By: Reno Del Toro | July 2, 2018
On Monday, it was revealed players voted New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the best player in the league for the third time in his career. We thought about the top 100 rankings and how the players ranked certain players higher than others — such as Malcolm Jenkins landing at 96 while an injured J.J. Watt made the list.
Here at The Fan Weekly, we made our own top 100 list. It took a lot of thought, but after much consideration and debate, here is our list of the top 100 players of 2018.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 100-91:
100. Lavonte David, LB, Buccaneers: 2017 was a season of renaissance performances from several star players, and another to come back to their best was Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David. David notched 53 defensive stops and had a knack for making big plays. He forced five fumbles, the second-most in the league. While he barely made the list, we’ll hold onto hope that David moves on up as one of the most dominating forces in the league.
99. Devin McCourty, S, Patriots: In his nine-year career, Devin McCourty has been one of the best safeties in the game, but the players never put him on the list. McCourty played all 16 games in 2017 and he had 77 solo tackles and one interception to go along — another reason why the Patriots are consistent on defense every season.
98. Alex Mack, C, Falcons: Over the past couple of seasons, a trio of centers has emerged in the NFL as the best at the position. Since his move to the Atlanta Falcons, Alex Mack has been able to establish himself as one of that trio. Mack was one of the best run-blockers in the game this season at the heart of the Falcons rushing attack and allowed just 15 total pressures across the season.
97. Chris Harris, CB, Broncos: One of the best cornerbacks in the game has become the gold standard for defending the slot, which has become ever more valuable in today’s NFL. Harris went 16.3 snaps in coverage between receptions surrendered in 2017 — the most in the league among slot defenders — and has routinely been the hardest slot corner in the game to complete passes on during his time with the Broncos.
96. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks: The player usually on the end of the miracle Russell Wilson plays this season was inevitably Doug Baldwin, who remains one of the league’s most underrated players. Baldwin may have the best release off the line of any receiver in football, and though he didn’t top 1,000 receiving yards, he did score eight times and catch 67.0 percent of the passes thrown his way over the year for the Seattle Seahawks.
95. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Packers: Clinton-Dix has been a ball hawking safety since coming into the league in 2014 out of Alabama and has proved why he is one of the best. 2017 was not his best season as a pro, but he still made an impact for the Packers. He had 3 interceptions and 65 tackles for the team. With the new additions to that defense, watch out for Dix to make that next leap.
94. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings: With a new contract going into 2018, Kirk Cousins might take the Vikings to the Super Bowl. In 2017, Cousins threw for 4,093 yards and 27 touchdowns. With targets around him that can catch the ball, Cousins can have his breakout season in 2018 with his new team.
93. Joe Staley, OT, 49ers: A season ago, Joe Staley looked like age might be catching up to him, but he was able to reverse that in 2017 and get back to the star offensive lineman he is. Staley allowed 24 total pressures this season while maintaining his excellent run-blocking standards.
92. J.J. Watt, DE, Texans: A former defensive player of the year, J.J. Watt still makes this list because of his impact for Texans, especially when he is healthy. Playing in five games this season, Watt only had 11 tackles before going down. If Watt can remain healthy, he can be inside the top 10 next season, and only time can tell if there will be a return to that dominant player.
91. Landon Collins, S, Giants: A year ago, Landon Collins had a defensive-player-of-the-year kind of season. While 2017 wasn’t quite at that level, it was still an excellent year that reinforced his quality, especially given the disaster of the season that unfolded around him. Collins totaled 20 run stops in 2017, tied for fifth-most among safeties with at least 113 run-defense snaps.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 90-81:
90. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans: 13 years in the league and Delanie Walker is still getting it down. Walker had another great season with 807 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He played all 16 games for the Titans this season for the first time since 2012 when he was in San Francisco, but how long can Walker keep it up? Overall, Walker is still a top five tight end in the league and still gets it down every week.
89. Lane Johnson, OT, Eagles: Johnson was impressive in the Super Bowl for the Philadelphia Eagles, keeping a clean sheet in pass protection, marking the sixth game this year that he did not allow a pressure at all. His run-blocking was also excellent, and he was a vital member of an Eagles offensive line.
88. Mike Daniels, DT, Packers: Daniels had 33 total pressures and 32 defensive stops, once again standing out as one of the best players on the Packers defense that didn’t exactly live up to par. Daniels was also one of just five interior defenders to rank in the top-21 in both run-stop percentage and pass-rush productivity.
87. Andrew Whitworth, OT, Rams: In his 13th season in the league, Andrew Whitworth had himself a season with his new team. In his first season with the Rams, he helped steady a line that was in desperate need of it. He continues to be one of the best in the league.
86. Andrew Norwell, G, Jaguars: Andrew Norwell didn’t allow a sack or a hit all season, while surrendering just 15 total pressures across 1,140 snaps and 17 games including the playoffs. Norwell was excellent in both run-blocking (as is typical throughout his career) and pass protection this season.
85. David Bakhtiari, OT, Packers: He may have only played in 12 games due to injury, but David Bakhtiari was the best pass-blocking tackle in the game and one of the best pass blockers in all of football, period. Bakhtiari allowed just 12 total pressures over those 12 games.
84. Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins: Cameron Wake gets it done every season and 2017 was no different. Wake had 10.5 sacks which was 15th in the league and 26 solo tackles. Wake is a beast and offensive lines should be weary of him in 2018.
83. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants: Normally, Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the top receivers on this list, but due to injury, he fell all the way down to 83rd. He has as much talent as any receiver in the game and has broken 62 tackles after the catch with the ball in his hands over his career, despite that injury-shortened 2017.
82. C.J. Mosley, LB, Ravens: Entering his fifth season in the league, C.J. Mosley is becoming one of the best linebackers in the league. In 2017, Mosley had two interceptions, one sack and 96 solo tackles which was third in the league. Mosley still has to improve his game, but once he does, he’ll challenge Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner as the best linebackers in the game today.
81. Malcolm Jenkins, S, Eagles: Malcolm Jenkins is the heart and soul of the Eagles defensive. Jenkins had two interceptions, 57 solo tackles and 8 pass deflections. He is a versatile player who can do a lot of things and is a big reason why the Eagles are the Super Bowl champs.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 80-71:
80. Linval Joseph, DT, Vikings: Another dominant force in the middle of the Vikings defense, Linval Joseph backed up his impressive 2017 campaign with another strong season. Joseph had 35 defensive stops, tied for sixth-most among all interior defenders and 30 total pressures over the regular season.
79. Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jaguars: Undervalued Yannick Ngakoue led the league in 2017 in forced fumbles with six as well as 12 sacks which was eighth in the league. On a dominant defensive line, he had his breakout season in 2017. Watch for a lot more from him in 2018 and for him to be much higher on this list next year.
78. Taylor Lewan, OT, Titans: One of the most productive tackles in the league, Taylor Lewan helped that Titans O-Line become one of the best in 2017. He only had six penalties against him, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the best in the league.
77. Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints: The New Orleans Saints had a phenomenal rookie class, with impact seasons from multiple rookies on both sides of the ball. Marshon Lattimore transformed the Saints defense with his play, proving to be a shutdown corner almost from his first snaps on the field. He didn’t surrender a touchdown all season and allowed a passer rating of only 45.3 when targeted.
76. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Dolphins: There are few defensive linemen more disruptive than Ndamukong Suh in Miami. Suh was a monster rushing the passer and in the run game, but once again his biggest negative was discipline, as he led all interior defenders with 13 penalties.
75. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: Playing hurt most of the season, Derek Carr didn’t have the best season of his career. He threw for over 3,400 yards and had 22 touchdowns. Carr needs to be healthy next season to give the Raiders a fighting chance in the AFC West.
74. Kam Chancellor, S, Seahawks: Kam Chancellor is going to go down as one of best hard-hitting safeties in league history, but he hopes to forget about the 2017 season. He played in nine games and had 33 solo tackle. With injuries starting to take a toll of Kam, could this be the end of a dying breed in safeties?
73. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: Saints receiver Michael Thomas was spectacular as a rookie, but he was raw and just beginning to scratch the surface of his NFL potential. This year we saw him elevate his play even further and become one of his team’s best weapons. Thomas ranked fifth among wide receivers in drop rate with a mark of 1.89 during the regular season.
72. Marcus Peters, CB, Rams: Marcus Peters didn’t have the season most were looking forward to, but he did have a productive one. Peters had five interceptions — earning him a top five in the league, in that respect — and 42 solo tackles. He plays a cocky brand of corner, but he usually backs it up. A change of scenery will be good for him.
71. Kevin Byard, S, Titans: Titans safety Kevin Byard developed into one of the league’s best deep-lying free safeties in his second year in the league. He led the league in interceptions for most of the season, and the two he snagged in Week 17 vaulted him back into a share of the league lead to end the regular season.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 70-61:
70. Tre’Davious White, CB, Bills: There were other rookies that received significantly more recognition than Tre’Davious White, but the Bills’ rookie had an incredible debut season in the NFL. White allowed just 50.6 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught in the regular season. He also had four picks and 12 pass breakups over the full season, accomplishing this while being thrust into the No. 1 cornerback role for the Bills after the team traded away Ronald Darby.
69. Fletcher Cox, DT, Eagles: Cox was the most dominant player on the Eagles’ defense in their biggest games of the season, giving them a mismatch in the middle of the line that neither the Falcons nor Vikings could cope with. Strong enough to make even powerful guards look overmatched, Cox can destroy run and pass plays, and he proved that in 2017.
68. Richard Sherman, CB, 49ers: Playing in only nine games in 2017, Richard Sherman still made an impact on the field. 25 pass deflections, 25 solo tackles and two interceptions still showed the league that he still has it. Now in San Francisco, will we see that LOB Sherman or a new-looked Sherman?
67. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles: Zach Ertz is now top three tight end in the league with his 2017 performance. He was a big reason why the Eagles' offense was able to gear the team toward winning a Super Bowl. He had 74 catches with eight touchdowns last season.
66. Jurrell Casey, DT, Titans: Jurrell Casey has been a consistently formidable interior defensive lineman for the Titans for a number of seasons now, and 2017 was no different. Casey ranked 13th in both total pressures and pass-rush productivity among interior defenders.
65. Travis Fredrick, C, Cowboys: Travis Frederick was once again one of the game’s best centers, and probably the most balanced between pass protection and run-blocking. Frederick didn’t allow a sack all season and surrendered just 12 total pressures across more than 1,000 snaps.
64. Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, Chargers: The development of Melvin Ingram into one of the game’s best edge rushers went into overdrive in 2017. Ingram got pressure in every single game this season, and had at least three pressures in all but one game.
63. Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals: Geno Atkins is one of the most devastating interior pass-rushers in the league, as only Aaron Donald gained more total pressures among interior defenders than Atkins’ 70 combined sacks, hits and hurries. Atkins has freakish leverage and the ability to win in a variety of different ways.
62. Micah Hyde, S, Bills: Another player to benefit from the Buffalo safety revamp and scheme change, Micah Hyde came over from Green Bay in the offseason and immediately upgraded the Bills’ secondary. Hyde ended the year tied for the fourth-best coverage grade among all safeties at 89.8 thanks to five interceptions and five pass breakups.
61. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons: Devonta Freeman did not have great 2017, but he is still a top running back in the league. With 865 yards and seven touchdowns, Freeman kept his team in the game despite the injuries that plagued them throughout the year.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 60-51:
60. Devante Adams, WR, Packers: We all saw how good Devante Adams was after Aaron Rodgers went down. He had another good season for the Packers in 2017, catching 74 passes with 10 touchdowns. With Rodgers back, Adams should have better numbers and prove to the league that he is a top 10 receiver.
59. Aqib Talib, CB, Broncos: Talib allowed just 250 yards all season and 54.3 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught. He wasn’t beaten for a pass longer than 32 yards all year. Talib still backed up the best season of his career with the second-best – it just went relatively unnoticed because the Denver Broncos overall were so much worse.
58. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars: The man that had more touchdowns in Heinz Field than Le’Veon Bell did in 2017. The rookie out of LSU had himself a great season in Jacksonville. The rookie ran for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns which was third in the league. Fournette was amazing and now with the addition of Andrew Norwell, Fournette should take advantage of his improved offensive line.
57. Trent Williams, OT, Redskins: With the departure of Joe Thomas into retirement, Williams is another of the tackles on this list with a case to be known as the best player at his position. His 2016 season was the eighth-best single season grade we have ever given a tackle, with Thomas and Jonathan Ogden owning three of the seven better seasons.
56. Ryan Shazier, LB, Steelers: It is unfortunate to what happened to Ryan Shazier in 2017 and we here at The Fan Weekly wish him a speedy recovery. 2017 was his best year as a pro as he had 68 solo tackles and three interceptions. His speed alone makes him one of the best linebackers in the league and we know that he won’t play in 2018, but he deserves to be on this list due to his perform in 2017.
55. Telvin Smith, LB, Jaguars: Jacksonville’s Telvin Smith realized his athleticism this season and was one of the league’s best run defenders over the course of the year. Smith was 13th among linebackers with 33 total run stops during the regular season.
54. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: Even though he is the second back in the rotation for the Saints, Mark Ingram looked like he was that Heisman winning back at Alabama. He was fifth in the league for 1,124 yards and second in the league with 12 touchdowns. Let’s see what he does after suspension to see if Ingram’s 2017 season was no fluke.
53. Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings: Diggs’s season will be remembered for the Minneapolis Miracle – the miracle walk-off play to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and keep the Minnesota Vikings postseason alive. He led the NFL in contested catch rate at 64.9 percent, despite being a relatively small-in-stature receiver, and was extremely productive when healthy.
52. David DeCastro, G, Steelers: DeCastro had his best season of his career in 2017 and his numbers proved it this season. DeCastro didn’t allow a sack all season and was only responsible for two knockdowns and 14 additional hurries over 17 games, while continuing his dominant run-blocking baseline.
51. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys: When Ezekiel Elliott is on the field, he's one of the best runners in the league. Missing time due to suspension last season really hurt the Cowboys. Zeke played in 10 games in 2017 and he almost ran for 1,000 yards, only 17 shy from making 983 rushing yards. If Zeke can remain on the field with no suspensions, he’ll make his way back into the top 10 for sure.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 50-41:
50. Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: The future is bright in Houston now that they found a quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Starting in six games this season, Watson was the offensive rookie of the year if he didn’t go down with his injury. He threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns. Imagine him playing the whole season? Watson will have a huge bounce back year in 2018.
49. Darius Slay, CB, Lions: Somehow Darius Slay‘s season flew largely under the radar, despite some eye-popping coverage numbers. Slay allowed a passer rating of 55.6 when targeted and was not beaten for a pass longer than 37 yards all season. He also had 21 combined interceptions and pass breakups, which led all corners by two over the season. In doing so, Slay also tied for the league lead in interceptions.
48. Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns: The highest Cleveland Brown is the newest Brown. Jarvis Landry is coming off a season in which he led the league in receptions with 112. Although he did not go over 1,000 receiving yards last season, with Tyrod Taylor and first-round pick Baker Mayfield throwing the ball to him, those stats are sure to go up since he now has two accomplished quarterbacks.
47. A.J. Bouye, CB, Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey broke out into a stud, but free agent acquisition A.J. Bouye proved that last season’s breakout year was no fluke. He was targeted 84 times this season and his passer rating allowed was eight points lower than if the opposing quarterbacks had just thrown the ball at the dirt 84 times instead.
46. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Philip Rivers had a great season in 2017, but I think next season might be even better for Rivers. In 2017, he threw for 4,515 yards, with 28 touchdown passes and 10 picks, which was down from 21 the year before. His yards-per-attempt average of 7.9 was his highest since 2013. Like a fine wine, Rivers is getting better with age.
45. Zack Martin, G, Cowboys: The Dallas offensive line had various struggles over the season, but Martin was the one player to not miss a beat. Martin led guards with a pass-blocking efficiency of 98.4 and had the fewest pressures among guards.
44. Cameron Heyward, DE, Steelers: The heart and soul for the Steelers’ defense is Cameron Heyward. Heyward led all interior defenders this season in sacks with 14, but also had nine quarterback knockdowns and 39 hurries for the Steelers.
43. Casey Hayward, CB, Chargers: Casey Hayward may be the game’s most underrated player and has been almost from the get-go in his NFL career. His rookie season was one of the most phenomenal performances we have seen from a rookie, and his expanded role with the Chargers has only seen him take his game to another level. Hayward allowed just 42.7 percent of balls thrown his way to be caught this season — the best mark among starting corners — while intercepting four passes and breaking up another 15.
42. Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings: Thielen also had a top-5 contested catch rate and tied for the second-best production rate in the slot. Among wide receivers with at least 120 routes run from the slot, Thielen finished tied for second with an average 2.11 yards per route run.
41. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings: He is an elite cover corner who plays on one of the best defenses. Rhodes is just now getting to his peak. In his sixth season, Rhodes had two interceptions, 10 passes defended and 44 solo tackles. Rhodes is one of the very best and continues to get better each season.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 40-31:
40. Harrison Smith, S, Vikings: Smith was one of the game’s best safety and the joker that allowed the Vikings defense to be so multiple schematically and great overall. Smith made plays as a strong safety, deep-lying free safety and a slot corner, giving the Vikings a legitimate matchup weapon on defense.
39. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: Allen was behind those Brown and Jones in yards per route run, but when targeted, he produced a wide receiver rating of 107.3, the seventh-best mark in the league ahead of both Jones and Brown. He also had 30 third down receptions for a first down or touchdown, the most in the league.
38. Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: Hill may be the fastest offensive threat in the game when true football game speed is considered and was able to generate huge plays against even the league’s best corners this season. Hill led the league in yards gained on deep passes (20-plus air yards) with 628.
37. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks: There are few players that impact a scheme as much as Earl Thomas does in Seattle, as his range and acceleration allows the Seahawks to deploy players in unusual ways but still be covered on the back end. Thomas’ average of 46.5 cover snaps played per reception allowed was fourth among safeties with at least 500 coverage snaps.
36. Tyron Smith, OT, Cowboys: At his best, Smith is arguably the best tackle in the game, but injuries have become an ever-increasing spectre hanging over his career. His run-blocking hasn’t been as strong as we have seen from him since 2015 and he surrendered 21 total pressures despite missing time last year through injury.
35. DeMarcus Lawerence, DE, Cowboys: There were several major breakout seasons throughout the NFL, but none were more spectacular than that of DeMarcus Lawrence, who became one of the most dominant edge rushers. Lawrence sacked the quarterback 15 times and notched 79 total pressures, the second-best mark among all edge defenders.
34. Joey Bosa, DE, Chargers: Joey Bosa is one of the game’s most dominant edge rushers already, at the end of just his second NFL season. Bosa had 75 total pressures over the season, the seventh-most among edge defenders and just eight shy of the league lead. Add eight sacks in six games and collecting 36 additional pressures over those games.
33. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: When Carson Palmer went down injured, Fitzgerald was forced to make do with a combination of Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert trying to get him the football. He still caught 71.2 percent of passes thrown his way and gained more than 1.78 yards per route run, a top-15 mark.
32. Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: Kareem Hunt was the highest-ranked offensive rookie for his performance during the regular season. Hunt led the league in rushing, but also in yards after contact with 839, an average of 3.1 yards per carry after first contact.
31. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Texans: With injuries hitting the Houston Texans defense hard, Jadeveon Clowney had to graduate in a hurry from complementary piece to the most important player on that defensive front. Clowney finished the season with eight sacks, 14 hits and 42 additional hurries, along with 40 defensive stops.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 30-21:
30. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: The 2016 MVP cracks the top 30 and while people might argue that Cam Newton is not a top 50 player, he still plays like it. In 2017, Newton threw for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns. Although he was second in the league in interceptions with 16, Newton hopes that he perform back to that MVP season.
29. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: Stafford has the best arms in the game and he proved that yet again in 2017. Stafford was in the top five in touchdowns with 29 and was third in the league in passing yards (4,446). Stafford is now working with a new head coach, and if the Lions can get more targets around him, watch out for this gunslinger.
28. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: LeSean McCoy had another excellent season for the Buffalo Bills, a team that found itself unexpectedly in playoff contention and ended up making it all the way to the final minutes of the wild card round against the Jaguars. McCoy totaled 16 explosive (15-plus yards) runs in 2017, which was tied for the second-most among all NFL running backs.
27. Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: With Calais Campbell departing for Jacksonville in the offseason, more pressure was put on the shoulders of Chandler Jones to be the Arizona Cardinals‘ primary source of pass-rush. He responded with 17 sacks, 18 quarterback knockdowns and 41 additional hurries, notching 46 total defensive stops over the year in a remarkable pass-rushing season.
26. Cameron Jordan, DE, Saints: If any player was robbed by the Minneapolis Miracle, it was Cameron Jordan, whose dominant second-half performance was the driving force behind the Saints stifling the Vikings’ offense and putting them in position to advance. Even so, Jordan had done that all season long, cementing his status as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. Jordan pressured the quarterback 74 times over the regular season and eight during their playoff game against the Saints.
25. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Matt Ryan‘s statistical regression from his MVP season of 2016 was inevitable, but what was notable was just how small the actual regression was. Ryan had an adjusted completion percentage of 79.3 when kept clean during the regular season, eighth-best among quarterbacks.
24. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: Kelce is one of the game’s true matchup problems on offense, and once again was a dynamic receiving weapon for the Chiefs. Kelce led all tight ends in broken tackles with 16, six more than any other player at the position.
23. Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints: Kareem Hunt saw more playing time and carried a bigger load, but nobody was more dynamic than Alvin Kamara for the Saints this season. Kamara led the league with 29 broken tackles in the receiving game, five more than any other back and had an average of 3.8 yards per carry after contact. Just another target for Drew Brees for seasons to come.
22. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: The Cincinnati Bengals‘ offense this season was a mess, and it resulted in almost everybody suffering a decline in performance, but A.J. Green remained one of the best receivers in the game and was almost immune to the decline. Green still gained more than two yards per route run, a top-10 figure among all wide receivers.
21. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Big Ben appeared to have been toying with retirement for a while and his level of play seemed to be waning along with his desire to play, but he has already confirmed his intention to play in 2018 off the back of a major bounce-back season. Roethlisberger had a passer rating of 114.7 when using play action during the regular season, sixth in the NFL.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 20-11:
20. Patrick Peterson, CB, Cardinals: Peterson continues to be an outstanding cover player who travels with the opposition's best receiver. Though his numbers declined this past season, Peterson had 30 solo tackles and one interception. Peterson has had at least one interception each season since coming into the league which proves that Peterson can still get the job done.
19. Bobby Wagner, MLB, Seahawks: Bobby Wagner was one of the few players whose play jumps off the screen when you watch tape for most of the season for the Seahawks. With injuries ravaging that defense, Wagner was the one player bringing it all together in the middle and keeping them playing well despite everything. He didn’t miss a tackle until the final three weeks of the season, when he played through injury and then missed three in three games to end the year, but his dominance when healthy was unrivaled.
18. Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings: The ending was ugly for the Minnesota Vikings defense, but before the NFC Championship game, this was the league’s No. 1 defense and their best edge rusher. This was the best pass-rushing season of Griffen’s NFL career, while his run-defense remained above average.
17. Calais Campbell, DE, Jaguars: No new acquisition made a bigger impact on his new team than Calais Campbell, who helped transform the Jaguars’ defense into one of the game’s most formidable units. Campbell generated 73 total pressures and 28 defensive stops in the run game. He was dominant throughout the season and had the best season of his career in a new environment.
16. Luke Kuechly, MLB, Panthers: Luke Kuechly remains one of the game’s best linebackers and best defenders period. He sagged three interceptions, breaking up another three passes and allowing just one touchdown from 62 targets. He also notched 51 defensive stops and wasn’t beaten for a reception longer than 25 yards all year.
15. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: There may not be another unstoppable force on offense than Rob Gronkowski, who became the single biggest focus of opposing defenses trying to slow down the Patriots for most of their biggest games down the stretch and into the playoffs. Gronkowski led all tight ends in yards per route run (2.40) during the regular season.
14. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: As much as 2017 was a disappointing season for the Seattle Seahawks, and even for Russell Wilson at times, he was still excellent overall. When kept clean, Wilson earned a passer rating of 109.6, ranking seventh among quarterbacks with at least 167 total dropbacks in 2017.
13. Khalil Mack, DE, Raiders: Khalil Mack took a step back in 2017, much like the rest of the Oakland Raiders who, as a group, under-performed this season. Mack had 78 total pressures over the season and led all edge defenders in defensive stops with 53, six more than any other player at that position.
12. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Nothing showed the kind of impact Rodgers has on his Packers than last season when he got injured and the team was forced to turn to Brett Hundley. Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the game and has five seasons in his career with an overall Pro Football Focus grade higher than 90.0.
11. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons: There is no more physically gifted receiver in today’s NFL than Julio Jones, who has the capacity to just overwhelm defensive backs athletically in a way most receivers just can’t. He just missed the top 10, but if Julio stays healthy, don’t be surprised if Julio makes his mark as being the best player in the game.
