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FanDuel Fantasy Football: Thursday 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 the last week of preseason football kicking off this week, FanDuel is once again offering it's unique preseason contests for Thursday'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. Keep in mind the final preseason game is the week starters see the least amount of playing time, so expect some funky lineups to be the ones that win this week.

Quarterback:

1. Tyrod Taylor (BAL) at NO - $5,000
2. Jimmy Garappolo (NE) at NYG - $5,000
3. Derek Carr (OAK) vs. Seattle - $5,400
4. Brock Osweiler (DEN) at DAL - $5,000
5. Teddy Bridgewater (MIN) at TEN - $6,100
6. Zach Mettenberger (TEN) vs. MIN - $5,200
7. Colt McCoy (WAS) at TB - $5,000
8. Brandon Weeden (DAL) vs. DEN - $5,000
9. David Fales (CHI) at CLE - $5,000
10. Joe Webb (CAR) at PIT - $5,000

Tyrod Taylor (BAL) at NO - $5,000

Taylor gets the nod at the top of my rankings this week due to his great, albeit quiet, preseason so far. He has completed 25-of-38 attempts for 250 yards and a touchdown. He has also rushed 12 times for 100 yards. With New Orleans resting their defensive starters, Taylor should be able to dominate the Saints on the ground and through the air while playing near the entire game.


Jimmy Garappolo (NE) at NYG - $5,000

New England's second-round draft pick is having a splendid preseason, completing 24-of-37 passes for 334 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. All signs point to Garappolo starting and playing the majority of the preseason finale. With Ryan Mallet and Garappolo battling for the backup job and the "quarterback of the future" job, this will be a critical showing.

Joe Webb (CAR) at PIT - $5,000

Second-string quarterback Derek Anderson is awaiting the birth of his child, fourth-stringer Matt Blanchard is recovering from a concussion, and starter Cam Newton is out with a hairline fracture. That leaves Joe Webb as the only active QB on the Panthers roster. Though I don't think he will light up a scoreboard, a guaranteed full game at QB can provide a lot of comfort for a position.

Running Back:

1. Bishop Sankey (TEN) vs. MIN - $6,600
2. Theo Riddick (DET) at BUF - $4,500
3. Dri Archer (PIT) vs. CAR - $4,500
4. Lorenzo Taliaferro (BAL) at NO - $4,500
5. Jeremy Hill (CIN) vs. IND - $5,400
6. Knile Davis (KC) at GB - $4,700
7. Ka'Deem Carey (CHI) at CLE - $5,200
8. C.J Anderson (DEN) at DAL - $5,200
9. Jerick McKinnon (MIN) at TEN - $4,500
10. LaMichael James (SF) at HOU - $4,600

Bishop Sankey (TEN) vs. MIN - $6,600

With Sankey falling down the depth chart as deep as four in Tennessee, he will have one more preseason opportunity to show that he deserves to be a go-to name in the Titans system. Shonn Greene, Leon Washington, and Dexter McCluster all got in the game before Sankey last week, though this week he gets a solid matchup against a weak Minnesota team. He has a lot of talent and a lot to prove, and though he carries risk in a week of uncertainty, Sankey tops the rankings.

Theo Riddick (DET) at BUF - $4,500

Neither Reggie Bush or Joique Bell should see the field in Thursday's preseason finale leaving Riddick, Mikel Leshoure, and George Winn to see the field. Riddick has been a shining star in camp and is pushing for the RB3 job in Detroit. Though his numbers through the first part of the preseason aren't too captivating, Riddick is primed for a strong performance in the finale.


Jerick McKinnon (MIN) at TEN - $4,500

The third rounder from Georgia Southern has shown flashes that have led to Darren Sproles comparisons. He is primed to get plenty of playing time behind Matt Asiata. Expect Asiata to start, but McKinnon to carry a bulk of the load. Minnesota/Tennessee holds one of the higher point totals on the night.


Wide Receiver:

1. Justin Hunter (TEN) vs. MIN - $4,800
2. DuJuan Harris* (GB) vs. KC - $4,500
3. Corey Washington (NYG) vs. NE - $4,500
4. Ryan Broyles (DET) at BUF - $4,500
5. Josh Morgan (CHI) at CLE - $4,500
6. Santana Moss (WAS) at TB - $4,500
7. Frankie Hammond (KC) at GB - $4,500
8. Da'Rick Rogers (IND) at CIN - $4,500
9. Jeff Janis (GB) vs. KC - $4,500
10. Aaron Dobson (NE) at NYG - $4,900

Justin Hunter (TEN) vs. MIN - $4,800

I should note that reports on Hunter's playing time this week haven’t been made yet. I would have to assume he gets plenty of run tonight still as there is nothing stating he will not play. If he does play, Hunter will be one of the most talented, hottest names to suit up tonight. Note that wide receiver is beyond bare bones tonight. Most 1-2 punches are not suiting up across all 32 teams. Hunter's been doing well all preseason, and there’s little reason to believe he won't continue that success against Minnesota.

DuJuan Harris* (GB) vs. KC - $4,500

In what I like to call the biggest error by FanDuel this week, Harris of the Packers is listed as a wide receiver and not a running back. I should clarify that Harris is, and has always been, a running back. However, in a week where wideout is a lot harder to predict than any other position, use this to your advantage. Eddie Lacy won't play in Thursday's finale and backup James Starks will see limited time. Harris will see the bulk of the work and has been a popular dump-off target for both Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn.

Corey Washington (NYG) vs. NE - $4,500

Undrafted rookie Corey Washington has caught touchdown passes in each of the Giants first three preseason games. With Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle more than likely sitting this one out, Washington will once again have time to shine. Aside from his touchdown streak, he will still be battling for a roster spot with Preston Parker and Julian Talley.

Tight End:

1. Travis Kelce (KC) vs. GB - $4,500
2. Vance McDonald (SF) at HOU - $4,500
3. Jace Amaro (NYJ) at PHI - $4,500
4. Lance Kendricks (STL) at MIA - $4,500
5. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TB) at WAS - $4,500

Travis Kelce (KC) vs. GB - $4,500

Much like Justin Hunter, Kelce is the most talented player at his position that should play Thursday. Again, it hasn’t been reported whether Hunter will suit up or not, but there is no real reason to expect him to sit. He has caught 10 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns this preseason.

Jace Amaro (NYJ) at PHI - $4,500


Amaro had a rough camp entering the preseason. It wasn't until last week that he emerged as a target and what could be a big piece to the Jets offense. Amaro caught four passes for 37 yards, including one touchdown and got a lot more work on pass blocking this past week. I like to give an edge to any rookie in the last preseason game, as they will need the on-field reps to prepare them for their first taste of regular season football.

Defense:

1. Seattle (at OAK) - $5,700
2. San Francisco (at HOU) - 5,600
3. Pittsburgh (vs. CAR) - $5,200


Defenses this week are a “pick your poison” situation. Most on-field matchups are going to be third string vs. third string, leaving very unpredictable situations to arise. The safest here is to target your defense as if it was a regular season game. Seattle's backups should be able to handle Oakland's, so on and so forth.

Kicker:

1. Blair Walsh (MIN) - $5,000
2. Justin Tucker (BAL) - $5,200
3. Dan Bailey (DAL) - $5,300

These three kickers will play in the games with the highest Over/Under line moving into Thursday. And none of the three have direct backup competition.

Notes:

You will have between $15,000 and $20,000 remaining on your salary once you assemble a team. Do not try to use the money to get cute with anything, as most players that will see extended playing time are $4,500.