What up #EliteMafia!
It’s my favorite time of year, preseason football.
After waiting months for our favorite sport to return, we get five weeks of preseason football that provide multiple slates for us to win some cheddar.
This is my first time writing any kind of preseason primer here at Elite Fantasy, so I’ll give you a quick rundown of the format.
Like I mentioned in my preseason introductory article, a lot of the most important news for preseason football occurs right before lock. Right below the intro here I’ll update the article 30 minutes prior to kickoff with some of my preferred plays and starts.
The other part of this article is all the research (12+ hours) I’ve spent on this 11-game slate, bundled game-by-game with bulleted, quick-hitting information. It’s all the relevant news, notes, camp updates, and injuries that you’ll need as part of your research in one place. It’s also done position-by-position to help you quickly navigate and build a player pool.
Get yourself a coffee, here’s 3,500+ words on preseason football:
Quarterbacks have projected quarters they are playing in parenthesis.
Players listed in tier are not ranked in any manner.
Notes: Corey Grant (GB) was cut this afternoon.
BUF +2 — Starters for BUF playing a full quarter. Like that advantage over IND.
PHI -1.5 — Deep PHI squad at every position. Like their overall depth much more than TEN.
JAX vs BAL – U31 — We have Gardner Minshew vs Trace McSorley. Battle of two sixth round rookies for much of the game. These two squads have been practicing all week and know each other’s tendencies. Think we see a lot of 3-and-out stalemates.
NE +2.5 — Don’t trust DET’s Tom Savage or David Fales to move the ball well. Think Father (Belichick) defeats son (Patricia) easily.
MIA -4 (LOCK) — Did you see how bad Matt Schaub was late in that HOF game? The Falcons added dumpster fire QB Matt Simms after placing Benkert on IR. There’s a reason MIA DST should be one of the highest owned plays tonight.
DEN -2.5 — Broncos defense actually has some depth. Like them to show up here against a very thin Seahawks squad.
LAC vs AZ – U37.5 — Really like both DSTs here. Think we see scoring at a premium unlike last year (17-24). AZ does not want to show their hand at all for the regular season and wants to play vanilla offense.
NYJ @ NYG
New York Jets
The Jets are three deep at QB behind Sam Darnold. This playing time is too spread out to worry about. PASS.
Trenton Cannon – Terrific preseason player last year. Could get extended run considering the Jets have four experienced veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.
Valentine Holmes – 24-year-old Australian Rugby star, currently sixth on the depth chart. Could see playing time? Wildcard.
Tim White has been the breakout star of camp to this point.
Deontay Burnett has also looked good in camp after shining last season.
Greg Dortch – will get every opportunity to be the team’s PR/KR.
Jets have just one kicker on their roster, Chandler Catanzaro. He’s had a rough camp missing field goals. I’d look elsewhere despite his lack of competition.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones will be the focus of many, but HC Pat Shurmer has been rather quiet on playing time. With Eli Manning likely to have little playing time, Jones should play at least the first quarter. NYG also has Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney waiting in the wings. This is likely another QB situation best left alone.
Deep, but inexperienced depth chart. Too many options here make this another situation to avoid.
Injury news to Giants WRs is going to be important. Darius Slayton (hamstring) and Brittain Golden (groin) both questionable.
Reggie White Jr. – UDFA that may make the 53-man roster.
C.J. Conrad – noted name that popped up a few times in research.
IND @ BUF
Jacoby Brissett – likely to get all the first-team reps with Andrew Luck sidelined (calf). Maximum only playing for a quarter with Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly on the roster. Walker and Kelly to split the remaining three quarters.
Marlon Mack will not play. Team added Aca’Cedric Ware this week to create a murky, deep depth chart here that runs five backs deep behind Mack.
Deon Cain – injured last preseason. Has made big plays in camp and was estimated to play 1.5Q.
Marcus Johnson – has looked smooth in camp.
Parris Campbell – has missed multiple practices dating back to last week.
Colts run seven-deep at the tight end position.
Team Notes: McDermott reported that starters will play “roughly a quarter”.
Josh Allen for a quarter? I’d rather play bad backups for 3Q. Rookie Tyree Jackson expected to play most of second half. Carries rushing upside.
LeSean McCoy – will not play.
Devin Singletary – has looked terrific in camp.
T.J. Yeldon – fighting for a roster spot due to his lack of contributions on special teams.
Ray-Ray McCloud – camp standout in the slot.
Tommy Sweeney – getting first team reps due to all the TE injuries.
TEN @ PHI
Marcus Mariota should only play a series or two, then it’s on to Ryan Tannehill and Logan Woodside. Given Tannehill’s history, it wouldn’t shocking to see Woodside get the entire second half and even possibly jump in the game at some point in the second quarter. Pay attention to news here and see if we can get a definitive answer on playing time. HC Mike Vrabel currently has given zero information on it.
Jeremy McNichols and Dalyn Dawkins are having one of the best camp battles now.
Darius Jennings and Kalif Raymond are both making a tough battle for the WR6 position.
Cody Kessler and Nate Sudfeld combined for 18 sacks in the preseason last year (nine each). Titans DST is certainly in play.
Carson Wentz is not expected to play, but the Eagles have three other quarterbacks on their roster. Too deep here to target anyone.
Eagles run 8-deep at RB.
Eagles run 12-deep at WR.
J.J. Arcega Whiteside, Carlton Agudosi, and Greg Ward Jr. are my favorite dart throws, but they’re simply that, dart throws.
Eagles run 6-deep at TE.
Jake Elliott is the team’s only kicker — the only position they’re thin at.
WAS @ CLE
No Colt McCoy. Unclear how much Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins will play. 4th stringer Josh Woodrum will also get some late snaps.
Washington runs 7-deep here at RB.
Terry McLaurin – entire camp is buzzing about him as a standout. He’s practicing every receiver position to become a more well-rounded, versatile weapon.
Cam Sims – was a preseason standout last year but a Week 1 opening kickoff injury ended his season prematurely. Big-play vertical threat.
WAS is 6-deep at TE.
Drew Stanton not expected to play more than one quarter at most. Leaves AAF superstar Garrett Gilbert to see a good number of plays and David Blough to clean up as QB4.
Dontrell Hilliard – has been a star of camp and seems certain to make the team. Expect him to play in the first half.
D’Ernest Johnson – AAF running back stud that should see bulk of the work in the second half. Johnson is reportedly “the one to watch Thursday”.
Derrick Willies – Penciled in for WR5. 6’-4”.
Ishmael Hyman – Could play in both the first and second half.
Stephen Carlson – Rookie that could see significant playing time out of necessity due to all the injuries.
JAX @ BAL
Gardner Minshew has worked with the second team throughout much of camp. He’s expected to get, “a long, long, long look Thursday.”
Ryquell Armstead (quad) and Thomas Rawls (hamstring) likely won’t play, providing a path to playing time for Devante Mays and Roc Thomas. Mays has seen a significant number of snaps due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart.
Keelan Cole and Terrelle Pryor – both could be battling for a roster spot.
JAX has been practicing against the Ravens all week. They know what to expect against the rushing QBs in Lamar Jackson and Trace McSorley. I like the Jaguars ability to rush the passer and am adding their DST to the player pool.
Robert Griffin III (thumb) is already ruled out, so we should see much of the game led by rookie Trace McSorley and recent addition to the team, Joe Callahan. McSorley could be in for at least two quarters of play.
Kenneth Dixon will have “ample opportunity” to steal the show this preseason. He is far from guaranteed a roster spot at this time.
Jaleel Scott has turned heads at camp for more than just his size this year (6’-5”). He’s making plays and could contend for the final receiver spot.
NE @ DET
New England Patriots
Playing time is unclear at this time, but it’s going to be split between only Brian Hoyer and Jarett Stidham.
Patriots backfield has ruled out Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead. HELLLOOO Damien Harris!! Harris should see a ton of work as the lead back with special teamer Brandon Bolden and sixth-stringer Nick Brosette the only other active running backs.
N’Keal Harry – tweaked his hamstring on Monday but didn’t appear to have any setbacks Wednesday during the team’s walkthrough. Granted, there was never a point sprinting came into play during the team’s walkthrough. Keep an eye on this as he warms up tomorrow before the game. He’s been making highlight reel receptions throughout camp with all three quarterbacks.
Jakobi Meyers – UDFA that’s been reliable in camp. Can play inside and on the boundary. Has earned the trust of Tom Brady for whatever that’s worth.
Maurice Harris – remains one of the Patriots’ most consistent standouts.
Braxton Berrios – team leader with 20 targets from Brady during training camp.
Tom Savage and David Fales only active QBs behind Matthew Stafford (not expected to play).
Ty Johnson and Mark Thompson are both competing for the RB4/receiving role vacated by Theo Riddick. Last year the Lions kept four running backs on the squad. It’s likely only one of these guys makes it to the 53-man roster. Johnson’s draft status and elite speed make him an intriguing play.
WR competition is wide open behind the top-three. The Lions receiver group is 11-deep at this time, making it difficult to pinpoint which receivers see extended run Thursday.
DET is utilizing a ton of TE-heavy formations with Darrell Bevell calling the shots. The Athletic’s Chris Burke sported a bold prediction that Isaac Nauta — TE5 on the depth chart — scores a touchdown.
ATL @ MIA
The Falcons brought in Matt Simms (AAF) to replace Kurt Benkert (toe injury, IR). Matt Ryan may play a series or two. Matt Schaub looked out of his element late in the fourth quarter during the HOF game last week. That could mean a lot of Simms, who had a terrible season with the Atlanta Legends (59.8% completion rate, 2 TDs, 7 INT) before the league closed up shop.
Brian Hill – followed up an outstanding HOF game with a standout practice in front of fans on Sunday. The No. 2 role behind Devonta Freeman is wide open, per HC Dan Quinn. Hill is currently No. 3 on the team’s depth chart and looking the best to date.
The targets were well distributed during the HOF game with seven receivers seeing at least three targets. Christian Blake saw the most (six) while Olamide Zaccheaus saw the most impactful (five targets, 15.6 aDOT). Russell Gage is another receiver brought up by several beat reporters to monitor as one of the team’s most improved wideouts. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Marcus Green are all not expected to play.
The Falcons run six-deep at TE and are too crowded for any DFS recommendations.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to start. Josh Rosen will come in after him followed by Jake Rudock. The playing time is unclear for all three quarterbacks.
Kalen Ballage has been one of the biggest standouts in camp. Ballage is entering his second year in the league and looks like a much more complete player. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that there’s a reported 45-40 split among the backfield touches between Ballage and Kenyan Drake for the regular season. I expect we see Ballage’s brilliance translate from training camp to an actual preseason game here.
Preston Williams – 6’-4”, 210 pounds. Chance to make Miami’s 53-man roster. Strong connection with Rosen.
Miami has six different tight ends on the roster. Easy pass.
I’m all about a DST that gets to face Schaub & Simms. Turnover and sack potential is sky-high here.
CAR @ CHI
Cam Newton won’t play. We weren’t going to be rostering him anyway.
Will Grier to take over mid-2nd and play through 3rd. The rookie has had an up-and-down camp.
Taylor Heinicke is the early odd-man out candidate.
Christian McCaffrey is not expected to play.
Jordan Scarlett has been banged up and won’t play Thursday.
Cameron Artis-Payne – Panthers want to keep him on roster for special teams abilities. No notes on rushing.
Reggie Bonnafon practiced a lot in the passing game with Scarlett out. The Athletic’s Jordan Rodrigue, “Expect to see him quite bit through the preseason”. Rodrigue projects him to land on the practice squad. Former QB/WR/RB in college at Louisville. “He’ll be getting a lot of looks on Thursday night with no CMC/Scarlett”, per Rodrigue.
Elijah Holyfield UDFA. Has looked impressive and explosive.
Andrew Levrone – “Expect plenty of snaps for guys like Levrone” – Bill Voth
Terry Godwin – “Keep an eye on Terry Godwin Thursday Night” – Jordan Rodrigue
DeAndrew White – Great job separating from coverage in camp.
Rashad Ross – AAF standout
Damion Jeanpiere – Also doing a great job separating from coverage in camp.
Ian Thomas – “Expect Thomas to get a lot of work on Thursday” – Josh Klein
Pretty set at QB with Mitch Trubisky and Chase Daniel. That means a lot of Tyler Bray (3Q?).
Ryan Nall – looks like the early leader for RB4 duties per beat reporters.
Kerrith Whyte Jr. – hasn’t practiced as of late (undisclosed injury). Keep an eye on it.
Riley Ridley (hamstring) continues to miss practices; 50-50 to play Thursday according to HC Nagy – Gene Chamberlain
Thomas Ives has had a very strong start to camp.
Javon Wims *should* make the roster as WR5; fantastic preseason player last season.
Marvin Hall – “bubble” player that needs a strong preseason.
Emanuel Hall – Offseason surgery (sports hernia) and remains sore (missed three of last five Bears’ practices). Speedster that many were surprised went undrafted.
Tanner Gentry – injury on Tuesday; has looked good in previous preseason performances
Jordan Williams-Lambert – hamstring injury early in training camp; 6’-3”, 228 pounds
Taquan Mizzell – Former running back that converted to wide receiver.
Trey Burton has looked “sluggish” and not expected to play.
Adam Shaheen (back) missed some practice this week.
Bradley Sowell – a converted offensive lineman.
Dax Raymond – strong minicamp.
Ian Bunting – impressive camp so far.
HOU @ GB
Team Notes: Over the Bill O’Brien era, the regular season starters rarely play more than a drive in the preseason opener. O’Brien wouldn’t commit to a set number of snaps publicly for any particular player.
A.J. McCarron – out for entire preseason with a thumb injury. That leaves Joe Webb in line to see most of the snaps. Webb could see potential 3Q+. The only other quarterback they have on the roster is a guy who was just signed Wednesday night, Jordan Ta’amu. Webb’s throwing/rushing versatility and extended playing time makes him the top quarterback option on the slate.
The running back group is too deep here with all unknowns behind Lamar Miller. This battle is wide open according to B.O.B.
Tyron Johnson blurbed repeatedly. Should be in the mix for final roster spot with Vyncint Smith.
Five healthy players on the depth chart here all vying for touches. Pass.
Texans have just one kicker, Ka’imi Fairbairn.
Green Bay Packers
Deshone Kizer, Tim Boyle, and Manny Wilkins make this too crowded to play. Inconsistent play from Kizer means he’ll see more time than necessary. That makes all three of these guys tough to recommend.
Aaron Jones (hamstring), Jamaal Williams (hamstring), and Tra Carson (neck spasms) are all most likely going to be ruled out.
Dexter Williams – healthy, but locked in RB3; does he play much and they risk another RB injury?
Corey Grant – 27 years old; extremely athletic and extremely productive preseason player in his career. He has ties to OC Nathaniel Hackett (former JAX OC). Also has special teams experience. Huge ceiling if the team opts to keep Dexter Williams out of harm’s way. –
Corey Grant cut from team *UPDATED 8/8 AT 6:23PM EST*
Darrin Hall – picked up off waivers two weeks ago. Former Pitt running back that was a tandem with Qadree Ollison. The “Lightning” to Ollison’s “Thunder”.
Keith Ford – Played two games for the Bills last regular season as 24-year-old rookie; signed this Tuesday.
Jake Kumerow and Trevor Davis looking like the top options to make roster. I’d probably look to play them over any others if eager to get GB WR exposure. Depth chart beyond them is too deep for any additional names.
Jace Sternberger – questionable, concussion from hit during practice with HOU.
Robert Tonyan – getting some buzz. Had 8-61-2 last preseason as the TE4 on the depth chart. Has spent time this training camp rotating in with the first and second teams.
Packers DST could have a field day with three quarters of Joe Webb and a quarter against a nobody they picked up the day before the game.
LAC @ AZ
Los Angeles Chargers
Tyrod Taylor, Cardale Jones, Easton Stick. Crowded depth chart here. Taylor is a new addition, but I imagine this mostly battles between Jones & Stick. No word on playing time breakdown.
Detrez Newsome – baller in the preseason last year. Doubt we see Ekeler/Jackson much with the contract holdout of Melvin Gordon. Newsome had a short rushing TD and caught 4-of-4 passes for 34 yds against AZ last preseason.
Troymaine Pope – Hasn’t gotten much attention in practice but broke a long carry during team drills.
Jeremy Cox – UDFA. Don’t know what to make of him at this time other than he could be in the mix for touches.
