PFF’s Dream Team: Best players at every position
Steve Palazzolo selects the top performers at every position heading into Week 11 of the season.
PFF’s Dream Team: Best players at every position
As we head into the home stretch of the college football season, a number of players are starting to lock up their spots on what’s shaping up to be an unprecedented Dream Team. Even with a few wire-to-wire Dream Teamers, there is still heated competition at a few spots, but it will take clutch performances over the next few weeks to solidify the last few slots. Only a few positions turned over this week, but there’s still a lot of football left to be played.
Here’s a look at the PFF Dream Team heading into Week 11 of the college football season.
Trevone Boykin, TCU, +43.0
Despite the loss to Oklahoma State, Boykin wasn’t all to blame, and he’s still been the best quarterback in the nation this season. His 1,115 yards on deep passes rank third in the nation, while he ranks second with 14 deep touchdowns against only one interception. Boykin also boasts the 15th-best run grade off all quarterbacks in the country.
Leonard Fournette, LSU, +30.5
While the results were not what Fournette was hoping for against Alabama, it’d be hard to find any running back that could muster more than the 31 yards he earned last Saturday night. Alabama’s run defense was utterly dominant, giving Fournette nowhere to run. Of the 31 yards, 30 came after contact, showing that he just didn’t have much of a chance. For the 2015 season, he’s still the nation’s best, leading in run grade (+28.4) and yards after contact (786), while ranking sixth in elusive rating (119.7).
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State, +30.9
Almost flying under the radar at this point of the season, Elliott has run over 100 yards in every game this season, and his +16.2 run grade ranks ninth in the nation. He’s added a +2.9 grade as a receiver, and the nation’s top blocking grade as a RB—he’s yet to surrender a pressure this season.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford +29.0
Up to the No. 3 overall grade in the country, McCaffrey has the top receiving grade at +9.5 and sixth-best run grade at +18.9. His Heisman hopes are alive and well, as his overall game has sparked Stanford’s run toward the College Football Playoff.
Josh Doctson, TCU, +27.2 receiving
Held to under 100 yards for the first time since Week 2, Doctson also found himself injured toward the end of the Oklahoma State game. It sounds like he’ll be back to play, and we’re all grateful, as he’s been outstanding this season. Doctson has been an efficient, high-volume receiver, catching 73 percent of his targets; his 553 yards on deep passes rank third in the nation.
Corey Coleman, Baylor, +22.0 receiving
Coleman has put together a historic season, as he leads the nation with 20 touchdowns, doing so while running only 218 routes on the year—a whopping 9.1 percent of his routes find the end zone. He’s also averaged 5.22 yards per route, over a yard better than Doctson, who ranks second. Coleman’s 466 yards on deep passes rank fourth in the nation, and he’s a possible Heisman contender if he keeps this pace throughout the month of November.
Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State, +18.7 receiving
Back on the Dream Team after a hiatus, Burbridge had a huge game against Nebraska, catching 10 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. He’s caught 68 percent of his deep pass attempts, by far the highest percentage in the nation, and he’s gained at least 100 yards in seven of nine games this season.
David Morgan, UTSA, +27.0
One of the few throwback tight ends in the country, Morgan’s +19.7 run blocking grade leads the way, while his 5.3 receiving grade ranks seventh. UTSA will line Morgan up as a traditional tight end, where he handles defensive ends and linebackers in the run game, but they’ll also line up out wide and run screens behind his powerful blocks on defensive backs. That versatility is going to make it difficult to unseat Morgan over the next few weeks.
Joe Dahl, Washington State, +15.7 pass blocker
On a bye this week, Dahl maintains his spot on the Dream Team team. Last week’s notes: A smooth-moving pass protector, Dahl maintains his lead with a +15.7 pass blocking grade that is tops in the nation among offensive tackles. He did give up a sack and three hurries against Stanford, putting him at three sacks, two hits, and 12 hurries for the season, but it’s the 509 attempts in pass protection that make those numbers impressive. He’s now at a solid +5.0 as a run blocker, as well.
Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky, +29.4 overall
Also on a bye, here’s what we said about Lamp last week: Lamp returns to the team, as he’s graded positively in every game this season. His +29.4 overall grade leads the nation, surrendering only four hits and four hurries on 388 pass block attempts, good for a pass blocking grade of +11.5, which ranks right behind Dahl. He’s also added a +14.9 run blocking grade that ranks fifth.
Joshua Garnett, Stanford, +38.8
Already grading as the best guard in the nation, Garnett put together one of the better run blocking efforts you’ll see against Colorado. His +31.4 run blocking grade leads all guards, as Garnett’s just as proficient at destroying defensive tackles at the point of attack as he is finding defenders in space while pulling. He’s been a key part of McCaffrey’s Heisman campaign.
Chase Roullier, Wyoming, +37.5
A strong all-around effort nets Roullier on the team once again, as his +26.0 run grade ranks third in the nation, while his +9.3 grade in pass protection ranks fifth. He does a fine job on the move, picking up a large percentage of his positive blocks while pulling, and he’s only surrendered a hit and two hurries on 335 pass attempts (99.3 pass block efficiency ranks third among guards).
Matt Skura, Duke, +37.1
Another strong week for Skura, a Dream Team regular, as he graded at +4.3 against North Carolina. His +29.1 grade in the run game leads all centers and his +5.5 pass blocking grade ranks fifth, as he’s surrendered only six pressures all season.
Joey Bosa, Ohio State, +54.1
The most dominant edge player in the nation, Bosa put together his best game of the season against Minnesota, grading at +13.3 overall. He didn’t have a sack, but Bosa picked up three QB hits and nine hurries on 43 rushes. His 2015 season total now includes four sacks, a nation-high 17 QB hits, and 29 hurries for a pass rush productivity grade of 16.3 (second in the nation). Bosa boasts the top run grade at +22.9, and he is once again positioned to be the top-graded player at the position for the second year in a row.
Charles Harris, Missouri, +45.8
Separating from the rest of the pack (at least for one week), Harris put together a strong +6.6 effort against Mississippi State that included a sack, three hits, and eight hurries on 41 rushes. For the season, his +28.4 pass rush grade ranks fourth, as he’s totaled seven sacks, 12 hits, and 25 hurries to go with a +15.6 grade against the run, sixth-best in the nation.
DeForest Buckner, Oregon, +56.3
There’s no slowing down Buckner, who posted a +7.3 overall grade against Cal, furthering his lead as the top interior defensive lineman in the nation. His +34.8 pass rush grade is atop college football by a healthy margin on the strength of eight sacks, seven hits, and 34 hurries on 381 rushes. Against the run, his +22.1 grade ranks eighth in the country, and his run stop percentage of 11.3 percent leads all Power-5 interior defensive linemen.
Sheldon Rankins, Louisville, +41.9
Earning his way back on the team with a +4.6 effort against Syracuse, Rankins boasts the fourth-best grade against the run at +26.5, while his +14.3 pass rushing grade ranks 15th. He’s right behind Buckner in run stop percentage at 10.6 percent, and his pass rush productivity of 10.7 leads all Power-5 interior defensive linemen.
Steven Daniels, Boston College, +45.6
The nation’s top run-stopping linebacker at +31.9, Daniels is also tied for 10th in coverage at +6.4, and ninth as a pass rusher at +7.7. He’s notched seven sacks, four hits, and seven hurries on the year, while arguably separating himself as the nation’s best linebacker.
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri, +28.2
“Stop Watch” is still very much in play, as Brothers now totals 63 stops on the season, 31 short of TCU’s Paul Dawson’s outrageous 94 from a year ago. His +23.8 grade against the run is second to only to Daniels’, and he’s posted positives in both coverage (+2.5) and as a pass rusher (+2.2).
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt, +23.4
A newcomer to the team, Cunningham has been one of the nation’s most underrated players all season. Like the others on the list, his all-around game is strong, as his +15.3 grade against the run ranks sixth, as does his run stop percentage of 13.6 percent. In coverage, he’s grading at +3.2, to go with three passes defensed. To further prove his worth, Cunningham’s added four sacks, a hit, and three hurries, good for a +4.4 pass rush grade.
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan, +19.0
Bouncing back with a vengeance, Lewis posted a +4.1 grade against Rutgers, bringing his nation-high coverage grade to +17.8. Despite being targeted as frequently as any cornerback in the country (4.4 cover snaps per target), Lewis has answered, allowing only 35 percent of those targets to be completed, while knocking away a nation-high 13 passes.
Nick VanHoose, Northwestern, +16.1
Returning to the team after another strong outing against Penn State, VanHoose’s +17.0 coverage grade ranks right behind Lewis. He’s been targeted 52 times, allowing only 21 catches (40.4 percent) to go with nine passes defensed and two interceptions.
Jeremy Cash, Duke, +37.8
Part linebacker, part slot cornerback, Cash is a Dream Team staple. His +19.8 grade against the run dwarfs the competition, while he’s still picking up pressure at a ridiculously efficient level (three sacks, 10 hits, 15 hurries on only 54 rushes). Add in a +4.6 coverage grade, and Cash would need to have a disastrous finish to the season to lose his Dream Team status.
Marcus Maye, Florida, +17.9
Returning for yet another week on the Dream Team, Maye had a strong outing in Florida’s 9-7 win against Vanderbilt. He’s shown his strength is in coverage, as his +11.4 grade leads the nation, while his five pass defensed are tied for fifth. Throw in a +5.7 grade against the run—plus his versatility moving around the defense—and Maye gets the nod once again.