If you followed along with my NFL DFS preseason picks last night, you could have had a shot at big money. I only entered last night’s preseason daily fantasy football lineup into a free roll at FanDuel, yet it was good enough to take down second place (good for $25).
I had hits across the board, starting with Baker Mayfield at quarterback (17 fantasy points!), while Bo Scarbrough, Jake Kumerow and Michael Gallup all scored touchdowns. Rashard Higgins and Tanner Gentry were both serviceable with 8 fantasy points.
Hayden Hurst, Nick Chubb and the Carolina Panthers defense were all disappointing, but I personally ended up pivoting to Joe Williams and Dallas Goedert at RB and TE, respectively. Hopefully you made similar moves, but even if you didn’t, those three duds shouldn’t have kept you from placing.
Tonight’s NFL DFS preseason slate is much smaller (two games), but due to so many different players hitting the field, there is actually a lot more to work with than you’d think.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite daily fantasy football preseason picks in an effort to take down a tournament at FanDuel tonight:
QB: Sam Darnold – New York Jets ($6k)
Just like last night, I think when you look at quarterbacks you want a guaranteed quarter or longer. The Jets will probably play Josh McCown a bit and maybe showcase Teddy Bridgewater for a potential trade. My guess is Darnold – their prized franchise passer – gets two quarters of play, likely closing the game out in the second half.
If that’s the case, Darnold leads the way for me, as he’ll get plenty of chances to succeed and he’ll also be facing Atlanta’s backup defensive players. Darnold was quite good at USC and still has a chance to snag the starting gig before week one. I won’t be shocked if he plays two quarters and plays well, so he’s my quarterback exclusively on this slate.
You can look at Matt Ryan if the Falcons hand him a quarter and perhaps the same could be said for Derek Carr in Oakland or Matthew Stafford in Detroit. Bridgewater is viable if he gets at least a full quarter, too, while Oakland backup Connor Cook could be worth a look.
Unless a key starter is slated to get crazy run, it looks like Darnold or bust at QB for me tonight.
RB: Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions ($6k)
The Lions are loaded at running back this year. That isn’t to say they have even one elite rusher, but they just have a lot of able-bodied runners. Zach Zenner has been a past preseason darling, while guys like LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick have cemented roles.
Two guys I’d look at are rookie Kerryon Johnson and Ameer Abdullah. Zenner is also in the mix, but both of these other guys are more talented and probably are fighting for one of two roster spots. I’ll go with Johnson, as the Lions drafted him this offseason and wouldn’t hate him earning a big role early on.
RB: Trenton Cannon – New York Jets ($6k)
It pays to do a little research when you make your preseason NFL DFS picks. If you do, you’d know Thomas Rawls isn’t playing tonight and #3 back Trenton Cannon could be in for a nice workload. Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell are also in the mix here, but Cannon may end up getting the most touches.
There are bigger names on this slate to lust after, but Cannon has enjoyed a great camp and is going to try to put the finishing touches on winning a roster spot and key role.
He’s been banged up recently, so while I love him tonight, make sure he’s not randomly scratched. If he’s out, I’d look at pairing a second Lions rusher (probably Zenner) with Johnson or diving into Oakland’s loaded backfield with someone like DeAndre Washington or Jalen Richard.
WR: Ryan Switzer – Oakland Raiders ($6k)
Everyone will want to see Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and/or Martavis Bryant, but those guys all have locked in roles and shouldn’t see too much field time in Oakland’s first preseason game of the year. I’m looking to the Raiders’ bench, which includes shifty slot man Switzer and maybe deep threat, Johnny Holton.
I prefer Switzer, who the Raiders traded for to use out of the slot and as a return man. He could pay off on return duty alone, but I like his chances of racking up a few grabs on short routes as well. Hopefully his lack of a concrete role nets him a solid amount of playing time tonight and renders him a sneaky sleeper.
WR: Jace Billingsley – Detroit Lions ($6k)
I’m interested in another slot man, only this time with Detroit.
I can’t imagine either Golden Tate or Marvin Jones play much if they do suit up tonight, which could hand Billingsley a lot of playing time as he tries to make Detroit’s final roster.
Kenny Golladay should be more popular and as the team’s #3 option in the passing game, probably won’t play that much, either. Billingsley has flashed really nice ability in the past, so as long as he is on the field and gets some targets I think he can work some magic.
WR: Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons ($6k)
Julio Jones won’t play much tonight if he does hit the field, so I’m hoping we get a solid dose of stud rookie receiver, Calvin Ridley. He was a beast at Alabama and considering he is no better than the team’s #3 option through the air right now, it stands to reason that the Falcons would want to allow him a chance to prove himself.
Justin Hardy, Andre Roberts and maybe even Chad Hansen are a few other guys to consider that could see the field quite a bit on this slate.
TE: Eric Saubert – Atlanta Falcons ($6k)
There isn’t a stud tight end worth targeting with confidence on this slate. Jared Cook is probably the best normal starter, but he’s no lock to spend much time on the field tonight. I’m looking for talented backups who have fared well in camp and Saubert is near the top of the list.
There have been rave reviews for his athleticism and as a third stringer at the moment, there’s a good chance he plays a lot. That could still amount to nothing, but I really don’t think you’re avoiding risk no matter who you slide in at TE tonight.
If you need a second option, consider Oakland backup tight end, Derek Carrier. He flashed ability while with the Redskins in the past and reportedly fared quite well in joint practices with the Lions this week. It’s down to these two options for me at the moment, but Saubert should be more contrarian.
FLEX: Isaac Whitney – Oakland Raiders ($6k)
I mentioned a few other wide receivers, running backs and Carrier as a second TE option, so feel free to use whoever you like the most in this FLEX spot. I’m going with Isaac Whitney, who is another guy beat reporters have talked up all summer.
Whitney never got a chance to prove himself at USC, but did flash big play ability and possesses NFL size and speed. He’s been making plays on the ball down the field in camp and here’s to hoping that translates to the real thing tonight.
More than anything, this is another body looking to prove their worth in a week where star players are just not reliable.
DEF: New York Jets ($6k)
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure there is a safe defense on the board tonight. You only have four options and none of these units are elite options even if their starters play deep into the first half. I’m going with the Jets just because Todd Bowles is a sound defensive mind and Atlanta isn’t scary offensively beyond their top starters.
Assuming Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones are either out or limited, the Jets are going to see a lot of Matt Schaub and Garrett Grayson. Mr. Pick-Six himself is always worth going against, so hopefully Gang Green can convert a defensive score and pay off on just one play.
If you’re not into Sam Darnold, consider going against him and the Jets by using the Atlanta defense. They’re technically the best play on the board if you don’t think the Jets will do well.
Overall, you’re again looking for guys with as close to guaranteed playing time as possible. Be on the lookout for any word about key stars getting more run than expected or being scratched or extremely limited.
In week one of NFL preseason daily fantasy football action, it’s usually wise to avoid the star talents and just go with quality players on the bench that have the ability to rack up stats and should actually play a good amount. That strategy worked nicely last night and in the Hall of Fame game contest last week, so let’s keep that logic going as we chase a bigger win tonight.
Feel free to pivot to any other suggestions I make here and if you don’t use this lineup as it stands, hopefully you can mix in some of my NFL DFS picks with your own to create a winner. Either way, good luck tonight and enjoy the games!