As the calendar flips to August we are finally back to having NFL games on DraftKings. There’s no better way to kick off the NFL than with some preseason DFS. We start by diving headfirst into Thursday (8/1) night’s Hall of Fame Game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. Currently, the game via the FanDuel Sportsbook is favoring the Broncos at -3, and the under/over line is set at 34. In this article, I will not only provide you the information you need for this specific matchup but also dive into the strategies behind the best approach at winning the showdown. Keep in mind that this approach will be slightly different as this is preseason DFS.
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The Showdown on DraftKings or NFL Showdown Captain Mode sets the stage for an epic contest. How it differs from traditional contests on Sundays is that it features just six players to the roster. The caveat being one is slotted in as your captain. The captain spot is unique in those players drafted earn 1.5x fantasy point values. They also cost 1.5x their normal price, but in this case, in preseason DFS it does not matter! DraftKings has been courteous enough to make every single salary for $11,400. Finding the right player for your captain spot will be especially important to winning because the value is flat with the salary structure.
In the captain spot for cash games, you would traditionally lean to a player with a high floor. Kickers, for example, have that safety blanket. Conversely, in GPPs, you want to have someone with a high ceiling in your captain spot. Because this is preseason DFS, focusing your efforts on GPPs is the better approach, because there’s a chance that no player is truly safe. The two safest players would be both defenses that I would highly recommend playing in your lineups as they are guaranteed playing time. They also have upside because they can score touchdowns. However, for the captain spot, I would go with either a quarterback or wide receiver. You can then stack those players together in your lineup to further maximize your upside.
The last thing to note when it comes to showdown is that you want to buy into a narrative. How will the game go in your eyes? Give yourself an idea of how you think the game will go and build your roster in correspondence to the game flow. This becomes a much greater challenge in preseason DFS where the predictability is at an even lower rate than a regular NFL season game. Again it’s all about opportunities. Here’s a look at some of the players that you should be considering as Thursday night approaches.
Here are a couple of notes that should be taken into consideration when it comes to rostering players ahead of Thursday night. This is the very first preseason game so starters are virtually unplayable. Last year quarterback Matt Ryan had two passes attempted in the first preseason game.
In the Falcons first preseason games over the last three seasons under Dan Quinn, the Falcons have played four quarterbacks with one QB attempting at least 15 passes. The Falcons only have two quarterbacks on their roster behind Ryan: Matt Schaub and Kurt Benkert. Dan Quinn has even publicly stated that rookies will be the focus in the Hall of Fame game.
Still, Benkert will see the majority of snaps under center. Worth noting he was terrible last year in the preseason (43.8 completion %, 5.4 YPA, 0-4 TD-INT ratio, 7 sacks), so the Denver defense is an easy selection.
Also worth mentioning that wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus is a former teammate of Benkert from the University of Virginia. Zaccheaus went undrafted but is apparently turning heads at training camp. Jason Butt, Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Athletic he expects to see a lot of young guys playing and to see a lot of Benkert over Schaub at quarterback. Butt also referenced WR Christian Blake, WR Devin Gray, and TE Jaeden Graham as the primary pass catchers to watch. Graham has apparently shown chemistry with quarterback Benkert.
As for running backs, The Falcoholic on Twitter reports Ito Smith in first followed up by Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison. Quinn publicly stated to keep an eye out for the running back position during the game on Thursday. Hill is definitely the play here as he has the three-down skill set and has some proven production in NFL regular-season games. Smith will probably just play on the first drive.
For the Broncos there is sure to be more of a carousel at the quarterback position on Thursday night. Quarterback Kevin Hogan will be starting on Thursday night. However, head coach Vic Fangio has said that the QB reps will be split “by feel and how the game is going.” Cody Roark of The Locked On Broncos podcast reports that it will shape up as Hogan taking the 1st half, followed by Drew Lock & Brett Rypien in the 3rd and 4th quarter. So with two rookie quarterbacks potentially playing an entire half, you’ll want to play the Falcons defense.
One receiver that has a chance to play a significant role for the Broncos is veteran returner/slot receiver,Nick Williams. The Broncos have a few injuries at receiver and Williams is extremely familiar with the Shanahan offensive scheme. The other receivers who have been flashing at camp are six-rounder Juwann Winfree from Colorado and undrafted free agent Trinity Benson.
At the tight end position, Noah Fant and Austin Fort should also see work. Jeff Heuerman will not play as the named starters will not be playing in this game. Jake Butt/Bug Howard/Troy Fumagalli have all been dealing with injuries. Fant has some upside here as he is labeled as the No.2 tight end ofnthe Broncos depth chart. But be aware that tight ends are extremely volatile in preseason DFS. Check out Matt’s Gajewsk’s tweet below for some more numbers on fading the tight end in preseason DFS.
Cameron Parker from the co-host of the Locked On Broncos podcast expects guys like Khalfani Muhammad, David Williams, and Devontae Jackson to see the most work. Muhammad has the most upside here because of the elite speed he possesses. He recently competed in the 40 Yards of Gold competition and has 4.40 speed. He could easily break a big run against the second or third-string defense, providing a boost to your preseason DFS lineup. 80-yard touchdown run in the captain spot? Sign me up!
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Dan Quinn Featured Image: Atlanta Falcons