Playing daily fantasy preseason football is fun, watching actual preseason games… meh. The first few series in preseason is usually ok, but then Mike Kafka and Shaun Hill roll in and well, we all go to sleep.
Well, now you don’t have to watch the games. In my urge to provide you with the most up to date football information I’m recapping the important performances, personnel moves and injuries from all 16 games. Yes I am watching preseason, voluntarily, and going to be providing the important fantasy notes you’ll need for when the real season starts.
And you, you don’t have to do a thing except read (or even browse) my article!
Atlanta v Tennessee
The large takeaway from Atlanta in this game is Julio Jones (4 rec. 61 yards and a td) looks healthy and therefore looks beastly. Matt Ryan (6-6, 86yards and a td) went to Julio early and often in their first and only drive and the Falcons scored at will. The two are set for some big fantasy games this year
This will be an improved Falcons offense. Rookie Justin Hardy (3rec, 41yards) played a good chunk of this game and looked decent. Hardy is a slot receiver who isn’t afraid to get to into tight spaces to retrieve a ball. He would have had a td in this game but TJ Yates completely overthrew a wide open Hardy on the goal line early in the game. If Roddy White goes down Hardy will have relevance. Neither Devonta Freeman nor exciting Rookie Tevin Coleman played in this game. Their injuries need to be watched closely as the lead back in this offense will have fantasy value.
Marcus Mariota (7-8 for 94 yards, 1 int, 1 fumble) looked nervous and out of sorts in this game. He turned the ball over twice on his first two drives before settling in and leading a TD drive (the second stringers were in at this point). I’m mildly worried about Mariota in this offense. Asking someone who spent their whole life playing in Oregon’s fast tempo, option style system to come in and play well in a traditional NFL offense against NFL regulars might be too much too soon. A slow start is very possible for him on the field and in fantasy.
Bishop Sankey (7 car. 15yards) got first team reps at RB in this game and looks like the starter for the Titans. Sankey is underrated and has good agility and burst for his size. He might be a very overlooked fantasy option on DraftKings early in the regular season, especially if he’s going to be getting 15+ touches. Antonio Andrews and David Cobb both got snaps and produced against third stringers, but the job is Sankey’s to lose right now.
Buffalo v Carolina
My biggest takeaway for Buffalo in this game is that Shady McCoy (6 car. 16 yards, 1 rec. 8yards) is going to be a workhorse. Even in this game you could see the Bills wanted to go to Shady early and often, even getting him involved in the pass game. He might lead the league in carries. The big news though for the Bills is that Tyrod Taylor (5-8, 49 yards) is now set to start the second preseason game. Taylor showed off his athleticism in this game by rushing for 47 yards on 6 carries. Taylor can get points with his feet, but if he starts you can kiss Sammy Watkins regular season production goodbye.
The Cam Newton (5-10, 83yards and a td)-Kelvin Benjamin (3 rec. 36yards and a td) connection is in full effect. These two connected early for a TD and even though there will be some inconsistent fantasy days ahead you can see that Cam’s first instinct when dropping back to pass is to look if he has a mismatch with Kelvin. They connected on a long play down the middle where Benjamin to his credit caught a tough ball in traffic and took a huge hit in the process but held on. Cam then hit Benjamin on a fade near the goal line. Benjamin looked semi dominant against the Bills corners and it’s possible he improves on his rookie season this year.
Rookie Devin Funchess showed up with a nice grab down the sidelines in this game. He could eat into a few targets for both Benjamin and TE Greg Olsen this year but I doubt it. Carolina isn’t a huge passing team and so his production will likely be fairly muted. Still, he looked decent in this game and his size makes him an intriguing red zone target.
New York Giants v Cincinnati Bengals
My biggest takeaway from this game for Cincinnati is that Andy Dalton (3-3, 30 yards) might in for a big bounce back season. With Tyler Eifert (2rec. 30 yards) now in the mix Dalton now has three legitimate weapons (Eifert, AJ Green Mahammad Sanu) to throw to. In his first drive Dalton connected with all three and finished by hitting Mahammad Sanu for a td in the endzone. I like the idea of targeting this Bengals offense early in the year for DFS play on DraftKings and particularly like targeting Tyler Eiert at TE. Eifert was able to get wide open over the middle on his two completions before exiting and his athleticism is apparent. Eifert is definitely one of the names to watch on the Bengals as preseason progresses.
On the New York side there wasn’t a ton of information to take away as many starters, including Odell Beckham, skipped this game entirely. Rueben Randle played a few snaps and then limped off and his status needs to be watched in the coming days. An injury could open the door for Corey Washington or former Packer James Jones to get more playing time. At RB Rashad Jennings started but Shane Vereen came in on the passing downs and still got the same number of carries (2). The Giants have a brutal defense (especially with JPP gone) and could be in a number of shootouts this year meaning Vereen projects as having the highest fantasy potential for me on DraftKings of any of the Giants RBs.
Pittsburgh v Jacksonville
The big news in this game for the Jags is that 46 million dollar man Julius Thomas broke his index finger and is now reportedly sidelined for the rest of preseason. Thomas is not a recommended play by me regardless because of the downgrade in offense and QB he is getting this preseason. Clay Harbor (2 rec. 35 yards and a td) was a recommended play by me yesterday and came through for a TD, he is a nice target until Thomas gets back and would be a decent cheap DraftKings option if Thomas was not ready for the regular season.
Blake Bortles (11-15, 118 yards) actually got a decent amount of work in this game (he needs it). The Jags have some interesting offensive options in Allan Robinson (2 rec. 25yards) and Denard Robinson (4 car. 24yards). If Bortles can improve his play even a little it could really make both of these players more viable options on DraftKings. As it stands now all Jacksonville players are purely high risk gpp options for me, although their low price points might make them more intriguing as the year progresses.
In Pittsburgh if the Martavis Bryant (3 rec. 55 yards and a td) hype was not already through the roof it is now. Bryant caught another long TD pass in this game and is quickly becoming Big Ben’s down field option I’d look for Bryant to be on the field for well over 50% of the snaps this year and likely become a weekly fantasy option. He might even end up taking away a few points from stalwart and all around fantasy badass Antonio Brown (1 rec. 6 yards).
It should be noted that both Deangelo Williams and Le’Veon Bell played in this game. Williams looked decent and will be a sneaky week 1 option against the Patriots whose run defense isn’t the greatest. Once Bell gets back though this is his offense and I expect him to lead RB’s in PPR scoring after he returns.
Denver v Seattle
Most of the Denver Broncos starters skipped this game, however there were some key notes to take away. The first is that CJ Anderson started but left the game with an ankle injury. The injury isn’t serious but it should be noted that Montee Ball (8 car. 26 yards) entered right after and looked every bit as effective. I’m not trying to start a controversy here but I don’t think CJ is necessarily going to be given the starters role. Ball was drafted highly for a reason and if he keeps showing form in the preseason you may have a timeshare on your hands. Watch this battle closely, as it could affect things drastically for week 1 DFS play.
The other two Bronco players of note in this game were Cody Latimer (4 rec. 49 yards) and Virgil Green (5 rec. 45 yards and a td). As expected, both these players played a ton and were the focal point of the passing offense. Green particularly looked great and is a serious threat to push for playing time. I expect Green to eventually leap over older and past his prime incumbent Owen Daniels. Watch how this shakes out the rest of preseason. Latimer was given a lot of work and looked good in this game just missing on a few big plays. He has a higher hill to climb though for regular season targets and would need an injury for real fantasy relevance.
There wasn’t a ton of interesting stuff going in Seattle. The starters played very little and then gave way to some shoddy backup performances. The one takeaway was how good (fast) Tyler Lockett looked. I noted that a Seattle D/Lockett stack might be a good play for yesterday and he came through with a kick return for a td and double points. Lockett is going to be used on special teams for Seattle this year but how much he will be used on offense after that is still an unknown. He didn’t catch a pass in this game and I’d like to see him get more involved in the real offense before I start recommending him as a real DFS play.
Oakland v St. Louis
Latavius Murray (6 car. 36 yards) looked great in this game. Murray is a sick talent (dare I say Adrian Peterson like) and is someone I’m really excited to watch this upcoming year. I would target him early and often in DFS this season as his price will likely only go up. The fact he barely ceded a snap in his brief time in this game makes me think the Raiders are finally committed to giving him a feature, full-time role. Trent Richardson’s presence should not dissuade you from playing him.
Amari Cooper (3 rec. 22 yards) is going to get a lot of targets this year. Derek Carr seemed like he was staring him down on every play (good thing for fantasy, bad for real life) and the Raiders even got him some carries in this game too. I’m not high on Derek Carr as a QB but if he locks onto Cooper like he did yesterday the targets should be enough to make him a very reliable and consistent source of fantasy points. My feeling is the Raiders will still struggle against good pass Defenses but garbage time could also be a factor and make up for Cooper’s QB shortcomings.
There’s not a ton to report from St Louis. Top pick Todd Gurley did not play in this game and will likely miss the regular season opener too. I like Benny Cunningham (3 car. 12 yards) but he’ll likely be in a time share with Tre Mason to start the year meaning both could have muted starts. Mason produced when given volume last year so really if one of these backs gets the starting nod and high volume they could be good for DFS until Gurley returns.
Nick Foles (3-5 69 yards) looked good. The problem in St. Louis is figuring out who he will throw the ball too. 15 different people caught balls for St. Louis in this game and they have no clear cut number 1 WR. TE Jared Cook, who didn’t catch a pass, might be the best bet for a decent fantasy year. Overall though I expect St. Louis to rely heavily on their run game and emerging defense, meaning the passing game will be hard to predict and only recommended as a flyer play in gpps on DraftKings.