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NFL Preseason DFS: Why and How to Successfully Play and Win



Ya, hear that? The sounds of shoulder pads hitting against each other? How about the smell of sweat? These are the tell-tale signs that NFL season is coming. Some teams got their training camps started last week, with the veterans and the remaining teams getting starting this week. For them, it means back on the #footballgrind, but for us, DFS degenerates, it means the action is back! Have you ever played NFL Preseason DFS? Well, if you are new to the game this is the perfect introductory article to learn more about the approach.

In my previous pieces on Win Daily, I have referenced how roster construction is more important than actually playing the best players. I have also highlighted the importance of opportunity when playing regular-season NFL Preseason DFS. But here’s the paradigm when it comes to NFL preseason DFS; It’s all about who is playing in the games. It has nothing to do with hammering down player values. This is because on both DraftKings and FanDuel players are virtually priced the same across the board. Choosing the correct players can be quite challenging considering that teams can have up to 90-man rosters at the beginning of training camp.

However, it does not matter how good they are or what team they play for. Snaps, opportunities, and attempts are the key factors to taking home cash from an NFL preseason DFS slate. 10-12 touches from a scrub are better than one to two touches from an elite player. Often times information is announced very close to kickoff. It is unlike the standard in the regular season, where teams are required to list who is active or inactive. In the preseason this is not required.

News and Information Is Key

If you are to succeed at NFL Preseason DFS, you have to be able to submit your lineups and pivot just minutes before they lock.

The best way to look for the most up to date news on terms of players being active or seeing a lot of usages might seem obvious, but it comes down to using Twitter. Keep smashing that refresh button. Fellow fantasy football analyst Geoff Lambert of has actually created a unique list that you can subscribe here that is filled with NFL Beat Writers that you need to follow for NFL Preseason DFS. John Paulsen of also has a great list of beat writers that can be a useful source of news.

Per an example as of July 22, 2019 news broke that Bears running back David Montgomery is going to see plenty of carries in the preseason via head coach Matt Nagy. These are the types of news blurbs that you need to follow to be successful in this format of DFS. I will continue to keep my content as up to date myself, whether it be on my own personal Twitter or through the preview articles throughout the preseason.

NFL Preseason DFS Roster Construction

For the most part during the preseason teams in the first week usually, have the first-team unit play one series if they play at all. So starters can be easily eliminated as options in Week 1 of the preseason. Then the second team finishes out the first half, with the third and fourth teams completing the second half of the game. But this pattern changes throughout the preseason. In Week 2 you might see one or two more series or one quarter from the starters, which is just less time for the backups.

Then in Week 3 starters usually play for the first-half, followed by Week 4 where they probably will not play at all. This is the game that will heavily highlight third and fourth stringers or players that teams might be trying to “show off” to generate trade bait or roster spots elsewhere.

It’s also worth noting looking at the history of player performances/usage in the preseason from a coaching and player production standpoint. For example, we know that Sean McVay will not play any of his starters in the preseason, especially a guy like Todd Gurley and that hurts the offense overall for the preseason.

Player Projection

Last year the Rams ranked last in preseason yards per game (196). Starters Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Gerald Everett, and Tyler Higbee saw little to no playing time. The fourth and fifth string running backs from last season, John Kelly and Nick Holley, led the teams in rushing attempts. Sean Mannion and Brandon Allen were the two backup quarterbacks that played the majority of snaps. Projecting it forward you would assume that the Rams will most likely use Blake Bortles a lot in the preseason, while Allen competes with former Alliance of American Football quarterback John Wolford. It’s very important to have at least some familiarity or background on the player you are starting in your DFS lineup.

There are times that DraftKings and FanDuel will list players that are not even on the teams anymore! Fortunately as a tool to combat this utilize that features unofficial depth charts. Again, Geoff Lambert has been at NFL preseason DFS for years now. Geoff also makes a great point that fading hyped-up rookies early on in favor of backups with five years of NFL experience is the better approach, especially early on in the preseason. So Mike Davis over David Montgomery Week 1 of the preseason? But realistically, the most valuable piece of your lineup needs to be your defense.

Defense Matters

Defenses are great in the preseason because of the fact that you do not need to project playing time or opportunity with them.

  • Guaranteed to be out there on the field.
  • Start and play the entire game.
  • They also get the chance to play against fourth-string quarterbacks, which can quickly create a plethora of turnovers.

The preseason also features much less scoring in comparison to the regular season. Looking at last preseason via during Week 1, not one game had an under/over above 37. Compare that to the regular season where each game had an under/over at least at 41.

There Is No Cash Gaming

Play GPPs. We all know the amount of variance that exists in regular-season NFL DFS, so just imagine it increasing by tenfold. According to FantasyLabs on the Action Network here are few nuggets that should keep your bankroll in the tournaments.

  • It’s not uncommon to see inactive players have double-digit ownership – Casual fans are too uninformed
  • In 2018, the Hall of Fame Showdown Slate last season on DraftKings saw nine (30%) of the 30 players with the highest ownership rates declared inactive either an hour before the game or well in advance of it.

Andrew has come a long way as a fantasy football writer. After graduating from Roger Williams University where he received a degree in marketing he began to write his own fantasy blogs via He used to call himself the Fantasy Football Master. Nowadays, he is slightly more humble. He has worked with Pro Football Focus as a base data analyst along with bringing head writing experience from Gridiron Experts and FantasyData. He is an absolute die-hard Patriots fan and will never forget his first fantasy football team. In his first-ever fantasy football league he drafted the Bears defense in the 1st round. He then proceeded to win the entire league. #DefenseWinsChampionships

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