Playing NFL games on DraftKings or FanDuel is no longer just about the regular season and playoffs. Some of the most intriguing, challenging – and profitable – slates of the NFL season are played in August, won by players who might never see a snap in a regular-season game.
Preseason NFL DFS is becoming as popular as the real thing, which starts September 9. DraftKings offers full slates and showdown contests for every day of NFL preseason, starting with the Hall of Fame Game right on through the Week 3 games in late August. But playing preseason
DFS requires an entirely different mindset than regular-season or playoff contests. You know you’re in a different style of game-play when you realize every player and defense is priced at $5,500 on DraftKings – you can literally play anyone and everyone at their position. But, clearly, it’s not that easy.
Understanding why you’re picking players you might have never heard of before is half the battle on the way up the leaderboards. Let’s take a deep dive into preseason NFL strategy and uncover some of the tricks that lead to successful entries.
Knowledge Is Power
The key to preseason football DFS is channeling your inner George Costanza and doing the opposite. If you’ve attended or watched enough NFL preseason games, especially in Week 1, you understand that other than the Week 3 “dress rehearsals,” the stars that stir the DFS drink during the regular season barely see the field in preseason games.
Playing a bunch of first-teamers like Patrick Mahomes or Julio Jones is often a recipe for disaster in a large-field preseason tournament. The key is identifying the players that are going to see the field for the longest amount of time – usually a full half or even three quarters. Time is money in preseason DFS, the greater the volume of snaps, the greater the chance of racking up yards, catches, and hopefully, touchdowns.
But finding these high-volume plays requires a bit of dedication and research, and when we say research, we really mean Twitter.
Particularly on gameday afternoons, Twitter is an incredibly valuable resource in determining which players to target in your DFS lineups. Individual team beat writers, especially the ones who, over the last few years, have embraced the importance of such intel to the DFS community, will share coaches’ thinking on who they want playing the largest amount of snaps in games, and which players are likely to sit or only play a series or two.
Finding those players who are slated by the coaching staff to play large chunks of games, especially at quarterback, is critical. Twitter is also a tremendous resource for finding out which players are not dressing, which can open up an opportunity for a lesser-known player to be thrust into a high-volume role.
If you are truly dedicated and want to get a leg up on your competition – or at least keep up because surely most preseason DFS players are doing the same thing – monitor news out of camp in the days leading up to the slate you intend to play. Finding out which players are making the most positive noise in practice could lead to success on game day.
Is First Foremost?
We mentioned above that playing first-stringers is often a trap.
Casual DFS players make this mistake often, especially in Week 1 of the preseason, when veterans almost never see the field. But starting in 2021, this conventional like of thinking may require an adjustment. With only three weeks of preseason games, instead of four, some coaches may allow their first-teamers to play extended series in Week 2, and possibly an entire half or more in Week 3, with nearly two weeks before the start of the regular season.
Again, Twitter is the prime source for intel on how coaches plan to use their regulars in the final two weeks of the new, truncated preseason. If the Packers decide to go with the first unit for a full quarter in Week 2, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams become an intriguing stack option, even if the backups are likely to see the field for longer periods of time. Just be certain – as much as anyone can be – that the starters are going to see the field for more than one series.
Prepare To Battle
The place to concentrate your focus is often the rookie quarterbacks expected to make an immediate impact and the running backs and wide receivers in major position battles to make the team. In Week 1 last weekend we saw Justin Fields put up a huge game in his Bears’ debut, and Mac Jones and Trey Lance, to a lesser extent, for the Patriots and 49ers. They are going to see the field each week as the coaching staff wants them up to game speed as quickly as possible, especially Fields, who could well emerge as the starter in Chicago very quickly.
For the most part, running backs and wide receivers who have locked up their roles do not see much of the field in the preseason, save the dress rehearsal game in Week 3. It’s the backup positions where players will get the biggest opportunities, and those players should be your targets.
For the third time — check Twitter to see how these camp battles are playing out and on game day, who is expected to play the most to earn a spot on the team.