Preseason Week 1: DFS Lessons Learned

A (New York) Giant Mess Against Tight Ends

It became a viable option to stream tight ends on both sites against the Giants as no team gave up more than their 13 touchdowns against the position.  From inserting expensive options like Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce to starting bargain bin players like Jeff Heuerman and OJ Howard, you were all but guaranteed a double digit fantasy point performance. 

Needless to say, it wasn’t shocking when Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield both found David Njoku in the end zone.  Overall, the Giants gave up 4 receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns to Browns tight ends, which was 21.3 FanDuel and 23.3 DraftKings points respectively.  Here are the first four weeks of tight ends facing the Giants:

  1. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
  2. Geoff Swaim/Blake Jarwin/Rico Gathers/Dalton Schwartz (TBD)
  3. Ryan Griffin/Stephen Anderson
  4. Benjamin Watson

The only two tight ends that could be over 4000 on DraftKings and 5500 on FanDuel during this span are: Stephen Anderson and Benjamin Watson.  Looking further at weeks 5 and 6, Greg Olsen and Zach Ertz would be next on the flow chart at elevated pricing.  For 3200 on DK and 4600 on FD, it’s hard to turn down Austin Seferian-Jenkins at such a gift of a price against a team that simply hemorrhages fantasy points to the tight end.

Galluping Toward a Role?

Dez Bryant, Brice Butler, and Jason Witten have departed and are replaced by Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and a cornucopia of tight ends competing for the starting role.  Add in returning receivers Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams and you have a receiving corps that could be one of the worst in the league, something that cannot come to fruition if the Cowboys hope to be a contender in a loaded NFC.  Defenses are going to stack the box against Ezekiel Elliott and make Dak Prescott throw in order to move the ball downfield.  

Michael Gallup has garnered attention in camp since being drafted in the 3rd round, out of Colorado State.  Though he currently finds himself as the fifth receiver on the depth chart, acquiring playing time may not be as difficult as it seems.  While he had a 1,000 yard season in 2015, Hurns hasn’t played a whole season since his rookie season in 2014.  Thompson has shown flashes since getting playing time in 2016 but has been wildly inconsistent in stints with Chicago and Buffalo.  Beasley reached his ceiling with an incredible 2016 campaign that may not be duplicated again.  Williams hasn’t missed a game in his five year career but recovering from a broken foot sustained in late March could present issues. 

Interestingly enough, both DraftKings and FanDuel view Michael Gallup as someone to keep an eye on; he is the second-highest priced Dallas receiver,other than Hurns, to start the season.  Against Carolina, he would line up opposite James Bradberry, one of the worst cornerbacks in 2017, and Donte Jackson, a rookie out of LSU who will be thrust into action due to an injury to Ross Cockrell. 

His matchups are absolutely favorable but the preseason needs to play out first and see who the Cowboys keep and cut at the position.  All Gallup can do at this point is take full advantage of the preseason snaps he is given and keep impressing the coaching staff like he did on the 30 yard touchdown reception from Prescott at Levis Stadium.

(Digg)-ing His New Quarterback

Kirk Cousins threw four balls on his only drive against the Broncos and looked to Stefon Diggs three times for 35 yards and a score.  For Diggs, he knows who his quarterback will be for the next three years after catching passes from a carousel of quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill, Sam Bradford, and Case Keenum over the previous three.  A clean bill of health has evaded him in his first three seasons as he hasn’t played more than 13 games to this point.  Yet, he still posted 903 yard and 849 yard seasons in 2016 and 2017 respectively and with the best quarterback he has had in his early career, he won’t find it difficult to log 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career as long as he stays on the field.  

As he lines up most of his routes on the right side of the ball, Diggs will see plenty of Richard Sherman when the Vikings host the 49ers to begin the 2018 season.  Don’t let the name fool you as this isn’t the Richard Sherman who was a dominant force in Seattle.  An achilles injury ended his 2017 season and now he has dealt with hamstring issues that forced him to miss a preseason date with the Cowboys.  If Sherman plays Week 1, Diggs is poised to have the advantage and the potential for a breakout game at U.S. Bank Stadium, a place he averaged just shy of 20 FPPG in PPR scoring in 2017.  At 6300 on DraftKings and 7400 on FanDuel, both respectable prices, you start a receiver that should net 15 FP with an upside of 25-30 in a place he scored fewer than 14 PPR points just once last year. 

With Injury Comes Oppurtunity

Even before the first preseason snap of 2018, injuries have sprung on some unlucky teams.  Nick Easton is out for the year on what was an already shaky Vikings offensive line.  Jason Verrett and Hunter Henry both tore ACLs for a Chargers team with postseason aspirations.  These are just a few of the offseason injuries sustained by the 32 teams.  Given the preseason injuries from last year headlined by Julian Edelman, Spencer Ware, and Cameron Meredith, it’s a matter of who will be next to suffer the injury bug before the regular season commences. 

Hopefully, Derrius Guice will be the only player to sustain a season-ending injury before the Falcons and Eagles kick off the 2018 season.  Yet, there are those like Marlon Mack, George Kittle, and Matt Brieda that suffered injuries of the non season-ending variety that make them questionable for week 1.  

With injury comes opportunity as DraftKings and FanDuel have both officially released their week 1 pricing.  As they are now posted, those salaries will not change; the only thing that DraftKings will do is add players signed by August 31st to the player pool.  With most of the starters sitting the fourth preseason game, there are still two weeks left for players to incur injuries.  Without the ability to change their current pricing, pay attention to the injuries that occur throughout the preseason and uncover the bargains that become available. 

For instance, if Marlon Mack isn’t available for a week 1 tilt against the Bengals, with Robert Turbin suspended for the first four games, look for Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to see increased volume against a Bengals team that was suspect against running backs last year.  Both are under $4000 and $5500 on DraftKings and FanDuel respectively and will provide savings for other expensive options on the board.  Week 1 is the best opportunity to differentiate your lineup before the sites adjust their pricing in week 2. 

Dirty Laundry

With the new helmet rule being enforced in 2018, it will be interesting to see how defensive players adjust their tackling and what impact it will have on overall game scores and fantasy production this upcoming season.  The league average for flags thrown in a game, postseason included, was 15.6 in 2017.  16 games through the 2018 preseason and that average is at 18.1 flags thrown, including a game in which John Parry’s crew threw 26 flags in the Chargers, Cardinals scrimmage. 

One would assume that the two extra penalties could be helmet rule related that add 30 yards worth of personal foul penalties.  One would also assume that if those penalties are associated with the new rule, they would be called more on the defense than the offense.  Thus, offenses could be getting 30 yards worth of shorter fields per game to generate into points on the scoreboard which translates into more fantasy points for those players scoring the touchdowns and field goals. 

Paying attention to the referee crews that throw the most flags as well as the most penalized teams can be of importance for trying to gain an additional edge on a weekly basis, especially in a year where flags thrown per game is expected to increase as preseason week 1 demonstrated.

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