For the third year in a row, Fan-I Sports is back with our Five Percenters, which list the top five players at their respective position. No need for a long introduction, so lets get right into it.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – 4,381 yards, 38 Tds (5 INTs), 65.6%, 112 QB rating
Andrew Luck, Colts – 4,761 yards, 40 Tds (16 INTs), 61.7%, 96.5 QB rating
Drew Brees, Saints – 4,952 yards, 33 Tds (17 INTs), 69.2%, 97 QB rating
Peyton Manning, Broncos – 4,727 yards, 39 Tds (15 INTs), 66.2%, 101.5 QB rating
Tom Brady, Patriots – 4,109 yards, 33 Tds (9 INTs) 64.1%, 97.4 QB rating
Honorable Mention: Tony Romo, Joe Flacco, Phillip Rivers, Ben Rothelisberger
After missing 9 games last season, Aaron Rodgers makes his way back on the Percenter list, this time at the top. Rodgers was the 2014 NFL MVP, which should have went to JJ Watt, but we all know the offensive player will always win that battle. Rodgers did have a great season, leading the league in QBR and thrown the least interceptions among quarterbacks with 400+ passing attempts.
Luck makes his way up the ranks to the #2 spot, ranked #5 last season. Luck has become the league's new golden boy, many picking his Colts to walk away as Super Bowl Champs this season; I beg the differ.
Manning, Brees, and Brady are on the list for the third year in a row but are on the decline. Only reason why the Super Bowl MVP comes in at #5 is because of the controversy around him regarding footballs. I personally don't take nothing away from his greatness, but too many questions marks still remain around his name.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – 280 carries, 1,306 yards, 13 Tds, 4.7 YPC, 65 1st downs
Demarco Murray, Eagles – 392 carries, 1,845 yards, 13 Tds, 4.7 YPC, 85 1st downs (with Cowboys)
Leveon Bell, Steelers – 290 carries, 1,361 yards, 8 Tds, 4.7 YPC, 73 1st downs
Lesean McCoy, Bills – 312 carries, 1,319 yards, 5 Tds, 4.2 YPC, 67 1st downs (with Eagles)
Eddie Lacy, Packers – 246 carries, 1,139 yards, 9 Tds, 4.6 YPC, 58 1st downs
Honorable Mention: Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Justin Forsett, Jeremy Hil
Marshawn moved up to the #1 spot after leading the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances – and if it wasn't for a bonehead play call, he would have scored the winning touchdown. I ranked Lynch ahead of Murray simply because this isn't new territory for him, Murray on the other hand only has one season of dominance under his belt. Also, I think much of Murray's success has to be credited to the Cowboy's offensive line, which was the best in the league.
Leveon Bell and Eddie Lacy are the young-bucks on the list, replacing Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. Peterson missed majority of the season after being scrutinized for disciplining his son, while Charles, who finish the season with 14 total Tds only, carried the ball 206 times. Both can easily make their way back on to this list.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – 88 catches, 1,320 yards, 16 Tds, 15 YPC
Antonio Brown, Steelers – 129 catches, 1,698 yards, 13 Tds, 13.2 YPC
Demariyus Thomas, Broncos – 111 catches, 1,619 yards, 11 Tds, 14.6 YPC
Calvin Johnson, Lions – 71 catches, 1,077 yards, 8 Tds, 15.2 YPC
Julio Jones, Falcons – 104 catches, 1,593, 6 Tds, 15.3 YPC
Honorable Mention: Alshon Jeffery, Odell Beckham Jr., T.Y. Hilton, Brandon Marshall, AJ Green
Dez tops out the wide receiver list. This was a tough decision picking the best receiver in the league because it could have easily went to Antonio Brown, who led the league in catches and yards. Dez had to share the rock with the league's leading rusher and still led the league in touchdown catches, reason why he got the nod. D.Thomas moves up 2 spots from last year's rankings. Thomas might be the best receiver after the catch, able to take a simple pop pass the distance.
