It’s time to take an early look at Week 1 NFL in terms of daily fantasy contests at DraftKings. Which players are primed to have a huge Week 1? Which teams look likely to explode onto the 2015 scene? Let’s break it all down in the first of many Week 1 previews.

Version 2.0: I’ve now updated my top ten to reflect injuries and player movements from the first few weeks of camp and preseason

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Week 1 Quarterbacks

RankPlayerTeamOppSalary
1Aaron RodgersGBCHI$8600
2Matt RyanATLPHI$7500
3Sam BradfordPHIATL$6900
4Drew BreesNOARI$8000
5Eli ManningNYGDAL$7400
6Andrew LuckINDBUF$8300
7Cam NewtonCARJAC$7600
8Ryan TannehillMIAWAS$7400
9Peyton ManningDENBAL$8200
10Russell WilsonSEAMIN$7800

Pre-Season Upgrades: Drew Brees, Eli Manning
Pre-Season Downgrades: Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck

Updates (August 31st, 2015): I left Drew Brees out of my initial rankings due to fear New Orleans would be more of a power run team this year.  However Brandin Cooks has looked like a legitimate top ten WR in preseason and the Saints have been using their RBs more as receivers than runners. Brees should be in for a big game and season once again… On the flip side I have not liked the optics of either Peyton Manning or Andy Dalton.  Cincinnati’s offense has looked out of sync and Manning’s arm looks worse than the previous two seasons.  I fear the Broncos will be a run first team and Peyton’s pass attempts will continue to decline… Andrew Luck gets slightly downgraded due to the matchup he has with the ferocious Bills defense in Week 1.

Read some of my original thoughts from start of preseason below

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There’s probably some debate between the first two spots and I could easily agree with anyone who wanted to give Matt Ryan top honours especially based the $1100 you save by rostering him over Aaron Rodgers.  Ryan is going against the fast-paced Eagles and a defense that improved its secondary in the off-season but still struggled mightily against the pass at times.  There is a strong likelihood the Falcons will see a ton of possessions in this game and will be throwing a lot in order to keep pace, and when you add in the fact the Falcons added dependable TE Jacob Tamme, and electric pass-catching RB Tevin Coleman a huge day for Ryan is not hard to envision.

In the 3-7 slots you have Sam Bradford who is cheap and gets the benefit of being the QB of Chip Kelly’s scoring machine.  Mark Sanchez put up decent fantasy numbers against weak teams last season and I assume a healthy Bradford can at least match that type of production against a fairly mediocre Falcons D.  Cam Newton plays the atrocious Jacksonville Jaguars, the only worry there is the game becomes dominated by the Carolina Defense and Newton game manages the offense to victory.  Andrew Luck is going to put up a ton of fantasy points this year, but the matchup against Buffalo isn’t great as they will try to follow the Patriots gameplan of running the ball 50 times and keeping Luck off the field.  It’s possible they succeed and Luck has a muted start to the season. Finally, I have Eli ranked ahead of Peyton.  On its face this may seem wrong but factor in a new coach, the Bronco’s commitment to running the ball, Peyton’s advancing age, the fact the Giants have committed to a quick tempo offense, the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. and the fantasy price difference, I think this is actually a pretty easy call.

It feels weird including Ryan Tannehill over say Tony Romo but I think the Cowboys will continue to focus on the run and the matchup and the running ability of Tannehill makes him a better option in my mind.  Russell Wilson, whom I love, has to deal with the ferocious front line of the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams and Seahawks have played some ugly games and I could see STL giving Wilson and the Hawks all they can handle week 1 in a defensively dominated, more ball control type of affair.  He makes the list though because of the points he should get from his running alone.

Week 1 Running Backs

RankPlayerTeamOppSalary
1Eddie LacyGBCHI$7500
2LeSean McCoyBUFIND$7200
3Adrian PetersonMINSEA$7700
4Jamaal CharlesKCHOU$7900
5Latavius MurrayOAKCIN$5700
6Doug MartinTBTEN$4500
7Joseph RandleDALNYG$5900
8Justin ForsettBALDEN$6200
9Demarco MurrayPHIATL$6700
10Matt ForteCHIGB$7800

Pre-Season Upgrades: Doug Martin, Latavius Murray, Adrian Peterson,
Pre-Season Downgrades: Arian Foster, Shane Vereen, Joseph Randle,

Updates (August 31st, 2015): Doug Martin has looked great in the preseason and is going to get 15+ carries and a few catches each week.  He is the best bargain of week 1 in my eyes…  I was worried the Raiders would not make Latavius Murray their feature back but all preseason he’s worked with the starters and has a decent matchup week 1 against the Bengals, who the aforementioned Martin tore to shreds in preseason… I left out Adrian Peterson initially because I was convinced he was getting traded before the season started.  I was wrong and All-Day gets a big bump as he will be run early and often by Minnesota this year…  I haven’t seen enough to make me believe Shane Vereen or Joe Randle will be workhorses in their respective offenses.  I only downgraded Randle slightly though, regardless of what has been said in preseason I don’t think the Cowboys have any other choice but to make Randle their feature back, Darren McFadden is not the answer there. My last note… Arian Foster is out for at least most of September, do not use him week 1!