Artavis Scott – really impressive camp. In the mix for the No. 4 WR with Davis. Went 5-44-0 against AZ last preseason.
Geremy Davis – strong training camp to date and getting mixed in at various receiver spots. Went 4-88-1 against AZ last preseason.
Travis Benjamin and Andre Patton are both game time decisions.
Jason Moore – rookie that could see more snaps Thursday if Benjamin or Patton miss time.
Sean Culkins – getting buzz. Don’t know about playing time with him acting as the TE2 while Virgil Green gets healthy.
The Chargers have one of the best starting defensive units in the league. Their backups are of high-quality as well. That could lead to a productive outing against a rookie QB that can scramble and against Brett Hundley who had five sacks, two fumbles, and an interception last preseason.
Kyler Murray – 10-12 snaps goal, 1-2 series max.
Brett Hundley – Likely to play just one quarter – Scott Bordow
Charles Kanoff and Drew Anderson to split next three quarters. Not interested in either.
Chase Edmonds – has lined up in two-back sets with David Johnson. Edmonds likely in the backfield whenever they line DJ out wide. No notes on playing time.
Andy Isabella – likely out (knee injury).
KeeSean Johnson– has seen a lot of praise over the first week and a half of training camp so far. Been working as the WR3.
Hakeem Butler – inconsistent in camp which led to the Michael Crabtree signing attempt
Two WR spots open between Trent Sherfield, Damiere Byrd, Pharoah Cooper, and Kevin White.
Charles Clay – knee injury. Unfortunately there’s five other TEs after him on the depth chart.
The Chargers backup QBs are mobile and have injuries at the tackle positions. We want scrambling QBs in preseason DFS because it often allows us to get sacks. Stick is a run-first QB. Cardale can’t run away from pressure. Win/Win.
DEN @ SEA
Quick look at the three backup QBs for Denver from the Hall of Fame game and their number of dropbacks — Kevin Hogan (8), Drew Lock (14), and Brett Rypien (12). None of these three cleared 50 yards passing. Vic Fangio stated that the first quarter will likely belong to Joe Flacco and Hogan, and that Lock should see extended run here getting the lion’s share of the work on Thursday. Fangio also stated that Rypien likely won’t even get on the field, putting Lock in for what we can assume 2-3 quarters of work.
Devontae Booker – the addition of Phillip Lindsay now puts Booker on the roster bubble.
Khalfani Muhammad – last week’s highest scoring fantasy player (DK), Muhamad will be a very popular fantasy play this week.
Devontae Jackson – had 12 carries last week for 26 yards. Very similar build to Muhammad.
David Williams – saw fewest opportunities. Offers a different skillset than the other three above given his size of 6’-1”, 229 pounds.
Seven different receivers saw a target in the HOF game. There are going to be better options for us to choose from on an 11-game slate.
Jake Butt (ACL), Jeff Heuerman (shoulder), and Bug Howard (ankle) not expected to play.
Leaves upside plays in Noah Fant, Troy Fumagalli, and Austin Fort as options, but still a deep depth chart. Fort saw four targets last week (1.0 yards of aDOT) and Fant saw three (12.0 aDOT).
Broncos are one of several teams with just one kicker – Brandon McManus.
Paxton Lynch – thin depth chart here, but Lynch is far from spectacular. Should see 2Q.
Geno Smith – better passer and better mobility, prefer him over Lynch. Should see second 2Q.
J.D. McKissic – has been operating as team’s No. 3. Went to locker room on Tuesday with injury.
C.J. Prosise – Did not practice Tuesday.
Travis Homer – Did not practice Tuesday.
Could be a ton of Bo Scarbrough and Xavier Turner if the three RBs above stay out. Need to monitor status prior to kickoff.
D.K. Metcalf– Oblique injury from last week (and other ailments), but has been ruled that he will play in Thursday’s preseason opener (likely limited reps). Has been Russell Wilson‘s go-to receiver all camp.
David Moore – needs to hold off Metcalf to keep his starting job.
Jazz Ferguson – notable camp standout.
Jacob Hollister – has been on a Metcalf-level as far as impressing with his receiving skills. Injured groin on Monday, monitor status.
Ed Dickson and Will Dissly both out with knee injuries.
Seattle is one of a few teams with just one kicker – Jason Myers.