Best players at every position for Week 3

Khaled Elsayed IDs PFF's top-graded players at every position for Week 3.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Best players at every position for Week 3


We saw big touchdowns, bad interceptions and some game-changing plays throughout Sunday, as some players’ reputations were enhanced and others were shattered. But just which players delivered in such a way to make our Team of the Week? Let’s find out.

Here are the best players at every position for Week 3 of the NFL season:

(Note: Changes might be made following our review process and once Monday Night Football games have been analyzed and graded.)

Quarterback: Carson Palmer, Cardinals (+7.2)

Palmer tore the 49ers defense apart, even if his receivers didn’t help him out, dropping four balls. (Although Larry Fitzgerald is having a great start to the season.) Palmer has elevated his play since returning from injury, and that should worry the entire NFC.

Running back: Adrian Peterson, Vikings (+3.5)

One run probably answered any lingering doubts about whether Peterson still had it. He does. And the Chargers found out the hard way as he broke a crazy-good 10 tackles.

Fullback: Patrick DiMarco, Falcons (+3.1)

One block will get DiMarco the highlights, as he put Kyle Wilber on his backside to spring a touchdown. But his grade owed to more than just one play, and it continues his fine start to the year.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (+4.0)

He didn’t score any touchdowns, but a healthy 101 receiving yards and his best run-blocking effort of the season makes him our top tight end again this week. Sorry, fellow tight ends; it doesn’t seem like Gronkowski wants to be left out of the weekly awards.

Wide receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (+4.4) and Steve Smith, Ravens (+3.9)

What year is it? These two veterans rolled back the years to pick up two touchdowns each and top the 100-yard mark. Their presence here is pretty impressive, considering they kept Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and A.J. Green out in what was another big week for the big-name receivers.

Tackles: Terron Armstead, Saints (+3.8) and Morgan Moses, Redskins (+4.5)

Both our tackles allowed a hurry, but did very little else wrong. Armstead is quietly playing as well as any tackle in the league right now, while Moses will hope he’s put a shaky start to the year behind him.

Guards: Richie Incognito, Bills (+3.4) and Marshal Yanda, Ravens (+3.1)

You think Incognito had a point to prove in his return to Miami? Yanda didn’t have quite the motivation, but the model of consistency that he is, he had another stellar game.

Center: Alec Mack, Browns (+3.5)

After looking a shadow of himself the first two weeks of the year, Mack alleviated some fears regarding his comeback from injury with an excellent effort.

Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).

Defensive interior – ends: Jurrell Casey, Titans (+7.5) and Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins (+5.5)

The ever-excellent Casey moved to the top of our 3-4 defensive end rankings with a strong performance, particularly rushing the passer where he picked up a sack, two hits and four more hurries. Suh has got plenty of criticism recently, but he was on form against the Bills, even if he didn’t show up on the stat sheet in a big way. Look elsewhere for the Dolphins’ struggles.

Defensive interior – nose: Brandon Williams, Ravens (+7.6)

Russell Bodine won’t enjoy watching the tape of his matchup with Williams. The fearsome Williams ended the day with a massive seven defensive stops.

Edge rushers: Von Miller, Broncos (+6.4) and Elvis Dumervil, Ravens (+6.4)

It was a big day for Miller, who had nine quarterback disruptions and only let himself down with two penalties. Meanwhile, his former teammate Dumervil worked over Andre Smith with six quarterback disruptions of his own.

Linebackers: Jamie Collins, Patriots (+4.6) and K.J. Wright, Seahawks (+3.9)

The all-action Collins was particularly impressive rushing the passer with a big sack and another hurry. Over in Seattle, Wright didn’t let the Bears get away with anything, picking up six defensive stops.

Cornerbacks: Bradley Roby, Broncos (+3.7) and Johnathan Joseph, Texans (+3.5)

Roby caught as many passes himself as he allowed into his coverage, with his pick the kind that highlighted why the team spent a first-round pick on him in 2014. While Joseph was targeted 12 times by Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston, it’s worth noting he only allowed two catches and broke up three passes himself.

Safeties: Harrison Smith, Vikings (+5.2) and Walter Thurmond, Eagles (+2.8)

Is there a better safety in the league than Smith right now? It was another fantastic effort from our top-ranked safety against San Diego. In something of a surprise, Thurmond has thrived since moving to safety in the Eagles’ scheme.

Kicker: Nick Folk, Jets

He was the only man to nail a kick from 50-plus yards this week.

Punter: Shane Lechler, Texans

You can’t ask for much more than the ball placement Lechler achieved for Houston on Sunday.

Returner: Darren Sproles, Eagles (+1.2)

He is still incredibly dangerous on returns, as his touchdown proved.

