Patrick Mahomes

Fitz’s Week 1 Rankings, Tiers & Start/Sit Advice (2022 Fantasy Football)

We fantasy enthusiasts spend all offseason looking at players through a wide-angle lens. What is Player X’s ceiling? What is his floor? What sort of season-long numbers can we expect from him? Where and when should he be drafted?

Now we have to zoom in and tighten the focus. You’re trying to win your Week 1 matchup. Should you or should you not start Player X?

Welcome to the first installment of my weekly rankings article. Rankings are great, but they aren’t fully descriptive. This article gives me a chance to add some color to those black-and-white rankings, explaining why certain players are slotted the way they are.

Please realize that these rankings will be updated throughout the week based on injuries, news items and other factors, so be sure to check my rankings before the Sunday games kick off.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

QUARTERBACKS

Check out Fitz’s quarterback rankings here >>

Tier 1

Mahomes visits Arizona for a likely shootout with the Cardinals in a game that has the highest total (54) on the board this week. With the possible exception of Aaron Rodgers, Mahomes is the best pure passer in the game, and he’s about to feast on a bad group of Cardinals cornerbacks.

Tier 2

It seems sacrilegious to have consensus No. 1 QB Josh Allen in the second tier, but he opens on the road vs. a Rams defense that allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last season.

Hurts has a scrumptious matchup against a Lions defense that can’t cover. If Eagles OC Shane Steichen calls an aggressive game, Hurts could put up monster numbers right out of the gate.

Jackson is in a terrific spot, too. The Jets gave up the fourth-most passing yards last season, and of course Jackson is always a threat to do heavy damage as a runner.

The AFC West should give us OK Corral-type shootouts throughout the season, and we get one immediately with the Chargers hosting the Raiders. Expect Justin Herbert to feast.

Chiefs-Cardinals should be a track meet, and Murray is an appealing fantasy play even though he’ll be without WR DeAndre Hopkins (suspension) and could be without TE Zach Ertz (calf), though Ertz returned to practice on Wednesday.

Tier 3

Is there any question Russell Wilson would like to stick it to Pete Carroll? And it’s not as if the Seattle pass defense is airtight these days.

I’m convinced that Joe Burrow is going to be a great quarterback (if he isn’t already), so I never have to be talked into playing him.

Will Tom Brady finally start to slow down at age 45? Probably not in this game against a Cowboys defense that might not have an impact pass rusher other than Micah Parsons – although I do worry about the Buccaneers’ center and left guard positions.

Tier 4

This is the non-automatic tier. To play or not to play these guys — that is the question.

I am inclined to play Lance despite a summer that has made Lance investors panicky. I find it hard to believe that the Niners are eager to bench Lance for Jimmy Garoppolo after trading away multiple first-round draft picks (and a third-rounder) to land Garoppolo’s replacement. Lance gets a soft matchup against a bad Bears defense, though the potential absence of George Kittle removes some of the luster from this matchup.

Rodgers torched the Vikings in a pair of meetings last year, but WR Davante Adams is gone, and WR Allen Lazard (ankle) may not play.

Prescott will be without LT Tyron Smith and WR Michael Gallup, but he might throw early and often against a Buccaneers defense that has been a pass funnel in recent years.

Carr is reunited with former Fresno State teammate Adams, offering hope that the veteran QB will start posting TD totals to match his impressive yardage numbers.

Stafford has been dealing with a nagging elbow issue, but at least he won’t have to contend with Bills CB Tre’Davious White when the Rams begin their title defense on Thursday night.

Winston got off to a hot start in 2021 before tearing his ACL in Week 8. Now he gets upgraded weaponry at wide receiver with draftee Chris Olave, free-agent addition Jarvis Landry and a healthy(ish) Michael Thomas.

The Bears haven’t provided young QB Justin Fields with much in the way of blocking or pass-catching talent, but Fields is a dangerous runner who might be able to have success through the air against a depleted San Francisco secondary.

Matt Ryan is going to love playing behind the Colts’ offensive line after being a pinata in Atlanta last season. With time in the pocket, Ryan should be able to pick apart the Houston secondary.

The Packers are a tough matchup for opposing quarterbacks, but Cousins still belongs in Tier 4 rather than Tier 5.

Tier 5

There’s optimism that Trevor Lawrence will thrive with new OC Doug Pederson, a QB whisperer and former QB himself, after spending last season in hell with Urban Meyer.

Ryan Tannehill lost WR A.J. Brown in the offseason, and his offensive line has gotten worse. He does, however, draw a seemingly favorable Week 1 home matchup against the Giants.

Tua Tagovailoa has a sharp new HC in Mike McDaniel (or so we think) and an explosive new weapon in Tyreek Hill. We’ll soon find out just how good Tua can be.

Can new HC Brian Daboll get turnover-happy Daniel Jones back on track? It will be interesting to see what the Giants’ offense looks like after throwing Jason Garrett overboard.

Jared Goff has good pass catchers and a good offensive line, and it’s possible we’re underrating him. But Goff draws a tricky Week 1 matchup against the Eagles.

Carson Wentz shouldn’t be playing in 1QB leagues but is an option in superflex leagues against a questionable Jacksonville defense.

Tier 6

The only way you’re dipping into this tier in Week 1 is if you’re playing in a superflex leagues — and even then, here’s hoping you have better QB2 options than this.

Fantas Football Start-Sit Assistant

RUNNING BACKS

Check out Fitz’s running back rankings here >>

Tier 1

What a nice way for Jonathan Taylor investors to start the season. In his two games against the Texans last year, Taylor had rushing days of 14-145-2 and 32-143-2.

Over the last four years, McCaffrey has averaged 25.6 PPR points per game. The last time McCaffrey played a full season (2019), he scored 156.4 more PPR points than the next-best running back.

I have concerns about Henry’s health, given the mileage on his odometer. But as long as he’s healthy, he’s a great bet to produce gaudy fantasy numbers. The Giants gave up the eighth-most fantasy points to RBs last year.

Tier 2

The Chargers have talked about lightening Ekeler’s load, and he’s due for some TD regression, but Ekeler could run less and score fewer touchdowns and still be a marvelous fantasy asset.

The Steelers’ run defense was awful in 2021. Only Houston yielded more rushing yards than Pittsburgh last season. If the Steelers’ run defense is still butter, Mixon will be a hot knife on Sunday.

Cook has scored nine touchdowns in his last six games vs. the Packers dating back to 2018. Word is he’ll be more involved as a pass catcher in new HC Kevin O’Connell‘s offense.

Kamara may never again be as valuable as he was when Drew Brees was quarterbacking the Saints, but hopefully Saints OC Pete Carmichael will keep Kamara heavily involved in the passing game. He gets a juicy matchup against the Falcons in Week 1.

Tier 3

The Titans allowed the second-fewest rushing yards last year and were one of four teams to hold opposing runners under 4.0 yards per carry. Even if the Tennessee run defense is still stout, Barkley can do damage as a pass catcher.

Is Najee Harris still going to get all the touches he can handle, or are the Steelers serious about limiting his workload? It’s also fair to wonder whether he’ll get as many targets now that checkdown king ben Roethlisberger has retired.

The Browns figure to be run-heavy until Deshaun Watson returns from suspension in Week 13, which should bode well for Nick Chubb. However, Chubb is likely to have fewer TD opportunities with the mediocre Brissett at quarterback.

James Conner probably isn’t going to be used as a three-down back this season. Still, he’s going to play a major role for Arizona this season, and you know he’s getting all of the goal-line work.

D’Andre Swift is one of the best pass-catching backs in the league, and he’ll face an Eagles defense that gave up 116 receptions to opposing RBs last year, the third-highest total in the league.

Aaron Jones has historically seen an uptick in targets in games Davante Adams missed for the Packers. Adams is now gone for good, and the Packers might also be without Allen Lazard (ankle), so expect the Green Bay offense to run through the RBs.

It will be interesting to see how the Broncos divide RB touches this year. A slight uptick in Javonte Williams‘ volume could lead to an RB1 season. He faces a Seattle defense that gave up the third-most fantasy points to RBs last season. The Seahawks also gave up a league-high 147 receptions to RBs.

Travis Etienne was an elite pass-catching back in college. After missing his rookie year with a foot injury, Etienne finally gets to play with former Clemson teammate Trevor Lawrence again. Expect heavy Etienne usage early on while James Robinson works his way back from a torn Achilles.

Leonard Fournette was a workhorse for the Bucs last year, and his usage in the passing game made him especially valuable to fantasy gamers. But the Bucs have other viable options at RB this season, so we could see a downturn in Fournette’s touch volume.

Tier 4

When Ezekiel Elliott faced the Buccaneers in the 2021 season opener, he played 70 offensive snaps but totaled only 39 yards from scrimmage. The Bucs remain a touch matchup for RBs.

