Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings: Football is Back!


We endured an offseason consisting of men in suits walking in and out of buildings. We endured a three-month stretch when the work “lockout” might as well have been preceded by a four-letter word. But courtrooms, politics, and league lawyers are now a thing of the past. Because ladies and gentleman, we’re finally here! The start of the NFL season is here!



Could Impress: Call it a hunch, but I expect a big week out of Matthew Stafford. The Buccaneers defense is young at a number of positions, and the Lions clicked on all cylinders in the preseason. Stafford’s been itching to get back in a meaningful game, he’ll make the most of his opportunities.

Could Disappoint: Two of Joe Flacco’s worst performance s last year came against the Steelers. In fact, Flacco has struggled mightily against teams in the AFC North. Look for better options under center on Sunday.

Keep an eye on: Matt Hasselbeck chose Tennessee because he liked the system and thought they had the weapons to win. He struggled through injuries the past two seasons, but he’s a cerebral QB and could bounce back this season.


QB Rankings

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. New Orleans)

2. Michael Vick, PHI (@ St. Louis)

3. Philip Rivers, SD (vs. Minnesota)

4. Tom Brady, NE (@ Miami)

5. Josh Freeman, TB (vs. Detroit)

6. Drew Brees, NO (@ Green Bay)

7. Matt Schaub, HOU (vs. Indianapolis)

8. Eli Manning, NYG (@ Washington)

9. Tony Romo, DAL (@ New York Jets)

10. Matt Ryan, ATL (@ Chicago)

11. Matthew Stafford, DET (@ Tampa Bay)

12. Kevin Kolb, AZ (vs. Carolina)

13. Kyle Orton, DEN (vs. Oakland)

14. Sam Bradford, STL (vs. Philadelphia)

15. Jay Cutler, CHI (vs. Atlanta)

16. Joe Flacco, BAL (vs. Pittsburgh)

17. Matt Cassel, KC (vs. Buffalo)

18. Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (@ Kansas City)

19. Matt Hasselbeck, TEN (at Jacksonville)

20. Mark Sanchez, NYJ (vs. Dallas)

21. Rex Grossman, WAS (vs. New York Giants)

22. Colt McCoy, CLE (vs. Cincinnati)

23. Chad Henne, MIA (vs. New England)

24. Tavaris Jackson, SEA (@ San Francisco)

25. Kerry Collins, IND (@ Houston)


Running Backs

Could Impress: Felix Jones. We’ve seen glimpses of what Jones can do when he’s healthy. The Jets will test Jones and the Dallas offense, but if he is up to the task, we could be talking about a top-10 rusher this year.

Could Disappoint: Arian Foster. Foster is battling a hamstring injury, and with news that Peyton Manning will likely not play for Indy, there’s a real chance the coaches give Foster the week off and lean on Ben Tate and Derrick Ward. Definitely check your lineup before Sunday morning.

Keep an eye on: The New England backfield. Against a lesser opponent in Miami, the Patriots should be running the ball plenty in the second half. Fantasy owners should get a good idea of how Bill Belicheck plans on splitting carries between BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead and Stevan Ridley.


RB Rankings

1. Adrian Peterson, MIN (@ San Diego)

2. Jamaal Charles, KC (vs. Buffalo)

3. Frank Gore, SF (vs. Seattle)

4. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX (vs. Tennessee)

5. Darren McFadden, OAK (@ Denver)

6. Peyton Hillis, CLE (vs. Cincinnati)

7. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG (@ Washington)

8. LeSean McCoy, PHI (@ St. Louis)

9. Chris Johnson, TEN (@ Jacksonville)

10. Felix Jones, DAL (@ New York Jets)

11. Steven Jackson, STL (vs. Philadelphia)

12. Arian Foster, HOU (vs. Indianapolis)

13. Knowshon Moreno, DEN (vs. Oakland)

14. Matt Forte, CHI (vs. Atlanta)

15. Michael Turner, ATL (@ Chicago)

16. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (@ Baltimore)

17. Ray Rice, BAL (vs. Pittsburgh)

18. Tim Hightower, WAS (vs. New York Giants)

19. DeAngelo Williams, CAR (@ Arizona)

20. Shonn Green, NYJ (vs. Dallas)

21. LeGarrette Blount, TB (vs. Detroit)

22. Jahvid Best, DET (@ Tampa Bay)

23. Pierre Thomas, NO (@ Green Bay)

24. Reggie Bush, MIA (vs. New England)

25. Beanie Wells, AZ (vs. Carolina)

26. Ryan Grant, GB (vs. New Orleans)

27. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE (@ Miami)

28. Ryan Mathews, SD (vs. Minnesota)

29. Marshawn Lynch, SEA (@ San Francisco)

30. Cedric Benson, CIN (@ Cleveland)

31. Fred Jackson, BUF (@ Kansas City)

32. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (@ Arizona)

33. Brandon Jacobs, NYG (@ Washington)

34. Joseph Addai, IND (@ Houston)

35. Danny Woodhead, NE (@ Miami)

36. LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ (vs. Dallas)

37. Thomas Jones, KC (vs. Buffalo)

38. Michael Bush, OAK (@ Denver)

39. Mike Tolbert, SD (vs. Minnesota)

40. James Starks, GB (vs. New Orleans)

41. Willis McGahee, DEN (vs. Oakland)

42. C.J. Spiller, BUF (@ Kansas City)

43. Mark Ingram, NO (@ Green Bay)

44. Justin Forsett, SEA (@ San Francisco)

45. Cadillac Williams, STL (vs. Philadelphia)

46. Tashard Choice, DAL (@ New York Jets)

47. Darren Sproles, NO (@ Green Bay)

48. Ricky Williams, BAL (vs. Pittsburgh)

49. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (@ Arizona)

50. Ronnie Brown, PHI (@ St. Louis)


Wide Receivers

Could Impress: Chad Ochocinco. It’s been a rough preseason for Chad, who is struggling to find his rhythm with Tom Brady. But both Brady and #85 are gamers, and I expect him to have a surprisingly good game on Monday.

Could Disappoint: Reggie Wayne. It’s been a long time since Wayne had to catch balls from a quarterback other than Peyton Manning. Much of the Colts offense was predicated on the timing between the receivers and Manning. With Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter likely under center on Sunday, expect a dip in Wayne’s numbers.

Keep an eye on: Mike Thomas. A midseason change at quarterback is tough enough, but throwing a new starter just a few days before the season begins? That’s cold. Thomas and the Jags receivers could talk awhile to warm up. Meanwhile, you might want to look for other options.

WR Rankings

1. Andre Johnson, HOU (vs. Indianapolis)

2. Calvin Johnson, DET (@ Tampa Bay)

3. Roddy White, ATL (@ Chicago)

4. Greg Jennings, GB (vs. New Orleans)

5. Hakeem Nicks, NYG (@ Washington)

6. Larry Fitzgerald, AZ (vs. Carolina)

7. Vincent Jackson, SD (vs. Minnesota)

8. Mike Wallace, PIT (@ Baltimore)

9. DeSean Jackson, PHI (@ St. Louis)

10. Dwayne Bowe, KC (vs. Buffalo)

11. Brandon Lloyd, DEN (vs. Oakland)

12. Marques Colston, NO (vs. Green Bay)

13. Anquan Boldin, BAL (vs. Pittsburgh)

14. Steve Johnson, BUF (@ Kansas City)

15. Kenny Britt, TEN (@ Jacksonville)

16. Percy Harvin, MIN (@ San Diego)

17. Wes Welker, NE (@ Miami)

18. Santonio Holmes, NYJ (vs. Dallas)

19. Miles Austin, DAL (@ New York Jets)

20. Brandon Marshall, MIA (vs. New England)

21. Reggie Wayne, IND (@ Houston)

22. Santana Moss, WAS (vs. New York Giants)

23. Mike Williams, TB (vs. Detroit)

24. Mario Manningham, NYG (@ Washington)

25. Dez Bryant, DAL (@ New York Jets)

26. Hines Ward, PIT (@ Baltimore)

27. Sidney Rice, SEA (@ San Francisco)

28. Chad Ochocinco, NE (@ Miami)

29. Roy Williams, CHI (vs. Atlanta)

30. Mike Thomas, JAX (vs. Tennessee)

31. Deion Branch, NE (@ Miami)

32. Eddie Royal, DEN (vs. Oakland)

33. Steve Smith, CAR (@ Arizona)

34. Derrick Mason, NYJ (vs. Dallas)

35. Lee Evans, BAL (vs. Pittsburgh)

36. Lance Moore, NO (@ Green Bay)

37. Braylon Edwards, SF (vs. Seattle)

38. Mike Sims-Walker, STL (vs. Philadelphia)

39. AJ Green, CIN (@ Cleveland)

40. Plaxico Burress, NYJ (vs. Dallas)

41. Pierre Garcon, IND (at Houston)

42. Julio Jones, ATL (@ Chicago)

43. James Jones, GB (vs. New Orleans)

44. Greg Little, CLE (vs. Cincinnati)

45. Johnny Knox, CHI (vs. Atlanta)

46. Jeremy Maclin, PHI (@ St. Louis)

47. Davone Bess, MIA (vs. New England)

48. Nate Washington, TEN (@ Jacksonville)

49. Mike Williams, SEA (@ San Francisco)

50. Michael Crabtree, SF (vs. Seattle)


Antonio Gates

Tight Ends

Could Impress: Jermichael Finley. He’s extremely hungry after watching his team win the Super Bowl on the sideline. Finley is an extremely rare combination of size, speed and skill, and should be a favorite mismatch target for Rodgers against the Saints.

Could Disappoint: Zach Miller. Seattle would be smart to work Miller into the offense, but with Tavaris Jackson and a shoddy offensive line battling the likes of Patrick Willis, it could be tough.

Keep an eye on: Lance Kendricks. Will the extremely good preseason translate to the regular season? If so, the Ram could be a  top-10 fantasy tight end.


TE Rankings

1. Antonio Gates, SD (vs. Minnesota)

2. Jermichael Finley, GB (vs. New Orleans)

3. Jason Witten, DAL (@ New York Jets)

4. Vernon Davis, SF (vs. Seattle)

5. Owen Daniels, HOU (vs. Indianapolis)

6. Dallas Clark, IND (@ Houston)

7. Rob Gronkowski, NE (@ Miami)

8. Tony Gonzalez, ATL (@Chicago)

9. Marcedes Lewis, JAX (vs. Tennessee)

10. Kellen Winslow, TB (vs. Detroit)

11. Jimmy Graham, NO (@ Green Bay)

12. Brandon Pettigrew, DET (@ Tampa Bay)

13. Dustin Keller, NYJ (vs. Dallas)

14. Aaron Hernandez, NE (@ Miami)

15. Lance Kendricks, STL (vs. Philadelphia

16. Zach Miller, SEA (@ San Francisco)

17. Todd Heap, AZ (vs. Carolina)

18. Greg Olsen, CAR (@ Arizona)

19. Brent Celek, PHI (@ St. Louis)

20. Ben Watson, CLE (vs. Cincinnati)

21. Jared Cook, TEN (@ Jacksonville)

22. Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN (@ San Diego)

23. Jermaine Gresham, CIN (@ Cleveland)

24. Heath Miller, PIT (@ Balitmore)

25. Travis Beckum, NYG (@ Washington)


Defense/Special Teams

Could Impress: San Diego. The Charger added some nice pieces in the offseason and get a favorable matchup in week one.

Could Disappoint: Chicago. The Falcons offense is loaded, and the Bears don’t have the benefit of cold weather helping slow down Matt Ryan. The drama with Lance Briggs wanting out of Chitown certainly isn’t helping.

Keep an eye on: Detroit. It’s a young defense that figures to get better, but the Lions get a nice test against a good Tampa Bay offense to open the season.


D/ST Rankings

1. Pittsburgh (@ Baltimore)

2. San Diego (vs. Minnesota)

3. New England (@ Miami)

4. New York Jets (vs. Dallas)

5. Green Bay (vs. New Orleans)

6. San Francisco (vs. Seattle)

7. New York Giants (@ Washington)

8. Chicago (vs. Atlanta)

9. Atlanta (@ Chicago)

10. Dallas (@ New York Jets)

11. Philadelphia (@ St. Louis)

12. Detroit (@ Tampa Bay)

13. Tampa Bay (vs. Detroit)

14. Kansas City (vs. Buffalo)

15. Cleveland (vs. Cincinnati)

16. Oakland (@ Denver)

17. Arizona (vs. Carolina)

18. New Orleans (@ Green Bay)

19. Houston (vs. Indianapolis)

20. Seattle (@ San Francisco)

21. Tennessee (@ Jacksonville)

22. Washington (vs. New York Giants)

23. Miami (vs. New England)

24. St. Louis (vs. Philadelphia)

25. Carolina (@ Arizona)


Stephen Kelley is a contributor at The Sports Bank where he covers Fantasy Sports and Pro Drafts. You can follow him on Twitter @stephen_tsb.

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