News & Analysis

Sunday Study Session: Fantasy rankings and advice for Week 1

By Daniel Kelley
Sep 9, 2018

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(Every Sunday morning, we’ll wrap up the week in fantasy football content with our Study Session, a last-minute guide to our top advice of the week, featuring the highlights of that week’s analysis.)

Everyone has a conundrum.

For me, in Week 1, it’s the Broncos. In my home league, I have Joe Mixon and Jay Ajayi as my two running backs, Julio Jones and Golden Tate as my two wide receivers. That leaves my flex, and Royce Freeman or Emmanuel Sanders.

Sanders is a popular bounceback candidate this year. Freeman is a hot rookie. Freeman has a higher projection on our host site. Sanders has a higher PFF projection. In our staff rankings, Sanders is universally higher, but in my personal rankings, they’re essentially tied.

Currently, I have Sanders in the flex spot. I might change. I might not. And I might regret whichever one I do end up with.

My specific conundrum is mine, but the general idea is just about universal. Making decisions, setting lineups, picking winners is a tough job. Maybe you are choosing between quarterbacks or picking a defense to stream. Maybe you’re lucky and have Ezekiel Elliott and Kareem Hunt, I don’t know. The point is, lineups without close calls are rare, and sometimes you need help to make the decision.

Below is a snapshot of our weekly advice, geared toward helping you solve your conundrum of the week. Click through for the full articles.

This week on PFF Fantasy

Rankings and start/sit

These are the big-ticket items. Our overall look at what we’re doing and how we make those decisions. On Wednesday, Jeff Ratcliffe publishes his top 150 for that week; on Thursday, Scott Barrett attempts to solve some of the top start-or-sit questions.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

9. Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. DAL (RB8) — He’s coming off an impressive preseason and should see increased volume with Jonathan Stewart out of the mix.
10. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU at NE (WR2) — Hopkins gets Deshaun Watson back and will pick right up where he left off last season.
11. Saquon Barkley, NYG vs. JAC (RB9) — Don’t worry about the preseason injury. Barkley will get his pro career started with a bang.
12. Rob Gronkowski, NE vs. HOU (TE1) — Yep. He’s that valuable. Gronk is going to eat with Julian Edelman suspended.

Two starts, two sits

START Kenny Stills in medium-sized leagues: Stills ranked 23rd among wide receivers in targets last year and 27th in fantasy points, despite Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker combining to total 251 targets.
START Andy Dalton in deep leagues
: The Colts have our worst-rated secondary this season and, on top of that, their first-quarter defense ranked last pressures per dropback this preseason.
SIT Jimmy Garoppolo in shallow leagues: In 2017, starting quarterbacks averaged just 8.9 fantasy points per game against Minnesota in U.S. Bank Stadium.
SIT Peyton Barber in medium-sized leagues: He’ll dominate early-down work, … but Jacquizz Rodgers should be locked into the third-down and pass-catching role. That means Barber is far too risky in a game the Saints are favored by 9.5.

Deeper dives

You come to use for more than the surface material. Our writers go deeper with thoughts on situations down the road and looking deeper into each week’s games.

Waiver claims to make a week early

Anthony Miller, WR, Green Bay Packers: Chicago could be throwing the ball often to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers. Miller is owned in only 30 percent of fantasy leagues, and a good performance will cause his ownership rate to double (or more).
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets: The Jets get the Detroit Lions in Week 1 on Monday night in what will be Sam Darnold’s first start. The Jets could employ a run-heavy approach to ease Darnold into action.

Snaps, Pace, and Stats

Bengals at Colts: The Bengals were a well-documented play-volume disaster last season. When their Week 6 bye hit, Cincinnati was a bad-but-not-awful 25th in plays per game (61.4). … While there has been little evidence that Jim Irsay’s calls for Andrew Luck to pilot an up-tempo offense will manifest – they took only 10 no-huddle dropbacks this preseason – we can’t rule it out.

Trade value chart

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: Our current projections have Gronkowski going for nearly 1,200 yards and scoring over 11 touchdowns this year, which vaults him way up the trade value chart in standard leagues.

Weather and venue adjustments

Cleveland Browns: If the Browns do commit more heavily to the run because of the weather, look for Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb to profit more than Duke Johnson.

DFS advice

We hit weekly DFS from all angles — bargains, stacks, fades, locks. We also look at the best ways to build a DFS lineup on DraftKings (tournament or cash game) and FanDuel (tournament or cash game).

Bargains

Jordan Wilkins, RB, Indianapolis Colts: While we prefer Wilkins in tournaments to cash games, his price point on both sites makes him a value in either format.
Green Bay Packers DST: The Packers upgraded at cornerback via the draft and look for rookie Josh Jackson — the biggest playmaker in college football at his position in 2017 — to grab an interception.

Stacks

Andy Dalton, QB; A.J. Green, WR; Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals: The Colts did very little to improve a defense that allowed the ninth-, 10th-, and 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends, respectively, in 2017.

Locks

Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans: Walker gets a chance to start his 2018 campaign off hot against the Miami Dolphins, who gave up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends last season.

Fades/Contrarian Plays

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: If New England does sell out to stop Hopkins, I think both Will Fuller and Lamar Miller are fine plays.

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