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FanDuel Fantasy Football: Friday Preseason Rankings

James Smizek

James Smizek

Since his introduction to Daily Fantasy Sports in 2010 James has turned a hobby into a profitable venture. A former writer of the now defunct DraftStreet.com and his own site BucketFullofPoints.com, James brings his knowledge and passion to RotoWire. He can be contacted on Twitter @iKezims or challenged on any DFS site under the moniker "ItzJamesFTW"


With a big week of preseason football kicking off Friday, FanDuel is once again offering it's unique preseason contests for Friday and Saturday's slate of games. Though relatively the same as regular season contests, preseason challenges the player to hedge the differences between starter and backup playing time. With a plethora of different strategies to consider, I will outline my top plays and few tips for tackling preseason DFS. Keep in mind week three of the preseason is typically the week starters will see the most playing time.

Preseason Tips

-- For the case of preseason daily fantasy football, a common occurrence is having salary remaining. While it’s good to get the most out of your salary cap and stretch every dollar in the regular season, you don’t necessarily need to spend all your money in the preseason, as a lot of higher production players and/or safer plays will come from the mid-tier priced group. On average, I had between $700-1500 remaining on the three lineups I constructed.


-- It’s not worth selecting Calvin Johnson or Marshawn Lynch. This is a tricky aspect of preseason, but with many star players not seeing many reps (Lynch has two carries), it is impossible to track how much they're going to play unless a beat writer directly states it. For Megatron and Lynch, specifically, it looks like they will see about 15 plays each Friday night. Given their large price tag, it will not be worth the handful of plays when others options will be playing into the third quarter.

Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers (GB) vs. Oakland - $9,600

Quarterback is the position to allocate a large chunk of your salary cap on this week. There are a lot of backups worthy of potential back-end playing time, but with week three being the highest played game by starters, expect Rodgers to play the full first half. Rodgers torched the Rams to the tune of 128 yards and one touchdown on 11-13 passing last week. Moving forward the Packers still have some questions on offense to settle, including the tight end position and the No. 3 and No. 4 wide receiver spots. With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb occupying the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, Rodgers should have no issues tearing apart the Raiders secondary. Even if Rodgers playing time gets cut short, I expect him to be worth the high price.

Cam Newton (CAR) vs. New England - $9,000

Newton debuted last week against Kansas City coming off of his ankle surgery in the offseason. He had a quiet debut finishing 4-for-9 for 65 yards. But expect Newton to take the training wheels off this week and let loose a little more. The Panthers offense still has a lot of questions to be answered and with a new receiving core, the on-field chemistry is something that will need to be built sooner than later. Expect Newton to play the entire first half against the Patriots and to get his feet wet in a connection with rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who we’ll discuss more below.

Geno Smith (NYJ) vs. New York Giants - $7,000

Though Smith is typically not a popular name in the daily fantasy world, he is an attractive name this week due to reports he’ll be playing "two-plus quarters" in the Jets third preseason game. With value being tied directly related to playing time, Smith might provide the most bang for your buck this week. Though Smith hasn't been named the regular season starter yet, a good showing against the Giants could all but solidify him atop of the depth chart.

Blake Bortles (Jax) vs. Detroit - $5,400

I think this week it's smartest to focus on front-end starters rather than back-end, but if you rather have your quarterback being a guy to finish a game, Bortles is your best bet. Still in an unspoken battle with Chad Henne, Bortles looked strong last week against Chicago passing for 160 yards. He wasn't able to find the end zone, and he missed some midfield plays that could have drastically increased his on paper output. Bortles and Henne each saw 17 attempts last week and I expect them to split the workload pretty evenly again Friday. Bortles will also have the benefit of facing the Lions secondary that doesn't pose any real threat.

Position Rankings:

1. Aaron Rodgers (GB) vs. Oakland - $9,600
2. Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. Jacksonville - $9,300
3. Cam Newton (CAR) at New England - $9,000
4. Geno Smith (NYJ) vs. New York Giants - $7,000
5. Tom Brady (NE) vs. Carolina - $9,100
6. Eli Manning (NYG) at New York Jets - $6,600
7. Jay Cutler (CHI) at Seattle - $8,000
8. Matt Schaub (OAK) at Green Bay - $5,500
9. Blake Bortles (JAC) at Detroit - $5,400
10. Scott Tolzien(GB) vs. Oakland - $5,000

Running Back

I want to start with the disclaimer that the running back position is up in the air for week three of the preseason. The top three priced running backs (Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, and Marshawn Lynch) will likely see a light workload -- I expect less than 20 carries combined from the three workhorses. The next tier of running backs (Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, and the Patriots backfield) also poses way more questions than answers. Bush and Bell only saw a combined six carries in the Lions week two loss against Oakland, and we all know the Patriots logjam running back situation (Jonas Gray was the leading rusher last week). Most of your running-back production will come from the mid-priced options still in position battles.

Rashad Jennings (NYG) vs. New York Jets - $6,700

Jennings had a quiet night against the Colts rushing for 17 yards on seven carries last week. But with Andre Williams staring down his back, we will see more of a "battle mode" out of Jennings in week this weekend. The Giants offense has still yet to click and you know they would like to see that happen against their in-state rivals.

Chris Johnson (NYJ) vs. New York Giants - $6,500

Chris Ivory was held out of last week's preseason game, which led to Chris Johnson seeing an uptick in work. He finished the night with 10 carries for 63 yards. Though it seems the workload between Ivory and Johnson looks to be split, another strong showing from Johnson could lead to a slight increase in plays. Ivory is expected to play Friday, however if he is held out, Johnson's value would make him almost a must play. In a night where the top three guys probably won't produce at a high level, Johnson holds nice value.

Darren McFadden (OAK) vs. Green Bay - $6,200

Run DMC is one of the most talented backs in the NFL, but a history of injuries has prevented him from ever putting it all together. This year McFadden enters with a counterpart in Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD drew the start in last week, but McFadden had much more of a stake in the first team offense. His numbers didn't jump off the page with a modest 27 yards on eight carries, but he did find pay-dirt. He also got three consecutive carries at the goal line, a location that you would think was more tuned for Jones-Drew. Moving forward to week three against the Packers, look for McFadden to try to prove that he is still the top guy for the offense and that he deserves the goal-line work.

Jonathon Stewart (CAR) vs. New England - $4,600

DeAngelo Williams got the week two start but was quickly replaced by Stewart, who immediately busted a run for 17 yards. He finished last week's contest with two touchdowns, both coming on near goal-line carries. If he can leap Williams as the goal-line back, Stewart's production and general ADP in yearly leagues should increase greatly. For this week, expect to see more of the same. The Panthers would love to take the wear and tear off of Cam Newton for goal-line work, so expect this experiment to continue against the Patriots.

Position Rankings:

1. Rashad Jennings (NYG) at New York Jets - $6,700
2. Chris Johnson (NYJ) vs. New York Giants - $,6500
3. Joique Bell (DET) vs. Jacksonville - $6,800
4. Darren McFadden (OAK) at Green Bay - $6,200
5. Matt Forte (CHI) at Seattle - $9,300
6. Reggie Bush (DET) vs. Jacksonville - $7,800
7. Jonathon Stewart (CAR) vs. New England - $4,600
8. Andre Williams (NYG) at New York Jets - $5,000
9. Eddie Lacy (GB) vs. Oakland - $9,000
10. Robert Turbin (SEA) vs. Chicago - $4,600


Wide Receiver

Brandon Marshall (CHI) vs. Seattle - $8,100

Marshall played into the second quarter of the Bears contest against the Jaguars last week, making me believe he should play the entire first half Friday. His lone catch was a four-yard touchdown grab but he was targeted three times. I don't think the Bears will work Matt Forte too hard Friday and will focus more on the passing game.


Randall Cobb (GB) vs. Oakland - $7,600

During his three-reception, 34-yard performance against the Rams last week, we saw Cobb in the familiar role of possession wide receiver that he has displayed over his first two seasons in the NFL. Cobb is a threat all over the field, and if Rodgers plays the whole first half like he is set up to do, Cobb could be in line for a nice performance against a weak Oakland secondary.

Eric Decker (NYJ) vs. New York Giants - $6,400

I should first note that Decker is probable for Friday's game against the Giants with a quad injury, though he is expected to play. Once Decker suits up, he will act as the Jets No. 1 wide receiver in an offense that really needs to find an identity. Smith is setup to play into the third quarter and will want to show that he and Decker have formed some offensive chemistry.

Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) vs. New England - $4,900

With the departure of Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, the Panthers wideout core is looking to find its new identity. Benjamin and Newton have not had much on-field time together, with the rookie receiver only being targeted twice in their first game together. With Newton primed to see more action in week three, the same should be expected for Benjamin, who looks to become Newton’s go-to target to start the season. All reports from Panthers camp about the Kelvin-Cam connection have been positive, so this will be the week to see it in action.


Davante Adams (GB) vs. Oakland - $4,700

Though Adams has lost out to Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart, his role with the team is still going to be a large one. The second-round draft pick will look to increase on his two-reception, 28-yard performance against St. Louis. All of Adams' work came with backup quarterback Scott Tolzien, so if he can render the field at the same time as Aaron Rodgers, we will finally be able to see what a nice future connection Rodgers-to-Adams can provide.

Position Rankings:

1. Brandon Marshall (CHI) vs. Seattle - $8,100
2. Randall Cobb (GB) vs. Oakland - $7,600
3. Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. Oakland - $7,700
4. Alshon Jeffery (CHI) vs. Seattle - $7,800
5. Victor Cruz (NYG) at New York Jets - $6,900
6. Golden Tate (DET) vs. Jacksonville - $5,000
7. Eric Decker (NYJ) vs. New York Giants - $6,400
8. Percy Harvin (SEA) vs. Chicago - $7,000
9. Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) at New England - $4,900
10. Calvin Johnson (DET) vs. Jacksonville - $9,200

Tight End

Eric Ebron (DET) vs. Jacksonville - $5,400

With the top-priced Rob Gronkowski inactive the rest of the preseason and the second priced Greg Olsen's status in limbo, the tight end position is up for a lot of discussion and interpretation in this weekend. The Lions draw a great matchup against the Jaguars, and Ebron still has a lot to prove to line him up as the Week 1 starter. Ebron started last week’s contest against the Raiders, finishing with two receptions for 37 yards. He is going to need to continue to separate himself from Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria.


Andrew Quarless (GB) vs. Oakland - $4,800

The starting tight end battle is heating up in Green Bay with rookie Richard Rodgers breathing down Quarless' neck. Quarless did lead the Packers in receptions last week, hauling in four passes on five targets to the tune of 58 yards, but he did not draw the start. The 25-year-old is entering his fourth pro season and will need to spin a positive performance to avoid losing his job to the rookie. With Rodgers at the helm for a majority of the first half, all of the Packers offense is in play.

Position Rankings:

1. Martellus Bennett (CHI) at Seattle - $5,800
2. Eric Ebron (DET) vs. Jacksonville - 5,400
3. Andrew Quarless (GB) vs. Oakland - 4,800
4. Mychal Rivera (OAK) at Green Bay - $4,500
5. Marcedes Lewis (JAC) at Detroit - $4,600

Kicker

The general kicker philosophy for regular season applies to preseason as well: Find a kicker on a team you think is primed to score a lot of points. Look at Vegas odds and Over/Under lines and go from there. For preseason, look for a kicker who is the only one in camp or not in any form of job battle, though that should be majority.

Position Rankings:

1. Stephen Gostkowski (NE) vs. Carolina - $5,400
2. Mason Crosby (GB) vs. Oakland - $5,300
3. Steve Hauschka (SEA) vs. Chicago - 5,400

Defense

Green Bay (vs. Oakland) - $5,200

It is worth saving the few extra hundred by playing the Packers instead of the Seahawks or Panthers. The Bears will come out gunning and try to take advantage of a new Seahawks defense. The Patriots in Foxboro should be able to do due diligence against the Panthers. The Raiders, meanwhile, will be featuring Matt Schaub and Derek Carr throughout the night against a Packers defense that looks vastly improved from years past.

Position Rankings:

1. Seattle (vs. Chicago) - $5,7000
2. Green Bay (vs. Oakland) - $5,200
3. New York Giants (at New York Jets) - $5,200