With a short three game slate instead of targeting the best plays I’m doing a short breakdown of all three games.
San Francisco v Houston
I doubt you’ll see much of Colin Kaepernick in this game and so it’s very likely former first round pick Blaine Gabbert gets a lot of playing time. Gabbert is not a good QB but the fact he’ll be playing at least half the game means you should consider him. Gabbert at least has NFL experience and probably needs a good game or two to ensure he keeps getting chances, a good game is possible.
Houston’s QB situation is much trickier. Ryan Mallet was the starter before he went down to injury last year, but the team signed Brian Hoyer and also have intriguing second year man Tom Savage. Pre-season will likely be used to decide who starts between the two of them meaning both will likely get playing time (and Savage cleans up late). I’m not a fan of either and so my recommendation is, stay away, there’s better situations and players to target.
With Frank Gore gone, Carlos Hyde is the new man in SF. I doubt you’ll see him much Saturday though and going with third stringer Kendall Hunter is probably the best play. Hunter is coming off an ACL tear but he’s reportedly looked good and has shown flashes of real talent while backing up Gore. Hunter should be chomping at the bit to show his coaches he’s ready for action and I think he’ll get enough work to make him fantasy relevant.
With Arian Foster down Houston’s RB situation is almost as murky as their QB. Jonathon Grimes, Alfred Blue and Chris Polk all have shots at being the feature back. Grimes is probably more suited for a third down role but I expect Blue and Polk will battle it out in preseason for the feature role. Of the two I’d probably roll the dice with Polk who might get more work and might also be the more effective back. Grimes could also be a play though due to ppr usage.
The Niners have Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin set as their top two WR’s going into preseason, but there will be a bit of a battle for playing time after them. Quinton Patten is a nice player who’s had trouble with consistency and injuries. He’s flashed a bit in preseason before and He would be my bet for the WR to grab the number three role there. Ultra-athletic Bruce Ellington and veteran Jerome Simpson are also to be considered and will likely see a decent amount of snaps. All three have fantasy potential.
Houston doesn’t have great depth at WR but rookie WR Jaelen Strong is definitely a target for this game. Strong is a pretty big body and could develop into a nice red zone target this season. He will be looking to beat out veteran Nate Washington for snaps and I think his talent will win out here. I doubt DeAndre Hopkins will play much and so Strong should get a long look, he might be the only player I’d consider rostering from this weak WR core.
San Francisco has some talent at TE. I doubt you’ll see Vernon Davis much if at all but Vance MacDonald and Derek Carrier are both legit NFL players. Carrier is the better pass catcher but I think both will see playing time. If I had to choose one I might lean Vance MacDonald since he’s the clear backup. San Fran may want to get him as involved as possible and he’s certainly got the size and athleticism to make some plays.
Houston starter Garret Graham has apparently looked good in training camp. I think the majority of playing time and passes (if any) will go to Ryan Griffin though. Griffin is a pretty decent pass catcher and caught a few for Houston last year when injuries hit the team. He’s a good bet to get targets and be the security blanket for their mediocre QB’s.
Tampa Bay v Minnesota
**Due a technical glitch no players from Minnesota will NOT be available on DraftKings for tonight’s games
A lot of people will be wanting to play Jameis Winston and, like Marcus Mariota, it’s likely he sees a full quarter of play. I think the play from Tampa though will be Mike Glennon. Glennon is fully capable of leading a team and the possibility of him being traded before preseason is over still exists. Tampa will probably be ok with showcasing him in this game and giving him a bunch of snaps. I really like Glennon in this spot.
Tampa’s backfield is a bit of a cluster right now. Doug Martin is the likely starter but Charles Sims will get looks this season too. I’d probably ignore both and target third stringer Bobby Rainey in this game. Neither Sims nor Martin will get much volume and quite frankly Rainey is probably just as good as either. Rainey had big games when given a decent amount of snaps last regular season and so he could replicate the feat here against weaker competition.
Tampa has talent at WR but you won’t see either Mike Evans or Vincent Jackson much in this game. You could look for either Kenny Bell or Louis Murphy to have a decent game. Neither is super interesting as a player but the volume will be there. I would probably lean Murphy if forced to choose since he has history playing with Mike Glennon.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the big, talented second TE that many expect to make a big impact this year for the Bucs. I think it might actually be worth gambling on him here even though it’s doubtful he sees more than a quarter. With Winston possibly getting at least a quarter ASJ should stay in as long as Winston does and possibly even for a series or two more.
Kansas City v Arizona
The QB you’ll likely see the most of for the Chiefs in this game is Chase Daniels. I’m not sure why but the Chiefs gave him a nice contract last year to be their backup. Daniels has always been a bit of a preseason star and the bonus you get with him is he isn’t afraid to run. I think Daniels probably plays two quarters which is decent for preseason, he could be extremely productive in this game once the second stringers get in.
Carson Palmer is slated to play exactly one series tomorrow, which means tons of time for backups. Even though Drew Stanton is the backup I think most of the playing time will go to second year project Logan Thomas. Thomas has been a disappointment for the Cardinals thus far and didn’t even get considered for playing time last season when Palmer went down. I think the coaches give Thomas a ton of playing time here and hope he shows them something.
Jamaal Charles won’t see more than a few plays tomorrow. The good news however is that KC’s backup Knile Davis is ultra-talented and should see a decent chunk of time. Even if he only gets a quarter of action Davis could run roughshod over a second string defense. I’m willing to gamble that he does and is the back I’d target in this game for KC.
With David Johnson injured the Cardinals backup situation is much more complex. There’s three backs behind Ellington who all saw action last year. The good news is that Marion Grice is not playing Saturday so that leaves you with one fewer option. My bet would be on Kerwynn Williams getting the longest look and also being the best bet to make a real impact. He actually had a decent game or two last year in the regular season and will need a good preseason to make sure he makes the game day rosters come Sept.
If there’s one WR I’d want to target in this game, from either team its Chris Conley. Conley is a metrics freak and one of the most talented wide receivers from his draft class. I rarely get excited for preseason action but I’m eager to watch Conley play against NFL players. He should get a decent chunk of playing time and be given a chance to show what he can do (against second stringers). My NFL Draft Breakdown of Conley is here: http://playbook.draftkings.com/uncategorized/nfl-draft-breakdown-afc-west/
On Arizona the top WR’s are pretty much set with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown. The fourth spot is up for grabs but second year man Jaron Brown should have the upper hand. Once the starters exit I expect Jaron Brown (not John) to get a whole lot of looks and a decent chunk of playing time. He’s a quality player and capable of making plays if he gets the chance.
After Travis Kelce exits the best bet for action on Kansas City is Travis O’Shaughnessy. O’Shaughnessy is a 5th round draft pick of KC this year with decent wheels for a man his size. O’Shaughnessy isn’t my first pick for a tight end on this slate but he may get a lot of playing time and that alone makes him at least someone you should consider.
If there’s one team I’d really recommend staying away from for TE its Arizona. Bruce Arians likes downfield passing and sees Daniel Fells, mainly a blocker, as his starter right now. Jermaine Gresham is now a part of the Cardinals so you could gamble with him but I’m not sure how much playing time he will get. If you need a Cardinal he’s the one I’d look to but staying away and looking elsewhere would be my first option.