NFL Preseason Week 1 DFS Cheat Sheet: 5 recommended plays for Friday

2R77AKJ Cincinnati Bengals running back Chase Brown (30) runs during practice at the team's NFL football training facility in Cincinnati, Tuesday, June 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

  • RB Chase Brown, Cincinnati Bengals (81.2 PFF offense grade): He is contending for Cincinnati’s No. 2 running back role against the Green Bay Packers (53.1 PFF run-defense grade).
  • WR Jalin Hyatt, New York Giants (77.4 PFF offense grade): His elite speed will be on full display against the Detroit Lions’ big-play-friendly secondary (48.4 PFF coverage grade).
  • RB Carlos Washington Jr., Atlanta Falcons (81. 6 PFF offense grade): His green-zone rushing skills are perfect for Atlanta’s road-grading offensive line (89.3 PFF run-blocking grade).
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

NFL preseason Week 1 continues with a Friday night slate featuring the New York Giants at Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins, the Washington Commanders at the Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos at the Arizona Cardinals. Below are the top five recommended players for DraftKings’ daily fantasy football Friday competitions. All NFL preseason players come with a $5,500 salary.

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RB Chase Brown, Cincinnati Bengals

Brown (81.2 PFF offense grade) enters NFL preseason Week 1 action in an ideal situation against Green Bay. No. 1 running back Joe Mixon (81.6 PFF offense grade) is unlikely to play, as head coach Zac Taylor rested 2022 starters in preseason Week 1, and 2022 No. 2 running back Samaje Perine (72.9 PFF offense grade) is now in Denver. Veterans Trayveon Williams (82.3 PFF offense grade) and Chris Evans (72.5 PFF offense grade) comprise Brown’s competition for the vacant No. 2 role, but Williams remains sidelined following an August 1 ankle injury. 

Evans has flashed as a pass catcher through two NFL seasons but struggles to contribute as a rusher. Taylor refrained from giving Evans even a single regular-season rushing attempt in 2022. 

The 5-foot-9, 215-pound 23-year-old Brown conversely is an accomplished ballcarrier who led Power-5 running backs with 329 rushing attempts, en route to earning the 2022 Jon Cornish Award. 

Brown’s 2022 rushing data among 41 Power-5 running backs with at least 150 rushing attempts (table below ranks in parentheses):
2022 Power-5 RB Rushing Chase Brown
PFF Rushing Grade 81.6 (No. 30)
YPC 5.0 (T-No. 33)
Missed Tackles Forced 83 (No. 2)
MTF/Rush Att. 0.25 (T-No. 18)
Yards After Contact/Rush Att. 2.80 (No. 32)
1st-Dwn + TD % 24.0% (No. 31)
10+-Yd Rush Plays 48 (T-No. 1)

Brown (62.1 PFF receiving grade) exhibited surehandedness in the receiving game, earning a 90.0% catch rate on 30 targets, No. 6 among 49 Power-5 running backs with at least 25 targets

Green Bay’s 53.1 PFF run-defense grade ranked and 4.73-yard average depth of tackle both No. 26 among 2022 NFL teams and the defensive line landed No. 19 in Zoltán Buday’s 2023 defensive line rankings.

TE Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay committed second- and third-round draft capital to the tight end position this year, drafting Musgrave (79.2 PFF receiving grade) and Tucker Kraft (76.6 PFF offense grade), respectively. Musgrave is reportedly separating from Kraft and has the chance to further distance himself from Kraft on Friday. 

The 6-foot-6, 253-pound Musgrave tees off against Cincinnati’s middling coverage linebackers. 

Cincinnati linebackers’ 2022 tight end coverage among NFL team linebacker units (table below ranks in parentheses):
NFL Team LB vs. TE Coverage Cincinnati Bengals
PFF Tight End-Coverage Grade 90.5 (No. 1)
Targeted % 41.1% (No. 23)
Catch % Allowed 77.6% (No. 21)
Yards Allowed/Coverage Snap 3.07 (T-No. 16)
15+-Yd Pass Plays Allowed 5.7% (No. 11)

Musgrave concluded his 2021 junior season ranked No. 1 among 34 Power-5 tight ends with at least 35 targets in both average depth of target (aDot, 13.0 yards) and deep-target rate (27.0%), with a top-10 13.8 yards per reception to boot.

