- Thursday's preseason slate features the Eagles-Patriots, Steelers-Packers and Jets-Redskins games.
- The Eagles-Patriots over/under has moved from 43.5 points to 42.5 even though 73% of the money is on the over.
- The Steelers are week-worst +5.5 underdogs to the Packers despite (maybe) having the superior backup quarterbacks.
On Thursday night, we get a three-game slate of preseason football. In Week 2, many starters will play for up to a half, but offenses and defenses alike will continue to rely on simplified schemes. The good news: It’s football, and you can bet on it.
While the preseason isn’t “real” football, the usage and production of players reveals the potential they and their units might have in the regular season. For preseason player projections and daily fantasy analysis, see the FantasyLabs Models as well as our evergreen and slate-specific DFS content.
Let’s take a look at key storylines for each team playing Thursday.
- Philadelphia Eagles Moneyline: +155
- New England Patriots Moneyline: -180
- Over/Under: 42.5
- Kickoff: Aug. 16, 2018 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Quarterback Nick Foles (neck) is expected to start and play for maybe a couple series, but multiple offensive contributors are dealing with injuries at every skill position.
- Quarterback: Carson Wentz (knee)
- Running back: Josh Adams (undisclosed), Donnel Pumphrey (lower body), Corey Clement (lower body), Matt Jones (undisclosed)
- Wide receiver: Nelson Agholor (lower body), Markus Wheaton (undisclosed), Mack Hollins (undisclosed), Alshon Jeffery (shoulder), Mike Wallace (knee)
- Tight end: Zach Ertz (undisclosed), Dallas Goedert (elbow)
Not every above player is expected to be sit, but it’d be surprising to see many of them — along with potential lead back Jay Ajayi and veteran Darren Sproles — play for long. Per our NFL Live Odds page, the game total opened at a slate-high 43.5 points but has dropped with only 39% of the bets and 27% of the money on the under.
New England Patriots
Quarterback Tom Brady (sore back) “absolutely” plans to play against the Eagles. Chris Hogan is expected to serve as his No. 1 wideout in the wake of Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension, but Kenny Britt (hamstring) and Philip Dorsett (knee) should be considered questionable, so the likes of Eric Decker, Cordarrelle Patterson, Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron could see increased snaps. Running back Sony Michel (knee) and starter Rex Burkhead (undisclosed) are uncertain to suit up, giving vultures Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee additional opportunities to prove their value.
- Pittsburgh Steelers Moneyline: +205
- Green Bay Packers Moneyline: -245
- Over/Under: 43
- Kickoff: Aug. 16, 2018 – 8 p.m. ET
The Steelers opened as +2.5 underdogs but ballooned to +5.5 after head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (concussion/rest), backup quarterback Landry Jones (rest) and wide receiver Antonio Brown (quad/rest) won’t suit up. This could be a good opportunity to see how backup running back James Conner can perform with a featured workload. The second-year third-rounder hasn’t seen many touches to date as Le’Veon Bell’s backup, but in that offense he will have massive fantasy upside if Bell misses time for any reason.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers scored 31 points and passed for 356 yards against the Titans last week, and that was without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is expected to start this week. It remains to be seen who will emerge as his No. 3 wide receiver, but there are three primary contenders, all of whom are at least 6-feet-3.
- Geronimo Allison isn’t an elite producer or athlete, but the reported favorite does have Rodgers’ trust and averaged an additional 4.3 fantasy points per game with him in 2017.
- J’Mon Moore is athletic (93rd-percentile SPARQ score) and was productive in college: The fourth-round pick is one of just 18 players from the SEC with a season of 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving since 2000.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling stole the show last week, converting his seven targets into a 5-101-1 line, including a pretty 51-yard touchdown. MVS ran a sizzling 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the combine.
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- New York Jets Moneyline: +100
- Washington Redskins Moneyline: -120
- Over/Under: 38.5
- Kickoff: Aug. 16, 2018 – 8 p.m. ET
New York Jets
Jets beat writers have indicated the team is hopeful Sam Darnold wins the starting quarterback job by Week 1. Teddy Bridgewater impressed against the Falcons last week, but neither he nor 39-year-old Josh McCown should keep Darnold on the bench for long. The No. 3 pick averaged only 5.3 yards per attempt last week, but he engineered an impressive 64-yard, two-minute drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown strike. Darnold has seemingly already won over the public, as the Jets have moved from +3 to +1 after receiving 63% of the tickets and 66% of the money.
Electric second-round running back Derrius Guice will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. HC Jay Gruden has decided against bringing in an additional back and is expected to roll out 2017’s three-headed committee of grinders Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley and space back Chris Thompson. Neither Perine nor Kelley averaged even 3.5 yards per rush last season, but Perine produced in college (at least 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns per season on the ground) and has NFL-level athleticism (88th-percentile SPARQ score). Thompson’s continued recovery from a midseason broken leg could theoretically enhance the role of whoever seizes the early-down job.
Patriots-Eagles OVER 42.5
Even though the line has moved down a point, 73% of the money is on the over, suggesting that the deep-pocketed sharps anticipate a high-scoring game.
Steelers (+5.5) at Packers
Not having Roethlisberger, Jones and Brown doesn’t help, but how much were we going to see from them anyway? High-upside quarterbacks Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph are capable of beating, or at least covering against, the underachieving Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer.