The List: Ranking Each Position for Week 1

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

WR Rankings


  • Out of all of the positions, wide receiver is the last one you should overthink in Week 1 of the season. I’m generally starting my receivers in the order that I drafted them, outside of a few injury concerns of glaring matchup issues. Trying to predict shadow coverage or safety help is already a difficult task in the middle of the season – in Week 1, with all of the moving parts caused by offseason personnel and coaching changes, let’s give it a couple of weeks before we start channeling our inner defensive coordinator.
  • The elite players are elite for a reason, start them with confidence. Even someone like Allen Robinson, who draws the tough Rams defense and Jalen Ramsey, is a must-start unless you are absolutely stacked at wide receiver. Robinson had 70 receiving yards on just four targets last year against the Rams and had success against other good defenses like the Saints (7 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD), the Packers (Jaire Alexander‘s presence still allowed Robinson to put up 2 TDs on 13 targets), and the Colts (7 catches, 101 yards, and 1 TD in a game where the Bears scored just 11 points). Robinson is my WR15 this week.


  • D.J. Moore and Tee Higgins are just outside the top tier simply due to quarterback concerns but are still solid starts. With a new quarterback in Sam Darnold and several talented teammates to compete with in the passing game, I simply want to see how this offense operates before ranking Moore too high. The Panthers do have a decent enough 23.5 implied point total against the Jets, however, so this could certainly turn into a big game for Moore. Cincinnati’s implied point total is a point lower than that of the Panthers, which shows the uncertainty around Joe Burrow in his first game back from a major knee injury. His snaps were limited in the preseason, so I expect the coaches to handle Burrow very carefully in this one. It may be a few weeks before this passing game fully opens up, but Higgins seems to have locked in the WR1 role on this team with Ja’Marr Chase‘s early struggles, so the volume should be there against a lackluster Vikings defense.
  • Chris Godwin gets a minor ding to his ranking as he popped up on the injury report with a quad injury. Keep a close eye on this, as the Buccaneers are on a short week with the Thursday night opener. It’s a smash spot against the Cowboys’ porous defense, and if Godwin is healthy he rises up the ranks and Mike Evans drops down a few spots. The Bucs have little reason to push their players through injury as this roster is absolutely stocked with ready-made replacements, so verify Godwin’s status up till kickoff.


  • Julio Jones gets an excellent matchup out of the gate against a Cardinals defense that appears to lack competent players at the cornerback position. Jones has barely been practicing this preseason, and although that is normal for Jones, it is a concern for the first week in a new offense. Jones and A.J. Brown could run absolutely wild against the Cardinals secondary, but there’s also a shot that Jones is eased in and sees a limited volume. I’m ranking him as a strong WR3 out of caution, but the upside is immense.
  • I’m so interested to see the Jaguars against this bad Texans defense, as it should give us an excellent window into how they want to run this offense. I’m intrigued by all three of Laviska Shenault Jr., D.J. Chark Jr., and Marvin Jones Jr. If you have a better idea of who the lead dog will be than I do, that player would shoot up these rankings. I feel most confident in Shenault having a solidified role in Week 1 so he gets the nod in my rankings, but all three could have value if Trevor Lawrence is as advertised.


  • I wanted to have Marquez Callaway higher, and if you get him in your Week 1 lineup as a flex I wouldn’t be against it. This low ranking is somewhat due to the talented wideouts scattered all across the league, and I love Callaway’s potential early in the year. But with a matchup against the Packers and Jaire Alexander, in the first post-Drew Brees game in this new Saints era, I’d rather take a wait-and-see approach if at all possible. Callaway should have solid enough volume, but I’m not entirely sold that the ceiling is high just yet. Let’s see Jameis Winston under center against a quality NFL team and re-evaluate for next week.
  • There are some intriguing names on my do not start list that I have my eye on closely in Week 1, such as Rondale Moore, Mecole Hardman, Elijah Moore, Jaylen Waddle, really any of the rookie pass-catchers. Hopefully you stocked up on wide receivers where you don’t have to start them, but their season-long prospects are still exciting.


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


Week 1 WR Rankings


Photo by Kevin Reece/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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