Only one more week of the unofficial stuff until the results actually matter, and the prize pools get extremely interesting. Just as I’ve done with every preseason slate to date, the approach to Friday’s games is with the most current information available. The assumption is that some starters will play a minimal role. If you happen across some useful information providing you with confidence toward a starter playing meaningful snaps, outstanding. But I will be avoiding those suggestions unless something points us toward definitive playing time. To date, nothing has.
Shane Buechele, QB, Chiefs vs. Vikings (Spread: Chiefs -4.0 | O/U: 38.0)
HC Andy Reid stated that the starters would see extended action last week, and he didn’t disappoint. The numbers weren’t there for Patrick Mahomes, but he played nearly twice as many snaps as the Chiefs’ other QBs. Unless we receive something concrete, last week likely served as the dress rehearsal for Kansas City. A list of individuals fighting to secure a 53-man roster spot will likely be provided with difference-making reps.
After the release of Anthony Gordon, a roster spot is just about secured as long as Shane Beuchele continues his quality play. Without fielding their starters, we don’t know for sure whether the Vikings’ defense will improve after a disappointing 2020 season. But we do know the lower tiers of the Minnesota defense have struggled to generate a pass rush or defend the pass this preseason — ranking among the bottom-10 teams in most of the important metrics.
The Bottom Line: After a disappointing debut against the 49ers, Buechele looked like a different QB when facing the Cardinals. It’s likely that Chad Henne starts the game, but we can expect Buechele to be given an extended run, possibly beyond two quarters.
Jacob Eason, QB, Colts at Lions (Spread: Colts -3.5 | O/U: 32.0)
Jacob Eason ends practice with a solid 2-minute drive highlighted by Rodrigo Blankenship’s 54-yard FG. Eason finishes 11-14 overall. Ehlinger 6-9. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) August 24, 2021
Wentz optimistic he'll be ready for week 1, but noted it won't be his call entirely.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) August 23, 2021
Frank Reich said Wentz is probably a week ahead of his rehab expectations. Thought Wentz would do next week what he did today.
*Yeah, I expect Wentz to start vs. Seahawks* https://t.co/eNj0xqFHC4
The Colts and DFS investors alike have patiently waited for either Jacob Eason or Sam Ehlinger to step forward with a preseason performance worthy of claiming the backup role in Indianapolis. Eason has been better overall, but not quite enough to solidify his claim. The concerns in Eason’s game are tied to a lack of aggression.
Ehlinger has averaged 15% more air yards/attempt than Eason through two preseason games. Unfortunately for DFS aficionados, a trio of INTs have prevented Ehlinger from capitalizing on his promising ground game (44 rushing yards). Ehlinger will still have a fighter’s chance to stake his claim on Friday when it’s anticipated that he’ll see two quarters of play. And neither QB can use their previous opponents as an excuse (Carolina and Minnesota).
The Bottom Line: Why should we even be in the exposure-market on these QBs? They’ll face a Detroit Lions’ defense that not only finished as the most vulnerable defense against the pass in the NFL last season, they’ve permitted the sixth-most passing yards, third-highest passer rating, fifth-highest yards/coverage snap, and three TDs to zero INTs this preseason. One, if not both, of the two Colts’ QBs are going to put up some quality DFS numbers. My money will be on Eason picking the Lions apart on Friday evening.
David Blough, QB, Lions vs. Colts (Spread: Colts -3.5 | O/U: 32.0)
HC Dan Campbell at the podium. Says it was a tale of 2 halves. Proud of the group in the second half and how QB David Blough lead this team and gave them a chance. #Lions— Dannie Rogers (@dannierogers___) August 22, 2021
Dwayne Haskins Jr., QB, Steelers at Panthers (Spread: Panthers -3.0 | O/U: 35.5)
Steelers’ HC Mike Tomlin said QB Dwayne Haskins will start his team’s preseason finale Friday night against the Panthers.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 25, 2021
Craig Reynolds, RB, Lions vs. Colts (Spread: Colts -3.5 | O/U: 32.0)
Dan Campbell says he wants to see a little more of Evan Heim and Darrin Paulo this week. Craig Reynolds, too.— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) August 23, 2021
If you haven’t been paying attention to the preseason action, you are in the dark on the recent exploits of this Craig Reynolds guy, who was signed off the street with only hours to spare after COVID protocols in order to play in the Lions’ first game against the Bills. Teammates didn’t even know his name when Reynolds took six carries for 49 rushing yards, and scored a go-ahead 24-yard TD late in the fourth quarter. While he was only provided with five carries last week at Pittsburgh, it didn’t stop him from scoring another TD, and he even dabbled in the passing game with a pair of receptions for 44 total yards.
The Bottom Line: As you can view above from the words out of HC Dan Campbell’s own mouth, he wants to see more of Reynolds this week. More from a kid that has averaged 7.1 YPA is worthy of DFS curiosity. The potential for double the workload provided in his first two games should be more than enough to persuade toward maximum exposure.
Darwin Thompson, RB, Chiefs vs. Vikings (Spread: Chiefs -4.0 | O/U: 38.0)
"Darwin has been playing his tail off...he's a hell of a competitor and he loves the game."— Jacob Lenard (@j_lenard) August 24, 2021
-Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy today on former NEO running back Darwin Thompson.@DTRAINN5 @Norsemen_FB @gogoneo pic.twitter.com/MskAVrGHy4
Darwin Thompson, Derrick Gore and maybe Michael Burton hours. https://t.co/p2B23pBx3P— Charles Goldman (@goldmctNFL) August 25, 2021
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was recently banged up (yet again) and that scare places increased emphasis on protecting Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon until the results matter in Week 1. We might see McKinnon take the field for a handful of snaps, but they’ll distribute the rest of the workload between Darwin Thompson and Derrick Gore.
The Bottom Line: The Vikings’ run defense has mostly held up through their first two preseason games. It’s been the abysmal play from Minny’s offense that presents the KC backfield with an optimal matchup. The days of considering Thompson as a dynasty-worthy stash are behind us. But we only need him to continue his fine preseason play, resulting in 110 total yards, 3.5 yards after contact/attempt, six receptions, and 1.14 yards/route run (YPRR).
Michael Carter, RB, Jets vs. Eagles (Spread: Jets -3.5 | O/U: 33.5)
#Jets HC Robert Saleh was emphatic that the rookies are going to play in the preseason finale vs the #Eagles that looks like it'll include our first look at Zach Wilson & Elijah Moore for a handful of drives. #JetsCamp— Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) August 24, 2021
One rookie independent of HC Robert Saleh’s referencing that I don’t think we’ll see play beyond a quarter is Zach Wilson. Another comment he made was doubting Elijah Moore or Alijah Vera-Tucker would even take the field. Since the current first-string NYJ O-linemen have been completely unable to keep Wilson “safe” in joint practices, finally playing live snaps with Vera-Tucker and Moore added to the mix might have persuaded Saleh to play his QB cornerstone a bit deeper into the second quarter.
But, regardless, we can expect to see a good amount of Michael Carter. Keep in mind, with Wilson only expected to play four-to-five possessions and with Moore and Vera-Tucker doubtful, at best, that only leaves Carter and Kenny Yeboah as the offensive rookies Saleh is branding in his desire to play more snaps. Through two preseason games, Carter has averaged 45% more YPC (4.4) on the second most carries (17) than the rest of the RB rotation combined (2.4).
The Bottom Line: When I drink my cup of coffee in the morning, nothing completes my cup of joe better than a spoonful of whipped cream topping. Serving as the topping on this Carter tout, he’ll be facing the “defense” that has easily stood — at least in my eyes — as the single-worst run defending unit in football this preseason. The Eagles’ run D has been a complete mess after the younger starters actually receiving preseason reps leave the rotation. The backups have been… liabilities. Expect a solid finish to a solid preseason from Carter.
Derrick Gore, RB, Chiefs vs. Vikings (Spread: Chiefs -4.0 | O/U: 38.0)
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles at Jets (Spread: Jets -3.5 | O/U: 33.5)
An all too common sight in #Eagles training camp: Miles Sanders with a drop.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 22, 2021
Benny LeMay, RB, Colts at Lions (Spread: Colts -3.5 | O/U: 32.0)
This taunting penalty, for flexing after carrying the entire defense for 10 yards, has resulted in a $3,667 fine for Benny LeMay.— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) August 21, 2021
The worst part? If LeMay doesn’t make the team, that’s roughly 50% of his entire training camp paycheck.
Be better NFL.pic.twitter.com/buQCIkJ2rl
James Washington, WR, Steelers at Panthers (Spread: Panthers -3.0 | O/U: 35.5)
The offseason/preseason to date for James Washington can be summarized by referencing two occurrences:
- He either requested a trade or some former player *cough* Dez Bryant *cough* did it for him:
If you are a team and want a top tier WR trade for James Washington….. thank me later— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) August 6, 2021
- A knee sprain held him out for a stretch that resulted in him missing the Eagles’ game
When he made his return last week, HC Mike Tomlin decided the game would stand as Pittsburgh’s dress rehearsal. Washington still collected three-of-four targets for 24 yards. This week is going to be all about the reserves staking their claims to the leftovers. And one area where Washington has always come through for us in the clutch is during the preseason.
The Bottom Line: During Washington’s first two seasons in the NFL (2018-19), he generated 20 receptions, 390 receiving yards, and four TDs over seven games. That’s Herculean-like production in the preseason. Washington will easily be the most talented WR at the disposal of Dwayne Haskins Jr. during his final opportunity to secure the QB3 role. Washington should be targeted early-and-often. Consider me sold.
Dezmon Patmon, WR, Colts at Lions (Spread: Colts -3.5 | O/U: 32.0)
Lions coach Dan Campbell says they have about 80% of the 53-man roster pretty much set, but the WR position is interesting. “I think the receiver position in itself for those spots are very much in play right now,” he said.— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) August 24, 2021
If you’ve been following the preseason, you don’t need me to sell you on the value Dezmon Patmon has provided in DFS. He leads all WRs on the slate in routes run, targets, receptions, and he only trails Terrace Marshall Jr. in receiving yardage.
