Friday Night Lights!
Football is back, and the preseason’s opening week rolls on, with another pair of professional American football games on the docket for tomorrow night.
As you’ll hear over and over again this month: you absolutely must check back here before the slate locks, as a good portion of the slate’s most important news and notes won’t be dropped until the hours leading up to kickoff. About an hour before lock, I’ll be posting a list of tiered rankings right below this introduction.
For some more tips and tricks of the trade, be sure you take a few minutes to read our own Tyler Buecher’s breakdown of How to Play Preseason NFL DFS.
Without further ado, here are some of the players you’ll want to consider for Friday night’s preseason NFL DFS slates.
Check back here for updates right up until lock.
*Dionte Johnson (PIT) is OUT.
*Alexander Mattison (MIN) is IN. (probably won’t play much)
*Emmanuel Butler (NO) is IN. (not sure how much he’ll play though)
*Alize Mack (NO) is OUT.
NO -2.5 – Bridgewater likely to play the first half against the second and third-teamers…he should be able to pile up a nice lead. Kyle Sloter will be in charge of the Minnesota comeback? I’ll take those odds…
TB vs. PIT under 37 – Horrendous quarterbacks and real weak receiver depth on both sides of this one. My only fear is constant turnovers leading to easy scores.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We probably don’t see much – if any – of Jameis Winston, and the Bucs QB4 Nick Fitzgerald did not make the trip to Pittsburgh, leaving Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin to split playing time. Expect one half from each.
Dare Ogunbowale – Peyton Barber will start, and Ronald Jones will also get a few snaps, but neither are expected to last long. Ogunbowale is battling for the RB3 job in
Andre Ellington – Ogunbowale’s competition for that No. 3 RB spot is Andre Ellington, who is looking to make a comeback in Tampa Bay under his old pal Bruce Arians. We already know what Ellington brings to the table – he’s a shifty runner and a serious weapon catching-passes out of the backfield. I’m a little concerned about his snap count, as a 30-year-old back that hasn’t played a snap of football in two years. I’ll be monitoring Bucs Twitter for updates tomorrow.
Anthony Johnson – Listed as WR6 on the Bucs initial depth chart, Johnson looks to be fighting with
DeMarkus Lodge – The aforementioned Lodge was signed as an undrafted free agent over the summer. He was productive, but had well-documented issues with drops at Ole Miss. Lodge has shown great body control in the air, and his lanky 6-foot-2 frame helps him in “jump ball” situations. He should get snaps, and is a definite red-zone threat. Lodge will likely be catching passes from Ryan Griffin in the second half tomorrow.
Justin Watson – Watson is a step ahead of Johnson and Lodge, currently battling for the team’s WR3 job. He’s originally from the Pittsburgh area, so there is a narrative in play for him on Friday. Watson is a complete package – speed, size, and smarts…definitely the kind of kid you want to root for. In 2018, Watson racked up 12 catches, 130 yards and 2 touchdowns in four preseason contests. He’s likely to play with Gabbert in the first half, so adjust your stacks accordingly.
Jordan Leggett – When you’re digging into these depth charts, you really want to look for pass-catching tight ends for DFS purposes – and that’s what Leggett is. I can’t see Howard or Brate getting a lot of run on Friday, which leaves Auclair and Hudson – used more on the blocking side of things, and Leggett. He’s not my favorite option on the slate, but probably the only guy I’ll have exposure to from this team.
Cairo Santos and Matt Guy will likely alternate kicks. I don’t want either.
With Ben Roethlisberger not playing, it will be Joshua Dobbs that draws the start. I’d expect Dobbs, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges to all get playing time, which spreads out the available snaps a little too far for my liking – I’ll have limited exposure here.
Benny Snell – Snell can be a player in this league, and with James Conner and Jaylen Samuels likely to be on the bench by the time the second quarter rolls around, we will probably see a lot of him tomorrow night. The Steelers actually just waived Ralph Webb this afternoon, spreading them even thinner in the RB room. I’m not sure how much run Edmunds, McMillian or Williams will get, but I can almost guarantee Snell will out-touch them all.
