Preseason Bottom Line: August 28


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Preseason Bottom Line: August 28

Only one more week of the unofficial stuff until the results matter. Just as I’ve done with every preseason slate to date, the approach to Saturday’s games is based on the most current information available. As of the writing of this piece, the only indications passed along on starting skill positions playing are from the Bears, Broncos, Buccaneers, Seahawks, and Texans. Only the O-line starters will play for Chicago. Nobody from the Texans will be recommended. And I’ve not seen enough to convince me that starters from the Broncos or Seahawks will play enough for us to get excited.

As for Tampa Bay’s starters, that’s a different story altogether.

NOTE: Players from the Baltimore Ravens at Washington Football Team’s matchup have been considered with the assumption the game will be included in Saturday’s main slate.


Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers at Texans (Spread: Buccaneers -4.5 | O/U: 36.5)

NFL rosters will need to be reduced from 80 to 53 players by Tuesday. That’s not going to get in HC Bruce Arians’ way, fully intending to treat Saturday night’s game as a dress rehearsal for the defending champions. As you can see above, he’s even stated that he will not hesitate to play his starters into the third quarter if he doesn’t like what he sees during the first half.

Fortunately for us, DFS production from the QB position during the preseason has been minimal. Rostering Tom Brady in our cash game lineups is unlikely to be enough to plummet our entries below the cash line if everything falls apart for the Tampa Bay offense. My literal money will be dedicated toward the opposite result. There is only one other QB I could conceivably recommend starting over Brady, we’ll discuss him next.

The Bottom Line: The question we need to ask is how far down this rabbit hole do we want to go with the Bucs’ offense? Yes, it’s expected that we’ll see Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, and Giovani Bernard. But I am not expecting them to take on large workloads. As for Brady’s receivers, there is no way of knowing for sure how the snaps or targets will be distributed. The one absolute is Brady. And a full half of Brady football easily stands as the optimal play on the Saturday slate.

Bryce Perkins, QB, Rams at Broncos (Spread: Broncos -8.5 | O/U: 33.5)

Bryce Perkins not only took 45 dropbacks and attempted 39 passes last week, he also played a decent game. In fact, he put together one of the finest preseason DFS performances thus far. He passed for 208 yards, a pair of TDs, posted an 86.3 passer rating, and added 41 rushing yards. It may seem odd to see the extent of Perkins’ usage. But it’s actually a smart move on HC Sean McVay’s part to provide his QB3 with these in-game reps.

The Bottom Line: McVay obviously refuses to play Matthew Stafford or any of his starters in the preseason. With John Wolford — the Rams’ QB2 — still recovering from an appendectomy, there’s no telling what emergency QB McVay would pluck from the sideline if Perkins were to go down to an injury. But exposure to Perkins will require nerves of steel if you decide to pivot off Brady.

As for other QB alternatives, Justin Fields will face a serious challenge from a Titans’ defense that has looked as good as any I’ve witnessed this preseason. We still have no definitive word from Saints’ HC Sean Payton on how he’ll deploy his QBs. And we know Easton Stick and Chase Daniel will face off for the Chargers’ QB2 role, we just have no way of knowing how deep into the game the Seahawks’ defensive starters will play.


Justin Fields, QB, Bears at Titans (Spread: Bears -1.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Taysom Hill, QB, Saints vs. Cardinals (Spread: Saints -3.5 | O/U: 34.5)

Easton Stick, QB, Chargers at Seahawks (Spread: Seahawks -5.5 | O/U: 35.0)

Running Backs

Jaret Patterson, RB, Washington vs. Ravens (Spread: Ravens -4.0 | O/U: 32.5)

Another HC playing it coy about starter usage is Ron Rivera. Does bringing a “100% game plan” to face the Ravens indicate it’ll only be intended for the starters? This kind of stuff typifies the most difficult aspects of preseason DFS. And it highlights why the NFL had to step in years back to force teams to release injury reports. Short of Rivera playing his starters into the third quarter, Jaret Patterson will still be an outstanding play as long as he receives his two quarters of play. He’s been so good through two preseason games that it’s not outside the realm of possibility to think that he’s elevated himself to being the direct backup to Antonio Gibson. After Patterson failed to bring in a single target at the University of Buffalo last season, nobody expected to see this:

The Bottom Line: The UDFA has been able to overcome questions surrounding his size and athleticism toward nearly guaranteeing himself a spot on the 53-man roster. The key word being nearly — a poor showing this weekend could always push the staff in another direction. Patterson would not be listed atop my Saturday RBs if I envisioned face-planting as even a remote possibility. Jaret has been the best offensive reserve for WFT all preseason. And I’m expecting that to continue on Saturday.

Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos vs. Rams (Spread: Broncos -8.5 | O/U: 33.5)


Another team, another HC being cryptic about starter usage. When Mike Boone injured his quad, it set Royce Freeman up for another season on Denver’s active roster. If you watch the video above, Vic Fangio only replies with a “yes” at the six-minute mark to a reporter asking if the starters would play. But the RB position already deals with an immense amount of damage during the season. Crazier decisions have certainly been made, but I am not anticipating that we’ll see Melvin Gordon III or Javonte Williams receive more than a handful of touches. The remainder of the backfield touches will be distributed between Royce Freeman and Damarea Crockett.

The Bottom Line: Freeman ran circles around Crockett last week in Seattle, averaging 32% more yardage/touch. And Freeman has even provided pleasant production in the passing game. The most glaring weakness of the preseason Rams has been its run defense. A recipe pointing to Freeman as one of the top RB plays on the slate.

Mekhi Sargent, RB, Titans vs. Bears (Spread: Bears -1.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Word on the street is that the starters for Tennessee will not play in this game. But don’t expect to see the Titans’ reserves providing the Bears with any favors. After two games, the collective of the Titans’ reserves have been the best of the preseason. And one of the top out-of-nowhere breakout performances at RB has been provided by Mekhi Sargent. In two games he’s rushed for 136 yards, 3.4 after contact/carry, forced 13 missed tackles, and also added a TD reception last week.

The Bottom Line: Chicago has been middle of the pack in run defense. The factor that has assisted the offense the most has been its defense preventing opposing offenses from sustaining drives. After Patterson and Freeman, Sargent offers a solid floor with the potential for finding the end zone.


Ty’Son Williams, RB, Ravens at Washington (Spread: Ravens -4.0 | O/U: 32.5)

Larry Rountree III, RB, Chargers at Seahawks (Spread: Seahawks -5.5 | O/U: 35.0)

Josh Johnson, RB, Seahawks vs. Chargers (Spread: Seahawks -5.5 | O/U: 35.0)

Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Buccaneers at Texans (Spread: Buccaneers -4.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Wide Receivers

Marquez Callaway, WR, Saints vs. Cardinals (Spread: Saints -3.5 | O/U: 34.5)

Nobody has done more for his stock this preseason than Marquez Callaway. He’s gone from a narrative as a slow, one-trick pony to the team’s go-to receiving option until Michael Thomas’s return. And when Thomas does return, he’ll still have a stranglehold on consistent volume. During his rookie season, Callaway emerged as a shortened DFS slate option whenever New Orleans faced a Cover 3 defense. During this preseason, he’s shown the ability to attack everything defenses have attempted to use to slow him.

The Bottom Line: Should we be concerned that Callaway may play limited snaps? No. In two preseason games, Callaway has only run an average of just under 12 routes. But he leads all receivers in yardage (165), is tied for eighth in receptions (8), and tied with three others with two TDs. He also leads all WRs with 7.17 yards gained/route run (YPRR) and has generated a perfect passer rating when targeted.

Mason Kinsey, WR, Titans vs. Bears (Spread: Bears -1.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Unlike the Broncos’ Trinity Benson and the Lions’ Tom Kennedy, the outstanding preseason/training camp/joint practice performances from Mason Kinsey could result in immediate playing time when the games actually matter. Nobody cares when A.J. Brown or Julio Jones miss practice time as long as they are ready to rock for Week 1. The same cannot be said with the WR3 role that Josh Reynolds is “attempting” to lock down. By attempting, his efforts of sitting on a trainers table with a soft tissue injury throughout the offseason should not be winning him anything. Just to provide you with the type of impact Kinsey has been making, read this.

Let’s not forget that Reynolds submitted one of the least efficient receiving performances of anyone last season. We’re talking Ian Thomas inefficiency. Whenever Tennessee recognizes the lousiness of Reynolds as a receiver, Kinsey will need to fend off Marcus Johnson, Chester Rogers, and Dez Fitzpatrick to work into the WR rotation. Based on camp and joint practice reports, Kinsey could be up to the task.

