With the cancellation of last Sunday night’s Hall of Fame Game, Thursday night marks the official opening of Week 1 of the NFL preseason. If you are reading this, you’re likely familiar with NFL daily fantasy from the regular season, but the preseason is a completely different animal. Being in tune with depth charts, injuries, and preseason coaching philosophy is essential. While Cam Newton, Julio Jones, Jordan Reed, etc. are top-notch plays each and every week of the regular season, that’s simply not the case in Week 1 of the preseason. Starters typically only play one series, maybe two, before grabbing a Gatorade and a ball cap and calling it a night. Heck, some starters don’t even play in the exhibition opener. While it’s possible a starting quarterback will lead two touchdown drives, it’s not the smart play to use a Kirk Cousins or Blake Bortles this week. Snaps equal opportunity, and the backups will be the ones playing te bulk of those snaps. The second- and third-team offenses usually get the most run. Here at Rotoworld, we know depth charts from top to bottom like the back of our hands. That gives us a monster edge right out of the gate. And since we are on Twitter, following beat reporters and reading practice reports on a daily basis from morning to night, we also have a firm grasp — for the most part — of even the smallest injuries. Knowledge is power in this game. It’s a six-game slate Thursday night. Below, I list every player I’ll be considering for Preseason DFS lineups.
Editor's Note: For updated rankings, projections, player profiles, positional tiers, mock drafts, sleepers and busts, exclusive columns and plenty more, check out our Draft Guide!
Bucs at Eagles, 7 PM ET
Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins — Immature at times throughout his first two-plus years in the league, Seferian-Jenkins is a player in need of a strong training camp and preseason. The 23-year-old was kicked out of practice during the spring. And coach Dirk Koetter has since been trying to send ASJ a message by working him with the backups at training camp and routinely praising second-year UDFA Cameron Brate through the media. Brate has been the No. 1 all summer. ASJ could get a ton of run with Mike Glennon and the second-team offense Thursday night and would probably be Glennon’s go-to target. The Bucs want to see Seferian-Jenkins work his tail off and play well.
Bucs QB Mike Glennon — Speaking of Glennon, he’s one of the better quarterback options on the board. Entering his fourth season — and the final year of his rookie contract — Glennon has a good grasp of the NFL and gets to go up against the Eagles’ second unit. He’ll likely play 2-3 quarters. Philadelphia’s starting defense doesn’t look very good on the back end, so it’s hard to imagine its second-teamers playing well. The Bucs could give Glennon some extra burn if they’re trying to showcase him for a trade. By all accounts, Tampa Bay really likes No. 3 QB Ryan Griffin.
Eagles RB Kenjon Barner — Ryan Mathews (ankle) just came off the PUP list last Friday. Even if he plays, he won’t be in there long. Darren Sproles is a 33-year-old with nothing to prove. He might play a series. Rookie Wendell Smallwood (quad) has been ruled out. That leaves Barner and a pair of undrafted rookies, Byron Marshall and Cedric O’Neal, at running back. Barner averaged 4.0 YPC and caught four balls for 72 yards last preseason. He can run it and catch it and doesn’t have to compete with many running backs for snaps. With DraftKings being PPR scoring, it’s a smart idea to look for backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield. Barner may also return kicks.
Eagles RB Byron Marshall — Marshall is super interesting as an UDFA out of Oregon. He’s a RB-turned-WR who is back at RB, so he obviously has some pass-catching skills. His pass-protection has also been a plus this summer, according to Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski. That’s the quickest way to playing time in this league; if he can block, the coaches can trust him to play on third downs. Marshall probably won’t carry the ball much, but he could be the recipient of some Carson Wentz dump-offs. Marshall is 5’9/201 and runs a 4.56. He scored 27 TDs in college.
Eagles TE Trey Burton — On Wednesday, Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski nominated Burton as “perhaps the biggest standout” at Eagles camp. Kempski was also singing Burton’s praises last week, saying he was “balling, every single day” at practice. Criminally underused by ex-coach Chip Kelly, the QB-turned-WR-turned-TE is expected to be a big part of the offense in 2016 with the Eagles possibly looking to use more two- and three-tight end sets. He’s still the No. 3 tight end in Philly, so he should get plenty of run as the No. 1 with the second-team offense. An athletic 6’3/235 in the Jordan Reed-Aaron Hernandez mold, Burton is a difficult matchup for defenses. With not much to write home about at receiver, Burton could be Chase Daniel’s go-to man Thursday.
Redskins at Falcons, 7 PM ET
Redskins QB Colt McCoy — McCoy was a preseason darling last year, completing 41-of-57 passes (71.9 percent) for 416 yards (7.3 YPA) and a 4:0 TD:INT ratio. The Redskins still have just three quarterbacks on their roster, and starter Kirk Cousins won’t play much more than a series or two. That’ll leave the rest of the first half and much of the third quarter to McCoy and the second-team offense. Rookie Nate Sudfeld will get the fourth quarter. McCoy is a veteran and has the ability to pick apart backup defenses made up of first- and second-year players just trying to crack a roster.
Redskins RB Keith Marshall — Marshall was taken in the seventh round of April’s draft, but is a size-speed freak at 5’11/222 after blazing a 4.31 forty at the Combine. He was Todd Gurley’s backfield counterpart at Georgia before tearing his ACL in 2013. Marshall tumbled down the depth chart after his injury but has landed in a great spot with the Redskins and is “firmly entrenched” as a top-three back. Expect Marshall to carry the rock with McCoy and the No. 2 offense. Matt Jones will work with the ones, and Chris Thompson is nothing more than a pedestrian satellite back. Marshall is dripping with upside.
Redskins WR Rashad Ross — A preseason All-Pro last year, Ross led all receivers in catches (25), yards (266), and touchdowns (four). He was second to Jaguars WR Bryan Walters (134) in yards after catch at 127. Ross is a featherweight at 6’/167, but ran a 4.36 forty at his Pro Day in 2013. Ross and Ryan Grant figure to see the most playing time with McCoy and the No. 2 offense.
Panthers at Ravens, 7:30 PM ET
Ravens TE Maxx Williams — Ben Watson is entering his age-36 season and may not play at all. Dennis Pitta is out with a sprained finger following a training camp fight last week. And Crockett Gillmore is recovering from a hamstring injury and offseason surgery on his shoulder. This is all about opportunity for Williams, last year’s No. 55 overall pick. He should be on the field a ton Thursday. Williams has monster hands and long arms at 6’4/257. He drew some Greg Olsen comparisons as the premiere pass-catching tight end in the 2015 draft class coming out of Minnesota.
Ravens WR Keenan Reynolds — Reynolds has had a terrible training camp, dropping too many passes and muffing punts. But Reynolds was the talk of the team at OTAs and minicamp. The 5’10/190 rookie speedster (4.57 forty) was a triple-option quarterback at Navy. The Ravens are trying to find a place for him as a gadget running back-wide receiver player. Expect him to get a ton of run with the second and third teams. Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles’) and Breshad Perriman (knee) aren’t going to play, and Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace probably will only see minimal action.
Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon — Terrance West has been the talk of camp as the Ravens’ “best offensive weapon,” but Dixon figures to get plenty of run as a pass-catching specialist who can also run between the tackles. Both backs are on the radar for Thursday, but Dixon gets the edge on DraftKings because of the PPR factor. Justin Forsett may only play a series or two, with Buck Allen mixing in behind him and finishing out the first quarter. Dixon and West are likely to work with Ryan Mallett’s group much of the second and third quarters. Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) remains on PUP. Stephen Houston was signed eight days ago and rounds out the depth chart.
Panthers QB Joe Webb — Cam Newton isn’t going to play more than a handful of snaps, and the Panthers already know what they have in veteran backup Derek Anderson and likely don’t want him to get hurt. Webb is the only other passer on the roster and was 10th among all quarterbacks in snaps played last preseason. Webb frustrates as a passer, but the former receiver has dual-threat ability with 4.45 speed. Webb should get most of the second half to himself.
Jaguars at Jets, 7:30 PM ET
Jaguars WR Bryan Walters — Walters earned a roster spot in 2015 with his performance last preseason. The 6’/190 slot receiver led the league with 134 yards after catch and was Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 receiver last summer. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns aren’t going to be in the game very long, leaving a ton of reps for Marqise Lee (if healthy), Rashad Greene, and Walters. Chad Henne will be chucking the passes, and as more of a check-down artist, he’ll likely lock in on Walters.
Jets WR Kenbrell Thompkins — Thompkins is #notgood, but expect him to play a ton behind Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who will only be making cameo appearances. Thompkins and Quincy Enunwa are the next men up with sophomore Devin Smith (knee) still on the PUP list. Geno Smith is a competent quarterback when the competition is dumbed down like it will be on Thursday.
Jets TE Jace Amaro — Amaro’s first two NFL seasons have mostly been lost years. He played just six snaps last preseason before suffering a torn labrum and missing the entire year. The Todd Bowles coaching staff has yet to get a good look at the 2014 second-round pick. Amaro has had an up-and-down training camp, but with no talent at tight end, the coaches will surely want to get Amaro plenty of snaps to see if he can give the team a pass-catching threat at the position.
