RotoWire Partners

Draftster NFL: Week 1 Rankings

James Smizek

Since his introduction to Daily Fantasy Sports in 2010, James has turned a hobby into a profitable venture. A former writer of the now defunct and his own site, James brings his knowledge and passion to RotoWire. He can be contacted on Twitter @iKezims.

With the beginning of the NFL season right around the corner, a fresh group of Daily Fantasy sites are launching contests. One of them, Draftster, isn't seeing huge action yet, but that should all change with the start of the NFL season. As a bonus, Draftster is running a $1,000 freeroll to kick of Sunday's Week 1 action. For the rest of the NFL season, I will be breaking down positions and salaries to help bring you a lineup that will give you the most bang for your buck in Draftster’s fantasy football contests.


1. Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. IND - $9,000
2. Drew Brees (NO) at ATL - $9,000
3. Andrew Luck (IND) at DEN - $8,200
4. Nick Foles (PHI) vs. JAC - $8,300M
5. Colin Kaepernick (SF) at DAL - $7,500
6. Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. NO - $7,700
7. Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. NYG - $7,800
8. Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. BUF - $7,200
9. Robert Griffin III (WAS) at HOU - $7,700
10. Tom Brady (NE) at MIA - $7,700
11. Alex Smith (KC) vs. TEN - $6,900
12. Tony Romo (DAL) vs. SF - $7,100
13. Carson Palmer (AZ) vs. SD - $5,800
14. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. CLE - $7,100
15. Ryan Tannehill (MIA) vs. NE - $6,600
16. Cam Newton (CAR) at TB - $7,700

Bargains: Shaun Hill ($3,000)

Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. IND - $9,000

You're super surprised to see Peyton Manning in this spot, aren't you? Actually, you will probably very rarely see him out of the top spot for the entirety of the season. The Colts/Broncos game has the highest over/under of the week at 55 total points so expect both offenses to come out firing. Wes Welker has yet to be cleared, but hopes to be ready by game time Sunday. Regardless, Manning will have top wideout Demaryius Thomas and standout tight end Julius Thomas to work with.

Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. NO - $7,700

Matt Ryan is one of my favorite plays this week no matter what site, unfortunately Draftster must of known this and ranked him as the sixth most expensive quarterback. The Falcons have a lot to prove and now have a healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White. Though the absence of now retired Tony Gonzalez will hurt the overall scope of the Atlanta offense, the Falcons know it is time to adjust and find a slightly new passing identity.

Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. BUF - $7,200

The Bills will be without linebacker Kiko Alonso to injury and also have a new defensive coordinator. There is nothing scary about this Buffalo squad (on either side of the ball) and Cutler has one of the most potent wideout duos in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Cutler is the perfect mid-range priced quarterback this week to round out your squad.

Running Back

1. LeSean McCoy (PHI) vs. JAX - $8,100
2. Jamaal Charles (KC) vs. TEN - $7,800
3. Matt Forte (CHI) vs. BUF - $7,500
4. Adrian Peterson (MIN) at STL - $6,700
5. Montee Ball (DEN) vs. IND - $6,000
6. Andre Ellington (AZ) vs. SD - $5,700
7. Ben Tate (CLE) at PIT - $4,900
8. Alfred Morris (WAS) at HOU - $5,500
9. DeMarco Murray (DAL) vs. SF - $6,200
10. Zac Stacy (STL) vs. MIN - $5,900
11. Giovani Bernard (CIN) at BAL - $6,400
12. Le'Veon Bell (PIT) vs. CLE - $6,000
13. Doug Martin (TB) vs. CAR - $5,900
14. Arian Foster (HOU) vs. WAS - $5,800
15. Shane Vereen (NE) vs. MIA - $5,700
16. Reggie Bush (DET) vs. NYG - $5,500

Bargains: Knowshon Moreno ($3,500), Fred Jackson ($3,000), Jeremy Hill ($3,000)

Montee Ball (DEN) vs. IND - $6,000

I expect some people to be scared off of Ball this week simply because of his limited preseason playing time and his lack of total NFL production. That's just not how it works. Ball is going to step into the role occupied by Knowshon Moreno last year and should be able to directly replicate, if not exceed, his production. As stated with Manning, this game has the highest over/under of the week so fire up the most dangerous offense in the NFL.

Andre Ellington (AZ) vs. SD - $5,700

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he hoped to give Ellington 20 touches per game, which would far and away exceed what he received last season. With Rashard Mendenhall out of the picture, the explosive second-year back should be able to show off his full potential. Ellington's price will surely rise in the near future so get it while it's low.

Ben Tate (CLE) at PIT - $4,900

Tate is the cheapest running back listed in my top-16 rankings. His price tag definitely upped his value, but there’s plenty of talent here, too. Tate is very low priced across the industry and will be a three-down back to start the season. A lot of hype surrounded Terrence West entering the season, but a poor preseason will give Tate the bulk of the load. The Browns offense is a train wreck on paper, so expect Tate to become a workhorse in the rushing and passing game.

