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Welcome, one and all, to the weekly piece that puts my rankings under the microscope and gives me a chance to explain myself against the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) found on FantasyPros.

If this is your first time reading me, then hi! Why should you care about me? Well, my finish as the ninth-most accurate in-season expert on FantasyPros out of ~125 smart cookies last season should suffice. I’m out here trying to hang with the Sean Koerners and Jake Cielys of the world, and you’ll have a front-row ticket to my efforts every week.

At the bottom of this article you'll find my personal rankings, the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) for the industry, and how they compare. If anything strikes a chord, I’m always available for questions via Twitter: @NMariano53. But enough chit-chat, let’s dance.

Editor's Note: When you get any of our full-season NFL Premium and DFS Passes, and you also get our full-season NBA Premium and DFS Pass for free! Take advantage of one of our best offers all year, and get an edge on your competition. Sign Up Now!

 

Week 1 Quarterbacks - Rankings Analysis

I can see right away that I like Andrew Luck and Tyrod Taylor three slots above the ECR, with Taylor rising into QB1 territory thanks to his mobility. The Browns should be out to send a message to the league and a vulnerable division rival that they’re a real football team again, with Tyrod’s athleticism helping weaponize Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Duke Johnson.

As for Luck, he gets to play in his precious dome with an exciting new head coach, Frank Reich, at the controls. I think Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron will be forces against a Bengals team without Vontaze Burfict, and Ryan Grant is going to earn your respect throughout the season. With Marlon Mack likely out for Week 1, Luck will probably need to do the heavy lifting.

The Bad: Jimmy Garoppolo and Dak Prescott are both hard passes for me. Like, not even in QB20 territory for a two-QB league. Jimmy G is going up against one of the toughest defensive units in the game, the Vikings and Mike Zimmer, while Prescott’s athleticism will be his only hope on the road against Carolina. Prescott and the Cowboys will surely miss stud center Travis Frederick up the middle, but this is also about a passing game that needs to establish an identity without Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

 

Week 1 Running Backs - Rankings Analysis

James Conner’s rank could move by several slots by the time I’m done writing this. But I don’t think Bell’s reporting status affects Week 1 anymore, as that’s going to be Conner. I have him as my RB16 (ECR 23) and would happily flex him unless Bell signs on Saturday.

Kenyan Drake and the Dolphins are set to face the Titans as one-point underdogs, which plays right into Drake’s hands. I doubt Frank Gore gets serious run unless Miami is in clock-killing mode, but a competitive game means Drake should be able to grind on the ground against Tennessee’s studly run defense (top-10 unit in both ‘16 and ‘17).

That sounds bad right? Well, it is in a vacuum, but the Titans also habitually gave up chunks of receiving yards to opposing RBs, which is a strength of Drake’s. I’m trusting the volume and the game script to get him through a tough matchup as my No. 12 RB against the ECR of 16.

I have Marshawn Lynch five slots above ECR (20 vs. 25) and Doug Martin 13 slots up (48 vs. 61), as I can’t see Jon Gruden getting away from the run often with the Rams’ insane secondary making life rough on Derek Carr. Perhaps they’ll use Jared Cook well and surprise me, but Oakland’s offensive line is their greatest strength here.

Also, Austin Ekeler isn’t getting enough respect here. He's my No. 45 RB against an ECR of 54. I know Melvin Gordon is a workhorse but Ekeler can be an effective change-of-pace back with the receiving chops to be a top-50 RB on a weekly basis. I've seen reports floating that LAC may deploy him as they used to do with Danny Woodhead, and his teammate Mr. Gordon put up a 6-91-0 receiving line out of the backfield against KC in Week 15 last season. Ekeler's rookie season was cut short by a broken hand, but I think Year 2 brings some sneaky, flexy fun.

I’m not absurdly low on anyone compared to the ECR toward the top, though I don’t have Royce Freeman in my top-20 (ECR: 19, My Rank: 23) because I can’t trust Vance Joseph to be intelligent.

And I respect anyone who wants to play Dion Lewis in PPR, but him standing at 26 in standard feels a bit high to me (My Rank: 31). Until I see how Tennessee is deploying both he and Derrick Henry, I’m wary to trust him in a TD-dependent scoring setting. Deciphering which TEN RB is "the guy" will likely be maddening throughout 2018, but attacking a defensive front that lost Ndamukong Suh with Henry's power seems like the best move. 

I have both Kerryon Johnson (My Rank: 43, ECR: 37) and Sony Michel (My Rank: 54, ECR: 45) low, but not because I'm a rookie hater. Well, not just because I'm a rookie hater. I think Johnson will eventually win out in Detroit's backfield and Week 1 against the Jets could bring plenty of carries as Detroit are heavy home favorites, but LeGarrette Blount's presence at the goal line and Theo Riddick's passing-game prowess really limit the upside until proven otherwise. Michel may not be 100% yet and is part of a crowded backfield that will have to run against a scary-when-healthy Houston front. That's a rather easy pass for me to open the season.

 

Week 1 Wide Receivers - Rankings Analysis

There aren’t any egregious gaps at the top, though I do like Robby Anderson, Kenny Stills and Keelan Cole roughly four spots more than the pack. These guys all have something in common: they’re the No. 1 WR on a subpar passing offense. Volume rules everything around me...VREAM? I’d be comfortable with Robby as a low-end WR2 this week in a dome game where the Jets should be trailing early and often, whereas Stills and Cole are solid WR3s.

The first big gainer for me is Tyler Lockett, who could be Russell Wilson’s favorite target as a dinged-up Doug Baldwin does battle with Chris Harris Jr. in the slot. This whole offseason has seen the fantasy community dump on Seattle’s ground game and offensive line, which leaves Lockett and TE Nick Vannett as decent outlets.

Then there’s Phillip Dorsett, who is my WR54 compared to the ECR’s WR67. I understand the trepidation with Dorsett, who has failed to leave a mark despite playing with Brady years ago and Andrew Luck, but the opportunity is here. The Patriots will use James White and Rex Burkhead like WRs to mask the absence of Julian Edelman, but Dorsett should still see a ton of snaps. I’d have him higher if more of those weren’t set to come against Johnathan Joseph, but HOU-NE is the only game with a Vegas total currently above 50 (51 as of Thurs. night), which turns any piece involved into a target.

I’ve mentioned in passing how I’m a bit lower on guys like Baldwin and Crowder, so let’s also knock Sammy Watkins down from a WR3 (ECR: 36) to a lower WR4 (My Rank: 43). He’s set to be shadowed by lockdown CB Casey Hayward unless Andy Reid makes good on his coachspeak and works him into the slot. Either way, Watkins only caught one-of-seven targets out of 67 preseason snaps and could goose fantasy owners in Week 1 if he plays >50% of snaps opposite Hayward. Don’t chance this, folks, not with a rookie QB making his debut on the road.

 

Week 1 Tight Ends - Rankings Analysis

It should come as no surprise that I’ve got Jack Doyle as my No. 8 TE compared to the No. 11 ECR rank, what with my previous feelings about Luck. It remains to be seen whether Luck can truly take advantage of T.Y. Hilton’s speed with the deep ball, but we have seen that he can hit Doyle on short and intermediate throws.

Then there’s old man Benjamin Watson, who is now reunited with Drew Brees after a three-year vacation. Watson quietly led the Ravens in receiving last season and still has plenty in the tank. Even if you think he won’t last all year, he’ll face a Bucs defense that juiced up it’s D-line but still has a subpar pass defense that finished 22nd in DVOA against TEs per FootballOutsiders.

If you drafted Greg Olsen then you’re playing him in Week 1, but those of you in the DFS waters should ponder pivoting. I have him at No. 7 against an ECR of 4, due in large part to the sudden depth of Carolina’s pass-catchers and Cam Newton’s propensity to score TDs himself. Only two TEs secured at least five catches for over 50 yards against Dallas last season, and I think both Travis Kelce and Hunter Henry are more athletic than 2018 Greg Olsen.

