General Preseason Showdown Strategy
The overarching key is to do your best to highlight which players will be playing the most snaps. This can be gleaned by researching depth chart scarcity, coachspeak/press conferences, injury news or beat reports.
The only position you can roster that will score fantasy points for the entire game is DST. With all other position players having their playing time limited to anywhere from a series to a half, DST becomes a key cog in roster construction. Despite the fact DSTs don’t normally end up as the highest scoring position on a normal slate, they can on a preseason slate. The ability for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends to outscore DSTs is neutralized in preseason by only playing a portion of the game. Don’t be afraid to roster both DSTs in a lineup or in the captain spot — in fact, it’s encouraged.
Don’t worry about negative correlation in preseason. QB v. opposing defense, too many WRs from the same team, or two running backs from the same team don’t carry the negative impact they would in the regular season. Often, they won’t eat into each other’s production because they won’t be on the field at the same time, anyway.
The one correlation that does matter is trying to pinpoint which quarterbacks will be paired up with which skill players. It’s often arbitrary and unpredictable, but there are times when a unit will play all their snaps together. That increases your ceiling by having the QB in the same lineup as the RB/WR/TE he has the potential to throw touchdown passes to.
Prioritize athletic pass-catchers. Since playing time is limited, target positions and players that can hit a ceiling in one or two plays. This is usually going to be wide receivers. Though running backs are in play, it’s unlikely you get a high-volume game where a runner grinds out the 100-yard bonus on 20 carries. When you do roster running backs and tight ends, it’s important to roster the ones that have pass-catching roles.
As I mentioned above, it can’t be overstated how important it is to prioritize defenses in your lineups for the showdown slates in preseason. They are the only two buttons you can click in which you are guaranteed they’ll be on the field for the entire game. I’ll have a large percentage of my lineups including both defenses and I’ll also be using them in the captain spot.
Note: The Bears only intend on playing their starters for “6-10 plays” given the short turnaround in games. They will also look to evaluate their depth a bit more in this game. Coaches have been handling the shortened preseason a bit differently since going to three games, it looks like Eberflus will not be using the second game for an extended look at starters. You can effectively cross all starters from the Bears out of your player pool.
- Trevor Siemian and Nate Peterman — I would expect both players to get about equal run in this game. Peterman didn’t enter until almost the fourth quarter in the Bears first preseason game, allowing Siemian to get the bulk of the action after Justin Fields. If I had to guess I would say it’s a bit more equal on Thursday. Siemian looked solid as a passer throwing two touchdowns (to Dazz Newsome and Trestan Ebner). Peterman played well also and has more of a propensity to run the ball, which we know is a big advantage in preseason. I like them both, maybe Peterman gets a nod because he should be rostered at a lower clip.
Trestan Ebner — Ebner gained 27 of his 31 yards on one highlight reel play in which he juked a few defenders. As I mentioned above he also caught a touchdown from Siemian. I think he’ll get some good run in this game and he has flashed playmaking ability both at Baylor and in his early opportunities with the Bears.
Khalil Herbert — It’s tough to determine if the Bears view Herbert as part of the group that will only play 6-10 plays. He’s technically not a starter as he’s listed as the RB2, but he’s had so much usage and buzz in camp with the first team I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see much of him. That said, the Bears are pretty thin at RB depth, so they may use him more than we expect. With any unknown like this, it’s smart to have a little exposure. If he’s somehow in the optimal lineup and you completely cross him out, you’re cooked.
Darrynton Evans and De’Montre Tuggle — These two will likely fight for second-half snaps. Evans had his own hype train in preseasons past with the Titans that never came to fruition, but he is a solid pass-catcher and did work with the second and third units in the first preseason game. Tuggle only played on the Bears’ final drive, though they did continuously feed him the ball. I would expect Tuggle to see more than a drive Thursday, especially with the starters playing only one or two series. Both are in play.
Tajae Sharpe — According to Chicago beat reporters, Sharpe is the leading candidate for the final WR spot on the Bears. He looked good in game one and will need to continue to play well to make the team. He should be on the field early with Siemian.
Dazz Newsome — Caught a touchdown from Siemian in game one and also got involved with a rushing attempt. Dazz is a really raw, but talented player out of North Carolina. He has the athleticism to win matchups in a preseason game against other third and fourth-stringers. I like his prospects in this game given some extra reps.
Nsimba Webster — Played the most snaps of any Bears wide receiver in game one and earned two targets in the second half from Nathan Peterman. He should be in your player pool and paired up with Peterman as a second-half player.
