In celebration (or annoyance) of the annual NFL Top 100 Players list, I’d like to discuss my grievances with this mess.
I have a serious love/hate relationship with the NFL’s Top 100 Players list. On one hand, I love anything football in June. On the other hand, there’s no guidelines to this list. It’s player voted so basically anything goes. They say it’s based only on the previous year, fine, then why is Aaron Rodgers listed at #10 and Deshaun Watson at #50 when they combined to play just 14 games? Why is Odell Beckham, Jr listed #77 and J.J. Watt is #84 when they only played 9 games?
Fine, you have to take into consideration the full body of work for some of these legendary names. If you’re taking into account a player’s name/career, how on God’s green Earth can you tell me there are 9, NINE, players on the planet better than Aaron Rodgers?
Like I said, it’s not the list itself that bothers me. It’s the fact that the selections are so random. Is it who had the best season in 2017? Is it who has had the best career? Is it who is the most difficult to gameplan against?
There’s no way you will ever convince me that Tom Brady was the best player in the NFL in 2017. Just like there is no way you will convince me that Carson Wentz is a better football player than Aaron Rodgers.
But, I can be convinced that players are just looking out for their own. Jimmy Garoppolo and Deshaun Watson have each made just 7 starts in their respective NFL careers (only 5 in 2017 for Jimmy G.), yet they’re both on this list. I’m not sold yet on either of these guys, but I believe they have strong support from players within the NFL.
Alex Smith, who was on this list in both 2016 & 2017, did not make this year’s list after posting the most successful season of his career. Smith, a player that has been dubbed “The NFL’s ultimate game manager”, was the top rated deep passing QB in the NFL in 2017. Setting a career high in completions, yardage, TDs, INT%, Y/A, and QB Rating, it’s safe to say he should have been on this list. Especially when Matt Ryan, who had less YPG, less TDs, more INTs, and a lower QB Rating, was ranked #29; and Cam Newton, who had a lower completion %, less yards, less TDs, more INTs, more fumbles, less Y/A, and a lower QB rating was listed at #25.
At the very least, if they remain insistent that this list is based ONLY on the previous season, there needs to be a minimum games played requirement. How can a guy that played 5 games have had a better season than anyone who played 15 or 16 games?
I am infatuated by the Ryan Shazier story. He is a very good role model, great person, great player when healthy and certainly didn’t deserve to experience the injury he suffered. Even better was the Steelers converting his salary to a signing bonus so he can get guaranteed money while still keeping his health insurance to allow him to continue treatment and therapy in his quest to return to the NFL. It will be a miraculous story that will surely be the story line of multiple movies should he return to the field for even one snap, and deservedly so. But, to say he was the 47th best player of 2017 is irresponsible. In 12 games, he had 0 sacks, 68 tackles, and 2 INTs; hardly numbers worthy of the 5th best linebacker in the NFL.
Last but not least, based on the 2017 season alone, how can Todd Gurley not be #1 on this list? He certainly should have won the NFL MVP award, and was the most tantalizing player in the league. He had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage with 19 total TDs. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and really turned himself into a receiving threat with 64 receptions on 81 targets. Not to mention, Gurley carried a surprising Rams team to an NFC West division title.
It’s not that I’m not interested in the list; I don’t necessarily watch on TV, but I do follow along on Twitter to see the new 10 each week. I just strongly disagree with the voting system. It’s merely entertainment, I understand that; and the NFL certainly does a fantastic job of remaining relevant and at the forefront of sports year-round. However, as a fan/writer who studies the game, I’d rather see a more defined list. The NFL should come up with a stat similar to that of WAR (wins above replacement) in baseball that puts all relevant statistics in an algorithm to determine how much better a given player is than that of a replacement. Maybe that would be a more accurate representation of the best players in a given season.
Until WAR is introduced in football, we’ll keep debating and disagreeing on the annual Top 100 Players in the NFL.
Follow me on Twitter @joebuttgereit / @thefantasynerdz!