Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Matchups and Projections for Players We Love

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IISeptember 10, 2021

Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Matchups and Projections for Players We Love

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The 2021 NFL season got underway Thursday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, and with it, another fantasy football season began as well. If you had players such as Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski or Amari Cooper in your lineup, then you're already off to a great start.

    If you put players such as Mike Evans or Ezekiel Elliott in your lineup, then you've likely got some catching up to do. Fortunately, there are plenty more games ahead on the Week 1 slate and ample opportunities to rack up fantasy points.

    There will be 14 games Sunday, followed by a Monday night matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders. So with a couple more days before football picks up again, there's time to ponder lineup decisions for your fantasy team.

    Here are some rankings for the rest of Week 1, followed by a breakdown of several players who should capitalize on strong matchups to open the season.

Post-TNF Top-40 Flex Rankings

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    4. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    5. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    6. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    7. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    8. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    9. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    10. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    11. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    12. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    13. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    14. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    15. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    16. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    17. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    18. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    19. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    20. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

    21. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    22. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

    23. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

    24. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

    25. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

    26. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team

    27. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    28. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

    29. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

    30. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

    31. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

    32. Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans

    33. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    34. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    35. Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers

    36. Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams

    37. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

    38. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers

    39. Ty'Son Williams, RB, Baltimore Ravens

    40. Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers

James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Brett Duke/Associated Press

    Even though Robinson had an impressive rookie season in 2020, his fantasy stock fell earlier this offseason when the Jaguars took running back Travis Etienne Jr. in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. But now that Etienne is out for the year because of a foot injury, Robinson has climbed the rankings.

    In Week 1, the Jags are traveling to Houston to take on the AFC South rival Texans, who could be in store for a tough season. It's a favorable matchup for Robinson, who should get plenty of touches now that he's again the clear lead back. And considering quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be making his NFL debut, he may rely heavily on Robinson to help power the offense.

    The last time Robinson played against Houston was Week 9 of last season, when he had 25 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown. It wouldn't be surprising to see him put up similar numbers this time, and perhaps even better, considering he continued to improve throughout the second half of 2020 following that matchup.

    Robinson is a must-start RB this week as the feature back on a team that is favored to win. Count on him to break off some big runs and to likely get into the end zone at least once.

    Projection: 95 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Ty'Son Williams, RB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Ravens have a favorable matchup against the Raiders' run defense, so their top running back is likely to have a strong showing. However, who that player will be has now changed numerous times.

    Baltimore is having horrible injury luck prior to the start of the season as J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill are all out for the season. It signed Le'Veon Bell and could be inking deals with more veteran running backs, but it's unlikely anybody would immediately be ready to step in and have a sizable role.

    So, that leaves Williams, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. An undrafted rookie out of BYU in 2020, he spent most of last season on the Ravens' practice squad. But the 25-year-old had a strong preseason, rushing for 130 yards and a touchdown over Baltimore's three games, putting himself in a position to potentially make the roster even before the injuries to the other backs.

    Williams should get plenty of touches on Monday night because the Ravens rely heavily on their rushing attack and he's at least familiar with their system. Expect him to capitalize on the opportunity and have a performance that could boost your fantasy lineup if you put him in the flex spot.

    Projection: 77 yards and a touchdown.

Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    There's a lot to like about Anderson heading into the 2021 season, but especially in Week 1.

    Anderson is coming off a stellar first year in Carolina in which he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his five-year NFL career. He's now reunited with quarterback Sam Darnold, his teammate for two seasons with the Jets who could rely on him heavily to begin his Panthers tenure. And on Sunday, he'll be going up against those Jets, who have a beatable secondary.

    While Anderson is likely worthy of starting consideration most weeks as one of Carolina's clear top receivers, this is a week that he needs to be in lineups. It's also probably better to play him now rather than later, when rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. is likely to be more incorporated in the offense and potentially take away some touches.

    Don't worry about that now, though. Anderson should be heavily involved and put up some big numbers to open the season in impressive fashion.

    Projection: 114 yards and a touchdown.