Musgrave kicked off his 2022 senior season playing like a Mackey Award contender as one of just four Power-Five tight ends to earn 15 targets over the season’s first two weeks. His 3.38 yards per route run impressively led that elite group by 0.89, but a Grade 3 MCL tear suffered in his second game ended his season prematurely, causing an unwarranted tumble to the 2023 NFL Draft’s Day 2 ranks.

WR Jalin Hyatt, New York Giants

Following the example set by head coach Brian Daboll a year ago, New York’s third-round rookie wide receiver and 2022 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Jalin Hyatt (77.4 PFF offense grade) should run routes regularly through the second-to-fourth quarters against Detroit on Friday night. The 6-foot, 185-pound elite speedster (1.50-second 10-yard split) is earning increased first-team practice repetitions by consistently delivering explosive plays against New York’s second-string defense. 

Hyatt landed in a pristine preseason position, playing alongside New York's No. 2 quarterback Tyrod Taylor (52.6 PFF passing grade), who long made hay as a highly-accurate downfield passer. Though the 34-year-old Taylor has slightly regressed, he still managed a No. 7-ranked 81.3% adjusted completion rate despite throwing for the sixth-deepest aDot (9.8 yards) among 46 NFL quarterbacks with at least 40 preseason dropbacks in 2022.

Hyatt’s 2022 receiving data among 43 Power-5 wide receivers with at least 85 targets (table below ranks in parentheses):
2022 Power-5 WR Receiving Jalin Hyatt
PFF Receiving Grade 78.2 (No. 19)
TPRR – YPRR 23.0% (No. 33) – 3.27 (No. 1)
Catch % – Contested Catch % 75.3% (No. 3) – 60.0% (T-No. 7)
aDot – Yds/Rec. 14.1 (No. 8) – 18.9 (No. 2)
Yards After Catch/Rec. 7.3 (No. 7)
Missed Tackles Forced Rec. 8 (T-No. 26)
15+-Yd Pass Plays 25 (T-No. 13)
20+-Yd aDot % 27.0% (No. 8)

Detroit improved their cornerback personnel this offseason but their regular-season league-high 11.8% explosive pass plays allowed rate remains unignorable for Hyatt’s preseason purposes.

RB Carlos Washington Jr., Atlanta Falcons

Following the first drive in last year’s NFL preseason Week 1 game, Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith benched all starters, allowing backup roster-spot battles to commence. Competition for the No. 4 backfield role took place between then-rookie Tyler Allgeier (86.7 PFF offense grade) and veterans Caleb Huntley (86.9 PFF offense grade) and Qadree Ollison (60.0 PFF offense grade)/ Smith opens 2023 with the very same premise, defined Nos. 1-3 backfield roles with a wide-open No. 4 spot. Washington (81. 6 PFF offense grade) should be considered the favorite over special teams and passing-game journeyman Godwin Igwebuike (66.4 PFF offense grade). 

Washington spent four seasons as a New Hampshire wildcat before transferring to Southeastern Louisiana for his final college campaign, demonstrating exceptional condensed-field and short-area rushing traits. 