Calvin Johnson moved down on the list because he had a lousy season to his standards. Only 71 catches and barely cracking 1,000 yards does not keep you at the top of the rankings.
Julio Jones makes his way on the list for the first time, after signing a 5-year $71.2 million contract. He beats out a great group of honorable mentions, who you can make an argument for as to why they should be on this list.
Rob Gronkwoski, Patriots – 82 catches, 1,124 yards, 12 Tds, 60 1st downs
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks – 85 catches, 889 yards, 10 Tds, 54 1st downs (with Saints)
Greg Olson, Panthers – 84 Catches, 1,008 yards, 6 Tds, 56 1st downs
Antonio Gates, 69 catches, 821 yards, 12 Tds, 44 1st down
Jason Witten, 64 catches, 703 yards, 5 Tds, 48 1st down
Honorable Mention: Travis Kelce, Jordan Cameron, Charles Clay, Heath Miller
This was probably the easiest list out of all positions. Gronk and Graham have been the best at their position for three seasons now, while Olson, Gates, and Witten have been consistently top tier for over five years. Graham was #1 two years straight, and even though he did have a great season, he had his moments where he looked averaged. I expect him to be a big part of the Seahawks offense, being the first real passing threat Russell Wilson has played with.
Gronk and Brady will once again be one of the best connections in the league, especially since the suspension has been lifted.
JJ Watt, Texans – 20.5 sacks 4 Forced Fumble
Robert Quinn, Rams – 10.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles
Mario Williams, Bills – 14.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Cameron Wake, Dolphins - 11.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
Eversen Griffen, Vikings – 12 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Honorable Mention: Jerry Hughes(Bills), Charles Johnson(Panthers)
JJ Watt made his way back to the top of the defensive ends list, and also the league. Watt for the second time in his short career, accumulated 20 sacks, also scoring 4 total touchdowns. Many think Watt should have been crowned MVP and rightfully so, but the MVP doesn't always mean best player in the league.
Quinn moves down a spot after dropping off from the 19 sacks he recorded in 2013 but still led the league in forced fumbles. Mario Williams moves up a spot, while Cameron Wake makes his way back on the list and Eversen Griffen join the list for the first time.
Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins – 53 tackles, 8.5 sacks (with Lions)
Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers – 35 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Marcel Dareus, Bills – 49 tackles, 10 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Kyle Williams, Bills – 41 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT
Sen'Derrick Marks, Jaguars – 67 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 safety
Honorable Mention: Haloti Ngata, Vince Wilfork, Aaron Donaldson
The younger players dominate this group, aside from 10-year veteran Kyle Williams. Suh and McCoy are easily the best two gap-fillers in the league, but Marcell Dareus is not too far behind. While Williams dropped two spots, his teammate makes it on the list for the first time. Dareus only in his third year, is expected to make a big splash this year, with defensive guru Rex Ryan calling the shots. The Bills have three players ranked on the Five Percenter list, which gives them the best defensive line in the league.
Suh received the most money ever for a defensive lineman, making it easier to crown him as the top d-lineman in the league. Money doesn't mean you're the best but if someone is willing to pay you $114 million just to clog holes and sack people, you must be the best at your position.
Luke Kuecly, Panthers – 153 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Navarro Bowman, 49ers – Missed 2014 season with knee injury
CJ Mosely, Ravens – 133 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
D'Qwell Jackson, Colts – 138 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks – 104 tackles, 2 sacks
Honorable Mention: James Laurinaitis, Chris Lofton, Lawerence Timmons, Daryl Smith
Not a very strong inside linebacker group compared to last year. The middle linebacker position has become the “forgotten” position, similar to running backs. Even though there are some talented middle linebackers in the league, most defenses are built around the outside linebackers. We picked a good group MLBs though, led by Luke Kuecly. Kuecly is exactly what you want in a linebacker, can cover sideline-to-sideline with the best of them, but most importantly he is very smart. I'm not sure if you will be able to find another linebacker more mentally ready for the game.
