Fantasy football flex rankings for Week 1

Eric Karabell
ESPN PLUS


Welcome to the 2018 fantasy football season and the weekly flex rankings! Each week in this space, and in ample time for the Thursday night affairs, this file will rank the top-100-plus running backs, wide receivers and tight ends for PPR purposes and place them on one tidy list for your viewing and perhaps to aid in your decisions.

These rankings are a result of myriad factors, but the matchups for that week are certainly critical. Your draft is over, so it does not matter which players went earlier or for more auction money. Anyway, it is Week 1, so let us all flex!

1. Todd Gurley II, RB, Los Angeles Rams: He is not No. 1 because he finished tops in scoring last season. He is No. 1 because he is awesome, healthy, had a full training camp and, frankly, the matchup against an old Raiders team looks good and will for months.
2. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals: No concerns here. Healthy and motivated.
3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: He did not earn a better ranking than normal from last season because of the Mark Ingram II absence. Again, Kamara is awesome and the matchup works. I doubt we see more than 30 touches here.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: The rest of the offense is good enough for him to lead the league in rushing. It is true.
5. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Seems worth pointing out we still do not know for sure which of his teammates will be playing in this one, and that his quarterback performs far better in home games. Still, Brown is the top WR.
6. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: He and Deshaun Watson might not win the game, but they will connect.
7. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Watch him actually catch a pass in the end zone and shut up the myriad haters.
8. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
9. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: Still skeptical he gets 20 rushing attempts, but he will get many touches.
10. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
11. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints: Did not score in the matchups with the Buccaneers last season, but got 19 targets. No question he is elite.
12. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: A reminder that a wide receiver can far outpace his QB in fantasy relevance.
13. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
14. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
15. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Figures to earn as many touches as he wants, mirroring what happened last September before the injury.
16. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: What rule states he has to be the No. 1 or 2 RB in a given week? He has not practiced with the team. Heck, as of this writing he has not even reported to the team. There is risk. Last season his Week 1 was also at Cleveland, also after a lengthy holdout, and he totaled 47 yards on 13 touches with nary a touchdown. Why expect much different now? If you unilaterally choose to start him no matter what, I do not argue. If you choose to sit him, though, because you roster McCaffrey and Hunt, go ahead. This ranking could actually be too generous.
17. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants: No concerns because he is a rookie or because the Giants might be bad. The Giants face the Jaguars. That is the reason. Should be top 10 after this.
18. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos: Too generous of a ranking? What is so special about Seattle's defense? Again, do not be afraid of rookies at this position once they secure the role.
19. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
20. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: Tom Brady's wide receiver corps seems to be lacking a bit, so Gronk could get 15 targets. Try to stop him when he is 100 percent healthy.
21. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
22. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants: Again, he is better than this but the Jaguars are so good defensively and they will pressure Eli Manning.
23. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
24. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Nothing wrong with Kirk Cousins. Not like the Vikings had Joe Montana last season.
25. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: No signs of any suspension. There is a mess around him on the Bills but volume counteracts much of it. So what if the 100 total yards comes on 25-plus touches?
26. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
27. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
28. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: I think Patrick Mahomes will be terrific.
29. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I think Ryan Fitzpatrick will be useful. It is not as if Jameis Winston is the most accurate passer out there, you know.
30. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears: I think he will be more involved in the passing game. Let us say four catches on five targets.
31. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Has to look better than last season or will quickly fall out of RB2 status, deserved or not.
32. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns: No concerns here about his QB or other WR options. Landry will get his.
33. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
34. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Some concerns about his QB, but all seems well so far.
35. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
36. Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
37. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears: Nobody is drafting Mitchell Trubisky and there is no need with so many good QB options, but I think he will be good in Year 2, much like Jared Goff.
38. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders: Hard to recommend many Raiders this or any week.
39. Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions
40. Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Detroit Lions
41. Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans: He might not have the starting role in Week 10, but this week, he sure does. I doubt Bill Belichick is terrified of facing Miller.
42. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: Should be interesting to see how this duo gets their touches. I ranked Lewis one spot ahead for the duration of the season. Could be that neither breaks free of the other.
43. Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans
44. Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Cleveland Browns: Go ahead and ignore him, but he finished as the No. 11 PPR running back last season and I do not see his role changing.
45. Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots: Someone has to take the Brady handoffs. I see a double-digit combination of touches for him and an end zone attempt or two.
46. Michael Crabtree, WR, Baltimore Ravens
47. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
48. Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets: Underrated option. The rookie quarterback will throw his interceptions, but they do not show up on the ledger for the receivers.
49. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: Probably shares some touches with rookie Dallas Goedert right away with the wide receiver group missing Alshon Jeffery.
50. Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
51. Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
52. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Denver's defense is not so easy to deliver numbers against, especially in their building.
53. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins: You know he is good and I know he is good, but the Dolphins claim this is a timeshare with the 35-year-old newcomer who leads all active running backs in rushing yards, so we must proceed with caution.
54. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders: I did not rank Doug Martin, but he is on this team.
55. Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Dealing with knee problems, as always. Sometimes he overcomes them, but I think it is a shared role in Week 1. Also, he does not catch passes, which limits the fantasy upside.
56. Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gets the Week 1 start and more if he plays better than the rookie.
57. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks: He admitted his knee injury is likely to hamper him all season. I am avoiding in drafts and this week.
58. Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
59. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Does not matter if he starts the game, but how many snaps will he get? Do not assume he is a must-play. Make sure he is rostered, though.
60. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Everyone loves him, but Antonio Brown is healthy, so is James Washington and ultimately, this is a road game.
61. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
62. Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers
63. Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Might move out of the slot for outside targets with Jeffery sidelined.
64. James White, RB, New England Patriots
65. Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Certainly looks like the starter for Week 1. He is the one catching passes from the backfield, so he might have been valuable anyway.
66. Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins: Another timeshare here and again, Peterson is not going to catch passes. It could be 100 rushing yards or 20, and neither would be surprising.
67. Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins
68. Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears: It is finally time to prove it. I chose this fellow on myriad teams.
69. Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers
70. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
71. Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers: Some say he is far better than the suspended Aaron Jones, but there is no denying he has two weeks to prove it or else he opens the door.
72. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
73. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams: Big-play threat but not likely to pile on the receptions.
74. Will Fuller V, WR, Houston Texans: Potential breakout option for sure.
75. Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers
76. Jordan Wilkins, RB, Indianapolis Colts: He probably starts this week with Marlon Mack out, but some will say it does not matter.
77. Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets
78. Alfred Morris, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Some say Breida, some say Morris. Neither of them earned a particularly strong ranking from me, so try to avoid them both until there is clarity. After all, it is Week 1. Most players are healthy, no bye weeks, so you should not need Morris.
79. Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland Browns: Gets the nod over Nick Chubb, but not for forever.
80. Sammy Watkins, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Seems annually overrated to me, so I do not rank him well. Good luck.
81. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans: Probably too underrated here.
82. Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins: Another one who puts up numbers and someone has to catch the ball for these clubs.
83. Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
84. Corey Clement, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Double-digit touches should come his way.
85. Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
86. Danny Amendola, WR, Miami Dolphins
87. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins: We normally say something like, "Well, they are all 100 percent healthy in Week 1." That is not even true for Reed. He is not 100 percent and rarely is.
88. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: I doubt we get word that Bell is missing Week 1, but if he does, Conner would move up to RB2 status quickly.
89. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Serious fantasy asset looming here when he is healthy. See if he is out there in your league.
90. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions: I think it is clear nobody knows what to do with the Detroit running backs.
91. Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles should be able to throw on the Giants.
92. Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders: Perhaps we have all been wrong about the numbers he will produce for the oldest team in the sport.
93. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Buffalo Bills: I doubt Nathan Peterman throws five interceptions. I see many wide receivers who can matter showing up late in these rankings.
94. Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins
95. Rishard Matthews, WR, Tennessee Titans
96. Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears
97. Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions
98. Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
99. Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
100. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants



Others: Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas Cowboys; Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins; Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers; Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Jeremy Hill, RB, New England Patriots; LeGarrette Blount, RB, Detroit Lions; Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions; DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins; Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants; Phillip Dorsett, WR, New England Patriots; John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals; Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons; Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots; Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals; Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers; Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks; Paul Richardson, WR, Washington Redskins; Frank Gore, RB, Miami Dolphins; David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns; Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings; C.J. Anderson, RB, Carolina Panthers; Mike Wallace, WR, Philadelphia Eagles; Cameron Meredith, WR, New Orleans Saints; Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles