Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Season-Opening Position-by-Position Review

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2022

Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Season-Opening Position-by-Position Review

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    Colts RB Jonathan Taylor (AP Photo/Darryl Webb, File)

    Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season is underway, which means that the chase for a fantasy championship has also begun.

    The action kicked off on Thursday night as the Buffalo Bills steamrolled the defending champion Los Angeles Rams 31-10. Josh Allen was fantasy gold, as per usual, and one of our favorite preseason value targets, Gabriel Davis, had a great outing with four catches, 88 yards and a touchdown.

    Meanwhile, one of our preseason flop candidates, Cam Akers, disappointed managers with a big fat blank. We'll have to see how things continue to unfold for players like Davis and Akers, but now it's on to the rest of Week 1.

    Below, we'll dive into our top-ranked players for each key position—quarterback, running back and receiver—based on factors like past production, projected role and matchup. We'll also examine one sleeper and one bust candidate for each.

    All rankings and picks are based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.

Quarterback

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    Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (at Jets)

    2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (at Arizona)

    3. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Las Vegas)

    4. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (at Detroit)

    5. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Dallas)

    6. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers (at Chicago)

    7. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at Minnesota)

    8. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Pittsburgh)

    9. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Kansas City)

    10. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders (at Chargers)

    Sleeper: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

    The No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, Trevor Lawrence had a miserable rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, the Jags hired an offensive coach in Doug Pederson and brought in the likes of Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and Brandon Scherff to support him.

    Lawrence will also get former teammate Travis Etienne Jr., who missed his entire rookie campaign due to injury. The Clemson product also has a favorable matchup against a Washington Commanders team that allowed a league-high 34 touchdown passes last season.

    Rostered in 63 percent of Yahoo leagues and 58 percent of ESPN leagues, Lawrence is largely viewed as a backup and bye-week spot-starter. However, he's a viable streaming option in Week 1 for managers without a great matchup.


    Bust: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is a fine fantasy option for the 2022 season, but he's a quarterback managers might want to stream out in Week 1. The Cowboys are dealing with reshuffling at both receiver and along the offensive line—rookie Tyler Smith is expected to start at left tackle—so expect a run-heavy approach this week.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't the most inviting matchup either. This is a team that ranked fifth in points allowed last season and joint third in yards per pass attempt surrendered. Expect Bucs coach Todd Bowles to focus on stopping Prescott's two proven targets, CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz.

    While Prescott may not fall flat as much as Matthew Stafford did on Thursday, don't expect him to light up the stat sheet as he did in last year's season-opener against Tampa.

Running Back

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    Ravens RB Mike Davis (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

    1. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (at Houston)

    2. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Las Vegas)

    3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (vs. Giants)

    4. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Pittsburgh)

    5. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (vs. Cleveland)

    6. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Green Bay)

    7. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (at Atlanta)

    8. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (at Cincinnati)

    9. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (at Minnesota)

    10. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (vs. Philadelphia)

    11. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Dallas)

    12. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (at Tennessee)

    13. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Kansas City)

    14. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (at Carolina)

    15. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders (vs.Jaguars)

    16. Travis Etienne Jr, Jacksonville Jaguars (at Washington)

    17. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Tampa Bay)

    18. Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers (at Chicago)

    19. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders (at Chargers)

    20. Chase Edmonds, Miami Dolphins (vs. New England)

    Sleeper: Mike Davis, Baltimore Ravens

    Will the Baltimore Ravens have J.K. Dobbins in the lineup in Week 1? He's questionable and coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in the 2021 preseason. If Dobbins does play, he'll likely be far below 100 percent.

    This means that Baltimore will rely on Mike Davis and newcomer Kenyan Drake on Sunday. Drake has only been with the team since signing after the August 30 roster cuts. Expect Davis to have the bigger workload against the New York Jets.

    The Jets ranked 29th in rushing yards allowed last season and 24th in yards per carry surrendered. Davis, who is rostered in 31 percent of Yahoo leagues and 13 percent of ESPN leagues, isn't a great long-term option because Dobbins should eventually return to form. However, he's a serviceable Week 1 flex option for managers in a pinch.

    Bust: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

    Let's be clear, Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams isn't going to flop as hard as Akers did on Thursday. However, managers seem to view the second year back as a weekly must-start. He's rostered in 100 percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues. There's no guarantee that he'll have top-20 RB production against the Seattle Seahawks.

    A big part of the problem is that Denver still has dual-threat back Melvin Gordon III on the roster, and Williams may not be the bell cow in any given week.

    "I've always been a true believer in you always want to roll with the hot hand," Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett told reporters.

    With Russell Wilson under center, Denver is unlikely to be as run-heavy as it was in 2021, and Seattle has an underrated run defense. Last season, the Seahawks allowed just 3.8 yards per rush, the joint second-lowest average in the league.

Wide Receiver

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    Commanders WR Jahan Dotson (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

    1. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Green Bay)

    2. Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Pittsburgh)

    3. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders (at Chargers)

    4. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Dallas)

    5. Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts (at Houston)

    6. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Tampa Bay)

    7. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Las Vegas)

    8. A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles (at Detroit)

    9. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers (at Chicago)

    10. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins (vs. New England)

    11. DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers (vs. Cleveland)

    12. Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Pittsburgh)

    13. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Las Vegas)

    14. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos (at Seattle)

    15. Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans (vs. Indianapolis)

    16. Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Kansas City)

    17. Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders (vs. Jacksonville)

    18. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins (vs. New England)

    19. Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears (vs. San Francisco)

    20. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (vs. Denver)

    Sleeper: Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

    The Jaguars did a great job of putting talent around Lawrence, but their defense, which ranked 27th in yards per pass attempt allowed last season, remains a work-in-progress. It's a good matchup for the rookie Jahan Dotson, who should instantly be Washington's No. 2 receiver opposite Terry McLaurin.

    There's some boom-or-bust potential here, as we don't know exactly what to expect from quarterback Carson Wentz in Washington's offense. However, Dotson should be worth a flex play in deeper leagues.

    Rostered in only 22 percent of Yahoo leagues and 57 percent of ESPN leagues, the Penn State product is also a viable Week 1 waiver-wire target.

    Bust: Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson isn't likely to disappoint completely, but managers viewing him as a surefire WR2 may be extremely disappointed this week.

    Johnson missed part of training camp while holding in for a new contract. He's also been dealing with a shoulder injury and faces a tough matchup against the rival Cincinnati Bengals. He caught nine passes for 95 yards in his one game against Cincinnati last year, but managers shouldn't expect a repeat of that performance.

    Expect new quarterback Mitch Trubisky to spread the ball around to the likes of Chase Claypool, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth, while Pittsburgh looks to ride running back Najee Harris. This week, Johnson is closer to a low-end flex than a must-start receiver.

    *Fantasy roster information via FantasyPros.

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