The only fantasy football rankings harder to formulate than Week 1's listings? Week 2.
Prognosticators start the season only with last season's data and preseason conjecture. While fresh and meaningful data is finally available, it's packaged in a bite-sized sampling.
Ryan Fitzpatrick won't take home NFL MVP honors. Alex Armah isn't a better fantasy performer than Kareen Hunt.
Those facts are obvious. Other developments won't be as easy to compartmentalize, and not every outcome should be dismissed as a fluke anyway.
Week 1's results inevitably swayed the following rankings, catered to non-point-per-reception scoring. Yet each case provides context beyond riding the hot hand and fading the slow starter.
1. Drew Brees, NO (vs. CLE)
2. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. KC)
3. Cam Newton, CAR (at ATL)
4. Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. MIN)
5. Russell Wilson, SEA (at CHI)
6. Tom Brady, NE (at JAC)
7. Kirk Cousins, SF (at GB)
8. Philip Rivers, LAC (at BUF)
9. Deshaun Watson, HOU (at TEN)
10. Alex Smith, WAS (vs. IND)
11. Patrick Mahomes, KC (at PIT)
12. Andrew Luck, IND (at WAS)
Erase Ben Roethlisberger's five-turnover Week 1 from your memory.
His home-road splits are common knowledge by now, but heavy wind and rain played a bigger factor in his chaotic opening debacle. Yet even his bad game came with 335 passing yards.
A wide range of outcomes was always part of the deal. Drafters accepted that risk because of scenarios like Week 2, where the Pittsburgh Steelers host a Kansas City Chiefs defense that just surrendered 424 passing yards and three touchdowns to Philip Rivers. The fellow 2004 first-round pick could easily match those rates against a suspect Chiefs secondary incapable of slowing down Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Just make sure the 36-year-old quarterback is good to go. Per NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, he's dealing with an elbow injury that should not compromise his availability:
1. Todd Gurley, LAR (vs. ARI)
2. Alvin Kamara, NO (vs. CLE)
3. Melvin Gordon, LAC (at BUF)
4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. NYG)
5. David Johnson, ARI (at LAR)
6. Saquon Barkley, NYG (at DAL)
7. James Conner, PIT (vs. KC)
8. Kareem Hunt, KC (at PIT)
9. Dalvin Cook, MIN (at GB)
10. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (at ATL)
11. Jordan Howard, CHI (vs. SEA)
12. Joe Mixon, CIN (at BAL)
13. Jay Ajayi, PHI (vs. TB)
14. Lamar Miller, HOU (at TEN)
15. Kenyan Drake, MIA (vs. NYJ)
16. Alex Collins, BAL (vs. CIN)
17. Leonard Fournette, JAC (vs. NE)
18. Adrian Peterson, WAS (vs. IND)
19. Devonta Freeman, ATL (vs. CAR)
20. Dion Lewis, TEN (vs. HOU)
Adrian Peterson still isn't a weekly must-start option going forward. Week 1's game script merely afforded him the heavy volume (26 carries) necessary to succeed in a 24-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Let's not forget that he followed last season's 134-yard Arizona debut with 33 yards. He rebounded with 167 yards on 39 touches before accruing 81 in two ensuing losses.
Washington is not a legitimate Super Bowl contender, so he's going to deliver some duds in defeat. Despite all those warnings, he's a strong Week 2 play.
The Indianapolis Colts, who ranked No. 30 in total defense last year, just relinquished 149 total yards and a touchdown to Joe Mixon. Washington is favored by 5.5 points at home, per OddsShark, so Sunday presents the opportune spot for Peterson to shred a vulnerable defense with 20-plus touches.
A shrewd season-long investor would then test his trade value.
