Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings - The NFL Blueprint

Sep 4th 2023

Hayden Winks

Every site has a fantasy football rankings column. None of them will be as charted up on a Thursday afternoon up as this one. I'll go position-by-position with the charts, matchup notes, film, and injury nuggets that I view as worth your time.

Week 1 QB Rankings

1. Lamar Jackson - Ravens vs. HOU (26.75 team total, -10.0 spread)

Baltimore projects for the 3rd-highest team total of the week (26.75) in a comfy home matchup with the unproven Texans. Lamar was the MVP with 2nd-year Mark Andrews, 1st-year Marquise Brown, Willie Snead, and Nick Boyle as his top targets. His pass-game weapons now go four deep after his new OC Todd Monken is bringing back a faster-paced, aerial offense. The play volume for Lamar could go way up. I'm excited.

2. Patrick Mahomes - Chiefs vs. DET (28.5, -4.5)

It's hilarious that the Chiefs are down elite DT1 Chris Jones and elite TE1 Travis Kelce (knee), and are still massive favorites while projected for the most points (29.5) on the week. That's Mahomes for you. I anticipate more scrambling and trickeration without Kelce, and it still working very well. The Lions are breaking in a new MLB, NCB, CB1, and CB2 this week after allowing the most fantasy points to QBs.

As for his receivers, I'm expecting Kadarius Toney (questionable), Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Justin Watson to play around 25-75% of the snaps. Richie James should barely mix in as a primary special teamer, while Rashee Rice is likely buried in the slot pecking order. It's possible that Justyn Ross or Rice is a healthy scratch, too. From ESPN's Adam Teicher: "Judging from how the Chiefs utilized their receivers in training camp, Valdes-Scantling, Moore and Watson will get the most playing time. Toney missed all of camp after having surgery for a torn meniscus, but is back at practice and should be available to play against the Lions."

A great note from Yahoo's Nate Tice: "No defense ran Cover 1 more frequently in 2022 than the Lions, a trend that continued as they topped the leaderboard again during this preseason, doubling the league average rate."

3. Jalen Hurts - Eagles at NE (24.5, -4.0)

Hurts had the 6th-best fantasy QB season of all time last year, despite completing only 2.5 passes in 4th quarters due to blowouts. While this is an extremely tough matchup on the road against last year's No. 2 passing EPA defense, Hurts has offensive environment to remain in the QB1 mix. They were 5th in neutral pace and 8th in neutral pass rate last year, and I expect the Patriots offense to be watchable and faster-paced this year. Hurts will likely test 1st-round rookie CB Christian Gonzalez on the perimeter. His rushing production could be constricted by the Patriots' front-seven speed and depth.

4. Justin Herbert - Chargers vs. MIA (27.0, -3.0)

Pro Bowl LT Rashawn Slater (14% snaps in 2022), Keenan Allen (43%), and Mike Williams (59%) are all healthy, while the Dolphins have CBs Jalen Ramsey (IR), Keion Crossen (IR), and Nik Needham (PUP) sidelined. Better weapons and an in-tact rib cage work in Herbert's favor, as does the OC change. The betting markets have the Chargers projected for the 2nd-most points this week. Things should be way better with new DC Vic Fangio and an emerging front seven for the Dolphins, but they were 29th against fantasy QBs last season.

5. Josh Allen - Bills at NYJ (24.0, -2.5)

Buffalo won't be projected for 23.5 points very often, if at all. But that's a credit to the Jets defense. They were 6th-best in passing EPA allowed and 6th-best in fantasy QB points allowed with top-2 NFL CB Sauce Gardner and stud DT Quinnen Williams leading the way. Allen only had 147-1-0 and 205-0-2 passing lines against New York last season, though they were in the peak of his elbow issues. Aaron Rodgers' slow-paced style also hurts Allen's play volume, but it's impossible to rank Allen lower than this. He averaged an absurd 26 fantasy points in his healthy games last year.

6. Joe Burrow - Bengals at CLE (24.75, -2.0)

This is a neutral at best matchup for Burrow, who we are assuming is near full health coming off a lingering calf injury. The Browns defense was a complete run funnel last year (No. 1 neutral run rate allowed) but cleaned up their porous DL this offseason. Cincy will pass heavily after finishing 1st in neutral pass rate from Week 10 on, and hopefully the Browns offense can keep up on the other side. The Browns are switching their offense to a faster-paced, spread style, which could be a problem for a Bengals defense that lost both of their starting safeties and faced a backup QB on 46% of their snaps last year (most in the NFL). Burrow will be close to the league leader in pass attempts.

7. Trevor Lawrence - Jaguars at IND (25.25, -4.5)

I'm confused why the Jaguars aren't projected for more points, especially if Indy's offense continues to play with the fastest offensive pace as they did in the preseason. The Colts defense was 16th in passing EPA allowed last year, and this offseason they lost CB Stephon Gilmore, EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, LB Bobby Okereke, CB Brandon Facyson, CB Isaiah Rodgers, and S Rodney McLeod. Meanwhile, Lawrence adds a potential top-10 WR in Calvin Ridley, who checked boxes all camp and preseason. The only hiccup in Jacksonville is their inexperienced offensive line. 2021 2nd-rounder LT Walker Little and 1st-round rookie RT Anton Harrison at least have legit upside.

8. Geno Smith - Seahawks vs. LAR (25.25, -4.5)

It's a beautiful week to be a Geno truther. The Rams were 29th in adjusted sack rate and 27th in passing EPA allowed last year, and this offseason their defense lost the most cap value ($49M) in part to trading away CB Jalen Ramsey. Right now they only have 1 player on defense who was a 1st- or 2nd-round pick (Aaron Donald). Read that again... Insane. The Seahawks are tied for the 4th-highest team total (25.75) of the week.

9. Kirk Cousins - Vikings vs. TB (25.75, -5.5)

In 10 dome games last year, Cousins averaged 282 yards vs. 245 yards in outdoor games. The Bucs defense was middle of the pack in all categories last year and didn't make many moves this offseason while clearing cap space post Tom Brady. Cousins upgrades his TE1 and WR2 this offseason, making Minnesota one of the highest-projected passing offenses. The Vikings are 4th with 25.75 projected points this week. Keep in mind that the Vikings' two outside CBs have a combined 100 pass coverage snaps in the NFL. There's shootout potential all year long.

