Week 1 is finally here, and our wait for the return of the NFL is over. What better way to celebrate the start of your new fantasy football season than by trying to identify some sleepers? Your Week 1 lineup is probably mostly set -- the players you drafted early are your probable starters -- but there's always room to take one chance on an unheralded player, like Antonio Gibson, James Robinson, Zack Moss, when making your start 'em, sit 'em choices.
Without a preseason, having three rookie running backs headline our sleepers article comes with plenty of risk, and it's likely you don't need to start Gibson, Robinson, or Moss unless you've been dealt a last-minute injury blow. Even so, all three have upside in season-long leagues this week, and they could serve as great DFS plays at assuredly low prices.
Beyond the running back position, we've gone with some proven commodities. There's too much unknown to count on rookies at other positions. You might know what you're getting with Tyrod Taylor and Jimmy Garoppolo, but in good matchups, they should be plenty productive. At wide receiver, Kendrick Bourne, Anthony Miller, and Robby Anderson might be big-play/touchdown-dependent, but they too have matchups that could help them have solid days.
As usual, our defense sleeper picks attempt to pick on good matchups, but there's only so much we know in the season's opening week and without a preseason. If anything, take a few less risks in your lineup setting this week, but if you really want to take it out on your leaguemates, one of these sleeper picks could do just the trick.
Week 1 Fantasy Sleepers: Running backs
Antonio Gibson, Washington vs. Eagles (Billy Heyen). With AP out of town, Gibson should see some early-down work in Week 1 (despite what you've heard about J.D. McKissic being atop Washington's depth chart). Most appealing, he'll likely get the heaviest passing-down work in this backfield, which lines up great for an opener in which Washington will likely trail early and often.
James Robinson, Jaguars vs. Colts (Vinnie Iyer). He’s the undrafted gem who made Leonard Fournette expendable, and he should get some chances to show off at home. Update: With Devine Ozigbo placed on Injured Reserve, Robinson is more of a sure thing to get the volume and pay off as a sleeper.
Zack Moss, Bills vs. Jets (Matt Lutovsky). Moss has gotten a lot of preseason hype, and while we're not on the "Devin Singletary Doomsday Train" like some people, Moss still has plenty of upside in what figures to be a Bills win against a subpar Jets defense.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterbacks
Tyrod Taylor, Chargers @ Bengals (Heyen). The Bengals allowed the most rushing yards to QBs last season, and they weren't great at stopping the pass either. The Chargers come East for a late-afternoon kickoff, so they won't even have body-clock issues. Taylor should connect plenty with Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler (and my honorable mention WR sleeper, Jalen Guyton).
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers vs. Cardinals (Iyer). Jimmy G provided plenty of Gs in lighting up the Cards’ defense twice last season, and he’ll need to be busy again to outduel Kyler M.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars vs. Colts (Lutovsky). Minshew is going to be a potential boom-or-bust sleeper virtually every week because Jacksonville figures to be playing from behind a lot. He lit up Indianapolis in Week 17 last year (295 yards, three TDs), and he could potentially roll that over to Week 1 this year against a middle-of-the-road Indianapolis pass defense.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide receivers
Kendrick Bourne, 49ers vs. Cardinals (Heyen). Bourne's stock really rises for Week 1 if Deebo Samuel (foot) and/or Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) are out. Without that, he's a TD-dependent flex play. With absences, Bourne could catch five or six passes to go with a score against a bad pass defense.
Robby Anderson, Panthers vs. Raiders (Iyer). The Raiders can be burned deep with their young corners, and Teddy Bridgewater will remind us he can hit home runs once in a while with his new deep threat.
Anthony Miller, Bears @ Lions (Lutovsky). Miller had success against the Lions on Thanksgiving last year (9-140) and should be in line for more regular targets in his third year. Detroit overhauled its corners in the offseason, losing Darius Slay and adding Desmond Trufant and first-round pick Jeff Okudah, but with no preseason games, there likely won't be much cohesion in Detroit's defensive backfield. Even with Mitchell Trubisky still under center, Miller is a sneaky WR3 play in PPR leagues.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends
Dawson Knox, Bills vs. Jets (Heyen). The Jets actually defended the tight end well last year, but they've had shakeup in their linebacker group this offseason and could be focused on the Bills' increased weaponry outside. That will lead a matured Knox to make a few plays down the seam.
Blake Jarwin, Cowboys @ Rams (Iyer). The Rams will really miss the coverage of Cory Littleton, and Jarwin can make a few big catches with the wideouts more limited downfield.
Ian Thomas, Panthers vs. Raiders (Lutovsky). The Raiders struggled against TEs all of last year, and Thomas is reportedly over his early-camp toe injury and "ready to play," according to Panthers coach Matt Rhule. Teddy Checkdowns likes to throw short, so Thomas has plenty of upside.
Week 1 Fantasy Sleepers: Defenses
Carolina Panthers vs. Raiders (Heyen). Josh Jacobs is an intimidating matchup, but it's offset by Derek Carr's tendency to not take any chances. If the Panthers can find an early lead behind Christian McCaffrey and force Carr to throw, it could be a long day for the Raiders given Carolina's solid pass rush.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jaguars (Iyer). The Colts have a lot of healthy playmakers again and should force the issue with Minshew a few times.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Colts (Lutovsky). The Jags could lose big in this game, but that doesn't mean they can't rack up sacks and a takeaway or two against immobile, turnover-prone Philip Rivers.