The kickoff of the NFL regular season was just about two months away. Typically conceived as the dry spot of the offseason, and for good reason with the NFL Draft already 2+ months in the books and free agency way behind us. With not much going on, we decided here at Breaking Football to put together a list of our Top 100 Players for the 2017 season. Yes, based on what they do at NFL Network. However, we wanted to get it right.
Instead of just one writer presenting their list, we instead combined the ballots of 7 different writers and in-turn compiled a consensus ranking of Breaking Football’s Top 100 Players for 2017. The writers who submitted ballots were: Chris Gragnani (@GragnaniReport), Dimitriy Leksanov (@dimitriy_l21), Matt Cardona (@matttcardona), Mike Fanelli (@MikeSports22), Richard Gerber (@RichardGerber3), Tony Jaramillo (@tonyjaramillo_7) and myself.
Every writer had a different method which went into their individual ballots. For the most part, we tried to weigh projection mostly, because well, this is a list for this season, right? However, overall talent and past production of course played a role.
What we will do is release our consensus ballot in segments of 10 players, just like they do it at NFL Network. Writers will be assigned to cover each player and provide a short paragraph of insight on each player’s success in 2017, and mention other variables such as: strengths, production, role and their personal ranking, among other factors. We hope you enjoy our list and find it to be a breath of fresh air.
Let us know who we had ranked too high/too low in the comments below! Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter.
31: Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks
The tone-setter of the legendary Legion of Boom, “Bam-Bam Kam” is arguable the biggest hitter in the entire league. A punishing strong safety, Chancellor is one of the most underrated safeties in the game. You may be wondering how that’s possible, considering Chancellor was PFF’s third best safety in 2016, but Chancellor wasn’t elected to a Pro Bowl in 2016 by fans. That is mind boggling. Despite appearing in just 12 games, Chancellor racked up 85 tackles, nabbed two interceptions and forced a fumble in 2016. Chancellor was without a doubt the best playmaker on that Seattle defense in 2016 and no one hardly knew it. Chancellor hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2013, but his presence is always felt on the field. A modern day Troy Polamalu, Chancellor does all the dirty work for the Seahawks and puts fear into opposing offensive players. The man is an assassin who just so happens to wear shoulder pads.
32: Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
After a college career at the University of Washington, Peters was a first round pick in 2016 and set the NFL on fire; tying for the league lead with eight interceptions. Peters was also tied for first with two defensive touchdowns as a rookie. Already one of the best cornerbacks in the league, Peters produced another great year last season. Finishing the season with six interceptions and three fumble recoveries; both tied for second in the league. Teams who challenge him often regret it as Peters has a knack for jumping routes and turning them into interceptions. However, Peters will get caught on double moves often. With 14 interceptions and 46 pass break ups in his first two season, Peters has the stats to back up his play. If Peters has another strong season this year he could be in the conversation for the leagues best cornerback this time next year.
33: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson had the worst year of his career this past season. He threw 11 interceptions along with 5 fumbles. After a down year, by his standards, Wilson still managed to check in at #33 on our Top 100. Wilson was banged up for most of the year and still played in all 16 games. The Seahawks have one of the worst offensive lines and Wilson constantly had opposing defenses in his face throughout the entire season. However, Wilson still won games for the Seahawks en route to another NFC West title. Winning is the most important job of the quarterback and Wilson knows how to lead his team to victory. A healthy Russell Wilson in 2017 will show just why he is still one of the top quarterbacks in football.
34: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Landing at #34 of our Top 100 players in the NFL list is Ben Roethlisberger. After deciding to remain in the league for another season, Big Ben is challenging the entire Steelers team to be the best in 2017. Roethlisberger is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he tossed the third most touchdowns in his career. Surrounded by a prolific starting crew, he posted 29 touchdowns, 3,819 yards and 272 yards per game. Roethlisberger played extremely well, even nearing the end of his career. He missed two games, which is to be expected from Big Ben, but still found himself on perhaps the second best team the AFC has to offer. Stemming from his NFL IQ and brute strength. We have no clarification on his status for the 2018 season, but while he’s on the field in 2017 you know he and the Steelers will give it everything they have.
35: Zack Martin, G, Dallas Cowboys
Zack Martin comes in at #35 on our Top 100 NFL list as he keeps racking up the accolades. 2016 was another All Pro year for the young guard, his 2nd in three years. Not only that, he also received his 3rd Pro Bowl selection in as many years. Martin received 1st-Team All Pro votes from Pro Football Focus and the Pro Football Writers of America. His all-around talent is rare for the position as he excels in pass protection, run blocking and out in space blocking any and all linebackers attempting to get their hands on Ezekiel Elliott, so it’s no wonder why he is considered the best guard in the NFL by writers and players alike. At 26 years old Zack Martin is showing early signs of a Hall of Fame career, many more All Pro and Pro Bowl selections are coming his way so enjoy a player who has yet to hit his prime.