Jets RB Dominique Williams — Williams is mostly an unknown as a third-year UDFA out of small-school Wagner. But he’s expected to play a ton in the preseason opener. Matt Forte (hamstring) isn’t going to play, and Khiry Robinson (leg) just came off PUP on Monday and seems unlikely to suit up. Bilal Powell will play a few snaps with the ones and hit the showers. NJ Advance Media’s Connor Hughes expects Williams to be the second running back in the game for Gang Green. With Romar Morris and Matthew Tucker the only other backs on the roster, Williams could see 12-15 touches.
Saints at Patriots, 7:30 PM ET
Saints WR Brandon Coleman — I’m having a tough time predicting who is going to play more with the second-team offense, Coleman or rookie Michael Thomas. Both are intriguing plays, but Coleman might get more playing time on Thursday. It’s also possible both youngsters play much of the first half and into the second half. Coleman led all Saints receivers in snaps played last preseason and is again competing for a role behind Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. Undrafted rookie WR Tommylee Lewis has also been making noise at Saints camp and is another New Orleans wideout on the radar.
Saints RB Marcus Murphy — Mark Ingram missed much of the first week of training camp with an injury and just returned to practice Monday. If he plays, it won’t be much. Though they’re competing for roles, gray-beards Tim Hightower and C.J. Spiller likely won’t play significant snaps with the Saints already knowing what they have in them. Murphy was an electric kick returner and space back at Mizzou. He led all Saints running backs with seven catches last preseason, averaging 11.9 YPR. Murphy has campaigned for a bigger offensive role since last season ended, and he’s going to need to show out this summer for that to happen. Murphy, Travaris Cadet, and rookie Daniel Lasco should get the bulk of the work out of the backfield for New Orleans in the exhibition opener.
Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo — Garoppolo will probably be the “chalk” at quarterback Thursday night, especially if Tom Brady sits and Garoppolo gets the start. The Patriots are trying to prepare Garoppolo to start the first four weeks of the regular season, so he could conceivably play close to three full quarters Thursday before rookie Jacoby Brissett enters the game sometime in the second half. Garoppolo attempted the fourth-most passes (80) among all passers last preseason.
Patriots WR Aaron Dobson — It’s a miracle Dobson has been able to stay healthy this long. He drew praise from coach Bill Belichick last week for his work in the spring and early in camp. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Dobson has to make an impression this preseason and should get every opportunity to do so. He’ll likely see some reps with the ones and continue to play with the twos. Dobson and rookie Malcolm Mitchell figure to play the most snaps out wide for New England. Julian Edelman (foot) is unlikely to play. The same can be said for Chris Hogan (shoulder) and Danny Amendola (knee, PUP). Keshawn Martin missed practice Tuesday and figures to be doubtful.
Broncos at Bears, 8 PM ET
Broncos WR Cody Latimer — It’s now or never for Latimer. He’s lasted this long in Denver simply because of his draft pedigree. The 2014 second-rounder has just eight regular-season catches through two seasons and is facing the heat for a roster spot this summer. All four of Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor, and Jordan Norwood are pushing for spots behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Latimer and Fowler were listed as the second-team receivers on the Broncos’ first training camp depth chart, so look for them to mix in with Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian much of the first half and possibly into the third quarter. Latimer led all Broncos receivers in snaps last season with 125. Isaiah Burse was the next closest with 103 plays.
Broncos RB Devontae Booker — Booker drew rave reviews for his receiving ability out of the backfield in the spring. He’s had a quiet camp, but that can be viewed as a good thing, as he’s not making many mistakes. C.J. Anderson isn’t going to play much, and the Broncos already have a good idea of Ronnie Hillman. Booker and Kapri Bibbs are the only other running backs on the roster. Both are expected to play a ton. Don’t put it past the Broncos to get Booker 18-plus touches, especially with coach Gary Kubiak implementing the run game more into this year’s offense.
Bears WR Deonte Thompson — Thompson was a big-play threat for the Bills last preseason, reeling in a 51-yard touchdown and having a few other long passes fall incomplete. At 6’/205, Thompson has long been an intriguing talent thanks to his combination of size and speed (4.31 forty). The converted cornerback also returns kicks. Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Kevin White (leg) are going to be eased into this one for a handful of plays before exiting stage left. Marquess Wilson (foot) is on PUP. Thompson, Marc Mariani, and Josh Bellamy should lead the Bears’ receivers in snaps. Mariani is merely a slot possession-type who was sapped of his big-play ability due to an early-career injury. Bellamy is more of a special teams ace in kick coverage. Thompson has the game-breaking speed and figures to play most of the second, third, and fourth quarters.