NFL Top 100 Players of 2018: 10-1:
10. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jaguars
In his sophomore year, Ramsey saw himself emerge as one of the best corners in football with seven games in which he surrendered fewer than 20 receiving yards. Ramsey has graded well against the run over his two years in the NFL and brings an aggressive physical streak, one that antagonized A.J. Green into losing control of himself and starting a fight between both players. Ramsey’s potential still remains pretty limitless and that is why he is ranked as the highest corner on our list.
9. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
What Hopkins has been able to do with the disastrous quarterback situation in Houston (briefly broken up by a few games of Deshaun Watson) has been little short of spectacular. In the last three seasons, he has proven that no matter who throws to him, he can still go up and catch the ball. Hopkins has just 20 drops over his five-year NFL career despite some disastrous quarterback play, whose suspect ball location leads inherently to more dropped passes. He has some of the best hands in the game and if you don’t believe me, go watch that touchdown on the Steelers Christmas Day.
8. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
If there is a quarterback in the league that proves it day in and day out, it would be Drew Brees. Brees took a step back from a fantasy standpoint last year, but that was due to the help around him on both sides of the ball. He was the most accurate quarterback in the league and it showed on the field. Brees can still get the ball down the field when necessary, making the Saints a threat to be wary of, especially now that they have two running backs that can get it done in the backfield.
7. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
There may have been no greater beneficiary of the coaching regime change with the Rams than Todd Gurley, who came back from looking lost a season ago to being a viable MVP candidate. Gurley led the league in overall PFF grade among running backs at 91.9, one of just two backs to creep over the 90.0 barrier. He only missed out on the rushing title because of being rested in Week 17 when the Rams had little to play for. Gurley made the Rams a better team and carried them to being the best offense in the league last season.
6. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Le’Veon Bell’s unique running style made him unstoppable this 2017 season as he is ranked the highest running back in the league. Still angling for that long-term contract, Bell remains one of the biggest matchup weapons in the game. A unique ball carrier who can influence the leverage of defenders and help to generate his own running lanes, Bell is also one of the best receiving backs in football and has seen 394 targets come his way over his career, including 112 in 2017. He has broken 100 tackles over the past two seasons on the ground and another 35 as a receiver, becoming a vital part of the Steelers’ high-octane offense.
5. Von Miller, DE/OLB, Broncos
Von Miller had himself a career-defining season. He notched 10 sacks, 12 hits and 61 hurries to still lead all edge rushers in total pressures despite the Denver defense around him taking a step backwards and his sack total belying the elite pass-rush he still brought to the table. Although being among the top 10 must mean you’re not messing around, don’t be surprised if he secures an even higher ranking next season.
4. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
Before his season-ending ACL injury in Week 14 against the Rams, Carson Wentz was going to be the MVP this season. In only 13 games this season, Wentz had 3,296 yards through the air and 33 touchdowns. In his second season, Wentz improved his game making him one of top quarterbacks in the league and now entering his third season the sky is the limit for Wentz.
3. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
The 2017 defensive player of the year is the highest ranked defensive player on this list. Aaron Donald has only gotten better for the Rams, and he may be in an even better situation heading into 2018 with addition of Ndamukong Suh to the defensive line. Donald led the league in total pressures (91) in 2017, despite playing only 14 games and doing it from a predominantly inside alignment. Donald is the best player in football right now and practically unblockable when it comes to generating pressure.
2. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
Antonio Brown has been rivaled at times for the title of the game’s best receiver, but he reinforced his claim to that crown this season and was incredible for the Steelers all year, earning MVP talk before he went down hurt against the Patriots in Week 15. Brown led the league in receiving yards despite missing the final games of the season and also made multiple spectacular plays over the season. Brown was all over the field this season making him a threat whenever he touches the ball, but he wasn’t the top player of this year’s list.
1. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Tom Brady has gotten better with age and his strong performances have carried all the way through the playoffs. Last season, he attacked down the field more than he had in recent years, ranking second in the league in deep-pass accuracy while maintaining his usual excellent accuracy to all levels of the field. Brady ranked third in the league in big-time throw percentage in 2017 while finishing fourth at avoiding turnover-worthy plays, capping his third straight year grading at an elite level of 90.0-plus. Add an MVP title and another AFC championship to Brady’s resume as one of the greatest players of all time.