Before we dive into the plays, I need to clarify the approach to Sunday’s preseason games. Not only are “some” starters expected to play, the majority of head coaches continue to be cryptic about the exact individuals expected to play. In all likelihood, no definitive word will even be passed along outside of some of the inactives.
Just as I’ve done with every preseason slate to date, I am approaching tomorrow’s games with the most current information available. I am also assuming most starters will play a minimal role. If you happen across some useful information providing you with confidence toward a starter playing additional snaps, outstanding. But I will be avoiding those suggestions — sans one particular “starter” with a perfect schematic match — without anything pointing to definitive playing time.
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Browns vs. Giants (Spread: Browns -4.5 | O/U: 35.0)
Forgotten Browns-Giants connection: Kyle Lauletta was drafted and cut by the Giants. He'll play plenty on Sunday and throughout the next couple days. #Browns— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) August 19, 2021
#Browns Kevin Stefanski announces that Baker Mayfield and the majority of the starters will rest again in the 2nd preseason game, Sunday vs. #Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 20, 2021
I’ll leave the “revenge” narrative for Kyle Lauletta to the mention in the above tweet. This is more about playing time and facing the Giants’ reserves in the secondary.
The Bottom Line: This is not the sexiest slate of playmakers, even for preseason games. Lauletta will not have the benefit of being protected by the best O-line in football, but the quality of their reserves still ranks among the top-10 teams in the NFL. He’ll need them to bring their A-games if the NYG pass rush comes anywhere close to what they gave last week. Unless we get word that Trey Lance will play a ton, Lauletta is the safest QB play on the slate.
Trey Lance, QB, 49ers at Chargers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
Shanahan indicates that the 49ers will likely play their starters “a quarter, a quarter and a half” against the Chargers on Sunday— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) August 20, 2021
I do not need to convince anyone on the merits of Trey Lance as a high-upside DFS play. Two concerning factors move him below Lauletta. First, Lance was sacked four times on 20 dropbacks last week. That is #NotGood. Concerns that Lance would struggle dealing with NFL pressure after being protected by one of the finest O-lines in college football in 2019 have come full circle. He was also “sacked” multiple times in joint practices with the Chargers this week. Second, HC Kyle Shanahan has yet to reveal his playing time plans for Lance on Sunday.
The Bottom Line: If he plays a ton, Lance is the slate’s QB1. We’ll just have to wait and see if Shanahan tosses us a bone on Lance.
Chase Daniel, QB, Chargers vs. 49ers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
> > Prefer Daniel against the backups over Easton Stick facing however many snaps the 49ers’ defensive starters play
Brandon Staley says Easton Stick will start this Sunday vs. the 49ers at SoFi Stadium.— Chris Hayre (@chrishayre) August 20, 2021
JaMycal Hasty, RB, 49ers at Chargers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
George Kittle, JaMycal Hasty stan, said this on the RB: today:— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) August 20, 2021
"I love Hasty. He gives me a Jeff Wilson vibe; he goes kind of into a dark place, and he just runs and runs and he's violent. He's explosive. I mean his cuts that you guys see, he just jukes people out, but he..."
Elijah Mitchell is dealing with an adductor strain. And, for whatever reason, nothing of significance has been passed along recently on Trey Sermon. We can certainly expect Sermon to play, but JaMycal Hasty is likely to see the most action. And he looked extremely good last week.
The Bottom Line: It’s truly an embarrassment of riches for Kyle Shanahan’s backfield among Sermon, Raheem Mostert, Hasty, and Elijah Mitchell. And San Francisco’s mauling O-line is built to open lanes for their Gap-heavy system. Whenever we know a 49ers’ RB is going to see significant run, he should vault to the top of our list.
Larry Rountree III, RB, Chargers vs. 49ers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
After putting up 63 yards on eight carries against the Rams, Larry Rountree earned the second-highest offensive grade for a rookie during week one of the preseason.— Michael Peterson (@ZoneTracks) August 19, 2021
Vision. Evasiveness. It was all on display Saturday. https://t.co/TgJIUc87Ky pic.twitter.com/ecLa3GZrhf
Larry Rountree III really has nothing left to prove in the battle to back up Austin Ekeler. But, since he falls outside of HC Brandon Staley’s definition of a starter, Rountree is going to see enough reps to matter.
The Bottom Line: The 49ers’ reserves did not play well in run defense against the Chiefs last week. It would just be nice to see Rountree’s passing game involvement increase.
John Kelly, RB, Browns vs. Giants (Spread: Browns -4.5 | O/U: 35.0)
The #Browns have signed LBs Montrel Meander and Willie Harvey Jr. and waived RB Corey Taylor and WR JoJo Ward.— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) August 20, 2021
This one isn’t rocket science. With Corey Taylor II no longer in the picture, it’s gonna be the John Kelly show.
The Bottom Line: We may actually see Demetric Felton carry the ball a few times. But he is not a threat to Kelly in this spot.
Demetric Felton, RB, Browns vs. Giants (Spread: Browns -4.5 | O/U: 35.0)
Joshua Kelley, RB, Chargers vs. 49ers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
Darius Bradwell, RB, Chargers vs. 49ers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
Davion Davis, WR, Browns vs. Giants (Spread: Browns -4.5 | O/U: 35.0)
Davion Davis is laser focused trying to earn a roster spot as a #Browns wide receiver. pic.twitter.com/4qAc9cATPM— Jeff Schudel (@jsproinsider) August 21, 2021
If you don’t know the name, make the correction. Davion Davis was added to the Browns’ roster on July 31! And he has made a compelling case for a 53-man spot in only three weeks! Insanity.
The Bottom Line: Best of all, Davis appeared to be the guy Lauletta looked to as his No. 1. He will be heavily involved in the passing attack on Sunday. Do… Not… Sleep.
Jauan Jennings, WR, 49ers at Chargers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
#49ers QB Trey Lance to WR Jauan Jennings vs. Chargers CB Donte Vaughn. pic.twitter.com/fv1QsLUshR— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) August 19, 2021
One of the most significant breakouts on offense for the 49ers has been provided by Jauan Jennings. Trent Sherfield’s own breakout may stand above Jennings’, but Sherfield is on the fast track to start in Week 1. Jennings still has a bit of work to do in order to secure his roster spot.
The Bottom Line: Even if Lance doesn’t play a ton on Sunday, Jennings will. Nate Sudfeld will suffice.
David Sills V, WR, Giants at Browns (Spread: Browns -4.5 | O/U: 35.0)
Giants coach Joe Judge said earlier that he hasn't made any decisions yet on whether he'll play his starters against the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon. That includes QB Daniel Jones.— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) August 20, 2021
#Giants CB James Bradberry calls WR David Sills a “crafty receiver,” says he’s got some moves not a lot of receivers use— Madelyn Burke (@MadelynBurke) August 17, 2021
With the impressive WR depth for the Giants, David Sills V is not going to see many reps during the regular season if he secures a roster spot. But that takes nothing away from the work he’s put into training camp. Unless the injuries to Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney linger, Stills will still need to impress over the next two preseason games in order to break camp with the big boys.
The Bottom Line: The good news for Sills is that the Browns’ corner youth did not play well last week against the Jags. Sills should see more than enough run in order to secure useful DFS results.
Josh Palmer, WR, Chargers vs. 49ers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
Jalen Guyton, WR, Chargers vs. 49ers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
Travis Benjamin, WR, 49ers at Chargers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
Damion Willis, WR, Giants at Browns (Spread: Browns -4.5 | O/U: 35.0)
Charlie Woerner, TE, 49ers at Chargers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)
At one point, I thought Charlie Woerner would be a star… in college. His high school tape impressed me. His high school numbers blew the mind. It never worked out that way for Woerner at Georgia. And it seems that talent has finally emerged at precisely the right time.
The Bottom Line: Do I know for a fact that Woerner will give us numbers? Nope. Good luck finding TE absolutes on this slate.
Rysen John, TE, Giants at Browns (Spread: Browns -4.5 | O/U: 35.0)
Nope, not really endorsing Rysen John. Just a shot in the dark in a game where he should play a ton.
The Bottom Line: Again, I wish you the very best of luck.
Matt Sokol, TE, Chargers vs. 49ers (Spread: 49ers -5.5 | O/U: 34.0)