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Week 1 Rankings

by Patrick Daugherty
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Updated 9/10 at 12:00 PM ET. Removed Odell Beckham. All the evidence suggests he will sit. Moved up Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard. Removed Thomas Rawls. Moved Eddie Lacy up. Ticked down Eli Manning, ticked up Chris Carson. Removed Sebastian Janikowski. Added new Raiders K Giorgio Tavecchio.  

 

We’re down a game before we even begin — be safe Puerto Rico, be safe South Florida — but at long last, our seven-month national nightmare is over. No more offseason tedium, no more drafts, no more projections, no more drawing different conclusions depending on the day from the same 2016 data. We have real, live football, and with it, real, live dilemmas. Namely, how do you strike the right balance between trusting your summer observations and taking into account the Week 1 matchups? You should read Evan Silva’s Matchups, for starters. And Raymond Summerlin’s Waived Wired, and Rich Hribar’s Worksheet and Nick Mensio’s Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em, etc. etc. We won’t always be right, but we’ll certainly be bursting with information. Good luck. Here’s to the best fantasy season yet.        

 

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Week 1 Quarterbacks

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Tom Brady vs. KC -
2 Russell Wilson at GB -
3 Aaron Rodgers vs. SEA -
4 Marcus Mariota vs. OAK -
5 Matt Ryan at CHI -
6 Ben Roethlisberger at CLE -
7 Cam Newton at SF Questionable (shoulder)
8 Kirk Cousins vs. PHI -
9 Derek Carr at TEN -
10 Carson Palmer at DET -
11 Drew Brees at MIN -
12 Dak Prescott vs. NYG -
13 Matthew Stafford vs. ARZ -
14 Sam Bradford vs. NO -
15 Carson Wentz at WAS -
16 Alex Smith at NE -
17 Andy Dalton vs. BAL -
18 Eli Manning at DAL -
19 Philip Rivers at DEN -
20 Tyrod Taylor vs. NYJ -
21 DeShone Kizer vs. PIT -
22 Joe Flacco at CIN -
23 Jared Goff vs. IND -
24 Trevor Siemian vs. LAC -
25 Brian Hoyer vs. CAR -
26 Mike Glennon vs. ATL -
27 Blake Bortles at HOU -
28 Scott Tolzien at LAR -
29 Tom Savage vs. JAC -
30 Josh McCown at BUF -

QB Notes: Only 15 quarterbacks in NFL history have made at least eight starts in their age-39 season or beyond. Tom Brady became the 15th in 2016. His 112.2 QB rating ranked first amongst his fellow 39-plus year olds, as did his 8.23 YPA, 6.5 touchdown percentage, 0.46 interception percentage and 296 yards per game. Brady was otherworldly good for any age, but particularly 39. Just four players — Brett Favre, Warren Moon, Vinny Testaverde and Matt Hasselbeck — have started at least half a season at age 40 or older. Brady seems poised to not only become the fifth, but to do so in genuinely elite fashion. … Russell Wilson dealt with horrid offensive line play, but the main reason for his disappointing 2016? He got hurt in Week 1 and never really got healthy. The low point was a five-interception Week 14 performance in Green Bay. Back to full health, both the Packers and fantasy owners will be seeing a different Wilson. … The Seahawks defense Aaron Rodgers torched last Week 14 in Green Bay was walking wounded. Earl Thomas was missing and Richard Sherman was limping. This will be a different unit. It will also be the same Rodgers, a player who is impossible to bet against at Lambeau Field.   

Marcus Mariota seems primed to put it all together in 2017. His Week 1 opponent is in danger of falling apart on defense. The Raiders have a dire situation at linebacker, and major concerns at safety and cornerback. If the Titans can contain Khalil Mack, Mariota could be conducting passing drills. … Matt Ryan’s 9.26 YPA last season was the highest since Kurt Warner’s abbreviated 2000. Kyle Shanahan is gone, and the Bears’ defense is better than meets the eye, but Ryan’s only real Week 1 concern is the Falcons going too run heavy in a game that’s never in doubt. … Is the Ben Roethlisberger “home/road splits” narrative real or fake news? That’s a debate for a longer column, but Big Ben has only four touchdowns over his past three starts in Cleveland. What that means is up to the sample-size gods. This is a huge game for the Browns, a Week 1 showcase for a team with an exciting young quarterback and improved talent on both sides of the ball. I will still bet on Ben, and his trio of imposing weapons in Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant.

