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NFL DFS Preseason Picks: Week 1 Thursday DraftKings & FanDuel Plays | 8/12

Matt Gajewski



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This week’s preseason NFL action kicks off with a two-game slate tonight. Unlike normal NFL DFS, preseason pricing is flat. With the current pricing structure, playing time is the most important variable to consider. This NFL DFS strategy breakdown will analyze each team and point out potential edges within these teams when building lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel. For those looking at a comprehensive preseason guide, make sure to check out our preseason primer.

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Preseason NFL DFS Picks: Week 1 Thursday


Taylor Heinicke — Washington technically has four quarterbacks on the roster, but Kyle Allen is not healthy. With Ryan Fitzpatrick entrenched as the starter, Heinicke projects for extended run here. Unlike most quarterbacks on this slate, Heinicke has some rushing upside; he ran for over 1,000 yards in his college career at Old Dominion.

Nick Mullens — Philadelphia is one of three teams on the slate carrying three active quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco are known commodities. This should give Mullens close to the entire second half. A spot starter at times, Mullens has a 64.5% career completion percentage and 7.9 yards per attempt.

Mac Jones — New England is also carrying three quarterbacks. Jones will battle Cam Newton for the starting job during camp. However, Newton is only expected to receive a quarter or less. This leaves Jones to play the most snaps for New England tonight. Brian Hoyer will cleanup whatever is left.

Dwayne Haskins — Playing in Pittsburgh’s second preseason game, Ben Roethlisberger still does not project for more than a series or two. With Mason Rudolph also the clear frontrunner for backup duties, Haskins should get extended run. Last week he played he most snaps at quarterback for Pittsburgh, with 24. Josh Dobbs should handle the fourth quarter, but Haskins has the superior path to playing time.

GPP Considerations — Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs, Brian Hoyer, Steven Montez

Be sure to tune in at 6:30 ET to see Matt Gajewski and Dave “Loughy” Loughran for our Thursday Night Football Live Before Lock show with expert NFL DFS picks and expert advice for building DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.

Running Back

Jaylen Samuels — Using the Hall of Fame Game as a blueprint, Samuels should lead the Steelers backfield in Week 1. Samuels played 21 snaps to Najee Harris‘ 18. He also led the backfield with 11 carries and one reception. Harris still projects for solid work, but Samuels should play later into the game. Benny Snell and Kalen Ballage are expected to miss this week, adding clarity to the situation.

Najee Harris — Mike Tomlin showed no fear in playing Harris in the Hall of Fame Game. After 18 snaps in their previous game, Harris should see a similar workload in Week 1.

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Rhamondre Stevenson — With Damien Harris and James White near locks to make the Patriots roster, New England likely takes a longer look at Stevenson this preseason. The battle for New England’s third running back spot likely comes down to Sony Michel versus Stevenson.

Kenneth Gainwell — Philadelphia will have the most active running backs on Thursday. However, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott look likely to make this roster. Gainwell should see extended run as he battles Jordan Howard and Kerryon Johnson for the RB3 role.

Lamar Miller — Jaret Patterson is a rookie out of Buffalo. He rushed for 1,000 yards in all three seasons at Buffalo but caught just 20 career passes. However, his lack of size likely will exclude him from a roster spot. That leaves Miller and Jonathan Williams to compete for carries with the backup units.

GPP Considerations — Jaret Patterson, Jason Huntley, J.J. Taylor, Trey Edmunds

Wide Receiver

Anthony Johnson — Pittsburgh expects to play with eight healthy receivers in preseason Week 1, potentially fewer. Ray Ray McCloud, Chase Claypool and James Washington all continue to miss practice. JuJu Smith-Schuster also did not play in the Hall of Fame Game, raising questions about his status here. Even if active, Smith-Schuster should not play more than a few snaps. Last week Johnson played 27 snaps and projects for a similar workload here.

Isaiah McKoy — With the starters not expected to play much, McKoy could be the next man up in the wide receiver rotation. He only played 12 snaps last week, but both McCloud and Washington are expected to miss this game. Those two played 30 and 27 snaps, respectively.

Tyler Simmons — Simmons should see an increase from his 14 snaps in the Hall of Fame Game due to scarcity at the position.

Mathew Sexton — Sexton should see an increase as well, though he is limited due to size.

Quez Watkins — Philadelphia projects to have nine active receivers on Thursday, the second fewest on the slate. Both DeVonta Smith and John Hightower are injured. Watkins and Hightower continue to battle for the final roster spot, giving Watkins an opportunity to shine. Watkins is a downfield burner who caught 72 and 64 passes for over 2,000 yards combined in his final two seasons with Southern Miss. Jhamon Ausbon‘s status is also uncertain for this game, potentially opening additional playing time.

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J.J. Arcega-Whiteside Prior experience says that Arcega-Whiteside is not productive, but he should play a lot of snaps.

Dyami Brown — Washington has 11 heathy receivers on the roster, but Terry McLaurin should not play much. Brown will battle Cam Sims, Steven Sims and Adam Humphries for snaps with the second team. However, Brown is new to the team as a day two rookie. This should allow his playing time to extend into the second half. Brown is primarily a down-field threat and had over 1,000 yards receiving in back-to-back seasons with North Carolina.

Gunner Olszewski — New England projects to have 10 healthy receivers and multiple position battles raging. N’Keal Harry and Olszewski are battling for roster spots, but Olszewski has been the one shining in camp.

GPP Considerations — Cody White, Rico Bussey, Tre Nixon, Isaiah Zuber, Marvin Hall, Antonio Gandy-Golden, Isaiah Wright, Kelvin Harmon, Dax Milne, Andre Patton

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Tight End

Pat Freiermuth — Pittsburgh has the fewest active tight ends (five). With Eric Ebron not expected to play much, second-round rookie Freiermuth projects for extended run. Freiermuth caught 46 passes for 507 yards in 2019 with Penn State before suffering an injury last season. He is easily the best tight end play on the slate.

Tyree Jackson — The Eagles have known commodities in Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz and Richard Rodgers. Jackson is a 6-foot-7 prospect who previously played quarterback at Buffalo. He is an interesting developmental prospect who should get some run.

Troy Fumagalli – Drafted by the Broncos, Fumagalli has 14 career catches. However, Fumagalli has been limited by injuries, rather than limited talent. In his final two seasons with Wisconsin, Fumagalli registered 47 and 46 catches respectively. He went over 545 yards in each of those seasons. Hunter Henry will miss this game, Jonnu Smith is not expected to play much, and Devin Asiasi is still limited after battling Covid-19.

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John Bates — Washington should give Bates a good look tonight. He is their fourth round pick out of Boise State. Logan Thomas is entrenched as the starter, leaving to battle Temarrick Hemingway and Ricky Seals-Jones for snaps.

GPP Considerations — Marcus Baugh, Temarrick Hemingway, Caleb Wilson


Washington and Philadelphia are the two largest favorites on the slate.

Thanks for reading to the end of this article! If you appreciate this free content and want to see more of it every day, you can help us out by sharing this article on social media! View our DraftKings NFL ownership rankings and our FanDuel NFL rankings. Take a look at our NFL starting line-ups, inactive players and depth charts for NFL games. If you’re interested in other DFS NFL for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS projected ownership, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL rankings, and NFL stacks. We also have NFL DFS showdown projections and DraftKings showdown ownership projections.

Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.

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