NFL Preseason: Week 1 Saturday DraftKings & FanDuel Plays
The NFL season has finally arrived! With the kickoff of preseason DFS, now is your chance to plan and invest in a team that’ll make it all the way through. In anticipation for this football frenzy, we’ve prepared an exhaustive breakdown on each team’s strengths so you can begin strategizing accordingly. So what are you waiting for?
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NFL Preseason: Week 1 Saturday
Bryce Perkins – The Rams immediately stand out as an attractive DFS situation with their limited depth. Head coach Sean McVay already noted that Matthew Stafford and John Wolford will not play in this game. That leaves former Pittsburgh Steeler Devlin Hodges and Perkins. With only two active quarterbacks, Perkins should see plenty of action. More importantly, Perkins is a premier dual-threat. In his final two seasons in college at Virginia, Perkins rushed for 1,692 yards. He is an excellent play on the main slate.
Jordan Love – With Aaron Rodgers expected to sit out of preseason Week 1, Love projects to play quite a bit. The only other competition on the roster is Kurt Benkert, leaving Love to handle around half of the playing time. Love is the Packers’ 2020 first-round pick, indicating solid talent. He threw for over 3,400 yards in each of his final two seasons with Utah State while offering a small rushing floor.
Tyler Huntley – Baltimore remains thin at quarterback with Lamar Jackson not expected to play much, if at all. Trace McSorley is entrenched as the backup, leaving dual-threat Tyler Huntley to play most of Baltimore’s Week 1 preseason game. Huntley rushed for 1,146 yards in his career at Utah. Also a strong passer, Huntley completed 73.1% of his passes for 10.3 yards per attempt in his final season on his way to 3,092 passing yards.
Trey Lance – Drafted fourth overall by the San Francisco 49ers, Lance is expected to play upwards of 25-30 snaps. His elite dual-threat ability makes him a strong consideration. Lance rushed 1,100 yards and 14 scores in 2019 with North Dakota State.
Kurt Benkert – Benkert is also a solid option on the preseason slate for the reasons mentioned above. Benkert isn’t a dual-threat, but he threw for over 3,200 yards in his final season with Virginia. Benkert played solid in the 2019 preseason as well. He threw for 185 yards and a score in his lone game action.
Kyle Lauletta – Baker Mayfield will not play in Cleveland’s first preseason game. This leaves just Case Keenum and Lauletta on the roster. Keenum is a nine-year veteran and likely already solidified himself as the backup. This should leave Lauletta to play the entire second half and potentially more. Lauletta played his college ball at Richmond and passed for 3,737 yards in his final season. Lauletta has scrambling ability, but he doesn’t compare to some of the elite dual-threat options on this slate.
Kylin Hill – Similar to the quarterback room, Green Bay is also thin at running back. Select starters will not play in this game, meaning Aaron Jones sees little if any playing time. Similarly, year-two back A.J. Dillon looks likely to play limited snaps. This year’s a three-way battle between Dexter Williams, Patrick Taylor, and Hill for snaps. Williams is a long-time practice squad player for Green Bay, while Taylor enters his second season in a similar role. Green Bay drafted Hill in the seventh round after a productive career at Mississippi State. In 2019, Hill recorded 1,350 yards before opting out in 2020. He also had 63 catches in his final three seasons, including 2020, where he played just three games.
Jake Funk – Like Green Bay, Los Angeles is thin at running back following the injury to Cam Akers. The Rams notoriously sit all of their starters throughout the preseason, meaning Darrell Henderson also looks likely to miss the game. This leaves four running backs for the Rams in Xavier Jones, Funk, Raymond Calais, and Otis Anderson. The Rams drafted Funk in the seventh round after a breakout season with Maryland. Funk averaged 129 rushing yards per game in 2020 while catching multiple passes in all but one game. Funk didn’t have the most productive college career after suffering a pair of torn ACLs in 2018 and 2019. He is also 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, with a 4.49 40-yard dash. For the sake of comparison, Calais is 5-foot-8, 188 pounds, and Anderson stands 5-foot-8 179 pounds.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Tampa Bay enters NFL preseason DFS Week 1 with five healthy running backs. However, the top three already have solidified roles. Head coach Bruce Arians said the starters will see limited playing time, meaning Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and pass-catching specialist Giovani Bernard likely exit the game early. This leaves Vaughn and CJ Prosise to clean up the game. The Buccaneers spent the 76th overall pick on Vaughn last year and will now give him a chance to earn a roster spot. Vaughn stands 5-foot-10, 214 pounds, with a 4.51 40-yard dash. He barely saw the field for Tampa Bay last year, but he eclipsed 1,000 yards in each of his final two seasons with Vanderbilt while adding 41 catches.
Elijah Mitchell – San Francisco already has Jeff Wilson out with an injury. Raheem Mostert, Trey Sermon, and Kyle Juszczyk project for little playing time leaving Wayne Gallman, JaMycal Hasty, and Mitchell to clean up the backfield. Hasty already played with San Francisco last year, and Gallman is a four-year veteran. The 49ers drafted Mitchell in the seventh round as a hyper-athletic developmental prospect. Mitchell stands 5-foot-11, 201 pounds, with a 4.32 40-yard dash. He rushed for at least 875 yards in three straight seasons with Louisiana-Lafayette.
Ty’Son Williams – JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all project to see limited, if any, playing time this weekend. Baltimore is only carrying five running backs, leaving Nate McCrary and Ty’Son Williams to dominate the work. McCrary played at Saginaw Valley State, while Williams split time between North Carolina, South Carolina, and BYU. Williams’ best season came in 2017 with South Carolina, where he rushed for 471 yards and caught 21 passes. Williams had an injury-riddled career, including an ACL tear in his final college season with BYU.
