Best DFS plays for Saturday and Sunday of preseason Week 3
The Saturday and Sunday slates will be the last we see of first-team players until the regular season kicks off. Essentially everyone playing next week will be trying to cling to the back of a roster or auditioning for other teams. Whether or not we buy into the narrative that the third preseason game is a dress rehearsal (Bill Belichick clearly doesn’t) at least we know most starters will play into the third quarter.
Running backs tend to get fewer snaps than other starters even during the “dress rehearsal.” While there are exceptions, it makes sense to save the wear and tear. Backs with a good shot of scoring a touchdowns take on more importance for DFS purposes, as they typically don’t get enough playing time to appreciably inch up their point totals via touch volume – even in PPR formats like on DraftKings.
While most of this weekend’s preseason DFS plays are starters, the “backup” running backs below are chosen because they combine a solid projected workload and reasonable expectation of finding the end zone.
As always, and particularly with preseason games, be sure to monitor Twitter in the hour leading up to kickoff. A last-minute inactive announcement about one player being can vault another to must-play status.
Sam Bradford – Eagles
The Colts defense will be without seven starters, including their top two cornerbacks – plus newly signed Antonio Cromartie won’t play. The Eagles’ first-team offense will play into the third quarter against mostly backups. Bradford was sharp last week, has reportedly looked had a strong camp, and it can’t hurt that he went 10 of 10 for 121 yards and three touchdowns in last season’s “dress rehearsal.”
Matthew Stafford – Lions
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Stafford has been hot in limited preseason action, completing 71 percent of his 17 throws for 171 yards. He’s connected on all six targets to Golden Tate and Marvin Jones (18.0 YPA) while going no-huddle – which Detroit has done on 62 percent of snaps after deploying a seven-percent no-huddle rate in 2015. The Ravens’ pass coverage is still in question and Stafford will play at least a full half.
Also consider: Joe Flacco (Ravens); Marcus Mariota (Titans)
Khiry Robinson – Jets
Free agent import Matt Forte will finally make his debut, but after missing significant time with a hamstring injury, the veteran won’t play for long. Head coach Todd Bowles said Forte will get “a few snaps.” Robinson has also missed time due to injury, but reportedly showed good burst on his return to practice Monday and will likely operate as the goalline back on a thinned-out depth chart.
Wendell Smallwood – Eagles
We don’t want 100 percent exposure to Smallwood, but be sure to have some. The Eagles’ starters will play “at least a series, maybe two, in the third quarter,” according to Doug Pederson, and “we definitely want to see (Smallwood) get some work in that first half.” The Eagles won’t overwork veterans Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, and the Colts’ defense is a mess.
Spencer Ware – Chiefs
With Jamaal Charles still sitting out, Ware is in line for another healthy workload with the starters. He is tied for second in PPR scoring among running backs through two games. The Bears have the 25th-graded run defense this preseason and LeGarrette Blount tuned them up for 69 yards and a score on 11 carries while playing a good portion of his snaps against Chicago’s top defenders.
Also consider: Malcolm Brown (Rams); Jeremy Hill (Bengals); Dwayne Washington (Lions)
Michael Floyd – Cardinals
With John Brown working his way back from a concussion and Larry Fitzgerald sure to be lightly used, if at all, while nursing a sprained knee, Floyd will be the centerpiece of Arizona’s first-team passing offense for a quick-paced matchup in Houston. Carson Palmer played 37 snaps and took 26 dropbacks (eighth-most) in the Cardinals third preseason game last year.
Will Fuller – Texans
Fuller will start and play deep into what should be a snap-filled contest. He has been targeted nine times this preseason, catching five for 77 yards and a score. Brock Osweiler has targeted him five out of the 10 times he’s been blitzed, with an average depth of target (aDOT) of 17.6 yards and a touchdown. The high-pressure Cardinals defense led the league with a 48.4-percent blitz rate last season.
Marvin Jones – Lions
Stacking Jones with Stafford in a preseason game is a high-risk strategy better deployed in GPPs. While the window for them to hit is tight due to reduced playing time, the matchup against a questionable Ravens secondary can produce points in a hurry. Jones has reportedly been clicking with Stafford in camp and his 16.2-yard preseason aDOT makes him Detroit’s best bet for a big play.
Also consider: Eric Decker (Jets); Dorial Green-Beckham (Eagles); Tyrell Williams (Chargers);
Virgil Green – Broncos
Green has locked up the coveted starting tight end role in Gary Kubiak’s offense. He leads all Broncos tight ends in snaps with 53, and will only add to it with Garrett Graham still not practicing and Jeff Heuerman already ruled out. Green’s preseason passing game grade ranks second among tight ends and he’s caught all seven of his targets for 83 yards (both second only to A.J. Derby).
Hunter Henry – Chargers
The rookie second rounder (35th-overall pick) leads Chargers’ tight ends in snaps, targets, catches, and yards. Veteran tight end Antonio Gates will play little or not at all, and the depth chart is thinned out by Jeff Cumberland’s season-ending Achilles’ tear. Hunter will play plenty of snaps with Philip Rivers and San Diego’s first-team offense.
Also consider: Zach Ertz (Eagles); Ben Watson (Ravens)