PFF’s Dream Team: Best players at every position
Steve Palazzolo selects the top performers at every position heading into Week 12 of the season.
PFF’s Dream Team: Best players at every position
With only two more full weeks to go in the college football season, time is running out to make a move and achieve PFF Dream Team status. Luckily, there is an intense slate of games scheduled for these last two weekends of November, so players can state their case on the biggest stage. That’s exactly what happened at the quarterback position this week, as a new name takes charge—but the battle is very close at the top.
Here’s a look at how the rest of the team shakes out after 11 weeks of action.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, +44.0
A Heisman-like performance against Baylor has vaulted Mayfield to the top of the quarterback rankings, as he graded at +8.5 last Saturday night. He’s done a nice job of taking care of the ball this season, with his five interceptions a true indicator of his performance (10th-lowest percentage of turnover-worthy plays in the nation). Mayfield’s accuracy percentage of 77.7 percent ranks eighth in the country, and he’s added 300 yards as a scrambler. He has a chance to make a Heisman run over the next two weeks.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, +32.4
Our top-graded receiving running back at +10.0, McCaffrey has Heisman hopes of his own as perhaps the nation’s most well-rounded playmaker. As a runner, his +22.6 grade ranks fourth, as he’s picked up 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns. Add in his +9.0 return grade on special teams, and McCaffrey is one of the biggest reasons for Stanford’s success this season.
Leonard Fournette, LSU, +32.2
Even with back-to-back off weeks by his standards, Fournette’s +30.8 rushing grade still leads the way. He’s tied with Oregon RB Royce Freeman with the most missed tackles forced among Power-5 teams, with 63, and his elusive rating of 122.4 ranks sixth in the nation. His Heisman hopes may be slipping, but he’s still been the best runner this season.
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State, +31.4
With Ohio State’s biggest games coming up, Elliott has his chance to sneak back into the Heisman race. He’s been extremely consistent this year, posting positive grades in all but one game and leading the nation with a +10.4 grade as a blocker. Add in his +18.0 run grade that ranks ninth, and a +3.4 receiving grade, and Elliott brings a lot to the table for the Buckeyes’ offense.
Josh Doctson, TCU, +26.3 receiving
Playing only 43 of 95 snaps against Kansas, Doctson added one catch to his resume, but it looks like his season is over due to injury. He’s currently the top receiver at +26.3, and ranks third in the nation with 553 yards coming from deep passes. Doctson’s 3.94 yards per route come in third at in the country, as he’s able to make plays at all levels of the field, and even when the ball is not thrown accurately. TCU will miss his playmaking.
Corey Coleman, Baylor, +21.4 receiving
Oklahoma’s defense did a nice job of containing Coleman, limiting him to three catches for 51 yards and keeping him out of the end zone for the first time this season. It doesn’t take away from Coleman’s special season that has seen him score 20 touchdowns while averaging an absurd 4.72 yards per route.
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma, +22.8 receiving
Just like his quarterback, Shepard makes his debut on the Dream Team after his 14-catch, 177-yard performance against Baylor. His +22.8 receiving grade is up to second in the country and his 2.9 yards per route rank 12th. While it may seem like a late rise for Shepard, he’s only posted one negative grade all season.
David Morgan, UTSA, +31.2
Another powerful effort as a run blocker against Charlotte, Morgan is one of the few all-around tight ends the country has to offer. His +24.1 run blocking grad leads at the position, while his +4.9 receiving grade ranks seventh. He’s second on UTSA with 456 receiving yards, and leads the team with four touchdowns.
Joe Dahl, Washington State, +15.7 pass blocker
Dahl missed last weekend’s game against Arizona State, but he still has the top pass blocking grade in the nation. Notes from last week: 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, +31.8 overall
Despite his first negative grade in pass protection all season, Lamp still has the nation’s third-best grade in that department at +10.8, and his +17.3 grade as a run blocker ranks fourth. He’s surrendered only five hits and five hurries on 421 attempts this season, while doing a nice job getting to the second level in the running game.
Joshua Garnett, Stanford, +35.0
Despite a rough outing against fellow Dream Teamer DeForest Buckner, Garnett is still the top-graded Power-5 guard behind a +30.1 grade in the run game. He gave up five of his 12 pressures last week against Oregon, but still comes in at +2.7 as a pass blocker.
Chase Roullier, Wyoming, +37.0
Also coming off one of his worst games of the season, Roullier still leads all guards with a +37.0 overall grade, while ranking third in the run game at +25.8. He’s given up just a sack, hit, and two hurries all season, good for +8.9 pass blocking grade that ranks eighth in the country.
Matt Skura, Duke, +40.9
Continuing to pile onto his grade every week, Skura is by far the top-graded center at +40.9. His +32.7 run blocking grade leads the pack, while his +5.5 mark in pass protection is eighth. He’s surrendered three hits and four hurries on 412 attempts.
Joey Bosa, Ohio State, +59.4
Looking beyond the five sacks, Bosa has been the most dominant edge rusher this season, leading the country with a +34.7 pass rush grade. He’s notched a nation-high 18 hits to go with 33 hurries and the five sacks on his 290 attempts rushing the passer. Bosa also continues to dominate in the run game, where his +26.8 grade also leads the nation.
Charles Harris, Missouri, +44.3
NFL draft rumors have started to surface for Harris on the strength of the redshirt sophomore’s monster season. He ranks behind Bosa at +44.3 overall, as his +29.0 pass rushing grade ranks fourth and his +14.7 mark against the run comes in eighth. He’s picked up seven sacks, 14 hits, and 29 hurries on his 304 rushes, and he’s yet to post a negative grade as a pass rusher in any game this season.
DeForest Buckner, Oregon, +62.7
Facing his biggest challenge of the season against Garnett, Buckner continues to excel as he put together another impressive +6.4 grade against Stanford. For the season, he’s leading all interior defensive linemen with a +35.9 pass rushing grade that has seen him pick up nine sacks, 11 hits, and 34 hurries. Buckner is fourth in the nation with a +27.2 run stopping grade, and his run stop percentage of 10.8 percent is tied for fifth.
Sheldon Day, Notre Dame, +42.5
Day returns to the team this week, as his heated battle with Louisville’s Sheldon Rankins continues. His all-around game has been impressive, as his +20.5 grade as a pass rusher ranks third, and his +23.5 mark against the run ranks ninth. He’s picked up three sacks, seven hits, and 23 hurries on the year—but keep an eye on Rankins and Florida’s Jonathan Bullard, who are hot on his trail.
Steven Daniels, Boston College, +45.6
On a bye last week, here’s what we had to say about Daniels coming out of Week 10: 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 separating himself as the nation’s best linebacker.
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri, +31.2
Picking up “only” three stops against BYU will slow Brothers’ attempt at reaching former TCU LB Paul Dawson’s total of 94 last season, but he still leads the nation with 66. His +24.3 grade against the run ranks second only to Daniels, and he’s posted positive grades in coverage (+4.7) and as a blitzer (+2.5).
Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame, +24.7
Back to the team after a one-week hiatus, Smith’s sideline-to-sideline athleticism makes him one of the nation’s most exciting players. We’ve documented his improvement as a tackler, as he’s only missed six this season after missing 18 a year ago—and he’s grading positively in coverage (+5.7), against the run (+13.5), and as a pass rusher (+5.7, five hits, and six hurries on 38 rushes).
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan, +21.7
Even with his first three missed tackles of the season last weekend, Lewis is still the nation’s top cornerback at +21.7 overall and +19.6 in coverage. Most amazing about Lewis’ season is how frequently he’s targeted (one target every 4.5 snaps in coverage, third-highest in nation), and how often he’s answered the bell (allowed only 26-of-72 targets to be completed, 36.1 percent). His 14 passes defensed also lead the nation.
Nick VanHoose, Northwestern, +18.4
Another strong game for VanHoose, who ranks just behind Lewis with a coverage grade of +19.2. He’s allowed only 43.3 percent of passes to be completed into his coverage (26-for-60), while adding two interceptions and nine passes defensed.
Jeremy Cash, Duke, +40.5
The do-it-all linebacker/slot defender for Duke has been one of the nation’s best players from start to finish this season. His +23.9 grade against the run crushes all other safeties, and he’s added a +3.1 grade in coverage and +13.6 mark as a pass rusher, due to his creating pressure on 28 of his 62 rushes (three sacks, 10 hits, 15 hurries).
Marcus Maye, Florida, +19.5
Maye had another nice game against South Carolina, grading at +1.6 overall. He’s second among all safeties with a +11.1 grade in coverage, as he moves around the Florida defense and provides versatility to one of the nation’s top defenses. Maye’s +7.6 grade against the run ranks 13th in the nation.