Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Week 1 Fantasy Football rankings for QB, RB, WR, and TE, plus Flex top-150 overall

Week 1 Fantasy Football rankings for QB, RB, WR, and TE, plus Flex top-150 overall

Here’s how Towers sees Week 1 shaking out

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Welcome to Week 1!

I know plenty of you have drafts remaining — I’ve got two Wednesday night, and if you still have yours coming up, our Draft Day Cheat Sheet has everything you need! — but for most Fantasy players, drafts are done and it’s time to stop fretting about your big board and start fretting about your lineup. We’ve got all week to do that, and we’ll learn about injuries and role changes throughout the week in practice leading up first to Thursday’s NFL opening between the Buccaneers and Cowboys and then into Sunday of Week 1, but today’s your first chance to check out our Week 1 rankings.

Head here to see rankings from Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings, and make sure you tune into Fantasy Football Today on CBS Sports HQ at noon ET every day this week as they discuss and debate their rankings all the way through Sunday’s games — we’ll also be live on HQ Sunday morning from 11 a.m. to kickoff to help you set your lineups. 

And the FFT team has a whole lot more than that going on now that the season is starting, too. On Thursday at 2 p.m., I’ll be live on the FFT YouTube channel with Adam Aizer to take your start/sit questions and again Sunday at 11:30 through kickoff to do the same. That’s all at YouTube.com/FantasyFootballToday, so make sure to head there and subscribe to get notified every time we go live. 

It’s all about helping you set the best lineup every week all the way through your championship. Through the rest of the week, we’ll be blending in a bit of season preview content, including Fantasy MVP picks, Bold Predictions from the staff and everything else you need for last-minute draft prep. 

For now, here’s a first look at my Week 1 PPR rankings, and if you’ve got any lineup or trade questions, send them my way at Chris.Towers@CBSi.com! I’ll be doing a trade mailbag every Wednesday morning right here, with lineup questions all week long, so send those emails in with the subject line #AskFFT! 

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Week 1 Rankings

This newsletter will be the only place you can find my rankings this season, and I’ll be including them every Tuesday morning to kick off the new Fantasy week moving forward. Along with my rankings — which will be updated throughout the week, obviously, so make sure you check back in before locking in your lineups! — I’ll include notes on some of the most interesting players with each update, beginning with today’s initial in-season rankings. My goal is to have commented on the majority of the players that matter each week. This newsletter will work in conjunction with my game previews which will be published every Friday.

Here are my initial rankings for Week 1!

Quarterbacks

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Just like with the season-long rankings, I think there’s a gap between Mahomes and even the rest of the elite options at the position. The two biggest risers from the preseason rankings to Week 1 are Tom Brady and Matt Ryan, who both benefit from projected high-scoring games in offenses that figure to throw the ball a ton early on. Neither is widely available, so if you’re looking for a streamer, your best option is probably Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Chargers or Baker Mayfield against the Chiefs in a game he may be chasing points in. Among players you may have drafted with the intention of starting, I’m most concerned about Ben Roethlisberger and Jameis Winston. I want to see what both look like in their respective offenses before I trust them.

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Josh Allen
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Kyler Murray
  5. Lamar Jackson
  6. Russell Wilson
  7. Aaron Rodgers
  8. Dak Prescott — I’m starting Prescott, but after he missed much of training camp coming off ankle surgery and a shoulder injury, I’m at least a little concerned about his first game, especially against a tough matchup and potentially playing without two starters on the line. 
  9. Matthew Stafford
  10. Matt Ryan
  11. Jalen Hurts
  12. Ryan Tannehill
  13. Justin Herbert
  14. Trevor Lawrence
  15. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  16. Joe Burrow — Burrow is another one I’m not quite sure what to expect from coming back from a serious injury. The Vikings defense wasn’t great last season, so hopefully this is a fairly soft landing, but I would hope you have a better option for Week 1. 
  17. Jimmy Garoppolo — One of the most interesting things to keep an eye on in Week 1 will be how the 49ers use their quarterbacks. In the final preseason game, Garoppolo and Trey Lance were swapping off regularly as the 49ers worked on different looks, but that’s not an approach you ever really see in the NFL. Will Kyle Shanahan be willing to do it when the games count — and if so, how much might that limit the passing production?
  18. Carson Wentz
  19. Tyrod Taylor
  20. Baker Mayfield
  21. Kirk Cousins
  22. Tua Tagovailoa — I’m high on Tagovailoa for the season, but he’s got a pretty tough slate to open the season, so I’ll want to see what he looks like before I trust him, especially with Will Fuller not playing in Week 1. 
  23. Mac Jones
  24. Derek Carr
  25. Teddy Bridgewater
  26. Andy Dalton
  27. Sam Darnold
  28. Ben Roethlisberger
  29. Jameis Winston
  30. Jared Goff
  31. Zach Wilson
  32. Daniel Jones 

Running backs

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There’s not much change from the top of the preseason rankings to Week 1, but I’m putting my money where my mouth is with Mixon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire and James Robinson rank a little higher than they did thanks to situations that should set up pretty well for them. My notes will focus on situations I want to really keep a close eye on in Week 1. 

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Alvin Kamara
  3. Dalvin Cook
  4. Joe Mixon
  5. Austin Ekeler
  6. Derrick Henry
  7. Aaron Jones
  8. Najee Harris
  9. Ezekiel Elliott 
  10. James Robinson
  11. Jonathan Taylor
  12. David Montgomery
  13. Antonio Gibson — Gibson hardly played on third down as a rookie, and that continued in the preseason. If he’s just a two-down back, it could be tough for him to live up to expectations, so if this one turns into a shootout, we want to see Gibson out there in passing situations. 
  14. Nick Chubb
  15. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — The Chiefs are expected to roll in this one, with the highest implied total of any team in Week 1. We’ll want to see Edwards-Helaire get whatever goal-line work is there, or else he could really tumble down the ranks. 
  16. Chris Carson
  17. Saquon Barkley — The expectation is Barkley won’t have his full role in Week 1, but I’ve still got him projected for 15-plus touches, including four receptions. If he’s well below that, then this will probably be an even slower start to the season than expected. 
  18. Myles Gaskin
  19. D’Andre Swift
  20. Mike Davis
  21. Darrell Henderson — I’m still projecting Henderson to be the lead back on early downs and in passing situations, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Sony Michel cut into either role right away. 
  22. Miles Sanders
  23. Josh Jacobs
  24. Kareem Hunt
  25. Gus Edwards — The Ravens rarely give any one back a huge workload — there have been just 17 games where a running back has 15-plus carries since Lamar Jackson became the starter. However, five of them came from Edwards in Jackson’s first seven starts. Does he get that kind of usage again? If so, this is too low. 
  26. Chase Edmonds
  27. Melvin Gordon — All preseason, Gordon has ended up higher in my projections than I ever feel comfortable actually ranking him. If he’s the lead back for the Broncos to start the season, however, he’s going to be a solid starter, whether we like it or not. 
  28. Raheem Mostert
  29. Javonte Williams
  30. Damien Harris
  31. Kenyan Drake
  32. David Johnson — If the Texans are going to be chasing points, we could see quite a bit of Johnson even in his diminished role. They are severely depleted at wide receiver, so don’t be surprised if we see Johnson split out wide regularly. 
  33. Jamaal Williams
  34. J.D. McKissic
  35. Devin Singletary
  36. James Conner
  37. James White
  38. Tevin Coleman
  39. Leonard Fournette — If Bernard’s ankle injury does keep him out Thursday, I would expect Fournette to be the beneficiary in the passing game, and he could be worth starting if that’s the case. Don’t overlook him when waivers run. 
  40. Sony Michel
  41. Michael Carter
  42. Ronald Jones
  43. AJ Dillon
  44. Trey Sermon
  45. Nyheim Hines
  46. Benny Snell
  47. Zack Moss
  48. Malcolm Brown
  49. Phillip Lindsay
  50. Giovani Bernard
  51. Ty’Son Williams
  52. Wayne Gallman
  53. Chris Evans
  54. Jeremy McNichols
  55. Tony Pollard
  56. Darrel Williams
  57. Devontae Booker
  58. Kenneth Gainwell — I’ll be watching the passing downs very closely for the Eagles, because I could see Gainwell taking on a significant role right from the beginning and growing from there. If you’re going to look for a late-round RB to stash, a guy with a locked-in passing role would be the right place to start. 
  59. Latavius Murray
  60. Joshua Kelley

Wide receivers

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Similarly, there isn’t much change at the top of the rankings from the preseason, but beyond that, there’s been quite a bit of movement. Mostly because there are so many talented rookies in the WR class this season who we have high hopes for this season but who we know may not have the roles we expect from Week 1. 

  1. Davante Adams
  2. DeAndre Hopkins — We didn’t see Hopkins in the preseason and he barely practiced as the Cardinals have been managing an ongoing ankle issue, and that probably won’t change once the season starts. However, he’s been playing through that issue for a few years and it hasn’t limited him yet, so I’m not expecting it to be an issue here. 
  3. Stefon Diggs
  4. Tyreek Hill
  5. Calvin Ridley
  6. A.J. Brown
  7. Justin Jefferson
  8. Tyler Lockett — Lockett over Metcalf? Yeah, sure! Metcalf over Lockett? Okay! You can flip flop these guys in my mind. I know Metcalf was drafted well ahead of Lockett, but I’ve had them pretty close all along, and expect both to be awesome.
  9. D.K. Metcalf
  10. Robert Woods
  11. Terry McLaurin
  12. Allen Robinson — Robinson’s got a tough matchup opening the season against Jalen Ramsey, and maybe that might scare you off a bit. That’s not unreasonable, but there’s no way I’m sitting Robinson in Week 1. You don’t draft a WR this early to play matchups. 
  13. Julio Jones — I’m going to move forward with Jones as I have often in recent years: If he’s playing, I’m going to start him as if he’s healthy. The vague leg injury he’s dealt with throughout training camp is a bit of a concern for the 32-year-old, but he’s been moving in the right direction. 
  14. Keenan Allen
  15. Cooper Kupp
  16. Amari Cooper
  17. CeeDee Lamb — The Cowboys open the season with a tough matchup, but Cooper and Lamb are both solid No. 2 Fantasy WR for me. Hopefully, this one turns into the kind of shootout that made both of them so useful early on last season. 
  18. Mike Evans — Evans could benefit from a larger target share if Chris Godwin’s quad injury limits or keeps him out for the opener, so we’ll be looking for details on that. 
  19. D.J. Moore
  20. Adam Thielen
  21. Tee Higgins
  22. Diontae Johnson
  23. Jarvis Landry — With the Browns likely chasing points and Odell Beckham expected to be limited, Landry could be surprisingly productive in this one. 
  24. Corey Davis
  25. Tyler Boyd
  26. Jerry Jeudy
  27. Robby Anderson
  28. Marquez Callaway — This is a pretty aggressive ranking for a guy who basically has one great half of football with Jameis Winston on his side, but I’m willing to be aggressive here since this range of WR doesn’t necessarily thrill me. 
  29. Chris Godwin — We may not know much about Godwin’s status for Thursday night until pre-game warmups, so he’s a risky start as of now. I would lean toward sitting him if I have other reliable options, but that could all change come Thursday afternoon. 
  30. Antonio Brown
  31. Sterling Shepard
  32. Brandin Cooks
  33. Courtland Sutton
  34. Kenny Golladay — It’s hard to know what to expect from Golladay after changing teams and missing most of training camp with a hamstring injury. His big-play skills make him a high-upside play every week, but it’s impossible to argue he’s not a risk right now. 
  35. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  36. Brandon Aiyuk
  37. Deebo Samuel — Samuel and Aiyuk both draw a big ¯_(ツ)_/¯ from me this week. I love the potential for both to be breakout players based on their skill sets — Aiyuk as a more traditional alpha No. 1 WR while Samuel’s playmaking with the ball in his hands makes him a weapon all over the field for a clever offensive playcaller like Kyle Shanahan. However, George Kittle has been the unquestioned No. 1 whenever he’s been on the field, so I worry Aiyuk and Samuel will be fighting for a smaller pieces of a small-ish pie than we’d prefer. 
  38. Chase Claypool
  39. Michael Pittman — Is he ready to take on the No. 1 role without T.Y. Hilton? Is this offense going to be ready to roll after Carson Wentz missed so much of training camp — including most of the last week on the COVID list. Pittman is a high-upside season-long play, but a risk for Week 1. 
  40. Emmanuel Sanders
  41. Jaylen Waddle — We’ll see what the Dolphins offense looks like at full strength in Week 2, but I expect Waddle to be Tagovailoa’s top target in the opener, and his big-play ability makes him an intriguing flex play right away. 
  42. Laviska Shenault
  43. Jakobi Meyers — This feels too low for Meyers, admittedly, especially in PPR. My expectation is he’ll be either the 1a or 1b in this passing game alongside Jonnu Smith, but I also don’t think Hunter Henry will be far behind either, and James White will have his role, too. Add in what should be a pretty run-heavy approach, and I’m a little pessimistic about Meyers. But he’s a fine Flex play or a No. 3 if you’re desperate. 
  44. Rondale Moore — This one is a bet that Moore will have a sizable role from Week 1, but it’s no sure thing. I prefer him as a high-upside dice roll for DFS than someone I want to start in seasonable leagues, because he may end up starting off as the No. 4 WR for the Cardinals. I’ll want to keep an eye on that one early on. 
  45. Mecole Hardman
  46. DJ Chark
  47. Devante Parker
  48. Ja’Marr Chase — This represents a drop of about 20 spots for Chase from the preseason, which might be too aggressive — and I would still be willing to start him in my flex if it came to that. I think there’s a world of upside, but after his poor preseason and training camp, I wonder if there might be training wheels on Chase early on. The Bengals have the depth to work him in slowly if they choose. 
  49. Marvin Jones
  50. Mike Williams
  51. DeVonta Smith
  52. Marquise Brown
  53. Elijah Moore — If we get word Crowder has been ruled out, I could see moving Moore into the WR3 range. Remember, he was the talk of camp before a quad injury limited him in the second half of camp. 
  54. Bryan Edwards
  55. Parris Campbell — Campbell has a nice opportunity with T.Y. Hilton sidelined, and the Colts still seem to like him despite an NFL career marred by injuries through two seasons. We need to see him have a big role before trusting him, but he could be next week’s big waiver add. 
  56. Henry Ruggs
  57. Odell Beckham — My preference would be to avoid Beckham in Week 1, because it sounds like his snaps may be limited this week. If you’re looking for a DFS play or deeper-league stash, Donovan Peoples-Jones has earned rave reviews in camp and could get off to a nice start. 
  58. Darnell Mooney
  59. Jalen Reagor
  60. Dyami Brown — With Curtis Samuel aggravating his groin injury in practice Wednesday, it looks like Brown could play a pretty big role in his NFL debut. He was overlooked throughout draft season, but Brown was a productive player in college who tested well athletically and could fill the deep-threat role I was envisioning for Samuel in the passing game. Ron Rivera called him, “a big play waiting to happen,” Wednesday. 

Tight ends

It’s the Big Three and everyone else here, too. Except even more so on a weekly basis, because you get reminded of how many tight ends are ultimately in that “TD or bust” group. It’s probably everyone outside of the top 10, to be honest. 

  1. Travis Kelce
  2. Darren Waller 
  3. George Kittle — It seems like Kittle ended up a bit behind the other elite tight ends in most drafts toward the end, so it’ll be interesting to see just how the 49ers put their offense to use. We know the questions about quarterback, but there’s also the question of whether Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel will be able to cut into Kittle’s usage. So far, that hasn’t been the case, but we’ve seen very little of the three of them on the field together, so until the games matter, we won’t truly know. Still, he’s close to Waller than the rest of the field. 
  4. Mark Andrews
  5. Logan Thomas — Samuel’s re-injury also moved Thomas up a bit in my rankings, as he was No. 7 before. Thomas figures to be the clear No. 2 option in the passing game as long as Samuel is out, and this game has the potential to turn into a shootout despite two very good defenses going up against one another. Volume is king as tight end, and Thomas is one of the best bets for it this week. 
  6. T.J. Hockenson
  7. Kyle Pitts — We didn’t get to see enough of Pitts in the preseason to know how he’s going to be used, but the expectation remains that he’ll be more of a wide receiver than a tight end. Whether that means he’ll be able to avoid the growing pains that go along with learning to play tight end remains to be seen, but the upside is sky high. If he’s out there playing primarily out of the slot and split wide, Pitts is going to crush his ADP. 
  8. Jonnu Smith
  9. Mike Gesicki — Gesicki didn’t typically rank this high in the preseason, but with Will Fuller out for Week 1, he should be higher in the passing game hierarchy, and his downfield skills make him a viable starter most weeks, even if he’ll be frustrating. 
  10. Noah Fant — Fant is expected to play in Week 1, but the fact that he’s already dealing with a leg injury is already frustrating. Fant has elite upside, but nagging injuries were an issue last season. Hopefully, they don’t continue to limit him. 
  11. Tyler Higbee — Higbee burned a lot of people last year who were expecting a breakout, so the hype has been much more muted around him despite the upgrade from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford. But, with Gerald Everett out of the picture, the breakout could very well come this season instead. 
  12. Dallas Goedert
  13. Hunter Henry
  14. Austin Hooper
  15. Zach Ertz — Over the summer, it seemed like a foregone conclusion Ertz would be traded. Now, it looks like he’s going to play a significant role. That puts both him and Goedert in “touchdown-or-bust” territory for me. 
  16. Tyler Kroft
  17. Robert Tonyan — I worry I’m too low on Tonyan, who earned a lot of praise in camp and very well could be the No. 3 target again. He played somewhat limited snaps last season and was touchdown-dependent, but if he’s got a bigger role, he could very well be a top-12 TE again. 
  18. Jared Cook
  19. Blake Jarwin — I don’t really know what to make of Dallas’ tight end situation, because there didn’t seem to be much separation between Jarwin and Dalton Schultz in camp. I’ll bet on Darwin being the top option there given that he was that before his injury in Week 1 last season, but it’s tough to view him as a starting option until we see that. 
  20. Cole Kmet
  21. Gerald Everett
  22. Anthony Firkser
  23. Rob Gronkowski
  24. Eric Ebron

Flex Top 150

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Alvin Kamara
  3. Davante Adams
  4. Dalvin Cook
  5. DeAndre Hopkins
  6. Stefon Diggs
  7. Joe Mixon
  8. Tyreek Hill
  9. Austin Ekeler
  10. Derrick Henry
  11. Calvin Ridley
  12. Aaron Jones
  13. Najee Harris
  14. Ezekiel Elliott
  15. A.J. Brown
  16. Allen Robinson
  17. Justin Jefferson
  18. James Robinson
  19. Tyler Lockett
  20. D.K. Metcalf
  21. Jonathan Taylor
  22. David Montgomery
  23. Robert Woods
  24. Nick Chubb
  25. Antonio Gibson
  26. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  27. Chris Carson
  28. Julio Jones
  29. Saquon Barkley
  30. Amari Cooper
  31. Myles Gaskin
  32. Terry McLaurin
  33. Keenan Allen
  34. Cooper Kupp
  35. CeeDee Lamb
  36. D’Andre Swift
  37. Mike Davis
  38. Chris Godwin
  39. Mike Evans
  40. D.J. Moore
  41. Darrell Henderson
  42. Miles Sanders
  43. Adam Thielen
  44. Tee Higgins
  45. Diontae Johnson
  46. Jarvis Landry
  47. Josh Jacobs
  48. Corey Davis
  49. Kareem Hunt
  50. Tyler Boyd
  51. Jerry Jeudy
  52. Gus Edwards
  53. Robby Anderson
  54. Marquez Callaway
  55. Chase Edmonds
  56. Melvin Gordon
  57. Antonio Brown
  58. Deebo Samuel
  59. Sterling Shepard
  60. Raheem Mostert
  61. Brandin Cooks
  62. Brandon Aiyuk
  63. Kenny Golladay
  64. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  65. Courtland Sutton
  66. Chase Claypool
  67. Michael Pittman
  68. Emmanuel Sanders
  69. Curtis Samuel
  70. Jaylen Waddle
  71. Laviska Shenault
  72. Jakobi Meyers
  73. Rondale Moore
  74. Mecole Hardman
  75. DJ Chark
  76. Devante Parker
  77. Kenyan Drake
  78. Ja’Marr Chase
  79. Javonte Williams
  80. Marvin Jones
  81. Mike Williams
  82. David Johnson
  83. DeVonta Smith
  84. Marquise Brown
  85. Jamaal Williams
  86. Elijah Moore
  87. Devin Singletary
  88. Bryan Edwards
  89. Damien Harris
  90. Michael Pittman
  91. James Conner
  92. Henry Ruggs
  93. Odell Beckham
  94. James White
  95. Darnell Mooney
  96. Jalen Reagor
  97. Tevin Coleman
  98. Sammy Watkins
  99. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
  100. Michael Gallup
  101. Leonard Fournette
  102. Michael Carter
  103. Ronald Jones
  104. AJ Dillon
  105. Trey Sermon
  106. Nyheim Hines
  107. Russell Gage
  108. Donovan Peoples-Jones
  109. Nelson Agholor
  110. Benny Snell
  111. J.D. McKissic
  112. AJ Green
  113. Parris Campbell
  114. Zack Moss
  115. Terrace Marshall
  116. Malcolm Brown
  117. Gabriel Davis
  118. Josh Reynolds
  119. Tyrell Williams
  120. Allen Lazard
  121. Amon-Ra St. Brown
  122. Phillip Lindsay
  123. Quintez Cephus
  124. Giovani Bernard
  125. Ty’Son Williams
  126. Tre’Quan Smith
  127. KJ Hamler
  128. Demarcus Robinson
  129. Wayne Gallman
  130. Chris Evans
  131. Christian Kirk
  132. Jeremy McNichols
  133. D’Wayne Eskridge
  134. Tony Pollard
  135. Olamide Zaccheaus
  136. Darrel Williams
  137. Devontae Booker
  138. Hunter Renfrow
  139. Sammy Watkins
  140. Kenneth Gainwell
  141. Latavius Murray
  142. Joshua Kelley
  143. Chris Conley
  144. Kendrick Bourne
  145. Tony Jones
  146. Rashaad Penny
  147. Denzel Mims
  148. Carlos Hyde
  149. Richie James
  150. Rhamondre Stevenson

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