I’m not mad, Saints D. I’m just … disappointed. I’m not saying you singlehandedly cost me three of my season-long matchups (like Tron Carter, I plead the fifth). But allowing 48 points and over 500 yards of offense to the No. 30 team in last week’s Power Rankings wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
Maybe it’s on me for getting duped. I mean, starting Saints D? In fantasy? Most years, that would be a suicide mission. But I really thought 2018 would be different. Led by Ohio State standout Marshon Lattimore, the Saints’ secondary was among the league’s stingiest last year while pass-rusher Cameron Jordan (13 sacks) also enjoyed a career-best season. My gut was telling me it was too good to be true, but how could I pass up their Week 1 matchup against the Bucs? Playing at home against a 35-year-old backup quarterback—it checked off so many boxes.
But when has fantasy ever played by the rules? When has it catered to things like logic and common sense? When has it ever been a Good Samaritan and just DONE THE RIGHT THING ALREADY? This untamable trickster known as fantasy football doesn’t take marching orders from anyone. How else could you explain Ryan Fitzpatrick, a man who’s played on almost as many teams as Bartolo Colon, gashing the Saints for 417 yards on just 28 passing attempts? Or DeSean Jackson, a player left for dead by most of the fantasy community, exploding for a pair of long touchdowns? That’s almost as crazy as Tyreek Hill going for 169 yards against a stacked Chargers secondary. Wait, that happened too? Well then, I give up.
Welcome back to fantasy football, everyone. If you’re not frustrated enough to pull a Ron Swanson right now, you’re not doing it right. Cheers to 16 more weeks of gratuitous pain and torture! Because I’m a masochist, I’ll be turning to the Saints’ defense once again (they’re playing Cleveland) in Week 2. Wish me luck—Lord knows I’ll need it. Now for those Power Rankings you came here for.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Last Week: 1
Nick Foles may not have the strongest or most accurate throwing arm, but he’s a darn good receiver as Thursday proved once again. Nelson Agholor did his best Jarvis Landry impression in that game, managing only 33 yards despite nabbing a team-high eight catches. That gives the wide receiver 17 grabs over his last two games dating back to last season. The Eagles’ offense didn’t show much firepower against Atlanta, but it looks like they’ll have to tread water for a few more weeks with Carson Wentz (ACL) and Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) still on the shelf.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: 2
Todd Gurley proved to be a rude guest in Week 1, blowing up for 147 yards and a touchdown in the house that Jon Gruden built. Those looking for clarity in the Rams’ receiving corps didn’t get any Monday night as Brandin Cooks (eight targets), Cooper Kupp (nine targets) and Robert Woods (nine targets) all saw about the same workload. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so I guess this end-zone crotch grab by Marcus Peters was actually a pretty touching (no pun intended) tribute to pal Marshawn Lynch. I’ll show myself out now.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Last Week: 3
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were up to their usual tricks in Week 1, combining for 145 yards and a touchdown on nine catches in Minnesota’s win over San Francisco. Dalvin Cook struggled in his return from a torn ACL (2.5 yards per carry with a lost fumble), though his volume was encouraging as the 23-year-old out-touched Latavius Murray by a convincing 22-11 margin while playing 57-of-71 offensive snaps. All-Pro DBs Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith picked up where they left off in 2017, recording an interception each in Sunday’s opener.
Last Week: 4
Aside from an uncharacteristic first-half interception, Tom Brady was his usual, dominant self against the Texans, especially when he was slinging the rock to America’s favorite man-child Rob Gronkowski (seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown on eight targets). As usual, Bill Belichick pulled a fast one on us. Chris Hogan was the chalk on DFS, but instead Phillip Dorsett broke out for 66 yards on a career-high seven catches. Expect the Pats to add a running back this week after losing former 1,000-yard rusher Jeremy Hill to a season-ending ACL tear.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Week: 7
Taking over for an injured Leonard Fournette at running back, T.J. Yeldon handled 14 carries while also drawing a team-high seven targets against the Giants in Week 1. With Fournette in limbo, Yeldon should be a popular waiver pickup this week. The Jags will take a six-game home winning streak into Sunday’s battle with New England. That will be a rematch of last year’s AFC title game. Deep threat Keelan Cole has recorded a catch of 30-plus yards in five of his last six regular season games going back to last year.
6. Green Bay Packers
Last Week: 9
Aaron Rodgers had his Willis Reed moment in Week 1, shrugging off a painful knee injury to beat the Bears in dramatic fashion. The first half belonged to Khalil Mack (one sack, a pick-six and a fumble recovery) but Rodgers owned the final two quarters, shredding Chicago for a trio of second-half touchdowns. Seventy-five of Randall Cobb’s career-high 142 receiving yards Sunday came on his go-ahead score with 2:13 remaining. Meanwhile Jimmy Graham has averaged an embarrassing 11 yards per game with only one touchdown over his last five regular season contests.