The Raiders declined to pick up Josh Jacobs‘ fifth-year option, but Jacobs could nonetheless make mincemeat out of a soft Chargers run defense in Week 1.

Antonio Gibson figures to get the majority of early-down snaps for Washington while Brian Robinson recovers for gunshot wounds. But even though Gibson is a former college wide receiver, his pass-catching upside is limited because (a) J.D. McKissic usually plays on passing downs, and (b) Carson Wentz doesn’t throw to his running backs very often.

Elijah Mitchell has been dealing with a hamstring injury but didn’t appear on the 49ers’ midweek injury report, so he figures to get ample carries vs. the Bears.

A.J. Dillon got more carries than Aaron Jones down the stretch last season, and the Packers figure to be run-heavier this year with Davante Adams gone.

It will be interesting to see how the Bears deploy their running backs this year. The expectation is that Montgomery won’t have the same sort of workhorse role he had during the Matt Nagy era. Monty starts with a tricky matchup against a tough San Francisco front seven.

Chase Edmonds started getting more love from fantasy managers late in draft season. His dual run-catch skill set could be valuable if the Dolphins give him a majority (or even a plurality) of the RB snaps and touches.

Rashaad Penny figures to get a lot of touches as long as Ken Walker is sidelined after a hernia procedure.

Cam Akers has had additional time to recover from the Achilles injury he sustained last summer, but now the Rams seem hell-bent on an Akers-Henderson time-share. I still think Akers could be a monster.

The Dameon Pierce hype got out of control in August. It seems as if the Texans are ready to hand the fourth-round rookie a big role, but he has a daunting Week 1 matchup against an Indianapolis defense that gave up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to RBs in 2021.

The Patriots figure to go with a run-heavy, ball control attack this season. We’ll probably see plenty of both Harris and Stevenson on a steamy Sunday in Miami.

Tier 5

It isn’t clear how the Jets will divide labor between Breece Hall and Michael Carter, but it appears that Carter is not going gentle into that good night. Some of you might not have the luxury of benching Hall in Week 1, but it would be best to watch the Jets RB situation from afar in Week 1.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is probably going to be the most valuable asset of the Kansas City backfield, but that might not mean much in what could be a three- or four-way committee.

Miles Sanders seems destined for committee duty in Philadelphia, but at least he operates behind one of the best offensive lines in the league.

Kareem Hunt remains one of the most valuable backup RBs in the league, if not the most valuable.

Atlanta’s backfield is an inscrutable mess, but Cordarrelle Patterson is ticketed for some sort of prominent role. The Falcons would be wise to tap into his pass-catching ability this week vs. a tough Saints run defense.

Devin Singletary figures to take most of the early-down snaps for the Bills in their Thursday-night opener against the Rams, but he’s going to share work with rookie James Cook and possibly Zach Moss, too.

Tony Pollard generally has standalone value even with Ezekiel Elliott around. But if Pollard is going to max out at 12 carries or so, you want him to have a favorable matchup. He doesn’t have one this week; the Tampa Bay run defense is fierce.

Tier 6

Hines should be more valuable this year with Matt Ryan at QB than he was last year with Carson Wentz. Ryan is always content to throw to the open man.

Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake are likely to split the Baltimore backfield in some capacity while J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards continue to work their way back from injuries.

Cook and McKinnon are third-down backs in top offenses. Cook is the hotter name because he’s a rookie, but McKinnon quietly played a major role for the Chiefs in the playoffs last season.

Henderson and Gordon are ostensibly the “1B” guys in their respective backfields, either backing up or sharing work with talented young backs.
Williams is a backup to D’Andre Swift but will get a good amount of early-down work.

Tier 7

This is a tier of role players. There’s fantasy value here, but you’re probably not going to use any of these guys in Week 1, before injuries and byes kick in.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Check out Fitz’s wide receiver rankings here >>

Tier 1

Hey, the man took home the Triple Crown of receiving in 2021 with a remarkable 145-1,947-16 season, so let’s give him his own tier. Kupp opens against a Buffalo defense that will be without ace cover man Tre’Davious White.

Tier 2

Chase authored a monstrous 81-1,455-13 season as a rookie, and it will be exciting to see what he can do for an encore. Cincinnati opens against division rival Pittsburgh. Chase had only seven receptions in his two games against the Steelers last year, but he had two TD catches in the first meeting.

Adams makes his Raiders debut against a Chargers defense that will be missing CB J.C. Jackson.

Jefferson would normally be a top-three receiver, but he’ll face a tough trio of Green Bay cornerbacks in the opener: Jaire Alexander, Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes.

Diggs figures to get some face time with Rams CB Jalen Ramsey in the Thursday-night opener, but it would be foolish to fade the high-volume receiver.

Samuel probably isn’t going to do as much running as he did late last season. But if TE George Kittle misses the opener for the 49ers, Samuel could see double-digit targets against a bad Bears defense.

Pittman is poised to be an alpha receiver for the Colts. There’s a good chance he’ll feast on a bad Houston secondary.

Speaking of bad secondaries, the Lions’ have a major talent shortage at cornerback. Brown’s Eagles debut could be a memorable one.

Lamb is going to be peppered with targets this season, but he’s also going to get a lot of defensive attention from opponents who no longer have to be concerned with Amari Cooper.

The Buccaneers have questions at center and left guard. If teams are able to pressure Tom Brady up the middle, will he have time to consistently find Evans, whose average depth of target last year was 13 yards downfield? But it’s hard to fade a guy who’s scored 27 touchdowns over the last two regular seasons.

Tier 3

Of course you’re starting Hill, but we can’t put him in a top tier until he demonstrates some chemistry with Tua.

Mike Williams was the WR1 in half-PPR scoring though the first five weeks of the 2021 season, but then he tweaked his knee and his production slowed. The point is, the ceiling here is enormous, and Williams gets a favorable Week 1 matchup vs. the Raiders.

Higgins had 6-114-1 in his only game against the Steelers last year, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he outperformed Ja’Marr Chase in the 2022 opener.
Keenan Allen doesn’t make a lot of big plays anymore, but he makes up for it with volume. His route-running artistry should help him age gracefully.

Look, Carson Wentz may not be a great quarterback, but he’s an improvement over the guys McLaurin had to play with last season. Scary Terry could terrorize the Jaguars this week.

D.J. Moore‘s reception and yardage totals have been satisfying. He just needs to start finding the end zone more often. He’s up against a tough group of Cleveland corners in Week 1.

Tier 4

St. Brown went berserk last December when the Lions had a lot of other skill players hurt, but let’s not assume that ARSB’s targets will evaporate now that T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift are healthy. St. Brown is a terrific player, and Jared Goff was clearly comfortable throwing to him last year.

The consistently reliable Cooks has topped the 1,000-yard mark in six of the last seven seasons and is in line for a big target share.

How much will Tyreek Hill‘s arrival in Miami affect Waddle’s target share. What’s unfortunate is that Waddle seems destined to remain a short-area receiver in Miami with Hill now on hand to occasionally play the role of lid-lifter.

Fantasy drafters were fading Metcalf this summer, but let’s not forget that he scored four touchdowns in the 3.5 games he played with Geno Smith last year.

A lot of people seem certain that Courtland Sutton is going to be the lead receiver for Denver this season. I’m not so sure. Jeudy is a good route runner and can be dangerous after the catch. I find it hard to separate them by more than a few spots in my rankings. They could both smash in Week 1 vs. a bad Seattle defense.

Brown makes his Cardinals debut in a probable shootout against the Chiefs, and with DeAndre Hopkins serving a six-game suspension, “Hollywood” should get plenty of early-season targets.

Darnell Mooney is slightly built for a typical alpha receiver, but make no mistake: He’s the top target in Chicago. Mooney draws an attractive Week 1 matchup against the 49ers.

The Ravens traded away Marquise Brown on the first night of this year’s NFL Draft, then didn’t bother to draft a wide receiver. They seem to be telling us that they have a great deal of confidence in Bateman, who gets a plum Week 1 matchup against the Jets.

Check the status of Diontae Johnson, who’s dealing with a shoulder injury. If he’s able to play, he’ll have to contend with high-quality Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie.

Tier 5

Allen Robinson was a popular draft target for some of the sharpest fantasy analysts, who weren’t overly concerned about A-Rob’s poor season in Chicago last season.

Cooper instantly becomes the No. 1 receiver in Cleveland, but the Browns aren’t going to have a prolific passing game by any means.

Smith-Schuster goes from playing with dust-covered ben Roethlisberger to playing with Patrick Mahomes. He gets a favorable individual matchup against Byron Murphy on Sunday.

