The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2017 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2018 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2018 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.
This is the seventh installment, containing players 40-31.
40. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
2017 stats: 4,446 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 65.7% completion
Stafford has elevated his level of play the last three seasons and is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has completed over 65% of his passes in those three years and has generated a lot of the Lions’ offense with a lack of a running game. In 2018, his job will be to try to get Detroit back to the playoffs for the fourth time in his career and the first time since 2016.
Comments: “This seems to be about the perfect spot for Stafford. He is a true gunslinger and will continue to carry this team and make others around him better.”- Robert Hanes
39. David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers
2017 stats: 12 games started, 3 sacks allowed
The Packers’ offensive line has gotten some criticism over the last few seasons, but Bakhtiari has played well. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and likely would’ve made it last season had he been able to play all 16 games. It is important that he stays healthy so that he can protect Aaron Rodgers as he returns from his broken collarbone.
Comments: “Bakhtiari may be a bit too high on this list, considering Lane Johnson, Trent Williams, and Andrew Whitworth are all better than him. Regardless, Bakhtiari has been an underrated protector of Aaron Rodgers’ blind side for years and will continue to hold down the fort.” -Pranay Malempati
38. Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
2017 stats: 46 total tackles, 9 sacks
Cincinnati has had some tough seasons the last two years, even though they are getting great play out of Geno Atkins. He generates a lot of pressure on the quarterback and does a good job stopping the run. The Georgia product is 30-years-old but isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, making him likely to have another productive season in 2018.
Comments: “While he isn’t very vocal, his play has done a lot of speaking for him: powerful, straightforward and bruising; the truth hurts. It’s remarkable that he’s been able to come back from an ACL tear midway through his career and still have such an impact on the interior line. His hit/shove on DeSean Watson last season should tell you that Atkins doesn’t mess around with finesse moves and he’ll still get to frustrate and terrorize guards” – Jay Louden
37. Everson Griffen, DE, Minnesota Vikings
2017 stats: 45 total tackles, 13 sacks, 1 pass defended, 3 forced fumbles
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2014, Griffen has been highly productive, even if he doesn’t get a lot of recognition. He will be a part of another Vikings defense that figures to be solid under Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Griffen, along with the rest of the defensive line, benefit from good coverage, while the secondary has cover less amount of time when the defensive line gets pressure on the opposing quarterback.
Comments: “Griffen doesn’t get appreciated as much as he should. When he was given a chance after riding the bench for the first few years of his career, he has run with it. He is one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and could be even higher on this list.” -Joe DiTullio
36. Jason Kelce, C, Philadelphia Eagles
2017 stats: 16 games started, 2 sacks allowed
Kelce is the anchor of a very good offensive line and is one of the best centers in the game. He isn’t the biggest offensive linemen, so he uses his quickness and intelligence well. His post-Super Bowl quotes made him even more famous, but his blocking on the field is what lands him on this list.
Comments: “What people will remember from last season about Jason Kelce is his incredible speech at the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade. But before that, he was the best center in the league all season long. He has been up and down in recent seasons, but I think his play will stay at a high level in 2018.” -Pranay Malempati
35. Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
2017 stats: 52 total tackles, 5 interceptions, 18 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 touchdown
Most thought that the Saints were getting a good player when they selected Lattimore with the 11th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he totally exceeded any expectations in his rookie season. He was a shut-down corner for the Saints this season, which made the whole defense better. After such a great rookie season, Lattimore is on pace to have a great career.
Comments: “Lattimore had an exceptional rookie season last year on the young Saints defense. He was the only starting outside corner to go the entire season without allowing any touchdowns. This year, he will get even better and live up to this ranking.” -Pranay Malempati
34. Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys
2017 stats: 13 games started, 3 sacks allowed
Smith is an elite left tackle in the NFL. Like other players on this list, his impact may be more fully seen when he isn’t on the field. In the three games Smith missed, the Cowboys played terribly and were unable to generate much of an offense. When he is on the field, along with Ezekiel Elliot, the offense can usually move the chains and put up points.
Comments: “This guy could be rated even higher. He is easily a top 3 LT if not the best and he plays on probably the best NFL line. If he can continue to protect Prescott he will help to quietly lead the Cowboys back to the playoffs.”- Robert Hanes
33. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
2017 stats: 102 receptions, 1,393 receiving yards, 6 receiving touchdowns
While he has had some injury issues in his career when Allen is on the field he performs well. Last season was his best yet in terms of yardage and receptions. He will be the go-to receiver for Phillip Rivers, especially after Hunter Henry went down with an ACL. 2018 will be a big opportunity for Allen and the Chargers.
Comments: “When the guy is healthy, watch out. He and Rivers have created quite the dynamic duo and now that they have solid pieces around them, they should be looking for a deep playoff run.”- Robert Hanes
32. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
2017 stats: 728 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 81 receptions, 826 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
The Saints were able to have players win both Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year in Kamara and Lattimore. Kamara can change the course of a game because of his ability to run and catch the football. This has taken a lot of pressure off of Drew Brees and made the offense more efficient. With a year of NFL experience under his belt, Mark Ingram out for four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and Brees at quarterback, Kamara has all the tools to have an even better 2018.
Comments: “The offensive rookie of the year made lots of waves last season pairing with Mark Ingram. Explosive, big and athletic. He was too much fun to watch every time he touched the ball. Sean Payton hinted that Kamara wouldn’t see an increased workload even after Ingram’s suspension, but after splitting carries with a back last year and the efficiency he had with what he was given, does he even need more touches to have such an impact? Doubtful.” -Jay Louden
” Kamara’s an all-around offensive threat, sort of like a bigger version of Darren Sproles. I expect him to continue his explosive play this year, even during Mark Ingram’s suspension. Kamara can be one of the best RB’s in the league and potentially help extend Drew Brees’ career.” -Pranay Malempatig
31. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
2017 stats: 83 receptions, 1,038 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns
After the last two seasons, Kelce has cemented himself as a top three tight end in the NFL. He has two straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons and has found the end zone 12 times over that span. Kelce will have to help break in Patrick Mahomes as the new starting quarterback in 2018.
Comments: “Next to Rob Gronkowski, Kelce is definitely the league’s next best tight end. However, No. 31 is too high of a ranking. There are plenty of undervalued offensive lineman and defenders that are better than him. We also don’t know how new quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be using him in the offense.” -Josh Burris