The Bottom Line: This Kinsey recommendation is not only based on reports. He’s actually produced in preseason games, as well. Kinsey has flipped 12 targets into 10 receptions, 107 yards, and a TD. A mindblowing stat: Titans’ QBs have targeted Kinsey on 39% of every route run!

J.J. Koski, WR, Rams at Broncos (Spread: Broncos -8.5 | O/U: 33.5)

Whereas Kinsey has only needed 31 routes to do his work, J.J. Koski has been gifted with an NFL high 74 routes this preseason — teammate Tutu Atwell is second with 58. Needless to say, Koski is all about volume. He’s on the field for the entire game and put forth a meaningful result last week against the Raiders with eight receptions for 61 yards.

The Bottom Line: While 14.1 FPs may not come across as a reason for exposure after only producing 6.6 FPs the previous week, one additional factor must be considered. In that first game, Bryce Perkins was only at QB for 14 dropbacks. Last week, Perkins played the entire game. Since Perkins will, once again, play the entire game, we simply must give Koski serious consideration.

Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers at Texans (Spread: Buccaneers -4.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Okay, I will not attempt to sell you on Mike Evans. He’s a household name, requiring no introduction.

The Bottom Line: As long as HC Bruce Arians is true to his word, Tom Brady and the offensive starters will play at least the first half on Saturday. And we know Brady only plays the game of football one way… with his foot securely planted on the gas pedal. One or more of Evans, Chris Godwin, and/or Antonio Brown are going to produce. Going up against the Texans’ secondary without Bradley Roby, we could potentially see all three produce enough to break the slate.


Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WR, Saints vs. Cardinals (Spread: Saints -3.5 | O/U: 34.5)

Rodney Adams, WR, Bears at Titans (Spread: Bears -1.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Tutu Atwell, WR, Rams at Broncos (Spread: Broncos -8.5 | O/U: 33.5)

Trinity Benson, WR, Broncos vs. Rams (Spread: Broncos -8.5 | O/U: 33.5)

Cade Johnson, WR, Seahawks vs. Chargers (Spread: Seahawks -5.5 | O/U: 35.0)

Tight Ends

Tanner Hudson, TE, Buccaneers at Texans (Spread: Buccaneers -4.5 | O/U: 36.5)

No, Tanner Hudson is not a starter for the Buccaneers. No, he’s unlikely to play in the first half. However, as is pointed out in the above Tweet, he is squarely planted on the bubble for a roster spot.

The Bottom Line: Hudson has been targeted on 38% of routes this preseason. At that rate, he will be able to produce well in excess of the five FP-floor we want from our TE exposure. And don’t forget about O.J. Howard. Unlike Hudson, Howard may actually run a bunch of his routes with Tom Brady under center.

Josh Oliver, TE, Ravens at Washington (Spread: Ravens -4.0 | O/U: 32.5)

Why did Jaguars’ HC Urban Meyer trade away Josh Oliver again? Head-scratcher, for sure. Oliver has run the most routes of any TE this preseason. To clarify, routes, not blocking snaps. That potential for production from a preseason TE is nearly enough to seal the deal.

The Bottom Line: The route volume is great, but Oliver has also been provided with the most TE targets (15), leads all TEs with 11 receptions, and has been targeted on 24% of those routes. We actually have at least five tremendous TE options on Saturday, choose wisely.


Jesse James, TE, Bears at Titans (Spread: Bears -1.5 | O/U: 36.0)

O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers at Texans (Spread: Buccaneers -4.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Sammis Reyes, TE, Washington vs. Ravens (Spread: Ravens -4.0 | O/U: 32.5)

Defense/Special Teams

Ravens, DST, Ravens at Washington (Spread: Ravens -4.0 | O/U: 32.5)


Broncos, DST, Broncos vs. Rams (Spread: Broncos -8.5 | O/U: 33.5)

Titans, DST, Titans vs. Bears (Spread: Bears -1.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Combined with their 23-3 win in the preseason opener at Atlanta, the Titans have outscored their opponents this preseason 57-6. Tennessee's defense has yet to allow the opposing offense into the red zone and has allowed only four third-down conversions on 26 attempts (15.4 percent).

Buccaneers, DST, Buccaneers at Texans (Spread: Buccaneers -4.5 | O/U: 36.5)

With a dedicated focus on studying game film and a faithful commitment to metrics & analytics, Huber’s specialties include DFS (college and NFL), Devy & Dynasty formats, and second-to-none fantasy analysis of high school prospects.