10. Justin Fields - Bears vs. GB (21.5, -0.5)

Offenses chose to run the ball in neutral situations at the 4th-highest rate against the Packers defense last year. The Bears had 27% and 50% neutral pass rates against Green Bay last year leading to 162 scoreless yards and 1.5 INTs per game, so little passing volume is expected as normal. Fields remains the most boom-bust fantasy QB1, and the accuracy, decision making, and passing concepts were suspect this preseason. We did see explosive plays from an improved skill group, however. Fields needs D.J. Moore to even out his 2022 production. He averaged just 15.3 fantasy points if you remove his 3 55+ yard TD runs. Packers star EDGE Rashan Gary will be on a snap count coming off a torn ACL.

11. Dak Prescott - Cowboys at NYG (24.5, -3.5)

It's likely new play-caller Mike McCarthy plays slower than ex-OC Kellen Moore did (1st in neutral pace), but it's also likely McCarthy plays into his personnel and continues to pass the ball heavily. Prescott's weapons look a little better, with Brandin Cooks operating as the deep threat, Michael Gallup feeling healthier in year two of his torn ACL, and with Tony Pollard playing more snaps in general. The Giants defense does look way deeper on paper, after finishing 24th in passing EPA allowed and 32nd against the run. This should be a good game.

12. Deshaun Watson - Browns vs. CIN (22.75, +2.0)

The Browns will use more spread principles to maximize where Watson wins, and he'll get a fine home opener to figure things out, as the Bengals are replacing both of their starting safeties. Watson's skill group is strong and complementary, but it's unclear if he's cooked. Last year, Watson had career lows in average depth of target while holding onto the ball at the highest rate of his career. Not good. The betting markets are middling Watson's 2022 performance with what he did in Houston, by giving the Browns a 23.5-point team total. I'll follow suit.

13. Jared Goff - Lions at KC (24.5, +4.5)

The Lions were 29th in neutral pass rate last year but will likely be forced to throw while in catch up mode in Kansas City. Goff's offensive line is full of killers, and the Chiefs will be without superstar DT Chris Jones who led the position in pressure rate. Goff is efficient when he has time to throw, and a young rotation of edge rushers isn't that intimidating. The Chiefs were the 31st versus fantasy QBs last year. Goff is the upside QB2 of the week.

From Yahoo's Nate Tice (a GOAT in the industry): "On the 131 opponent dropbacks with Chris Jones not on the field? The Chiefs ranked 29th in pressure rate (30.7%), 32nd in pressure rate with four pass rushers (22.9%) and 31st in average time to pressure (2.68 seconds)."

14. Anthony Richardson - Colts vs. JAX (20.75, +4.5)

The inaccuracy issue won't be solved in 2023, but there are backdoor QB1 avenues for the inexperienced Richardson. He's proved to be near impossible to sack because of his strength, and he was able to scramble for easy first downs. His rushing projection is improved by what could be a very fast offense. In fact, the Colts were 1st in no huddle rate and pace this offseason. The Jaguars should carve through the Colts' defense, so Richardson should have garbage time to work in. Jacksonville has an emerging defensive line but was 25th against fantasy QBs last year. In general, Richardson will project better in the later parts of the year. Every snap is important for his development. He only had 455 dropbacks in college.

15. Daniel Jones - Giants vs. DAL (21.0, +3.5)

Jones broke out in fantasy by nearly doubling his designed QB run rate and his scramble rate. He'll need to run around against the No. 1 adjusted sack rate defense, but the hope is the Giants' additions of Darren Waller and Jalin Hyatt will threaten defenses downfield and up the seam; New York was dead last in deep completions in 2022. Jones should have more time to throw with 2022 1st-round RT Evan Neal going into year two and 2023 2nd-round C John Michael-Schmitz starting from the jump.

16. Tua Tagovailoa - Dolphins at LAC (24.0, +3.0)

Through Week 12, only Mahomes was ahead of Tua in pass efficiency metrics. Then defenses made changes late in the year, forcing more sideline throws (65% before Week 12 vs. 75% after Week 12) by playing more press-man coverage and dropping a robber in the middle of the field. The Chargers partially laid out that blueprint last year, when Tua completed 36% of his passes for 145 yards in Week 14. Miami is expected to run the ball more in 2023, which we saw late last year. Tua is always capable of boom weeks with his speedy WRs. The odds of those are decreased if star LT Terron Armstead (questionable) is out. I like Dolphins u24.5.

17. Aaron Rodgers - Jets vs. BUF (21.5, +2.5)

Rodgers seems to trust about 10 people on the planet, and most of them are in the Jets' building right now. The vibes have been good, assuming the OL holds up. 2021 1st-rounder Mekhi Becton will move to right tackle. The Bills can rush the passer (13th in adjusted sak rate) but are missing Von Miller (PUP), while starting the oldest safety duo. CB1 Tre'Davious White is coming off his worst season due to injury, too. Buffalo's defense is beatable in my opinion. With that said, Rodgers' offenses have taken a month or two before jelling before. There's moving parts at OL, WR, and RB right now.

18. Russell Wilson - Broncos vs. LV (23.5, -3.5)

Denver's offense was sloppy in the preseason and will be without their top player (Jerry Jeudy) most likely. Coach Sean Payton is expected to call a balanced offense in hopes of hiding last year's No. 30 adjusted sack rate offense. The Raiders still have holes defensively, but 1st-round EDGE Tyree Wilson, CB Marcus Peters, S Marcus Epps, and LB Robert Spillane were nice offseason additions next to star EDGE Maxx Crosby. Wilson's weight loss is a sign that he'll partially rebound in his movement stats, after setting career lows in sacks and pressure-to-sack rate.

19. Sam Howell - Commanders vs. ARI (22.5, -7.0)

Already awful, the Cardinals defense lost EDGE J.J. Watt, EDGE Zach Allen, LB/S Isaiah Simmons, and CB Byron Murphy this offseason. If not for Terry McLaurin's (questionable) turf toe, this would be a pristine opener for Howell, who had 828 rushing yards and 11 rushing TDs in his final collegiate season. His feet are too happy and his eyes are too chaotic for consistent production in my opinion, but Howell wins in ways that are helpful for fantasy (scrambling and deep-ball aggressiveness). We'll see if the Commanders pass more than they did last year with a new OC. From Week 10 on last year, Washington was dead last in neutral pass rate, while ranking 20th in neutral pace.

20. Derek Carr - Saints vs. TEN (22.25, -3.0)

In his New Orleans debut, Carr faces last year's biggest pass funnel. Offenses facing the Titans passed the ball at the highest rate in neutral situations because the Titans' DL is full of savages (1st in rushing EPA), while their CB group is lacking. That largely remains true in 2023, so hopefully the Saints' way-too-conservative coaching staff opens things up this week. Michael Thomas and Rashid Shaheed are expected to play.

