Daily Fantasy Football is back! Well, pretty much…
We kickoff our NFL 2019 season, as we do every year, with the Hall of Fame Game: a game loaded with very few names you’ll likely see with any sort of consistency during the regular season, but they’ll certainly be vying to climb into the radar of their coaches’ good graces enough to make the 53-man roster on August 31st.
This year, we get a matchup featuring the visiting Denver Broncos at the Atlanta Falcons. As far as fantasy players are concerned: if this is your first rodeo, please do not get this confused with the typical daily fantasy football lineup construction you’re used to in the regular season or playoffs.
You’re doing some depth chart diving, and looking for waves being made at training camps that signify some trust from coaches on the offensive end of the ball (and defensive for the sake of DST and IDP leagues). And since players all have the same DraftKings salary cost at $7,600, there’s no need to fret the salary cap.
Let’s take a look at some potential standout picks and a bit of strategy for your roster(s) should you feel the urge to risk some DraftKings bankroll on this degenerate glimpse at NFL action.
Defense Wins Championships…And Preseason NFL Games
Dating back to 2010, there have only been two Hall of Fame Games that have gone over 34-total points (2013, 2017). Lots of inconsistency will be on display here, and mistakes will be available to capitalize on.
This mean defense [and special teams], and lots of it.
Don’t forget that your defense always starts with ten points to begin with, for having allowed zero points to begin with, and if you play one DST at the MVP multiplier spot, then you’ll be looking at 25 points right out of the gate by rostering both.
Granted, as teams score this will dwindle from the Points Allowed deduction, but you’re hoping for any of those number of bad plays on offense to be available to capitalize on to cushion that. With players rotating in more sporadic and short-lived bursts than a starter in the regular season, momentum is a lot harder to come by and sets up for a statistical field day from a fantasy perspective in terms of garbage sacks, turnovers and potential touchdowns available from those sloppy plays.
I would highly recommend building around the Broncos and Falcons DST’s and going from there for the massive upside considering one of them will always be on the field. Again, this isn’t something I would always condone on a Showdown slate during the regular season (depending on the circumstances), but the upside here is too much to look past realistically.
Juwann Winfree (WR, DEN)
This dude has been picking up steam in news out of Broncos camp and according to Broncos beat writer Cecil Lammey, he’s making “play after play” while also bringing plenty of upside based on his ball-minded skill set.
At 6’3”, 215 lbs, the Broncos sixth-round pick out of Colorado has been showing he’s got good hands and speed, along with an instinct to adjust to the ball in the report from camp. And in the words of Coach Fangio following the last training camp practice, he likes the extra preseason game for the Broncos: “I think the guys that benefit the most from it are the young players. They’re going to get more reps.”
This rookie has the ability to bring it with multi-facted talents and I’m assuming based on the great reports from camp thus far that he’ll be trying to be a highlight in this game, should he get the opportunity.
Kenjon Barner (RB, ATL)
Apparently the veteran still has it in the word coming out of Falcons training camp. He’s now getting first-team reps and impressing everyone in his effort to make the 53-man roster, and was “breaking a few ankles…on one run” according to one Falcon fan source, The Falcoholic. The journeyman running back has been at times relevant as a flyer in fantasy formats of years past, and provides a great check-down option for Kurt Benkert (considering he should see a majority of the snaps at quarterback).
He’s proven versatile in all three phases of the game (competing with Marcus Green and Olamide Zaccheaus as final special teams contenders), which to me in combination with the recent reports tells me that not only is this guy going to make the roster, but with Tevin Coleman gone may actually be vying for Ito Smith’s job much further down the line should Freeman incur another injury.
I’m getting ahead of myself, but this is the talk track to a guy who should be given plenty of chances on Thursday night.
Olamide Zaccheaus (WR, ATL)
Another Falcon being talked about in consistent measure, appears to be making strides with not only the offense but on special teams as well. If he ends up taking a kick back, not only will you get points for him but for your Falcons DST as well. Just food for thought.
Besides Russell Gage being an absolute stud and forming a major connection with Matt Ryan (which leads me to believe he won’t be seeing the field in this game as much, but that’s the conservative thought in me), Olamide has been the name generating interest in a several instances out of Falcons camp. I’m going to roll the dice and fade Russell Gage (meaning I’ll likely come in under the field on ownership), and in turn roster the guy who is also trying to earn a spot on special teams.
Oh, and he also just happened to be Kurt Benkert’s favorite target at the University of Virginia combining for twelve touchdowns (who also helped get Olamide signed as an undrafted free agent). That might mean a little something to you.
Brett Rypien (QB, DEN)
Alright, I know you may think I’m being a bit too contrarian here, but hear me out: Vic Fangio has been rather outspoken in his desire to give Rypien a chance. He’s underlined the fact that the chances will be thin margined for Rypien, but I am a guy who loves a good narrative along with reading between the lines.
When Fangio says that this game is “great for the young guys” and that “they will see the most reps”, this to me means there’s nothing whatsoever to indicate the earliest of games in Preseason wouldn’t be a perfect time to start a competition between his two young backup quarterbacks here. I believe it’s a fair gamble to project an equal amount of reps to both Lock and Rypien, and if you know my style whatsoever, you know I’ll always take the lesser ownership when it comes to a coin-toss on players.
He’s garnered positive reports from Broncos training camp. He came in for two successful passes (along with a bad one after taking a sack) following two interceptions in previous plays by Lock. It may take the same brief disaster for Lock in this game for Rypien to get his chance, but give me the lesser ownership in one game of equal opportunity all day.
Kurt Benkert (QB, ATL)
This one is less of a stretch and is the #3 guy behind Matt Schaub (who I also don’t believe we’ll see much at all of in this game given his age and experience needed at backup to Matt Ryan). He’s also been involved one full year in the Falcons offense, and that should translate to that establishing rhythm on the field despite having rotating backs and receivers alongside him. He’s got a pre-established rapport from college with wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, along with check-down options in Barner and and provides plenty of fantasy upside knowing the system.
In a game mired with question marks in consideration to rep counts, Benkert should take the majority share here and has plenty of targets to work with to provide some solid fantasy numbers should he get that assumed rep count.
Other Names Of Interest:
- Russell Gage (WR, ATL)
- Qadree Ollison (RB, ATL)
- **Bug Howard (TE, DEN)
- Khalfani Muhammad (RB, DEN)
- Devontae Jackson (RB, DEN)
- Fred Brown (WR, DEN)
- Eric Saubert (TE, ATL)