Diontae Johnson – Johnson seems very much questionable for tomorrow night’s game. He’s dealing with a groin injury, and also battled hamstring issues earlier in the summer. If he plays though, he’d be one of my favorite receivers on the slate. By all accounts, Johnson has had a great summer while the pads have been on. He’s reportedly pushing Washington, and some say even Moncrief, for legitimate playing time come September. He wasn’t practicing as of yesterday, so this will be a situation to monitor tomorrow.
Brandon Reilly – Reilly was a preseason stud during his two years with the Buffalo Bills, catching 15 balls for 256 yards and a score in seven appearances – generally during mop-up duty in the fourth quarter of games. He was only signed a week ago, so I’m a little concerned for his snap count. This is more of a speculative, low-owned play, based on past performance – definitely more of a GPP play.
Johnny Holton – Holton is a burner who has been showing out in camp recently. If Johnson sits this one out, he’ll have an opportunity to pick up some extra snaps, and if he wants to have any shot of sticking around, he needs to make the most of them. I’m a big fan of these deep threats in preseason GPP’s – just one play can put these guys near the top of the leaderboard.
Zack Gentry – Gentry attended the University of Michigan as a quarterback, but Jim Harbaugh converted him to tight end, and apparently he caught on quick – he was a fifth-round draft pick back in April. Pittsburgh’s tight end race is wide open behind Vance McDonald, and if I’m going to put money on one of these guys to get more of a push (more snaps) than the others, it’s going to be the guy who the team actually spent a pick on.
Chris Boswell and Matthew Wright will likely alternate kicks. There are better options.
Kirk Cousins and the first-team offense should play just one series. The Vikings have three other quarterbacks on the roster who will probably split time. With the Bucs and Saints QB’s each getting a full half, those are the teams I’d rather target at this position. For the record, Sean Mannion, Kyle Sloter, and Jake Browning will be the QB’s taking reps for Minnesota.
Michael Boone – It looks as if Alexander Mattison might sit this one out, which would clear the way towards Boone getting some serious work. We know Dalvin Cook won’t play much at all, and I’m not sure
De’Angelo Henderson – Once again, if Mattison sits this one out, Boone and Henderson should be sharing almost a full workload. The Vikings were reportedly very impressed with how well Henderson could catch the ball out of the backfield, so I’d expect the team to draw up some plays to get him into space tomorrow.
Olabisi Johnson – Diggs and Thielen won’t get more than a handful of snaps, but we still have 9 Viking receivers likely to get snaps tomorrow. Johnson is one of a small group of pass-catchers vying for the WR3 gig (Beebe and Zylstra the others). Johnson is ahead of fellow seventh-rounder Dillon Mitchell, but I like both of these players here.
Chad Beebe – While Johnson is making a push, it’s Beebe who is actually the current No. 3, and according to some around the team, he isn’t in any real danger of losing that spot. I hate to be that guy, but I’m seeing the same kind of talk about Beebe as I saw 4 years ago about Thielen. Hard-working, smart, doesn’t drop anything thrown his way…I’m excited to watch this kid tomorrow.
Dillon Mitchell – Mitchell should get most of the second-half snaps. He’s another seventh-rounder, and another one of those deep threats, who can break a two-game preseason DFS slate with just one play. He’s had a number of big plays in camp already, and will get plenty of playing time – Mitchell is a solid GPP target.
Irv Smith Jr. – Smith has been one of my favorite dynasty stashes this summer. He finished 2018 with 710 receiving yards at Alabama. O.J. Howard, another former Bama tight end, never came within 100 yards of that total – as a four-year starter! He’s going to be a good one, but will he get enough playing time tomorrow night to make him a worthy DFS pick? Noah Fant got just 12 snaps for Denver in last week’s HOF game, so that’s my fear. I will monitor Vikings Twitter tomorrow and hopefully have a better idea of his potential playing time before kickoff.