I know many are relying on an O.J. Howard breakout to occur and his ECR of 15 puts him around the TE1 conversation, but I’m ranking him 23rd against the Saints. On the one hand, we don’t know how the Bucs will utilize Howard and Cameron Brate, and on the other hand, the Saints are really freaking good against TEs.

Gronk torched them for a 6-116-1 line in Week 2, but the next 14 games saw only Vernon Davis top 50 yards against NO in the regular season. Yes, Greg Olsen did eclipse 100 yards in the Wild Card Round but the Saints recovered to limit Kyle Rudolph to 28 yards in the Divisional Round. You get the point, only top TEs have stood a chance. Howard is not a top TE and the Bucs coaches aren’t exactly top schemers.

I’d rather talk more about the skill positions than include kicker or defense, as they are far less interesting to me. Feel free to send me a vitriolic message should you want them back, I’ll listen I swear.

 

Week 1 Rankings - Nick Mariano vs. Industry Consensus

Rank Player Name Team Pos ECR vs. ECR
1 Todd Gurley LAR RB 1 0
2 Antonio Brown PIT WR 6 4
3 Alvin Kamara NO RB 3 0
4 David Johnson ARI RB 2 -2
5 Ezekiel Elliott DAL RB 4 -1
6 Leonard Fournette JAC RB 7 1
7 Melvin Gordon LAC RB 5 -2
8 Christian McCaffrey CAR RB 9 1
9 Rob Gronkowski NE TE 12 3
10 DeAndre Hopkins HOU WR 11 1
11 Kareem Hunt KC RB 8 -3
12 Saquon Barkley NYG RB 10 -2
13 Dalvin Cook MIN RB 13 0
14 Alex Collins BAL RB 17 3
15 Julio Jones ATL WR 18 3
16 A.J. Green CIN WR 15 -1
17 Kenyan Drake MIA RB 24 7
18 Joe Mixon CIN RB 14 -4
19 Devonta Freeman ATL RB 21 2
20 Jordan Howard CHI RB 19 -1
21 James Conner PIT RB 40 19
22 Lamar Miller HOU RB 25 3
23 LeSean McCoy BUF RB 23 0
24 Jamaal Williams GB RB 33 9
25 Michael Thomas NO WR 16 -9
26 Keenan Allen LAC WR 20 -6
27 Marshawn Lynch OAK RB 48 21
28 Davante Adams GB WR 22 -6
29 Odell Beckham Jr. NYG WR 26 -3
30 T.Y. Hilton IND WR 30 0
31 Derrick Henry TEN RB 28 -3
32 Stefon Diggs MIN WR 27 -5
33 Rex Burkhead NE RB 41 8
34 Mike Evans TB WR 37 3
35 Royce Freeman DEN RB 29 -6
36 Adrian Peterson WAS RB 60 24
37 Chris Hogan NE WR 34 -3
38 Tyreek Hill KC WR 36 -2
39 Carlos Hyde CLE RB 38 -1
40 Peyton Barber TB RB 51 11
41 Travis Kelce KC TE 42 1
42 Adam Thielen MIN WR 35 -7
43 Zach Ertz PHI TE 50 7
44 Bilal Powell NYJ RB 74 30
45 Marvin Jones DET WR 39 -6
46 Larry Fitzgerald ARI WR 31 -15
47 Golden Tate DET WR 43 -4
48 Brandin Cooks LAR WR 46 -2
49 Amari Cooper OAK WR 53 4
50 Juju Smith-Schuster PIT WR 45 -5
51 Jay Ajayi PHI RB 32 -19
52 Tevin Coleman ATL RB 59 7
53 Chris Carson SEA RB 58 5
54 Doug Baldwin SEA WR 44 -10
55 Allen Robinson CHI WR 52 -3
56 Dion Lewis TEN RB 49 -7
57 Isaiah Crowell NYJ RB 73 16
58 Demaryius Thomas DEN WR 47 -11
59 Robby Anderson NYJ WR 62 3
60 Emmanuel Sanders DEN WR 55 -5
61 Michael Crabtree BAL WR 57 -4
62 Jordan Wilkins IND RB 86 24
63 James White NE RB 91 28
64 Matt Breida SF RB 93 29
65 Corey Davis TEN WR 56 -9
66 Kenny Stills MIA WR 66 0
67 Cooper Kupp LAR WR 61 -6
68 Josh Gordon CLE WR 64 -4
69 Jarvis Landry CLE WR 54 -15
70 Robert Woods LAR WR 69 -1
71 Nelson Agholor PHI WR 63 -8
72 Will Fuller HOU WR 71 -1
73 Devin Funchess CAR WR 75 2
74 Jimmy Graham GB TE 68 -6
75 Keelan Cole JAC WR 80 5
76 Marquise Goodwin SF WR 70 -6
77 Kyle Rudolph MIN TE 78 1
78 Duke Johnson CLE RB 79 1
79 Alfred Morris SF RB 82 3
80 Giovani Bernard CIN RB 99 19
81 Jamison Crowder WAS WR 65 -16
82 Pierre Garcon SF WR 81 -1
83 Delanie Walker TEN TE 72 -11
84 Chris Thompson WAS RB 83 -1
85 Ty Montgomery GB RB 98 13
86 Devontae Booker DEN RB 110 24
87 Jordy Nelson OAK WR 89 2
88 Greg Olsen CAR TE 67 -21
89 Jack Doyle IND TE 100 11
90 Tarik Cohen CHI RB 90 0
91 Randall Cobb GB WR 77 -14
92 Sammy Watkins KC WR 76 -16
93 Tyler Lockett SEA WR 109 16
94 Trey Burton CHI TE 84 -10
95 Kelvin Benjamin BUF WR 85 -10
96 Kerryon Johnson DET RB 88 -8
97 Kenny Golladay DET WR 94 -3
98 Mike Wallace PHI WR 108 10
99 Latavius Murray MIN RB 104 5
100 Austin Ekeler LAC RB 139 39
101 Theo Riddick DET RB 134 33
102 Allen Hurns DAL WR 95 -7
103 Rishard Matthews TEN WR 101 -2
104 Quincy Enunwa NYJ WR 125 21
105 LeGarrette Blount DET RB 114 9
106 Doug Martin OAK RB 153 47
107 John Brown BAL WR 97 -10
108 Paul Richardson WAS WR 146 38
109 John Ross CIN WR 103 -6
110 Sterling Shepard NYG WR 92 -18
111 Corey Clement PHI RB 120 9
112 Mike Gillislee NO RB 126 14
113 Phillip Dorsett NE WR 143 30
114 Jordan Reed WAS TE 87 -27
115 Tyrell Williams LAC WR 111 -4
116 Mohamed Sanu ATL WR 105 -11
117 Tyler Eifert CIN TE 106 -11
118 C.J. Anderson CAR RB 118 0
119 Donte Moncrief JAC WR 144 25
120 Ted Ginn NO WR 123 3
121 Evan Engram NYG TE 96 -25
122 David Njoku CLE TE 113 -9
123 Benjamin Watson NO TE 136 13
124 Marlon Mack IND RB 127 3
125 Javorius Allen BAL RB 154 29
126 Mike Williams LAC WR 102 -24
127 Sony Michel NE RB 112 -15
128 Anthony Miller CHI WR 128 0
129 Chris Godwin TB WR 107 -22
130 DeSean Jackson TB WR 117 -13
131 D.J. Moore CAR WR 122 -9
132 Ryan Grant IND WR 147 15
133 Austin Seferian-Jenkins JAC TE 115 -18
134 Frank Gore MIA RB 142 8
135 Josh Doctson WAS WR 124 -11
136 Charles Clay BUF TE 149 13
137 Jared Cook OAK TE 131 -6
138 Eric Ebron IND TE 145 7
139 Dede Westbrook JAC WR 137 -2
140 George Kittle SF TE 132 -8
141 Darren Sproles PHI RB 157 16
142 Rashaad Penny SEA RB 129 -13
143 Danny Amendola MIA WR 116 -27
144 Ricky Seals-Jones ARI TE 135 -9
145 T.J. Yeldon JAC RB 164 19
146 Geronimo Allison GB WR 133 -13
147 Albert Wilson MIA WR 158 11
148 Austin Hooper ATL TE 160 12
149 Courtland Sutton DEN WR 155 6
150 Devante Parker MIA WR 140 -10
151 Cameron Meredith NO WR 150 -1
152 Michael Gallup DAL WR 121 -31
153 Terrance Williams DAL WR 191 38
154 Christian Kirk ARI WR 173 19
155 Spencer Ware KC RB 170 15
156 Travis Benjamin LAC WR 192 36
157 Calvin Ridley ATL WR 138 -19
158 Ronald Jones II TB RB 141 -17
159 James Washington PIT WR 161 2
160 Laquon Treadwell MIN WR 235 75
161 Vance McDonald PIT TE 151 -10
162 O.J. Howard TB TE 130 -32
163 Mike Gesicki MIA TE 159 -4
164 Taywan Taylor TEN WR 166 2
165 Nyheim Hines IND RB 171 6
166 Alfred Blue HOU RB 183 17
167 Antonio Gates LAC TE 163 -4
168 Seth Roberts OAK WR 204 36
169 Cameron Brate TB TE 152 -17
170 Chase Edmonds ARI RB 197 27
171 Kenneth Dixon BAL RB 184 13
172 C.J. Prosise SEA RB 223 51
173 Wayne Gallman NYG RB 211 38
174 Terrelle Pryor NYJ WR 194 20
175 Chester Rogers IND WR 203 28
176 Chad Williams ARI WR 209 33
177 Chris Ivory BUF RB 195 18
178 Jeremy Hill NE RB 148 -30
179 Tre'Quan Smith NO WR 186 7
180 Brandon Marshall SEA WR 176 -4
181 Willie Snead BAL WR 210 29
182 Nick Vannett SEA TE 169 -13
183 Nick Chubb CLE RB 156 -27
184 Kyle Juszczyk SF RB 188 4
185 John Kelly LAR RB 243 58
186 Cole Beasley DAL WR 162 -24
187 Dallas Goedert PHI TE 168 -19
188 Corey Grant JAC RB 190 2
189 Jonathan Williams NO RB 198 9
190 Cordarrelle Patterson NE WR 174 -16
191 Jeremy Kerley BUF WR 225 34
192 Vernon Davis WAS TE 206 14
193 Dante Pettis SF WR 242 49
194 Torrey Smith CAR WR 201 7
195 Austin Carr NO WR 255 60
196 Luke Willson DET TE 181 -15
197 Zay Jones BUF WR 185 -12
198 Jaron Brown SEA WR 193 -5
199 Trent Taylor SF WR 259 60
200 Taylor Gabriel CHI WR 180 -20
201 Ryan Griffin HOU TE 182 -19
202 Gerald Everett LAR TE 218 16
203 Chris Conley KC WR 236 33
204 J.J. Nelson ARI WR 226 22
205 Bruce Ellington HOU WR 199 -6
206 Cody Latimer NYG WR 245 39
207 Mark Andrews BAL TE 214 7
208 Keke Coutee HOU WR 275 67
209 Antonio Callaway CLE WR 175 -34
210 J'mon Moore GB WR 263 53
211 Garrett Celek SF TE 196 -15
212 Aaron Rodgers GB QB 1 0
213 Cam Newton CAR QB 4 2
214 Tom Brady NE QB 2 -1
215 Drew Brees NO QB 3 -1
216 Matthew Stafford DET QB 6 1
217 Deshaun Watson HOU QB 5 -1
218 Ben Roethlisberger PIT QB 10 3
219 Andrew Luck IND QB 11 3
220 Russell Wilson SEA QB 9 0
221 Kirk Cousins MIN QB 7 -3
222 Philip Rivers LAC QB 8 -3
223 Jared Goff LAR QB 13 1
224 Marcus Mariota TEN QB 14 1
225 Tyrod Taylor CLE QB 17 3