Cam Newton’s coach doesn’t know what to expect from him this Sunday. Recovering from shoulder surgery, Newton attempted two passes this preseason. Like Ron Rivera, I don’t know how Cam is going to look. What I do know is that he’s facing a rebuilding defense that was a 2016 doormat. I’m expecting more 2015 than 2016 from the former MVP. … Only Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers have more yards than Kirk Cousins over the past two seasons. A slow start is a possibility as Cousins adjusts to a revamped supporting cast, but the back end of the Eagles’ defense is leaky. ... Merely the QB17 by average points last season, Derek Carr still had a propensity for big games, throwing for at least three touchdowns in 5-of-15 starts. With the Raiders’ defense in disarray, shootout conditions could rapidly develop in Tennessee. … The Vikings allowed the third-fewest passing yards and fifth-fewest aerial scores in 2016. Drew Brees, meanwhile, will be trekking away from the friendly confines of the Superdome with Ted Ginn as his No. 2 receiver. Monday figures to be one of Brees’ quieter days of the year.

Carson Palmer’s arm is hanging by a thread, but coach Bruce Arians adjusted for that reality down the stretch last season, changing the offense. Palmer responded with multi-score efforts in six of his final seven games. The Lions are an attackable Week 1 matchup for streamers. … The worst game of Dak Prescott’s rookie season was Dallas’ home opener against the Giants. The G-Men remain imposing on defense, but Dak is a different player than he was 12 months ago. He completed 18-of-22 passes (81.8 percent) for 219 yards (10.0 YPA) and two touchdowns this preseason. … Matthew Stafford has averaged a modest 25 touchdowns since his 41-score 2011. With the Lions still committed to keep-away offense, that number probably isn’t going to go up in 2017. … This is probably flying too close to the sun with Sam Bradford, but the hyper-efficient — if hyper-conservative — quarterback has an excellent opening week home matchup in a Saints defense that allowed the most passing touchdowns in football last season. Quietly, Bradford also has an impressive stable of weapons. … Eli Manning was atrocious last season, struggling to generate 4,027 yards on a whopping 598 attempts. Even against the Cowboys’ undermanned defense, Manning will have nowhere to hide if Odell Beckham (ankle) sits.

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Carson Wentz’s rookie season was inconclusive. Anything from next franchise quarterback to Bortlesville remains within the range of possibilities. … Alex Smith, of all people, was a puff piece staple this summer. He’s apparently seen the deep ball light as Patrick Mahomes breathes down his neck. The Patriots are not a plus matchup, but one of the NFL’s top game-planners in Andy Reid has had months to prepare for what should be a high-scoring affair. … The Broncos’ defense lived up to its reputation last season. DC Wade Phillips is gone, but it’s still going to be tough road sledding for Philip Rivers. … Andy Dalton has only six touchdowns over his past five starts against the Ravens. … Tyrod Taylor’s matchup is right, but not much else is. Coming off a concussion, Taylor has been stripped of his weapons. New coach Sean McDermott could barely bring himself to commit to Taylor this summer. … DeShone Kizer promises to be everyone’s new favorite YOLO play in DFS, but any 2017 peak figures to come with two valleys. … New Rams coach Sean McVay has had weeks to scheme for an awful Colts defense missing top CB Vontae Davis. Jared Goff in cash?..... … Wait on Trevor Siemian in two-QB leagues/DFS. He has Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but is missing coach Gary Kubiak, and the Chargers are emerging as a shutdown defense.

