Preseason football continues tonight with a six-game slate for us to dig into.
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.
I also mentioned in that article that Week 3 is when we’ll see the most playing time for starters. Typically this can run up to halftime with approximately two full quarters of playing time in what’s commonly referred to as the “dress rehearsal”. This can vary wildly from team-to-team. Knowing the expected playing time of each first-team offense is imperative to creating a high-scoring DFS lineup.
I’m also going to mix up the format a bit due to time constraints. DEFINITELY make sure you check back in prior to lock today.
Week 1 – 5-2, 1-0 on LOCKS
Week 2 – 0-0
NYG +3 (-120)
BAL ML (-250)
NE ML (-165)
Projected Playing Time for Starting Units:
CIN – Dalton and the first team will play most of the first half. Lot of injuries here to wideouts, don’t know how effective he’ll be.
NYG – Pat Shurmur will “let it reveal itself” as to whether his starters will play and how long they’ll play. He stated that he wants to still see guys in the second and third groups and to give them a chance to play. Last year, the Giants first-team offense played for one half.
PHI – After having joint practices with the Ravens in a controlled environment, it would be very surprising to see Doug Pederson risk Carson Wentz in a game situation. Playing time is unknown at this time, but I seriously doubt we get a full two quarters here, if any. Injuries to Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler have the Eagles down to QB4, newly signed Josh McCown. Ravens DST should be chalk.
BAL – Starters got in a ton of reps with controlled game situations in joint practices with PHI this week. The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec believes the starters will get a similar workload to previous game, with HC Harbaugh treading on the side of caution.
CAR – Cam Newton and the entire Panthers’ starting offense are set to take the field in this one. This is the first time Newton is playing this preseason and I don’t believe we’ll see Riverboat Ron gamble on his QB1 for long into this game. Newton’s reportedly in for “three or four ‘good’ possessions”. Going to ballpark that at 1.5 quarters.
NE – Tom Brady has historically played a half of preseason football in the dress rehearsal. After sitting out the first two games, that likely occurs here against the Panthers. The Patriots receivers have been decimated by injuries. Wouldn’t be shocked if he and Jakobi Meyers hooked up for a score here.
WAS – Case Keenum has run with the starting unit each of the first two preseason games. The starting unit is going to play a quarter and a half to two quarters, but no more. Dwayne Haskins should get the entire second half to prove to the coaching staff he merits the starting gig. Both have struggled with accuracy.
ATL – Healthy starters should play the first half here.
JAX – Many starters have been held out the first two games but will be making their debut this week. Anticipated playing time is “into the second quarter, but not much after that” for the first-team offense.
MIA – Ryan Fitzpatrick will start this week with Josh Rosen taking over.
GB – Matt LaFleur stated that he doesn’t believe it’s necessary for Aaron Rodgers to take preseason snaps. Rodgers was set to play in last week’s game, but late “back tightness” kept him out. That may have just been Rogers’ way of showing he holds the cards. It’s a strange situation already.
OAK – Most of the starters will not play against the Packers in this matchup.
Eli Manning, NYG, (Projected to play: 2 Quarters) – Played for two quarters in last year’s dress rehearsal. Sterling Shepard (thumb) could make his preseason debut and it wouldn’t surprise if they try to get the two on the same page. Eli Manning completed 17-of-23 for 188 yards and no passing touchdowns or interceptions in last year’s rehearsal. He’s looked sharp in preseason this year with no incompletions to date. The only concern is if they try to get all three of the other QBs playing time. Check back before lock before going this route.
Trace McSorley, BAL (2Q) – The lone non-starter that I’m interested in this week is Baltimore’s Trace McSorley. Rushing fantasy points are still fantasy points and McSorley has only four carries under his belt in two games. McSorley posted 30 rushing touchdowns his last three years at Penn State. Perhaps we see that version of him turn it loose this week to evade Philadelphia’s pass rush.
Cam Newton, CAR (~1.5Q) – The Panthers are aiming to have three to four successful drives by the Panthers stating unit. That could mean a three-and-out mixed in with several drives, but Newton is eager to show he’s game-ready. I like him in tournaments.
Tom Brady, NE, (2Q) – Brady has seen two quarters worth of play in back-to-back preseasons. Even with a limited receiving corps, Brady could find success here this week.
Matt Ryan, ATL (2Q) – We’re getting two quarters of a Julio-less Matt Ryan. He’s still a strong play against a Jets pass-funnel defense — they have zero corners — and perhaps we get him a bit lower owned without his top playmaker.
Wayne Gallman, NYG – The Giants held Saquon Barkley out of last year’s preseason dress rehearsal. It doesn’t look like he’ll suit up for Thursday’s game either. Barkley’s been held out of both preseason games this year so far. That means RB No. 2 on the depth chart, Wayne Gallman, will get valuable first-team reps.
Leonard Fournette, JAX – In last year’s dress rehearsal game, Leonard Fournette ran for 10-57-1 and picked up a receiving stat line of 3-18-0 catching all three of his targets. 13 touches is nothing to scoff at in the preseason. 1.5 quarters or so of Fournette could pay off handsomely as the Jags unveil the new Nick Foles-led offense.
Rodney Anderson, CIN – Should make his preseason debut with Trayveon Williams injured. Bengals know what they have in Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Anderson could see a lot of work in this one as the team tries to get more film on him in the second half.
Jordan Scarlett, CAR – Fighting for the No. 2 role behind CMC. Led all Panthers backs in snaps last week and ran for 8-35-0.
Justice Hill, BAL – Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards both may sit. Justice Hill showed last week he can excel on limited touches. He sported a 10-49-1 rushing stat line and forced seven missed tackles.
Dexter Williams, GB – Aaron Jones is only expected to a play a series or two. Jamaal Williams may not suit up (hamstring). That leaves Williams and Tra Carson (also viable option) as the primary ball carriers to target. My preference is Williams, who has compiled 17-67-0 so far in the preseason compared to Carson’s 14-24-0.
Josh Malone, CIN – Could see playing time with both the first and second team offenses. Injuries have struck this Bengals receiving corps. Malone has two dropped passes on seven targets. Building some rapport here with Dalton would go a long way toward entering the season with some optimism. Prefer Tyler Boyd for cash games given last year’s success, but Malone for tournaments as a lesser-owned option that they should force-feed targets.
Sterling Shepard, NYG – Shepard shed the yellow “don’t hit him” pinny this in practice and believes he’s ready for Week 1. Still waiting on confirmation that Shepard is playing here, but if he does, I think we see him and Manning try to connect early while Golden Tate sits due to a concussion.
T.J. Jones, NYG – Has looked terrific since joining mid-camp and excelled in preseason games. Leads all Giants wideouts in targets (10), receptions (9), receiving yards (104), and touchdowns (2). Has started working with the first team offense this week.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, PHI – The Eagles’ rookie wide receiver has posted the third-most Air Yards in the preseason so far (189). That deep ball specialty is a target for GPPs.
Miles Boykin, BAL – Has led all Baltimore wideouts in routes run (36) and targets (12), the production just hasn’t been there. Stick to the #process over results. Going back to the well again this week.
Chris Moore, BAL – With Seth Roberts and Marquise Brown likely missing time, Moore could be in line for first team reps. Most receiving yards (102) and a healthy 11.2 aDOT. Wouldn’t suggest playing multiple Baltimore receivers in the same lineup, though.
Curtis Samuel, CAR – The Panthers have had gifs and video viral clips all summer of Curtis Samuel making big plays downfield. Newton’s rapport with Samuel on the deep ball has been money. Stacking the two feels like it’s too easy. D.J. Moore can also be considered here.
Jakobi Meyers, NE – Injuries to most of the receiving corps has elevated Meyers into a prominent role this preseason. He leads the Patriots in every receiving category while accruing eight and six targets the last two games.Has been a favorite of Brady’s in practice.
Calvin Ridley, ATL – Without Julio Jones suiting up, Ridley stands to be in line for the position of Ryan’s No. 1 wideout. Ridley flourished as a rookie last season (64-821-10) in the No. 2 role. The Falcons get a chance to see what life after Julio looks like with Ridley leading the charge. A must-play with Ryan.
Preston Williams, MIA – Leads the Dolphins wideouts by a wide margin in snaps (68), targets (11), and receiving yards (104). Even on last week’s disappointing fantasy outing (1-7-0) he still saw a team-high six targets. Nothing wrong with chasing volume in preseason. He could play with both the starters and second-team offense, adding extra appeal.
Kenny Stills, MIA – Deep ball specialist. Williams will be chalkier, but Stills provides just as much upside with the ability to create a big play at a fraction of the ownership.
Keelan Doss, OAK – Doss leads all Raiders in targets (8) and receptions (7). He’s still not quite a lock to make the team, so look for him to continue to work and battle for a roster spot.
Joshua Perkins, PHI – With Zach Ertz not playing, Dallas Goedert out for the remainder of the preseason, and Richard Rodgers getting carted off the field in practice this week (foot), Perkins looks to be the top dog here as he tries to fight for the 53-man roster. He leads all Eagles tight ends in snaps (64) and routes run (34).
Austin Hooper, ATL – Tight end depth chart kind of thin after the Eric Saubert trade. Ran 16 routes last week and caught 3-of-3 targets for 20 yards.
Mike Gesicki, MIA – Elite athlete that has been struggling in camp. Career trending downward right now and needs a big outing. Dart throw play here.
Robert Tonyan, GB – Jace Sternberger is still out. Robert Tonyan has been a repeated target due to his athleticism.
Baltimore Ravens – Eagles likely won’t be playing Wentz for very long or at all. That leaves them down to QB4 on their depth chart with newly signed, 40-year-old Josh McCown. Between McCown, another new guy named Brett Toth, and Clayton Thorson, the Ravens have the potential for multiple sacks, turnovers, and defensive scores.
Philadelphia Eagles – After having joint practices with the Ravens this week, the Eagles should be prepared for mobile quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson and Trace McSorley have combined for zero sacks so far in the preseason. I don’t think that can sustain itself. Jackson’s 8.6% sack rate last year was seventh-highest in the league. McSorley has also thrown two picks.