The List: Ranking Each Position for Week 1

Erik Smith releases his PPR fantasy football rankings for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.

QB Rankings


  • Week 1 isn’t the time of the year to get cute with your starting quarterback decision. New faces in new places like Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Wentz, and Sam Darnold should be handled with a wait-and-see approach, as none are so talented that we should force them into a lineup without seeing a week of action first. Outside of two quarterback leagues, let’s see which quarterbacks have picked up their new offenses quickly, and which are going to get eased in with conservative play-calling.
  • While we don’t like to see Lamar Jackson‘s supporting cast fall apart around him, he couldn’t be set up for a much more locked-in workload against a below-average Raiders defense in Week 1. The passing attack has been limited in the preseason with Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, and Sammy Watkins all dealing with injuries at times. Bateman will start the year on IR, leaving Jackson with just about the same group of receivers as he had last year. Coupled with season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill, and the running back depth is thinner than it ever has been with Jackson leading the charge. Jackson’s rushing ability will be the Ravens’ best offense in the opener, giving him a massive ceiling and floor, and locking him in as the QB1.


  • Kyler Murray rushed for 10 touchdowns over the first nine games of 2020 before a shoulder injury slowed his season, and Murray enters 2021 healthy and with some new weapons in the passing game. Rookie receiver Rondale Moore gives Murray a nice option in the screen game to rack up some yards after the catch, and Arizona gets Tennessee in a likely shootout in Week 1. I can’t see Arizona stopping Tennesse often, which means Murray will be airing it out from the start. This is one of four games with a point total over 50 this week, and Murray should give Jackson a run for the QB1 overall finish to start the season.
  • While I may be down on the Eagles’ offense as a whole, I’m not down on Jalen Hurts‘ fantasy potential for as long as he is the starter. Hurts averaged nearly 80 yards rushing per game in his starts down the stretch last year, and gets a Falcons team under a new coaching staff that is still trying to find its identity. Regardless of the score, Hurts should be running often, and this has traditionally been a defense to attack for fantasy purposes. Once you get past the elite of the elites at the quarterback position, Hurts slots in as the next best option at QB8. And if this Falcons team forces opponents into shootouts as it has in the past, there’s upside for an even higher finish here.


  • One new face in a new place that I’m willing to bet on out of the gate is Matthew Stafford. The Rams have the ninth-highest implied point total of the week at 26, and they face a Bears defense that isn’t quite what it used to be after losing cornerback Kyle Fuller. They certainly won’t be a pushover, but this isn’t the shy-away unit of years past. While there may be some rust in Los Angeles as Sean McVay held his starters out of the preseason, the offense is loaded with talent in the passing game, and McVay no-doubt wants to show off his new partner in running the offense. Stafford comes in as the QB10, and I frankly can’t wait to watch this offense on Sunday Night Football.
  • Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert are ranked about as low as I will have them all season, and I wouldn’t stress about looking for a better option this week. But I have just enough hesitancy with Prescott coming off of multiple injuries and facing a tough Tampa Bay defense Week 1, and Herbert gets a ferocious Washington defense in his first game with a new coordinator. Start both with confidence, but I’m not expecting league-winning weeks in the opener.


  • If you need a streamer in Week 1, we’ve got three excellent options out of the gate. Trevor Lawrence is likely rostered in your league, but if not, he gets what projects as a potential league-worst defense in Houston to start his career. Lawrence has enough upside with his legs to overcome the rookie jitters, especially in a matchup like this. Baker Mayfield gets a showcase game against the Chiefs, one of the few teams in the NFL that can pull the Browns out of their run-heavy shell. With the highest point total of the week at 52.5, expect this game to play into a pass-heavy game script for Mayfield, which is the primary thing holding him back in fantasy. And Kirk Cousins rounds out the top-end streamers against a below-average Bengals defense in Cincinnati. We know that Dalvin Cook will be the primary focus, but with the 11th highest implied point total of the week at 25.5, there should be enough scoring to go around for the Vikings.
  • I’m fading Joe Burrow and this Bengals offense Week 1, even against what looked like a bad Vikings defense in the preseason. Burrow saw one series in the preseason, which amounted to three plays, and has yet to get back into live game action and take hits in the pocket, a big test coming off of an ACL injury. I would expect an extremely cautious gameplan out of the Bengals in the opener, and with Ja’Marr Chase looking rusty and an offensive line that is still very much a work in progress, I’m looking at other options this week. I hope I am pleasantly surprised, but I expect a rocky road for this Bengals offense early on. With a 22.5 implied point total, the betting markets seem to agree with me.


Green=Strong Starter, Yellow=Solid Starter, Red=Look for Better Options


Week 1 QB Rankings

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