Week 1 is the toughest to predict for any fantasy football owner. After free agency, the draft, and trades, many NFL teams could look and play completely differently than they did last year, making decisions for who to buy on DraftKings, FanDuel, and other daily fantasy football platforms that much harder.
Yet, even if regular daily fantasy sports (DFS) players expect to pencil in losses for the NFL’s first week, the best strategy is to stick with proven players with the most favorable matchup. If that sounds too easy, ok, but at least your losses won’t be so catastrophic and you can still have funds leftover to make a run in Week 2 when we’ll have a clearer idea of who's for real and who isn’t.
Here are Week 1’s rankings, compiled from FantasyPros.com’s prices on DraftKings, FanDuel, and other daily fantasy sites. Keep in mind, the rankings are fluid and will change will from week-to-week, and they aren’t naming any one player the best at their position. Rather it who has the best matchup and who might give you the best combination this week.
1.Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2.Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
3.Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
4.Eli Manning, New York Giants
5.Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Bonus: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
The Packers signal caller Rodgers is by far Week 1’s most expensive quarterback in both FanDuel and DraftKings’ platforms, and that’s obviously based off his work in every season before last year when he didn’t have top receiver Jordy Nelson. Nelson is reportedly “100 percent” healthy so for DFS players who don’t want to think too hard or would rather take risks at other positions, Rodgers is your QB. Brees and Carr should engage in a wild shootout and are cheaper options, while Manning’s an outlier and cheaper pick given he didn’t throw a single touchdown against Dallas last season. Still, with Dak Prescott making his pro debut for Dallas, it is possible the Cowboys defense could be under heavy duress if the rookie has jitters and causes turnovers. Stafford’s going to duel with the Colts’ Andrew Luck, who is still recovering from his litany of injuries from last season.
1.David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
2.Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
3.Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
4.Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
5.Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Bonus: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Johnson starts the season against a Patriots D that only allowed 13.6 points to RBs last season, ninth-best in the NFL, but given his dual-threat abilities and the fact that it's Week 1, the Cardinals back is worth his hefty price tag. The powerful Gurley may not generate the 23.4 points running backs earned against San Francisco last season, but it will be close. Charles (costing $8,000 on FanDuel and $7,100 on DraftKings) is a cheaper option that will allow owners to spend more at QB, WR, or FLEX. Peterson’s only No. 5 because he’s likely going to be the most popular pick at RB in Week 1, so perhaps look to Murray or Ingram to mix up your combination for bigger prizes.
1.Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2.Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
3.Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4.T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
5.Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
Like Rodgers and Johnson, Brown’s going to be atop the WR rankings and is likely the most bankable fantasy player. That is if owners can afford his $9,300 price tag on FanDuel. Of course, Brown’s price could also slip after Week 1 since Washington’s Josh Norman will likely be covering him all game. Beckham’s roughly $200 cheaper than Brown, but does draw a Dallas secondary that allowed only 20.14 points per week to receivers last season. Evans draws NFC South rival Atlanta and if you’re in a PPR league he might be a steal at $7,9000 on FanDuel and only $7,400 on DraftKings, given he’s averaged nearly five catches a game against the Falcons. Meanwhile, Hilton can and will burn a Lions secondary that didn’t really make any upgrades during the offseason and Baldwin gets a Dolphins D that allowed 20 receiving touchdowns last year.
1.Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
2.Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
3.Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
4.Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
5.Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
According to FantasyData.com, Reed and Barnidge each scored 25 fewer fantasy points than Gronkowski last season, a huge margin of course but that also makes New England’s top pass catcher a very expensive commodity. Furthermore, it’s tough to say how Gronk will fare with Jimmy Garropolo under center in Week 1. Kelce has a decent matchup against a San Diego D that was 12th against TEs last season. Witten’s a sneaky and cheap pickup since he could be Prescott’s security blanket for most of the season.
1.Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
2.Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
3.DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
4.Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals
5.Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Many expect Freeman to regress after such a spectacular showing in 2015, but he’s still an excellent FLEX play given his abilities to run and catch for huge chunks of yardage. Lacy will also benefit from his weight loss and Nelson’s return, while Hopkins remains the Texans best offensive weapon until we can see what new running back Lamar Miller can do. Expect Hopkins to continue to garner the 12 targets per game he averaged last season. Jones is down here because he’s still reportedly nursing the ankle injury he suffered during Week 3 of the preseason. Jones still expected to play in Week 1, but spending a huge chunk of your budget on him may be too risky.
3.New York Jets
4.Los Angeles Rams
The Panthers, undoubtedly ready for revenge against the Broncos, likely can’t wait to feast on Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian. Houston’s a safe pick since it's at home against Jay Cutler and the Bears, while the Jets are also at home against a Bengals squad that has some injuries along their starting and second-string offensive line. The Rams are on the road against San Francisco, but the 49ers still have too few proven weapons, even if Chip Kelly is now head coach. Seattle’s a mainstay in the rankings and starts the season off at home against Miami offense that still has to prove it can be consistent.