226 Alex Smith WAS QB 16 1
227 Andy Dalton CIN QB 12 -4
228 Blake Bortles JAC QB 20 3
229 Nick Foles PHI QB 24 6
230 Patrick Mahomes KC QB 19 0
231 Matt Ryan ATL QB 15 -5
232 Case Keenum DEN QB 22 1
233 Mitch Trubisky CHI QB 23 1
234 Ryan Fitzpatrick TB QB 27 4
235 Jimmy Garoppolo SF QB 21 -3
236 Dak Prescott DAL QB 18 -7
237 Joe Flacco BAL QB 29 3
238 Derek Carr OAK QB 28 1
239 Ryan Tannehill MIA QB 26 -2
240 Sam Bradford ARI QB 25 -4
241 Sam Darnold NYJ QB 30 0
242 Eli Manning NYG QB 31 0
243 Nathan Peterman BUF QB 32 0
244 Baltimore Ravens BAL DST 1 0
245 Jacksonville Jaguars JAC DST 2 0
246 Minnesota Vikings MIN DST 5 2
247 Detroit Lions DET DST 6 2
248 New Orleans Saints NO DST 3 -2
249 New England Patriots NE DST 12 6
250 Los Angeles Rams LAR DST 4 -3
251 Denver Broncos DEN DST 7 -1
252 Green Bay Packers GB DST 15 6
253 Carolina Panthers CAR DST 9 -1
254 Tennessee Titans TEN DST 10 -1
255 Los Angeles Chargers LAC DST 8 -4
256 Pittsburgh Steelers PIT DST 11 -2
257 Washington Redskins WAS DST 21 7
258 Cincinnati Bengals CIN DST 14 -1
259 Philadelphia Eagles PHI DST 13 -3
260 Seattle Seahawks SEA DST 19 2
261 Dallas Cowboys DAL DST 23 5
262 Miami Dolphins MIA DST 24 5
263 New York Giants NYG DST 20 0
264 Arizona Cardinals ARI DST 17 -4
265 Indianapolis Colts IND DST 29 7
266 Buffalo Bills BUF DST 18 -5
267 Cleveland Browns CLE DST 25 1
268 Atlanta Falcons ATL DST 16 -9
269 Houston Texans HOU DST 22 -4
270 San Francisco 49ers SF DST 27 0
271 Chicago Bears CHI DST 26 -2
272 New York Jets NYJ DST 30 1
273 Kansas City Chiefs KC DST 28 -2
274 Oakland Raiders OAK DST 31 0
275 Tampa Bay Buccaneers TB DST 32 0
276 Wil Lutz NO K 4 3
277 Stephen Gostkowski NE K 2 0
278 Justin Tucker BAL K 1 -2
279 Greg Zuerlein LAR K 3 -1
280 Mason Crosby GB K 6 1
281 Matt Prater DET K 5 -1
282 Caleb Sturgis LAC K 10 3
283 Adam Vinatieri IND K 12 4
284 Jake Elliott PHI K 8 -1
285 Chris Boswell PIT K 7 -3
286 Daniel Carlson MIN K 15 4
287 Josh Lambo JAC K 13 1
288 Harrison Butker KC K 14 1
289 Ryan Succop TEN K 16 2
290 Matt Bryant ATL K 9 -6
291 Graham Gano CAR K 11 -5
292 Phil Dawson ARI K 18 1
293 Dustin Hopkins WAS K 23 5
294 Randy Bullock CIN K 20 1
295 Jason Sanders MIA K 31 11
296 Mike Nugent OAK K 32 11
297 Brandon McManus DEN K 17 -5
298 Ka'imi Fairbairn HOU K 21 -2
299 Robbie Gould SF K 19 -5
300 Chandler Catanzaro TB K 28 3
301 Brett Maher DAL K 24 -2
302 Sebastian Janikowski SEA K 25 -2
303 Cody Parkey CHI K 26 -2
304 Jason Myers NYJ K 36 7
305 Zane Gonzalez CLE K 29 -1
306 Aldrick Rosas NYG K 30 -1
307 Steven Hauschka BUF K 22 -10

 

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