  • enai D

    Harrison Smith was already the 2nd best safety in the entire league coming into this year- but he may have taken the throne away from Weddle. Is there anything he’s not good at? (great in run support- check. great in coverage- check. great as a pass-rusher- check.)

    • Allan

      You think Weddle was better than Earl Thomas?

      • Sam B

        Earl Thomas: elite deep coverage/speed, high level in everything else. Prevents receivers from showing on the stat sheetThe purest FS out there

        Harrison Smith: elite run stopping/hitting, high level everything else. Shows up on the stat sheet. A hybrid SS/FS; Eric Weddle pt 2

        9/10 people would call these two the 1A/1B safeties, and switch the order depending on which team they watch more.

      • Soren

        Historically Weddle has been the best safety in the NFL for the last couple of years. I think he was personally, because he has been elite in every part of the position in a much less publicized market and the talent Thomas is surrounded with, but there would’ve been an argument maybe not last year but the year before about who was the best.

        • enai D

          That’s a good point about Thomas- not only is he surrounded by other elite players in the secondary, but all over the defense. Sort of hard to judge the individual greatness of a player in that situation. Hitman Harry (and Weddle) are more on their own- the closest thing to another elite DB in MN’s secondary is Xavier Rhodes, who is more an emerging talent than an already elite one. The fact that Smith puts up the numbers and PFF grades that he has, given his supporting cast, tells you pretty much all you need to know- he’s legitimately a one-man wrecking crew at safety. And this from a guy who, coming into the draft, wasn’t even supposed to turn into a decent starter.

          • Bryan

            Have you ever thought that less talent around a player can inflate his productivity?

        • Bryan

          Historically? Enlighten me. What does market size have anything to do with skill? Thomas makes Seattle. Thomas makes Richard Sherman. Thomas gives Kam Chancellor the ability to do what he does best. Thomas is far and away the best FS in the league. Everything Seattle is able to do, starts with Earl Thomas. They could not run that defense as effectively as they do without Earl Thomas. He is the most indispensable player on the defense.

          • Mike

            Earl was there for the first two games(without Kam) and that defense look deflated. Kam and Sherman lock down half the field for Thomas. There is no argument to who has the best supporting cast of these safeties.

          • Bryan

            First of all, they played Aaron Rodgers in one of those games so I wouldn’t look too much into that. Thomas locks down the entire field for both of them. How do you not see that? Do you understand how they run their defense? He’s a pure centerfielder. He’s the best in the league at it. I’m not saying Minnesota has a better supporting cast, I’m saying not having it makes Harrison Smith able to stuff the stat sheets as a hybrid safety. Earl Thomas best stats are the stats that don’t show up on the other teams box score. Also, why do you think Kam and Richard are targeted as much as they are? Think about that. Think about why Kam hasn’t got paid yet and Earl Thomas has.

    • Rick S.

      Earl Thomas when healthy is easily the best safety in the league, especially true for the FS (center field) position. His smarts and recovery speed allow the Hawks to play coverages as close as they do…

    • Rick S.

      Earl Thomas when healthy is easily the best safety in the league, especially true for the FS (center field) position. His smarts and recovery speed allow the Hawks to play coverages as close as they do…

      • enai D

        Sorry bud, Weddle was the best, now its Hitman Harry. Earl Thomas is certainly an elite safety, but not the best.

        • Cant FixStupid

          Somebody is obviously a Vikings fan. Earl Thomas is the best Safety in football.

          • pbskids4000

            Earl Thomas = overrated

          • enai D

            Except he’s not (and you’re clearly a Seahawks fan). Weddle has been PFF’s highest graded safety the last few years. Harry was #2 last year. Now he’s pretty clearly taken a step forward and become the top safety in the league. That’s not a knock against Thomas, he’s an elite safety. Its just impossible to say he’s the best, unless you’re just being a Seahawks homer- there really isn’t any objective or statistical basis for claiming that Thomas is better than either Weddle or Smith.

          • Bryan

            PFF isn’t perfect. They grade what they see. However it’s not all about what you see, or what’s on the stat sheet. He’s the best coverage FS in the game and that should not be argued. If you argue with that you don’t know football. He’s great sniffing out runs. He’s an amazing tackler on top of it. He’s the QB of the best defense in the NFL, he makes everyone around him great. Does Harrison Smith do that? Does Eric Weddle make all pro’s out of his corner backs yearly? Earl Thomas does. What does that tell you? Think about it. Kam Chancellor would get taken advantage of in any other defense. But he doesn’t because Earl Thomas has everything covered, giving Seattle the ability to use Chancellor the way they do. Bobby Wagner helps Kam too, but it’s almost all made possible by Earl Thomas. Again, does Eric Weddle or Harrison Smith make all pro’s out of there CB’s??? I didn’t think so.