Washington Jr.’s 2022 green-zone rushing data among 30 FCS running backs with at least 20 green-zone rushing attempts (table below ranks in parentheses):.
2022 FCS Green-Zone RB Rushing Carlos Washington Jr.
PFF Green-Zone Rushing Grade 81.6 (No. 1)
Green-Zone Rushing TDs 15 (No. 15)
1st-Dwn + TD % 65.2% (No. 1)
Missed Tackles Forced  5 (T-No. 7)
MTF/Rush Att. 0.22 (No. 9)
Yards After Contact/Rush Att. 1.7 (No. 10)
Washington Jr.’s 2022 short-distance (one-to-two yards to go) rushing data among 28 FCS running backs with at least 25 short-distance rushing attempts (table below ranks in parentheses):
2022 FCS Short-Distance RB Rushing Carlos Washington Jr.
PFF Short-Distance Rushing Grade 80.8 (No. 8)
1st-Dwn + TD % 76.9% (No. 6)
Missed Tackles Forced  7 (T-No. 5)
MTF/Rush Att. 0.27 (T-No. 4)
Yards After Contact/Rush Att. 2.0 (No. 18)

Washington Jr. (73.3 PFF receiving grade) is a capable passing-game contributor as well. Among 58 FCS running backs with at least 25 targets, his 84.0% catch rate and 50.0% contested catch rate both ranked top 20. Among 114 FCS running backs with at least 35 pass-protection snaps, he produced a top-30, 97.4% pass-block-efficiency rate, and his 0.0% knockdown rate tied for No. 1.

Atlanta’s bulldozing offensive line ranked received a No. 1-ranked 89.3 PFF regular-season run-blocking grade, and their 73.7 PFF preseason run-blocking grade tied for No. 10. Washington Jr. is a high-upside preseason DFS play against Miami.

WR Michael Bandy, Denver Broncos

Head coach Sean Payton accepted his new position on January 31 and quickly filled out the roster with players from his late New Orleans Saints tenure. Payton signed 2022 Los Angeles Chargers preseason darling wide receiver Michael Bandy (52.7 PFF offense grade) to a one-year deal on training camp’s opening day, potentially signaling displeasure with the former Saints bunch. However, Denver’s offense then lost wide receiver Tim Patrick (71.2 PFF offense grade) to an Achilles rupture and Brandon Johnson (51.8 PFF offense grade) to an ankle sprain, significantly reducing Bandy’s target competition against Arizona on Friday night.

From 2019-to-2021, Payton’s Saints averaged 65.6 offensive plays per game. Payton made clear this week that starters will handle “roughly 15 snaps” before the backups take over, leaving up to 60 plays for Bandy to make his mark. 

The diminutive (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) player fortuitously landed in Payton’s prolific passing offense, which famously runs through the slot receiver position via notable players like Marques Colston (62.8 PFF offense grade), Michael Thomas (77.3 PFF offense grade) and in 2023, Jerry Jeudy (78.4 PFF offense grade). 

Bandy’s 2022 preseason receiving data among 69 NFL wide receivers with at least 10 targets in preseason Weeks 1-3 (table below ranks in parentheses):
2022 NFL Preseason Weeks 1-3 WR Receiving Michael Bandy
PFF Preseason Receiving Grade 68.5 (No. 32)
Targets – Receptions 23 (T-No. 2) – 18 (No. 2)
TPRR 25.6% (No. 25) 
YPRR  1.91 (No. 24) 
Catch % 78.3% (No. 12)
Missed Tackles Forced Rec. 4 (T-No. 3)
15+-Yd Pass Plays 5 (T-No. 2)

Bandy’s 9.2-yard aDot jives well with No. 2 quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s (62.2 PFF offense grade) six-to-10-yard aDot passing talents. Among 55 NFL quarterbacks with at least pass attempts with a six-to-10-yard aDot in 2022, Stidham ranked top eight with an 83.9 PFF passing grade and an 80.0% adjusted completion rate while his 10.3 yards per pass attempt ranked No. 1.

With do-it-all defender Isaiah Simmons (72.3 PFF slot-coverage grade) returning to the safety position this year, Arizona’s slot coverage is in disarray. Among 92 NFL defensive backs with at least 85 slot-coverage snaps, presumed starter Jalen Thompson finished outside the top 80 with a 44.1 PFF slot-coverage grade and 1.75 yards allowed per coverage snap.

Bandy’s (59.8 PFF kick-return grade) four missed tackles forced on three combined kickoff and punt return signals added scoring potential.


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