I don’t know about you, but I’m more excited than usual for this football season to commence. Yes, even with Von Miller out for the year (life-long Broncos fan here).
Drafts are over – at least they should be – and it’s time to set those lineups. In an effort to aid you in your lineup-setting endeavors, I’ll be providing a weekly glimpse into my rankings; meaning, I’ll be highlighting players I like or dislike more compared to the expert consensus rankings as listed on FantasyPros.com or who I simply like or dislike for that given week. My ranking at the time of the writing will be alongside the player’s name.
Bear in mind that I start this writing earlier in the week, so Expert Consensus Rankings will likely be different by the time of publication.
While I do acknowledge that kickers are people too, neither they nor D/STs will be included.
Finally, these cannot be held against me – only used to give credit when credit is due.
*Note that half PPR scoring applies.
See all of my Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 1 Here
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Game: PIT @ NYG – QB9
This might sound weird for a 38-year-old Super Bowl-winning quarterback going into his 17th NFL season, but it seems like Ben Roethlisberger has something to prove heading into the 2020 campaign. He missed all but two games in 2019 with an elbow injury after leading the league in passing with over 5,000 yards in 2018. He’s been disrespected by many media, fans and fantasy football drafters but is primed for Week 1 success versus a paltry New York Giants defense.
Don’t be dissuaded by home/road splits, either; Ben averaged 21.7 fantasy points per game as a visitor and 21.5 FPPG at home in 2018, according to PFF’s Ian Hartitz. The Steelers are candidates to score the most points in this first week of games and there will be no shock on my face if he produces Top 10 QB numbers right out of the gate.
Game: IND @ JAX – QB17
It is well documented that Rivers is probably playing with the best offensive line he’s ever played behind. The Jaguars possess one of the worst defenses in the league on paper. Rivers is an underrated fantasy quarterback, including in his first outing in blue and white.
RB Antonio Gibson
WAS vs. PHI – RB29
This one scares me a little, but I’m just too excited about Gibson to not consider starting him as at least a half-PPR or PPR flex. The Memphis standout has been a favorite of mine since May and his situation has only improved throughout the offseason, so I’ll keep drinking the Kool-Aid. He’ll be the key cog in a committee that includes Bryce Love, Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic. Upon his departure, Adrian Peterson stated that Washington’s system fits the rookie and head coach Ron Rivera declared there’s a lot they can do with Gibson.
Finally, may the following serve as further encouragement for a Week 1 breakout from Gibson: At least one rookie running back has caught at least five passes in their debut in each of the last three seasons (Hunt, CMac, Cohen, Hines, Singletary). He is perhaps the one player I’m looking forward to watching the most in Week 1 to see how – and how often – he is used. I believe he can and will impress immediately in an early divisional matchup.
NE vs. MIA – RB24
Perennially underrated. White will see many dump-offs and a few more handoffs with Damien Harris out. The Patriots should put up a lofty number on the lowly maritime creatures.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
PIT @ NYG – WR8
I like the Steelers as a whole in Week 1 – a lot. I’m hoping to see JuJu and Big Ben quickly remind us that they were arguably the best QB-WR duo in 2018. It would behoove Pittsburgh to deploy JuJu from the slot for the majority of snaps again with Diontae Johnson and James Washington serving as the X & Z targets. Ben will be licking his chops with this alignment and JuJu will be able to fully utilize his size and talent facing an inferior secondary. As is the case with the man throwing him the ball, he’s a Top 10 Week 1 play at his position in my eyes.
Eugene Marquis “T.Y.” Hilton
IND @ JAX – WR22
He’s underrated heading into 2020 because of injury history and age. The Jaguars are now without Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye and I think Hilton finds the end zone. Sneaky WR1 upside with a WR2 floor.
TE Noah Fant
DEN vs. TEN – TE11
Perhaps the term “too many mouths to feed” has been used the most this offseason whilst describing the Denver Broncos offense. Fant is one of the said mouths, but it’s a talented mouth that needs food. Was that weird? The Iowa product gained valuable experience as a rookie and should possess a more evolved chemistry with quarterback Drew Lock in their second iteration together. More good news for those who are rostering Fant is that the Tennessee Titans represented the fourth-worst fantasy defense against tight ends in 2019, yielding 11.6 FPPG to the position.