Brandon Dillon – Dillon is a pass-catching tight end, and seems to be having a great camp thus far. What I hear about Irv Smith’s playing time tomorrow will determine the level of exposure I’ll have to Dillon. If Smith is likely to play most of the first half, I don’t see how Dillon gets more than 10-15 snaps. If Smith is only projected to play 10-15 though, I think Dillon probably gets most of the pass-catching routes in the second half.
Dan Bailey is the only kicker on Minnesota’s roster. He is definitely a better option than either of the Tampa or Pittsburgh guys, who will be alternating kicks.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is unlikely to play, leaving only Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill to split snaps. They’re each likely to get one half, and I’m a big fan of both of them. Bridgewater is by far the better passer of the two. He also has the Minnesota narrative in play – this will be his first time facing the team that drafted him. What Hill lacks in passing ability, he makes up for with his legs. He could very well outscore every quarterback on this slate with his rushing numbers alone and is likely my top quarterback for Friday night.
Devine Ozigbo – Ozigbo is going to get a lot of work tonight. I don’t think we can expect to see much of Kamara or Murray, and Washington was on this team for all of 2018 – they know what they have there. All that’s left beyond that is 29-year-old Jacquizz Rodgers, and Kerwynn Williams, who was literally just signed Thursday afternoon.
Jacquizz Rodgers – All the being said, Ozigbo can’t play the whole game, so Rodgers will probably get some run, too. We know ‘Quizz can cause damage catching balls out of the backfield, which gives him more value on DK. I think we see Ozigbo get most of the work, but Rodgers will definitely be sprinkled in.
Simmie Cobbs Jr. – There are going to be a lot of mouths to feed in this receivers group tomorrow night. Cobbs, Grayson, Butler, Matthews, Carr, Humphrey…the list goes on. It’s going to be hard to pinpoint the right guy(s), so I would recommend putting in at least a few different combos. Cobbs – a popular name last preseason – is hard to not get excited about, standing 6-foot-3 and 220 lbs. He’s reportedly had a nice camp, and should get some time to show his stuff tomorrow night.
Cyril Grayson Jr. – Grayson is probably the receiver I’m most excited about watching tomorrow. He’s a former track star from LSU, who had never played a snap of football in his life before signing with the Seahawks a
Emmanuel Butler – Butler may not suit up tomorrow, as he’s been dealing with some lingering injury issues. If he does play, he immediately becomes my favorite Saints receiver to target. Praise is being heaped on Butler from nearly
Lil’Jordan Humphrey – Humphrey was a favorite of mine in college ball. Unfortunately, he’s a bit too slow to probably have much of a career at this level, and he has a major issue with drops. He is certainly a red-zone threat though, standing 6-foot-4, 225 lbs. He’ll get second-half snaps, so he’s a guy you could add to your Taysom Hill stacks (along with Grayson).
Alize Mack – Mack is another player that’s questionable to play on Friday night. He’s been dealing with some injuries, too. I have read one source that says he is definitely out, but I also have no idea who this is reporting it. If he plays – I’m a big Mack stan. He’s a good route-runner, makes the tough catches, has good speed for his size – it took until the seventh round, but the Saints did use a draft pick on the former Notre Dame product.
Dan Arnold – If Mack is out, Arnold probably becomes my No. 1 tight end on tomorrow’s slate. He’ll get first-half snaps, so you’ll want to stack him with Bridgewater. Arnold is a legit pass-catching tight end that now has a few years of experience in this offense. I don’t expect Jared Cook or Josh Hill to play much, and A.J. Derby was just signed to the roster this week, which leaves only Arnold and undrafted rookie Jake Powell as the remaining tight ends.
Will Lutz is the only kicker on the roster. Along with Dan Bailey, he’s one of the top options on the slate.