FanDuel and DraftKings NFL Preseason Picks and Strategy
The start of the Fanduel and DraftKings NFL preseason kicks off the start of NFL DFS season and is the Thanksgiving to the Christmas morning that comes the first Sunday after labor day weekend. A day to be thankful, for sure, but also one that can spiral in the wrong direction if you fill up too quickly on sides and don’t plan appropriately. In this article we’ll walk through Fanduel and DraftKings NFL Preseason Picks and Strategy reminders to help you build smarter lineups in 2019.
We have a lot of awesome things in store for this coming NFL season including more podcast content (DFS coming soon!) than we’ve ever put out before and powering the season-long projections for RotoExperts as part of the Draft Kit. We are also making major upgrades to our NFL DFS Lineup Optimizer which will be live on Thursday and supporting NFL Preseason! Here is a link to the NFL Preseason DFS lineup optimizer.
New to the site? Here are a quick overview of the features:
- Build hundreds of lineups in minutes
- Customizable projections for Fanduel, DraftKings, and Yahoo (New!)
- Control Player Ownership
- Easy to use stacking
- Advanced Stacking, Team Stacking, and Groups
- Total Projected Ownership
- Shuffle (The GOAT) and Randomness (New!)
- Correlated Key Boosts (Coming Soon!)
- Integrated Floor and Ceiling Projections (New!)
- Upload your own projections (New!) or use ours
For Fanduel and DraftKings NFL Preseason DFS, our optimizer will be live Wednesday and will allow you to upload your own projections to easily configure lineups. And each week we’ll be writing up a preseason DFS blog to help you with the process.
While the days of 50% of people starting with dead money by rostering a guy like Tom Brady in Week 1 are over for DFS, there is still edge to be found by identifying the right news sources, things to look for, and building smart lineups. The biggest thing to target, no doubt, is snap count. As I wrote last year, snap count is no doubt the most important thing you can have in the preseason as your guys need to be on the field to produce fantasy points. I broke this down at a positional level:
Quarterback is the most predictable preseason position given there is typically good reporting on playing time and a higher volume of attempts at this position. While there may be more double-digit fantasy scores at other positions the ones at QB will be the easiest to identify. Do yourself a favor and don’t get too cute at this position. Pass attempts, driven by snap count, had a 0.8 correlation to DK points in my study making it a position not to get too cute.
Wide Receiver and Tight End positions also benefit tremendously from being on the field, to receive targets and especially on DraftKings rack up PPR points. Unfortunately, wide receiver information isn’t always as easy to come across, but the best we can do is try to decipher playing time. Snap count has a 0.63 correlation with DK performance for wide receivers. Given the extremely low volume of targets, I think you can take contrarian stands if you are uncertain about the source of news in the preseason. Ownership will congregate on some of the most “touted” plays and your comfort with eating preseason chalk should be driven by how reliable you think the news source is. Quotes directly from coaches should carry more weight than fan-driven blogs.
Running backs had a really strong higher correlation between snap count and production, with a 0.78 correlation between preseason snaps and fantasy performance. Running backs won’t have the same volume of touches as the QBs but it still is important for us to focus in on playing time. Additionally, in the preseason a disproportionate percentage of fantasy points will come through touchdowns. We want to be paying extra close attention to goal-line work particularly as the preseason wears and we have a more narrow pool of players running in the top 3rd of the depth chart.
You could do a hell of a lot worse than trying to project nothing but snap count in the preseason. Thin positional depth charts are Preseason NFL DFS gold.
The quarterback position is typically covered in a good deal of depth leading into training camps. The beat writers will often tweet not just what QBs we can expect to play but how long they’ll play for. With any lack of information beyond that, we’re forced to go to the depth charts. Here are the team level QB averages for last year. Week 1 = 16.9 DK, Week 2 = 16.2 DK, Week 3 = 14.0 DK, Week 4 = 15.3 DK. The team level QB performance is fairly flat, and while there are some spike weeks it generally is distributed around those averages. Splitting those averages out between 2, 3 or 4 QBs is more important than the skill of the players.
In general, the positional averages for a team don’t change a lot week-to-week so its the personnel we should pay most attention to. To create your own projection variations you could allocate out team averages:
Average Team Fantasy Points by Position (2019)
Obviously, within these, some teams may put up 24 points at QB and others just 8 but it is a helpful frame of reference considering the vegas totals for these games are often low.
The positional depth info must, of course, be combined with a depth chart – you can reference something like ourlads.com for this. Teams aren’t diligent about actually keeping the published depth chart order accurate so my recommendation is to combine this with research from beat writers and the team’s website themselves. Positional depth chart and team sources can shrink the player pool.
Week 1 Basics – Normal starters and veterans are irrelevant except in the thinnest of depth. If they see more than a series it still won’t matter. The lone exception here is a positional battle or unproven rookie. Last year’s highest-scoring QBs Week 1 were Chad Kelly, Baker Mayfield, and Colt McCoy.
Week 2 Basics – Starters become much more relevant but playing time is still uncertain. The best targets are high-quality backups or starters who are on teams with thin positional depth. Last week’s highest-scoring QBs included Nate Sudfield, Joshua Dobbs, Jameis Winston, Chase Daniel and Tom Brady.
Week 3 Basics – The highest scoring fantasy producers are likely to be starters, particularly at QB, but young players in key positional battles will often get a look with starters and 2nd team. This is the closest thing you will get to a dress rehearsal for a quarter or half of play. Last year’s highest-scoring QBs included Lamar Jackson, Andy Dalton and Patrick Mahomes.
Week 4 Basics – Start building your regular-season NFL teams instead. Just kidding. Sort of. If you must play, know that Danny Etling, AJ McCarron, EJ Manuel, and Kevin Hogan lead the QB scoring last year.
NFL “Healthy Depth” as of 7/29/2019 (Data via FantasyData.com)
At DailyRoto, we are a quantitatively driven company. That said, preseason is definitely a unique beast and is very driven by qualitative information. While we’re unlikely to get much sure-fire information there will certainly be stuff varying from reliable to purely speculative both by the NFL community and DFS writers. Because of that, I am definitely in favor of making a slightly – projected play if we have a strong + on the reliability of the info. I am also more likely to homer it up with teams that I follow closely and have a better pulse on the situation.
And of course a cautionary tale on preseason – we’ve got a lot of big things in store for this NFL season so be diligent about managing your bankroll until that comes!