Fantasy Football

Week 1 Fantasy Football Projections: Stat Predictions for Top 100 Players

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) share a few words following a NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 28. 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
LM Otero/Associated Press
Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

You did your pre-draft research. Then you nailed the draft and talked a little smack to your friends. Now all you have to do is coach your fantasy football team to a championship.

That journey begins in Week 1, and there is a big difference between starting the season 1-0 and 0-1, at least from a psychological standpoint. There are plenty of season-defining decisions still on the horizon, like how to replace your injured running back and determining which Week 1 breakout player is worth a waiver target, so it is important to get the year started off on the right foot.

With that in mind, here are some projections for 100 players in the league. So as not to completely weight it toward quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, we made sure to include some representatives from every position and look at a sleeper in each spot.

The “top” players were determined using ESPN.com’s preseason rankings for the top 20 quarterbacks, 25 running backs, 25 wide receivers, 10 tight ends, 10 kickers and 10 defenses. 

Best of luck on the virtual field.

 

Quarterbacks

Week 1 Quarterback Projections
RankPlayerOpponentProjections
1Peyton ManningIndianapolis Colts320 passing yards, 3 TD
2Aaron RodgersSeattle Seahawks245 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
3Drew BreesAtlanta Falcons345 passing yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
4Matthew StaffordNew York Giants330 passing yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
5Andrew LuckDenver Broncos310 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
6Cam NewtonTampa Bay Buccaneers198 passing yards, 65 rushing yards, 2 TD
7Robert Griffin IIIHouston Texans145 passing yards, 70 rushing yards, 1 pass TD, 1 rush TD
8Nick FolesJacksonville Jaguars285 passing yards, 3 TD
9Colin KaepernickDallas Cowboys200 passing yards, 97 rushing yards, 2 pass TD, 1 rush TD
10Russell WilsonGreen Bay Packers167 passing yards, 44 rushing yards, 1 TD
11Matt RyanNew Orleans Saints300 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
12Tom BradyMiami Dolphins220 passing yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
13Tony RomoSan Francisco 49ers310 passing yards, 4 TD, 2 INT
14Philip RiversArizona Cardinals218 passing yards, 1 TD
15Jay CutlerBuffalo Bills295 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
16Ben RoethlisbergerCleveland Browns135 passing yards, 35 rushing yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
17Andy DaltonBaltimore Ravens215 passing yards, 2 TD
18Eli ManningDetroit Lions183 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
19Carson PalmerSan Diego Chargers190 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
20Josh McCownCarolina Panthers225 passing yards, 25 rushing yards, 2 TD

John Froschauer/Associated Press

Sleeper: Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears are going to score points, simple as that. Jay Cutler will be the quarterback engineering those long drives, and your fantasy team will benefit from having him as an option.

He finished with a career-best passer rating of 89.2 last year and should be more familiar with Marc Trestman’s offense. Oh, he also still has Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett to work with every week.

If Cutler finds a way to get the ball to the playmakers, he will score plenty of fantasy points all year.

One word of warning, though, for Week 1—the Buffalo Bills finished fourth in the NFL in opposing passing yards allowed last year and could limit his production. The question now becomes do you trust Chicago’s weapons or fear the Buffalo defense? 

The thought here is that it is too much offensive firepower to ignore.

 