36: Marshal Yanda, G, Baltimore Ravens
In an offseason littered with fallen bodies, the Baltimore Ravens can still hang their hats on one of, if not, the best player at his position. Marshal Yanda wasn’t anything spectacular during his college days which culminated in him being drafted by the Ravens in the third round of the 2007 draft. However, any hype that may have preceded him has not only been exceeded, but completely obliterated by all standards. Since entering the league, Yanda has started 133 games en route to six straight pro-bowl appearances, three Second-team All-Pro, and two First-team All-Pro selections. Oh, and you can throw in a Super Bowl ring to boot. Beyond the accolades, Yanda has been one of the highest consistently graded offensive guards in the NFL. For the last three years, he has been graded out as the #1 guard by Pro Football Focus and has been the highest rated guard on NFL Network’s Top 100 Players for four straight years. The man also hasn’t let up a sack since Week 7 of the 2015 season. That is just insane. We are witnessing greatness, everyone.
37: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Miami Dolphins
For decades the Miami Dolphins have been a franchise known for their defense. From the early days with Super Bowl MVP Jake Scott, through the fabled “No Name” defense, up to the 90’s and 2000’s with guys like Zach Thomas and recent Hall of Fame inductee Jason Taylor. Times have been tough for the Dolphins defense recently, especially last season. But that’s not to say the team doesn’t have defenders who keep that proud tradition alive. Chief among them is standout defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh has been one of the biggest bright spots since coming to the Dolphins in free agency after the 2014 season. Thanks to the massive contract he signed, Suh has taken considerable amounts of criticism for supposed “under performance”, but when you look at his stats, he’s been consistently great. That greatness should only increase in 2017. With a much-improved linebacker group behind him and another solid pass rusher opposite Cam Wake, Suh should have more room to wreak havoc upon opposing offenses. If he can count on youngster Jordan Phillips next to him to step up his game, look out for the Dolphins defense in 2017. And it all starts with Ndamukong Suh clogging up the middle.
38: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Coming off his second straight Pro Bowl selection, Kelce topped off a strong 2016 season with a First-Team All Pro selection. Posting career-highs across the board with 85 catches on 117 targets for 1,125 yards. His four touchdowns was just one short of his career-high in 2015. However, with Jeremy Maclin now in Baltimore, Kelce assumes the alpha dog role in the Chiefs offense. Currently Kelce is considered by most as the second or third best tight end in the league behind Rob Gronkowski, but the 2017 season could push Kelce into the conversation as the league’s best. Given his pass success and the trust Alex Smith has with him, Kelce could finish the season with around 100 catches for 1,250 yards and eight touchdowns. If Kelce can put up this kind of season he will be higher on this list next year.
39: Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks
Even at 29 years of age, Sherman is still the top zone corner in the game. With a long, 6’3” frame, tremendous physicality, and uncanny football I.Q., Sherman is a turnover machine. However, one thing sets him apart from everyone else. Having been a wide receiver in college, Sherman knows the intricacies of route running, and can time his jumps as well as anyone out there. This is why he has been so disruptive his entire career, averaging five interceptions and 15.3 pass deflections per season. Furthermore, this is what allows him to be more than just a zone corner. With uncertainty behind him on Seattle’s cornerback depth chart, Sherman is sometimes also tasked with following a team’s top target across both sides of the field. In 2015, he shadowed Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown, holding him to just 51 yards and no touchdowns–Brown’s worst showing of the season with Ben Roethlisberger at full health–while also intercepting a pass. Brown is the best route runner in the game, so it takes a player with tremendous instincts to shut him down like that. Aside from being a monster in coverage, Sherman is also one of the best tacklers at his position thanks to his size, attitude, and coaching staff. Last season, he laid a devastating hit on Rams’ rookie QB Jared Goff that knocked Goff out of the game. Although Sherman is on the back nine of his career, he is still among the most complete players in the NFL.
40: Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
Since being drafted in the 1st round back in 2012, Fletcher Cox has been the staple of the Philadelphia Eagles defense. While some may look at his 6.5 sacks from last year and be quick to brand it as regression, that simply wasn’t the case. Due to Cox’s unique combination of size, strength, athleticism and disruptiveness, he routinely demands more attention. This in turn hurts his overall production, but provides more opportunities for the players around him. Cox is the most pivotal piece on Philadelphia’s defense, and leads arguably the best defensive line in the NFC East. Over five seasons in the NFL, Cox averages over 5.5 sacks per season – very good for an interior linemen. Look for him to continue to be one of the elite defensive tackles in the game and perhaps carry the Eagles defense into the postseason.