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Fantasy Football Week 1: Flex and PPR Rankings

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:   Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

Fantasy football owners have waited months for the return of the NFL regular season, and it’s imperative to start Week 1 with a victory.

Deciphering the latest flex and points-per-reception rankings is key to your success.

Most fantasy owners understand that they should start the best overall player at each position every week, but there is an art to finding the right flex player. Just as it takes time to understand who to start, breaking down the PPR rankings can be the difference between earning a win and taking a loss.

Here are the complete rankings for the top flex options and PPR players. Plus, I've provided a breakdown of the fantasy stars you need to know from each list in Week 1.

 

Flex Players

Week 1 Flex Rankings
RankPlayerWeek 1 Opponent
1Jamaal Charles, KC, RBTennessee
2LeSean McCoy, Phi, RBJacksonville
3Adrian Peterson, Min, RBSt. Louis
4Matt Forte, Chi, RBBuffalo
5Calvin Johnson, Det, WRNew York Giants
6Eddie Lacy, GB, RBSeattle
7Jimmy Graham, NO, TEAtlanta
8Demaryius Thomas, Den, WRIndianapolis
9Marshawn Lynch, Sea, RBGreen Bay
10A.J. Green, Cin, WRBaltimore
11Dez Bryant, Dal, WRSan Francisco
12Doug Martin, TB, RBCarolina
13Brandon Marshall, Chi, WRBuffalo
14DeMarco Murray, Dal, RBSan Francisco
15Julio Jones, Atl, WRNew Orleans
16Arian Foster, Hou, RBWashington
17Antonio Brown, Pit, WRCleveland
18Andre Johnson, Hou, WRWashington
19Julius Thomas, Den, TEIndianapolis
20Zac Stacy, StL, RBMinnesota
21Le'Veon Bell, Pit, RBCleveland
22Jordy Nelson, GB, WRSeattle
23Montee Ball, Den, RBIndianapolis
24Rob Gronkowski, NE, TEMiami
25Victor Cruz, NYG, WRDetroit
26Roddy White, Atl, WRNew Orleans
27Reggie Bush, Det, RBNew York Giants
28Alshon Jeffery, Chi, WRBuffalo
29Ryan Mathews, SD, RBArizona
30Larry Fitzgerald, Ari, WRSan Diego
31Alfred Morris, Wsh, RBHouston
32Keenan Allen, SD, WRArizona
33C.J. Spiller, Buf, RBChicago
34Giovani Bernard, Cin, RBBaltimore
35Randall Cobb, GB, WRSeattle
36Vincent Jackson, TB, WRCarolina
37Rashad Jennings, NYG, RBDetroit
38Andre Ellington, Ari, RBSan Diego
39Jason Witten, Dal, TESan Francisco
40Frank Gore, SF, RBDallas
41Shane Vereen, NE, RBMiami
42Toby Gerhart, Jax, RBPhiladelphia
43Percy Harvin, Sea, WRGreen Bay
44Pierre Garcon, Wsh, WRHouston
45Trent Richardson, Ind, RBDenver
46Jordan Cameron, Cle, TEPittsburgh
47Ben Tate, Cle, RBPittsburgh
48Cordarrelle Patterson, Min, WRSt. Louis
49Michael Crabtree, SF, WRDallas
50DeSean Jackson, Wsh, WRHouston
Donald Wood's Week 1 Flex rankings.

If there is a question of who deserves to begin Week 1 in the Flex spot on your fantasy team, simply reference the list above and start the higher-ranked player. We’ve taken the guesswork out of last-second decisions.

The biggest stud of the week for the Flex spot will be New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss (subscription required), Vereen is the lead back in New England and will be involved in every aspect of the team’s offensive game plan:

The Patriots are planning to use running back Shane Vereen more this season than they have in the past (24.7 percent of the offensive snaps last season; 12.7 percent in 2012; 1.9 percent in 2011). The Patriots are a game-plan offense, and will vary their attack on a weekly basis, but the sense I get from those around the team is Vereen is going to be the type of player who will have a significant role in almost every plan.

While injuries forced Vereen to miss half of the Patriots' games last season, he picked up 635 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns while splitting time with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount. Now that Vereen is the No. 1 back, his numbers should flourish.

Another player who will surprise fans should be Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson.

Many fantasy owners are down on Richardson after a lackluster season that included a trade from the Cleveland Browns to the Colts.

