Monday, August 31, 2015

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quick Thoughts for Week 3 Sunday Preseason Games

NFL Preseason Week 3 wraps up on Sunday with two contests, both of which are scheduled for national broadcast.  So if you want to relax this afternoon and evening and maybe sweat out a few more wins on DraftKings, I suggest that you read on.

First, there are some solid plays mentioned already on this blog from Justin's great post here, so give that a once-over.

Let's dig in to the two games, and how I see them playing out:

Houston Texans at the New Orleans Saints (4PM Eastern, FOX)

The Texans are planning on rolling out all of their players in a similar fashion as the previous two weeks, which means the "dress rehearsal" for Week 1 plan is not in play for the Texans.  As if you needed another reason not to play anyone from Houston, this should cement that thought.  The only Texan I might use is Chris Polk, who has solid numbers from Week 1 (7-36 rushing, 5-34 receiving) and Week 2 (10-29, 3-36).

New Orleans is the team to target today, as they have the biggest point total from Las Vegas, and there will be emotion in New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  The Saints are going to load up and shoot for lots of points in the first half behind Drew Brees, who has several solid options to catch passes and score for the Saints early.  I like Brandin Cooks to be the leading receiver, and Josh Hill is a good tight end option on a day where finding one is not easy.   

My pick for the sleeper?  None other than Brandon Coleman, wide receiver for the Saints.  He dropped a touchdown last week and has yet to record a catch, but he has been the MVP of training camp according to Sean Payton, and that works for me.  If you want a dark horse to win a tournament, I like Coleman.

Last but not least, with not much to write home about for the Texans and the big emotion in Louisiana today, I think the Saints are going to be the best choice for team defense and might get you a touchdown, especially if you factor in seventh round draft pick Marcus Murphy from Missouri.

Yes, we talk about seventh rounders on Footballguys.  Why haven't you signed up to be an insider yet?

Arizona Cardinals at the Oakland Raiders (8PM Eastern, NBC)

Sunday Night Football wraps up the week with Carson Palmer looking to get the offense rolling against Oakland, a team that has been struggling all preseason.  Michael Floyd will still be out for the Cardinals, but I like their passing game this week with Palmer, John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald likely to play at least two quarters and possibly a series after the half.  The ground game will then take over for Arizona, featuring rookie running back David Johnson, who racked up 66 yards rushing last week on 13 carries.

As for Oakland, they are a tournament flier for me, as I do not see much coming from their ground game.  If anything, I like their passing game - mostly the targets, not the quarterbacks - as I think Amani Cooper and Brice Butler have something to prove.  Tight ends have been tough to find in the preseason, but a good option will be Mychal Rivera as Clive Wolford is still out.

Now, as many of us have already stated in the past - and will continue to do so - be careful on a short slate of games like this.  With just two contests, there are only so many points to go around and you really have to nail the game scripts and the guys who will be crossing that goal line today.  The good news is that in the preseason, the number of players in play is much higher than in a normal two-game slate for the NFL.

Good luck today.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Another Look at Saturday's Preseason Games

Justin has already touched on some intriguing options for today's games and I want to add to the conversation with a quick look into my own personal process for the preseason and a list of some of the top guys I am planning to play in today's contests.

The first thing I'm looking at is which teams are favored by 3.5 points or more in Vegas. For preseason games, the default is generally for the home team to be favored by between 1 and 2.5 points and if there is a departure from that line, it tends to mean that there's a fairly strong feeling that one team will outperform the other. For Saturday's games, five teams pass the 3.5 point bar and standout as the best places to look for big fantasy numbers. Most of my rosters will be stocked primarily with players from these five teams.

Let's take a closer look at each of the five:

1. Denver The Broncos are favored by 6 at home and expected to play Peyton Manning for approximately 30 plays which should see him through the full first half. It's hard to go wrong with one half of Peyton Manning. With Emmanuel Sanders still nursing a minor injury, Demaryius Thomas and Cody Latimer stand out as top options. Thomas is reportedly rounding into form after a long holdout. Latimer has done well throughout the preseason but has recently been challenged by Gary Kubiak to prove he can make big plays in 50/50 jump ball situations. Expect Latimer to be given a couple chances to prove himself deep down the field today. At RB, it is hard to find much clarity in terms of expected touches between CJ Anderson, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball and Juwan Thompson. One may have a nice game, but it's tough to tell which one, so I'm focused on the passing game. Denver Defense is also one of the top targets for the slate.

2. Philadelphia The Eagles as big road favorites is mainly about what's going on in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers isn't expected to play much and the backup QB is out. Which leaves 3rd string rookie Brett Hundley to carry the load. And he'll be facing the Eagles' first string defense in the first half. Welcome to the NFL rookie...Eagles Defense is a top target. Sam Bradford should play most of the first half and Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews are both expected to receive extended playing time, especially with Josh Huff possibly inactive. At RB, Ryan Mathews and DeMarco Murray should both see touches. With Chip Kelly looking to limit Murray's wear and tear in the preseason, it's tough to count on either back in the preseason. Kenjon Barner is an interesting option and could have a strong second half. Barner has been a preseason star and looks to lead the competition for the 4th RB spot behind the four veterans.

3. Baltimore The Ravens are favored by 4 at home against Washington. It's been announced that Robert Griffin III is not playing and Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy will carry the load. That may or may not be a positive for the Ravens Defense depending upon your feelings about Griffin, but the Ravens Defense is a solid play. On offense, Joe Flacco will be looking to get on track and Washington's pass defense is questionable and should play the first half. Steve Smith leads the WR options though Darren Waller and others are potentially in play. The top play in the game should be rookie runner Javorius Allen. He will get plenty of touches with the first team and have an opportunity to win the backup job. Keep an eye on Terrence Magee as well who could own the 4th quarter.

4. Miami The Dolphins are 4 point favorites and the starters are expected to play into the 4th quarter. Ryan Tannehill is one of the top options on the slate at QB. He has had a nice connection with Jarvis Landry and while Landry doesn't have a lot of big-play potential, he is a safe option for production today. Kenny Stills is the big-play threat and could connect for a long touchdown. Lamar Miller and Damien Williams could have solid days against a mediocre Falcons run defense.

5. Cincinnati The Bengals are favored by 3.5 at home tonight and after a disastrous performance against Tampa look to get back on track. The first team offense should get an extended look so Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill, A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert are all playable options for today's slate of games.

Sample Lineup- Peyton Manning, Javorius Allen, Joseph Randle, Demaryius Thomas, Cody Latimer, Nelson Agholor, Jimmy Graham, Jarvis Landry, Eagles D.

Preseason DFS plays for Saturday & Sunday

QB Matt Barkley, Eagles – Word around the campfire is that Barkley is being showcased for a trade. If true, that should buy him another 15-20 attempts with those Eagles playmakers.

QB Ryan Nassib, Giants – As Eli Manning’s direct backup, Nassib earns his paycheck in the preseason. Good thing, because he’s strung together a great preseason run dating to last year. He’ll likely captain the Giants’ high-octane offense for two quarters and is a strong bet to push 150 yards and a score or two.

RB Chris Polk, Texans – If I had my way, Polk would’ve seized this starting gig immediately upon Arian Foster’s injury. The Texans don’t seem as knee-jerk, but they’ve fed Polk plenty of preseason touches. A dynamic receiver out of the backfield, he’s caught eight balls through two preseason games. A full-PPR format like DraftKings allows you to take strong advantage of guys like Polk.

RB Josh Robinson, Colts – The bruising rookie has already seen 23 rushes with the third and fourth teams. He’ll be proving his wares as the #3 RB, so I like his chances of seeing a solid workload and a touchdown opportunity on Saturday.

RB Ronnie Hillman, Broncos – Hillman has just lain smoldering waste to plodding Monte Ball in the race to back up C.J. Anderson. He’s averaged 7.5 yards per rush thus far, and should see ample time with the first team Saturday night.

RB Matt Asiata, Vikings – He’s seen decent run thus far this preseason, and remains the team’s preferred option in the pass game, so he looks like a sure bet for another 6-8 touches. Asiata also sees the majority of the team’s goal line work, so a trip inside the 5 within the first 3 quarters would give him a good shot at scoring.

WR Nelson Agholor, Eagles – This is a no-brainer. The rookie has been a true playmaker this preseason, earning hefty playing time and catching eight balls for 106 yards and a touchdown. With the volume of plays the Eagles run, and #3 QB Matt Barkley reportedly being showcased as trade bait, Agholor is a fine bet to see ample opportunity and produce again.

WR Ty Montgomery, Packers – Also a bit of a no-brainer following Jordy Nelson’s injury, but don’t get caught without a young Packers reserve WR in your lineup. Montgomery and Jeff Janis are exceptionally raw and in need of seasoning – as well as ample coaches’ observation – as they prepare to slide into the #3 and #4 roles in Green Bay. Reportedly the front-runner for #3 (and a world-class returner at Stanford), Momtgomery is also the slightly sexier stab at production.

WR Brice Butler, Raiders – Fighting for a roster spot, Butler has already recorded nine catches and a touchdown through two preseason games. He’s too good to be cast aside, and the Raiders likely want to see as much as they can before making the call.

TE Virgil Green, Broncos – Tight end isn’t a very predictable or plentiful spot for preseason production, with each team carrying gobs of TE prospects and rotating them heavily. But Green has asserted himself with the second team. He makes for a solid, educated stab at 3ish receptions and a touchdown.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Night Preseason Plays

We've reached Week 3 of the preseason, commonly known as the regular season "dress rehearsal". It's been common in the past for teams to leave their starters in for upwards of two quarters in the third preseason game, but be careful not to overrate this dynamic. Certain coaches have already said they won't be playing their starters into the third quarter, and last year, Jonas Gray, Fozzy Whitaker, and Robert Turbin were the top running back scoring leaders, while Zach Mettenberger and Ryan Griffin topped the quarterback leaderboard.

New England at Carolina

If tonight's game truly is a dress rehearsal for the Patriots, they have an interesting choice to make at quarterback. The word is Tom Brady might see extended action tonight, but Jimmy Garoppolo, who leads all quarterbacks who have played two preseason games in both snaps and pass attempts, needs all the reps he can get in preparation for his (presumed) Week 1 start. If I had to choose between the two, I'd lean Garoppolo, who should see at least a half against Carolina's second and third stringers.

The problem with each of the Patriots' quarterbacks will be who they're passing the ball to. We know Bradon LaFell and Josh Boyce won't play. Brandon Gibson, who leads Patriots' wide receivers in snaps this preseason, was placed on IR earlier this week. The Patriots have held Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Scott Chandler out of all their preseason games so far, and may do the same tonight. New England's offensive schemes are notoriously complex, making it fair to wonder how much we'll see new acquisition Reggie Wayne tonight. That leaves Danny Amendola, Christopher Harper, Jonathan Kreuse, and possibly Aaron Dobson, who returned to practice this week. If Dobson is healthy enough to go, I like his chances at a lot of playing time - keep an eye on the inactives. Amendola may see the field a lot out of necessity, and makes for a decent play given Draftkings' PPR scoring. If I had to play a New England receiver tonight, it would be Harper, who's been heavily involved in both Pats' preseason games, and scored a touchdown last week.

James White has been dominating snaps for New England this preseason, He hasn't run very well (2.1 YPA), but made up for it Week 1 by leading the team in receiving yards, and in Week 2 by scoring a touchdown. I like White ahead of Jonas Gray and LaGarrette Blount tonight, though Blount did receive 13 carries on his 18 snaps last week, and figures to log more playing time tonight.

There's not much to see for the Pats at tight end if Gronk and Chandler are out, unless you want to cross your fingers, close your eyes and pray for a Michael Hoomanawanui touchdown.

In the case of the Carolina Panthers, it seems there's no question the starters will play into the third quarter. Cam Newton can be started with confidence, as he looks to bounce back from a dismal start against the Dolphins last week.

Devin Funchess returned to practice this week, which suggests he should suit up tonight. Funchess led the team in receiving in the only preseason game he played, and it looks like he'll assume Kelvin Benjamin's role in the offense. Benjamin caught a touchdown from Newton in the first preseason game. Funchess is a good play tonight, just make sure to check the inactives prior to kickoff. With the exception of tight end Greg Olsen, I'm not touching any other Carolina receiver tonight, though Philly Brown is a worthy a GPP flier.

Jonathan Stewart is in play tonight as Carolina's feature back. Cameron Artis-Payne had a strong game last week, and should see plenty of work spelling Stewart and in the second half. However, there's enough running back value on tonight's slate, I'll probably pass on both Carolina runners.

We'll have to rapid fire through the other two games since I'm running short on time.

Tennessee at Kansas City

Zach Mettenberger - Mettenberger has looked awesome this preseason, completing 75% of his passes, on his way to 220 passing yards and two touchdowns through two games. Ken Whisenhunt has said with the short turnaround (the Titans played four nights ago), he doesn't plan on playing his starters into the third quarter. Look for Mettenberger to keep it up against KC's backups.

Antonio Andrews - David Cobb has been ruled out with a calf injury, leaving Bishop Sankey and Andrews to handle most of the carries for the Titans. While Sankey flashed in last week's game, Andrews was once again solid, and is still receiving praise from the coaching staff. With Cobb out, Andrews should see extended run against the Chiefs' scrub defenders late in the game.

Justin Hunter - Dorial Green-Beckham sprained his ankle and won't play tonight. Hunter leads the Titans' in preseason snaps, and is always a threat for a big play. Reserve him for GPPs.

Alex Smith - The Chiefs starters will play into the third quarter, and they are the offense to stack tonight, starting with Smith. Tennessee's defense is terrible to begin with, and now they're woefully thin in the secondary due to injuries to cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Plus, they could be tired from playing on a short turnaround. Smith is my #1 QB play tonight.

Jeremy Maclin - Maclin caught a touchdown and tied for the team lead in targets last week. He's got to be part of any Chiefs stack.

Knile Davis - Jamaal Charles hasn't played this preseason, and even with this being a dress rehearsal for the Chiefs, I have to believe they'll want to keep the bubble wrap on their best player. Davis should see the majority of the work with the first team tonight. Tennessee's first string doesn't defend the run much better than it does the pass.

Travis Kelce - Kelce is so efficient, he doesn't need much playing time to be effective. If he's out there for three quarters, expect at least two big plays that will make him worth your while tonight, with upside for much more.

Kansas City Defense - Picking a preseason defense is tough, but KC is at home, against a weak opponent, who's playing on short rest.

Detroit at Jacksonville

Golden Tate - The Lions are expected to play their starters for at least a half, but Calvin Johnson isn't expected to play at all in the preseason. Any time Tate is on the field without Calvin, you want him in your lineup.

Zach Zenner - Zenner won you money last week, and with Joique Bell still not practicing, he should once again be carrying the load for the Lions in the second half. Ameer Abdullah will be high-owned, but he's expected to get more playing time this week, and is in play as well.

Allen Robinson - Robinson led the Jags in receiving last week on limited snaps. With added playing time, I like him for a big game in front of the home crowd tonight.

Daily Fantasy Roundup – August 28, 2015
Preseason action returns tonight with the first game on tap at 7:30. Week 3 of the preseason is typically the ‘dress rehearsal’ game for the regular season opener so we can expect a good look at the first team offenses, at least in the first half of each game.

DraftKings has their usual assortment of games posted in the lobby for those who would like to partake in some DFS action while enjoying the games. This being both the preseason and a short slate, I would recommend treading lightly. That being said, there are some interesting storylines to follow for each game which points to some players to keep in mind as we build our rosters.

