SI Staff
Thursday August 11th, 2016

Who, who and who? Even the most ardent NFL fans tend to be unfamiliar with a preponderance of players who get the bulk of action early in the preseason. This week, there are a smattering of intriguing storylines—RG3’s rebirth, Kelvin Benjamin’s return, not to mention the first real look at this year’s rookie class.

But once those storylines reach their quick peak and megastars like Jimmy Garoppolo and Mark Sanchez take a seat on the sideline, what’s left?

Winning money (or in our case, bragging rights).

Esteemed NFL journalist Chris Burke got the idea rolling.

Then several of us wanted to join the fun, so here we are playing preseason DFS. Check out our respective lineups—we’ll update results as the games unfold, which we’ll now all watch with extreme intensity. Thank you, gambling.

Note: The DraftKings league we joined is only for tonight’s games. So we can do this all over tomorrow!

Michael Beller, Fantasy Expert/Degenerate Gambler

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots

RB: Devontae Booker, Broncos

RB: Kenneth Dixon, Ravens

WR: Rashad Ross, Redskins

WR: Deonte Thomson, Bears

WR: Bryan Walters, Jags

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bucs

FLEX: Keith Marshall, Redskins

DST:  Bears

I started with Jimmy Garoppolo because he should get close to three quarters of action in New England’s first preseason game, just like he did last year. After that, it was all about rostering guys who have shown a little talent and have a lot on the line this summer. Rookies Keith Marshall and Devontae Booker could help their regular-season causes with strong preseasons, while Austin Seferian-Jenkins now looks up at Cameron Brate on the depth chart in Tampa Bay. Finally, all three of my receivers should spend a lot of time on the field as second- and third-team studs.

Fantasy
Fantasy football 2016: Breakout players to draft

Chris Burke, NFL Writer/Degenerate Gambler

QB: Jacoby Brissett, Patriots

RB: Keith Marshall, Redskins

RB: Kenjon Barner, Eagles

WR: Daniel Braverman, Bears

WR: Kenny Bell, Buccaneers

WR: Keenan Reynolds, Ravens

TE: Cameron Brate, Buccaneers

Flex: Kapri Bibbs, Broncos

DST: Broncos

Do I know what I'm doing here? No. But the goal was to strike a balance between players that have been performing well in training camp and those that could face advantageous matchups vs. second- and third-team defenders. The most glaring exception to the latter is Brate, who should see most of his work with the Bucs' starters. He seems to have Jameis Winston's trust, though, and needs a strong preseason to keep Austin Seferian-Jenkins on his heels. I tried to go against the grain with Brissett—I assume Garoppolo will be on a roster or two—and I like the idea of him drawing the Saints' backups. New England has to get him some snaps because he'll be one Garoppolo injury away from the No. 1 gig in Weeks 1-4.

Fantasy
Fantasy football 2016: Sleeper picks to draft

Matt Dollinger, NBA Editor/Degenerate Gambler

QB: Paxton Lynch, Broncos

RB: Kenjon Barner, Eagles

RB: Mike James, Bucs

WR: Jeremy Butler, Ravens

WR: Bennie Fowler, Broncos

WR: Aldrick Robinson, Falcons

TE: Coby Fleener, Saints

FLEX: Tyler Gaffney, Patriots

DST: Saints

I’ve never played daily fantasy before, but I’ve got less to do than Tom Brady during the first four weeks of the NFL season. My strategy was to load up on backups with something to prove. I decided to bet on Paxton Lynch since I think he has the highest ceiling of Denver’s QB-by-committee approach.  And I took Coby Fleener because I’m banking on him to score a TD on the first drive then sitting the rest of the game. Finally, my last nugget of advice: If you’re reading this sentence, I’d recommend calling 1-800-522-4700.

Let’s see. Starting a quarterback against New Orleans worked well last year, so hopefully Garoppolo keeps that trend alive. Keith Marshall returning to Georgia was an irresistible story line. Fozzy Whittaker has a good name and a great opportunity to rack up some carries. The rest of the roster has either grabbed attention during camp or shined during previous preseasons. And as for slotting in the Panthers on defense? Let’s just say I’m not buying the reinvention of Ryan Mallett just yet.

