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, and injury nuggets that I view as worth your time.
He looked unstoppable in Week 1 (both passing and rushing), and there weren't major scheme changes with the new play-caller. The Bills' neutral pass rate last year was 61%. Last weeks, 59%. This could be a special fantasy year from Allen, and I don't see the Titans without EDGE1 Harold Landry stopping him. The Tennessee corners are well below-average, as evidenced by offenses facing the Titans last year passing in neutral situations at the 2nd-highest rate.
He had 11 dropbacks with 2 TEs and 4 dropbacks with 3 TEs, both were 2nd most in a game since 2020. Mahomes simply has more weapons coming from different formations, so I'm not worried about the efficiency without Tyreek Hill. Even with the heavy personnel usage, Mahomes is still freelancing to create big plays, something he'll need to do with Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack coming into town with RT Trey Smith (ankle) questionable. Even with the Chargers defense improving and playing in two-high shells, Mahomes should move the ball at ease. He had 410-3-1 and 260-3-2 passing lines against the Chargers last year. Los Angeles CB1 J.C. Jackson (questionable) went DNP-limited-limited in practice this week.
The analytical-minded Eagles want to pass the ball, and they did so (to some degree) in Week 1. Their 54% neutral pass rate is more in line with the Eagles' 2021 first month, likely because they have more confidence with certified baller A.J. Brown opening up the middle of the field. Hurts is benefitting from the weapons' YAC skills, while adding rushing TDs on goal-line read options. The Vikings' secondary has holes, and their offense will push pace under new coaching. This has big game written all over it. Philadelphia is 6th in team total this week.
The Ravens were 3rd in neutral pass rate in the opener and remain iffy at RB with J.K. Dobbins still on the injury report. Jackson went big-play hunting with the highest aDOT (12.0 yards downfield) last week, and the Dolphins defense was in single-high shells at the 2nd highest rate last week. Without their CB2, Jackson should have opportunities for downfield shots, especially if LT Ronnie Stanley (limited Wednesday) can suit up. Baltimore is 14th in projected points.
No Keenan Allen (hamstring) hurts, but this game is an obvious shootout with the Chargers projected for the 9th-most points of the week. Kansas City's defense was 31st against fantasy QBs last year, with Herbert averaging 283-2.5 in 4 career games against them. It's also possible that the Chargers are setting up to pass even more in 2022. Week 1's 67% neutral pass rate would've ranked tied for 2nd last season. If that trend continues behind this top-10 OL, Herbert could challenge for 40 TDs this year.
The OL was brutal in Week 1 and the Raiders DL can bring it on the edge. Murray will have to create more by himself while DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore (DNP Thursday) are sidelined, and the betting markets aren't very optimistic. Arizona is 18th in projected points this week.
The Cardinals defense is missing FS Jalen Thompson, CB Trayvon Mullen, and potentially EDGE J.J. Watt, and their aggressive blitz/man defense needs coverage skills to win. Carr is firmly a QB1 with Vegas projected for 28.5 points.
The Cowboys defense is missing starting S Jayron Kearse and depth EDGE Boogie Basham. On film review, I thought the Bengals OL held up fine enough. There were uncharacteristic mental errors from Burrow, which won't continue. Bengals should move the ball with ease. Tee Higgins (concussion) is playing.
I didn't see anything on tape suggesting his elbow was a problem, but the offense in general looked very sloppy, probably because he was in an out of camp and didn't play any preseason games. The other primary culprit: the OL. LT Joe Noteboom and LG David Edwards were horrendous, and C Brian Allen is out, forcing 2020 7th-rounder Tremayne Anchrum (who has 3 offensive NFL snaps) into the lineup. Stafford at least gets a cupcake matchup against 2021's 26th-ranked fantasy QB defense, one that's missing LB1 Deion Jones and other starters. Expect tons of quick game passing while this offense gets back into a grove. Allen Robinson must improve his feel for zone coverage (his Week 1 issue) because Tyler Higbee, Ben Skowrenk, and Darrell Henderson have limited receiving ceilings.
Brady's splits against the Saints are bad, but since then, they've lost Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Williams, and Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary, which could limit the Saints' defensive aggressiveness and success in general. On tape last week, Brady was aggressive downfield and still had plenty of arm strength to the sideline, but it was interesting to see the Bucs rank 28th in neutral pass rate after finishing top-5 in each of his previous Bucs seasons. That won't completely continue, but it's possible there's a philosophy change from coach Bruce Arians to coach Todd Bowles and with the OL looking much worse, especially with LT Donovan Smith (elbow) doubtful. For now, the Bucs have a mediocre 23.25-point team total.
Dead last in neutral pass rate (26%), it's obvious how run-heavy Kyle Shanahan will make this offense with Lance at QB (and I don't think the rain explains all of that because it really came down in the 4th quarter primarily). He missed a couple of throws because of accuracy and a couple others because he wasn't seeing the field, but Lance also layered in a few intermediate and deep throws. There will be ups-and-downs, especially if George Kittle (groin) misses again. The Seahawks will be able to rush the passer against the 49ers' troubling OL (aside from LT Trent Williams), so I'm surprised to see San Francisco with the 8th-highest team total of Week 2. Expect a lot of gadget-work from Deebo Samuel in the backfield with Eli Mitchell (knee) out.
Allen Lazard returning is a big deal because Aaron Rodgers simply didn't trust Christian Watson or Romeo Doubs last week, while Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb look dusty in general. Rodgers also could be without LT David Bakhtiari (DNP Thursday), RT Elgton Jenkins (limited Thursday), and G Jon Runyan (DNP Thursday) up front. The matchup is mediocre in general; Chicago plays slow offensive and their defense has enough players up the middle to hold up. Rodgers will continue to lean on his RBs to move the ball, making it harder to create big plays. I was surprised to see the Packers projected for 26.5 points this week.
The Lions could be without their LG (questionable), C (out), and RG (IR) this week against one of the better front sevens, even if Chase Young is out.
He was horrendous in Week 1, particularly with arm strength, but Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle bailed him out. The offensive structure is decent and plays to Tua's strengths, too. In Week 1, they used play action on an absurd 46% of dropbacks, which was slightly higher than last year's 43%. The OL, while improved, still projects as a bottom-10 unit and will face pressure from Baltimore. Miami is 24th in projected points this week.
The offense is much different with new OC Ben McAdoo. They were 1st in neutral pass rate and 5th in neutral pace. There are enough playmakers for the Panthers to be a successful fantasy offense,,,, if Mayfield can handle it. This is a clean matchup with the Giants secondary lacking much talent and the front seven lacking due to injury. Carolina is projected for a slightly below average 20.75 points.
The Giants are missing EDGEs Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari.
No Michael Pittman (quad) and Alec Pierce (concussion), leaves Ryan with Ashton Dulin and Parris Campbell as the top receivers.
More on this later, but Geno Smith is a fun watch and played well last week. In fact, PFF had him as the QB2 in grades. The Seahawks also surprised us with a No. 9 neutral pass rate.
Trubisky had three big plays in Week 1: a 32-yard TE screen, a 31-yard flea flicker, and a 25-yard prayer to Diontae Johnson for the catch of the week. Remove them, and Trubisky averaged 3.0 yards per attempt. It looked that bad on tape, too. His accuracy and decision-making are poor, and are magnified behind a bottom-5 OL. Every week has a mid-game benched floor, with Vegas projecting the Steelers for the 7th-fewest points.
A below-average backup facing maybe the league's most underrated defense is a recipe for disaster. Rush's arm strength is not at the NFL level, and the weapons around him won't elevate him. Dallas is projected for the 4th-fewest points, and I think I'd rank them lower if doing my own projections. Cowboys RG Connor McGovern is also out.
He could get benched mid-game for The White Guy. Flacco is too immobile to create any big plays, and the OL will struggled to hold up on the edge against Myles Garrett to take many shots downfield. Too slow-paced offenses going at it is the recipe for a sad box score once again.
These are half PPR rankings. I have other player notes here.
Jonathan Taylor - Good player. Gets ball often. See here:
Christian McCaffrey - A rare RB19 fantasy usage ranking in Week 1, but he played 81% of snaps and the new OC called the 5th-fastest offense in neutral situations.
Saquon Barkley - 82% snaps, RB3 fantasy usage, and hit his fastest MPH since 2019 on one of his two big plays. It's happening. Both CMC and Saquon have Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projections of 108.5 total yards.
Joe Mixon - The biggest positive regression candidate ahead of the week, Mixon looked great on the ground and was effective catching passes on early downs, where all of his touches came on. Samaje Perine is playing the 3rd-and-long plays, but Mixon is the rare early-down player with RB1 upside given his talent and the offense's firepower.
Dalvin Cook - 77% snaps and RB10 fantasy usage last week. The offense's neutral pass rate (47%) wasn't all that different from 2021, but Minnesota's offense was firing on all cylinders under Kevin O'Connell.
Leonard Fournette - Tampa Bay went from top-5 neutral pass rate in 2021 to being 28th last week. Is that a product of Arians to Bowles, or sample size noise? Either way, Fournette will be very involved. He looked great despite the haters, and Rachaad White only played in garbage time (and arguably had two pass protection blunders). His Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 16.45 half PPR points. DOG.
James Conner - The offense couldn't move the ball last week, yet Conner still finished as the RB12 in fantasy usage while dominating touches before garbage time ensued. He'll get all goal-line carries and projects for more receptions with Chase Edmonds (MIA), Rondale Moore (hamstring), and DeAndre Hopkins (suspension) out of the picture.
Austin Ekeler - Week 1 went as bad as it gets. Ekeler rotated (49% snaps) with Joshua Kelley (27%) and Sony Michel (23%), also only running a route on 37% of Herbert's dropbacks. This comes after publicly saying that he wants another RB to step up. Ekeler still was the goal-line back and could go crazy in negative game scripts, especially this week against the Chiefs with Keenan Allen out. If Ekeler doesn't rebound to 65% or higher snaps this week, it's time to get really nervous. His Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 97.5 total yards.
Nick Chubb - An absolute dog. But RB20 fantasy usage, 28% routes, and will split touches at the goal-line with Kareem Hunt, who had a FB leak receiving TD last week. The matchup against the Jets opens up more positive game script for Chubb this week.
Javonte Williams - 57% snaps and 62% routes in this chaotic Week 1 rotation. Williams broke a bunch of tackles and caught comeback mode passes, but did fumble at the goal line. So did Melvin Gordon. In general, this is a 60/40 split in favor of Williams, but this year, the Broncos will actually be scoring points. Denver RBs combined for the 2nd-most expected half PPR points last week.
Darrell Henderson - He played 82% in the opener and ran laps around Cam Akers, who seriously might be cooked and quietly entered in after Day 3 rookie Kyren Williams. Henderson isn't a bellcow (13.0 expected half PPR points last week), but he's not far from it now. His issue is the Rams OL. Hall Of Famer Andrew Whitworth's fill-in LT Joe Noteboom couldn't handle isolated pass-blocks, the LG was a turnstile, and the C is out 2-4 weeks. Once a strength, the Rams OL looks like a relative weakness.
Derrick Henry - The Titans simply aren't very good right now, and Henry could be a step slower in 2022 for a few reasons in general. This week, the Titans are 10-point road dogs with a tiny 19.25-point team total.
Najee Harris - A full participant in practice even though he was limping badly post-Week 1. The offense isn't in a good place in general, especially against the slow-paced Patriots.
A.J. Dillon - This is a backfield to analyze. Aaron Jones (60% snaps) played slightly more than Dillon, but I prefer Dillon's role in half PPR. In their last 8 games, Dillon has out-touched Jones inside the 5-yard line, 13 to 1. Despite this short-yardage profile, Dillon has been sharp as a pass-catcher, too. Last week while trailing the entire time, Dillon was the RB6 in fantasy usage to Jones' RB31.
Aaron Jones - See RB15 A.J. Dillon.
Antonio Gibson - He's splitting time (58% routes) with passing-down specialist J.D. McKissic, but Gibson will handle goal-line work and was used creatively by OC Scott Turner in the pass game. He's an inconsistent pass protector, so they used Gibson on screens, on wheel routes, and with 2-RB set downfield shots to get him out on the route quicker than normal (video). His 15.3 expected half PPR points were the 9th-most among RBs last week, and Washington's 23.5 points are respectable. Let's just hope Gibson doesn't fumble.
D'Andre Swift (Questionable) - Rapoport reports Swift will play but the Lions "may have to be selective about his usage". This ranking reflects some initial concern. Let's see if we get any more clarity from other reporters. ... Explosive dual-threat player behind a kick-ass OL is a great start. Primary concern are goal-line touches and general reliability. Swift was subbed out at the 5-yard line leading to Jamaal Williams' first score and then subbed out at the 2-yard line after a sweet catch for Williams' second score. He also missed a couple blitz pick-ups on passing downs. These clear pros and cons are similar to last year, except the team is simply better.
David Montgomery - 65% of RB carries (17), 24% total targets (4), and 70% routes for the Bears' mini bellcow in Week 1. Ignore the goal-line stats, as Khalil Herbert was playing the drive that resulted in all goal-line opportunities. It looks like the Bears will give Montgomery the first two drives, with Herbert getting the next one and so on. That's enough for low-end RB2 production.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire - The OL was cooking, Andy Reid was GOATing, and CEH was making the right reads on early-downs, leading to 2 goal-line TDs in Week 1. He did lose passing-down work (34% routes) to Jerick McKinnon (41% route), so his floor and ceiling is relatively capped. The Chiefs will have the option to run on the Chargers' light box scheme and are projected for the 2nd-most points this week. He's a solid RB2, as evidence by CEH's Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection being set for 12.25 half PPR points.
Cordarrelle Patterson - Although aided by Damien Williams' ribs injury, Patterson slashed his way to RB5 fantasy usage in Week 1. His tape was electric, too, and the Falcons OL surprisingly held up against the Saints. CPatt should handle goal-line carries while splitting some pass game work.
Josh Jacobs - Missed at least three blocks in pass protection, despite being subbed out in clear passing downs. Like really, really struggled here. Jacobs was the RB40 last week with the Raiders trailing, but his Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 14.15 half PPR points. To pay that off, the Raiders need to get down to the goal line. Even then, Vegas could pass the ball there, just like the Packers did repeatedly with Davante Adams.
Kareem Hunt - Like always, we underestimated Hunt's RB2 value even with Nick Chubb rolling. He was the RB15 in fantasy usage, while sneaking out for a TD as a FB in the flats. Hunt ran a route on 58% of dropbacks, and they'll be more dropbacks in the future. We shouldn't expect the Browns to play with many leads in the upcoming months.
Damien Harris - Their Week 1 snap rates -- Harris (39%), Rhamondre Stevenson (25%), and Ty Montgomery (36%) -- had me quite worried, but Ty Montgomery is on injured reserve now. I doubt another RB will mix in much at this point, leaving Harris and Stevenson mostly rotating drives. As a team, the Patriots combined for 21.4 expected half PPR points last week despite trailing for most of the game.
Miles Sanders - He's the top option in a 3-RB committee. Sanders isn't viewed as a complete player by this coaching staff, as he was subbed out in the 2-minute drill (Kenny Gainwell) and in the 4th quarter while running out the clock only up 3 points in clear rushing spots (Boston Scott). All three saw goal-line carries whenever their drive happened to reach the red area, too. In total, 13.1 expected fantasy points and 51% snaps behind this OL is just enough for RB2/3 status.
Chase Edmonds - 63% snaps in Week 1 is enough for RB2/3 value, especially as the passing-down back. It's still unclear if Edmonds (or Raheem Mostert) will be the goal-line back. That'll determine if Edmonds is an RB2 or RB3 in half PPR. It's worth noting that Mostert was playing in the 2-minute drill, which has blown my mind all week. I can't figure that out. It just doesn't make sense.
Mark Ingram (Questionable) - He will play, while Alvin Kamara (ribs) is not expected to play per Midnight Schefter. Ingram was the clear-cut RB2 last week, with Tony Jones barely playing. He is far more trusted and even played 2-minute drills last week when Kamara was active. The problem is the matchup. Offenses facing the Bucs had the highest pass rate in neutral situations last year and held fantasy RBs to the 6th-fewest points.
Melvin Gordon - See RB9 Javonte Williams.
Michael Carter - He started and played more snaps than Breece Hall, 60% to 45%, but both got home in the box score thanks to garbage time checkdowns with the immobile Joe Flacco. Carter, right now, is the more consistent player and a highly underrated between-tackles ball-carrier. Expect him to lead Hall in most categories, especially after the rookie fumbled in Week 1. And view each game without Zach Wilson as a win.
Breece Hall - See RB28 Michael Carter.
Ezekiel Elliott - In the 10 games without Dak Prescott in 2020, Zeke averaged 61.5 rushing yards and 16.5 receiving yards with 2 total TDs. Since then, Tony Pollard is more involved, the OL is worse at multiple spots, and the backup QB has gone from Andy Dalton to Cooper Rush. The Cowboys have the 4th-lowest team total of the week.
Jeff Wilson - Elijah Mitchell (MCL) played the first 17-of-19 snaps before going down. He would've smashed, but oh well. Wilson was next in line last week because Tyrion Davis-Price was a healthy scratch. TDP should be active, but Wilson should be viewed as the tentative starter. The difference is that Wilson was losing RB work to Deebo Samuel more than Mitchell was. That leaves Wilson in no-floor RB3 territory.
James Robinson - Rapoport believes the Jaguars will "split carries" and run the ball more in general this week. He also mentioned that it'll look like the second half of last week, which favored J-Rob as you can see in the chart below. ... For the rest, see RB35 Travis Etienne.
Jamaal Williams - See RB17 D'Andre Swift.
Devin Singletary - He, Zack Moss (fumble), and James Cook (fumble) all played in what was mostly a series-by-series basis, rather than a particular role. There weren't any goal-line opportunities or passing-down targets to the RBs, but if Cook isn't in the rookie dog house, then it'll be hard to generate ceiling for Singletary even if he's the top guy in Buffalo. On tape, it's clear that Moss has the least juice but has the most girth.
Travis Etienne - In his first game back from an achilles tear, James Robinson out-carried Etienne, 12 to 4. Woof. As expected, Etienne was/is a big-play threat, but he's not a reliable player in either phase, definitely compared to J-Rob, who does well in pass protection, as a check-down option, and as an outside zone rusher. Etienne had a brutal drop in the end zone and likely will lose some goal-line touches until his short-yardage vision improves. This could be bad, bad news for those with Round 3 shares.
Rhamondre Stevenson - See RB25 Damien Harris.
Nyheim Hines - No Michael Pittman or Alec Pierce opens up target share.
Rashaad Penny - We'll see if Ken Walker (hernia) plays. He was a full participant on Wednesday.
Rex Burkhead - Did not start the game, but he played 100% of overtime snaps and was the primary passing-down back, leading to RB14 fantasy usage in the opener to Pierce's RB47. Those numbers should even out. Pierce ran well in my opinion.
Kenyan Drake - He started and played 58% of snaps. The Ravens were 3rd in neutral pass rate, leaving the RBs with the 3rd-lowest fantasy usage of Week 1. This assumes J.K. Dobbins (Questionable) misses time, but he did practice all week.
Dameon Pierce - See RB38 Rex Burkhead.
Kenny Gainwell - See RB23 Miles Sanders.
Ken Walker - See RB35 Rashaad Penny.
Raheem Mostert - See RB24 Chase Edmonds.
Khalil Herbert - A quality insurance bench option, but only 29% snaps for the Chicago Bears in Week 1. He just happened to get the goal line carries on the lone drive the Bears were that close to the 1-yard line.
Jerick McKinnon - See RB20 Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Rachaad White - See RB7 Leonard Fournette.
J.D. McKissic - See RB17 Antonio Gibson
Cam Akers - See RB18 Darrell Henderson.
Zack Moss - See RB30 Devin Singletary.
These are half PPR rankings. I have other player notes here.
Cooper Kupp - If the OL concerns are as bad as I think they are, Kupp may break the damn reception record (149) this season. Quick game, quick game, quick game. Titans slot CB Elijah Molden is on injured reserve, too.
Justin Jefferson - Absolute dog.
Davante Adams - WR2 overall fantasy usage while cooking the Chargers on option routes and against zone coverage. Derek Carr just missed him on a long TD, too. He's going to be an elite WR1 again.
Stefon Diggs - Like he did in the preseason, Diggs was both the clear top target on passing downs but did only run a route on 79% of dropbacks because he was subbed out on rushing downs for bigger bodies. This high ranking is hat tip to how good of a player Diggs is. He was the WR21 in fantasy usage last week. The Titans are missing CB Kristian Fulton and slot CB Elijah Molden.
Ja'Marr Chase - This assumes Tee Higgins (concussion) is in.
A.J. Brown - 44% target share in the opener. Just dominant when healthy.
Deebo Samuel - After Elijah Mitchell (MCL) left, Samuel began playing more RB snaps alongside backup Jeff Wilson. That gives Samuel a relative floor, but he needs Trey Lance to not look like Week 1 Trey Lance to be a fantasy WR1. The usage will be good. The efficiency very likely won't repeat last year's. I'd bump Samuel up if middle-of-field hunter Jimmy G were to come in.
Tyreek Hill - 39% target share in the opener to Jaylen Waddle's 16%. The Ravens are without Marlon Humphrey, Ronald Darby, and Brandon Stevens at CB, with Marcus Peters (questionable) potentially making his post-ACL tear debut.
Mike Williams - This assumes Keenan Allen (hamstring) is out. In his last three games against the Chiefs, Big Mike has 9, 9, and 7 targets with a 5.3-93-1.0 average receiving line. You don't deserve his highs if you can't handle his random lows. The Chargers are projected for the 9th-most points of the week, and his Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for a nice 69.5 receiving yards.
Mike Evans (Questionable) - This assumes Chris Godwin (hamstring) is out and that Evans' injury isn't worrisome. Marshon Lattimore has given Evans trouble historically, but Lattimore also received help from his safeties in previous seasons and all 3 of the Saints' safeties aren't on the team this year. It's not a clean matchup, but it's also not one to run from. His Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 15.05 half PPR points.
Marquise Brown - No DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, Antoine Wesley, and Andy Isabella. The Raiders are also missing S Tre’von Moehrig and LB Denzel Perryman.
Courtland Sutton - A 16% target share was relatively disappointing, but the Seahawks knew how to play into Russell Wilson's weaknesses and Sutton quietly was the WR6 in air yards still. This week, Sutton gets rookie CB Derek Stingley and rookie CBs get targeted often historically. Denver is 5th in projected points.
Tee Higgins (Questionable) - He's expected to play. Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown aren't lock-down CBs in Dallas. Higgins was my Benjy Of The Week prediction on this week's episode.
Amon-Ra St. Brown - He is and is used like prime Robert Woods. 32% targets, even if they came in come back mode, is a major win for the slot stud. More importantly, the Lions offense should score more points in general this year.
Brandin Cooks - Not a good matchup, but likely negative game script and WR2 weekly usage are hard to fade.
JuJu Smith-Schuster - Week 1 routes: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (80%), JuJu (80%), Mecole Hardman (61%), and Skyy Moore (20%). In closer matchups like this Thursday's, there will be even more passing volume. JuJu's 20% target share led to WR28 fantasy usage. There could be extra underneath looks this week with the Chargers playing in a two-high shell at top-10 rates. Last note, JuJu played on the perimeter on 57% of snaps last week, which would be a career high if it holds this season. I'm expecting more downfield routes from him in 2022.
D.J. Moore - His Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 11.45 half PPR points.
Christian Kirk - WR3 overall in air yards, 29% targets, and WR3 fantasy usage in the season opener is as good as it gets for Kirk, who's vertical slot strengths align with Trevor Lawrence's big-play eyes.
Jerry Jeudy - He made a huge play on the sideline last week for a TD, but Jeudy was in the slot in 3-WR sets. That will get him against struggling slot CB Desmond King. Denver ranking 5th in projected points this week is a great tie-breaker in Jeudy's favor. Jeudy was the WR27 in fantasy usage.
Jaylen Waddle - The Dolphins are making Tyreek Hill the primary. In fact, Waddle only ran a route on 75% of dropbacks because this offense uses 1- and 2-WR sets more often than most. Waddle made the most of his WR46 fantasy usage last week by housing a crossing route over the middle. On tape, Tua's ball was really hanging.
Terry McLaurin - The bounceback of Curtis Samuel and the breakout of Jahan Dotson could lower McLaurin's target share this year, but he's really damn good and has spiked week potential as Washington's best deepball threat.
Michael Thomas - Offenses facing the Bucs defense pass with the highest neutral pass rate in the NFL last season. Expect his routes and snaps to take a slight leap with more practice time under his belt.
Rashod Bateman - The Ravens rotated their WRs a bit more than expected -- blocking WR Demarcus Robinson ran a route on 5 1-WR sets -- leaving Bateman with just 71% routes. The good news is Baltimore was 3rd in neutral pass rate and can score via the long ball. When games are closer, like projected this week, Bateman should be playing more.
CeeDee Lamb - His Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 10.5 half PPR points.
Diontae Johnson - The Steelers are 8th-worst in projected points this week. DJ has to overcome that, along with strong target competition. Mitch Trubisky's Week 1 tape has me terrified. Inaccuracies and poor decision making all over the place. He was the WR41 on WR14 fantasy usage and his Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 54.5 receiving yards.
Drake London - He had 7 routes in 1-WR sets, the 2nd most in the NFL despite only playing 72% while coming off a week of limited practices. London has the skillset to be a target dominator with Olamide Zaccheaus operating as the Falcons' No. 2 WR. I see OROY in London's future. He was the WR39 in fantasy usage last week.
Allen Robinson - A-Rob (98% routes) really struggled against zone coverage, something the Bills used on 93% of snaps last week. Since 2018, his YPRR versus man (2.1) has been higher than versus zone (1.8), so this wasn't too surprising as he gets a feel for his new offense. The Falcons are less likely to play as much zone under aggressive DC Dean Peas and A-Rob didn't look less athletic on tape in my opinion, so consider him as a boom-bust WR3 even if he sees some stud CB1 A.J. Terrell on the perimeter.
Adam Thielen - He played 100% of snaps dropbacks including in 2-WR sets (that locks him into most red zone looks), but Thielen didn't get fed Week 1 while leading comfortably all game on the backs of Justin Jefferson. This isn't a clean individual matchup with Darius Slay and James Bradberry looming. TD-or-bust flex is appropriate.
Darnell Mooney - The Week 1 monsoon and positive game script worked against Mooney, but he was a full-time player as expected. Consider him a boom-bust WR3, as he was late last season. Behind him, Equanimous St. Brown split time with Dante Pettis and Byron Pringle, all of whom are off the re-draft radar.
Amari Cooper - His Underdog Fantasy Pick'em projection is set for 9.55 half PPR points.
Elijah Moore - 90% routes and projected negative game script work in Moore's favor. There's no way Joe Flacco can throw as often as he did to his RBs last week, and Moore is the clear favorite for targets among Jets WRs, while Garrett Wilson rotates in with Braxton Berrios. If Denzel Ward covers the more physical Corey Davis on the perimeter, Moore could have a reasonable individual matchup.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling - He drew a DPI in the end zone, ran a route on 80% of dropbacks, and could have more underneath targets in this offense than he did in Green Bay. Ultimately, MVS remains a spiked-week WR4 and our Better In Best Ball king.
Brandon Aiyuk - It all comes down to Trey Lance being a serviceable (not even good) real life NFL starter. I think that will take some time. Aiyuk has no weekly floor despite his big-play potential.
