DFS NFL: Preseason Week 1 Saturday Preview

DFS NFL: Preseason Week 1 Saturday Preview

This article is part of our DFS NFL series.

Saturday's preseason slate begins at 1 p.m. EDT and features 10 games. With teams taking it easy on their starters, crafting effective preseason DFS lineups is tricky, as you need to strike a balance between talent and playing time. Players to target in these situations often fall under a select few archetypes, such as promising rookies and guys in job battles. With no variation in pricing between players, the usual lineup building strategies can be thrown out the window in favor of purely targeting whichever players you believe will play the most and perform best.

QUARTERBACK

Trace McSorley, BAL vs. NO: Nobody takes winning in the preseason as seriously as the Ravens — Baltimore has won 17 consecutive exhibition contests, going undefeated in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Given all that success, Baltimore's a safe bet to produce some meaningful offense Saturday. Starting quarterback Lamar Jackson recently returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list, so he'll play sparingly, if at all. That leaves McSorley and Tyler Huntley, both of whom should see plenty of playing time. Since the two are competing for the backup role and the Ravens play to win in preseason, don't expect the mobile McSorley to hold anything back when it comes to making plays with his legs.

Brandon Allen, CIN at TB: At first glance, locking in a backup quarterback against a defense that kept Patrick Mahomes out of the end zone in its last game seems like asking for trouble. Then again, Tampa Bay's top defensive players won't see the field much, while Allen will be handed the keys to a passing game that already features reliable veteran Tyler Boyd and one of last year's top rookie receivers in Tee Higgins, and will be integrating rookie fifth-overall pick Ja'Marr Chase. With Joe Burrow sitting due to a knee injury, Allen — who acquitted himself capably with a 5:4 TD:INT in five regular-season starts last season — should capitalize on all the receiving talent around him, so he's an intriguing against-the-grain option under center.

Honorable Mentions: Justin Fields (CHI at MIA), Trey Lance (SF vs. KC), Taysom Hill (NO at BAL)

RUNNING BACK

Alex Collins, SEA at LV: Collins has by all accounts impressed in camp while seeing extended action due to injuries on the depth chart. Starter Chris Carson's unlikely to play much, while Rashaad Penny (thigh) and Travis Homer (calf) are both sidelined, leaving Collins and DeeJay Dallas to duke it out for touches. Collins appears to be the more proficient runner and is more likely to get the call near the goal line, where Seattle should see plenty of opportunities considering the Seahawks-Raiders has an over/under of 37.0 points. That's tied with Browns-Jaguars for second-most Saturday behind Chiefs- 49ers (39.0).

Travis Etienne, JAC vs. CLE: Coach Urban Meyer said he plans to use Etienne primarily on third downs and split out as a receiver, but the Jaguars will surely at least see what the rookie 25th overall pick is capable of in a traditional running-back role in preseason. Etienne also comes with pre-built chemistry with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, as they played together at Clemson prior to being drafted, so checking it down to Etienne when in trouble should be second-nature to Lawrence. James Robinson and Carlos Hyde don't need to acclimate to the NFL while Ettienne does, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the talented rookie lead the Jaguars' backfield in touches Saturday.

Honorable Mentions: Trey Sermon (SF vs. KC), Michael Carter (NYJ at NYG), Darwin Thompson (KC at SF)

WIDE RECEIVER

Kadarius Toney, NYG vs. NYJ: Preseason should be the time to shine for some of the league's most heralded rookie skill players, so loading up on them is a good idea. Of the six receivers selected in the first 34 picks of the 2021 draft, three (DeVonta Smith, Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore) are unavailable due to injury. That leaves Cincinnati's Chase, Miami's Jaylen Waddle and Toney. The Giants' 20th overall selection out of Florida has been brought along slowly after battling COVID-19 in July, but Toney's lower placement on the depth chart could actually benefit him here, as he's likely to feast on the backups in the Jets' underwhelming secondary.

Marquez Callaway, NO at BAL: The Saints will be without Michael Thomas (ankle) for at least the first month of the season, and Tre'Quan Smith (undisclosed) is currently sidelined as well, leaving Callaway as the team's de facto No. 1 wide receiver. Callaway has been the leading target in camp for both Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, and he knows the importance of making a strong impression before the season starts, having made the team as an undrafted free agent last season.

Bryan Edwards, LV vs. SEA: Fellow 2020 draft pick Henry Ruggs is naturally getting more attention due to his first-round pedigree, but Edwards — whom the Raiders scooped up in the third round — looked like the more polished player early in their rookie campaigns before a Week 3 ankle injury derailed his season. Expected to start in Year 2, Edwards has a nice opportunity to show that he's healthy and effective out of the gate against a Seattle secondary that struggled last season, allowing 285.0 passing yards per game; only Atlanta gave up more.

Honorable Mentions: KJ Hamler (DEN at MIN), Laviska Shenault (JAC vs. CLE), Josh Palmer (LAC at LAR)

TIGHT END

Irv Smith, MIN vs. DEN: Smith's expected to take on an increased role in his third season, especially by the goal line, where he'll take over from Kyle Rudolph the Red Zone Reindeer. Rudolph's a member of the Giants now, while Smith is the unquestioned option atop Minnesota's tight end depth chart and is said to be enjoying a strong camp. A matchup with a Broncos team that allowed 932 yards to tight ends last season — sixth-most in the league — should offer Smith a nice opportunity to showcase his receiving skills.

Honorable Mentions: Foster Moreau (LV vs. SEA), Adam Trautman (NO at BAL)

DEFENSE

Green Bay Packers, GB vs. HOU: With no Deshaun Watson return in sight and one of the league's least formidable offenses outside quarterback, Houston likely will be a team that yields plenty of strong fantasy performances to opposing defenses throughout the season. There's no reason for that not to start against a Packers defense that will be motivated to put in a strong performance in front of the Lambeau Field faithful.

Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Rams (vs. LAC), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CIN)

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Sasha Yodashkin plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: Youngsash, DraftKings: Yashdogg,Yahoo: Sasha, Fanball: Yashdogg.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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