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Week 1 Running Backs

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 David Johnson at DET -
2 Le'Veon Bell at CLE -
3 LeSean McCoy vs. NYJ -
4 DeMarco Murray vs. OAK -
5 Ezekiel Elliott vs. NYG -
6 Devonta Freeman at CHI -
7 Jordan Howard vs. ATL -
8 Melvin Gordon at DEN -
9 Todd Gurley vs. IND -
10 Lamar Miller vs. JAC -
11 Isaiah Crowell vs. PIT -
12 Carlos Hyde vs. CAR -
13 Marshawn Lynch at TEN -
14 Christian McCaffrey at SF -
15 Leonard Fournette at HOU -
16 Kareem Hunt at NE -
17 Dalvin Cook vs. NO -
18 Bilal Powell at BUF -
19 Ty Montgomery vs. SEA -
20 C.J. Anderson vs. LAC -
21 Ameer Abdullah vs. ARZ -
22 Joe Mixon vs. BAL -
23 Mark Ingram at MIN -
24 Rob Kelley vs. PHI -
25 Terrance West at CIN -
26 Tevin Coleman at CHI -
27 Paul Perkins at DAL -
28 Mike Gillislee vs. KC -
29 Frank Gore at LAR -
30 Danny Woodhead at CIN Questionable (hamstring)
31 Adrian Peterson at MIN -
32 Jonathan Stewart at SF -
33 Darren Sproles at WAS -
34 Theo Riddick vs. ARZ -
35 LeGarrette Blount at WAS -
36 Duke Johnson vs. PIT -
37 Derrick Henry vs. OAK -
38 Eddie Lacy at GB -
39 Matt Forte at BUF -
40 James White vs. KC -
41 C.J. Prosise at GB -
42 Jamaal Charles vs. LAC -
43 Chris Thompson vs. PHI -
44 Shane Vereen at DAL -
45 Jeremy Hill vs. BAL -
46 Giovani Bernard vs. BAL -
47 Chris Carson at GB -
48 Rex Burkhead vs. KC -
49 Latavius Murray vs. NO -
50 Darren McFadden vs. NYG -
51 Robert Turbin at LAR -
52 Jamaal Williams vs. SEA -

RB Notes: In my opinion, David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell are solid Week 1 fantasy plays. Now please pay me $200. … DeMarco Murray faded in the second half last season, and Derrick Henry looms as a concern, but Week 1 matchups don’t get much better than this. The soft underbelly of the Raiders’ defense somehow got worse this offseason. Home-favorite Tennessee is going to spend a lot of time handing the ball off to its bell-cow. … A 29-year-old runner with a history of soft-tissue injuries, it’s probably best not to look under LeSean McCoy’s hood. For their part, the Bills have committed to driving their lead back until the wheels fall off. … I try to avoid cultural references that are more niche than mainstream, and I haven’t even watched David Lynch’s Twin Peaks reboot, but it’s hard to know what else to compare the Ezekiel Elliott saga to. The still-suspended, currently-appealing, definitely playing Week 1 sophomore back has distractions galore, but like David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell, he’s a top-five option no matter the matchup. … The Bears weren’t pushovers against the run in 2016, but game script should be in workhorse Devonta Freeman’s favor.

Even if the Bears are playing from behind Sunday, that’s something Jordan Howard will be used to from his rookie season. In his 13 2016 starts, Howard was held below 99 yards from scrimmage only twice. … The Broncos were quietly soft against the run in 2016. Melvin Gordon not so quietly totaled 249 yards from scrimmage across his two games against Denver. The Broncos’ run-stopping cast remains largely the same. … Week 1 is a now-or-never game for Todd Gurley. The Colts lack impact run-stoppers aside from Johnathan Hankins, are an overall mess on defense and won’t be able to sustain drives on offense. Gurley, who averaged just 75 yards from scrimmage in 2016, needs to show something. … The Jaguars are run tough, but Lamar Miller isn’t going to lack for volume. His backups are banged up and neither the Jags nor Texans will be lighting up the scoreboard. … Boom or bust in 2016, Isaiah Crowell will be running behind a much-improved offensive line. Dual-threat DeShone Kizer could open up running lanes. Game flow will remain an issue, but Crowell figures to spend much of the year on the RB1/2 borderline.    

Carlos Hyde’s perceived offseason stock was a rollercoaster. It enters Week 1 near an all-time high. Earning plaudits from the coaching staff and media, Hyde had an impressive camp as would-be committee members in Joe Williams and Tim Hightower fell by the wayside. The 49ers stink, but coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the league’s top run-game minds. Playing for a new contract, 26-year-old Hyde could vastly out-perform his ADP. … Healthy and focused, 31-year-old Marshawn Lynch seems ready to cash more checks than Latavius Murray did behind the Raiders’ road-paving line. … Christian McCaffrey was a special player at Stanford and a top-eight pick, so it makes sense that the Panthers reportedly have a “large part of the offense devoted to him.” Jonathan Stewart will only be a nuisance if McCaffrey lets him. … It wasn’t smooth sailing for Leonard Fournette as he battled a foot injury this summer, but he’s absent from the Week 1 injury report. The Jaguars have gone beyond telegraphing monster usage for their rookie back, essentially guaranteeing he will be the vessel through which the offense flows. Nevertheless, Houston is a tough Week 1 road matchup.

Third-round rookie Kareem Hunt projects as a three-down back for creative running mind Andy Reid. The Pats are a tough debut matchup, but touches aren’t a Week 1 concern for Hunt. … Dalvin Cook turned heads all summer, but I’m going to hold off on officially crowning him a top-15 option until we see how $3.4 million guaranteed free agent Latavius Murray is used. Minnesota also needs to show — not tell with questionable FA additions — that its offensive line is better than last year’s disastrous unit. … Bilal Powell looked like the Jets’ only legitimate player on offense this preseason. Matt Forte threatens to be a thorn in Powell’s side, but his three-down upside is real. … It remains unclear if the Packers are ready to go all in on Ty Montgomery on early downs. His Week 1 opponent, the Seahawks, remained run tough even as their defense took a step back in 2016. Now Sheldon Richardson has joined the party. Sunday figures to be inconclusive for the TyMont fantasy experiment. … C.J. Anderson entered the preseason healthy and exited with his fourth shot at securing the Broncos’ starting role. Jamaal Charles is ready to change the pace, and perhaps more if CJA struggles.

Ameer Abdullah begins his latest quest to lead the Lions’ backfield with the Cardinals’ stingy run defense. … Jeremy Hill will start for the Bengals. Joe Mixon will spell him early and often. The Bengals should be open to their uber-talented rookie developing the “hot hand.” … If the preseason is any indication, Rob Kelley should remain relatively untroubled on early downs by Samaje Perine. … The Saints’ backfield is pure guesswork. Mark Ingram is coming off his best season. Adrian Peterson is seeking revenge against his former team. Coach Sean Payton will only shed light on the situation through his in-game usage. … I think Terrance West will out-touch Danny Woodhead. The rest I don’t really know. … The Patriots’ new-look backfield remains shrouded in mystery. Presumed early-down favorite Mike Gillislee still had “quite a ways to go” the last time coach Bill Belichick spoke on the matter. … Paul Perkins isn’t threatened on early downs. That has to count for something. … Eagles coach Doug Pederson has decreed his backfield will be game-plan specific. Tempo could be the key against Washington, which would favor Darren Sproles over LeGarrette Blount. … The Seahawks’ backfield is in complete disarray. Thomas Rawls (ankle) is practicing in full, but could still sit. With Eddie Lacy coming off a woeful summer, Chris Carson and even passing-down back C.J. Prosise could get in the mix on early downs.                      

Week 1 Receivers

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Antonio Brown at CLE -
2 Julio Jones at CHI -
3 A.J. Green vs. BAL -
4 Amari Cooper at TEN -
5 Doug Baldwin at GB -
6 Jordy Nelson vs. SEA -
7 Brandin Cooks vs. KC -
8 Michael Thomas at MIN -
9 Dez Bryant vs. NYG -
10 Martavis Bryant at CLE -
11 Larry Fitzgerald at DET -
12 Michael Crabtree at TEN -
13 Demaryius Thomas vs. LAC Questionable (groin)
14 Stefon Diggs vs. NO -
15 Kelvin Benjamin at SF -
16 T.Y. Hilton at LAR -
17 Terrelle Pryor vs. PHI -
18 Sammy Watkins vs. IND -
19 Alshon Jeffery at WAS -
20 Brandon Marshall at DAL -
21 Allen Robinson at HOU -
22 DeAndre Hopkins vs. JAC -
23 Tyreek Hill at NE -
24 Emmanuel Sanders vs. LAC -
25 Keenan Allen at DEN -
26 Golden Tate vs. ARZ -
27 Davante Adams vs. SEA -
28 Pierre Garcon vs. CAR -
29 Jamison Crowder vs. PHI -
30 Adam Thielen vs. NO -
31 Chris Hogan vs. KC -
32 Ted Ginn at MIN -
33 Jeremy Maclin at CIN Questionable (hand)
34 Eric Decker vs. OAK -
35 Kenny Britt vs. PIT -
36 Kevin White vs. ATL -
37 Randall Cobb vs. SEA -
38 Mike Wallace at CIN -
39 Rishard Matthews vs. OAK -
40 Corey Coleman vs. PIT -
41 John Brown at DET -
42 Sterling Shepard at DAL -
43 Tyrell Williams at DEN Questionable (groin)
44 Robby Anderson at BUF -
45 Marvin Jones vs. ARZ -
46 Donte Moncrief at LAR -
47 Corey Davis vs. OAK -
48 Zay Jones vs. NYJ -
49 Cole Beasley vs. NYG -
50 Paul Richardson at GB -
51 Tyler Lockett at GB Questionable (leg)
52 Kendall Wright vs. ATL -
53 Jordan Matthews vs. NYJ -
54 Cooper Kupp vs. IND Questionable (groin)
55 Taylor Gabriel at CHI -
56 Devin Funchess at SF -
57 Marqise Lee at HOU -
58 J.J. Nelson at DET -
59 Torrey Smith at WAS -
60 Brandon LaFell vs. BAL -
61 Breshad Perriman at CIN -
62 Marquise Goodwin vs. CAR -
63 Mohamed Sanu at CHI -
64 Danny Amendola vs. KC Sidelined (concussion)
65 Jermaine Kearse at BUF -
66 Kenny Golladay vs. ARZ -

WR Notes: Antonio Brown has 31 catches for 402 yards and three touchdowns over his past three games against the now Joe Haden-less Browns. … Julio Jones is averaging 109 yards over his past 50 games. … Odell Beckham (ankle) went down 17 days ago. He appears genuinely 50-50 for SNF. Fantasy owners could stash Cole Beasley or Sterling Shepard as a Sunday night back-up plan. … Even if the Ravens harass Andy Dalton, they don’t have the personnel to slow down A.J. Green. … Amari Cooper wore down badly last season, and his numbers suffered along the way. Cooper also seemed to invent new ways not to score touchdowns. It distracted from the fact that he’s still only 23 years old and already has 2,223 receiving yards. Cooper is primed to explode, and an exploitable Titans defense could light the fuse. … Matchups didn’t matter for (now) 32-year-old Jordy Nelson last season. He scored in 11-of-16 appearances, roasting great defenses like Seattle and Minnesota along the way. Richard Sherman will be healthier for this Sunday’s game than he was last December, but there’s essentially no covering Nelson in the red zone.

As Evan Silva points out, Brandin Cooks should mostly avoid Chiefs No.1 CB Marcus Peters in his Patriots debut. Drawing praise all summer long for his seamless fit in both the Patriots’ offense and locker room, Cooks may finally drop the “borderline” from his WR1 tag. … Michael Thomas has legitimate top-five upside this season, but a trying Week 1 matchup in a Vikings defense that mostly shut down enemy wideouts in 2016. Missing Willie Snead, the road-tripping Saints might focus on sparking their ground attack in Minnesota. … Erased by the Giants last season — two catches for 18 yards across two games — Dez Bryant is looking to “embarrass” Janoris Jenkins on Sunday Night Football. Still just 28, Bryant has his health and quarterback continuity going for him in 2017. … Martavis Bryant has 14 touchdowns in 21 NFL games. The only thing standing between him and a monster season could be his team’s trust. How big of a role can you invest in a player who can’t stop getting suspended? … Injured on literally the first play last season, Demaryius Thomas is already dealing with a groin issue. He will be out there against the Chargers, hopefully not in a diminished state like he was so often in 2016.

I know Evan Silva well. He is a very persuasive man. He thinks Larry Fitzgerald is going to be a top-five receiver this week. I’m not willing to go quite that far, but he’s in for a voluminous early-season role, and should mostly avoid Lions CB Darius Slay in the slot. … The WR12 by total points and WR14 by average points last season, Michael Crabtree’s numbers have been there both years in Oakland, even if they’ve come in unsatisfying fashion. He should get 2017 off on a touchdown-scoring note against the Titans’ leaky back end. … Unless first-rounder Marshon Lattimore is ready to shut down people right off the bat, the Saints’ defense shouldn’t start off much different from the one that allowed the most passing yards in the NFL last year. Stefon Diggs is ready to do damage on the outside. … T.Y. Hilton led the league in yards last season. He currently leads the league in missing Andrew Luck. … Terrelle Pryor had a shaky preseason, but his 1,000-yard 2016 didn’t happen by happenstance. Maybe there will be some hiccups as he adjusts to a new offense, but 6-foot-4 Pryor should make the most of his improved surroundings.