21. Brock Purdy - 49ers at PIT (22.0, -2.5)

In his 8 healthy games, Purdy averaged 231 passing yards (would've been QB16) and 2.0 passing TDs (would've been QB5), thanks to 6.2 yards after the catch per reception (QB3). He'll need quick passes in the opener, as the Steelers pass rush looks to rebound after an injury-plagued 2022. Pittsburgh found multiple new starters at CB, welcomes T.J. Watt back to full health, and added two flashy pass rushers in the draft. Purdy scored 2-3 TDs with 234 yards per game against the 23rd, 17th, 24th, 8th, 31st, 19th, and 24th best passing EPA defenses last year, then had 214 scoreless yards against the Cowboys' No. 3 defense in the playoffs.

22. Kenny Pickett - Steelers vs. SF (19.5, +2.5)

Nobody won the preseason more than the Steelers' young offense. Pickett's mobility is very underrated, and his anticipation and decision-making look appear to be in a better spot after an up-and-down rookie year. He did finish 2nd in PFF grade, 2nd in big time throws, and 1st in turnover rate from Week 12 on last year, however. Pittsburgh will eventually look competent on offense, but it's a fairly rough matchup even without EDGE1 Nick Bosa (contract). The 49ers have star DT Javon Hargrave and super star LB Fred Warner up the middle.

23. Matthew Stafford - Rams at SEA (20.75, +4.5)

With Cooper Kupp (hamstring) last year, Stafford was the QB22 in yards per attempt and the QB26 in PFF grade. The OL injuries caved the pocket, and Stafford wasn't very healthy. Those issues seem better than they were last year, however, and passing volume should work in Stafford's favor like it did in the old Lions days. The Rams defense will get shredded by Seattle, so a backdoor QB2 finish is possible even if Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee are his top options. The Seahawks will start 1st round CB Devon Witherspoon, and star S Jamal Adams still needs time in his recovery. This Seattle unit was 24th in passing EPA allowed last year.

24. Mac Jones - Patriots vs. PHI (20.5, +4.0)

The Patriots OC last year is now a "senior defensive assistant" for the Eagles. Jones having a legit play caller is being under-discussed this offseason, especially with Bill O'Brien coming from Alabama where Jones lit it up. Jones still has a slow supporting cast and issues on the OL, where the starting lineup still hasn't been set. But more RPOs and play action should help the consistency of the offense. The first matchup is tough, yet potentially overrated. Philadelphia was the 1st in passing EPA allowed and 4th in adjusted sack rate last year, but they did lose $46M worth of defensive players this offseason (2nd most) and primarily replaced them with rotational first-round rookies. This battle will be won in the trenches, and hopefully General O'Brien can play with more pace and utilize the RPOs that play to Jones' strengths in the opener. That'd get me optimistic for a Patriots rebound in 2023.

25. Baker Mayfield - Bucs at MIN (20.25, +5.5)

It's best to throw out any play-calling tendencies or efficiency with a new OC and QB. Mayfield should look better this year than last year after getting an entire offseason with the team, but his OL is a legit mess after C Ryan Jensen (knee) was deemed out for the year. Tampa Bay's personnel fits a more pass-heavy lean with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin leading the charge, especially against a Vikings defense that was 24th in passing EPA allowed and 30th in adjusted sack rate. Minnesota will be starting a 3rd-round rookie CB in a new scheme led by the blitz- and man-heavy Brian Flores. An interception or two could be accompanied by some fluffy passing yardage in a quiet shootout.

26. Jordan Love - Packers at CHI (20.0, +1.5)

I've moved him down with news of Christian Watson (out) and Romeo Doubs (questionable) missing practice. Green Bay is likely to play a bit faster without Aaron Rodgers, but it's unclear how much they'll pass the ball with the youngest starting skill group in the NFL. Love had an up-and-down preseason, though his rookie pass-catchers look like real contributors. The Bears were dead last in adjusted sack rate and passing EPA allowed last year, but they added LB Tremaine Edmunds, EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE DeMarcus Walker, and LB T.J. Edwards in free agency and starting CB Tyrique Stevenson in the 2nd round of the draft. It's not a cupcake defense anymore.

27. Desmond Ridder - Falcons vs. CAR (21.5, -3.5)

I wasn't impressed with Ridder's late-season rookie games, largely because of his jarring inaccuracies. In fact, he was 34th in completion percentage over expected, 42nd in yards per attempt, and dead last in PFF grade when kept clean among 50 qualifying QBs. The good news is his weapons have godly catch radiuses, and the Falcons' diverse ground game is among the best in the NFL. Carolina has a ton of 1st-round talent on defense, but they vastly underperformed in 2022. New DC Ejiro Evero is a genius and eventual head coach candidate, so it'd be a surprise if the Panthers defense didn't take a big leap in 2023.

28. Ryan Tannehill - Titans at NO (19.25, +3.0)

Assuming Treylon Burks (knee) is starting, I like the Titans odds of playing better than expected. It's the coach Mike Vrabel DNA, and this veteran-led team should be better early in the season than late. The Saints lost multiple key defensive starters and have their worst pass rushing group since the Obama administration. Even CB1 Marshon Lattimore hasn't been himself since 2021 and has missed time late in August with a knee injury. More importantly, Titans OC Tim Kelley has vowed to play with more pace now that the pass-catching group looks functional. An average to slightly-below average offense can't be ruled out, even if this is the worst OL on paper.

29. Jimmy Garoppolo - Raiders at DEN (20.0, +3.5)

The bones of the Raiders offense won't be changed that much with the QB swap. Derek Carr threw deeper downfield than Jimmy G has ever done, but Vegas will deploy a variety of formations, run the ball in neutral situations, and spam passes to Davante Adams. It's a very difficult debut against CB Patrick Surtain and the Broncos' No. 3 defense versus fantasy QBs.

30. Bryce Young - Panthers at ATL (18.0, +3.5)

Young's preseason anticipation and poise have been as advertised, but the supporting cast around him was worse than expected. The skill group aside from 2nd-round rookie WR Jonathan Mingo lacks any juice, LT Ikem Ekwonu had a brutal preseason stretch, and RG Austin Corbett is on PUP. Young will need to run more than he did in college to be fantasy relevant in this offense, but there were some flashes of escapability in the preseason. His Week 1 matchup is solid, even if the Falcons added $56M new cap dollars to the defensive roster (most in the NFL). Expect a balanced approach while Carolina figures out who is deserving of getting the rock.

31. C.J. Stroud - Texans at BAL (17.0, +9.5)

The thesis of the Texans' OL being better than advertised has been shattered with 2022 1st-round OG Kenyon Green and 2nd-round rookie C Juice Scruggs placed on injured reserve and with RT Tytus Howard (hand) very questionable to play. Stroud will have his hands full immediately, playing on the road against an experienced defense that ranked 4th in EPA per play allowed from Week 9 on when LB Roquan Smith was traded for. Baltimore at least is missing CB Marcus Peters (Raiders), DT Calais Campbell (Falcons), S Chuck Clark (Jets), and CB Marlon Humphrey (questionable). Even with all of that, the betting markets have Houston at a lowly 16.5 projected points.

32. Josh Dobbs - Cardinals at WAS (15.5, +7.0)


Week 1 RB Rankings

  1. Christian McCaffrey

  2. Austin Ekeler

  3. Tony Pollard - He's in the "eruption spot" quadrant. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 14.0 points.

  4. Nick Chubb - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 13.7 points.

  5. Josh Jacobs - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 12.9 points.

  6. Bijan Robinson - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 12.5 points.

  7. Saquon Barkley

  8. Joe Mixon - The Browns were 27th versus fantasy RBs and 30th in rushing EPA allowed last year, though they did make some meaningful additions up front. More importantly, Mixon could be top-5 in RB receptions without Samaje Perine. It's still unclear who will be complementing Mixon, if there's someone at all. Mixon has one of the very best roles in all of fantasy, not just at RB. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 12.5 points.

  9. Derrick Henry - This is as low as we can rank the Big Dog, even when the Titans have the 3rd-worst implied point total on the week. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 14.3 points, which was way more than expected.

  10. Alexander Mattison - The Bucs have been a pass funnel for a few years (6th vs RBs and 25th vs WRs), but their personnel is getting a little worse in the box. Either way, Mattison should have a 60% or higher snap rate on an offense projected for the 4th-most points this week. We'll see if Ty Chandler steals pass-down work. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 11.8 points.

  11. Rhamondre Stevenson (Questionable) - I'm not moving him down because of an illness, unless there's more news on the topic.

  12. Kenneth Walker - Seattle is tied for 3rd in projected points as huge home favorites. Aaron Donald is the only Ram defensive player drafted in the 1st or 2nd round in the NFL Draft. This home run hitter is sitting fastball on a 3-1 count. It's time to let it rip. ... Even though he was limited in practice on Thursday and Friday, Walker was left off the final injury report because they were just being precautious.

  13. Travis Etienne - The Colts defense is very mid, and their offense might play faster. Those are good things for Etienne, who can still have upside RB1/2 weeks even if Tank Bigsby is complementing him. Expect Etienne's role to be biggest early in the year. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 10.9 points.

  14. Jahmyr Gibbs - It's the perfect game script (7-point dogs) for his rookie debut, especially with star DT Chris Jones out. Even without goal line touches, Gibbs can be a borderline RB1/2 with a projected 3.5 receptions in the Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby. The Chiefs allowed the most receptions to RBs (107) last year.

  15. Raheem Mostert - No Jeff Wilson (IR) and 3rd-round rookie De'Von Achane is a healthy scratch after operating as the team's RB5 in preseason. Salvon Ahmed is the No. 2 right now, which means Mostert is likely a clear-cut RB1 in the offense. The matchups is really nice, too. The Chargers are trying to improve this, but they were 30th in rushing EPA allowed and 26th against fantasy RBs. This seems like a fake stat: LAC allowed 5.6 yards per carry, leading to the 2nd most rushing yards allowed to RBs last year. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 11.3 points.

  16. Aaron Jones - Chicago was 31st vs. fantasy RBs last year, but they did make multiple additions in their front seven. Green Bay is a slight dog on the road here, which is fine for Jones who theoretically would lose more snaps when running the clock with leads. Expect Jones to be a safety blanket early on, but it's hard for him to score TDs with A.J. Dillon receiving more goal-line work last year. It helps that the Packers' WR group is really banged up. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his total yard projection at 85.5.

  17. Cam Akers - The Seahawks were 26th in rushing EPA and 28th vs fantasy RBs last year, but they paid DT Dre'Mont Jones a ton of money to fix that issue. Akers has better touch projections without Cooper Kupp this week. In fact, the Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his total yard projection at a very healthy 84.5. Without any preseason usage, it's hard to tell just how much pass pro wizard Kyren Williams will play at Akers' expense.

  18. Miles Sanders - The matchup versus the Falcons is fine -- it's actually an "eruption spot" on the chart -- but this aggressive ranking is because of his underrated role. The Panthers view Sanders as a pseudo bellcow, who can be a factor in the pass game with a check-down QB. He's on a nicely-paid, 2-year contract with team options in year three and four. This profiles gets fed historically. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 10.5 points.

  19. Dameon Pierce - Bellcow usage is in play, but the Week 1 environment is brutal on the road against a LB Roquan Smith led defense that was 4th in EPA per play allowed from Week 9 on last year. They were also top-8 versus fantasy RBs in particular. Houston is only projected for 16.5 points this week as massive dogs. Pierce will need those preseason third-down routes to translate. I think they will. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 10.2 points.

  20. D'Andre Swift - Nobody should be confident in their Eagles RB projection, but my best guess is Swift is the starter with some pass-game involvement, Gainwell plays in clear passing situations, Penny gets every 2nd or 3rd drive, and all three are viable short-yardage options, next to true goal-line RB1 Jalen Hurts. It'll be messy, and I don't see a "Miles Sanders role" in this committee. Philly is projected for fewer points than normal this week, and New England was 3rd against fantasy RBs last year. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 7.7 points.

  21. David Montgomery - Game script works against DMont here, as the Chiefs were 29th in carries allowed and 1st in receptions allowed to RBs. Still, Montgomery isn't a zero in the receiving game and he's still a TD candidate in an offense projected for a fine-enough 23.5 points. The coaching staff made him a priority this offseason and has continued to talk him up.

  22. Jamaal Williams - This assumes Kendre Miller (hamstring) is limited or out, in addition to Alvin Kamara's suspension. The matchup is really tough for the Twerk God. Tennessee was 1st in rushing EPA allowed, 2nd versus fantasy RBs, and offenses facing the Titans chose to pass the ball at the highest rate in neutral situations. This is a pass funnel. Williams should have his highest snap count of the season here as a saving grace. The practice squad RBs were just added from other rosters on September 1st. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 8.9 points, which seems light to me given the circumstances.

  23. James Conner - A true bellcow on the league's worst projected offense (16.5 points). The Commanders were 4th against fantasy RBs last year and arguably are better this year now that some of their studs are healthier. Refresh the box score and hope he found the end zone.

  24. J.K. Dobbins - The Texans allowed the most TDs to RBs last year, and Baltimore is projected for the 2nd-most points this week in a friendly home game script. It's unclear what role Dobbins will have after missing the preseason, but the upside case is obvious. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 11.6 points. The Athletic writes, "It seems unlikely J.K. Dobbins will have a huge workload right out of the chute given how much training camp he missed. It also seems unlikely Justice Hill will quickly morph back into the forgotten man offensively. He fits well in Monken’s offense."

  25. Isiah Pacheco - Projected for 10.5 half PPR points in the Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby, Pacheco is a TD-or-bust committee member on the only offense projected to score 30 points this week. The downside risk is Clyde Edwards-Helaire actually started the Preseason Week 3 game ahead of Pacheco. There's a big difference between a 2- and 3-way.

  26. Brian Robinson - He opens the season as 7-point home favorites against the defense that allowed the 4th-most rushing TDs and 3rd-most fantasy points to RBs last year. The Cardinals also lost four very key members of their defense and are essentially tanking on offense. B-Rob needs positive game scripts to pay off. He has it here. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 9.5 points.

  27. Javonte Williams - The Broncos are projected for a healthy 24.0 points at home against the Raiders, who were 28th versus fantasy RBs. We also expect coach Sean Payton to call a balanced offense, especially with WR Jerry Jeudy sidelined. This sets up nicely for Williams and Perine. This preseason, Williams was only playing on early downs while being eased back into shape following a very-serious multi-ligament knee tear. There could be a limit on his snaps early. Perine is a capable early-down runner if he is forced into more than just passing-down snaps here. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 9.5 points.

  28. Rachaad White - Only projected for 19.5 points (4th-worst) as touchdown road dogs, White will need receiving volume to be a worthwhile start. Undrafted rookie Sean Tucker is the current RB2 behind White, who profiles as the much better receiving option. The Bucs have a new OC and QB, plus a worse OL, so we're entering the wild west with White's 2023 projection. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 10.9 points.

  29. Dalvin Cook - See RB36 Breece Hall.

  30. Najee Harris - The 49ers allowed the fewest RB carries and rushing yards last year, and we should expect Jaylen Warren to play on most passing downs. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 10.0 points.

  31. James Cook - It's a tough matchup on the road, as the Jets were 10th vs fantasy RBs last year and could rank even better than that now that Aaron Rodgers is slowing down the pace. Cook should see around 60% of the snaps with explosive play ability. I also think Damien Harris is as likely to score a TD after he converted his goal-line carry in the last preseason game. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his total yard projection at just 62.5.

  32. Khalil Herbert - "Eruption spot" vs. the No. 29 rushing EPA defense. Expect Herbert to get 2 drives to 1 drive and hopefully he's playing passing downs, too, but Roschon Johnson projects best in pass protection. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 8.9 points.

  33. Deon Jackson - Zack Moss (arm) is doubtful, leaving the Colts with just 5th-round rookie Evan Hull and change-of-pace veteran Deon Jackson. ESPN's Stephen Holder writes Jackson is "likely to start." A hot hand approach and committee usage is the most likely outcome. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his total yard projection at 58.5.

  34. Samaje Perine - See RB30 Javonte Williams.

  35. Kenneth Gainwell - See RB31 D'Andre Swift.

  36. AJ Dillon

  37. Jaylen Warren

  38. Breece Hall (Questionable) - He went limited-limited-full in practice this week. The initial RapSheet report: "While RB Breece Hall won't practice today, it's merely a maintenance day. Hall and Dalvin Cook will both play in the opener and the team will be smart with Hall in his return." Then he followed that up on Sunday morning, reporting that Cook will get "the bulk" of the carries while they're "extremely smart" with Hall. Even most of the Hall bulls admit it's likely a ramp up period for Hall, while Cook can handle a bigger load early. Hopefully we get more concrete reporting, but this game is on Monday Night Football. It would make sense if Hall played on some passing downs and handled 10ish touches to Cook's 15-20. Buffalo was 11th versus fantasy RBs last season.

  39. Antonio Gibson - See RB24 Brian Robinson and think the opposite.

  40. Jerick McKinnon

  41. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

  42. Tyler Allgeier

  43. Zach Charbonnet

  44. Salvon Ahmed - See RB15 Raheem Mostert.

  45. Evan Hull - See RB33 Deon Jackson.

  46. Elijah Mitchell

  47. Damien Harris - It's TD-or-bust szn for Harris, who saw the only goal-line carry with the first team offense this preseason. Buffalo isn't projected for their usual elite points in this tough road matchup, however.

  48. Tank Bigsby

  49. Gus Edwards

  50. Roschon Johnson

  51. Ty Chandler

  52. Joshua Kelley

  53. Ezekiel Elliott

  54. Kyren Williams

  55. Tyjae Spears

  56. Sean Tucker

  57. Rico Dowdle

  58. Justice Hill

  59. Rashaad Penny - See RB31 D'Andre Swift. Expected to be inactive.

Week 1 WR Rankings

  1. Justin Jefferson - It's go time. Cousins is best at home and in a dome. The Bucs were 25th versus fantasy WRs.

  2. Ja'Marr Chase - Let's monitor CB1 Denzel Ward's status (concussion). In the last matchup vs. Cleveland, Chase had a 10-119-1 receiving line.

  3. Amon-Ra St. Brown - The Chiefs were 24th vs. fantasy WRs last year, partially because game script always worked in the receivers' favor. Nothing changes here, with St. Brown in the mix for the most projected targets on the week.

  4. Tyreek Hill - The Chargers defense really held their own against the Dolphins in their last matchup (see QB15 Tua Tagovailoa), yet Tyreek still broke free for a score in that game. I just don't view him in the same tier as the top-2 receivers this week.

  5. A.J. Brown - I really respect the Patriots defense, but if there's a weak spot right now, it's at CB. Rookie CBs like Christian Gonzalez are routinely tested by opposing teams, which means Brown could see more than his usual targets. Remember the Eagles only completed 2.5 passes in 4th quarters last year because of blowouts. This game has a close spread of just 4.5 points.

  6. Calvin Ridley - A true alpha, Ridley checked every offseason box and lit up his few preseason snaps. The matchup is excellent, as the Colts lost CB Stephon Gilmore, EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, LB Bobby Okereke, CB Brandon Facyson, CB Isaiah Rodgers, and S Rodney McLeod this offseason. Their outside CBs are boom-bust 2nd-round rookie Julius Brents and 2022 UDFA Dallis Flowers. It's real bad. Meanwhile, Jacksonville was 4th in WR fantasy usage last year with room for better red zone luck this year. Buy. Buy. Buy.

  7. CeeDee Lamb - A fun matchup awaits with NCB Adoree Jackson. Lamb has 8-87-1 and 4-84-1 receiving lines against the Giants with Jackson available. When Lamb moves to the perimeter on occasion, his matchup gets significantly easier, too. The Giants are starting two rookie CBs on the perimeter, including a 6th-rounder.

  8. Garrett Wilson - The Bills have big names in the secondary, but Tre'Davious White hasn't been the same since his torn ACL and 2022 first-rounder Kair Elam was inconsistent last year. Buffalo was 26th vs. fantasy WRs on the year, with opposing offenses passing at the 8th-highest rate in neutral situations. Wilson posted 6-78-0 and 8-92-0 receiving lines with Mike White and Zach Wilson at QB last year.

  9. Davante Adams - He'll get some CB Patrick Surtain, but Adams still cooked the Broncos for 7-141-2 and 9-101-0 receiving lines last year. It was Surtain's worst PFF grade of the year, too.

  10. Stefon Diggs - He'll get some CB Sauce Gardner, who partially held Diggs to 5-93-0 and 3-37-0 receiving lines last year. The Bills only project for 24.5 points this week, which is about 3-6 points lower than their normal rate.

  11. DK Metcalf - A 6'4/225 unit meets positive TD regression meets a starting CB room of Ahkello Witherspoon, Cobie Durant, and "Derion Kendrick". The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 66.5 yards.

  12. Keenan Allen - The Dolphins current NCB Kader Kohou allowed the 8th-most targets per snap last year, and LAC projects for 27 points this week. Why am I not ranking him higher again???

  13. Mike Williams - The Dolphins have CBs Jalen Ramsey (IR), Keion Crossen (IR), and Nik Needham (PUP) sidelined. Their current outside CBs are Xavien Howard (who led the NFL in yards allowed per PFF) and Eli Apple (who was 7th in that category). Why am I not ranking him higher again??? I'm surprised the Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has Big Mike at 58.5 receiving yards.

  14. DeVonta Smith - See WR5 A.J. Brown.

  15. Chris Olave - The Titans were the NFL's biggest pass funnel last year, ranking 28th in passing EPA vs. 1st in rushing EPA allowed. Hopefully the Saints move away from their conservative approach, especially with their RB room evaporated. Olave is in a good spot 3-point home favorites. Very curious to see what his target rate is with more target competition this year, and if a new QB will translate to more TD opportunities.

  16. Tee Higgins - Browns CB2 Martin Emerson was 11th-worst in targets per snap last year, so this is a solid matchup for Higgins, especially if the Bengals defense proves worse than their 2022 numbers (which I expect). The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 60.5 yards.

  17. Amari Cooper - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 56.5 yards.

  18. Jaylen Waddle - The Chargers defense completely contained Miami in their late-season matchup by playing more aggressive at the line of scrimmage, which throws off Tua's timing and ball placement over the middle. That specifically hurt Waddle's production (2-31-0 on 4 targets) as it plays against Waddle's and Tua's strengths. I don't see that changing here -- it's a bad matchup -- but Waddle is so damn good that he's impossible to rank any lower.

  19. Diontae Johnson - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 50.5 yards.

  20. Deebo Samuel - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 49.5 yards.

  21. Drake London - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 52.5 yards.

  22. Courtland Sutton - This assumes Jerry Jeudy (hamstring) is out. Sutton could be shadowed by 30-year-old CB1 Marcus Peters, who allowed the highest NFL rating of his career last year. If not, Sutton will see some of 4th-round rookie CB Jakorian Bennett. It's now or never time for a veteran who is an ideal scheme fit on paper.

  23. Chris Godwin - See WR24 Mike Evans.

  24. Mike Evans - The Vikings' two outside CBs have a combined 100 pass coverage snaps in the NFL (including a 3rd-round rookie CB), and they were already 31st against fantasy WRs last year. The local broadcast during preseason games said Evans had his best training camp of his career this year for what it's worth (probably nothing). More importantly, if Evans doesn't get signed long-term before the season, his odds of being traded shoot up. That's a bonus for those who bought the dip.

  25. Tyler Lockett - This assumes JSN (wrist) is limited. Seattle projects for the 5th-most points as major home favorites. This will probably be Lockett's best projection of the year, as the Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 57.5 yards.

  26. DeAndre Hopkins - It's not great that the Titans are projected for just 19.25 points this week and that Treylon Burks is healthy enough to play. The veteran will see some Marshon Lattimore in coverage. The Saints were 10th against fantasy WRs. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 57.5 yards.

  27. Christian Kirk - The Jaguars will put up tons of points on the Colts mid defense, though if there was a relatively strength in the secondary it'd be in the middle where Kirk will do almost all of his damage. I'm not putting too much stock in this matchup. I want to start Jaguars in Week 1. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 50.5 yards.

  28. Jahan Dotson - This assumes Terry McLaurin (toe) is somewhat limited but playing. The tanking Cardinals are starting 6th-round rookie CB Kei'Trel Clark, oft-cooked Marco Wilson, and career backup Antonio Hamilton in the secondary. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 44.5 yards.

  29. DJ Moore - Aside from two long screen TDs, the Bears' first-team passing offense looked whack in the preseason. There's still growing pains and iffy concepts. Moore will be the pass-game focal point, but the matchup isn't a cakewalk with PFF's CB4 overall Jaire Alexander expected to see him in coverage. The Packers were 12th-best against fantasy WRs last year, and their pass rush looks better this year. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has Moore at 47.5 receiving yards.

  30. Van Jefferson - Jefferson is clearly the top option with featherweight TuTu Atwell and 5th-round rookie Puke Nucua as the other starting WRs. Late last year without Kupp, Jefferson averaged 42 yards in his 8 games with backup QBs (some who were dual-threat types). The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 42.5 yards.

  31. Brandon Aiyuk - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 48.5 yards.

  32. Michael Pittman - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 47.5 yards, and Indy quietly projects for 21 points (which was more than I expected). The way Pittman gets there is if Indy's elite offensive pace from the preseason translates.

  33. Brandin Cooks - See WR7 CeeDee Lamb. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 44.5 yards.

  34. JuJu Smith-Schuster - It's a tough matchup overall, but JuJu played in the slot on 100% of his 11 preseason routes, meaning he'll dodge CB1 Darius Slay and CB2 James Bradberry. Instead, JuJu gets average NCB Avonte Maddox. DeVante Parker (knee) being out opens up some more targets and air yards. Expect Kendrick Bourne to be a near full-time player on the outside. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has JuJu's receiving projection at 47.5 yards.

  35. Jordan Addison - Game environment is ideal at home against the No. 25 fantasy WR defense. It's not a lock that he's a full-time player immediately, but that's the upside case as Adam Thielen was 2nd in routes run last year. They were prepping for Addison to be Jefferson's sidekick this preseason. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has JuJu's receiving projection at 39.5 yards.

  36. Gabe Davis - He'll get some CB1 Sauce Gardner, and CB2 D.J. Reed is no slouch either. At the same time, the community is underrating Davis' upside WR3 production when he's been healthy. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 45.5 yards.

  37. Rashod Bateman - Nobody should be confident in their Ravens WR projections, except that this is a super smash spot for someone to step up. Baltimore is 3rd in projected points as major home favorites. Bateman, who has fully practiced for weeks, has the best combination of size, age, and pedigree. Beckham is on a $15M contract (which is a good sign), but few 30 years old have bounced back from two ACL tears. Flowers may be stuck in 3-WR sets only due to size, but he is the gadget candidate. I'll update this once we get better beat writer info.

  38. Odell Beckham - See WR39 Rashod Bateman.

  39. Zay Flowers - See WR39 Rashod Bateman.

  40. Marquise Brown (Questionable) - Already down horrendous because of the offense, Brown now has a hamstring injury that was bad enough to keep him limited all week in practice. Arizona is projected for just 15.5 points.

  41. Terry McLaurin - He was a full participant on Thursday and Friday (toe), but there's a chance McLaurin doesn't have as much juice as normal.

  42. George Pickens - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 43.5 yards.

  43. Michael Thomas - In his 12 games since 2020, Thomas has averaged 1.84 yards per route run (equivalent to Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins, and Christian Kirk last year). It's encouraging that he was a full participant in training camp after years of bad injury luck. The 30-year-old has a friendly home matchup against the Titans' No. 32 fantasy WR defense. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 42.5 yards.

  44. Zay Jones - See WR6 Calvin Ridley.

  45. Treylon Burks - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 37.5 yards.

  46. Jonathan Mingo - D.J. Chark is out and Adam Thielen (limited-DNP-limited) is questionable. Things are setting up nicely for Mingo's target projection, and I think he has juice on tape.

  47. Nico Collins - His outlook is much with CB1 Marlon Humphrey ruled out. WR4 John Metchie (hamstring) is also out.

  48. Jaxon Smith-Njigba - He was left off the injury report after three full practices. It's possible he's still limited as a player given his brace, so I'm taking a conservative approach with the 1st-round slot receiver. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 32.5 yards.

  49. Kadarius Toney - A full participant Wednesday's practice, Toney still has the most athleticism and play-making to be a spike week hit despite another rough August. Toney has been talked up by Mahomes and the staff as their closest thing to a No. 1 receiver, and they at least mixed him on the perimeter (65% snaps) during their Super Bowl run. On those outside snaps, Toney averaged a solid 1.9 yards per route run. Detroit ranking 30th against fantasy WRs last year helps his case.

  50. Skyy Moore - This assumes WR49 Kadarius Toney is active. If so, Moore will lose some of his clear-cut starting snaps. Moore played outside on just 38% of his preseason snaps, saw a target on 2-of-21 routes, and had just 6 air yards. It's not a fantasy-friendly role if he's not a full-time player, now that there's evidence he's not playing on the perimeter that often. When he was on the perimeter last year, Moore had an awful 0.4 yards per route run. I don't think they can put him outside very often.

  51. Allen Lazard - See WR8 Garrett Wilson.

  52. Marquez Valdes-Scantling - He had a forgettable preseason and training camp, but MVS is still the only proven receiver who can threaten vertically. He needs to hold off healthy-scratch candidates Justyn Ross and Justin Watson for perimeter snaps, and to pay off, MVS has to collect on his few deep targets.

  53. Marvin Mims - This assumes Jerry Jeudy (questionable) is out after limited practices. The Broncos only kept 4 WRs on their initial 53-man roster, including Jeudy. That's a sign that they like Mims immediately.

  54. Kendrick Bourne - See WR46 JuJu Smith-Schuster.

  55. Jakobi Meyers - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 38.5 yards.

  56. Jayden Reed - Christian Watson is out and Romeo Doubs (DNP-limited-limited) is expected to be "limited" per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Reed showed well as a slot-only player in the preseason, but will vault into an every-down role most likely. The Packers other WR options are 5th-round rookie Dontayvion Wicks (6'1"/206), 2022 7th-round slot Samori Toure (6'1"/191), and rookie UDFA Malik Heath (6'2"/213). Wicks and Heath played on the perimeter on most of their preseason snaps, with Heath low-key balling out on 12 receptions. The Bears are starting 2nd-round rookie CB Tyrique Stevenson on the boundary alongside Jaylon Johnson, with NCB Kyler Gordon in the slot. Gordon had a rough rookie season last year. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his total yard projection at 44.5.

  57. Tyler Boyd

  58. Donovan Peoples-Jones

  59. Michael Gallup - See WR6 CeeDee Lamb.

  60. Elijah Moore

  61. Isaiah Hodgins - He'll see some Trevon Diggs and Stephon Gilmore.

  62. Darius Slayton - He'll see some Trevon Diggs and Stephon Gilmore.

  63. Rashid Shaheed - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 35.5 yards.

  64. K.J. Osborn

  65. Josh Reynolds - Behind Amon-Ra, I'm expecting a relatively even rotation between Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, and Marvin Jones. The latter has the most size and contest catch ability on the perimeter (but he looked cooked last year). Reynolds is trusted in the system and can win deep. Raymond is a special teamer and underrated player in general.

  66. Kalif Raymond - See WR64 Josh Reynolds.

  67. Alec Pierce

  68. Joshua Palmer - See WR79 Quentin Johnston.

  69. TuTu Atwell

  70. Robert Woods

  71. Adam Thielen (Questionable) - The veteran was limited-DNP-limited in practice with an ankle sprain. Not a great sign for someone with iffy burst on preseason tape.

  72. Quentin Johnston - I don't think he's a lock to start. In fact, he might even be an underdog to Palmer, who was resting with the starters this entire offseason.