          • Mike

            “Think about it. Kam Chancellor would get taken advantage of in any other defense” I think we can all agree that this is the farthest thing from accurate. Reality might even be the opposite. Kam is the leader of that defense.

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          • Bryan

            Dumbest thing I’ve heard in awhile. Any above average QB is going to try and exploit Kam Chancellor all day long by creating mismatches. Especially when Richard Sherman isn’t moving around. Have you watched a Seahawks game before?

          • Bryan

            If Kam were the leader of that defense he would have gotten paid like it. Instead they paid the actual leaders, Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner. I have a feeling the Seahawks personnel department knows who’s the leaders are and aren’t.

      • Bryan

        Earl Thomas is hands down the best safety regardless of PFF’s grades. They tell you on the site that it doesn’t precisely rank them top to bottom, I didn’t think that needed to be stated but apparently I was wrong. Earl Thomas is the centerpiece of the best defense in the league. I’m a Packers fan so don’t give me that “he must be a seattle fan” crap. Harrison is possibly the 2nd best but not better than Earl Thomas.

        • Donny Reed

          The best defense in football lives in Denver and if you argue that You don’t know football

          • Bryan

            Ok I agree that Denver is the best defense. I won’t argue that. But Seattle can challenge that defense when firing on all cylinders and is still a top 5 defense if not top 3. But yes, as of right now I agree that Wade Phillips has the best defense in the league. But I can question the pass rush as best. Ware and Miller definitely make their case. So does Quinn, Donald, Long. Williams, Dareus, Hughes. I just think having the best CB tandem in the NFL is what really takes Denver’s pass rush over the top.

        • Donny Reed

          Best Defense in the league is Denver and it’s not close. The No 3 corner was highest rated this week and 2 of the top five corners in the league start in front of him. Not to mention they have the unquestioned best pass rush. Knowledge. Get sum

    • Samuel Mazzini

      Sorry, they’re definitely elite but not the best Earl Thomas and the kid from Cleveland who’s name is escaping me (Gibson -it came to me))are the two best Saftey’s although you can make a strong case for Harrison and Weddle ;Eric is pretty damn slow tho

      • enai D

        Weddle has been the best safety in the league for the last couple years, according to both PFF’s grades and the good old eye-test. Smith was the 2nd best. It appears that they’ve now swapped positions. Earl Thomas is a popular player and an elite safety, but he’s definitely not the best safety in the league.

  • Blyake Price

    Kyle Brindza belongs on the worst list as I commented he should but Nick Folk isn’t the only one who nailed a 50+ yarder. He made one of 58

  • Mike

    Folk wasn’t the only kicker to hit a 50 yarder this week. Carpenter of the Bills hit a 51 yard fg.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Shouldn’t the players that spot the ball for the kickers be graded too?

  • Karen B.

    How is Gronk ahead of Greg Olsen this week? Greg’s stats were higher.
    8 receptions on 11 targets, 134 yards, 16.8 average yards/catch 2 TDs.

    • Josh Coryell

      I’m assuming Gronk had a great game blocking.

      • Chris from the Cape

        Uhh….Yeah, its in the article.

    • Anthony Kreinbrink

      Apparently ESPN infiltrated PFF and forced PFF’s lips to Gronk’s ass. There was barely enough room, with all of ESPN already there, several with their heads entirely INSIDE!

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      grades, not stats here

  • bona4zona

    Why wasn’t HoneyBadger listed with +4.2 grade?

    • eYeDEF

      Pretty close and there’s a good argument he should have. He allowed one target on 3 catches with two picks. I think they figured Joseph was more impressive seeing how he was targeted 12 times and only allowed two catches with two PDs.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      his position is complicated, but he’s probably a FS on this list and harrison smith had a better grade at the positon. but it is a good question

  • Johnathan Pertolick

    Re: punter

    You can ask for more, like having the #1 overall grade for punting and kick offs, highest avg kicks, least returns, etc…

    • Chris from the Cape

      I think the Patriots punter had the most impressive week 3..

    • Chris from the Cape

      I think the Patriots punter had the most impressive week 3..

  • RobPark

    How is this measured? Purely stats? Can math tell the story? For example if the pats were number 4/5 by all the raters pre-season and now they dominate – does that factor? Why not as it implies people playing beyond expectatons/skill level

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      they grade the film, every snap, stats are overrated

  • Scott Kohler

    Terron Armstead is an absolute beast. He’s been the top tackle 2 out of 3 times so far