Preseason Bottom Line: August 29

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Preseason Bottom Line: August 29

The final slate of the unofficial stuff until the results matter. Just as I’ve done with every preseason slate to date, the approach to Sunday’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 49ers, Falcons, and Giants. I’ve not seen enough to convince me that starters from Atlanta or San Francisco will play enough to get too excited.

The Giants are another matter.

Quarterbacks

Daniel Jones, QB, Giants vs. Patriots (Spread: Patriots -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

So we get Daniel Jones for two, potentially a bit more, quarters on Sunday. Sadly enough, is he even worthy of exposure? Considering the pathetic state of the Giants’ O-line, every half second of pocket protection he’s provided will be a true blessing. And that’s assuming he’ll face New England’s defensive reserves. As you can see, HC Joe Judge releasing word that his starters will use the game as a dress rehearsal did not result in Vegas favoring NYG.

If we knew Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, and Kadarius Toney would be on the field with him, it would make clicking that plus sign to add Jones to lineups a bit easier to stomach. And it’s very difficult to trust that Judge will keep Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton on the field throughout the first half. I definitely have my doubts. However, it doesn’t appear that any other teams are planning to use their starters nearly as much as New York.

The Bottom Line: Part of the reason the Patriots are favored can be attributed to Bill Belichick’s stellar preseason record. And preseason QBs have not blazed a trail of DFS production. So, Jones’ extensive playing time should result in enough output to threaten for the top score at the position.

Trey Lance, QB, 49ers vs. Raiders (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

Word has not been passed down as to exactly how HC Kyle Shanahan will distribute his QB snaps against the Raiders. We do know the “starters” will play, just no idea how much. And the QB situation could be considered mudier if you are reading into Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance splitting first-team reps in recent joint practices.

One thing Shanahan has not been shy to admit is that he already knows which QB will be the starter in Week 1. Excuse my confidence, but that QB is going to be Jimmy G. However, it should not be long until Lance is inserted as the starter. For Sunday, I prefer Lance not running with the starters. The hope is that Garoppolo and the ones will play a few series, and Lance will collect his typical two quarters of play.

The Bottom Line: No matter when Lance’s playing time comes this weekend, he will not face the first-string defense of the Raiders… since they are not going to play. A simple repeat of his performances against the Chiefs or Chargers would suffice.

Alternatives (provided a couple extra since we’re waiting on some news to be passed along):

Jacoby Brissett, QB, Dolphins at Bengals (Spread: Bengals -1.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Kyle Lauletta, QB, Browns at Falcons (Spread: Browns -5.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Nathan Peterman, QB, Raiders at 49ers (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

Running Backs

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Patriots at Giants (Spread: Patriots -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

>>And<<

J.J. Taylor, RB, Patriots at Giants (Spread: Patriots -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

With back-to-back victories and outsourcing opponents 57-13, we simply must be all over the New England backfield on Sunday. Taking it a step further, HC Bill Belichick has compiled a 48-36 preseason record during his time in New England. And, if it wasn’t entirely clear, Sony Michel became expendable due to the play of Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor. But it would be unwise to categorize these two together. At 5-foot-6, 185-pounds, Taylor is a change-of-pace scatback whowill be the direct backup to James White.

Stevenson, on the other hand, is a 6-foot, 227-pounder with three-down potential. Damien Harris will deservedly work as the lead back this season. But, should he go down to injury, Harris may find it difficult collecting the entirety of his backfield share from “Dre-Day.” If you’ve watched the first two preseason games, you’ll see precisely why analysts are excited about Stevenson’s futute. A guy his size is not supposed to have feet that quick.

The Bottom Line: 25 carries, 12 broken tackles, four TDs. Stevenson shed double-digit tackles just last week on only 15 carries. Everything early down, inside the 20 will be owned by Rhamondre on Sunday. That’s big-time important. But all of the backfield receiving work will be delivered to the hands of Taylor. Two different, but very important roles. Especially when the Pats have either Mac Jones or Brian Hoyer under center. It’s difficult to envision any cashing lineups this weekend without one of the two rostered.

JaMycal Hasty, RB, 49ers vs. Raiders (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

It appears that Elijah Mitchell will land on injured reserve. If we do see Raheem Mostert or Trey Sermon, it will be brief. That leaves the remainder of the carries to be distributed between JaMycal Hasty and Wayne Gallman. And word on the street is that they are competing for one spot on the 53-man roster. That said, Gallman, who is the most likely of the two to be released, can be added back to the active roster when Mitchell is officially moved to IR.

The Bottom Line: Hasty touched the ball 22 times last week, 16 for Gallman. We can expect similar usage facing the vulnerable run defense of the Raiders.

John Kelly, RB, Browns at Falcons (Spread: Browns -5.5 | O/U: 36.0)

It’s already written in stone that Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and D’Ernest Johnson will be listed on the opening day roster. Due to his ability to contribute on the ground as a RB, through the air as an inside WR, and on special teams, it’s likely that Demetric Felton also breaks camp with the big boys. That leaves John Kelly either signing elsewhere or landing on Cleveland’s practice squad. But he’ll have one last opportunity to give the Browns’ brass something to think about.

The Bottom Line: It is very likely that we’ll see similar usage with the Cleveland backfield that we saw last week against the Giants. A couple series of reps for Johnson, around a quarter for Felton, and Kelly closing out the game. Kelly will sidestep however many snaps the Falcons’ defensive starters play, facing off with the reserves that have been trampled over in run defense this preseason. Kelly has compiled 122 total yards, one TD, and 11 receptions through two preseason games.

Alternatives:

Trey Ragas, RB, Raiders at 49ers (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

Demetric Felton, RB, Browns at Falcons (Spread: Browns -5.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Caleb Huntley, RB, Falcons vs. Browns (Spread: Browns -5.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Wide Receivers

Trent Sherfield, WR, 49ers vs. Raiders (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

It’s a shame that Jauan Jennings is injured. I planned on relying on him after his tremendous camp. However, even Jennings has been outshined by Trent Sherfield. He’s made such an impression on the 49ers that, when San Francisco fields three WRs, Sherfield will join Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

The Bottom Line: The best aspect of the Sherfield deal is that he’s established an outstanding connection with Trey Lance. Sherfield was on the receiving end of the 37-yard bomb from Lance against Kansas City that he took the rest of the 43 yards to the house for Trey’s first TD pass. And the Lance-to-Sherfield association took root again last week on a pair of receptions for 50 yards. The hope is that these two will get extended run together on Sunday against Las Vegas.

David Sills V, WR, Giants vs. Patriots (Spread: Patriots -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

As already mentioned, I do not feel Joe Judge will follow through on his stated plans to allow Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton play the entire first half with the rest of the starters due to the diminished health of his WR unit. And that plays directly into a target relationship between Daniel Jones and David Sills V. We already saw Sills, Dante Pettis, and Damien Willis featured last week. The trio combined to see 12 targets against the Browns. But those targets were delivered by Mike Glennon and Brian Lewerke.

The Bottom Line: Sills has easily been New York’s top preseason receiver. He caught a TD from Lewerke last week and leads the group with a solid 1.78 yards gained/route run (YPRR). If you decide on exposure to Jones, Sills and/or Kaden Smith will be the optimal stacks.

Davion Davis, WR, Browns at Falcons (Spread: Browns -5.5 | O/U: 36.0)

If you listened last week on Davion Davis, you are already fully aware of this kid’s potential. The Vikings kicked the tires on Davis as an UDFA in 2019 out of Sam Houston State. He was eventually waived prior to last season. How this kid managed to go unclaimed until the Browns picked him up in late July may be tied to being suspended the first two games of 2021 for a substance abuse violation. But, as long as this kid continues to work his ass off, Davis has some long-term potential. Best of all, he is rostered with a team with little in the way of developmental talent at WR.

The Bottom Line: In two preseason games with Cleveland, Davis has turned 33 routes and eight targets into seven receptions, 101 yards, one TD, and 3.06 YPRR. And most of that production has come with Kyle Lauletta under center. On a slate short on obvious options at WR, Davis is an easy call to return value against an Atlanta secondary that hasn’t much opposition to production this preseason.

Kristian Wilkerson, WR, Patriots at Giants (Spread: Patriots -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

Here it is. Kristian Wilkerson’s final opportunity to stake his claim on a 53-man roster spot with the Patriots. At the time of this write-up, word has not been passed along as to the distribution of QB reps. It doesn’t matter. Wilkerson has been a frequent target of all three New England QBs during camp, joint practices, and preseason action.

The Bottom Line: The only other NEP WR that’s seen as much play as Wilkerson has been N’Keal Harry. Harry is out with a shoulder injury. Wilkerson should play most of the game on Sunday. While a TD might be asking a bit much, six-to-eight targets are entirely within reason.

Alternatives:

DJ Turner, WR, Raiders at 49ers (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

Kirk Merritt, WR, Dolphins at Bengals (Spread: Bengals -1.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Anthony Schwartz, WR, Browns at Falcons (Spread: Browns -5.5 | O/U: 36.0)

Tight Ends

Alex Ellis, TE, Raiders at 49ers (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

None of the TEs on the slate have scored a TD this preseason. If you want an absolute, I can’t provide you with one. But Alex Ellis saw a target on 46% of routes last week, producing the most receiving yards (41) among TEs on the slate that are expected to see the field.

The Bottom Line: Five points. That’s all we need 🤞🤞🤞.

Thaddeus Moss, TE, Bengals vs. Dolphins (Spread: Bengals -1.5 | O/U: 36.5)

The signing of Thaddeus Moss originally appeared to be a favor from former LSU teammate Joe Burrow. Then Moss actually provided some compelling reasons for Cincinnati to consider keeping him this season.

The Bottom Line: Again, you need to dig deep at TE on Sunday. Moss, Hunter Long, and Kaden Smith are the best pivots if Ellis isn’t your flavor.

Alternative:

Hunter Long, TE, Dolphins at Bengals (Spread: Bengals -1.5 | O/U: 36.5)

Kaden Smith, TE, Giants vs. Patriots (Spread: Patriots -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

Defense/Special Teams

49ers, DST, 49ers vs. Raiders (Spread: 49ers -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

Alternative:

Patriots, DST, Patriots at Giants (Spread: Patriots -3.5 | O/U: 35.5)

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.