The preseason kicks off with the Ravens and Bears in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night in Canton, Ohio, which marks the first opportunity of the year for NFL players to hit someone from another team and fantasy players to hit the DraftKings lobby and wet their DFS whistle.
Let's take a look at a few of the more intriguing options at DraftKings, where DFS players get $50,000 to build a six-man lineup consisting of one team captain (awarded 150 percent points) and five flex players. Suffice to say, players like Jordan Howard and Michael Crabtree are unlikely to do you much good in the preseason opener; rookies and/or roster long shots are the ones who'll spend the majority of the time on the field and, subsequently, offer you scoring potential.
Team captain: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson ($11,400), the Heisman winner whom the Ravens moved back into Round 1 to nab as the potential heir to Joe Flacco, likely will be too enticing to resist here. The explosive dual-threat logged 100 rushing yards or a touchdown in 16 of his final games at Louisville, in addition to tossing 43 touchdowns over that stretch. He's been working with OC Marty Morninwheg and QB coach James Urban, both well-versed in working with Mike Vick, and the talk out of Baltimore is about brewing creativity on offense and Jackson's intent on showing he can win with his arm and legs, beginning Thursday night.
Contrarian captain choice: Bears QB Tyler Bray ($11,400), if you're determined not to roster Jackson, Bray will actually be the quarterback with the most scheme familiarity likely to spend notable time on the field. Bray has a preseason 5:2 TD-INT ratio in his career, the entirety of which he's learned under new Bears coach Matt Nagy.
Bears RB Ryan Nall ($7,400) was one of the big stars in Bourbonnais the first time the Bears put the pads on, when the 6-2, 232-pound undrafted battering ram from Oregon State demonstrated his physicality and run instincts. Taquan Mizzell ($7,400), formerly of the Ravens, is another Bears back likely to get plenty of run namely to ensure Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are held out of the extra preseason game. Mizzell is somewhat of a poor man's Cohen, capable of making a big play at any moment, but we like Nall's TD upside a tad more.
Ravens WR DeVier Posey ($7,600), the reigning Grey Cup MVP, was originally a third-rounder with the Texans in 2012; pedigree isn't an issue. What could be one for Posey, though, is the Ravens' influx of NFL-ready wideouts this offseason, necessitating this former Ohio State standout building on what's reportedly been a nice camp this preseason.
Bears WR Tanner Gentry ($7,600) might as well be the Mayor of Bourbonnais. The sophomore from Wyoming has made big plays downfield for a second consecutive camp while working with backups, much like he'll have an opportunity to do Thursday night. Remember, Gentry snared a 45-yard touchdown in the preseason dress rehearsal at Tennessee last year.
Ravens RB Mark Thompson ($7,400), like Nall a big, bruising undrafted runner, could be busy Thursday night, when Alex Collins, Javorious Allen and Kenneth Dixon look on from the sideline.
Bears TE Colin Thompson ($7,200) faces an uphill battle at one of Chicago's most heavily-invested positions, but his versatility and receiving skills have stood out in camp. Moreover, with Baltimore spending two top-100 picks (first-rounder Hayden Hurst and third-rounder Mark Andrews) at the position in April, Thompson will be far down the list of notable options for casual fans in this one.