Bowman will make his return this season, and I couldn't be happier. Bowman has been one of my favorite linebackers to watch because he is always around the ball and make plays. If Kuecly is the most intelligent linebacker, Bowman is the best playmaker.
C.J. Mosley is entering his second season but I couldn't find many better than him at his position, and the ones I did find are ahead of him. Mosley with just raw talent made himself an anchor on the Ravens defense last season. Jackson and Wagner close out the list but very easily be replaced. Mosley should have been crowned Defensive Rookie of the Year, but Aaron Donaldson of the Rams walked away with the honor.
Justin Houston, Chiefs – 69 tackles, 22.0 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
Elvis Dumervil, Ravens, - 37 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Von Miller, Broncos – 59 tackles, 14 sacks, 1 forced Fumble
Lavonte David, Buccaneers – 146 tackles, 1 sack, 4 forced fumbles
DeAndre Levy, Lions - 151 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 safety, 1 INT
Honorable Mention: Terrell Suggs, Clay Matthews, Ryan Kerrigan, Junior Gallete, Conor Barwin
This was very hard list to put together, only because there is an abundance of talented outside linebackers in the NFL. Justin Houston led the league in sacks with a whooping 22. Houston has made a name for himself over the past three season, totaling 43 sacks.
He is followed by Elvis Dumervil, who tied his career high in sacks this season.
Von Miller rounds up the pass rushers, returning back to form after only totaling 5 sacks in 2013.
David and Levy are the two lone outside linebackers that aren't pass rushers, reason why they are on here. In the 3-4 era of the NFL, the outside linebacker position is more about pass rushing than actually knowing how to cover and stopping the run game. Both of these dudes are your more traditional linebackers, with the ability to cover along with stopping the run, and some occasional pass rushing.
Darrelle Revis, Jets – 47 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery (with Patriots)
Richard Sherman, Seahawks – 57 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 forced fumble
Aqib Talib, Broncos – 64 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 sack, 2 Tds
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals – 50 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 sack, 1 TD
Joe Haden, Browns – 74 tackles – 3 INTs, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble
Honorable Mention: Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis
The cornerback position has become the new prima-donna position in the NFL. Each one of these great athletes have bragged and boasted about how they are the best corner in the league; this season that crown belongs to Darrelle Revis.
Revis was the extra piece the Patriots needed to end their Super Bowl drought last year. I'm not really sure how I feel about him jumping from team-to-team, especially in the division, but we'll save that for another discussion.
Richard Sherman doesn't get as much credit as he deserves, mainly because he doesn't roam the field, but even with him covering one side, quarterbacks still don't throw it to his side, which still speaks volumes to me.
Talib had a very solid year but did not get the Broncos over the hump. Peterson and Haden are interchangeable but I expect one to separate themselves and rise to the top of the ranks.
Earl Thomas, Seahawks – 97 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 INT
Kam Chancellor, Seahawks – 78 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT
Charles Woodson, Raiders – 112 tackles, 4 INTs, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Glover Quin, Lions – 73 tackles, 7 INTs
Tashaun Gipson, Browns – 52 tackles, 6 INTs, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD
Honorable Mention: Eric Weddle, Eric Berry
For the second year in a row, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are the top two safeties in the league and I don't think anyone can argue this one.
I love Earl's approach to the game, even when he isn't on the field. Whenever Marshawn has a big run or scores a touchdown, one of the first players you see to congratulate him is Earl Thomas. That shows what kind of teammate he is and his passion for the game, you couldn't ask for much more. Kam is currently going through contract negotiations with the Seahawks which I think will end soon.
It's amazing to see Charles Woodson, at the age of 38 still putting up numbers. He's always been one of my all-time favorite football players, both college and pro, so to see him still playing and still producing is very gratifying.
Quin and Gipson both had a breakout season, earning the respect of their peers, being voted in the NFL's top 100 players. It will be interesting to see if they can duplicate their success.