7. Kansas City Chiefs
Last Week: 14
With Joey Bosa (foot) absent, Patrick Mahomes went wild in Week 1, shredding the Chargers for 256 yards and four touchdowns. It’s not often you see a team win while allowing 500-plus yards, but if anyone can pull off that delicate balancing act, it’s offensive mastermind Andy Reid. Unfortunately, even Reid hasn’t been successful in resurrecting Sammy Watkins, who has averaged a disappointing 21.8 yards over his last five games going back to 2017. Including Sunday’s hat trick, Tyreek Hill has now scored 23 touchdowns over 32 NFL appearances.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Last Week: 8
If Matt Ryan never plays the Eagles again, it will be too soon. Including last year’s playoff defeat, Matty Ice has posted a sluggish 70.7 quarterback rating in his last two games against the reigning World Champs. Even with Ryan in self-destruct mode, Julio Jones still erupted for 169 yards in Week 1, a total bested only by Oakland’s Jared Cook (180) and New Orleans’ Michael Thomas (180). Atlanta’s defense did its job against Philadelphia, though others will have to step up in the absence of Pro Bowlers Deion Jones (foot) and Keanu Neal (ACL). The Falcons will look to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2007 when they host the Panthers in Week 2.
9. New Orleans Saints
Last Week: 5
New Orleans’ loss to Tampa Bay was the highest-scoring Week 1 game in NFL history. It was also the first game to finish with a final score of 48-40 (Scorigami!). Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore was a turnstile on Sunday, earning PFF’s seventh-worst opening week grade out of 99 qualifiers at cornerback. Meanwhile Lattimore’s former Ohio State teammate Michael Thomas was unstoppable against the Bucs, hauling in a team-record 16 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown on 17 targets. Alvin Kamara found the end zone three times in Week 1, giving him 14 touchdowns over his last 11 regular season contests.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
Last Week: 6
Le’Veon Bell has yet to resurface, but I’m sure the Steelers aren’t sweating it. And why would they after James Conner’s 192-yard breakout in Week 1? Regardless of your feelings on his current haircut, Conner belongs in all fantasy lineups until further notice. Poor weather was partially to blame for Ben Roethlisberger’s erratic Week 1, but Sunday’s turnover-fueled letdown (three interceptions, two lost fumbles) won’t win him any new converts in the fantasy community. JuJu Smith-Schuster has topped 100 yards receiving in three of his last four regular season games going back to last year.
11. Carolina Panthers
Last Week: 11
Once among the most durable players in football, Greg Olsen is set to miss significant time after re-fracturing the foot he broke last season. With injuries mounting, it’s fair to wonder how much more punishment the 33-year-old can take before calling it quits. His absence will open up reps for rookie tight end Ian Thomas. First-rounder D.J. Moore came into the year with high expectations but wasn’t targeted in the Panthers’ win over Dallas. He was in on just 17 of Carolina’s 67 offensive snaps.
12. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 17
Nobody had an easier opening week than the Ravens, who slaughtered the hapless Bills in the most lopsided game of Week 1. With Baltimore in cruise control, rookie Lamar Jackson saw extensive run in the second half, contributing 39 yards on seven carries while adding one completion for 24 yards. Newcomers John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead each scored a touchdown as Baltimore won its opener for the third straight season. With Kenneth Dixon battling another knee injury, handcuff duties will fall in the hands of Javorius Allen.
13. Los Angeles Chargers
Last Week: 10
The Bolts kept Travis Kelce (one catch for six yards) at bay in Week 1, but forgot to cover Tyreek Hill, who went off for 169 yards and two touchdowns (three if you include his 91-yard punt return). Sunday marked Kansas City’s ninth straight win over the Chargers, who lost despite producing an obscene 541 yards of offense. L.A.’s running back tandem of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler delivered the goods, combining for 295 yards (103 rushing, 192 receiving) on 35 touches. 2017 first-rounder Mike Williams went for a career-high 81 yards in the opener but has still yet to score an NFL touchdown.
14. Houston Texans
Last Week: 12
Deshaun Watson looked healthy in his return from a 10-month absence but showed he still has plenty of rust to shake off after completing just 17-of-34 passes for 176 yards in a loss to New England. The Texans are now winless in seven games at Gillette Stadium including 0-3 under coach Bill O’Brien. Tyrann Mathieu made quite the splash in his Texans debut, notching five tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Seven-hundred twenty-four—that’s how many days it’s been since J.J. Watt recorded his last NFL sack.