Jacob Feldman, NFL Reporter/Degenerate Gambler

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots

RB: Fozzy Whittaker, Panthers

RB: Keith Marshall, Redskins

WR: Rashad Ross, Redskins

WR: Michael Thomas, Saints

WR: Bryan Walters, Jaguars

TE: Cameron Brate, Bucs

FLEX: Devontae Booker, Broncos

DST: Panthers

Let’s see. Starting a quarterback against New Orleans worked well last year, so hopefully Garoppolo keeps that trend alive. Keith Marshall returning to Georgia was an irresistible story line. Fozzy Whittaker has a good name and a great opportunity to rack up some carries. The rest of the roster has either grabbed attention during camp or shined during previous preseasons. And as for slotting in the Panthers on defense? Let’s just say I’m not buying the reinvention of Ryan Mallett just yet.

Fantasy
Fantasy football 2016: Possible busts to avoid drafting too high

Pat Fitzmaurice, Fantasy  Expert/Degenerate Gambler

QB: Colt McCoy, Redskins

RB: Kenjon Barner, Eagles

RB: Tyler Gaffney, Patriots

WR: Rashad Ross, Redskins

WR: Quincy Enunwa, Jets

WR: Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots

TE: Maxx Williams, Ravens

FLEX: Daniel Braverman, Bears

DST: Ravens

Washington will treat Kirk Cousins as delicately as a Faberg‎é egg, which means lots of snaps for McCoy. I'm stacking McCoy and Ross, a preseason superstar who had 25 catches last August. Barner should see plenty of action, and his pass-catching gives him juice in DraftKings' PPR format. The Ravens' top TEs are either old (Ben Watson) or hurt (Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta), so Williams should get ample work. Enunwa is an intriguing physical marvel. There's been some good buzz about Gaffney, Mitchell and Braverman. A bet on the Baltimore defense is a bet against Joe Webb's passing ability.

Andy Gray, Senior Editor/Degenerate Gambler

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots

RB: Ka’Deem Carey, Bears

RB: Devon Johnson, Panthers

WR: Daniel Braverman, Bears

WR: Chris Ross, Patriots

WR: Rashad Ross, Redskins

TE: Martellus Bennett, Patriots

FLEX: Gus Johnson, Falcons

DST:  Jets

I am not sure why I agreed to do this. Preseason football is really hard to predict and I don’t know anyone’s depth chart. But I feel good about Jimmy Garoppolo, whose had an up and down preseason but tends to perform better in games. Gus Johnson was a no-brainer because I love Gus Johnson the analyst so I have to love the player. I overheard someone in our office discuss Daniel Braverman as a good fantasy option, so that seemed like a good enough reason to give him a go. Other than that, it was a total crapshoot. But I’m usually pretty lucky at random things like this and fully expect to win.

NFL
NFL Preseason Power Rankings: It’s Super Bowl or bust for the Cardinals

Melissa Jacobs, NFL Editor/Degenerate Gambler

QB: Paxton Lynch, Broncos

RB: Ka’Deem Carey, Bears

RB: Kenneth Dixon, Ravens

WR: Daniel Braverman, Bears

WR: Willie Snead, Saints

WR: Marqise Lee, Jaguars

TE: Virgil Green, Broncos

FLEX: Devin Funchess, Panthers

DST:  Jaguars

That person in the office Andy Gray heard raving about Daniel Braverman? That was me. Braverman’s having an awesome camp and is scraping for a spot in the slot so here’s to a lot of playing time. Gary Kubiak’s plan is play Sanchez for a quarter, “co-quarterback” Trevor Siemian for a quarter and rookie Paxton Lynch for a half. Yeah, I’ll take the one with playing half the game. Devin Funchess was chosen solely because he’s at the root of an office joke that will remain secret but has absolutely nothing to do with Funchess as a player or person.

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