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 fifth installment, containing players 60-51.
60. Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers
2017 stats: 49 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 pass defended, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recoveries
While Short is known mostly as a run-stuffer, he had a respectable 7.5 sacks last season. The five-year veteran does his job well, which sets up linebackers Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis to have success. He will be 29-years-old this season and will still be capable of having a great year.
Comments: “Short’s impact on the game is not shown in the stat line. His ability to take on blockers is among the best in the league, which allows the rest of the defense to be better.” -Joe DiTullio
59. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
2017 stats: 23 rushing yards, 6 catches, 67 receiving yards
Fans of Cardinals and fantasy football owners were distraught over David Johnson going down with an injury in the first game of last season. The good news is that he didn’t hurt his legs or his head, so he should be good to go this season without too many setbacks. Injured players usually end up ranked lower on these lists, so all Johnson needs to do is knock the rust off to improve his ranking for next season.
Comments: “The injury definitely hurt his stock, but beforehand he was one of the best running backs in the NFL. That won’t change because of a wrist injury. He will be Josh Rosen’s best friend as he balances the offense with his running ability and will be a solid safety valve for Rosen. He can do it all and will play much better than his rating on this list by year’s end.” -Joe DiTullio
“Johnson is one of the best running backs in the league. He declared that his goal for this season is to have 1000 rushing and 1000 receiving yards. What’s crazy is that his claim is actually not crazy, as in 2016 he had over 1200 rushing and over 850 receiving yards in essentially 15 healthy games. DJ could be comeback player of the year as well as an MVP candidate this year.” -Pranay Malempati
58. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
2017 stats: 3,302 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 59.1% completion, 754 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns
Newton is one of the most divisive players in the NFL, as some think he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and others don’t think much of him. In recent years, he hasn’t had the most help around him on the offensive side of the ball. Luckily for Newton, he can do a lot to help his team with his dual-threat abilities.
Comments: “For all of Cam’s faults, he covers up a lot of problems. Newton is the team’s best passer, rusher, and overall offensive weapon, something no other quarterback can say.” – Braxton Angle
57. Andrew Whitworth, OT, Los Angeles Rams
2017 stats: 15 games started, 6 sacks allowed
Whitworth is certainly getting up there in age, but still plays at a good level. He can’t be happy with the six sacks he allowed this season, as he looks forward to protecting Jared Goff’s blindside this season. Blocking and clearing holes for Todd Gurley was something he excelled at last year, as the Rams ranked eighth in the NFL for rushing yards. Whitworth still has a little left in the tank as he tries to win his first Super Bowl.
Comments: “Whitworth may be 36, but he still can play. His production took a dip last season in his first year with the Rams. Now that he is adjusted to his new team, expect a bounce – back year from the veteran tackle.” -Josh Burris
56. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
2017 stats: 4,095 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 64.7% completion
Although he won the MVP in 2016, Ryan’s play fell off in 2017. A lot of this blame has been put on offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but at the end of the day Ryan’s play is what is being judged. Ryan is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league and hopefully, another year with Sarkisian will lead to a more productive offense like they had in 2016.
Comments: “Matt Ryan was worth every penny they paid him this off season. Before Matt Ryan, the Falcons never had back to back winning seasons. Ryan led that team to a road playoff win and was one play away from going back to the NFC Championship game.” – Braxton Angle
55. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
2017 stats: 74 receptions, 824 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Ertz helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl last year by fully developing into one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He also smoothed the transition from Carson Wentz to Nick Foles, as he caught six passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in Foles’ first start of the season. He can do more than just receive though, as he is a solid blocker as well.
Comments: “Zach Ertz catapulted himself into the top tier of tight ends this past season. While the touchdown totals might regress next season, Ertz’s ability and offensive scheme will put him in a position to be great for years to come.” – Braxton Angle
54. Lane Johnson, OT, Philadelphia Eagles
2017 stats: 15 games started, 4 sacks allowed
In the wake of injuries, Johnson helped keep the Eagles’ offensive line together and performed at an elite level last season. He is a right tackle, which makes people not think as much about him, but he has proven to be one of the best offensive linemen in the game. In 2018, he can once again lead the Eagles’ offensive line, as left tackle Jason Peters tries to recover from his torn ACL and MCL.
Comments: “Lane Johnson is easily the best right tackle in the game. He should be higher on this list but linemen, in general, don’t get enough love and right tackles are especially dinged because they aren’t left tackles. Johnson is a top 50 player in the league.” -Joe DiTullio
“In my (possibly biased) opinion, Lane Johnson is the best tackle in the league period and should be top 20 on this list. The Eagles were 5-1 in 2016 with him and 2-8 without him. This season, he rose past his PED issues and allowed a grand total of one sack over the whole season. Although he’s a right tackle, here is the list of pass rushers Lane Johnson shut down in 2017: Von Miller. Khalil Mack. Joey Bosa. Demarcus Lawrence. Michael Bennett. Ryan Kerrigan (twice). Jason Pierre-Paul (twice). Case closed.” -Pranay Malempati
53. Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins
2017 stats: 10 games started, 2 sacks allowed
He usually plays through injuries and is durable, but Williams needed surgery to repair a torn tendon in his knee during last season. The hope is that he’ll be back and ready by the opening game. If he’s at 100% Williams would’ve been rated much higher on the list and if he comes back healthy, there is no reason to believe his play will slip too much.
Comment: “Williams should be much higher, but like many linemen on this list, is overlooked. Williams has been hindered by injuries the last couple seasons, but when healthy is one of the best tackles in the game. Since 2015, he has allowed the fewest pressures among tackles with just 52 (minimum 1,200 pass block snaps).” -Josh Burris
52. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys
2017 stats: 16 games started, 0 sacks allowed
Frederick is part of a very good offensive line in Dallas and had another superb season. Dak Prescott has given him a lot of credit in the past because of his blocking ability and high football IQ. He has made a strong case to be the best center in the game and has a bright future with the Cowboys.
Comments: ” Frederick is hands-down the best center in the game and should be much higher on this list. He had no sacks allowed last season, is a good run blocker and is one of the smartest players in the NFL.” -Joe DiTullio
51. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
2017 stats: 1,327 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 53 catches, 455 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
Hunt had a fantastic rookie season that no one saw coming. After Spencer Ware went down with injury, the third round pick was forced into action. He ended up leading the league in rushing yards and also contributed in the passing game. With a new quarterback at the helm, it is hard to tell how productive Hunt will be. The amount of touches he gets is a huge point of contention, as he had four games with under 10 carries. If the Chiefs get him the ball and can create some balance on offense, Hunt can have a great second year.
Comments: “A back that got shot out like a firework; he soared very high, burned brightly, and fizzled out as the season went on. A multipurpose back, his usage rate fluctuated towards the end of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how his sophomore year pans out in KC.” -Jay Louden