The NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2019 list is a players-only vote, which often sparks entertaining debates throughout the off season. With the list’s recent reveal, plenty of selections have caught my attention. Some players are being celebrated for past achievements instead of their performance last season. Other players aren’t getting enough recognition for their impact on the field. Let’s dive into some of the most eyebrow-raising rankings from this year’s list.
Too low: Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Rank: 86. Humphrey’s biggest plays of the season came during two of Baltimore’s toughest games. He scored touchdowns against both Seattle and New England, two games which the Ravens came away victorious. While he’s still a young player, entering his fourth season, he’s shown he has the ability to takeover games with turnovers, while also locking down some of the top receivers in the game.
Too low: Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller. Rank: 99. The 27-year-old tight end endured a breakout season in 2019, boasting career-highs in virtually every category imaginable. He registered over 100 yards in five different games last season. A pessimist will point out Waller’s top five best games all came in blowout losses, where perhaps the opposing team took the foot off the gas pedal, allowing Waller to accumulate garbage-time stats, but I don’t buy that narrative. Waller showed consistency throughout most of the season, and even put together a solid end of the year, with over 400 yards in his last five games.
Too low: Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett. Rank: 32. In a league that is increasingly more reliant on the pass, defenders who can get to the quarterback are invaluable and nobody brought down opposing passers more than Barrett last season. Along with 19.5 sacks, he also added six forced fumbles and an interception to his productive breakout season. Keep in mind the Buccaneers lost nine games last season. Teams often pass the football more when trailing, so if the Bucs lead more often in the 2020 season, Barrett will have even more opportunities to get after opposing quarterbacks.
Too high: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Rank: 46. Discussions about the fourth-year passer’s future in Dallas have distracted from the roller coaster season he had. You won’t see anything wrong if you only look at last season’s stats: 4,900 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes and only 23 sacks are all season-bests for Prescott. Look closer and the zero game-winning drives and fourth quarter comebacks are glaring on a team who missed the playoffs. Prescott also threw zero touchdowns in four games last season (all losses). A Cowboys offense, which boasts a talented running back in Ezekiel Elliott and a tremendous pass catching duo in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, sputtered far too often in 2019.
Too high: Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt. Rank: 45. This list is not a popularity contest. It is meant to recognize a player’s achievements in 2019 only, not throughout their career. Watt has even been openly critical about the list when he ranked 35th in 2017 after only playing three games. The ninth year defensive end played eight games in 2019 and registered just four sacks, which is far from what is normally expected of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. His three passes defended and 15 solo tackles don’t warrant his placement inside the top 50 of this list.
Too high: Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley. Rank: 51. Gurley’s production continued its decline into 2019. The former Rams running back will play for Atlanta in 2020. Gurley recorded season-lows in carries (223), rushing yards (857) and receiving yards per game (13.8). The former Georgia Bulldog was diagnosed with arthritis back in 2019. Don’t be surprised if that continues to limit his productivity in the NFL.
All game stats came from Pro Football Reference. The player rankings are from NFL.com.