Sammy Watkins was completely invisible in his two Rams preseason appearances. Even with Jared Goff delivering the passes, he’s going to be a little more noticeable against the Vontae Davis-less Colts. … Josh Norman is a rough draw for Alshon Jeffery’s Eagles debut. Jeffery’s 2016 rate stats remained excellent, but don’t be surprised by a quiet start. ... In theory, DeAndre Hopkins is too good to repeat last year’s disaster. In Week 1 practice, he will be catching passes from Tom Savage against Jalen Ramsey. … A.J. Bouye is now Allen Robinson’s teammate instead of adversary, but it’s hard to see things going much better for Robinson than Hopkins. Perhaps you can hang your hat on the 14/229 he posted in two games with Doug Marrone at coach last winter. … Tyreek Hill had a bad preseason and could be the victim of Bill Belichick’s infamous “take away the opposing team’s No. 1 weapon.” He might not come out gangbusters, though master game-planner Andy Reid has pledged to get him involved in a variety of ways. … T.J. Ward is gone, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. remain. Keenan Allen’s return might not be cast in bronze.

Even though Golden Tate should mostly avoid Patrick Peterson in the slot, the Cardinals have intriguing interior defenders in Tyrann Mathieu and rookie Budda Baker. … It’s quite possible I’m selling Davante Adams short. I just have no idea what to expect with last year’s outburst on the heels of 2015’s disaster. … Pierre Garcon will have volume. He’s also 31 and catching passes from Brian Hoyer. … When the dust settles, it’s quite possible Jamison Crowder is the Redskins’ No. 1 fantasy receiver for the second straight year. … The Vikings want Adam Thielen to spend more time in the slot. He provided ceiling in 2016. For 2017, it might be floor. … The Patriots’ clear-cut No. 2 receiver, Chris Hogan could combine slot targets with big perimeter plays to emerge as one of this year’s most surprising WR2/3s. … Tyrell Williams was the WR13 by total points last season. He certainly didn’t get that love in fantasy drafts. The Broncos won’t be the matchup that proves the doubters wrong. … If nothing else, Robby Anderson is going to have volume. … There’s a reason Corey Davis was the No. 5 overall pick. There’s a reason Corey Coleman was last year’s No. 15 overall pick. They’re big-play threats with matchup-winning upside as fourth or fifth receivers in deeper leagues. … The Seahawks’ No. 2 receiver, Paul Richardson is a tailor made DFS dart throw.                     

Week 1 Tight Ends

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Rob Gronkowski vs. KC -
2 Travis Kelce at NE -
3 Greg Olsen at SF -
4 Jordan Reed vs. PHI -
5 Delanie Walker vs. OAK -
6 Jimmy Graham at GB -
7 Kyle Rudolph vs. NO -
8 Tyler Eifert vs. BAL -
9 Zach Ertz at WAS -
10 Martellus Bennett vs. SEA -
11 Hunter Henry at DEN -
12 Jason Witten vs. NYG -
13 Coby Fleener at MIN -
14 Eric Ebron vs. ARZ -
15 Jack Doyle at LAR -
16 C.J. Fiedorowicz vs. JAC -
17 Austin Hooper at CHI -
18 Antonio Gates at DEN -
19 Charles Clay vs. NYJ -
20 Zach Miller vs. ATL -
21 Jared Cook at TEN -
22 Evan Engram at DAL -
23 Jesse James at CLE -
24 Dwayne Allen vs. KC -
25 David Njoku vs. PIT -
26 Jermaine Gresham at DET -
27 Vernon Davis vs. PHI -
28 George Kittle vs. CAR Questionable (hamstring)
29 Tyler Higbee vs. IND -
30 Maxx Williams at CIN -
31 Ryan Griffin vs. JAC -
32 AJ Derby vs. LAC -
33 Vance McDonald at CLE -
34 Will Tye at BUF -

TE Notes: Rob Gronkowski generated an absurd 540 yards on 25 catches (21.6 YPC) in 2016. … The reigning TE1, Travis Kelce has little in the way of target competition. His early-career boom/bust days will continue to fade into memory. … There have been 37 1,000-yard seasons by tight ends since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. Greg Olsen has three of them the past three years. … Bothered by a toe injury since last season, Jordan Reed has been fitted for an orthotic. 16 games is probably a pipe dream, but Reed will be out there for Week 1. When he’s out there, he dominates. … The Raiders, who got scorched by tight ends a year ago, have somehow downgraded their personnel. Delanie Walker could have his best game of the season in Week 1.