New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers, 7:30pm

Patriots: Jimmy Garoppolo could benefit from extended time with the starting unit to gear up for Week 1, but there’s still some slim hope that Brady will find himself behind center against the Steelers. So what gives? Look for Brady to play early before handing the keys over to Garoppolo, who will play the remainder of the first half and perhaps into the 3rd quarter.  

Panthers: We could have our first real look at how the Panthers offense will look come Week 1. Devin Funchess may give it a go tonight and the Panthers are putting their chips down on the rookie being fully capable of handling WR1 duties.  

Detroit Lions @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 8pm

Lions: Ameer Abdullah is expected to receive a healthy amount of playing time tonight after being scaled back last week. The rookie can turn the calls for him to leap over Joique Bell on the depth chart into full blown screams with another strong performance.   

Jaguars: T.J. Yeldon will see his first action of the preseason tonight. The rookie has been mentioned as a potential three-down back, tonight serves as a great audition to see if he is up to the task.

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs, 8pm

Titans: David Cobb will not play tonight after suffering a calf injury. We’ll see a heavy dose of Bishop Sankey as he looks to cement his role as lead back and quiet the whispers of a committee approach at running back.

Chiefs: The starters will play into the 3rd quarter tonight. Alex Smith played better last week after struggling in the first preseason game, while backup Chase Daniel had his second consecutive strong outing. Nothing to see here. Smith is your starter for Week 1 of the regular season but will get some additional time to work on his budding chemistry with Jeremy Maclin.

Ready to step up your game on DraftKings this season? Footballguys has put together the definitive guide to putting together winning lineups which you can access here.     

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A glimpse at Week 1 QB plays

My Week 1 QB projections have turned out some surprising results in terms of h-value. I'll be discussing them further over the coming weeks, of course, but here are some surprising observations:

Robert Griffin III ($6,400) - Surprisingly, Griffin currently sits #1 on my Week 1 h-value chart. This is a byproduct of the "last three games" model on which my projections are based. Remember, the Dolphins were thoroughly gashed by the pass over the final three weeks of 2014; as a result, Griffin projects to 278 yards through the air. I like that defense, and I don't expect Griffin to necessarily hit that total. But Week 1 is unpredictable, as teams are employing new concepts for the first time and big plays can come in bunches. Miami-Washington has the look of a shootout.

Ryan Tannehill ($7,400) - A cherry matchup against a frankly pathetic pass defense makes Tannehill an excellent play. Washington will be missing Junior Gallette and Bashaud Breeland from an already talent-starved roster. Tannehill could underhand-lob his way to 300 yards.

Colin Kaepernick ($7,000), Cam Newton ($7,600), Marcus Mariota ($6,000) - Upon running the h-value numbers, it seems to me that DraftKings has underpriced these guys' rushing potential. Any would make for a very shrewd GPP play, but Mariota has my eye. If his impressive poise and accuracy carry over from the preseason, he could push for low-end QB1 status in a plus matchup.

As for fades, I'll be avoiding Peyton Manning ($8,200) hard against a Ravens secondary that's recovering from last year's dumpster fire.

More analysis is coming! Stay glued to our extensive Week 1 coverage for the full run of plays and fades, straight from the mouths of the Footballguys.

Another Big D in Texas

Add one more star to the Lone Star state, as DraftKings has inked a deal with the Dallas Cowboys for this coming season.

According to 105.3 The Fan in Arlington, Texas:

ARLINGTON (105.3 THE FAN) – Our Aug. 10 exclusive on the Cowboys’ partnership with DraftKings — which we reported would include a “DraftKings Lounge’’ at AT&T Stadium – is now official. 
“DraftKings and the Cowboys share the same passion for football, sports and business, making this a natural partnership,” said Cowboys Executive Vice President/Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Jerry Jones, Jr. “The daily segment of fantasy sports is exploding, with more fans joining every day. DraftKings has established itself as the pre-eminent service in daily fantasy sports. Their commitment to providing its customers with the best experience possible is unrivaled, which should be a tremendous benefit to our fans as they experience all DraftKings has to offer at the new fantasy lounge.”
As part of the agreement, AT&T Stadium will feature a DraftKings-branded fantasy sports lounge, located at the field-level in AT&T Stadium as the gateway to the field for opposing teams’ players as they leave the locker room.

 This is the fifth NFL team that DraftKings has signed with so far for daily fantasy sports sponsorship.  Dallas joins the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, New York Giants and the Denver Broncos in the DraftKings' NFL fold.  Increasing visibility for football fans leads to more brand recognition and more customers, which is the big race for market share in the ever-evolving DFS world.  Securing a major market team like Dallas is a big win for the DraftKings team, and surely will not be the last one we hear about this season.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DraftKings Gets Things (Free)Rolling!

So today David Dodds alerted me to this great deal:

That's hard to pass up.  Retweet a DraftKings tweet and get entered into a $100,000 free roll contest.

I have retweeted it in case you missed it.  You can follow me here:

I suggest everyone gets on this deal right away.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Preseason Advice for Monday-Friday Contests

Hello everyone - this entry is going to be short and sweet here.

DraftKings has been offering several preseason NFL slates this month, and if you have been reading this blog so far, I think you should be doing quite well in building your bankroll for the coming season.  So if you are coming here for a "who should I play tonight" type post, I do not blame you at all - but this entry is going to be a bit different.

This is the transition phase of the NFL preseason, since Monday is the end of Week 2 of the preseason schedule and Friday marks the beginning of Week 3.  Why is that significant?  Well, most NFL teams view Week 3 as the "dry run" for the regular season, and they will play starters typically through the first series after halftime.  That means the top starters are playing 35 or so minutes on Friday (and the rest of Week 3) but tonight will see the starters leaving the game no later than the middle of the second quarter.

So what does all that mean?  Should we not play tonight?

Not to lawyer up too much for you here, but I will say "it depends".  The answer is "yes, play" but also "no, don't play anyone from tonight".  That's right - play the games for Monday-Friday contests as you have four teams to choose from, but you are best served to fade the players from tonight's contest.  Considering it is Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, there are not too many players to target anyway, so fading is likely the best strategy by far.

So, sign up for the games, and change your rosters on Friday to the players from those three contests.  That's my advice, and I hope it serves you well.

Good luck.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Daily Fantasy Roundup – August 22, 2015

Week 2 of the preseason kicks into high gear tonight after Thursday and Friday’s abbreviated two-game sets. Eight games are on tap for this evening with the first two games kicking off at 7pm. DraftKings has its usual assortment of games posted in the lobby with entry fees to fit any budget. If you haven’t already given it a shot, preseason DFS provides a great opportunity to build some bankroll or accumulate tickets for Week 1 of the regular season. Of course, that comes with a caveat – play within your means. The preseason can be full of landmines (see Ameer Abdullah’s solid 67 yards in Week 1 vs. 7 yards in Week 2) and we are at the mercy of coaches decisions in regards to actual playing time for players on our rosters.

A couple of interesting storylines to follow for this evening’s games:

Peyton Manning is expected to play several series when the Broncos travel to Houston to take on the Texans. Combine that with the news that Demaryius Thomas appears to be getting back up to speed and a Manning-Thomas combo becomes an intriguing pick for tonight in hopes of an early TD connection.

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is expected to miss tonight’s game against the Cardinals. Big things are expected for rookie the out of Wisconsin even with his struggles in his first preseason action last week. Expect a heavy dose of Brandon Oliver and Donald Brown tonight with some Danny Woodhead mixed in.

After Kelvin Benjamin’s season-ending injury, the Panthers are banking on their existing group of wideouts stepping up to fill the void. Presumed starter Devin Funchess will miss tonight’s game with a hamstring injury, creating a great opportunity for other receivers to make their mark. Two of the names to keep on your radar for tonight are Corey Brown and Jarrett Boykin. Brown is a candidate for a heavy workload this season and tonight is his opportunity to make an impression. Boykin, the former Green Bay Packer, is battling for a roster spot.    

We should get our first look at Sam Bradford as the starting quarterback for the Eagles tonight. One of the most intriguing stories of the offseason has been the extensive roster turnover in Philadelphia. Tonight provides a sneak peak of what the offense will look like with Bradford at the helm. The Eagles were a great source of fantasy points in last Sunday’s 36-10 victory over the Colts, expect more of the same tonight.

Saints WR Brandon Coleman has impressed in camp and was named training camp MVP by Sean Payton. Coleman brings impressive size to the table and appears to be in line for WR3 duties in New Orleans. He was quiet in his first preseason action last week against the Ravens but should be a safe bet for a few more targets tonight against the Patriots.    

Two notes to pass along from Thursday and Friday:

While much of the attention was focused on Robert Griffin III’s injury and manhandling suffered at the hands of the Lions, rookie RB Matt Jones put together another solid effort. Priced at $3,700 for Week 1 of the regular season, Jones is a name to keep in mind this season as he carves out a role with the Redskins.    

Jeremy Maclin and Alex Smith hooked up for a touchdown on Friday night, an encouraging sign for a Chiefs offense that was bereft of wide receiver production last year. Maclin brings a new dynamic to Kansas City and should open up the offense substantially. He’s an interesting target for Week 1’s date with the Texans at a price of $6,900.

One final note, College Football season is right around the corner. DFS for CFB continues to grow in popularity and this season will be the biggest one yet. For those who haven’t tried it out or are perhaps in need of a refresher, we’ve got you covered. Our Devin Knotts has a great overview of what you can expect from Footballguys this season with his College Football DFS Coverage Kickoff

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Night Preseason Plays

Friday night's two-game slate brings us Falcons at Jets, and Seahawks at Chiefs. If you've read the Cracking Draftkings e-book or have been following along with our blog posts, you already know you'll want to limit your action tonight. As John Lee pointed out yesterday, two-game slates are tough because there's a lot of overlap between lineups, and missing out on one or two key players will put you in a huge hole. Plus, this is the preseason, where Shane Wynn catches touchdowns. You should be taking it light, even on full slates.

With the usual disclaimers out of the way, here's some detailed analysis for the Falcons-Jets game. I'll try to make it back later for a full write-up on Seahawks-Chiefs, but will leave you with a few nuggets on that one as well.

Atlanta Falcons
If you want to take a chance on a starter making some noise despite limited reps, Matt Ryan is your guy. Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn has said the starters will get more snaps this week, and Ryan only needed one series to score 7.4 fantasy points against Tennessee. For what it's worth, the Jets' first-string defense got burned on a 35-yard touchdown catch by Golden Tate in their preseason opener. Despite all that, Ryan won't play for more than a quarter, leaving QB duties to T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree for the majority of the game. Renfree impressed against the Titans' scrubs last week, completing six of seven passes for 68 yards. The performance resonated with Falcons' brass, as Renfree began receiving snaps with the second team in practice this week. It would make sense for them to take a longer look at Renfree, to see if he can unseat Yates for back-up duties behind Ryan. Of the two Atlanta backups, I'd prefer Renfree, but will be looking elsewhere for a quarterback tonight.

The Falcons got both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman back at practice this week, but as of this writing, it doesn't appear either will suit up tonight.
It appears Antone Smith will also be held out due to a hamstring injury, leaving Terron Ward, Jerome Smith, and Michael Ford to carry the ball against the Jets. Both Ward and J. Smith got first team opportunities in practice this week, but I see Smith as the clear play of the two, and he will probably be in all of my lineups tonight. Smith out-snapped all Atlanta running backs with the exception of Antone Smith last week, broke a nice looking 12 yard run against Tennessee, and was singled out by Matt Ryan for his pass protection. He deserves a long look from the Atlanta coaching staff tonight.

Rookie Justin Hardy led the Falcons wide receivers in both snaps and targets last week. He makes for a fine play tonight, as he tries to push training camp standout Leonard Hankerson for Atlanta's number three wide receiver spot. If you're willing to gamble a bit on a hot start by Ryan, then it makes sense to pair him with Julio Jones. The rest of Atlanta's wide receivers are a complete crap shoot.

Levine Toilolo played the most snaps of any Atlanta tight end last week, and responded with a respectable three catches for 36 yards. Tight end has been a tough position to nail down in these preseason games, making Toilolo worth a look. If Quinn is true to his word about the starters getting more reps, Jacob Tamme could be a worthwhile play as well.

With new QB acquisition Matt Flynn still nursing an injury, the Jets will turn to Bryce Petty for at least a half. In other words, the Atlanta defense is in play tonight.

New York Jets
It appears the plan is for Ryan Fitzpatrick to play most of the first half tonight, which makes him my preferred QB play of the short slate. Fitzpatrick has only had five practices and one preseason possession working with the first team, so he can certainly use the reps. If last week proved anything, it's that we should ignore Bryce Petty, no matter how much playing time he gets.

The Jets' distribution of backfield snaps was too even last week for any of their running backs to stand out as strong plays tonight. It's a shame because Atlanta was awful at stopping the run last year, and began the preseason by allowing two rushing touchdowns to the Titans last week. If I had to play one NY running back it would be Bilal Powell, who led the team in snaps, rushing attempts, and rushing yards against the Lions last week.

With Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker figuring to play limited roles, I'm most interested in pairing Fitzpatrick with either Jeremy Kerley, or Quincy Enunwa. Kerley led the team in wide receiver snaps last week, and finds himself locked in a battle with Enunwa for the third receiver spot. Both players should be motivated to put up a strong showing, but I'm going with Enunwa, who should be lower owned, and has the higher upside (Enunwa goes 6'2'', 225 lbs., runs a 4.4 forty, and caught double digit touchdowns in his last season at Nebraska).

It doesn't look like Jace Amaro will play through a shoulder sprain, opening up some snaps for Jeff Cumberland, Wes Saxton, and Kellen Davis. I'd be more inclined to target a tight end from the KC-SEA game.

If I don't make it back to write up the Seahawks-Chiefs later, here's a quick run down of the players I'm looking at from that game:
  • Thomas Rawls  - Led team in RB snaps last week, locked in a battle with Christine Michael for no. 3 role.
  • Anthony McCoy - Played the majority of the TE snaps for Seattle last week, but had two wide open drops and a holding penalty. His back is against the wall to produce if he's going to stick on a crowded tight end depth chart.
  • Chase Daniel - Had a huge preseason opener against Arizona, finishing with 189 yards and three TD passes. It's worth a shot to see if he can continue dominating scrub defenses.
  • Da'Ron Brown - In addition to catching a TD last week, he led KC in both wide receiver snaps, and targets.
  • Charcandrick West - Darrin Reaves had more carries and a rushing TD last week, but West out-snapped him 29-14. He also broke a 34 yard run, and can move like this with the ball in his hands:

Saturday & Sunday NFL Preseason DFS - Strong Plays

QBs Tim Tebow & Matt Barkley, Eagles – Tebow wants to make the roster almost as much as Chip Kelly wants him to. To bolster their cases for booting current #3 QB Barkley, Tebow will need lots of preseason reps. Expect these guys to split time evenly on Saturday – they each quarterbacked six possessions last week against the Colts – and both make for very smart DFS plays in this frenetic offense. With Tebow, you roster a historically poor passer but also a RB2/3 unto himself; Tebow the starter is always in the mix for good rushing production and a solid chance at a short-yardage touchdown. Barkley will also see lots of reps and threw the ball well to the second team last week. But Tebow needs more work on his game than Barkley and has the most at stake, so I’m banking on Tebow seeing slightly more playing time.

RB David Johnson, Cardinals – Finally healthy after missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury, Johnson will see his first pro action on Saturday. A dazzling athlete and SPARQ superstar, Johnson’s upside is enormous if he can climb the RB ladder. Team reporter Mike Jurecki expects Johnson to play the majority of the second and third quarters, which makes sense given the fact that brittle starter Andre Ellington needs to be treated with kid gloves. The team wants to finally see his wares, so a solid workload – especially on throws out of the backfield – should be in order.

RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers – The Panthers’ is a definitively run-dominant offense, and their backfield terribly lacks proven, dependable bodies. Jonathan Stewart didn’t play last week, ceding the start to change-of-pace back Fozzy Whittaker, who produced nothing (trust my firsthand observation there). Artis-Payne was the featured runner through the second and third quarters and didn’t produce much, but you have to like the volume outlook here. He’s a good candidate for 10 touches Saturday.

RB David Cobb, Titans – Bishop Sankey’s struggles have carried over into his second preseason, and rookie Cobb has outplayed him thus far. Ken Whisenhunt has announced that Cobb will see extended time this week, perhaps including snaps with the startingoffense. He’s no dazzling talent by any stretch, but looks primed to again see a double-digit carry total.

RB Matt Asiata, Vikings – The Vikings hold a deep RB depth chart, with five backs behind Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon that they’d like to give some run to in the preseason. Asiata gets the nod over Joe Banyard and Dominique Williams because of his short-yardage prowess, which boosts his touchdown chances significantly. Asiata has been given 13 touches through his first two preseason games and makes for a relatively safe DFS play with touchdown upside.

TE Trey Burton, Eagles – Tight end production is largely a crapshoot in the preseason, so I seek out talented young options jockeying for depth chart position. Burton is a highly athletic TE/WR hybrid entering his second year and fighting for #3 duties in Philadelphia. He excelled last preseason and picked up there last week, subbing for Zach Ertz with the starters and barely missing on an 80-yard scoring catch. His playing time is clearly a priority for Chip Kelly, and Brent Celek has nothing to prove in the preseason, so the road is clear for Burton to post solid numbers against Baltimore.

WRs Jordy Nelson & Randall Cobb, Packers – WR is a tricky, tricky play during the preseason, and I fully agree. Teams typically carry over a dozen wideouts into camp and like to get a look at all of them during preseason action, so many only see a few snaps and few, if any, targets. As my colleague Alex Miglio has pointed out, traditional #1 wideouts are generally the smart play during the preseason. They’re likely to see just as much time – 1-3 series of action – as most other individual WRs on roster. Whom do you trust more to produce in equally limited time: the starters or the reserves? This week, I’m rolling with Nelson, who could simply flay the Steelers’ pathetic secondary on a timing connection with Aaron Rodgers over their handful of snaps together. Cobb also makes for a nice play, but is generally more of a red zone threat; I’d rather bank on Nelson’s ability to score from anywhere at any time than hope Cobb plays enough to drive the ball deep and catch a short touchdown.

WR Corey Brown, Panthers – With Kelvin Benjamin shelved and Devin Funchess set to miss Saturday’s game, Brown becomes quite possibly the Panthers’ #1 option for the time being. He’s small but an absolute blazer, and Cam Newton showed appreciation in his deep game last year. Brown will start Saturday and likely see extended time as he proves his worth in this shell-shocked WR corps.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday NFL Preseason Analysis

The decision by FanDuel to eliminate preseason NFL daily games appears to have generated additional interest in DraftKings' games, as we Footballguys have been inundated with requests for analysis on those game slates.  Tonight there is a two-game slate and, if you read further, you will find my quick DFS takes on those games.  But first, let's revisit a few caveats about playing preseason DFS:

  1. Two-game slates are extremely risky because the overlap is immense and missing out on one or two key players will likely kill any chances of you winning within that game slate.
  2. To be successful playing preseason DFS, the skill involved is in predicting who will get the most playing time in that given game.  Choosing a first-string QB is often times a poor decision because they will play a single series of downs and then give way to the backup QB. The goal is to choose players that will see the most playing time.
  3. As an extension of Point #2, the individuals who tend to play the most are those players involved in positional battles, where personnel decisions have to be made.  If a player is locked in as the WR1 on a given team, his playing time will be limited and sometimes non-existent; meanwhile, there may be multiple wide receivers vying for the last slot in the receiving corps and those players will get the most action to help the coaching staff make that decision.
With those points in mind, here are some thoughts on tonight's short game slate (my selections are highlighted in blue):

Buffalo Bills:

Tyrod Taylor has been announced as the starter for tonight's game after a nice performance by Taylor last week against Carolina.  Taylor is entering his fifth year in the league and appears to be competing against Matt Cassel for a starting gig; the Bills know what they have in E.J. Manuel and he is a non-factor at this juncture.  Expect about two quarters of play for both Taylor and Cassel as the staff further evaluates these two quarterbacks.  I give the edge to Taylor because of his ability to run the ball, as he displayed at Virginia Tech and limited NFL action.

The backfield is a mess and only Bryce Brown appears to be somewhat healthy entering this game. LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, and Karlos Williams are all nursing injuries, which means the Bills' staff might give the fumble-prone Brown extra time tonight to further evaluate his ability and fit with the team.

Sammy Watkins is the clear class of these receivers, but he will likely only see one series of downs, so one must look to other receivers to pair with Taylor.  Deonte Thompson is gunning for a spot on the roster and caught a 51-yard touchdown pass last Friday night; he probably earned a bit more playing time tonight and deserves your DFS consideration.  Florida State rookie Nick O'Leary is a tight end that will be on my radar tonight after getting called out by Rex Ryan for dropping a pass last week; the Bills have to make a decision on him soon after spending a 6th round pick on him earlier this year.

The Bills' defense is definitely a top option against the Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland Browns:

Josh McCown is the starter and Johnny Manziel follows him on the depth chart (with Thaddeus Lewis far behind).  I cannot recommend any of these quaterbacks against the Bills tonight, despite both putting together touchdown drives last week.  If you feel compelled, Manziel has the most upside due to his ability to scramble (as he did for a TD last week).

Isaiah Crowell is the lead back, but he likely will not see much time because the staff knows what they have in him and there are questions about the health in his two backups; rookie Duke Johnson is still a week away and Terrence West came to camp too heavy and is just now getting into football shape.  With Ray Rice's name being thrown around camp, I think that speaks volumes as to how the Browns feel about their current backs.  I'm fading them all tonight.

The receiver I'm most excited about is Terrell Pryor, but he is not an option on DraftKings tonight. With Dwayne Bowe still injured, Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins will draw the start...of those two, I give a slight, but unenthusiastic edge to Hartline.  A possible flyer could be Travis Benjamin, but even he does not excite me against the Bills' defense.  Rookie tight end E.J. Bibbs is the one player on the Browns that I will seriously consider, as they will need to make a decision on him soon with the slew of tight ends they are carrying into the season.

Detroit Lions:

We can expect Matt Stafford to play minimally again, which means that we should see plenty of Kellen Moore and Dan Orlovsky competing for the Lions' backup QB slot.  Orlovsky put up decent numbers last week, but neither of these quarterbacks has an edge on the other.  Expect to see both playing about two quarters tonight, but there is significant rain in the forecast in Washington D.C., which limits my enthusiasm for rostering either one of them.  If I had to choose, I would give a slight edge to Moore, who will be lower owned.

Everything coming out of Detroit these days is about rookie phenom Ameer Abdullah.  The Nebraska alum looked great in his first NFL outing against the Jets last week and deserves consideration in DFS circles tonight.  With the rainy forecast, I might also recommend undrafted free agent, Zach Zenner, who looked impressive last week with 13 carries for 55 yards; he might be given similar opportunity tonight to prove that his performance last week was not a fluke.

With Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate being locked into the starting WR roles and Corey Fuller appearing to secure the #3 spot, the Lions will be looking to test their backup receivers.  Last week, it was Greg Salas who surprised, but I am not expecting a similar performance tonight; instead, I am looking towards Lance Moore and/or Ryan Broyles, both of whom are vying for one of the last receiver spots on the roster.

The Lions' defense could be a viable play tonight in the rain against a less than stellar Redskins' offense.

Washington Redskins:

Robert Griffin III was pedestrian in his 2015 debut against the Browns, going 4-8 for 36 passing yards; he was the victim of a Pierre Garcon dropped pass, which may have gone for a touchdown and salvaged a reasonable performance.  His backup, Kirk Cousins, was efficient, completing 12 of 14 attempts for 154 passing yards and even running for a touchdown.  Tonight, I expect a bit more of Griffin, a bit less of Cousins, and about the same from Colt McCoy, all of which equates to not much interest in this quarterback crew against a solid Lions' defense in the rain.

If you are going to roster a Redskin tonight, he should probably reside in their backfield.  Alfred Morris' time will be limited and rookie Silas Redd tore his ACL/MCL last week, so both of those player can be ignored.  That leaves Matt Jones and Trey Williams as sneaky running back plays; Williams gets the edge because he was likely going to be cut, but will get a second look now that Redd is out for the season.

My excitement for the Redskins' receivers is dampened largely by the weather and the poor QB play. Pierre Garcon will be limited and DeSean Jackson will remain sidelined by a separated shoulder, Rookie Jamison Crowder will be watching the game as well with a hamstring issue, which means that Ryan Grant will be given the start opposite Garcon.  Grant is a speedster and specializes in deep targets, which may be off the table tonight with the rain, so I am looking at Andre Roberts, who is competing for the WR3 spot and can run out of the slot quite well.  With Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen both suffering season-ending injuries, the tight end options are limited, but Je'Ron Hamm is the guy I would look at if you are desperate.

Best of luck in your games tonight and remember to limit your action!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Draftkings College Football Roster Change

Draftkings has recently updated their college football roster with some several key changes for the 2015 college fantasy football season.

1) The tight end position has been removed from the roster
2) All tight ends will be considered wide receivers
3) An additional flex position has been added in place of the tight end position

What does this mean?

  • This change allows for greater lineup diversity. Having two flex positions allows for each player to create a unique lineup customized to how they want to approach the week. If a player wants to start four value play running backs they now have the ability to do that and spend a majority of their salary at the other positions.
  • It is now even more critical to get the best information. If there is a cheap back up running back starting that week, with two flex positions it is critical that the running back goes is in your lineup. The reason is that he will be under priced, thus allowing for flexibility throughout the rest of your roster. At we will be providing updates throughout the week regarding who the key values are, how you should approach building a lineup, as well as any breaking Saturday morning news. This will be a part of our college football content that will be released soon.
  • This change will reduce the amount of variance and uncertainty that new college football players have. Most college football programs do not utilize the tight end enough to be fantasy relevant, so over the last few years those playing DFS would attempt to take a value play tight end hoping that he would score a touchdown. This does not make for a good college football DFS experience for a new user first trying the game having to predict which tight end is going to score a touchdown.
  • It is critical to correctly evaluate the tight ends value at wide receiver. While we are still waiting Draftkings pricing, it will be interesting to see how they price the tight ends as wide receivers. There could be a potential situation where the top end tight ends are both under-priced and under-owned due to not being a true wide receiver. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DraftKings Continues Partnership with ESPN

Earlier today, DraftKings cast a wider net to expand their brand in yet another partnership with ESPN.  This latest announcement comes on the heels of an exclusive $250 million advertising contract between ESPN and DraftKings signed in June; that agreement effectively eliminated any competitor, namely FanDuel, from advertising on ESPN's channels and/or website.   Just a few weeks ago, ESPN and DraftKings announced a separate partnership whereby they would cross-promote ESPN's season-long fantasy leagues in conjunction with DraftKings' Millionaire Maker tournament for NFL opening weekend.

Today's announcement further strengthens DraftKings' monopoly within the ESPN empire by forging a relationship with their season-long fantasy football user base.  Named "League Hub," DraftKings will offer users of the ESPN season-long fantasy football interface a free service to collect and manage their entry fees for the duration of the 2015 NFL season; at the close of the season, DraftKings will award the payouts to each respective winner, as previously defined by each league's respective League Manager.

This appears to be a boon for DraftKings, who should benefit in multiple fashions.  First, they will undoubtedly gain exposure to a season-long demographic that may not yet have tested the daily fantasy sports (DFS) waters; furthermore, because DraftKings can securely handle all monies channeled through the season-long ESPN leagues, winners of their respective leagues may be tempted to churn their winnings through the site.

How does League Hub operate?  First, the League Manager sets up the league with the number of teams, entry fees, payment deadline, and payout structure.  Then, league members are invited to join the league and pay their entry fees (via PayPal).  After all members have paid their entry fees, the season is played out and the winners are subsequently awarded their respective prizes based on the preseason league setup.  Those monies are deposited directly into a member's DraftKings' account, where they can request a withdrawal shortly thereafter.  The benefit to league members is that the monies are harbored by a multi-million dollar business and are likely more secure than with any individual person, not to mention that there are no fees associated with League Hub.  There is a potential drawback, however; any individual winning over $600 will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service for tax collection on the winnings, something that is seldom done in leagues operated within friend and/or family networks.

For more details on League Hub, check out the details here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Daily Fantasy Roundup – August 17, 2015

Week 1 of the preseason came to a close with the Eagles 36-10 victory over the Colts on Sunday. Even without Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray suiting up, the fast-paced Philly offense looked crisp while the Colts seemed content to get their reps in. Most importantly, we got our first look at some promising rookies and there are a couple of interesting takeaways to pass along.

Eagles first-rounder Nelson Agholor had an impressive debut, putting up a line of 3/57/1 on 5 targets. Agholor appears to be in line to start the season as the WR2 for the Eagles and will be an intriguing prospect to watch in the Chip Kelly offense. Week 1 of the regular season finds the Eagles traveling to Atlanta for a Monday Night affair with the Falcons. Agholor should be firmly on your radar at a price of $5,700.

On the Colts side, rookies Phillip Dorsett and Josh Robinson provided some glimpses into the future. The Colts are very high on Dorsett and he is squarely in the mix for the WR3 role behind T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson. Sixth-round pick Robinson is more of a long-term prospect but a name to remember in case the injury bug strikes the 32-year-old Frank Gore. Dorsett could be a bargain at $3,600 for Week 1’s date with the Bills. Robinson is priced at $3,000 but is not a valid option at this point.

News flies fast during the preseason and there’s always a ton of injury news that has a fantasy football impact. Footballguys Dr. Jene Bramel has an outstanding roundup posted on site that breaks down the major injury issues around the league.

Preseason action returns on Thursday with two games on tap. DraftKings has posted a full complement of games in the lobby, including the $15K Play-Action - top prize of $1,000 with only a $3 entry fee. Stay tuned to Cracking DraftKings throughout the week as we get you set for another week of preseason action.  

DraftKings' Receives A U.K. Gaming License

News came out recently that DraftKings has applied for and received a license to operate in the U.K.  According to the press release from DraftKings:

DraftKings, Inc., a leading skill-based daily fantasy sports destination, today announced the company has been granted a license to operate in the United Kingdom and will open its third office, in London, by the end of 2015.  DraftKings expects to be operational in the UK in the fourth quarter, with launches in additional markets, including EuropeAsia Pacific and Latin America, planned for 2016.  
"Our expansion into the United Kingdom marks a milestone moment in the growth of DraftKings as we introduce our world-class product to new audiences," said DraftKings Chief Executive Officer Jason Robins. "We will add new sports and games to our burgeoning roster of offerings and further connect fans to their favorite teams and players. We also welcome the opportunity to forge new partnerships with leagues, teams and media outlets internationally as we have done with exceptional success in the United States." 
DraftKings' worldwide expansion will be led by newly appointed Chief International Officer Jeffrey Haas, a business development veteran with experience in opening markets for new gaming products across the globe. Haas will manage the London office, including the hiring of more than 20 new positions in customer acquisition and retention marketing, communications, analytics, compliance, business development, and corporate partnership roles... 
"DraftKings is well-poised for explosive growth internationally, and I am excited to lead their expansion efforts," said Haas. "Daily Fantasy Sports is a growing category outside North America, and we have a tremendous opportunity to engage sports fans around the world. We will look to maintain our leadership position in the Daily Fantasy Sports industry – creating innovative games across the most sports, providing our players with elite customer service and fostering mutually-beneficial relationships with our partners."
So what does all of this mean, especially for DFS players?  Well, at first, not much.  DraftKings already offered daily fantasy soccer from the English Premier League (EPL), but this step appears to be a move in the direction towards offering more games that appeal to the U.K. audience.  The press relase did note that DraftKings is planning "launches in additional markets, including Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America" in 2016.

The bigger question here is how this will impact the outlook on DFS sites in general in the United States.  Only a handful of other companies that offer DFS contests have U.K. gaming licenses.  The association of a major DFS company such as DraftKings with a gaming license may add fuel to the fire that some believe that DFS contests are more towards gambling and gaming than the game of skill protected by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or UIGEA, which decreed DFS contests as games of skill under the law of most U.S. states.  This move, along with possible subsequent licenses in other countries, may tarnish that view in the U.S. and lead towards regulation of DFS sites.

The DFS landscape continues to evolve and change almost as fast as new contests appear.  Worldwide acceptance of DFS as gambling, should it come to that, will add weight to supporters who already view DFS as a type of gambling activity on sports contests.  With new sites entering into the DFS community right now, any negative light that may shine on the UIGEA will hurt existing sites, new players and the entire DFS community as a whole.

All of DFS now has yet another reason to stay tuned and nervously rest on the edge of their collective seats.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

"Practice... we're talking about practice?" - Allen Iverson

Yes, Virginia, we are talking about glorified practice, otherwise known as preseason NFL football.  Three games continue tonight in Week 1 of the preseason, so we have a small slate of games to choose from.  Now, normally I would say "tread lightly" because there are so few games and players, but then again, we're talking about DFS preseason football.  Do I really need to tell you to tread lightly here on playing DFS based on preseason?

While my fellow staffers have been sharing some insights for the weekend, I think it is my turn to throw my two cents in on these three games for tonight:

Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota:  First off, scratch any plans for playing any Vikings.  They aren't available (because they played on Sunday vs. Pittsburgh), so we have just Buccaneers to consider.  Some have been saying that a few receivers such as second-year pro Robert Herron and rookies Kenny Bell and Kaelin Clay have been making turning heads in camp so far, but I do not expect much in this game, and will likely avoid anyone here.

Arizona vs. Kansas City:  Word is that Carson Palmer will only play one series, and Logan Thomas will play most of the game until the fourth quarter.  Given that Thomas can run and is a playmaker and will get plenty of snaps, he makes my short list for tonight at quarterback.  Both John Brown and J. J. Nelson are also worth a look at receiver.  Robert Hughes will likely be the goal line back for Arizona, so consider both him for a touchdown and also Kerwynn Williams for a good amount of playing time. On the KC side, the one name that stands out to me from what I read is James O'Shaughnessy.  The rookie is having a strong camp and could see a few targets in his first semi-real NFL action.

Houston vs. San Francisco:  We still do not know who is starting at quarterback for the Texans, and I am not sure if I care.  I am looking at the 49ers side of the ball though, as Blaine Gabbert gets a lot of snaps in the preseason and could fare well once the Texans' second string is on the field.  Some might like the Texans defense in this one, but not if Gabbert heats up in the second and third quarters.  Houston is more likely to run the ball with Chris Polk most likely to see the lion's share of carries.  Two targets to consider are both TE Garrett Graham and WR Jaelen Strong for Houston, both of whom have had strong camps so far.

Good luck.
Daily Fantasy Roundup – August 15, 2015

The preseason has a habit of creating some fantasy darlings that never quite materialize into anything – I’m looking at you Corey Washington of 2014 – but also provides plenty of nuggets of information that we can use for the coming season.  Last night was no exception and there were a few key takeaways.

While there’s little doubt that the Bills will be a ground and pound team in 2015, last night provided an early look into just how heavily the team may rely on the ground game. The Bills ran the ball 45 times for 206 yards versus only 27 pass attempts resulting in 162 yards. LeSean McCoy will see all the work he can handle this year and is reasonably priced at $7,200 for Week 1.

Many have viewed Virgil Green as an interesting sleeper for the upcoming season, but a few more performances like last night will reserve him a seat at the fantasy relevant table. Green posted a line of 5/45/1 last night, good for 15.5 fantasy points on DraftKings. He’s priced at a bargain-basement $2,500 for the regular season opener.

Backup RBs are a great source of points for those playing preseason contests. Karlos Williams, Bryce Brown and Antonio Andrews all posted double-digit fantasy points. By the way, DraftKings is offering a full assortment of games for tonight’s 3 game slate.

Some additional news items to pass along from last night and to get you ready for tonight’s games:

Julius Thomas is out for the preseason after fracturing his hand last night. He’s expected back for Week 1, but Marcedes Lewis at $2,500 figures to be the biggest beneficiary if not.

Oakland, we have an offense. The Raiders passing game looked pretty solid last night, combining for 23/30 for 215 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper could be a sneaky good stack in Week 1, priced at $6,100 and $6,700 respectively.

Rookie WR Tyler Lockett put on an impressive show for the Seahawks last night. He is currently listed as the team’s WR3 and priced at $3,000. While no one will confuse the ‘Hawks passing game with Air Coryell, Lockett should remain on your radar as a potential cheap source of points.

Jameis Winston takes center stage tonight as the Bucs take on the Vikings. Will Winston live up to hype or show some early jitters like fellow rookie Marcus Mariota did last night? Both rookies are priced at $6,000 for their regular season debuts.

Finally, one of the most often overlooked aspects of success in daily fantasy is the importance of bankroll management. Our own BJ VanderWoude provides an outstanding guide to put you on the right track. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Daily Fantasy Roundup – August 14, 2015

News flies fast and furious around the NFL, especially this time of year. Sifting through all the noise to find what really matters while you build your lineups for preseason or look ahead to Week 1 can be a daunting task. We’ve got you covered. A perfect complement to our extensive coverage on Footballguys, Cracking DraftKings is the definitive blog covering the daily football scene at DraftKings. The Daily Fantasy Roundup will be your one stop shop for all the news you need to know. Knowledge is power. We’ll do the heavy lifting.

Ready to jump into the world of daily fantasy but not sure where to begin? Footballguy Justin Bonnema has you covered with the definitive guide to getting started.

Alshon Jeffery sat out Thursday’s preseason opener versus the Miami Dolphins with a strained calf muscle. John Fox confirmed he is in a walking boot but downplayed the severity of the injury. Our own Dr. Jene Bramel isn’t so sure.    

Danny Woodhead saw his first action last night since breaking his ankle last September and found the end zone while putting on an impressive performance. Only Week 1 of the preseason, but Woodhead looks awfully tempting at a price of $3,700 for Week 1 of the regular season.

Zach Ertz is out for the remainder of the preseason after undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury.  Ertz looks like he’ll be ready for Week 1, but keep Brent Celek on your radar at a price of $2,500.

Ameer Abdullah has received rave reviews throughout the preseason and put his skills on full display last night. A star is born? Not quite yet, but we can expect to hear a lot more from Abdulah this coming season.

Those playing preseason action on DraftKings this evening should know that Brock Osweiler is expected to see the majority of work at QB versus the Seahawks. Makes for an interesting target, even in the preseason many will shy away due to the opponent.

Niles Paul is out for 2015 after suffering a dislocated ankle in last night’s game against the Browns. But is it a reason to kill preseason games altogether?      

Markus Wheaton can continue to state his case for the No.2 WR job in Pittsburgh during tonight’s tilt against the Jaguars.

Want a sneak peak of what Footballguys has planned for DraftKings coverage in 2015? Check this out.

Too early to be worried about Jimmy Garroppolo’s chances of being effective while filling in for Tom Brady?

That’ll do it for today’s roundup, be sure to keep checking Cracking DraftKings for more of the news you need to use and great insight and analysis from the team here at Footballguys.   

Five Running Backs for the Friday Preseason Slate

I didn't expect to find myself glued to NFL Game Pass last night, in hopes I'd finally get to see Bryce Petty complete a pass to Quincy Enunwa, but thanks to Draftkings, there I was, fully engrossed in every play of one of the worst football games imaginable.

After dealing with the fallout from the intervention my closest friends and relatives had somehow managed to stage on the fly, I had a chance to reflect on the performance of my lineup . Despite the fact my Petty-Enunwa stack combined for 1.9 points, and Enunwa wasn't the only receiver who gave me a big fat zero in my lineup (thanks Brandon Coleman), I still managed to easily cash in Draftkings' largest field GPP.

How could this happen?

I'd love to tell you it's because I hit all my other picks, but that wasn't the case. Besides Gavin Escobar (9.7 points) and the Green Bay Defense (team leading 13 points - hat tip to Footballguy Justin Howe for the suggestion), my only other good plays were at running back, where I had Lorenzo Taliaferro (13.4 points) and Gus Johnson (9.5 points).

The fact is, the competition in Preseason NFL DFS is soft enough to offset the unpredictable nature of the games. In one preseason contest that included players from Sunday's Steelers-Vikings game, Adrian Peterson was 18% owned, despite the fact it was known well in advance he wouldn't be playing. All it takes is a little research to gain the small edge it takes to cash in these contests.

To that end, since I hit on both of my running back plays last night, and am therefore a certifiable preseason DFS running back maven (kidding of course), here are my top running back plays for the 8/14 slate:
  1. Antone Smith - Smith has reportedly been the forgotten man in Falcons' camp, ceding first team reps to rookie Terron Ward in the absence of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, who are both nursing hamstring injuries. I still like Smith as a potential GPP winner thanks to his propensity for home run plays. In 2013, 126 of Smith's 145 rushing yards came on runs of 15 yards or more. Ward makes for a nice pivot, since he will also be in line for a lot of work tonight. For what it's worth, the Titans were terrible at stopping the run last season.
  2. Karlos Williams - I'll let you in for a peek behind the curtain - Williams is a consensus top RB play among several Footballguys staffers for tonight's slate. The drumbeat for the rookie out of FSU has been growing louder and louder since Bills camp opened. He's passed up Bryce Brown on the depth chart, and has an opportunity to secure a role behind LeSean McCoy in Buffalo's offense, with both Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon sidelined. Last season, Brown - then the Bills' third stringer (like Williams is now) - saw the second most preseason running back snaps in the NFL. I don't expect that to change with notoriously run-heavy Rex Ryan now coaching the Bills.
  3. Antonio Andrews - Andrews is another running back who has reportedly been impressing his coaching staff with a strong camp. He's competing with fifth round rookie David Cobb for a role behind Bishop Sankey in Tennessee. Sankey, who entered last season as Shonn Greene's backup, had the fourth most preseason running back snaps last season, suggesting Andrews (or Cobb) should see a lot of work tonight.
  4. Benny Cunningham - With Todd Gurley sidelined, Cunningham should see plenty of opportunities behind Tre Mason vs. Oakland. Cunningham, who had 45 catches for 532 receiving yards last season, plays nicely on Draftkings (full PPR). I wouldn't rule out Mason doing some damage early either. You'll remember 20% of his 2014 fantasy production came in one game against the Raiders defense.
  5. Juwan Thompson - Thompson has been so good in camp, he's reportedly challenging Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman for number two duties in Denver. The player who head coach Gary Kubiak has called "unbelievable" and "a fit for what we do" should see extended run in the second half against Seattle's scrubs.
Remember, like most people playing preseason DFS, I'm only throwing darts here. While the contests have been soft so far, that's not a reason to put a significant portion of your bankroll into play. Do a little research, fire a bullet or two into a GPP, and have fun with these slates. But save your money for Week 1, when the real fun begins.

Daily Musings: Preseason Week 1 Friday Darts

If you caught the Thursday preseason darts, you might have won yourself some money. Now that the DraftKings blog is live, those pieces will live here.

There is a running disclaimer on all these—this is the preseason, the wild West of DFS. There are no Vegas lines, season trends, or even known quantities of playing time to rely upon. That said, here are some of my favorite plays for the Week 1 Friday slate:


Brock Osweiler, DEN @ SEA
Peyton Manning rests, and the Broncos are preparing for their future without him. Brock Osweiler should get extended run this week, and he has the advantage of not being a middling rookie.

Joe Webb, CAR @ BUF
It's everybody's favorite quarterback-with-receiver-eligibility! Remember that? Joe Webb and his rushing ability should get a bunch of playing time against the Buffalo Bills tonight with Cam Newton and Derek Anderson likely exiting before the first half is even over.

R.J. Archer, SEA vs. DEN
Who is R.J. Archer, you ask? Why only a four-year Arena League veteran liable to get the entire second half against the Broncos third-team defense, that’s who. If you're looking for a guy with potential with whom to differentiate your roster, Archer isn't a bad look.

Running Back

Antone Smith, ATL vs. TEN
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are nursing hamstring injuries that could keep them out of the game altogether tonight. Antone Smith is a human touchdown machine. Put the two together, and...

Karlos Williams, BUF vs. CAR
The Buffalo backfield is dinged up—Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon will probably miss action this week—and Karlos Williams has gotten some training camp love. Bryce Brown’s fumble-itis hasn’t helped his cause, either. We could see a ton of Williams this week.

Benny Cunningham, STL @ OAK
Todd Gurley will miss the preseason, and Tre Mason is the de facto starter. That is to say, Mason probably won’t see the field much. That leaves just pass-catching threat Benny Cunningham and draft bust Isaiah Pead as the main men in the backfield, though a few guys behind them might get run in the second half.

Thomas Rawls, SEA vs. DEN
We’ve seen Christine Michael tear it up for Seattle in preseasons of yesteryear, and that very well could be the case for a man on the roster bubble. But Thomas Rawls has been talked up this offseason, and he could see some heavy action in the second half against the Broncos.

Wide Receiver

Rashad Greene, JAX vs. PIT
The rookie has been making some waves this preseason, and the Jaguars figure to give him a long look after the starters depart.

Justin Hunter, TEN @ ATL
The hype train is firing up the boiler for Justin Hunter, who has been making noise at Titans training camp. Add to that the fact he had a huge preseason a year ago and we could see some fireworks.

Corey Washington, NYG @ CIN
Only Brice Butler had a better 2014 preseason than Corey Washington, who scored four touchdowns. He had no impact in the regular season, though, and he is reportedly looking to improve on last year’s great preseason.

Tyler Lockett or Ricardo Lockette, SEA vs. DEN
Who to stack with R.J. Archer? Either of these guys seem like good GPP-style darts.
Lockett has generated some buzz at training camp, but Lockette is a bigger receiver looking to make the roster with a big preseason.

Justin Hardy, ATL vs. TEN
Another rookie generating buzz this offseason, Justin Hardy seems to be running with the starters as a slot guy. That makes him a bit dangerous from a DFS standpoint—if he exits with the starters after two series, that will stink—but he could see more playing time than most starters given his rookie status.

Tight End

Gabe Holmes, OAK vs. STL
Clive Walford is back from injury, but he likely won’t play against the Rams. With Lee Smith also nursing injury and Mychal Rivera exiting after the first quarter, at worst, undrafted rookie Gabe Holmes could be in for some targets in the second half.

Anthony McCoy, SEA vs. DEN
We won’t likely see Jimmy Graham much against the Broncos, and Luke Willson might join him on the bench soon after. That leaves Anthony McCoy and Cooper Helfet duking it out for a roster spot. We’ve seen McCoy do some good things in the past.