Tom Brady ranked No. 1 in ‘The Top 100 Players of 2017’

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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It’s an honor to be included among the league’s best 100. But when you make the final 10 of The Top 100 Players of 2017, that’s when things get special.

Feel those goosebumps? There’s a good chance some of the players listed below are experiencing the same sensation as they learn of their ranking. The anticipation is nearing its peak. Let’s jump right into the top 10 players of this year’s Top 100. Continue reading

Top 100 Players, Nos. 11-20: Derek Carr’s meteoric rise

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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We’re inside the final 20 of the Top 100 Players of 2017, which is where things really start to get fun. And my, how a year can change everything.

That was the prevailing sentiment as the Oakland Raiders sprinted to a Wild Card berth and looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender until Derek Carr was cut down by a broken leg. Oakland washed away the sins of a decade of putrid football in returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season, with much of the credit due to Carr. It’s no surprise, then, that the quarterback is in this Top 100 ranking, just as he was the year prior.

But No. 11?? Continue reading

Top 100 Players, Nos. 21-30: Gronk still ranked among the best

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Last week, we unveiled another set of 10 of the Top 100 Players of 2017, but one of them didn’t appreciate it very much.

While it was understandably frustrating to spend the season on the sideline and likely aggravating for J.J. Watt to see himself still ranked high — considering the standard to which he holds himself — it also was a great compliment paid to him by his peers. Whether he appreciated it doesn’t matter much, but it’s interesting, because in this week’s group, we have a couple of players who also spent significant time on the sideline, yet they’re still ranked among the top 30.

Rob Gronkowski and Earl Thomas missed a combined 13 games in 2016. Gronkowski went down after only eight games, which at the time led many to seriously question New England’s ability to contend. Newsflash: It didn’t hurt much, seeing as the Patriots celebrated the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl triumph last week at owner Robert Kraft’s home.

The loss of Thomas hurt Seattle’s secondary, but not enough to keep the Seahawks out of the playoffs. Watt’s injury also didn’t keep the Texans from winning the AFC South.

Continue reading

Top 100 Players of 2017, Nos. 31-40: Matthew Stafford rises

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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If you ever, even for a moment, think NFL players aren’t always paying attention to their counterparts, I present you with a 10-man group of selections in the Top 100 Players of 2017 that will undoubtedly prove otherwise.

In this group, we see the meteoric ascension of three of the league’s bright young stars. Well, one is just a one-position hop, but that’s because his rookie season was so good, his peers immediately took note. Continue reading

Top 100 Players of 2017, Nos. 41-50: Cam Newton in freefall

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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What can a Super Bowl hangover do to the ranking of the NFL’s top player from the previous year? How about a 40-plus freefall in theĀ Top 100 Players of 2017?

Cam Newton fell from No. 1 to No. 44 in this year’s rankings. A year after his Panthers flirted with regular-season perfection, steamrolled conference competition and the quarterback took home MVP honors, Carolina fell back to earth rather quickly, and the quarterback’s ranking took a hit in the process. Continue reading

Josh Norman one spot ahead of Dez Bryant in latest Top 100

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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We’re back with more Top 100 ranking releases, and fans of the pewter pirates will be happy with the arrival of two of their stars. A certain Colts quarterback is back from the bottom of the rankings, and new arrivals of young and old dot this group of players, including a defensive end whose inclusion was long overdue.

The most intrigue lies at the bottom, though, with a corner and receiver who had a memorable Thanksgiving meeting. One sees a massive drop, while the other is just minor, but are they warranted?

Dez Bryant‘s division got much tougher in 2016 with the arrival of Josh Norman and Janoris Jenkins. Spoiler alert: all three are listed below. But which of the two corners deserves the higher ranking? Let’s dive into some statistics.

Against Norman, Bryant was targeted seven times and caught three passes in two games. Five of those targets came in the second contest, the aforementioned Thanksgiving classic, which Bryant took for only 32 yards. The Cowboys won that game, though the most important contributions came outside of this matchup.

New York, meanwhile, was responsible for two of Dallas’ three regular-season losses, with much thanks due to the Giants‘ defense. In those contests, Jenkins held Bryant to just one catch on eight combined targets for a mere 10 yards. An interception of Dak Prescott was the cherry on top of Jenkins’ sundae of success against Bryant.

Considering this, maybe these rankings below will make more sense. Then again, maybe the flag you wave says differently. May the arguments continue deep into the night. Continue reading

Kirk Cousins rises to No. 70 in Top 100 Players of 2017

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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We’re back for more rankings, and more internet outrage — or, if you’re a Redskins fan reading this week, pleasant surprises.

Scroll down to the bottom if you’re a Redskins fan who believes in a world with Kirk Cousins behind the wheel. His go-to tight end with tantalizing athleticism is on this list this week, too. We can’t forget about the punishing running of a tailback in South Florida, either.

Let the debates rage on. Continue reading

Top 100 Players of 2017: Nos. 80 to 71

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Welcome back to another week of Top 100 rankings. This week, we tackle spots 80 to 71, and close to a third come from one team, which might surprise some folks.

Tennessee’s cornerstone tackle, reliable tight end and edge-rushing terror are scattered in this group of players. Are the Titans, who finished a game out of a wild-card spot and on the wrong side of a divisional tiebreaker in 2016, on the verge of becoming a true contender in the AFC? Their peers’ respect for them would lead some to believe so.

That and more below, where we start with a guy known as Minitron … Continue reading

Adrian Peterson falls to No. 98 in Top 100 Players

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Once again, NFL Network will be counting down the league’s best footballers on “The Top 100 Players of 2017,” broadcast weekly on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. Last season, then-MVP and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took the top prize. But one year later, the league’s hierarchy has changed dramatically.

Follow along as a new batch of players are revealed each Monday night:

81. Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Ever the model of consistency, Alex Smith is in the exact same place as he was after the 2015 season, firmly entrenched as the league’s 81st best player, according to those who play the game. This feels right. Continue reading