Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

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Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

Each week we'll provide fantasy positional rankings based on expected performance. With Week 1 of the NFL season upon us, here's our opening-week breakdown of the rankings:

Week 1 Quarterback Rankings
Rank Quarterback Team Opponent Tier
1 Matt Ryan ATL @NO 1
2 Drew Brees NO ATL 1
3 Tom Brady NE @BUF 1
4 Robert Griffin WAS PHI 1
5 Andrew Luck IND OAK 1
6 Peyton Manning DEN BAL 1
7 Aaron Rodgers GB @SF 1
8 Colin Kaepernick SF GB 1
9 Matthew Stafford DET MIN 1
10 Tony Romo DAL NYG 1
11 Cam Newton CAR SEA 2
12 Russell Wilson SEA @CAR 2
13 Eli Manning NYG @DAL 2
14 Michael Vick PHI @WAS 2
15 Ben Roethlisberger PIT TEN 2
16 Matt Schaub HOU @SD 3
17 Alex Smith KC @JAC 3
18 EJ Manuel BUF NE 3
19 Andy Dalton CIN @CHI 3
20 Joe Flacco BAL @DEN 3
21 Carson Palmer ARI @STL 3
22 Philip Rivers SD HOU 3
23 Jay Cutler CHI CIN 3
24 Sam Bradford STL ARI 3
25 Josh Freeman TB @NYJ 3
26 Brandon Weeden CLE MIA 4
27 Ryan Tannehill MIA @CLE 4
28 Geno Smith NYJ TB 4
29 Terrelle Pryor OAK @IND 4
30 Blaine Gabbert JAC KC 4
31 Christian Ponder MIN @DET 4
32 Jake Locker TEN @PIT 4

Eric Mack's Rankings

The toughest matchups for the top fantasy quarterbacks this week are Aaron Rodgers at San Francisco and Cam Newton against Seattle. You drafted those guys early with the intention of playing them every week, though, so keep them active.

Would you dare sit Cam Newton against the Seahawks this week?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Matt Ryan trumps all the QBs in the rankings in Week 1 because he gets the benefit of facing the Saints defense, which was the worst in fantasy against quarterbacks a year ago.

In the sleeper category, EJ Manuel (knee) is a viable starter in two-quarterback leagues, facing a Patriots secondary that was third worst in fantasy against quarterbacks last season. While steady, Andy Dalton shouldn't be anyone's primary starter in one-quarterback formats, especially against Charles Tillman and the Bears defense on the road in Week 1.

Week 1 Running Back Rankings
Rank Running Back Team Opponent Tier
1 Marshawn Lynch SEA @CAR 1
2 Jamaal Charles KC @JAC 1
3 Alfred Morris WAS PHI 1
4 Stevan Ridley NE @BUF 1
5 Adrian Peterson MIN @DET 1
6 Steven Jackson ATL @NO 1
7 Arian Foster HOU @SD 1
8 LeSean McCoy PHI @WAS 1
9 C.J. Spiller BUF NE 2
10 Doug Martin TB @NYJ 2
11 Trent Richardson CLE MIA 2
12 Ray Rice BAL @DEN 2
13 DeMarco Murray DAL NYG 2
14 David Wilson NYG @DAL 2
15 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC KC 2
16 Matt Forte CHI CIN 3
17 Darren McFadden OAK @IND 3
18 Reggie Bush DET MIN 3
19 Frank Gore SF GB 3
20 Lamar Miller MIA @CLE 3
21 Darren Sproles NO ATL 3
22 Chris Johnson TEN @PIT 3
23 Ahmad Bradshaw IND OAK 3
24 Vick Ballard IND OAK 3
25 Daryl Richardson STL ARI 3
26 Montee Ball DEN BAL 3
27 Shane Vereen NE @BUF 4
28 Ronnie Hillman DEN BAL 4
29 Ryan Mathews SD HOU 4
30 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL @NO 4
31 Eddie Lacy GB @SF 4
32 Ben Tate HOU @SD 4
33 Bernard Pierce BAL @DEN 4
34 Bryce Brown PHI @WAS 4
35 Isaac Redman PIT TEN 4
36 Knile Davis KC @JAC 4
37 Giovani Bernard CIN @CHI 4
38 Rashard Mendenhall ARI @STL 4
39 Chris Ivory NYJ TB 4
40 Mark Ingram NO ATL 4
41 DeAngelo Williams CAR SEA 5
42 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN @CHI 5
43 Bilal Powell NYJ TB 5
44 Pierre Thomas NO ATL 5
45 Danny Woodhead SD HOU 5
46 Kendall Hunter SF GB 5
47 Knowshon Moreno DEN BAL 5
48 Felix Jones PIT TEN 5
49 Robert Turbin SEA @CAR 5
50 Christine Michael SEA @CAR 5

Eric Mack's Rankings

Adrian Peterson and C.J. Spiller face unfavorable matchups against very good defensive fronts in the Lions and Patriots (top-10 rush defense a year ago). You cannot afford to sit your early first-round picks, though.

Isaac Redman's matchup is favorable, but do you trust him as a fantasy starter?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Steven Jackson, Stevan Ridley, Isaac Redman, Jamaal Charles and David Wilson face the five most generous teams against fantasy running backs from last season. Redman is the sleeper starter here, while the others are must-start locks, regardless of the matchups this season.

Sleepers to use this week in addition to Redman include the Colts' Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard and Ronnie Hillman, Shane Vereen and Daryl Richardson.

The sits are Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and DeAngelo Williams.

Week 1 Wide Receiver Rankings
Rank Wide Receiver Team Opponent Tier
1 Julio Jones ATL @NO 1
2 Calvin Johnson DET MIN 1
3 Dez Bryant DAL NYG 1
4 Roddy White ATL @NO 1
5 Demaryius Thomas DEN BAL 1
6 Larry Fitzgerald ARI @STL 1
7 Pierre Garcon WAS PHI 1
8 A.J. Green CIN @CHI 2
9 Brandon Marshall CHI CIN 2
10 Dwayne Bowe KC @JAC 2
11 Andre Johnson HOU @SD 2
12 Danny Amendola NE @BUF 2
13 Randall Cobb GB @SF 2
14 Hakeem Nicks NYG @DAL 2
15 Antonio Brown PIT TEN 2
16 Vincent Jackson TB @NYJ 3
17 Victor Cruz NYG @DAL 3
18 Marques Colston NO ATL 3
19 Wes Welker DEN BAL 3
20 Eric Decker DEN BAL 3
21 Reggie Wayne IND OAK 3
22 T.Y. Hilton IND OAK 3
23 Torrey Smith BAL @DEN 4
24 Steve Johnson BUF NE 4
25 Jordy Nelson GB @SF 4
26 James Jones GB @SF 4
27 DeSean Jackson PHI @WAS 4
28 Mike Wallace MIA @CLE 4
29 Anquan Boldin SF GB 4
30 Mike Williams TB @NYJ 4
31 Steve Smith CAR SEA 4
32 Cecil Shorts JAC KC 4
33 Miles Austin DAL NYG 4
34 Kenbrell Thompkins NE @BUF 4
35 Lance Moore NO ATL 4
36 Chris Givens STL ARI 4
37 Greg Jennings MIN @DET 4
38 Vincent Brown SD HOU 4
39 Emmanuel Sanders PIT TEN 4
40 DeAndre Hopkins HOU @SD 5
41 Kenny Britt TEN @PIT 5
42 Greg Little CLE MIA 5
43 Tavon Austin STL ARI 5
44 Michael Floyd ARI @STL 5
45 Golden Tate SEA @CAR 5
46 Sidney Rice SEA @CAR 5
47 Alshon Jeffery CHI CIN 5
48 Kenny Stills NO ATL 5
49 Rueben Randle NYG @DAL 5
50 Darrius Heyward-Bey IND OAK 5

Eric Mack's Rankings

It is a rare week we would dare to rank anyone above Calvin Johnson, but Julio Jones and Roddy White just have too juicy of a matchup against that porous Saints secondary. Matt Ryan is going to have a field day, win or lose in New Orleans.

Do you agree with the suggestion to sit Steve Smith against the Seahawks?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Most of your drafted starters are viable plays until the matchups or their health prove otherwise, including the Packers trio of receivers, who face a stiff 49ers defense on the road. Steve Smith, though, is a bad play against the Seahawks defense. If you're looking for sleepers this week, go with Pats rookie Kenbrell Thompkins or third-year San Diego receiver Vincent Brown against the Texans. This top 50 represents the best plays through the 14-team, three-receiver and a flex formats.

Week 1 Tight End Rankings
Rank Tight End Team Opponent Tier
1 Jimmy Graham NO ATL 1
2 Tony Gonzalez ATL @NO 1
3 Jason Witten DAL NYG 1
4 Vernon Davis SF GB 1
5 Kyle Rudolph MIN @DET 1
6 Owen Daniels HOU @SD 1
7 Brandon Pettigrew DET MIN 2
8 Jermichael Finley GB @SF 2
9 Antonio Gates SD HOU 2
10 Brandon Myers NYG @DAL 2
11 Zach Sudfeld NE @BUF 2
12 Greg Olsen CAR SEA 3
13 Martellus Bennett CHI CIN 3
14 Coby Fleener IND OAK 3
15 Jared Cook STL ARI 3
16 Fred Davis WAS PHI 3
17 Julius Thomas DEN BAL 4
18 Marcedes Lewis JAC KC 4
19 Jordan Cameron CLE MIA 4
20 Dwayne Allen IND OAK 4
21 Jermaine Gresham CIN @CHI 4
22 Tyler Eifert CIN @CHI 4
23 Zach Ertz PHI @WAS 4
24 Zach Miller SEA @CAR 4
25 Ed Dickson BAL @DEN 4

Eric Mack's Rankings

A quick gander at these rankings shows why you shouldn't have picked a tight end before the late rounds if you didn't get Jimmy Graham or another elite option. There just isn't much difference between the second-tier guys.

Are you bold enough to start Patriots raw rookie TE Zach Sudfeld in Week 1?

Submit Vote vote to see results

We continue to point to the Seahawks, 49ers, Texans and Bears for the most unfavorable matchups of the week. The Saints, Bills and Raiders are the matchups to take advantage of here, including using sleepers like Zach Sudfeld, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.

If you drafted Greg Olsen and a backup tight end, you might consider sitting Olsen against the Seahawks secondary. They were No. 2 in fantasy against tight ends last year.

Week 1 Defense/Special Teams Rankings
Rank Defense/Special Teams Team Opponent Tier
1 Patriots NE @BUF 1
2 Steelers PIT TEN 1
3 Bengals CIN @CHI 1
4 Seahawks SEA @CAR 1
5 Texans HOU @SD 1
6 49ers SF GB 2
7 Bears CHI CIN 2
8 Broncos DEN BAL 2
9 Rams STL ARI 3
10 Buccaneers TB @NYJ 3
11 Colts IND OAK 3
12 Cardinals ARI @STL 3
13 Browns CLE MIA 3
14 Chiefs KC @JAC 3
15 Dolphins MIA @CLE 4
16 Redskins WAS PHI 4
17 Lions DET MIN 4
18 Jets NYJ TB 4
19 Chargers SD HOU 4
20 Cowboys DAL NYG 4

Eric Mack's Rankings

You absolutely cannot trust the Falcons defense at New Orleans, the Ravens defense at Denver or the Packers defense at San Francisco. All three fringe fantasy options are bad plays, if not Week 1 cuts for a streaming defense.

We break down the best of the streaming defense/special-teams units in another article. The Bucs, Colts, Chiefs and Lions are the sleepers to use as streaming options.

Week 1 Kicker Rankings
Rank Kicker Team Opponent Tier
1 Stephen Gostkowski NE @BUF 1
2 Matt Bryant ATL @NO 1
3 Phil Dawson SF GB 1
4 Matt Prater DEN BAL 1
5 Blair Walsh MIN @DET 1
6 Steven Hauschka SEA @CAR 2
7 Justin Tucker BAL @DEN 2
8 Garrett Hartley NO ATL 2
9 Randy Bullock HOU @SD 2
10 Adam Vinatieri IND OAK 2
11 Greg Zuerlein STL ARI 2
12 Dan Bailey DAL NYG 2
13 Mason Crosby GB @SF 3
14 Sebastian Janikowski OAK @IND 3
15 Kai Forbath WAS PHI 3
16 David Akers DET MIN 3
17 Caleb Sturgis MIA @CLE 3
18 Alex Henery PHI @WAS 3
19 Robbie Gould CHI CIN 3
20 Josh Brown NYG @DAL 3

Eric Mack's Rankings

Outside of my continued warnings about Sebastian Janikowski as a threat to get shut out in any given week, there is little to glean from a ranking of the top kickers. You should only own one, and you should just ride him barring a matchup against the Seahawks, 49ers, Bears or Texans. That list might even be whittled down to just those first two in deeper leagues that start more than 12 kickers.

Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.

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