TEN @ DEN – TE10
Let’s stay in the same game, shall we? I am big on Smith with Delanie Walker gone and believe he’ll break out a la Darren Waller a year ago. He’s an athletic freak facing a Broncos squad that is notorious for being hospitable to opposing tight ends.
See all of my Fantasy Football Rankings for Week 1 Here
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
SF vs. AZ – QB18
Yes, you want to consider starting anyone who’s facing the Arizona Cardinals defense from a year ago. I don’t “dislike” Garoppolo this week, but he’s not an ideal fantasy quarterback in his own right and the Cardinals revamped pieces of their defense this offseason, the most noteworthy addition being former Clemson linebacker/safety/cornerback Isaiah Simmons via the draft. Arizona also added LBs De’Vondre Campbell and Devon Kennard and DT Jordan Phillips to hopefully give this squad a much-needed boost.
All that new blood coalescing with stars Jordan Hicks, Budda Baker and leading sack man Chandler Jones makes me want to wait a week before deploying Garoppolo into my starting lineup. And oh yeah, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are headed for “doubtful” designations.
NYG vs. PIT – QB27
It’s no fault of his own, but Jones might have the most disgusting schedule to start a season among quarterbacks. Pittsburgh boasts what is arguably the best defense in the league and paced the NFL in sacks in 2019 (54). Jones will breathe a sigh of relief when this game is over.
RB Jordan Howard
MIA @ NE – RB37
Usually my answer to the question “Is Jordan Howard underrated?” is “yes,” but I’m holding off on starting him in Week 1. Indeed, the Patriots lost some important players on the defensive side of the ball. Nonetheless, we can’t forget that New England allowed just ONE rushing touchdown to running backs last year. ONE!! That statistic immensely aided in them being 2019’s stingiest fantasy defense against the position.
BUF vs. NYJ – RB30
It stinks when Singletary is the third-best goal-line rusher on his own team. Zack Moss and Josh Allen are prepared to vulture the heck out of him in 2020. C.J. Mosley’s opt-out certainly hurts the Jets, but allowing 3.16 yards per carry is elite. This matchup has the makings of a defensive battle.
WR DeVante Parker
MIA @ NE – WR38
I hate to hate on a specific team here but I’m maintaining said hate on the Dolphins following my Jordan Howard pessimism. Parker did torch the Patriots in his last game of 2019 but was held without a reception on 7 targets in Week 2. You know Stephon Gilmore wants revenge after that sour taste in his mouth from Week 17. What’s more is Parker has missed a week of practice leading up to Week 1, although Miami said it’s precautionary and he will play. Even so, I’ll take my chances on a guy like Tyler Boyd or Diontae Johnson over Parker.
CIN vs. LAC – WR32
This matchup with the Chargers is less than ideal and I want to wait a game and see if Green needs to shake off some more rust before counting on him as a WR2. My words could very well end up in my stomach, but this is my stance. He’s merely a WR3 or flex for me.
TE Rob Gronkowski
TB @ NO – TE14
As is the case with the aforementioned A.J. Green and plenty of other players, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach with Gronk, primarily because he’s 31 years old and hasn’t played professional football in two years. I want to see him shake the rust off and show that he’s conditioned enough to play meaningful snaps again. Will O.J. Howard and/or Cameron Brate eat significantly into his snap and target numbers?
What worsens a pro-Gronk argument is that the Saints defense – anchored by All-Pro middle linebacker Demario Davis – was Top 10 versus tight ends last season.
NO vs. TB – TE13
I am off on Jared Cook and preferred to take other tight ends later on in drafts. His nine touchdowns on 43 receptions are completely unsustainable. He was only targeted 65 times and now has Emmanuel Sanders and potentially up-and-coming Tre’Quan Smith to contend with besides Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
Zach hails from the bustling metropolis of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Three things Zach enjoys are football, food and water. Three things Zach doesn’t enjoy are kale, mushrooms and the company of those who enjoy either (except hobbits). Zach is a life-long Broncos fan and has been playing fantasy football longer than he hasn’t. He had top-five finishes in FantasyPros’ 2016 NFL DFAC competition and the 2016 SFB480.