Friday, August 14, 2015

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.


  1. Awesome sauce. I can't believe I am saying this, but I think I am going to play some DFS football tonight as well.

  2. I expect you'll have similar results as John Lee, who wasted no time taking down a GPP.

  3. Yeah this preseason stuff is getting the juices flowing.

    Cameron Artis-Payne love tonight?

  4. August DFS Preseason football. Only on Footballguys would you see so many "dedicated" fantasy sports players talking about Week 1 of the preseason!

  5. All in on the Ryan Nassib to Corey Washington stack here. Week 1 can't come soon enough

  6. I am thinking my roster has to be rather unique as I was a full $500 under the cap. :)

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