Read some of my original thoughts from start of preseason below

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Another Packer heads the top of the list at RB.  Eddie Lacy is primed for a big season and I don’t think there will be much reason for the Packers to limit his carries in the first game.  Expect Lacy to chew up the Bears still porous run D.  I expect LeSean McCoy to get all the touches he can handle against the Colts.  Based on volume alone I expect McCoy to hit value and the only thing that holds him back might be the Bills QB play and how that effect’s their overall offense.  For that reason he sits at number two for me but it’s with a bullet.  We’ve seen that the Colts can be run on with success.

It might seem strange to see Joseph Randle ranked 4th but his price and the fact he remains the most talented RB on the Cowboys roster makes him super attractive to me.  I doubt the Cowboys will want to abandon the formula that made them so successful last season and, for the first few games at least, I think the Boys will give Randle every opportunity to prove he can be their new workhorse.  Baltimore’s new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman loves to use the RB in space in the pass game and DraftKings still awards 1 point per pass reception.  So even if the backup’s vulture some goal-line snaps Justin Forsett should still have a huge game from sheer volume against Denver.  Jamaal Charles should be as reliable as you get as far as RB’s go this season.  KC’s offense should benefit all around from having a legitimate playmaker like Jeremy Maclin and Houston’s run defense is not a strength, a big game is possible here.  Jonathan Stewart rounds out my top 6.  He gets a very decent matchup and has finally shed his timeshare with DeAngelo Williams.  Stewart’s volume or goal line attempts still might not be as good as some of the top backs but the discount in price and his talent make him a very nice week 1 play.

Rounding out the bottom, I am cautiously optimistic Demarco Murray will have a huge year but remember Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles are going to siphon off carries.  With his week one price it’s hard to rank him any higher until we see how things shake out there.  Matt Forte should have another big year, but Jay Cutler’s poor play will limit his red zone looks and I don’t love the fact Chicago might be way behind by halftime.

Week 1 Wide Receivers

RankPlayerTeamOppSalary
1Julio JonesATLPHI$9300
2Jordan MatthewsPHIATL$7200
3Odell Beckham Jr.NYGDAL$9200
4Brandin CooksNOARI$7100
5Randall CobbGBCHI$8000
6Dez BryantDALNYG$8700
7Calvin JohnsonDETSD$8500
8Demaryius ThomasDENBAL$9100
9John BrownARINO$4500
10A.J. GreenCINOAK$7800

Pre-Season Upgrades: Brandin Cooks, Calvin Johnson, John Brown, Randall Cobb, Amari Cooper
Pre-Season Downgrades: Jordy Nelson, Breshad Perriman, AJ Green, Alshon Jeffrey, Andre Johnson

Updates (August 31st, 2015): The Jordy Nelson injury changed a lot of outlooks for week 1.  Randall Cobb should be a target monster against Chicago, and even if he’s contained he’ll still probably reach value or close to it just from sheer volume…  Brandin Cooks has looked uncoverable in preseason and any fears I had of a matchup with Patrick Peterson are gone, expect to see a ton of Cooks this season from New Orleans, he is a star in the making…  I love the price tag on John Brown and love the fact he’s becoming more of a focal point in the Cardinals offense, when a team starts manufacturing touches for a player you have to take notice for fantasy…  Breshad Perriman is now injured and might not be ready to start the year, it’s a shame as the talented rookie was shaping up as a nice week 1 sleeper… AJ Green gets a big downgrade for how poor the Bengals offense has looked.  He still has a plum matchup week 1 though and stays inside my top ten…  I also reluctantly removed Alshon Jeffrey from my top ten for now, he’s been injured but will likely see a ton of targets week 1 if he’s ready…  Finally, I’m not ready to trust Andre Johnson in Indy for week 1.  The Bills defense is shaping up like a an even tougher matchup than i realized and I’d like to see him and Luck develop some chemistry before I commit to making him one of my top plays.

Read some of my original thoughts from start of preseason below

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As you can see by now, I expect the Falcons and Eagles game to be high scoring.  I think Julio Jones is the clear top option this week and should be helped by Atlanta’s additions on offense.  Even though Jordan Matthews isn’t the talent Odell Beckham is he’s no slouch.  Matthews is a beast physically and now the top WR option in the high flying Eagles offense.  The fantasy discount you get with him makes him a slightly better option than Odell Beckham in my mind.  Speaking of Beckham however, he gets a good matchup too and quite honestly has a great chance to be the highest fantasy point producer at the end of the week.  I do worry that he may have to adjust to seeing way more double and even triple teams this year but he saw them at the end of the 2014 and it didn’t slow him, so maybe that’s just me being cautious.

I love the discount you get on AJ Green who proved that when healthy he is still top dog in Cincy and will hog the targets.  The only worry on him is how much the Bengals will actually throw, but it sounds like they’re committed to more passingI have/had Alshon Jeffrey ranked fairly high for two reasons.  One, his targets will increase now that the umbilical cord between Cutler and Brandon Marshall has been broken, and two, I anticipate a lot of garbage time week one and feel like the targets for Jeffrey could easily approach the mid or high-teens on that basis alone.

It may be a little strange seeing Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant ranked so low, but keep in mind their price and the possibility of low passing outputs.  Strangely enough I’m actually more worried about Demaryius and his role in new coach Gary Kubiak’s scheme.  Dez will still hog the majority of looks in Dallas and even if the Giants double him, he’s nearly unstoppable at the goal line.  Demaryius won’t have Orange Julius to open up the field for him and Peyton might look elsewhere until defenses adjust.

Week 1 Tight Ends

RankPlayerTeamOppSalary
1Jimmy GrahamSEAMIN$5600
2Greg OlsenCARJAC$5300
3Martellus BennettCHIGB$4300
4Jordan CameronMIAWAS$3800
5Travis KelceKCHOU$4800
6Ladarius GreenSDDET$3500
7Tyler EifertCINOAK$3500
8Delanie WalkerTENTB$3400
9Josh HillNOARI$3400
10Jared CookSTLSF$2900

Pre-Season Upgrade: Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker, Josh Hill
Pre-Season Downgrade: Julius Thomas, Ladarius Green

Update (August 31st, 2015): With Kelvin Benjamin out expect Greg Olsen to be even more of a focal point for Cam Newton in the passing game this season.  He’ll push for 80 catches…  I haven’t seen the usage I wanted with Ladarius Green in the preseason yet and so I have to temper expectations for week one.  I still think there’s big time potential if he gets targets but it’s not a guarantee he’ll get them even with Antonio Gates out (suspension)…  Delanie Walker is now healthy and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from his new QB Marcus Mariota, I think Walker’s ability to make plays after the catch will be a great fit with Mariota who is accurate on shorter timing routes…  Josh Hill has a nice week 1 matchup as Arizona is not good at defending the TE position, even though I think he’ll have some weeks where he receives little to no targets I do think week 1 sets up nicely for a decent game from Hill…  Julius Thomas might still play week 1 but his injury plus the feebleness of the Jaguars offense makes him an easy downgrade.

Read some of my original thoughts from start of preseason below

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I expect Jimmy Graham might surprise people this year from the standpoint that he might actually get better with Russell Wilson.  Yes I know the Seahawks run a lot but Wilson is a far better pocket passer than people give him credit for and his ability to move will keep teams from being able to constantly double Jimmy.  I am all aboard the Ladarius Green train.  At only $3000 price is a huge factor this week but even if he was more he’d still be ranked high.  The talent is immense and with even a portion of Antonio Gates’ targets he will produce.  Greg Olsen has the best matchup of all three.  He should once again be the top pass catching for Cam Newton and a very reliable week one option.

Martellus Bennett should get the same bump Alshon Jeffrey does from Brandon Marshall’s departure and from potential garbage time in week one.  I do like Travis Kelce, but remember how low volume KC can be as an offense.  That is why he is ranked below cheaper options Jordan Cameron and Tyler Eifert who I think have nearly as much potential in their week one matchups.  Eifert now has the TE position to himself in Cincy and Cameron could bounce back to top three status this year with Tannehill’s fondness for short crossing routes.  Both have soft matchups and could surprise with big games, I love their price-tags.

Get used to seeing Julius Thomas ranked this low or lower in lots of people’s weekly rankings.  I am not fond of Blake Bortles as a QB (I’m sure he’s a fine person) and the matchup also sucks.  Talent is the only reason Black and Gold Julius gets inside the top ten for me.  Finally, I really think Nick Foles should breathe some life into the St. Louis passing game and so I’m really liking Jared Cook’s week one, sub 3k salary.  Cook has all the tools to be a top TE in this league and if there’s any position the Hawks struggle against its TE.