Wide Receivers

1. Demaryius Thomas (DEN) vs. IND - $8,000
2. Julio Jones (ATL) vs. NO - $7,300
3. Calvin Johnson (DET) vs. NYG - $8,300
4. Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. SF - $7,400
5. Brandon Marshall (CHI) vs. BUF - $7,100
6. A.J. Green (CIN) at BAL - $7,500
7. Alshon Jeffery (CHI) vs. BUF - $6,800
8. Victor Cruz (NYG) at DET - $6,700
9. T.Y. Hilton (IND) at DEN - $6,000
10. Michael Crabtree (SF) at DAL - $5,900
11. Roddy White (ATL) vs. NO - $5,800
12. Keenan Allen (SD) at AZ - $6,800
13. Vincent Jackson (TB) vs. CAR - $6,500
14. Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. CLE - $6,700
15. Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN) at STL - $5,600
16. Pierre Garcon (WAS) at HOU - $6,300

Bargains: Emmanuel Sanders ($4,500), Justin Hunter ($4,400)

Julio Jones (ATL) vs. NO - $7,300

After a broken foot cost him most of his 2013 campaign, Jones is back at full strength and has a lot of missed time to make up. Ryan is hungry to have his top wideout back and I fully expect this combination to have the best QB-WR totals at the end of Week 1.

T.Y. Hilton (IND) at DEN - $6,000

The Colts will ease 35-year-old Reggie Wayne back from his torn ACL, leaving the brunt of the receiving work to Hilton in the first few weeks. In a game that will be a shoot-out with Broncos, expect Hilton to have the best line of all Indianapolis receivers.

Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN) at STL - $5,600

As one of the most dynamic young players in the NFL, Patterson is primed to make the leap to stardom this season. Everything about his game from kick returns, to rushing, to receiving shows he has the full potential to be a stud. Matt Cassel has shown chemistry with the young wideout in the past and as the Vikings main deep threat, Patterson will certainly receive a handful of shots downfield. At a mid-range price, the touches Patterson receives in a game makes him well worth the cost.

Tight End

1. Jimmy Graham (NO) at ATL - $6,800
2. Rob Gronkowski (NE) at MIA - $5,600
3. Julius Thomas (DEN) vs. IND - $5,400
4. Jordan Cameron (CLE) at PIT - $5,200
5. Greg Olsen (CAR) at TB - $4,700
6. Jason Witten (DAL) vs. SF - $4,600
7. Jordan Reed (WAS) at HOU - $4,500
8. Vernon Davis (SF) at DAL - $4,600
9. Zach Ertz (PHI) vs. JAX - $4,300
10. Kyle Rudolph (MIN) at STL - $3,900

Bargains: Travis Kelce ($3,300), Eric Ebron ($3,200)

Jimmy Graham (NO) at ATL - $6,800

Much like what was said about Manning, Graham will top the rankings almost weekly. A healthy Rob Gronkowski can find a way to dethrone Graham some weeks, but not in Week 1. Graham will look to build (if possible) on his 16-touchdown season in 2013. With a young group of receivers, Brees will look to his veteran TE as much as possible.

Greg Olsen (CAR) at TB - $4,700

Cam Newton will take the field Sunday with a fresh face of wideouts around him. Gone are Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Tedd Ginn. Enter Kelvin Benjamin and Jericho Cotchery. The one constant in the passing game is tight end Greg Olson. Newton knows if he gets into a pinch he can rely on his veteran tight end. Look for Olson to lead the team in targets on Sunday.

Zach Ertz (PHI) vs. JAX - $4,300

Ertz is a name that will be climbing the ranking in 2014. After an underwhelming 2013 season, much in thanks to Brent Celek still being relevant, Ertz will be a key piece in Philadelphia’s offense this year. The loss of DeSean Jackson and the quick pace of head coach Chip Kelly's offense will make Ertz not only a red zone threat, but also a threat that can stretch the field if necessary.


1. Adam Vinatieri (IND) at DEN - $3,300*
2. Matt Bryant (ATL) vs. NO - $3,500
3. Dan Bailey (DAL) vs. SF - $3,400
4. Stephen Gostkowski (NE) at MIA - $3,600
5. Robbie Gould (CHI) vs. BUF - $3,300
*The Kicker selection will change week-to-week based on highest over/under of their specific game. In most cases you will want to select the lowest-priced kicker with the highest over/under. This week those honors go to Adam Vinatieri.


1. New York Jets (vs. OAK) - $3,300
2. Tampa Bay (vs. CAR) - $3,000
3. Pittsburgh (vs. CLE) - $3,000
4. Carolina (at. TB) - $4,300
5. Cincinnati (at BAL) - $3,800

On the opposite spectrum of kickers, defenses are selected based on the lowest over/under totals in a given week. The Raiders/Jets matchup is only one of two games on this week's schedule to dip below 40 total points, making the Jets defense a top play against a rookie quarterback. The Panthers/Buccaneers' contest also sees their total below 40 points. With a new Cam Newton offense and him still be banged up, a slight edge goes to the home team.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. James Smizek plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: itzjamesftw, DraftKings: itzjamesftw.