Curtis Samuel - A 10-target, 26% share game in the opener was not on my bingo card, but Samuel is clearly healthy right now. He'll maintain his slot-only role, however, with McLaurin and 1st-round rookie Jahan Dotson (89% routes) very involved. They did creatively use Samuel as the motion and underneath target in Week 1.
Joshua Palmer - He played on all 2-WR sets after Keenan Allen (out) left last game, which puts him on track to play nearly every snap on Thursday, while DeAndre Carter plays in the slot in 3-WR sets only. Palmer had 5-43-1 and 5-66-1 receiving lines when either of the Chargers' top-2 receivers missed last year, good enough for flex consideration. Palmer has seen screen targets throughout his NFL career, including in this past preseason. Expect plenty of routes with the Chargers projected to lose on the road.
Hunter Renfrow - A 16% Week 1 target share wasn't very surprising with Davante Adams in town, and Renfrow isn't playing all the 2-WR set snaps because Mack Hollins offers more size for rushing looks. If Darren Waller stays healthier this year, it'll be hard to squeeze much volume for the underneath weapon. Renfrow can still play at a high level, however, and this week, the Raiders have a ludicrous 28.0-point team total.
Allen Lazard (Questionable) - Schefter says he's expected to play. Lazard has been limited all week, but given the state of other Packers WRs, I envision Lazard separating as Rodgers' top receiver and the lone full-time player in what should be a rotation between Christian Watson (67% Week 1 routes), Sammy Watkins (65%), and Romeo Doubs (58%) on the outside. Lazard's return is bad news for Randall Cobb (62%).
DeVonta Smith - A.J. Brown is getting all the easier work at WR, including in-breaking routes, screens, and routes from the slot. Smith is the opposite. Most of his targets and routes came glued to the sideline, where targets are less valuable in general. The Eagles' neutral pass rate climbed from late 2021 to Week 1 this year (54%), but not enough to keep Smith in the WR3 bucket if Brown ultimately is a 30% target share guy. There is no weekly floor here.
D.J. Chark - A 21% target share on 92% routes for a player who sees deep targets is a recipe for random spiked weeks. Was one of my favorite double-digit round best ball picks.
Tyler Boyd - This assumes Tee Higgins (questionable) is in.
Julio Jones (Questionable) - Schefter says Jones is a legit game-time decision after going DNP-DNP-limited in practice. There's some actual concern here, even if active. I've moved him down some.
Russell Gage - This assumes Chris Godwin (hamstring) is out.
Greg Dortch - This assumes Rondale Moore (DNP Wednesday) remains out. Last week, Dortch led the Cardinals in 2-WR set routes and played on 96% of dropbacks in general. It's the role we were hoping Moore would be getting during DeAndre Hopkins' suspension. Given the injured state of the defense, we should expect the Cardinals (who are 5.5-point road dogs this week) to be in catch up mode. Dortch is legitimately on the fantasy radar after WR35 fantasy usage in Week 1.
Isaiah McKenzie - The speedster started and scored a TD, but split routes (55% to 32%) with Jamison Crowder, who may enter in some run looks or against zone teams more than we like. Neither are playable for now with WR5 Jake Kumerow also playing because of run-blocking.
Jakobi Meyers - 88% snaps despite a questionable tag is a win for Meyers, who out-target shared DeVante Parker, 21% to 7%. Meyers' big-play ability, however, doesn't touch Parker's.
DeVante Parker - He played 100% of snaps as the team's X-WR. That doesn't mean Parker will be consistent, but there will be random spiked weeks as long as Mac Jones (back) is healthy. Meanwhile, Nelson Agholor ran a route on 58% of dropbacks with Kendrick Bourne (2 snaps) in the doghouse.
Robbie Anderson - A chaotic offseason, but Anderson played every 2-WR set snap in an offense that was 1st in neutral pass rate and 5th in neutral pace. If those hold up, Anderson has flex dart throw appeal. We'll get confirmation of new OC Ben McAdoo's offense this week.
Jahan Dotson - The targets and efficiency will be all over the place, but Dotson clearly has skills and the 2-WR set role in Washington. That leaves him with dart throw appeal at the very worst.
Mecole Hardman - Week 1 routes: MVS (80%), JuJu (80%), Mecole (61%), and Moore (20%), who only mixed in on 3-WR sets. Hardman will get gadget looks but also just missed on deep targets, as evidenced by his WR22 fantasy usage and WR40 half PPR scoring last week. His role seems safe for now with Moore focused on special teams and with Justin Watson (chest) questionable to play.
Tyler Lockett - A 14% target rate in Week 1 and the Seahawks only project for 16.25 points this week.
Chase Claypool - The Steelers used him in the slot on 95% of snaps and gave him sweep touches in hopes of finding a spark in a gross offense. Trubisky's inaccuracies and George Pickens' presence (91% routes) will limit Claypool's upside and consistency. They each had one route in 2-WR sets last week.
Jarvis Landry - He went nuts while chasing points, but Michael Thomas looking good and Chris Olave out-routing Landry (5 to 0) in 2-WR sets limit his fantasy appeal despite the Week 1 box score. The optimistic look revolves around Landry's 26% target share.
Jamison Crowder - He should play way more snaps with Gabe Davis (ankle) looking doubtful.
Zay Jones - 21% targets and 81 air yards in the opener explains his better in best ball profile as the most athletic downfield threat on the Jaguars' perimeter. Jones is the definition of a boom-bust WR5.
Corey Davis - He played in all 2-WR sets and is the only Jets wide out with size, experience, and over the middle confidence. That keeps him in the fantasy mix, while Joe Flacco tosses prayers in garbage time. Davis was the WR18 in fantasy usage last week on 68% routes, the latter of which was negatively impacted by complete garbage time.
Robert Woods - Week 1 routes: Woods (77%), Kyle Phillips (64%), Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (64%), and Treylon Burks (36%). Coach Vrabel said this rotation should continue to keep everyone fresh. Woods isn't the big play threat in the offense and the Bills were unbelievable last week, so his ceiling is quite low.
Nico Collins - He had the same amount of 2-WR set snaps as Brandin Cooks (10) and ran a route on 80% of dropbacks. Collins is an intermediate and deep threat, so it's no surprise to see his target share at 8% in the opener. He's better in best ball while Cooks ... cooks.
George Pickens - See WR50 Chase Claypool.
Chris Olave - A rookie playing in 2-WR sets in Week 1 is notable, but there might not be enough volume for Olave to be consistent if Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry play well like they did in Week 1. He was the WR90 in fantasy usage last week.
Parris Campbell - There was a rotation behind Michael Pittman (out), with Ashton Dulin (26% routes) getting involved as a blocker in 2-WR sets at the expense of Alec Pierce (66%, also out) and Parris Campbell (82%). Dulin and Campbell should be near full-time players.
Donovan Peoples-Jones - He ran a route on all 14 of the Browns' 2-WR set passes and remains the best bet for downfield targets with Amari Cooper operating underneath. Peoples-Jones surprised with WR19 fantasy usage last week thanks to 87 air yards and a red zone target.
K.J. Osborn - He didn't have any 2-WR routes, but Osborn did run a route on 85% of dropbacks because this is a heavy 3-WR team.
Marvin Jones - All 3 Jaguars WRs played on 88% or more of dropbacks, and this offense can probably only keep one of them afloat in fantasy. Marvin Jones is directly competing with Zay Jones as perimeter deep threats. Zay simply might be better at this point.
Sterling Shepard - Week 1 routes: Richie James (71%), Kenny Golladay (71%), Shepard (65%), David Stills (52%), and Kadarius Toney (13%). James will maintain his role as Wan'Dale Robinson's (DNP Thursday) direct replacement, while the rest primarily rotate outside. Shepard did kick inside on 35% of his snaps, however. Between the state of the offense and the unpredictable route projection, it's best to avoid all.
Christian Watson - Week 1 routes: Watson (67%), Sammy Watkins (65%), Randall Cobb (62%), and Romeo Doubs (58%). It's a mess, even with Allen Lazard (limited Wednesday) back. It's clear that Aaron Rodgers doesn't trust any of his outside WRs and it's deserved based on their Week 1 tape. Watson had a brutal drop, Doubs was scattered against zone, and Watkins simply lacks juice now. Meanwhile, Cobb played zero (0) snaps in 2-WR sets. Long term, Lazard should clearly pace this group in snaps, routes, and targets.
Gabriel Davis (Questionable) - Added to the injury report on Saturday ahead of MNF. It's unclear how serious this is right now. ... He played 100% of snaps (because he blocks his ass off), walked away with two big plays, and gets to catch passes from unstoppable force Josh Allen. Davis' 16% target share (which should increase against non-two-high shell defenses) is plenty enough to warrant top-25 WR love, especially in more friendly matchups like this one. The Titans allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to WRs last year.
Kyle Phillips (Questionable) - In perfect game script, Philips was the WR32 in fantasy usage but only played in 3-WR sets as the slot. He was out there for 64% routes, a number that likely drops in more neutral game scripts.
Treylon Burks - He only ran a route on 36% of dropbacks in Week 1, and it looks like there are some defined roles. Westbrook-Ikhine was asked to block on some snaps and ran more in-breaking routes than Burks, who worked outside and ran a lot of vertical based routes. These two are basically competing for snaps, and they have pros and cons to their games right now (read: rotation). Meanwhile, Phillips is the slot-only option route receiver when the Titans are in negative game script.
Garrett Wilson - The rookie made a couple of nice plays and reminds of Jerry Jeudy (flashy but chaotic), but Wilson's underlying metrics weren't great for his Week 2 outlook. He only played in 3-WR sets and only ran a route on 56% of total dropbacks, the latter of which was benefiting from garbage time snaps. With Elijah Moore being the most talented and Corey Davis' size/experience standing out in this depth chart, it's hard to see Wilson having flex appeal.
Kadarius Toney (Questionable) - I wouldn't rank Toney 70th but needed to write about him... The hope is that he earns more trust each week before breaking out later in the season a la Brandon Aiyuk. The talent was on display on his 2 touches in Week 1. What a tease, but he's worth a bench stash for at least one or two more weeks. There's a chance he doesn't play after tweaking his hamstring (again) mid-week.
These are half PPR rankings. I have other player notes here.
Travis Kelce - As he did in the preseason, Kelce only played on 69% of Mahomes' Week 1 snaps, but it won't matter all that much. He's the clear 1st or 2nd read on most dropbacks. Kelce was 2nd in fantasy usage last week.
Mark Andrews - The Ravens were 3rd in neutral pass rate last week, and Andrews ran a route on 94% of dropbacks. This should be another massive season.
Kyle Pitts - Per The Fantasy Usage Model, Pitts is the biggest positive regression candidate heading into Week 2. 84% snaps, 72% routes, 21% target align with potential top-5 TE1 fantasy production.
Darren Waller - He ran a route on 80% dropbacks, but with Adams balling, Waller only had a 16% target share. That was still good enough for TE5 fantasy usage with the Raiders ranking 3rd in neutral pass rate.
Dalton Schultz - He ran a route on 94% of dropbacks. The QB downgrade hurts, but Schultz could even see more zone-beating checkdowns while in garbage time.