15. Washington Redskins
Last Week: 23
Adrian Peterson still has a pulse. The 33-year-old traveled back to 2012 with a blistering performance against the Cardinals, breaking out for 166 yards (96 rushing, 70 receiving) and a touchdown in his Washington debut. Peterson’s latest end-zone visit marked the 100th rushing touchdown of his NFL career. Josh Norman gets all the press but is the Redskins’ best cornerback actually Quinton Dunbar? That might be overstating it, but Dunbar was certainly impressive in Week 1, earning PFF’s No. 1 coverage grade among cornerbacks. Sam Bradford’s quarterback rating when targeting him was a dismal 8.3.
16. Chicago Bears
Last Week: 16
Jordan Howard hit the Jugs machine this offseason and it showed as the 23-year-old impressed by snagging all five of his targets in Sunday’s opener. Howard was the Bears’ clear workhorse, out-touching backfield-mate Tarik Cohen by a commanding 20-8 margin. Khalil Mack went scorched Earth on the Packers Sunday night but fellow newcomer Trey Burton disappointed with just one grab for 16 yards on six targets. Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in his last three games going back to last season, though he did rush for one in Sunday’s defeat.
17. Denver Broncos
Last Week: 22
Playing on a sprained ankle, Emmanuel Sanders totaled a very un-Emmanuel Sanders-like 122 yards over his final five games last year. That’s 13 yards fewer than he had Sunday against the Seahawks. As expected, the Broncos employed a backfield committee in Week 1. What we weren’t expecting was Devontae Booker to be fighting for scraps behind rookies Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay. Von Miller was an absolute behemoth on Sunday, chipping in with seven tackles, three sacks and a pair of forced fumbles.
18. New York Giants
Last Week: 18
First-rounder Saquon Barkley broke off a 68-yard touchdown gallop in Week 1, but averaged just 2.24 yards on his other 17 carries. Odell Beckham got the better of All-Pro Jalen Ramsey on Sunday, snagging 11 balls for 111 yards in his first game since October. Draft bust Ereck Flowers face-planted in his debut at right tackle, committing two penalties and allowing a sack of Eli Manning. Evan Engram has averaged just 34.8 yards in games that Odell Beckham has played compared to 51.4 without him.
19. San Francisco 49ers
Last Week: 15
The Vikings handed Jimmy Garoppolo his first loss as an NFL starter in Week 1. It got ugly for Handsome Jimmy, who completed a mere 15-of-33 passes (45.5 percent) with three interceptions in Sunday’s defeat. With Marquise Goodwin in and out of the lineup with a thigh injury, Garoppolo keyed in on tight end George Kittle, who led the team with 90 yards on nine targets. That gives Kittle 190 yards over his last two regular season games. Richard Sherman looked sharp in his return from a torn Achilles Sunday, allowing just one completion on three targets.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last Week: 30
Ryan Fitzpatrick aced his opening-week matchup like he did the Wonderlic, keeping pace with Drew Brees in a game that featured 88 points and over 1,000 yards of total offense. Fitzpatrick’s 417 passing yards set a career-high while Tampa Bay’s 48 points matched a franchise high-water mark. Mike Evans had Marshon Lattimore’s number on Sunday, beating him for a 50-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Evans needs just one more receiving touchdown to tie Jimmie Giles’ team record of 34. Coming off a miserable preseason, second-round ball-carrier Ronald Jones was a healthy scratch in Week 1.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Last Week: 21
Joe Mixon rocked the house in Week 1, destroying the Colts for 149 yards (95 rushing, 54 receiving) and a touchdown on 22 touches. The second-year bell-cow has averaged a robust 5.16 yards per carry over his last five games going back to last year. After putting up a goose egg in his rookie year, 2017 first-rounder John Ross finally recorded his first catch, connecting with Andy Dalton on a three-yard touchdown strike. You better believe the Ravens will be out for blood on Thursday night after Cincinnati eliminated them last year with a dramatic come-from-behind win in Week 17.
22. New York Jets
Last Week: 29
Sam Darnold’s career got off to an inauspicious start with a pick-six on his first play from scrimmage, but that was the rookie’s lone blemish in an otherwise stellar debut. Back after sitting out all of last year with a neck injury, Quincy Enunwa stood tall with a team-leading 63 yards in Week 1. Linebacker Darron Lee was a thorn in Matthew Stafford’s side all night, collecting two interceptions including one for a 36-yard touchdown in the Jets’ blowout win. Robby Anderson led New York with 114 targets a year ago but only saw one in Monday night’s opener.
23. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 24
Despite seeing one fewer touch than Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson outgained the rookie by 36 yards from scrimmage in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. Maybe that will convince Pete Carroll to let Carson take the lead in Week 2. In a week full of improbable performances, Will Dissly was far and away the biggest surprise, stunning everyone with three catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. With Doug Baldwin’s knee acting up, expect to see a heavy dose of Brandon Marshall (3-46-1 against Denver) in the coming weeks.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 20
How far have the Cowboys fallen since their 13-3 season in 2016? Well, Deonte Thompson was their second-leading receiver on Sunday, so there’s that. We knew the pass-catching corps would be thin, but now even the Cowboys’ offensive line is falling apart. Of Dallas’ five starters, only right guard Zack Martin received a positive grade from ProFootballFocus in Week 1. Dak Prescott has averaged a puny 185.5 passing yards over his last four games going back to last year. He’s taken 13 sacks during that span including six in Sunday’s loss to Carolina.
25. Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 13
It’s back to the drawing board for Tennessee after an injury-ruined Week 1. In one fell swoop, the Titans lost their starting quarterback (Marcus Mariota) to an elbow injury, their starting left tackle (Taylor Lewan) to a concussion and their top receiving weapon (Delanie Walker) to a broken ankle. Derrick Henry avoided Sunday’s injury carnage, but struggled to just 2.6 yards per carry and was out-touched 21-11 by committee-mate Dion Lewis. 2017 first-rounder Corey Davis is still without a regular season touchdown.
26. Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 31
Thanks to a series of lightning delays, Sunday’s battle between the Titans and Dolphins took an exhausting seven hours and eight minutes to complete, making it the longest game in NFL history. With lead receiver DeVante Parker (broken finger) out of commission, Kenny Stills balled out to the tune of 106 yards and two touchdowns in Miami’s 27-20 victory. Senior citizen Frank Gore looked surprisingly spry in his Dolphins debut, breaking off 61 yards on nine carries compared to just 48 yards on 14 attempts for Kenyan Drake.
27. Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 28
You’ve probably heard by now that the Browns are off to their best start since 2004. Who knows, maybe next week they can open up all those Bud Light fridges. Coach Hue Jackson said Josh Gordon would come off the bench and play about 20 snaps in Week 1. Yeah, okay. Gordon drew the start by accident (seriously) while seeing the field on 69 (don’t say it) of the Browns’ 89 offensive snaps. Many (myself included) questioned the Browns’ decision to draft Denzel Ward fourth overall, but after his two-interception debut against Pittsburgh, it looks like Cleveland got it right.
28. Detroit Lions
Last Week: 19
The Matt Patricia Era got off to a catastrophic start as the Lions committed five turnovers in a brutal opening-week loss to New York. Matthew Stafford’s four interceptions were his most since Week 12 of 2013. Detroit bolstered its running game by adding LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson this offseason, but neither had much success on Monday night (combined 14 yards on nine carries). Even with the Lions falling apart, Kenny Golladay was still able to flex his fantasy muscles with seven catches for 114 yards on 12 targets. All were career-highs.
29. Indianapolis Colts
Last Week: 25
It didn’t result in a victory, but Andrew Luck’s first start in 20 months was still a resounding success as the 29-year-old (make sure to wish him a happy birthday today) completed over 70 percent of his passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TDs went to T.Y. Hilton, who has averaged 92 yards in his last six games with Luck under center. Jordan Wilkins led the backfield with 14 carries in the opener but should take a backseat to Marlon Mack once he returns from his hamstring injury. Ryan Grant’s eight catches in Week 1 were a career-high.
30. Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 27
Yep, we're done here.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 11, 2018
31. Arizona Cardinals
Last Week: 26
Sam Bradford, who lost his shins in the war, was abysmal in his Cardinals debut, averaging a pathetic 4.5 yards per attempt while also committing two turnovers. The former No. 1 pick was especially anemic in the first half, completing just three passes for 11 yards before halftime. Rookie Josh Rosen could see the field sooner than expected if Bradford’s struggles continue. Workhorse David Johnson commanded nine targets in the passing game but only managed five catches for 30 yards. It doesn’t get any easier for Arizona this week going against a Rams team that beat the stuffing out of Oakland in Week 1.
32. Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 32
Well that went poorly. Buffalo went back to the Nathan Peterman well in Week 1, only to reverse course after one harrowing half of football. Josh Allen was only marginally better upon entering Sunday’s beat-down at Baltimore, but he’ll get the nod in Week 2, which is no surprise given Peterman’s dire history against the Chargers. Including their playoff loss to Jacksonville, the Bills haven’t scored a touchdown since Week 17 against Miami.
Biggest Jump: Buccaneers 10
Biggest Drop: Titans 12