Running Backs

Week 1 Running Back Projections
RankPlayerOpponentProjections
1Adrian PetersonSt. Louis Rams120 total yards, 2 TD
2LeSean McCoyJacksonville Jaguars195 total yards, 3 TD
3Jamaal CharlesTennessee Titans168 total yards, 2 TD
4Matt ForteBuffalo Bills170 total yards, 1 TD
5Marshawn LynchGreen Bay Packers95 total yards, 2 TD
6Eddie LacySeattle Seahawks80 total yards, 1 TD
7Arian FosterWashington Redskins110 total yards, 2 TD
8Doug MartinCarolina Panthers83 total yards, 1 TD
9DeMarco MurraySan Francisco 49ers110 total yards, 2 TD
10Le'Veon BellCleveland Browns95 total yards
11Zac StacyMinnesota Vikings90 total yards
12Alfred MorrisHouston Texans125 total yards, 1 TD
13Montee BallIndianapolis Colts130 total yards, 2 TD
14Giovani BernardBaltimore Ravens140 total yards, 1 TD
15Reggie BushNew York Giants100 total yards, 1 TD
16Ben TatePittsburgh Steelers99 total yards
17Ryan MathewsArizona Cardinals75 total yards
18C.J. SpillerChicago Bears130 total yards, 2 TD
19Frank GoreDallas Cowboys105 total yards, 1 TD
20Andre EllingtonSan Diego Chargers80 total yards
21Toby GerhartPhiladelphia Eagles75 total yards
22Rashad JenningsDetroit Lions110 total yards, 1 TD
23Trent RichardsonDenver Broncos70 total yards
24Chris JohnsonOakland Raiders75 total yards
25Joique BellNew York Giants40 total yards, 1 TD
*Ray Rice not included because suspended in Week 1

Bill Wippert/Associated Press

Sleeper: C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills

C.J. Spiller may not be a sleeper in the traditional sense, but he’s not exactly a name you expect to completely go off on a consistent basis.

You can trust him in Week 1, though. The Chicago Bears defense finished dead last in opposing rushing yards allowed last year and will likely still be going through some growing pains early in the season. 

Sure, they added Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston up front, but it’s difficult to forget running backs gashing the defensive every week last year. Spiller can also get involved in the passing game on screens if the Bills fall behind.

 

Wide Receivers

Week 1 Wide Receivers Projections
RankPlayerOpponentProjections
1Calvin JohnsonNew York Giants140 yards, 1 TD
2Demaryius ThomasIndianapolis Colts130 yards, 2 TD
3A.J. GreenBaltimore Ravens98 yards, 1 TD
4Dez BryantSan Francisco 49ers115 yards, 2 TD
5Brandon MarshallBuffalo Bills85 yards, 1 TD
6Julio JonesNew Orleans Saints135 yards, 1 TD
7Jordy NelsonSeattle Seahawks65 yards
8Alshon JefferyBuffalo Bills100 yards, 1 TD
9Antonio BrownCleveland Browns87 yards, 1 TD
10Randall CobbSeattle Seahawks70 yards
11Andre JohnsonWashington Redskins71 yards, 1 TD
12Vincent JacksonCarolina Panthers100 yards
13Larry FitzgeraldSan Diego Chargers75 yards
14Pierre GarconHouston Texans55 yards
15Keenan AllenArizona Cardinals85 yards, 1 TD
16Victor CruzDetroit Lions110 yards, 1 TD
17Roddy WhiteNew Orleans Saints60 yards
18DeSean JacksonHouston Texans80 yards
19Percy HarvinGreen Bay Packers50 yards
20Michael CrabtreeDallas Cowboys110 yards, 1 TD
21Torrey SmithCincinnati Bengals75 yards, 1 TD
22Michael FloydSan Diego Chargers65 yards
23Cordarrelle PattersonSt. Louis Rams105 yards, 1 TD
24Julian EdelmanMiami Dolphins75 yards, 1 TD
25Jeremy MaclinJacksonville Jaguars85 yards, 1 TD

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Sleeper: Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton has to throw to someone this year in Carolina, which means you could land a potential No. 1 option in an offense late in your draft or for cheap in auction formats.

Kelvin Benjamin won a national title at Florida State and is more than capable of becoming an elite red-zone target in the NFL. He jumps up and gets the ball at its highest point and should score a number of touchdowns because of that ability.

Any fantasy player knows touchdowns are the key to victory. 

Even the NFL pointed out that Benjamin is a top-notch rookie in fantasy football:

 

Tight Ends

Week 1 Tight End Projections
RankPlayerOpponentProjections
1Jimmy GrahamAtlanta Falcons120 yards, 1 TD
2Julius ThomasIndianapolis Colts95 yards, 1 TD
3Rob GronkowskiMiami Dolphins80 yards, 2 TD
4Vernon DavisDallas Cowboys75 yards
5Jason WittenSan Francisco 49ers60 yards, 1 TD
6Jordan CameronPittsburgh Steelers90 yards, 1 TD
7Greg OlsenTampa Bay Buccaneers55 yards
8Dennis PittaCincinnati Bengals40 yards
9Kyle RudolphSt. Louis Rams70 yards
10Jordan ReedHouston Texans55 yards

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Sleepers: Kyle Rudolph

We can’t all have Jimmy Graham at tight end, so keeping an eye out for sleepers is important.

Opponents should stack the box against the Minnesota Vikings all season to stop Adrian Peterson, so the passing game should be open for Matt Cassel and his weapons. However, the St. Louis Rams are loaded along the defensive front and will likely blitz Cassel throughout the Week 1 contest.

That means he will need a security blanket at tight end, which is where Kyle Rudolph should step up. He won’t score three touchdowns a game and make dynamic athletic moves like Graham, but he will be consistent every week in an offense that needs reliable options. 

He is definitely worth a look in Week 1.

 

Kickers

Week 1 Kickers Projections
RankPlayerOpponentProjections
1Stephen GostkowskiMiami Dolphins2 FG, 5 XP
2Justin TuckerCincinnati Bengals3 FG, 2 XP
3Mason CrosbySeattle Seahawks2 FG, 3 XP
4Steven HauschkaGreen Bay Packers1 FG, 3 XP
5Phil DawsonDallas Cowboys1 FG, 4 XP
6Nick NovakArizona Cardinals2 FG, 2 XP
7Adam VinatieriDenver Broncos3 FG, 2 XP
8Blair WalshSt. Louis Rams1 FG (50+), 2 XP
9Dan BaileySan Francisco 49ers5 XP
10Nick FolkOakland Raiders1 FG, 1 XP

John Froschauer/Associated Press

Sleeper: Robbie Gould

Let’s not overthink things here.

The more the offense scores, the more points your fantasy kicker will score as well. We already talked about the Bears potent offense, which means Robbie Gould will have plenty of opportunities to rack up easy points. 

Yes, getting in the end zone too often takes field goals off the board, but you need an offense that consistently gets in scoring position. Chicago certainly will.

 

Defenses

Week 1 Defense Projections
RankPlayerOpponentProjections
1Seattle SeahawksGreen Bay Packers24 points allowed, 2 sacks, 1 INT
2Carolina PanthersTampa Bay Buccaneers21 points allowed, 5 sacks
3San Francisco 49ersDallas Cowboys35 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 INT
4Denver BroncosIndianapolis Colts23 points allowed, 1 sack, 2 INT
5Cincinnati BengalsBaltimore Ravens23 points allowed, 3 sacks
6St. Louis RamsMinnesota Vikings17 points allowed, 6 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD
7Arizona CardinalsSan Diego Chargers20 points allowed, 1 sack
8Kansas City ChiefsTennessee Titans14 points allowed, 2 sacks, 2 INT
9New England PatriotsMiami Dolphins21 points allowed, 1 sack
10New Orleans SaintsAtlanta Falcons20 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 INT

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Sleeper: Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns were a top-10 defense against the pass last year, have Joe Haden anchoring the unit as one of the NFL’s elite corners and added a number of key pieces on the defensive side of the ball.

Rookie Justin Gilbert and safety Donte Whitner will help against the pass, and newcomer Karlos Dansby makes the linebacking corps much more stout. As for Gilbert, he discussed his learning curve, via Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today: “I just soak it all in, not getting emotional about anything that’s being thrown my way. Any information that is being told to me is something positive, most of the time. I’m just trying to take in the moment.” 

Fantasy owners certainly hope Gilbert uses that information to develop into an elite corner across from Haden.

 

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