vs Zappe last night, rushing is incredibly important when the ceilings of these players are so low.
Taking all that into consideration, McSorely is the top QB play, With Love and Allen tied for 2nd. Allen is the better GPP play based on ownership projection.
Running backs take into account many of the same thing as QB's. Playing time, pass catching upside, opportunity and ownership. The biggest thing to remember for the preseason is that in limited playing time, the ceiling for most of these players is maybe 15 fantasy points outside of rare instances. So any advantage you can get is worth consideration. Attacking teams that are thin on the depth chart is a good strategy.
Last night it was the Patriots and tonight, the Eagles. Sanders, Huntley and Brooks are the only 3 running backs on the roster meaning both Huntley and Brooks should see a half. Most teams have 5-6 Running backs in rotation meaning no one sees more than 5-6 carries. That makes this a rare instance where both backs will play a lot and could see around 10 touches each. These are the safest plays. Green Bay is also short with 4 running backs projected to play but none as a starter, meaning this is probably the best GPP spot if you would want to get different here.
Beat writing knowledge coming into play, Cleveland's RB Felton is listed as RB on draft kings but will be playing as a slot WR, giving him a higher ceiling than a usual running back in the preseason. That makes him a top tier GPP play but extremely risky with a floor of 0 if he doesn't catch a pass. RB is a position where starters playing a few series matters most. If ETN gets 4-5 carries and 2-3 targets he could easily score 10 fantasy points which is a great game for preseason compared to most of the backups we get.
Receivers generally have the lowest floor but the highest ceiling in football and preseason is no different, except maybe even more so.
Many of these guys will only see 3-4 targets even the “safe” ones since they don't play much time. This is the best position to get different than the field. Wandale Robinson for example yesterday was 25% owned, caught 0 of 2 targets and had a 0. Targeting teams that don't have as many receivers to play is a way to get more playing time and opportunity which is what we always want to look for. Also receivers that play with more than 1 unit. Usually that would be a player who plays with the 2nd and 3rd string QB. A la, Collin Johnson yesterday.
Knowing these things, Cleveland is low on bodies and have 2 guys in Javon Wims and Ja'Marcus Bradley that fits both descriptions. The Browns have 5/12 WRs out for injury leaving Wims and Bradley to start while also still being part of the second unit because of lack of players. Green bay is another example of the same conditions.
Tight end sucks. Rarely do we see a tight end have a good game in preseason so if you're on FD and a quarter of Kyle Pitts is an option you take it. On DK this line of thinking puts 2-4 series of Evan Engram on the not so bad side of things. This is the lowest upside spot so many times you just eat the chalk here and take the guys who will play the most.
For all of the players I like be sure to check out the player pool posted in the discord daily (Join for free here!). Remember that when you're playing large field contests like these it's better to try to figure out what happens when the chalk fails and benefit than to run out the same safe plays as everyone else. Use a combination of strategies to gain leverage on the field and maximize for ceiling, preseason is no different than other DFS sports, you just have less tools to rely on. Good luck on your lineups!