Zach Ertz - He battled a calf injury last week, leading to just 63% routes and TE12 fantasy usage. Those numbers should climb now that he got in full practices, and there are targets to be had with Rondale Moore, DeAndre Hopkins, Antoine Wesley, and Andy Isabella sidelined. Trey McBride was a healthy scratch last week.
Dallas Goedert - Tackled at the 1-yard line last week, but Goedert was dominated by A.J. Brown in targets, leading to TE25 fantasy usage. There is no weekly floor now.
T.J. Hockenson - 78% routes and 19% targets in Week 1, but more importantly, the Lions offense looks watchable. He was the TE10 in fantasy usage.
Pat Freiermuth - The TE1 in fantasy usage last week, Patty overcome a talented 3-WR set and horrendous QB play on a 77% route rate.
Dawson Knox - He busted in Week 1 because he only ran a route on 66% of Josh Allen dropbacks. Definitely bad. There are some positives, however. He played 86% of plays for 50 total snaps and 25 total routes. More importantly, his 22% pass-blocking snap rate (which would've been the 2nd-highest rate of any game last year) can partially be explained by the Rams' scheme. When the Rams had a 5-man front, Knox stayed into block to avoid Aaron Donald 1-on-1s and he chipped edge rushers on other plays (video). I don't think that continues, which means more natural routes. If he continues to block at last week's rate, then he's a TD-or-bust TE2. I'm not putting him into that territory quite yet. I'm expecting more routes against the Titans, who rush with 4-man fronts, not 5.
Tyler Higbee - 92% routes and 9.5 expected half PPR points per game (TE4) in Week 1 while trailing all game. Those metrics alone make him a top-12 TE.
Gerald Everett - Attached to Herbert and this time without Keenan Allen (hamstring), Everett plays just enough (66% routes) and is just good enough to be on the TE1/2 border. He was the TE13 in fantasy usage last week and had a sweet TD grab.
Albert Okwuegbunam - The Broncos are doing wonky things with their blocking TEs, but Albert O (who had a few whiffs in the blocking game) still ran a route on 74% of Week 1 dropbacks leading to TE14 fantasy usage.
Hunter Henry - 85% routes in Week 1 align with his 2021 numbers, even with Jonnu Smith (52% routes) playing more at the expense of a fullback. The offense isn't good enough for Henry to have stability, but he is a feature in the red zone.
Evan Engram - 78% routes is a moderate win, even if it only came with 14% targets. Engram is on the TE2 radar but his TD expectations will be determined by Trevor Lawrence's year-two improvement.
George Kittle (Questionable) - He went DNP-DNP-limited in practice and may not be fully healthy even if active this week with his groin injury. Kittle also has to overcome a QB downgrade, the rain, and more target competition. We'll learn more on Sunday morning about his health.
David Njoku - 89% snaps and 70% routes with his YAC ability gives him TE2 appeal. The Browns won't play with leads as often as they did in Week 1.
Cameron Brate - Forgettable player, but Chris Godwin (hamstring) is out and Brate projects for quite a few red zone routes (he was the TE7 in expected TDs last year). He had a 79% route rate in Week 1.
Hayden Hurst - A mediocre player, Hurst remains the 4th or 5th option in the pass game but at least ran a route on 80% of Week 1 dropbacks.
Cole Kmet - If his 70% route rate from Week 1 continues (and it was similar in the preseason, then Kmet is in no-floor TE2 hell. On tape, I don't think he is a difference making receiver even if he was seeing better usage.
Tyler Conklin - Our check-down GOAT Joe Flacco fed him underneath, leading to TE6 fantasy usage in Week 1. He ran a route on 80% of dropbacks.
Robert Tonyan - He returned earlier than expected, so it's no surprise that he only ran a route on 44% of dropbacks in Week 1 with ole reliable Mercedes Lewis blocking his ass off. Tonyan has TE1/2 potential if he plays more, given the state of the Packers WR depth chart.
Logan Thomas - In an early-than-anticipated return, Thomas managed 60% routes and a 13% target share. Peak Thomas is unlikely to return with the Commanders' WR weapons clearly deeper, however.
Juwan Johnson - Adam Trautman is a blocker only, and Taysom Hill is playing a gadget role. Johnson ran a route on 79% of dropbacks. With so many other mouths to feed, Johnson may just be getting his cardio in, however. He was the TE15 in usage last week.
Austin Hooper - 67% routes in a bottom-10 passing offense.
Noah Fant - 57% routes in a bottom-10 passing offense.
Irv Smith - The TE38 in fantasy usage last week, Smith only ran a route on 44% of dropbacks while losing playing time to Johnny Mundt. Even if he ran more routes, he'll be competing with Jefferson, Thielen, Osborn, and Cook for targets.
Brevin Jordan - Pharaoh Brown started and O.J. Howard had 2 TDs on 6 routes, leaving Jordan with just 58% routes.
Kylen Granson - He ran more routes (54%) than Mo Alie-Cox (38%).
Mike Gesicki - 40% routes in Week 1 lines up with our preseason film evaluations. Gesicki, basically a slot WR, isn't a scheme fit in this run-heavy Shanahan system.
Tre McKitty - For the single game DFS chasers, McKitty had 37% routes in Week 1 for the Herbert-led Chargers. He was the TE19 in fantasy usage.
This column is posted every Tuesday on Underdog Network.
The projected sack rates are using 2021 data as a heads up. This week, The Sickos Committee is rolling with the Packers, Browns, 49ers, Bills, Rams, Broncos, Giants, and Bucs.
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. Here are my downloadable rankings. Save this as a CSV, change "ID" to "id", and upload them on the Rankings tab on Underdog desktop. Good luck!