The preseason comes to a merciful conclusion on Thursday night with 15 games (see note below on No. 16). For DFS players, however, the past three weeks have been a roller-coaster ride of backup players and cameo starters, making for a truly unique lineup-building experience. Amazingly, the regular season will be almost boring compared to the Twitter-storming and speculating that’s been going on since early August.
This week is, for the most part, all about the backups. Some teams will be playing some starters, but for fantasy purposes, we are looking for the high-volume guys, especially at quarterback. Some will play the entire 60 minutes and will be popular for good reason. Others will play slightly less, but make for interesting, lower-owned options. Here is our take on the quarterback position on this final preseason slate.
Washington-Tampa Bay Buccaneers "Postponement"
For those who might be unaware, an impending tropical storm moved this game back to Wednesday, taking them off the slate on sites like DraftKings. If you have players from this game still in your lineups, get them out immediately.
As for Thursday…
Paxton Lynch (Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals)
Lynch is shaping up as the play of the night, as he is expected to play the entire game against the Cardinals. That kind of volume is going to be hard to pass up, and that should make Lynch the chalk of the slate. This might be enough to make him a fade, especially on the road against the Cardinals, where volume might not equal production.
Jameill Showers (Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans)
Showers will also be playing the entire game for his team, and it might be worth remembering that the headlines in Dallas early in August were about Showers outplaying Dak Prescott in practice. Now that Prescott is starting Week 1, he is out of this game and Showers gets the keys to the car for the entire contest. Last week, Showers was 10-of-17 for 113 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks in Seattle. Think he might improve on that at home for an entire game? He’s the perfect pivot off Lynch.
Keith Wenning (Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts)
It bears reminding that the Colts are decimated on defense right now, especially in the secondary. AJ McCarron isn’t expected to play much more than a quarter, if that much, so Wenning could get enough run to put up good numbers at what should be a low ownership.
Bryce Petty (New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles)
Keep an eye on whether the Jets further clarify the time distribution between Petty and Christian Hackenberg, but with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith already ruled out, the odds of Petty playing at least a half, and possibly three quarters, seem pretty good. Petty has shown flashes this preseason and the Jets still have receiver roster spots to decide, so they might be throwing a decent amount in this one. If word comes that Petty will play the majority of snaps, he’s a solid choice.
Stephen Morris (Colts at Bengals)
Morris has quietly been one of top overall quarterbacks this preseason among backups and he is expected to get a long look against the Bengals as he solidifies his position as the Colts’ No. 3 QB. The reserve Bengals defense made the Jaguars look like the 2000 Rams on Sunday night, and they have the shortest turnaround of any team on this slate (besides the Jags, of course). Morris is worth a look here.
Joel Stave (Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Rams)
The moment Teddy Bridgewater went down on Tuesday, DFSers were already wondering about the playing time for Shaun Hill, and his place as a top option on this slate. It now appears that Hill, having been promoted to starter by default, will see limited action at best, and might not play at all. That means Stave will have the keys to the car against the Rams. Can he be trusted to turn his volume into production? Thus far in preseason, the indications are no, and this is already a short week for the reeling Vikings. He definitely carries some risk.
Chase Daniel (Eagles vs. Jets)
The only thing holding Daniel back this week is that he’s only expected to play one half. Is that enough to match the potential numbers put up by QBs getting three quarters or more? It just might. It goes to the heart of all questions on this slate. Does volume automatically equal production? If you believe Daniel can match anyone on the board in less time, he’s certainly worth considering.
Matt Barkley (Cardinals vs. Broncos)
Speaking of volume and production. Barkley is a perfect example. He is expected to play the majority of this game. Lots of volume. But it’s Matt Barkley against the Broncos. He has not looked particularly sharp this preseason and even the Broncos reserves are no slouches on defense. He should be lower owned, so if he puts it together, he’s going to help people. But will he put it together?
Christian Ponder (San Francisco 49ers at San Diego Chargers)
How cute do you want to get? Blaine Gabbert is not playing and while Colin Kaepernick will take the field, it might only be long enough to interest teams like the Vikings and Cowboys to make a trade, but probably not much more than a quarter. Kaepernick’s long-term future with the 49ers is tenuous at best, for both on- and off-the-field reasons. Does that open the door for Ponder to be the backup? If so, does that earn him extra run against a less-than-stellar Chargers defense? It would take a lot of courage to go there, but it’s certainly something to … ponder (sorry).
Jimmy Garoppolo (New England Patriots)
Even Jimmy G. said Tuesday he doesn’t know yet if he will be suiting up against the G-Men, but even if he does (and Tom Brady, for that matter), it’s hard to imagine it being for more than a quarter. There’s too many other options than a player getting maybe two or three series.
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) and Robert Griffin III (Cleveland Browns)
Speaking of which, both Brees and RGIII are expected to play a quarter in their games Thursday, which seems incredibly risky, and would also be risky from a DFS standpoint, as the volume won’t be there for this guys. We’ve talked about volume and production, but even the best QBs in the league can only do so much in one quarter. Let the novice players take them. You can win with the smart plays at the top of the article.