Elijah Moore is a candidate for a second-year breakout, but he starts the season playing with backup QB Joe Flacco, and he gets a tough opening matchup vs. the Ravens.

After all the time he missed with a foot injury, Thomas has been dealing with a hamstring injury. I don’t know about you, but I need a “show me” game from Thomas before I trust him in one of my lineups.

Smith has target competition from A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert but has an appealing matchup against Detroit.

Will bad QB play torpedo Lockett’s value? I would expect him to maintain flex value at the very least.

Aiyuk reportedly had a strong training camp, and his vertical game might pair well with new 49ers QB Trey Lance.

Adam Thielen posted career lows in yards per catch and yards per target last season, but he’s scored double-digit touchdowns in each of the last two years. Still, he has a tricky matchup against Green Bay this week.

Christian Kirk got a lot of money to be the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver. His tenure in Jacksonville begins with an ultra-favorable matchup against Washington’s Benjamin St-Juste.

Tier 6

Toney is a twitchy, explosive athlete who’s been plagued by health issues in his brief NFL career. I’m inclined to start him whenever he’s healthy.

A knee injury sidelined London for most of August, but he’s apparently healthy now, and the rookie could be the Falcons’ No. 1 receiver from the jump.

Woods profiles as a complementary possession receiver, but the Titans might need him to be much more than that.

Hunter Renfrow was consistently involved in the raiders’ passing game last year. How many targets are going to be left for him with Davante Adams now in Las Vegas?

The Steelers might use Chase Claypool as a big slot receiver this season, which is kind of exciting. Don’t forget that Claypool scored nine touchdowns as a rookie.

Tier 7

Godwin (knee) and Lazard (ankle) are iffy for Week 1, so monitor their status.

Boyd and Valdes-Scantling are tertiary weapons in good offenses. They’ll both be hit/miss throughout the season.

Dotson, Olave, Pickens and Burks are intriguing rookies, and let’s not forget that Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Jaylen Waddle and CeeDee Lamb have been huge rookie values over the last two years.

The Falcons have a good pair of outside cornerbacks, so Landry could get plenty of targets in a more favorable matchup against Atlanta slot corner Dee Alford.

Parker might be the No. 1 receiver in new England, although I don’t know how much that means.

Tier 8

There’s a good chance we see a couple of guys from this tier pop in Week 1, but most of these guys are going to start the season on fantasy benches.

CTAs

TIGHT ENDS

Check out Fitz’s tight end rankings here >>

Tier 1

Hail to the kings.

Andrews is in line for a ton of targets this season, and he gets a choice matchup against the Jets, who gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to TEs in 2021.

The Cardinals gave up the fewest fantasy points to TEs last season, but are you really going to fade Kelce? Pfffffft.

Tier 2

Pitts could be a monster this season. He draws a tough opening matchup against the Saints, but a smash game right out of the gates wouldn’t surprise anyone.

Waller now has to share targets with Davante Adams, but he’s still a great play against the Chargers, who gave up more fantasy points to TEs than any other defense.

Tier 3

Check the status of Kittle, who sustained a groin injury early in the week.

Dak Prescott might need to feed Schultz a lot of targets out of necessity, but he’s not an especially gifted athlete.

Hockenson is a gifted athlete, but targets could be more scarce for him this year after the emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown late last season. Hockenson gets a plus matchup against an Eagles defense that had trouble with TEs last season.

Tier 4

With nine TDs last season, Knox was a pleasant surprise. But is that the ceiling, or is there more here? Knox is athletic, but it’s hard to see him commanding a meaty target share with WRs Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis around.

Freiermuth was Ben Roethlisberger’s end zone pet last year. Will he draw as much attention from Mitch Trubisky and/or Kenny Pickett?

In Jacoby Brissett‘s two seasons as the primary starter for the Colts, Jack Doyle had 80 and 72 receptions. Doyle was a slow tight end. Njoku is an athletic marvel. If Brissett frequently latches onto his TEs, Njoku could have a big year.

Ertz has been banged up but now seems on track to play.

I’ve lost track of whether Hunter Henry is overrated or underrated in fantasy.

Tier 5

This is an intriguing but dicey tier. Any of these guys could finish the season as low-end TE1s, but their target outlooks are uncertain. I’m intrigued by Tonyan as a potential target out of necessity for Aaron Rodgers.

Tier 6

This is the watch list. Likely is particularly interesting as a rookie who could play a big role for a team that needs a pass catcher to step up beyond Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman.


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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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