Daily Fantasy Preseason Football Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - Thursday 8/3/17
Did you have a mini heart attack when you saw the NFL tab highlighted once again? Do you want to watch some football and throw some lineups together, no matter how meaningful the games? If so, this one is for you. While the preseason can be looked at as a warm-up or a way to have fun before the season, it can also be a bankroll builder. There are a lot of people who just throw their favorite players into a lineup because they see the game on and want something to watch. That's something you can take advantage of. Ideally, you can boost your bankroll for the upcoming regular season. This first slate is definitely a weird one and I will be keeping my $ exposure very limited. Anything can happen in the HOF game and the next game isn't until the following week. I'll break down a guy or two at each position and try my best to steer you in the right direction.
Notes to Know
All Arizona Cardinals starters will sit out against the Cowboys, along with backup QB Drew Stanton
With both Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton sitting this one out, the Cardinals will only hold 2 QB's on the roster. Blaine Gabbert will man the first half and face off with the Cowboys 1st and 2nd string defenses. If you know who Blaine Gabbert is, there's a reason you want to avoid him. Instead, we'll look at Trevor Knight. Knight will play the entire 2nd half against the 3rd string Cowboys defense. He's had a ton of hype around him in training camp. He is the perfect guy you want in a messy 2nd half preseason game. He can run the ball a ton and is very powerful, finishing 3rd in his junior in the NCAA for QB rushing TDs. The problem for Knight comes when he tries to make tough throws. He isn't very accurate outside the hash-marks and prefers to throw short passes. This shouldn't be a problem in this one and I can see him getting an upwards of 20 pass attempts and 5 rushes. If you do want to get wacky, Baine Gabbert will see a similar amount of touches.
Here we have one of the most anticipated position battles in the entire preseason. While Watson is officially the 3rd string behind Savage and Weeden, he has a legitimate chance to start the regular season. He has been a bit off in training camp, but has the opportunity to prove himself plenty in the preseason. With Brandon Weeden being about 45 years old, they won't need to see much. They know exactly what and who he is. I expect Savage and Weeden to play a quarter each, followed by a half of Deshaun Watson. I'll take that every day and with the game being nearly a week away, I think he is far lesser owned than Trevor Knight, who is locked into his playing time. I will say, there is more risk with Watson. The Texans could really want to see Savage and Weeden and let Watson take a few more snaps in camp. Bill O'Brien is on tape with his hesitance in playing rookie QBs. You never really know this early, but you have a pretty good idea.
The Cowboys have a very interesting situation in the backfield this season. They have 4 guys who have pro bowl capabilities. These 4 guys have shown insane upside and it will be interesting to see how the back 3 are utilized with Zeke being such a workhorse. As for the first HOF game, I doubt Zeke sees more than 2 or 3 touches. McFadden will see a drive or two, if that. That leaves Alfred Morris and Ronnie Hillman with the bulk of carries, with a few to Rod Smith. These carries will also come against a Cardinals 2nd and 3rd string defense, which is porous to begin with. Morris is a really good runner and I would not be surprised to see him go nuts this preseason. He's somehow fighting for a roster spot and with a very able back in Hillman fighting him, it will take max effort. I think both Morris and Hillman are fine, but I prefer Morris. I think he has a bigger impact on the future of the team and is also less injury prone in a game like this.
I know, I want to play Christian McCaffrey too. The fact of the matter is I don't see the Panthers throwing their first round small RB out in the 1st preseason game for more than a drive or two. There's a chance he doesn't see the field. You also have to think the Panthers know what they have in Jonathan Stewart and Fozzy Whittaker. There is no reason to believe they will run either veteran RB for more than a warm-up drive. That leaves just Cameron Artis-Payne, who is fighting Whittaker for a job. Payne is a monster in the backfield and he can handle this 3rd string defense with ease. He's a bulldog between the tackles and would be my favorite for a TD after Alfred Morris. The Panthers have a pretty set squad of starters on offense, so I think they work the 3rd and 4th strings a lot over the first 2 games.
Wide Receiver is always tough in the first 2 weeks of the preseason. We saw plenty of examples last year where guys were on the field for half the game and saw 0 targets. Things are still wacky and these teams don't know what's going on themselves just yet. However, you can always narrow it down to who will see some extra playing time. The Cardinals have announced that the starters will sit, so you can get rid of Fitzgerald, John and Jaron Brown. In the first half, you can expect J.J. Nelson, Jeremy Ross, and Brittan Golden. I do expect Weeden to struggle a bit, so I'm staying away. In the 2nd half, I'll be looking to pair up Trevor Knight with Chad Williams. The Cardinals drafted Williams in the 3rd round this year, so I expect some targets to be funneled. Aaron Dobson and Marquis Bundy are the 2 other guys who may see some Trevor Knight action and both make a lot of sense. As I said, you never really know the full story. Knight could have amazing chemistry with one of these guys and end up feeding him all 2nd half long.
If you played preseason last year, you are aware of Mose Frazier. He made people some money, but ended up being cut. He's now been picked up by the Panthers and is looking to make the team. Currently, he's behind Benjamin, Funchess, Shepard, and Bersin. That should give him plenty of playing time in hopes to show the coaches what he has. He also works well with who will be throwing the ball. Remember, you don't want to target a deep threat when Joe Webb will be taking snaps. You want the underneath route-runner who can catch 8 balls and find a way to 70 yards. If you want to pair someone with Frazier, I think it's Garrett Gilbert. They have been paired so far in training camp and multiple reports have been impressed with both of them. Frazier is a speedster with a lot of upside in this match-up. He is guaranteed to be on the field a healthy amount and should see targets with some weak arms under center. If you want to go elsewhere on the Panthers, Keyarris Garrett was an animal in college and has TD potential at all times.
Here is a quote from Jason Garrett just a few days ago. "He needs to play as many snaps as he can. We are going to give him every chance. We are going to coach him hard. Typically he has responded well to that." The Cowboys believe Rico Gathers has monstrous upside. I have to agree. He was a standout PF at Baylor before switching to football pre-NFL draft. Despite the crazy move, he has shown the ability to play the game. He can catch, he can run, and he can block. He just needs reps. He didn't play football for 4 straight years. You also have to consider what the Cowboys are working with at TE. Witten, Swaim, and Hanna (all questionable) are guys who don't have much upside. You know what you're getting out of them every time. Geoff Swaim isn't going to be a good NFL TE. It doesn't matter how many reps he gets. Gathers, on the other hand, can be molded. The Cowboys have some weak throwers in the 2nd half, so look for them to dump it off to Gathers on a frequent basis.
This is always going to be a complete crapshoot in the preseason. Even with Trevor Knight being my top QB, the Cowboys are easily my favorite defense. It can work in preseason. With the starts sitting for the Cardinals, we will have a few drives of Cowboys starters vs Blaine Gabbert and the backup offensive line. I actually expect a turnover or two from the 'Boys defense in the 1st half. Gabbert is that bad and shouldn't be able to do anything with 2nd stringers. With that being said, there is an argument to be made for the Texans. They are all around a good defense and will be facing off with some very putrid QBs.
The Cowboys and Cardinals have 1 kicker on the roster, while the Panthers and Texans have 2. That should make your decision pretty easily. Both Dan Bailey and Phil Dawson are great and will be playing in the same environment. I would go with the guy who I have lesser teammates of. In my case, Dan Bailey will be my guy. I would rather root for Trevor Knight to get to the EZ instead of pulling up at the 20 for an FG.
- Cam Newton: (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)