Fantasy Football Week 1: Latest Stat Predictions for the Top 50 Players

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 23:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos throws as he warms up before a preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 23, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Drafting your fantasy football team might be the hard part, but your job is far from over. Now, you have to put the right players in the lineup from week to week.

While a lot of people hate dealing with the byes that come in the middle of the year, Week 1 is truly the most difficult to predict all season. Coaches like to keep their plans close to the vest, which means we have little knowledge of which players will touch the ball in which situations.

As a result, fantasy owners should lean toward the safer options to start the season. This includes a number of less exciting veterans who will be smarter picks than the rookies who were shooting up draft boards.

Here is a look at the projected top 50 scorers for Week 1 of 2014.

Top 50 Fantasy Football Players: Week 1
RankPos. RankPlayerTeamOppPass YardsRush YardsRec. YardsTDsFantasy Pts.
1QB1Peyton ManningDENIND35500326
2QB2Drew BreesNOATL31730322
3RB1LeSean McCoyPHIJAX012234121
4QB3Matthew StaffordDETNYG34700221
5QB4Jay CutlerCHIBUF25300320
6QB5Andrew LuckINDDEN28180219
7RB2Jamaal CharlesKCTEN07362119
8QB6Tony RomoDALSF306170219
9QB7Tom BradyNEMIA26900218
10QB8Philip RiversSDARI25500218
11RB3Matt ForteCHIBUF08243118
12WR1Demaryius ThomasDENIND00121118
13QB9Nick FolesPHIJAX30270218
14QB10Colin KaepernickSFDAL186420117
15WR2Calvin JohnsonDETNYG00117117
16QB11Aaron RodgersGBSEA265140217
17WR3Brandon MarshallCHIBUF00111117
18QB12Andy DaltonCINBAL29300217
19QB13Robert Griffin IIIWASHOU231470117
20RB4Arian FosterHOUWAS08421116
21WR4Dez BryantDALSF00106116
22RB5Adrian PetersonMINSTL09514116
23WR5Alshon JefferyCHIBUF02281116
24QB14Russell WilsonSEAGB266270116
25WR6Julio JonesATLNO00102116
26RB6Alfred MorrisWASHOU01090116
27WR7A.J. GreenCINBAL0098115
28TE1Jimmy GrahamNOATL0097115
29RB7Zac StacySTLMIN0929115
30QB15Cam NewtonCARTB210330115
31RB8Marshawn LynchSEAGB0964115
32RB9Eddie LacyGBSEA07124115
33WR8Antonio BrownPITCLE0091115
34WR9Jordy NelsonGBSEA0085114
35RB10Doug MartinTBCAR05732114
36QB16Eli ManningNYGDET30300114
37QB17Carson PalmerARISD22100214
38RB11Ben TateCLEPIT07412114
39TE2Julius ThomasDENIND0082114
40WR10Emmanuel SandersDENIND0081114
41RB12Frank GoreSFDAL0836114
42RB13Rashad JenningsNYGDET06611113
43QB18Ben RoethlisbergerPITCLE23840113
44RB14Giovani BernardCINBAL08557013
45WR11Vincent JacksonTBCAR0078113
46RB15Pierre ThomasNOATL03246113
47TE3Rob GronkowskiNEMIA0076113
48WR12Jeremy MaclinPHIJAX0072113
49RB16Shane VereenNEMIA05183013
50TE4Dennis PittaBALCIN0070113


NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 28:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints warms up during pregame before playing the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 28, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

While Peyton Manning might regress a bit from his unbelievable 2013 season, he still has plenty of weapons and an offensive line that will give him time to succeed. Even against a solid defense in Indianapolis, he will post big numbers.

Quarterbacks such as Jay Cutler, Matt Stafford and Colin Kaepernick might also have bigger weeks than normal thanks to favorable matchups.

On the other hand, fans might want to temper expectations for normally solid players such as Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton. Rodgers is still one of the best players in the league at his position, but facing the Seattle Seahawks defense is never easy.

Newton has been dealing with a rib injury, but he is confident he will play this week, via Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer:

Still, considering his various injuries and his lack of receiving targets, it might be smart to stay away from Newton at this point.

Running Backs

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

You will see many of the same running backs near the top of lists almost every week, as LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson are among the best in the league. McCoy could have a better-than-average week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Two players higher on this list than in most fantasy drafts are Arian Foster and Zac Stacy, two players who should be solid against questionable competition to start the season. Foster is a health concern, but the first game of the year should not slow him down.

The running backs to be careful about if you have alternatives are Le'Veon Bell, Ryan Mathews and Chris Johnson. Obviously, they were likely high picks in most drafts, but it is hard to predict a breakdown of carries, as LeGarrette Blount, Donald Brown/Danny Woodhead and Chris Ivory can steal touchesand touchdownsin each case.

Also, do not forget to take Ray Rice out of your lineup as he serves his two-game suspension.

Wide Receivers

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The best receivers were high on draft lists for a reason, and there is no reason to doubt them now. Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Marshall and others should be top options every week, regardless of the matchup.

Dez Bryant has an easier opponent than many think, as the San Francisco 49ers have a completely rebuilt secondary that might not be ready for an elite receiver.

One name to watch out for early is Emmanuel Sanders, who fills in for Eric Decker in the Broncos offense. While this goes against the logic of playing people with secure roles, CBS' Jim Nantz thinks big things are ahead for the former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver:

That is the opposite of Decker and DeSean Jackson, who had big years but now go to weaker, less consistent offenses. Fantasy owners should not expect the same results.

Week 1 could also be hard on Green Bay Packers targets Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, but this should only be a one-week problem.

Tight Ends

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 08: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints scores a touchdown in front of Thomas DeCoud #28 of the Atlanta Falcons during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 8, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defe
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in fantasy football, and it is not even close. Every week, he is a threat for at least one touchdown, and he can rack up the yards to be a strong play regardless.

After that, Julius Thomas and Rob Gronkowski are both top options when healthy.

However, many of the other options require seeing how they are used first. Breakout projects such as Ladarius Green, Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce could be great, but they also could easily be shut out.

Fantasy owners would be smart to roll with a veteran such as Heath Miller, Dennis Pitta or Greg Olsen in the first week.

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