Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Flex and PPR Listings for Top 50 Players

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2018

Alex Collins should open the 2018 season strong against the Buffalo Bills.
Alex Collins should open the 2018 season strong against the Buffalo Bills.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Finally free from obsessing over draft rankings, fantasy football gamers can now redirect their attention to Week 1 rankings.

People love ordered lists, and the weekly exercise at least helps more than predraft arrangements. "Should I start Player X or Y in my flex spot?" is easier to answer through rankings than deciding whether to select Alex Smith or Josh Doctson in the 12th round without knowing that person's specific league and previous 11 picks.

Assembling an All-Star squad won't produce a championship unless the manager also starts the right players on a weekly basis. Daily fantasy participants also must assess the entire player pool to find the optimal selections, so let's rank Week 1's top flex options in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.

       

Week 1 PPR Flex Rankings

1. Todd Gurley, RB, LAR (at OAK)

2. Antonio Brown, WR, PIT (at CLE)

3. Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT (at CLE)

4. David Johnson, RB, ARI (vs. WAS)

5. Alvin Kamara, RB, NO (vs. TB)

6. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU (at NE)

7. Michael Thomas, WR, NO (vs. TB)

8. A.J. Green, WR, CIN (at IND)

9. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL (at CAR)

10. Leonard Fournette, RB, JAC (at NYG)

11. Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR (vs. DAL)

12. Julio Jones, WR, ATL (at PHI)

13. Melvin Gordon, RB, LAC (vs. KC)

14. Kareem Hunt, RB, KC (at LAC)

15. Keenan Allen, WR, LAC (at KC)

16. Davante Adams, WR, GB (vs. CHI)

17. Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG (vs. JAC)

18. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI (vs. WAS)

19. Golden Tate, WR, DET (vs. NYJ)

20. Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE (vs. HOU)

21. Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN (vs. SF)

22. Mike Evans, WR, TB (at NO)

23. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, NYG (vs. JAC)

24. Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN (vs. SF)

25. Adam Thielen, WR, MIN (vs. SF)

26. Travis Kelce, TE, KC (at LAC)

27. Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN (vs. SEA)

28. Zach Ertz, TE, PHI (vs. ATL)

29. T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND (vs. CIN)

30. Joe Mixon, RB, CIN (at IND)

31. Jordan Howard, RB, CHI (at GB)

32. Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA (at DEN)

33. Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE (vs. PIT)

34. Chris Hogan, WR, NE (vs. HOU)

35. Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL (at PHI)

36. Lamar Miller, RB, HOU (at NE)

37. Amari Cooper, WR, OAK (vs. LAR)

38. Michael Crabtree, WR, BAL (vs. BUF)

39. Alex Collins, RB, BAL (vs. BUF)

40. Marvin Jones, WR, DET (vs. NYJ)

41. Tyreek Hill, WR, KC (at LAR)

42. LeSean McCoy, RB, BUF (at BAL)

43. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT (at CLE)

44. Kenyan Drake, RB, MIA (vs. TEN)

45. Allen Robinson, WR, CHI (at GB)

46. Brandin Cooks, WR, LAR (at OAK)

47. Royce Freeman, RB, DEN (vs. SEA)

48. Corey Davis, WR, TEN (at MIA)

49. Dion Lewis, RB, TEN (at MIA)

50. Duke Johnson, RB, CLE (vs. PIT) 

       

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

Odell Beckham Jr. will return from an ankle injury to face Jalen Ramsey and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Odell Beckham Jr. will return from an ankle injury to face Jalen Ramsey and the Jacksonville Jaguars.Al Pereira/Getty Images

Odell Beckham Jr. has not logged an NFL snap since suffering a fractured ankle last October. Jalen Ramsey and the Jacksonville Jaguars don't exactly represent a warm welcoming committee.

According to Football Outsiders, No. 1 wide receivers registered an NFL-low 42.0 yards per game against the lockdown defense last season. In the most memorable example, A.J. Green lost his cool and attempted to fight the shutdown cornerback after being stymied to one six-yard grab.

It's a bad matchup, and nobody should touch Beckham in daily fantasy contests. But you're not benching a guy who has averaged 94.1 receiving yards per game with double-digit touchdowns in all three full seasons.

There's little choice but to trust the transcendent talent. It worked for Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins. In two games each against Jackonsville—including the Pittsburgh Steelers' AFC Divisional Round loss—the league's premier wideouts combined to post 424 yards and four touchdowns.

While Ramsey should shadow Beckham as much as possible, the New York Giants can create mismatches by lining up their superstar in the slot. They altered his alignment more during camp, per The Athletic's Dan Duggan, and Fantasy Guru's Graham Barfield noted the potential benefits:

The Jaguars are elite, but not enough so to consider sitting a superstar. However, don't even dream about playing Eli Manning or Sterling Shepard.  

      

Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Collins should get plenty of carries at home against Nathan Peterman's Buffalo Bills.
Collins should get plenty of carries at home against Nathan Peterman's Buffalo Bills.Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Last year, the Seattle Seahawks waived Alex Collins before the 2017 season. Now opening 2018 as the Baltimore Ravens' featured back, he gave fantasy players some sage wisdom. 

"Draft me now before it's too late, guys," Collins said last week, per ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.

It's probably a message he should have vocalized weeks ago, but it's not too late to tell those investors to start him in Week 1.

Because of his limited pass-catching involvement, the 24-year-old greatly benefits from Baltimore gaining and preserving a lead. That shouldn't be a problem at home against the Buffalo Bills, who officially named Nathan Peterman their starter on Monday:

The last time Buffalo tried to start him on the road, the 2017 fifth-round pick threw five interceptions against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Even as a fluky playoff team, the Bills yielded an NFL-high 22 rushing touchdowns last season. Collins, meanwhile, crossed the sticks six times in his final seven bouts after commencing his career with an eight-game scoring drought.

He takes a PPR hit as a result of accruing 23 catches. Yet they all occurred after Week 7, so he's still a strong RB2 to trust in a favorable matchup.

      

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans

Expectations are high for Corey Davis despite a quiet rookie season.
Expectations are high for Corey Davis despite a quiet rookie season.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It's now or never for Corey Davis. Well, not really. He's 23 and entering just his second season. 

All eyes are nonetheless on last year's No. 5 overall pick, who concluded 11 regular-season games without a touchdown before grabbing two in a playoff loss to the New England Patriots. A lack of draft-day discount will have investors eager to derive immediate value from the trendy breakout selection.

The Miami Dolphins ranked 29th in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) against the pass, per Football Outsiders, so it's a favorable matchup for Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans. Those spoils, however, may not necessarily extend to Davis. According to ESPN.com, Miami permitted the most fantasy points to tight ends and tied for the sixth-most points against running backs. 

Delanie Walker, the week's best tight end behind the top-tier trio, doesn't fall far outside the top 50. Dion Lewis makes a strong PPR flex option, while Derrick Henry warrants more non-PPR attention.

Davis is Tennessee's tougher playmaker to project, but the 6'3" wideout's upside remains undeniably high. Rishard Matthews wasn't activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list until late August, so the sophomore could see close to double-digit targets as Mariota's top outside option. He's a tantalizing boom-or-bust play.

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