Dante Pettis — Pettis was on the field a lot in game one and that probably won’t change as the Bears have some injuries at the position. It’s a bit concerning that he played so much in game one and only earned one target, but if he’s going to be out there he should be in your player pool.
Chris Finke and Isaiah Coulter — Finke has a weird cultish following in Bears’ camp. I even read a letter penned by a fan on why Finke should replace Mooney as the WR1. All that nonsense aside, Finke could be a nice stacking piece with Peterman. He’ll be on the field in the second half and should see plenty of snaps given the state of the Bears’ WR corps. Coulter saw two targets late in the game, depending on how deep you are MMEing he is worth some consideration.
Chase Allen and Jake Tonges — It’s a shame the Bears aren’t on a full slate because they could be useful for their lack of tight end depth. Allen and Tonges handled the bulk of the work in game one and that shouldn’t change much. Kmet and Ryan Griffin are still dealing with injuries and weren’t expected to play much anyway. Though I don’t love rostering tight ends if I don’t have to, they both warrant consideration given their projected playing time.
James O’Shaughnessy — He didn’t play in the first preseason game but returned to practice this week. I’m guessing he’ll get in the game in the first half, but it’s a bit of an unknown whether the Bears want to run him out there for a full complement of snaps given his recent return from injury.
- Cairo Santos — As always, kickers on preseason showdown slates make nice high-floor plays when they are the only ones on the roster.
Geno Smith — Should get the first half against a Bears defense that will only play its best dudes for about 10 plays. Smith is fighting for the starting job and I think he’s probably the top option tonight on either team.
Jacob Eason — Didn’t touch the field in preseason Week 1 and I’m not sure he was going to in Week 2 until Drew Lock tested positive for COVID. Either way, one half of a quarterback is good enough to get him in your player pool, but I honestly wouldn’t expect much. Assuming playing time equal, I think he’s the quarterback tonight with the lowest projected fantasy output.
DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer — These two are neck and neck in terms of top RB plays on the slate. They are both fairly experienced and should get most of their run against some guys that won’t be on a roster in two weeks. They are both excellent receivers and should see plenty of snaps as well. Roster them.
Darwin Thompson — Got mop-up duty in Week 1. I think there's a chance that, with Lock injured and Geno only playing one half, the back end of the depth chart gets in earlier than expected since Eason will be under center and there isn’t exactly a two-QB evaluation happening. That could be good for Darwin.
Rashaad Penny — Entrenched starters didn’t play in the first preseason game. He’s already banged up in camp, though he has since returned to practice. There isn’t much word on his status, but I’m guessing he doesn’t play much if he plays at all. Kenneth Walker obviously won’t play following recent hernia surgery.
Dareke Young/Bo Melton/Penny Hart — This is the group that I think is most targetable in this game. They all played significant time in the first preseason game and are all still in the evaluation period for a final roster spot. After the starters exit (we don’t know when that will be exactly), I think these three see a bunch of snaps in the middle portion of the game.
DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett — Neither played last week, and there isn’t a definitive word from Carroll that I can find on how much they’ll play in this game. However, without explicitly saying it, Carroll did say it was a shame that Lock worked with the starting receivers all week in practice and now won’t get a chance to play with them in the game. So I take that to mean they are playing at least a little bit.
Aaron Fuller/Cade Johnson/Kevin Kassis — These three will finish the game with Eason most likely. I’m not super excited given their quarterback, but a stack or two in MME with Eason would be super low-rostered.
Note: Cody Thompson is on IR and Deontez Alexander has been cut
Noah Fant and Will Dissly — These two will probably receive the same treatment as the starting wide receivers. They should play, not sure for how long. I do think there is some appeal to Will Dissly. Fant played a lot in Week 1 and may be rostered. Dissly didn’t play but it sounds like he’ll be on the field. This could be a nice pivot if you are creating lineups with starters. I wouldn’t get carried away with either, though.
Colby Parkinson — Came into camp in the best shape of his life and got a ton of run in the first preseason game. He’s worth a flier if you’re building MME-style.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside — Just traded to the Seahawks from the Eagles. I have no clue why, but maybe he gets extended run in order to prove himself to the Seahawks staff.
- Jason Myers — Myers is the sole Seahawks kicker so he will be taking all the kicks. Of any coach in the league I would expect Pete Carroll opts to kick field goals and extra points in lieu of getting weird and practicing going for 4th downs and two-point conversions, like some coaches do in the preseason.