It’s finally August and draft season is in full swing. Training camps are now open and we get the daily updates that every player looks to be in the best shape of their lives. While you are getting in those last mock drafts or attending live drafts, it is also time to get ready for daily fantasy season. I love season-long fantasy as I have been playing for more than 14 years now but the recent addition of daily fantasy sports has taken my hobby to the next stage. During the season, once the waiver wire claims are done and my season lineups are set, it’s time to grind out lineups for daily fantasy.
Draftkings, Fanduel and FantasyDraft have opened up the NFL lobby for 2017 starting with preseason games. If you haven’t played daily fantasy yet or just have never entered the preseason contest, it is a good time to look them over just to get familiar with the scoring systems for each site as well as how players fit into a salaried lineup.
Drafting in these games, you don’t want to load up on stars like you would the regular season. Chances of stars in the first week of preseason playing into the second half are slim. Take the game between New Orleans and New England last season in Week 1 of the preseason where Tom Brady didn’t attempt a pass and Drew Brees went 1-for-1. Those stats are not going to win you a tournament, even if it is the preseason. However in that game we got to see some of the new guys like Mike Thomas and Malcolm Mitchell get started in the NFL.
As with any week in the NFL, the most important thing for preseason daily fantasy is going to be opportunity and matchups. With opportunity the best place to look will be quarterbacks playing behind season veterans that will get significant snaps. Players such as Stephen Morris, Joe Webb and Paxton Lynch received a ton of playing time in the preseason last year.
We even got to see Dak Prescott handle the majority of the snaps before he was announced as the starter in 2016. Training camp battles are going to be great options for fantasy points as coaches will give them more opportunities to see what they can do. Last season Mack Brown, Derrick Henry and Rob Kelley lead running backs with the most yards during preseason. These are guys who you are not drafting early in a season league, but for daily fantasy they can win you a preseason contest.
The matchups during the preseason will be all over the place. You probably won’t see a ton of top receivers facing top corners for most of the game. Some coaches will run vanilla defenses and you won’t see a ton of blitzing. As you get to later in a game you will see team units drop off in performance. Most teams do not have a lot of depth behind the first- and second-unit, leading to some really poor coverage and tackling. This is how you can have an unknown running back put up big stats in the game but end up not even making the team at the end of preseason.
Preseason DFS Week 1 Recap
Trevone Boykin, Seattle Seahawks (19.66 points) – 189 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 31 rushing yards, TD. Boykin played well in the first preseason game after struggling early in training camp.
Jeff Driskel, Cincinnati Bengals – (17.28 points) – 97 passing yards, TD; 34 rushing yards, TD. Driskel was third-string but made the most of his opportunity.
Top Running Backs
Corey Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars –(21 points) – 8 rushes, 120 yards, TD. The majority of his yards came on a 79-yard touchdown run. Keep an eye on Grant if Leonard Fournette’s foot injury carries into the regular season.
Terron Ward, Atlanta Falcons (15.4 points) – 11 rushes, 48 yards, TD. Ward did well in limited action. He is well behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. However, given Freeman’s concussion and Coleman’s past ankle injury, Ward could get more looks.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (15.2 points) – 7 carries, 19 yards, 2 TD. Carson helped in Seattle’s big win to help his chances of making the team but the Seattle backfield remains very crowded.
Top Wide Receivers
Tommylee Lewis, New Orleans Saints (30.7 points) – 10 receptions, 124 yards, TD. Lewis was the top-scoring player in Week 1 of the preseason. He is primarily a return specialist but with Brandin Cooks gone, there might be opportunity if he continues to play this way.
Damere Byrd, Carolina Panthers (25.8 points) – 4 receptions, 98 yards, 2 TD. Byrd made big plays down the field and made a strong case to secure a roster spot and could be the receiver Tedd Ginn Jr. was for the team.
Damore’ea Stringfellow, Miami Dolphins (22.6 points) – 2 receptions, 116 yards, TD. Stringfellow ran a touchdown as long as his name. He took a deep pass from the endzone for a 99-yard score.
Top Tight Ends
Troy Niklas, Cincinnati Bengals (9.4 points) – 2 receptions, 14 yards, TD. Niklas missed most of last year due to surgery on his wrist so it was good to see him involved in the first game. He remains behind Jermaine Gresham.
Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers (9 points) – 2 receptions, 10 yards, TD. Gates remains a part of the Chargers offense even at the ripe old age of 37.
If you are playing in Week 2 of the preseason, I would suggest playing free leagues or small entry contests just to get your feet wet and test out the various games. Especially if you haven’t played daily fantasy before. The allure of a $3,000 payday could be very tempting but instead, save your bankroll for Week 1 of the regular season and just use the preseason as your daily fantasy mock draft.