Fantasy RB PPR Rankings Week 1: Who to start, sit at running back in fantasy football


The opening week of the season is one of the hardest for putting together rankings (not as tough as next week, but we'll worry about that when it comes). That's especially true at running back, where committees are a mystery and matchups matter more than arguably any other offensive position. Our Week 1 fantasy RB PPR rankings have the added "bonus" of trying to account for how receptions can hurt or help a player's value, which can really affect potential sleepers and busts on the start 'em, sit 'em bubble. 

There's a tendency by some PPR owners to overvalue targets. It makes sense, as backs who can routinely haul in around four or five passes per game give you a steady baseline, but if they do next to nothing on the ground and can't get into the end zone, then you still might wind up with disappointing numbers. In Week 1, we don't know exactly if things will be the same as previous years.

Quarterback | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Can you still trust James White (vs. Dolphins), J.D. McKissic (vs. Chargers), and Nyheim Hines (vs. Seahawks) to be pass-catcher extraordinaires? Perhaps we'll see Damien Harris or Rhamondre Stevenson, Antonio Gibson, or Jonathan Taylor be more active in their teams' respective receiving games. We might also see some new "third-down" backs emerge, such as Kenneth Gainwell (@ Falcons), Giovani Bernard (vs. Cowboys), and Elijah Mitchell (@ Lions). All are possibilities for breakout PPR seasons that begin in Week 1.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Of course, it's tough to put any of them in your starting lineup when almost every RB is available. There are enough established backs who project to get a decent amount of carries and scoring chances. Few backs catch more than four passes per game anyway, and most who do are already elite (Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Austin Ekeler). Sometimes, you see a back run up eight-plus catches for 70-plus yards and pay off based simply on receiving numbers, but often you need something in the running game (or a touchdown) to supplement that. Otherwise, you're still better going with a two-catches-on-a-good-day guy like Derrick Henry (vs. Cardinals), Nick Chubb (@ Chiefs), Ty'Son Williams (@ Raiders), or Harris (vs. Dolphins). 

WEEK 1 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | Yahoo | FanDuel

Again, we don't know for sure how teams are going to deploy their backfields. Chase Edmonds (@ Titans) might be more of a three-down back for the Cardinals but still get taken out near the goal line. The same is true for Myles Gaskin (@ Patriots) in Miami and possibly Devin Singletary (@ Steelers) in Buffalo. Tough matchups for the latter two cloud their Week 1 outlooks, but either way, we know they'll catch passes, so they still have flex value in PPR leagues.

MORE WEEK 1 DFS: Best stacks | Best values | Lineup Builder

In addition to the potential breakout PPR candidates mentioned above, we might also see the Jets' Michael Carter or Ty Johnson (@ Panthers), Houston's David Johnson (vs. Jaguars), Chicago's Damien Williams (@ Rams), and Vegas' Kenyan Drake (vs. Ravens) emerge with prominent third-down roles. It's tough to start any in Week 1, but they're at least in flex consideration in deep leagues. 

WEEK 1 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts | Start 'em, Sit 'em

Surprises always happen in Week 1, and it's important not to overreact in Week 2. But, again, we'll worry about that when we get there. For now, we'll do our best to figure out a good balance of safety and upside in Week 1. We'll still largely focus on guaranteed touches, touchdown opportunities, and matchup projections, but receiving ability definitely matters, too. May the third downs be abundant and check-downs be plentiful.

Note: We'll be updating these RB PPR rankings as needed throughout the week. so check back for the latest changes. For individual analysis of key RBs, click here.

Fantasy RB PPR Rankings Week 1: Who to start, sit at running back in fantasy football

Rankings are based on full-point PPR scoring.

Individual analysis will be added early next week and updated throughout the week to reflect any changes to the rankings.

UPDATE: Trey Sermon and Zack Moss were surprise inactives. Raheem Mostert gets a bump up, and Elijah Mitchell is in play as a flex back (especially in PPR). Devin Singletary also gets a nice bump up, making him a solid flex back. Joshua Kelley was also declared inactive, which helps Justin Jackson's value edge close to flex territory.

Rank Player
1 Christian McCaffrey CAR vs. NYJ
2 Alvin Kamara, NO vs. GB
3 Dalvin Cook, MIN @ CIN
4 Derrick Henry, TEN vs. ARI
5 James Robinson, JAX @ HOU
6 Nick Chubb, CLE @ KC
7 Aaron Jones, GB vs. NO
8 Antonio Gibson, WAS vs. LAC
9 Jonathan Taylor, IND vs. SEA
10 Austin Ekeler, LAC @ WAS
11 Joe Mixon, CIN vs. MIN
12 Miles Sanders, PHI @ ATL
13 Raheem Mostert, SF @ DET
14 Najee Harris, PIT @ BUF
15 Saquon Barkley, NYG vs. DEN
16 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC vs. CLE
17 Mike Davis, ATL vs. PHI
18 David Montgomery, CHI @ LAR
19 Chris Carson, SEA vs. IND
20 Kareem Hunt, CLE @ KC
21 Ezekiel Elliott, DAL @ TB
22 Chase Edmonds, ARI @ TEN
23 Myles Gaskin, MIA @ NE
24 Darrell Henderson, LAR vs. CHI
25 Damien Harris, NE vs. MIA
26 D'Andre Swift, DET vs. SF
27 Ty'Son Williams, BAL @ LV
28 Josh Jacobs, LV vs. BAL
29 Javonte Williams, DEN @ NYG
30 Melvin Gordon, DEN @ NYG
31 JD McKissic, WAS vs. LAC
32 Jamaal Williams, DET vs. SF
33 Leonard Fournette, TB vs. DAL
34 Ronald Jones II, TB vs. DAL
35 Phillip Lindsay, HOU vs. JAX
36 Devin Singletary, BUF vs. PIT
37 James White, NE vs. MIA
38 Kenneth Gainwell, PHI @ ATL
39 Nyheim Hines, IND vs, SEA
40 James Conner, ARI @ TEN
41 Trey Sermon, SF @ DET
42 Le'Veon Bell, BAL @ LV
43 Ty Johnson, NYJ @ CAR
44 David Johnson, HOU vs JAX
45 Zack Moss, BUF vs. PIT
46 Tevin Coleman, NYJ @ CAR
47 Sony Michel, LAR vs. CHI
48 Michael Carter, NYJ @ CAR
49 Damien Williams, CHI @ LAR
50 Darrel Williams, KC vs. CLE
51 Kenyan Drake, LV vs. BAL
52 Giovani Bernard, TB vs. DAL
53 AJ Dillon, GB vs. NO
54 Mark Ingram, HOU vs. JAX
55 Tony Jones Jr., NO vs. GB
56 Rhamondre Stevenson, NE vs. MIA
57 Elijah Mitchell, SF @ DET
58 Devontae Booker, NYG vs. DEN
59 Justin Jackson, LAC @ WAS
60 Malcolm Brown, MIA @ NE
61 Alexander Mattison, MIN @ CIN
62 Tony Pollard, DAL @ TB
63 Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL vs. PHI
64 Salvon Ahmed, MIA @ NE
65 Wayne Gallman, ATL vs. PHI
66 Rashaad Penny, SEA @ IND
67 Marlon Mack, IND vs. SEA
68 Joshua Kelley, LAC @ WAS
69 Benny Snell Jr., PIT @ BUF
70 Samaje Perine, CIN vs. MIN
71 Chuba Hubbard, CAR vs. NYJ
72 Jeremy McNichols, TEN vs. ARI