1. Antonio Brown, PIT (vs. KC)
2. Michael Thomas, NO (vs. CLE)
3. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (at TEN)
4. Julio Jones, ATL (vs. CAR)
5. Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (at DAL)
6. Keenan Allen, LAC (at BUF)
7. Tyreek Hill, KC (at PIT)
8. A.J. Green, CIN (at BAL)
9. Stefon Diggs, MIN (at GB)
10. Mike Evans, TB (vs. PHI)
11. Davante Adams, GB (vs. MIN)
12. Adam Thielen, MIN (at GB)
13. T.Y. Hilton, IND (at WAS)
14. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (vs. KC)
15. Demaryius Thomas, DEN (vs. OAK)
16. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN (vs. OAK)
17. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (at LAR)
18. Jarvis Landry, CLE (at NO)
19. Golden Tate, DET (at SF)
20. Allen Robinson, CHI (vs. SEA)
Competent quarterback play goes a long way. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders each received double-digit targets and found the end zone during Case Keenum's Denver Broncos debut.
After watching his five-year streak of 90-catch, 1,000-yard campaigns evaporate in 2017, Thomas commenced his redemption tour by catching six of 10 looks for 63 yards. Yet Sanders was the day's big winner, as he corralled 10 of 11 targets for 135 yards.
Sanders benefited not just from a sizable quarterback upgrade, but also adapted usage under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave:
The duo now encounters the Oakland Raiders, who ranked No. 26 in passing defense with Khalil Mack last season. The Los Angeles Rams trio of Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods combined to record 13 receptions for 176 yards and a touchdown on Monday night.
Both are strong second wide receivers who are especially attractive in PPR formats.
1. Rob Gronkowski, NE (at JAC)
2. Zach Ertz, PHI (at TB)
3. Travis Kelce, KC (at PIT)
4. Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. IND)
5. George Kittle, SF (vs. DET)
6. Evan Engram, NYG (at DAL)
7. Trey Burton, CHI (vs. SEA)
8. Jimmy Graham, GB (vs. MIN)
9. Kyle Rudolph, MIN (at GB)
10. Jack Doyle, IND (at WAS)
11. Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs. BAL)
12. Jared Cook, OAK (at DEN)
The tight-end position got much lighter with Delanie Walker breaking his ankle and Greg Olsen "expected to miss a significant chunk of time" with a refractured foot, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport.
Jared Cook cracks the top 12 after exploding for 180 yards. Yet this placement does not express confidence in a sustained breakout. There's simply nobody else to start with any semblance of confidence.
Cook, who scored three combined touchdowns over his last three seasons, averaged 43.0 yards per game despite eclipsing 100 yards twice in 2017.
He'll tease everyone once in a while, but the good times rarely last:
It's likely he simply peaked early against the Rams because cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib discouraged Derek Carr from targeting his wideouts. Denver just relinquished 105 yards and a touchdown to Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly, so those who lost Walker or Olsen might as well gamble on another big week from Cook.
1. Los Angeles Rams (vs. ARI)
2. Los Angeles Chargers (at BUF)
3. Baltimore Ravens (at CIN)
4. Denver Broncos (vs. OAK)
5. Houston Texans (at TEN)
6. New England Patriots (at JAC)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (at TB)
8. New Orleans Saints (vs. CLE)
9. Chicago Bears (vs. SEA)
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. NE)
Any defense facing the Buffalo Bills will immediately qualify for the week's top spot. Even without Joey Bosa, don't shy away from the Los Angeles Chargers after losing a 38-28 shootout to Kansas City.
1. Justin Tucker, BAL (at CIN)
2. Will Lutz, NO (vs. CLE)
3. Greg Zuerlein, LAR (vs. ARI)
4. Stephen Gostkowski, NE (at JAC)
5. Chris Boswell, PIT (vs. KC)
6. Matt Prater, DET (at SF)
7. Jake Elliott, PHI (at TB)
8. Matt Bryant, ATL (vs. CAR)
9. Mason Crosby, GB (vs. MIN)
10. Adam Vinatieri, IND (at WAS)
One of Matt Prater's two Week 1 misses was a 55-yard attempt, and he failed to convert just one of 24 tries from within 50 yards last season. Sunday's game at San Francisco wields shootout potential, so there's no need to drop him just yet.