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.