If there was ever a time for a breakout moment, though, it would be in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. Richardson was running strong in his last preseason action and must carry that momentum and confidence against a stout Denver defense.

If you drafted Richardson or traded for him, starting him in Week 1 as your flex will pay major dividends. As long as second-string running back Ahmad Bradshaw doesn’t get the goal-line carries, this will be a wise decision.

 

PPR Players

Week 1 PPR Rankings
Rank Player Week 1 Opponent
1Jamaal Charles, KC, RBTennessee
2LeSean McCoy, Phi, RBJacksonville
3Adrian Peterson, Min, RBSt. Louis
4Matt Forte, Chi, RBBuffalo
5Calvin Johnson, Det, WRNew York Giants
6Jimmy Graham, NO, TEAtlanta
7Peyton Manning, Den, QBIndianapolis
8Demaryius Thomas, Den, WRIndianapolis
9Eddie Lacy, GB, RBSeattle
10Aaron Rodgers, GB, QBSeattle
11Marshawn Lynch, Sea, RBGreen Bay
12Dez Bryant, Dal, WRSan Francisco
13DeMarco Murray, Dal, RBSan Francisco
14Brandon Marshall, Chi, WRBuffalo
15A.J. Green, Cin, WRBaltimore
16Doug Martin, TB, RBCarolina
17Antonio Brown, Pit, WRCleveland
18Julio Jones, Atl, WRNew Orleans
19Drew Brees, NO, QBAtlanta
20Alshon Jeffery, Chi, WRBuffalo
21Julius Thomas, Den, TEIndianapolis
22Andre Johnson, Hou, WRWashington
23Reggie Bush, Det, RBNew York Giants
24Le'Veon Bell, Pit, RBCleveland
25Arian Foster, Hou, RBWashington
26Montee Ball, Den, RBIndianapolis
27Matthew Stafford, Det, QBNew York Giants
28Jordy Nelson, GB, WRSeattle
29Andre Ellington, Ari, RBSan Diego
30Keenan Allen, SD, WRArizona
31Zac Stacy, StL, RBMinnesota
32Victor Cruz, NYG, WRDetroit
33Rob Gronkowski, NE, TEMiami
34Roddy White, Atl, WRNew Orleans
35Andrew Luck, Ind, QBDenver
36Alfred Morris, Was, RBHouston
37Larry Fitzgerald, Ari, WRSan Diego
38Matt Ryan, Atl, QBNew Orleans
39Shane Vereen, NE, RBMiami
40C.J. Spiller, Buf, RBChicago
41Julian Edelman, NE, WRMiami
42Nick Foles, Phi, QBJacksonville
43Rashad Jennings, NYG, RBDetroit
44Ryan Mathews, SD, RBArizona
45Vincent Jackson, TB, WRCarolina
46Frank Gore, SF, RBDallas
47Jason Witten, Dal, TESan Francisco
48Giovani Bernard, Cin, RBBaltimore
49Trent Richardson, Ind, RBDenver
50Jordan Cameron, Cle, TEPittsburgh
Donald Wood's Week 1 PPR Rankings.

The fantasy stars who are a big part of their respective team’s passing attack are even more valuable in PPR leagues than in standard leagues, and running backs who catch the ball are the Holy Grail of the format.

Week 1’s biggest stud is Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles.

Charles was an absolute force last season in both the running game and the passing attack. While his 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing would have been nice on their own, his 70 receptions, 693 yards and seven touchdowns through the air put him on his own level in PPR circles.

Even Washington Redskins cornerback Ryan Clark understands Charles' fantasy greatness:

Kansas City locked up quarterback Alex Smith to a four-year contract, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com, and fantasy owners with Charles rejoiced. With Smith favoring short passes in the West Coast offense, the team’s workhorse running back should remain Smith’s top target.

Fantasy owners are talking about how Charles will dominate, but there is another player not getting the respect he deserves. If you are looking for a Week 1 Flex option in PPR leagues, ride with San Diego running back Ryan Mathews.

There is concern among fans about how many carries and catches Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown will steal from Mathews, but he was the clear top back in Week 3 of the preseason. He racked up four carries and two receptions for 48 yards in his limited time and is the team’s goal-line back.

There is a risk associated with starting Mathews, but with a first week opponent in Arizona, the injuries along the Cardinals’ defensive line and in the linebacker group could open up the holes needed for the running back to dominate.

 

*Stats via NFL.com.

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