The NFL season is just over a month away. Here are the top 50 players ranked 1-50 for the 2018-2019 season:
*Like last week’s list of the top 50 players in the NBA: The ranking is based off a combination of the player’s history and their near future, taking into account age, injury, and situation.
#1 Aaron Rodgers
The Packers struggled to get the ball past midfield when Aaron Rodgers went down last season. No player is more valuable to a franchise than Rodgers, and no player is better than Rodgers. The flick of the wrist, the mobility, the touchdown-interception ratio, the accuracy, the attention to detail, and the arm resembles something created in a lab. The Packers should not be any good, but they are because of the greatest talent to ever step foot on the football field.
#2 Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald’s play on defense is game-changing each and every week. His first step and instincts make double- or triple-teams futile. Since Donald’s debut in 2014, he has racked up 39 sacks from the defensive tackle position.
#3 Von Miller
Von Miller is a workhorse and his domination as an edge rusher is incomparable. Miller is a nightmare for the pass and the run. Offensive coordinators’ sleep schedules are far from ideal knowing number 58 is coming on Sunday.
#4 Antonio Brown
Antonio Brown was once again the best receiver in the game in 2017, and there is no reason to believe he will not be once this season begins. Brown could see a dip in production, however, with Ben Roethlisberger likely to continue to decline.
#5 Le’Veon Bell
Le'Veon Bell is the most versatile player in NFL and the Steelers will forever rue the day if he leaves. Bell can change the game in several phases, and as last year proved, can change seasons. Bell was the only player with north of 400 touches last season.
#6 Tom Brady
Even as Tom Brady began to show signs of erosion late in the regular season, he was as surgical as ever in the postseason accumulating 8 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 1,132 passing yards with a passer rating of 108.6. The end is probably nigh for the most successful quarterback of all-time, and we will see if a drama-filled offseason impacts his continued production.
#7 Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz was the best player in football until his season-ending injury in December. Wentz has all the necessary tools to become the heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers. If it was not for coming off an injury, Wentz would be number two heading into the 2018-19 season.
#8 Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson began his career not needing to do much, now he needs to do it all. And he can. Wilson led the Seahawks last season in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. One could say Wilson is changing the position, however, is it changing if only one player is able to do it?
#9 JJ Watt
Health is the only thing that comes to mind for JJ Watt heading into the year. If healthy, nobody is stopping him. Perhaps the most gifted defensive player of all-time. He’s only been able to play 8 games the last two years combined and this is a key year to see if he can bounce back.
#10 Luke Kuechly
The middle of the defense is simply mastered by Luke Kuechly. It has become nearly impossible to turn on a Panthers’ defensive possession and not hear the name “Kuechly” on every other play.
#11 Drew Brees
Drew Brees’ 23 passing touchdowns were his lowest total since 2003 and his 4,334 passing yards were the lowest since 2005. But there was much more of a focus on the run game in New Orleans to extend his career. Brees did complete a surreal 72% of his passes and was very efficient in 2017. Brees is 75% of what he once was and that is better than all but four quarterbacks in the NFL.
#12 Julio Jones
Atlanta not only has a superstar wide receiver, they have a superstar wide receiver who is a quiet presence and lets his play do the talking. There are several teams that cannot match up with the size and speed of Julio Jones. In fact, Jones it the closest thing to Calvin Johnson today.
#13 Khalil Mack
Clowney is good, but he should not have been selected first overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Khalil Mack is a force and does what he wants. Expect a year close to his 2016 campaign coming with a new, positive vibe around the Raiders.
“You either have the charisma, the knowledge, the passion, the intelligence – or you don’t. …” — Jon Gruden
#14 Jalen Ramsey
Jalen Ramsey in the best corner in the game, period. Coming off a season where he gave up the same amount of touchdowns as the writer of this list, he should be even better in his third season.
#15 Tyron Smith
Obviously, left tackle talk is not for the cool kids, but the cool kids are not always right. Game-changing is what Dallas has at the tackle position. When healthy, Smith ensures the quarterback he is protecting is playing a different game than the rest.
#16 Calais Campbell
Second in the league in sacks last season, Calais Campbell played a vital part of Jacksonville’s ridiculous defense. Here is the scary part: it was his first season with the Jaguars after being an underrated star in Arizona.
#17 Ezekiel Elliott
Dallas missed the ridiculous combination of speed, strength, size, and athleticism for the six games Elliott was suspended. Ezekiel Elliott made a case he was the MVP his rookie season and will be close to that from come September. Last season, while the team was not quite as effective, Zeke led the NFL in rushing yards per game (10 games).
#18 Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley eclipsed 2,000 yards for from scrimmage last season and took a big leap forward in his already impressive career. Even if the Rams offense takes a step backwards, the wiggle room for Gurley is enormous. Gurley led the NFL in rushing touchdowns as well.
#19 Odell Beckham Jr.
He may be a headache, he may be hard to coach, he may be hard to root for, but he is worth it. When last seen healthy, OBJ was as good as Brown or Jones. It was unfortunate for him the Giants did not draft a quarterback in the first round.
#20 Rob Gronkowski
When on the field healthy, Gronk is the greatest tight end of all-time. This may be his last season, and if so, he proved all there is to prove.
#21 Patrick Peterson
Peterson should be ready for a bounce-back season. He possesses the rare ability to travel with a top receiver and shut them down. Peterson is at the top of the least favorite players to go against amongst fantasy football owners in PPR leagues.
#22 Cameron Jordan
The Saints emerged out of nowhere last season and that was in large part of the play of Cameron Jordan on defense. Jordan was tied with the fourth most sacks and can also affect the game once the ball is in the air.
