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Week 1 Rankings

By Cody Smith

It's finally here! The 2020 season begins on Thursday night and I couldn’t be more excited!

Once again I’m going to bring you my rankings this season along with some players I like/am choosing to avoid for the week, as well as some injury news to keep an eye on.

Without further ado, let’s get the season underway!

Injury Notes

Miles Sanders has been “week-to-week” with a lower body injury that many seem to believe is a hamstring issue. This is something to keep an eye on as the week progresses, but considering this injury has been around for a while and the Eagles did not feel the need to add to the backfield recently in free agency. I would imagine Sanders sees at least some action in Week 1.

Joe Mixon is still listed as questionable with migraine issues, but I’m sure those have cleared up recently thanks to his four-year, $48M contract extension. He should be a full go on Sunday.

Melvin Gordon has been hampered with a rib injury for some time now but did practice on Friday. He should be good to go for Week 1.

David Montgomery’s groin injury that caused quite a stir on social media was supposed to keep him out two-to-four weeks. That happened two weeks ago, giving him an outside shot to play in Week 1.

DeAndre Hopkins and his new contract extension returned to practice on Wednesday. Hopkins had reportedly had a hamstring issue but should get the green light for this weekend.

Amari Cooper has missed quite a few practices in a row lately, though no injury has been reported for the Dallas wide-out. Keep your eyes on Cooper just in case, and have a second option ready, though he doesn’t play until Sunday night.

A.J. Brown has also missed a few practices lately with an undisclosed injury suffered back on August 28th. I believe Brown should be fine, but keep a close eye on his status or any breaking news.

DeVante Parker is another wide-out being nagged by a hamstring injury at the moment, but he was back practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday, meaning he should be good to go this weekend barring a setback.

A duo of Colts tight ends are currently injured with Trey Burton’s calf injury and Jack Doyle’s neck injury. Burton is expected to miss a few games to start the season, opening the door for Doyle, or perhaps even Mo Alie-Cox.

Quarterbacks I like

Patrick Mahomes isn’t the most bold choice here to start the season, but he does face last season’s 30th ranked pass defense on Thursday night when he takes on the Texans. In last year’s playoff game against Houston, Mahomes completed 23-of-35 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns. A repeat could be in the cards this Thursday.

Ben Roethlisberger makes his much-anticipated return to the gridiron Monday night when Pittsburgh faces off against the New York Football Giants. Only the Dolphins and Cardinals allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Giants last season, giving Big Ben a nice season-opening match-up. He’s a QB1 for me this week.

Quarterbacks to avoid

Baker Mayfield starts the season with a tough match-up, as the Browns take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were the second best team against the pass last season, and were able to hold Mayfield to under 18 fantasy points in both of the teams match-ups last season. Baker could bounce back this season, but I’m not expecting a strong Week 1.

Kirk Cousins is another guy in streamer territory that I’m staying away from this week. Like Mayfield, Cousins opens against a division rival in the Green Bay Packers, a team that limited Cousins to a COMBINED 19.7 fantasy points in two games last season. Stay away from Cousins this week.

Quarterback Rankings

1. Patrick Mahomes vs. Hou

2. Lamar Jackson vs. Cle

3. Russell Wilson @Atl

4. Drew Brees vs. TB

5. Dak Prescott @LAR

6. Josh Allen vs. NYJ

7. Matt Ryan vs. Sea

8. Deshaun Watson @KC

9. Kyler Murray @SF

10. Carson Wentz @Wsh

11. Tom Brady @NO

12. Ben Roethlisberger @NYG

13. Cam Newton vs. Mia

14. Matthew Stafford vs. Chi

15. Aaron Rodgers @Min

16. Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Ari

17. Tyrod Taylor @Cin

18. Philip Rivers @Jax

19. Teddy Bridgewater vs. LV

20. Gardner Minshew vs. Ind

21. Jared Goff vs. Dal

22. Mitchell Trubisky @Det

23. Derek Carr @Car

24. Kirk Cousins vs. GB

25. Ryan Tannehill @Den

26. Baker Mayfield @Bal

27. Drew Lock vs. Ten

28. Joe Burrow vs. LAC

29. Sam Darnold @Buf

30. Daniel Jones vs. Pit

31. Ryan Fitzpatrick @NE

32. Dwayne Haskins vs. Phi

Runningbacks I like

Josh Jacobs has the perfect opportunity to get off on the right foot in 2020 as he opens the season against Carolina, who was worst in the league at defending the run last season. The combination of the Panthers being bad against the run and Jacobs being a bell-cow back in the Las Vegas' offense should lead to big fantasy numbers.

Marlon Mack is a name that many folks are forgetting about, thanks to Indianapolis’ addition of Jonathan Taylor in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, Mack should be the lead back in Week 1 while Taylor continues to lead the offense and get a few in-game reps. Last year against the Jags defense, Mack had games of 14-109-1 and 15-77-2, so don’t overlook his potential.

Runningbacks to Avoid

Don’t misconstrue my words here, because if you own Alvin Kamara, you’re starting him this week. This just isn’t a juicy match-up for the fourth-year veteran. Tampa Bay had a stout run defense last year, as they limited Christian McCaffrey to his lone single-digit fantasy performance. In two games last year, Kamara posted rushing lines of 16-62-0 and 13-75-0 against Tampa. Play Kamara but know that a mediocre game is more likely that a true top-tier RB1 game.

I’m also avoiding the duo that will be taking part in the same game, as Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette will more than likely be sharing duties to open the season. Bruce Arians has spouted many things this preseason about how great Jones is and how he is “the guy", but the team still brought in Fournette to help in the backfield. I’m keeping these guys on my bench until we see how this split is going to work out. Especially against the Saints, last year’s sixth best defense against the run.

Running Back Rankings

1. Christian McCaffrey vs. LV

2. Zeke Elliott @LAR

3. Josh Jacobs @Car

4. Saquon Barkley vs. Pit

5. Dalvin Cook vs. GB

6. Derrick Henry @Den

7. Kenyan Drake @SF

8. Clyde Edwards-Helaire @Hou

9. Miles Sanders @Wsh

10. Nick Chubb @Bal

11. Joe Mixon vs. LAC

12. David Johnson @KC

13. Alvin Kamara vs. TB

14. Todd Gurley vs. Sea

15. Austin Ekeler @Cin

16. Chris Carson @Atl

17. Le’Veon Bell @Buf

18. Aaron Jones @Min

19. James Conner @NYG

20. Kareem Hunt @Bal

21. Mark Ingram II vs. Cle

22. David Montgomery @Det

23. Melvin Gordon vs. Ten

24. Raheem Mostert vs. Ari

25. Antonio Gibson vs. Phi

26. Marlon Mack @Jax

27. J.K. Dobbins vs. Cle

28. Ronald Jones II @NO

29. Jordan Howard @NE

30. D’Andre Swift vs. Chi

31. Leonard Fournette @NO

32. Matt Breida @NE

33. Kerryon Johnson vs. Chi

34. Jonathan Taylor @Jax

35. Devin Singletary vs. NYJ

36. Sony Michel vs. Mia

37. Boston Scott @Wsh

38. James White vs. Mia

39. Tevin Coleman vs. Ari

40. Tarik Cohen @Det

41. James Robinson vs. Ind

42. Phillip Lindsay vs. Ten

43. Chris Thompson vs. Ind

44. Malcolm Brown vs. Dal

45. Cam Akers vs. Dal

46. Darrell Henderson Jr. vs. Dal

47. Duke Johnson @KC

48. Zack Moss vs. NYJ

49. Latavius Murray vs. TB

50. Chase Edmonds @SF

Wide Receivers I Like

Allen Robinson makes my list thanks to the wise decision the team made to stick with Mitch Trubisky as the starter. Trubisky and Robinson were solid together last year, as Robinson produced 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven TDs. In Week 1, Robinson faces the Lions, who were second-worst in the league at defending the pass last season. In two games last year, Robinson went 6-86-0 and 8-86-1, an average of 18.6 PPR fantasy points-per-game. Start Robinson with confidence this week.

Terry McLaurin gets the Eagles in Week 1 after absolutely torching them twice in his rookie season. The teams faced off in Week 1 last year as well, and the rookie hauled in five receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown, en route to becoming one of the hottest waiver wire pickups in the early season. Later in the year McLaurin went off again, posting a 5-130-1 line. Even with the addition of Darius Slay to the Eagles defense, I feel like McLaurin could still produce a solid game.

Wide Receivers to avoid

Tyler Boyd/A.J. Green get my hate list started for many reasons. First off, they’ll be catching passes from a rookie quarterback in his first start with no preseason experience to get him acquainted to the speed of the game. Next, the opponent. Cincy is taking on the loaded secondary of the LA Chargers in Week 1, which will be a daunting task for any wide receiver this season, let alone one dealing with a rookie under center. Temper expectations, and perhaps even bench your Bengals' wide receivers in this one.

If Robert Woods has a similar outing against the Dallas Cowboys as he did last year, the Rams – and your fantasy team - are going to be in trouble Sunday night. In a Week 15 game against Dallas last season, Woods caught just four passes for 17 yards, while Tyler Higbee and Cooper Kupp had a field day against the Dallas' defense. I’m concerned it could happen again, if the Rams enter with a similar game plan to last season’s game.

Wide Receiver Rankings

1. Michael Thomas vs. TB

2. Tyreek Hill vs. Hou

3. Julio Jones vs. Sea

4. Allen Robinson @Det

5. Chris Godwin @NO

6. D.J. Moore vs. LV

7. Davante Adams @Min

8. DeAndre Hopkins @SF

9. Juju Smith-Schuster @NYG

10. Kenny Golladay vs. Chi

11. Adam Thielen vs. GB

12. Amari Cooper @LAR

13. Odell Beckham Jr. @Bal

14. Mike Evans @NO

15. Calvin Ridley vs. Sea

16. Julian Edelman vs. Mia

17. Terry McLaurin vs. Phi

18. Courtland Sutton vs. Ten

19. D.J. Chark vs. Ind

20. D.K. Metcalf @Atl

21. Tyler Lockett @Atl

22. Keenan Allen @Cin

23. Stefon Diggs vs. NYJ

24. T.Y. Hilton @Jax

25. Cooper Kupp vs. Dal

26. Will Fuller V @KC

27. Hollywood Brown vs. Cle

28. A.J. Brown @Den

29. Diontae Johnson @NYG

30. Jarvis Landry @Bal

31. Michael Gallup @LAR

32. Robert Woods vs. Dal

33. DeSean Jackson @Wsh

34. A.J. Green vs. LAC

35. Marvin Jones Jr. vs. Chi

36. Tyler Boyd vs. LAC

37. Sterling Shepard vs. Pit

38. Jamison Crowder @Buf

39. DeVante Parker @NE

40. Emmanuel Sanders vs. TB

41. Robby Anderson vs. LV

42. John Brown vs. NYJ

43. Golden Tate vs. Pit

44. Christian Kirk @SF

45. Preston Williams @NE

46. Darius Slayton vs. Pit

47. CeeDee Lamb @LAR

48. Jerry Jeudy vs. Ten

49. Henry Ruggs III @Car

50. Curtis Samuel vs. LV

Tight Ends I like

I’m going chalky again here and taking George Kittle as the first TE I like this week. Even when everyone on the 49ers is healthy, Kittle is the number one pass catching option on the team. With the wide receiving corps decimated, Jimmy Garoppolo will almost certainly be looking his way all game long. Kittle also draws a match-up with the Arizona Cardinals to start the season, a team that allowed 60 more fantasy points to tight ends than anyone else in the league in 2019. Kittle will be a monster in Week 1, and may even be the highest scoring player of the week.

Tyler Higbee gets a shot in Week 1 to replicate his huge Week 15 from last season against the Cowboys. In that game Higbee posted a line of 12-111-0 en route to 23.1 PPR fantasy points. He could do it again if the Rams feel like they want to attack with a similar game plan to last season’s game. Higbee should easily put up top-10 numbers this week.

Tight Ends to avoid

This one stings, but I’m going Mike Gesicki here in Week 1. Over the course of the season I project Gesicki to be a low-end TE1, but he faces the New England Patriots in Week 1, who shut down tight ends very well last season. In two games against the Pats last year, Gesicki posted lines of 1-11-0 in Week 2 and 4-34-1 in Week 17, not exactly the numbers you’re looking for to get the season started.

Austin Hooper also faces a tough battle in Week 1, in his first game with his new team. It often takes players some time to gel with a new team, and with a lack of preseason games to help make that happen, I would imagine Hooper gets off to a slow start. Pair that with the fact he is facing the Ravens in Week 1, and Hooper is a clear bench option this week.

Tight End Rankings

1. George Kittle vs. Ari

2. Mark Andrews vs. Cle

3. Zach Ertz @Wsh

4. Travis Kelce vs. Hou

5. Tyler Higbee vs. Dal

6. Evan Engram vs. Pit

7. Hunter Henry @Cin

8. Darren Waller @Car

9. Hayden Hurst vs. Sea

10. Noah Fant vs. Ten

11. Jared Cook vs. TB

12. Eric Ebron @NYG

13. Blake Jarwin @LAR

14. Jack Doyle @Jax

15. Irv Smith Jr. vs. GB

16. T.J. Hockenson vs. Chi

17. Jonnu Smith @Den

18. Mike Gesicki vs. NE

19. Rob Gronkowski @NO

20. Chris Herndon @Buf

21. Austin Hooper @Bal

22. Dallas Goedert @Wsh

23. Ian Thomas vs. LV

24. Tyler Eifert vs. Ind

25. Jimmy Graham @Det

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