The Bottom Line: He may be on the cusp of securing a spot on the 53-man roster, but Patmon still needs to finish off the preseason with a closing performance that leaves no doubt in the minds of the staff. And he’ll be provided with another game-leading set of reps to secure that in-season contract.
Tom Kennedy, WR, Lions vs. Colts (Spread: Colts -3.5 | O/U: 32.0)
This preseason, @Lions WR Tom Kennedy ranks 5th in the @NFL with 68 YAC yards & 8th with 107 receiving yards.— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) August 24, 2021
When lined up in the slot, Kennedy ranks 2nd in the League with 102 receiving yards & 3rd with 63 YAC yards.
His 3 receptions of 15+ yards also tie for 4th in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/JMMw0JcT50
In the same sentence as Dezmon Patmon, Tom Kennedy has submitted a preseason performance worthy of DFS attention. However, the odds are unfortunately stacked against Kennedy making the opening day roster. Still, he’s run the fourth-most routes (44), tied Patmon for the most targets (10), has the second-most receptions (8), third-most yards (107), and the third-highest qualified YAC/reception (8.5) among all WRs on the slate.
The Bottom Line: Best of all, one of the Lions’ QBs likely to play two full quarters, David Blough, considers Kennedy his go-to target. Blough is on the verge of unseating Tim Boyle as the QB2 in Motor City. In his bid to get there, Blough is going to fuel Kennedy’s own bid to host the 49ers on September 12th.
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, Panthers vs. Steelers (Spread: Panthers -3.0 | O/U: 35.5)
Highest receiving grade by rookie WRs— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 24, 2021
1. Terrace Marshall Jr., Panthers WR - 78.2
2. Shi Smith, Panthers WR - 77.2 pic.twitter.com/fQdWqfzOru
We could refer to Terrace Marshall Jr. as the standout rookie WR of the entire preseason, but we need to keep in mind that only Dyami Brown and Rondale Moore have seen similar preseason involvement among second-day rookies. Still, Marshall has converted his 28 routes, eight targets into a preseason-leading 138 receiving yards, and 4.93 YPRR.
The Bottom Line: The one concern I have with exposure to Marshall is the possibility of seeing him take an early seat in a meaningless game. It’s pretty safe to say that his preseason breakout currently has him ahead of David Moore in the race to be considered the offense’s WR3. But, if he plays, he may offer the highest upside of any WR on the slate.
Daurice Fountain, WR, Chiefs vs. Vikings (Spread: Chiefs -4.0 | O/U: 38.0)
“He’s one of those kids who does not take anything for granted. The only thing he wants to know is what he can do better…He works hard, he’s smart and what he’s done in practice is showing up on game day.”— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) August 24, 2021
- Coach Bieniemy on Daurice Fountain
Michael Strachan, WR, Colts at Lions (Spread: Colts -3.5 | O/U: 32.0)
Anthony Johnson, WR, Steelers at Panthers (Spread: Panthers -3.0 | O/U: 35.5)
Jack Stoll, TE, Eagles at Jets (Spread: Jets -3.5 | O/U: 33.5)
Highest-graded rookies from last night— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 20, 2021
1. Mac Jones, Patriots QB - 93.4
2. Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles RB - 74.7
3. Jack Stoll, Eagles TE - 72.6 pic.twitter.com/07sm4vBnqz
All throughout Philadelphia’s training camp, up until a couple practices beyond their first preseason game, the TE4 discussion centered on QB-to-TE convert Tyree Jackson. That all changed when Jackson fractured a bone in his back during a joint practice with the Patriots. With injury comes opportunity. And Jack Stoll — the mulleted one — stepped forward with an impressive showing against New England (four receptions, 33 yards).
The Bottom Line: Despite the quality issues among its defensive depth, Philadelphia has become a TE-development factory. As long as Stoll provides us with at least five FPs, we should consider it 💰in the 🏦.
Noah Gray, TE, Chiefs vs. Vikings (Spread: Chiefs -4.0 | O/U: 38.0)
Buechele completed 7-of-8 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown on that drive. Marcus Kemp, Daurice Fountain, Darwin Thompson, Jerick McKinnon and Noah Gray were all involved.— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) August 21, 2021
Since DraftKings continues to classify Jody Fortson as a WR, Noah Gray offers us a convenient stack to pair with Shane Buechele. After a forgettable first preseason game where Gray dropped his only target on 21 routes, he caught all three for 22 yards last week against Arizona.
The Bottom Line: Three receptions plus 22 yards = 5.2 FPs! Good enough for me. Fingers crossed his involvement increases in what could be his most significant action all season.
Tommy Tremble, TE, Panthers vs. Steelers (Spread: Panthers -3.0 | O/U: 35.5)
P.J. Walker to the rookie Tommy Tremble for a Panthers touchdown pic.twitter.com/b44dg6tqV4— Justin Groc (@jgroc) August 15, 2021
Steelers, DST, Steelers at Panthers (Spread: Panthers -3.0 | O/U: 35.5)
Chiefs, DST, Chiefs vs. Vikings (Spread: Chiefs -4.0 | O/U: 38.0)