#23 DeAndre Hopkins
“Watson to Hopkins” will be heard around the country each and every Sunday. DeAndre Hopkins has all the tools to become a Hall-of-Fame receiver. Last season Hopkins was second in receiving yards per game and did so at times with embarrassing quarterback play.
#24 Earl Thomas
The Legion of Boom is no more, but the most important piece is still in Seattle. Thomas remains the best safety in the game and as long as he is around, the Seahawks’ defense will be dangerous.
#25 Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck is supposed to have no limitations, and if that means he is back to normal, the NFL is on notice. From the moment Luck stepped foot in the NFL it was not hard to envision him becoming great. The last time he was seen the Colts were bad, they still are, but with Luck (and some luck), they can be a playoff team.
#26 Everson Griffen
In case you didn’t know, the Vikings have a monster on the edge. Coming into his 10th season, Everson Griffen may not be able to re-create his 2017 season, however, 80-90% of it still dominant.
#27 Zack Martin
Tax season is Christmas for accountants, having Zack Martin blocking is Christmas weekly for a running back. Martin impacts the run more than some running backs.
#28 A.J. Green
A.J. Green is a long, fast, smart receiver that gives the Bengals one of the most lethal weapons in the league. Green has become the face of a dysfunctional franchise. Imagine if A.J. Green had someone better throwing him the ball. Yeah.
#29 Harrison Smith
Harrison Smith plays the run as well as he does the pass. The versatile safety is just getting going. A big year for the Vikings defense is on the way led by Smith and …
#30 Xavier Rhodes
Xavier Rhodes thrives against the league’s best and what he did last season was just a sneak peek of what he will be able to do going forward. The All-Pro corner will pass Peterson in the cornerback hierarchy in a year.
#31 Bobby Wagner
Wagner stepped up in a big way when the Seahawks’ defense was decimated by injuries. Once just another above average player on a great defense, Wagner has transitioned into a great player and the team leader in Seattle.
#32 Travis Kelce
#33 Demarcus Lawrence
The name DeMarcus Lawrence may sound familiar. That is because A – the Cowboys are always television and B – his name was spoken so frequently last season. Just 26-years-old, the former Boise State Bronco should be as good if not better in 2018-19.
#34 Joey Bosa
Joey Bosa was third in the NFL in combined tackles amongst defensive linemen last season and also racked up 12.5 sacks. Bosa was also responsible for four forced fumbles. His third season will not be kind to the 13 teams scheduled to face the Chargers.
#35 Jimmy Garoppolo
How many quarterbacks were better than Jimmy G once the 49ers were turned over to him? Not many. The 49ers robbed the Patriots and now have their quarterback of the future and maybe the quarterback of the future. If you know what it feels like to lose a game in the NFL as a starter, please tell Jimmy Garoppolo. Because he does not.
#36 David Johnson
One thing is for sure, if David Johnson did not go down with an injury, Arizona would not have been 22nd in total offense and certainly would not have been 30th in rushing. David Johnson is a special player and no player, coach, or fan of the opposing team is looking forward to playing against him.
#37 Matthew Stafford
Stafford may never reach the heights of winning an MVP or being recognized as one of the best quarterbacks in the game, but he is without question one of the better quarterbacks in the game right now and in his prime. With a rocket arm that can never be counted out, Stafford finished top six in yards (3rd), passing touchdowns (4th), passer rating (6th), and completion percentage (6th).
#38 Chandler Jones
Last season’s sack leader continues to leave marks as one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. Chandler Jones has proven he was not a product of the Patriots system.
#39 Jadeveon Clowney
The ridiculous hype coming into the NFL for Clowney is starting to become justified. Season number five could be where the world finally witnesses the nightmare/dream combination of Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt in full force.
#40 Cam Newton
We may never see 2015 Cam Newton again, when he won MVP.. But 2017-18 Cam Newton is still one of the most dynamic players in the game and instantly makes the Panthers a threat each week.
#41 Alvin Kamara
In his rookie season, Alvin Kamara ranked 3rd in all-purpose yardage. Kamara was nothing short of a devastating runner and pass catcher. If he gets better, several players are about to be bumped down.
#42 Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben all of a sudden is refocused now that he will have Mason Rudolph looking over his shoulder. Does Ben Roethlisberger have one more run left in him? The five touchdowns against Jacksonville in the playoffs indicate that.
#43 LeSean McCoy
What will come of the LeSean McCoy on-going domestic violence investgation is unknown at this point. McCoy is coming off an impressive season where he helped lead the Bills to the playoffs. McCoy is entering his 10th season, and it does not seem there are six running backs better.
#44 Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan is consistent, can get the job done, and shows flashes of greatness. If Ryan is leading your franchise you are in good, sometimes great hands.
#45 A.J. Bouye
Alongside Jalen Ramsey, the Jags have by the best cornerback duo in the NFL. With a great understanding of what receivers are going to do, along with the length to match up, Bouye allowed a passer rating of 31.6, via Pro Football Focus.
#46 Tyreek Hill
#47 Casey Hayward
It was a big season for Hayward in Los Angeles. Hayward has been significantly better with the Chargers than he ever was under Capers in Green Bay.
#48 Philip Rivers
After throwing 21 interceptions in 2016, Rivers reduced that number down to 10 in 2016. Rivers is not done yet and the Chargers may have a Super Bowl run in them. Philip Rivers remains the most competitive quarterback in the NFL.
#49 Fletcher Cox
The Eagles have a ton of good players, and the hard-working underappreciated Cox is one of the most important pieces. Much of the same should be expected for one Fletcher Cox this season.
#50 Deshaun Watson
Potential: “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something [great] in the future.” DeShaun Watson showed immense potential before injuring his knee last year, and he would be higher if his return to form this year–especially when part of his dynamism is his running ability–was guaranteed.