Jimmy Graham was playing on one leg last season and still posted 65/923/6. Down 20 pounds from 280 to 260, he’s going to be a problem in his age-31 campaign. … Fresh off shattering his previous career highs in catches and yards, Kyle Rudolph will be a fixture in the top eight. … Tyler Eifert has 18 touchdowns over his past 21 games. Injuries have made his production a wave, albeit one that’s always worth riding. … Zach Ertz expects to soak up more targets with Jordan Matthews out of the slot. Zach Ertz is right. … Aaron Rodgers loves to target his tight ends, but hasn’t had a good one since Jermichael Finley. Martellus Bennett is the best he’s ever had, and should supplant Davante Adams as Rodgers’ No. 2 red zone target.

Fantasy owners were so desperate not to overdraft Hunter Henry that they turned him into a value. Elite though the Broncos’ defense remains, it doesn’t eliminate tight ends the way it does receivers. … Eric Ebron (hamstring) barely practiced this summer, but is absent from the Week 1 injury report. He has a daunting assignment in a Cardinals defense that’s made a habit of erasing tight ends under coach Bruce Arians. … Jason Witten for empty yardage, Antonio Gates for low-calorie touchdowns. … Jack Doyle’s TE1 repeat is on hold until Andrew Luck’s return. … C.J. Fiedorowicz is the Tom Savage check-down cheat code that you feel guilty for using and still barely ends up worth it. ... Austin Hooper will have big games this year, but the Bears aren’t a great matchup. … The Ravens’ tight end corps is a mess. For now, I’ll bet on Maxx Williams’ supposed upside.       

Week 1 Kickers

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Justin Tucker at CIN -
2 Matt Bryant at CHI -
3 Stephen Gostkowski vs. KC -
4 Dan Bailey vs. NYG -
5 Mason Crosby vs. SEA -
6 Matt Prater vs. ARZ -
7 Chris Boswell at CLE -
8 Phil Dawson at DET -
9 Dustin Hopkins vs. PHI -
10 Cairo Santos at NE Sidelined (groin)
11 Graham Gano at SF -
12 Wil Lutz at MIN -
13 Giorgio Tavecchio at TEN -
14 Kai Forbath vs. NO -
15 Blair Walsh at GB -
16 Ryan Succop vs. OAK -
17 Brandon McManus vs. LAC -
18 Adam Vinatieri at LAR -
19 Caleb Sturgis at WAS -
20 Aldrick Rosas at DAL -
21 Younghoe Koo at DEN -
22 Randy Bullock vs. BAL -
23 Greg Zuerlein vs. IND -
24 Robbie Gould vs. CAR -
25 Connor Barth vs. ATL -
26 Ka'imi Fairbairn vs. JAC -
27 Zane Gonzalez vs. PIT -
28 Jason Myers at HOU -
29 Stephen Hauschka vs. NYJ -
30 Chandler Catanzaro at BUF -

Week 1 Defense/Special Teams

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Texans Def/Spec Team vs. JAC -
2 Panthers Def/Spec Team at SF -
3 Steelers Def/Spec Team at CLE -
4 Rams Def/Spec Team vs. IND -
5 Jaguars Def/Spec Team at HOU -
6 Falcons Def/Spec Team at CHI -
7 Patriots Def/Spec Team vs. KC -
8 Cardinals Def/Spec Team at DET -
9 Chargers Def/Spec Team at DEN -
10 Broncos Def/Spec Team vs. LAC -
11 Bills Def/Spec Team vs. NYJ -
12 Bengals Def/Spec Team vs. BAL -
13 Vikings Def/Spec Team vs. NO -
14 Seahawks Def/Spec Team at GB -
15 Ravens Def/Spec Team at CIN -
16 Giants Def/Spec Team at DAL -
17 Chiefs Def/Spec Team at NE -
18 Titans Def/Spec Team vs. OAK -
19 Eagles Def/Spec Team at WAS -
20 Jets Def/Spec Team at BUF -
21 Packers Def/Spec Team vs. SEA -
22 Colts Def/Spec Team at LAR -
23 Redskins Def/Spec Team vs. PHI -
24 Cowboys Def/Spec Team vs. NYG -
25 Lions Def/Spec Team vs. ARZ -
26 Raiders Def/Spec Team at TEN -
27 Fortyniners Def/Spec Team vs. CAR -
28 Saints Def/Spec Team at MIN -
29 Bears Def/Spec Team vs. ATL -
30 Browns Def/Spec Team vs. PIT -

Patrick Daugherty
Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .