The List: Ranking Each Position for Week 1

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



  • Christian McCaffrey could be the featured image for The List every week, so let’s get him out of the way Week 1. While several of the elite running backs draw tough opening matchups, McCaffrey gets a Raiders team that gave up the 24th most points and 19th most yards in 2019. They were actually very respectable against the run but were lit up through the air, and we all know McCaffrey is equal parts running back and wide receiver.
  • Dalvin Cook draws the next best matchup of the week and comes in at RB2. The Packers allowed the 24th most yards per attempt on the ground and 23 most overall rushing yards in 2019 per FantasyData. While there have been plenty of concerns about Cook’s holdout and injury history with regards to his predraft rankings, there is little question about his talent. Every week that he sets foot on the field he is a must-start.
  • While Derrick Henry draws a somewhat difficult matchup in Denver, he is just too much a guaranteed part of this offense to fade him in Week 1. I’m also relatively low on the Broncos as a team, so if Drew Lock struggles we could be looking at some short fields off of turnovers and plenty of rushing opportunities for Henry.
  • Well here we go, Week 1 sees Clyde Edwards-Helaire get thrown into a great matchup as the clear starter against a Texans team that gave up the 28th most yards and 31st most yards per play last year. With the highest over/under of the week, this game projects as a track meet that favors CEH’s passing game role. He probably could be ranked higher, but I’m showing a little caution with the rookies in their first games. But CEH looks like a clear RB1 this week, start with confidence.
  • Miles Sanders is out this week. Boston Scott and Corey Clement will split snaps, and while Scott is the superior option, I expect a relatively even split filling in for Sanders.
  • This could be a swing and a miss with Jonathan Taylor at RB18, but the matchup against Jacksonville is just too good to pass up. The Jaguars defense gave up the second-most yards per attempt last year and its defense has only gotten worse. Even if Taylor splits carries with Marlon Mack there should be plenty of work to go around in this one, as I think Indianapolis would prefer to take it easy with Philip Rivers whenever they can.
  • I have little interest in starting David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell this week, especially before I see their usage and how much they appear to have left in the tank. But they deserve a decent ranking just based on their volume. We may know quickly with Johnson, as his health and explosion are our big concerns. I’m also a little hesitant about Johnson’s receiving upside with Deshaun Watson’s preference to throw down the field and the presence of Duke Johnson. Bell has Frank Gore nipping at his heels and a Week 1 matchup in Buffalo. Neither excites me much this week.
  • Cam Akers, Zack Moss, J.K. Dobbins, Antonio Gibson, and Joshua Kelley are all rookies with varying degrees of uncertainty around their roles, but I am generally willing to start them all. Akers especially seems locked into a big role, the question will just be who gets the goalline and pass-catching work. Keep an eye on Kelley against a bad Cincinnati run defense, he appears to have beaten Justin Jackson for the backup role and could see a lot of work if the Chargers grab a lead. He may even be on waivers in your league as we speak.
  • Two running back situations I’m avoiding this week when possible are Detroit and Jacksonville. Detroit brought in Adrian Peterson, D’Andre Swift‘s status is cloudy due to injury, and they seem unwilling to count on Kerryon Johnson this year. Swift is the only one I’m interested in long term, but he can’t be trusted Week 1. Jacksonville seems to have settled on James Robinson as the starter, but I could see this flipping often between him and Devine Ozigbo, neither of which have the pedigree to be must-starts in their first game on a bad team. Chris Thompson is what he is, and maybe he provides more PPR production than I’m giving him credit for, but I’d like to see it first before starting him in the opener when your lineup should hopefully be at its strongest.
Week 1 RB Rankings (PPR)

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