  73. Hunter Renfrow

  74. Curtis Samuel - See WR23 Jahan Dotson.

  75. Darnell Mooney - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving projection at 28.5 yards.

  76. Chase Claypool

  77. Rondale Moore - Let's monitor Marquise Brown's status.

  78. Romeo Doubs (Questionable) - ESPN's Adam Schefter writes Doubs is "expected to play vs. the Bears but likely in a limited fashion."

  79. Parris Campbell

  80. Jalin Hyatt - He'll see some Stephon Gilmore and Trevon Diggs.

  81. Dontayvion Wicks - See WR43 Jayden Reed.

Week 1 TE Rankings

  1. T.J. Hockenson - The Bucs were 24th vs. fantasy TEs, and the at-home Vikings are projected for top-5 points. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 9.8 points.

  2. Darren Waller (Questionable) - The Cowboys were 3rd against fantasy TEs last year. When Waller goes out into 3x1 isolated sets, he will see some Stephon Gilmore or Trevon Diggs. This is a tough matchup to start, but his usage will be among the best at the position. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby had his receiving line at 49.5 yards, but he's now questionable to play after a hamstring injury popped up on Friday. The 30-year-old dealt with a hamstring injury twice in 2022. The Giants didn't call up a TE to the 53-man roster on Saturday, so Waller is likely fine.

  3. Tyler Higbee - In 8 games without Kupp last year, Higbee had a really strong 22% target share. He's likely to run more routes this year with the OTs healthier and with fewer capable WRs on the roster. The Rams are 7-point dogs against the defense that allowed the most TE fantasy points and remains without star S Jamal Adams. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 45.5 yards.

  4. David Njoku - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 7.2 points, which I'll have highers on. The Bengals are breaking in new starting safeties after losing star FS Jessie Bates in free agency, and Njoku was a target earner last season as he enters the prime of his career. The Browns are likely to pass more often, now that they're mixing in more spread concepts.

  5. Dallas Goedert - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 7.3 points.

  6. Evan Engram - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 7.6 points.

  7. George Kittle (Questionable) - He was limited (groin) all week, as he was in training camp. Only projected for 21.5 points as a team, this doesn't project as a Kittle spike week against superstar S Minkah Fitzpatrick and company. When CMC, Deebo, Aiyuk, and Kittle have been on the field together, Kittle's target share is the lowest of the group at 11%. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 6.7 points.

  8. Luke Musgrave - Christian Watson is out and Romeo Doubs is questionable, but Musgrave was playing a full-time role regardless. Their injuries just provide more upside in his target projection. It's not a great individual matchup with Chicago deploying upgraded LBs and sturdy Ss, so this is a pure rank on talent and opportunity. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line only at 28.5 yards, which I'm going to have highers on.

  9. Noah Gray - He had 52 routes run in 1-TE sets last year, and he saw an intriguing 17% target rate and 2.0 yards per route run on them. With TE Jody Fortson also injured, Gray should be a near full-time player in an offense projected for the most points in the NFL. The coaching staff trusts Gray, and he even ran the 4th-most routes during their playoff run last year. Detroit was 24th vs. TEs, too. I am a believer. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 30.5 yards.

  10. Kyle Pitts - He was left off the injury report entirely after a knee sprain lingered in camp for longer than expected. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 7.0 points.

  11. Pat Freiermuth - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his half PPR projection at 6.4 points. Led by superstar LB Fred Warner, the Niners were 8th against fantasy TEs last year.

  12. Dalton Kincaid - NYJ was 1st vs. fantasy WRs but 23rd vs. TEs because their personnel is best on the perimeter, not over the middle. That plays into Kincaid's strengths. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 27.5 yards.

  13. Jake Ferguson - He led the preseason in yards per route run on a very small sample, locking up a near full-time role attached to a QB known for TE check downs. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 24.5 yards, which I will have highers on.

  14. Gerald Everett - MIA was 29th vs. TEs last year. LAC is 2nd in projected points. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 34.5 yards.

  15. Juwan Johnson - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 27.5 yards, but there are skill group depth issues this week at RB and QB, meaning Taysom Hill is likely not playing TE at all. Johnson projects as a near full-time player in a functional offense.

  16. Greg Dulcich - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 31.5 yards.

  17. Isaiah Likely - With Mark Andrews (quad) out, Likely goes into a near full-time role. He's a good receiver who flashed in spot starts last year, but it's hard to comprehend just how different this environment is. In his 3 games as a near full-time player last year, he was competing with Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, James Proche, and Devin Duvernay for targets. Now there are 3 former 1st-round picks at WR, in a different offense. I would not copy-paste last year's stats to this year, and despite the similar per-route metrics there is no comparison between Andrews and Likely as real-life players. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 35.5 yards.

  18. Dalton Schultz - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 33.5 yards, but the Texans aren't likely to be in the red zone often.

  19. Sam LaPorta - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 29.5 yards.

  20. Hunter Henry - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 31.5 yards after DeVante Parker (knee) was ruled out.

  21. Taysom Hill - If there's a week for Taysom BS, it's Week 1. The Saints don't have a true RB3 behind Jamaal and Kendre (questionable), so some RB snaps are possible. The Saints also don't have a QB3 with Jake Haener suspended (PEDs), so maybe they have a wrinkle at QB here and there.

  22. Chigoziem Okonkwo

  23. Hayden Hurst

  24. Cole Kmet - He scored 7 TDs on 3.3 expected TDs last year, as a clear negative regression candidate this year, especially with D.J. Moore and Chase Claypool taking away targets. The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 31.5 yards.

  25. Dawson Knox

  26. Tyler Conklin

  27. Cade Otton - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 25.5 yards.

  28. Trey McBride - Zach Ertz (knee) was limited on Wednesday.

  29. Noah Fant - The Underdog Fantasy Pick'em lobby has his receiving line at 23.5 yards.

  30. Michael Mayer

  31. Irv Smith

Week 1 Fantasy Defenses For Sickos

The defenses of the week are the Commanders (vs. ARI), Cowboys (vs. NYG), Packers (vs. CHI), Saints (vs. TEN), Ravens (vs. HOU), 49ers (vs. PIT), and Falcons (vs. CAR).

Week 1 K Rankings

Jk. I'm not a virgin.

Underdog Fantasy "Battle Royale" DFS

To me, this is the most beatable DFS game out there, as drafters too often go off the default rankings. Simply add one or two players who are commonly undrafted to get a unique DFS team. And of course, stack. I truly believe my readers/followers would enjoy the game theory (and the edge) of this contest.