Patrick Taylor – Mentioned above, Green Bay has an extremely thin depth chart at running back. Taylor initially started ahead of Kenny Gainwell before breaking his foot in his final season with Memphis. In 2017 and 2018, Taylor recorded 866 and 1,122 rushing yards, respectively.
Raymond Calais – Playing in a thin Rams’ backfield, Calais should see increased work with Jones and Funk expected to work earlier in the game. Calais is a small third-down back, but he rushed for 754 and 886 in his final two seasons with Louisiana-Lafayette.
Trishton Jackson – The Rams are also very thin at wide receiver, with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, DeSean Jackson, and Van Jefferson all expected to miss this game. Jackson played his college ball at Syracuse and recorded 1,023 yards as a senior in 2019.
Ben Skowronek – A day-three rookie out of Notre Dame, Skowronek battled injury in 2020. He is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, and caught 29 balls for 439 yards as a senior with the Irish. The Rams project to suit up seven healthy receivers.
James Proche – The Ravens look like they will have nine healthy receivers with Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, Miles Boykin, and Deon Cain injured. Sammy Watkins should also play minimal snaps. Competing for a role with Devin Duvernay and Tylan Wallace, Proche should see a solid workload here. Proche had four straight seasons of at least 700 receiving yards at SMU. He closed out his college career with 1,225 yards in his final season.
Cody Thompson – Seattle will play tonight’s game with nine healthy receivers, but two were signed this week to deal with injuries to D’Wayne Eskridge and Penny Hart. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett also shouldn’t play in this game. Freddie Swaim and John Ursua are also good plays, but Cody Thompson has excelled in camp. Thompson played his college ball at Toledo. He notched 1,269 receiving yards in 2016. Seattle is very thin, so any of Swaim, Ursua, Thompson, Cade Johnson, and Connor Wedington make sense as NFL preseason DFS picks.
Amari Rodgers – Thin at every position, Green Bay projects to suit up nine receivers. With Randall Cobb already familiar with Rodgers, the Packers may actually play with eight. Similarly, Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are veterans in the offense. Third-round rookie Rodgers likely gets an extended look. He caught 77 balls for 1,020 yards as a slot specialist at Clemson.
Kawaan Baker – Depleted at receiver, the Saints project to suit up seven receivers. A day-three 2021 NFL Draft pick, Baker played his college ball at South Alabama. Baker stands 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, and caught 51 balls for 659 yards as a senior in 2020.
David Sills – A trend on this slate, the Giants project to play nine receivers with injuries to Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and John Ross. Sills has been excelling at camp and should get extended run with the second team. Sills went over 900 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons with West Virginia. He is 6-foot-3, 201 pounds.
Josh Palmer – The Chargers are deep at receiver, but they project to play nine today. Palmer is a candidate for an extended role after getting drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Palmer only caught 33 balls for 475 yards in 2021, but Tennessee grossly misused him in college.
Devin Funchess – Mentioned above, Green Bay is thin at wide receiver. Funchess opted out last year, but he is shockingly just 27 years old. Funchess previously caught 63 balls for 840 yards in 2017. He will have to compete for a roster spot, but he should play a lot tonight.
John Ursua – Already mentioned above, Ursua benefits from a thin Seattle receiver room. Ursua has hung around Seattle’s roster since 2019. He caught 89 balls for 1,343 yards in his final season with Hawaii. He is a minuscule 5-foot-10, 165 pounds.
Lawrence Cager – The Jets are growing increasingly thin with Elijah Moore going down at receiver. Cager has been playing well at camp and even working ahead of Denzel Mims in spots. He caught 33 balls for 476 yards in his final season with Georgia in 2019.
Jeremiah Haydel – A back of the roster player for the Rams, Haydel could play most of the second half. Haydel is a UDFA rookie out of Texas State. He is 6-foot, 170 pounds, and caught 40 balls for 408 yards as a senior.
Landen Akers – Akers is in the same position as Haydel as a UDFA rookie out of Iowa State. Akers caught 18 balls for 269 yards as a senior with the Cyclones.
Brycen Hopkins – The Rams have four tight ends, with Tyler Higbee and Jacob Harris missing this game. Hopkins is a legit receiving weapon at the tight end position. Hopkins caught 61 balls for 830 yards as a senior with Purdue in 2019.
Noah Gray – Similar to the Rams, the Chiefs are only carrying four tight ends. The Chiefs drafted Gray in the fifth round after he caught 29 balls for 285 yards in 2020 with Duke.
Tre’ McKitty – Jared Cook isn’t expected to play much, if at all, in this game, leaving the Chargers with four tight ends. Matt Sokol is a pure blocker, leaving McKitty to clean up the second half at tight end. The Chargers drafted McKitty in the third round after he caught 23 balls for 241 yards with Florida State in 2019.
Matt Bushman – The Raiders have five healthy tight ends right now, but Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier are known commodities within the offense. The Raiders brought in Bushman this offseason after catching 47 passes for 688 yards with BYU in 2019.
Tanner Hudson – A perennial NFL preseason DFS hero, The Buccaneers project to sit Cameron Brate and play Rob Gronkowski for minimal snaps. O.J. Howard is also coming off a significant injury, leaving Hudson to project for a sizable workload here.
Thaddeus Moss – A pure receiving tight end, Moss has been having an excellent training camp. Joe Burrow won’t play in this game, but Moss has familiarity with Burrow from his LSU days. Moss caught 47 passes for 570 yards in 2019 with the Tigers.