Best players at every position for Week 4
It’s the team every player is trying to make. The team that earns them bragging rights. The team that puts their peers in their place.
It is of course the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week, and after a frantic Week 4 we’ve got the lowdown on which players delivered the goods this week. Could J.J. Watt return to the team? Who would replace the bye-week victim Rob Gronkowski? These questions and more answered now.
(Note: Changes might be made following our review process and once Monday Night Football games have been analyzed and graded.)
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Packers (+4.9)
This isn’t his first winning of this award, and most likely not his last. He had just five off-target balls (of his 10 incompletions, two were dropped and three were throwaways) all game as he waltzed the Packers past the 49ers.
Running back: Chris Ivory, Jets (+5.4)
This was as good a running effort as we’ve seen this year. Ivory ended the day with nine forced missed tackles and left plenty of Dolphins defenders embarrassed for their efforts.
Fullback: Patrick DiMarco, Falcons (+1.6)
There isn’t a better fullback in the league right now than DiMarco, who is excelling in Atlanta.
Tight end: Ladarius Green, Chargers (+2.2)
Green delivered a reminder that even when Antonio Gates returns from his four-game suspension, he stills needs to be accounted for.
Wide receivers: Tavon Austin, Rams (+3.1) and Willie Snead, Saints (+3.1)
With Julio Jones and Antonio Brown deciding to slow down for a week, it left these spots wide open. To the surprise of many, Austin made his first team of the week as a receiver as the Cardinals struggled to stop him, while Snead showed why Drew Brees has so much faith in him.
Tackles: Cordy Glenn, Bills (+4.1) and Joe Barksdale, Chargers (+2.2)
Glenn didn’t allow a single pressure against the Giants. Our right tackle rankings weren’t quite as impressive, with Barksdale the best of a so-so bunch.
Guards: Justin Pugh, Giants (+3.3) and Marshal Yanda, Ravens (+4.7)
It was a fantastic performance Thursday night from Yanda, who is about as consistent as death and taxes right now. Is there a better guard than him in the NFL? Pugh had his best showing as a guard, which is plenty encouraging given how difficult life against the Bills’ excellent front four should have been.
Center: Mike Person, Falcons (+2.1)
He had a tricky task with Vince Wilfork, including losing a highlight-reel play to the big man. But he used his quickness and agility to get into excellent position and create some big holes for his backs. No wonder they let him spike the ball.
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: J.J. Watt, Texans (+9.9) and Leonard Williams, Jets (+8.5)
He’s back. Watt had to sit out the Team of the Week the past two weeks, but he really delivered against Atlanta with a virtuoso display. This is a debut entry for Williams, who showed the immediate returns of his selection at No. 6 overall in the 2015 draft, with the Jet picking up an incredible four quarterback hits and six more hurries against Miami.
Defensive interior – nose: Linval Joseph, Vikings (+6.5)
This was as well as Joseph has played for the Vikings. He used his 39 snaps to really deliver a top-tier effort, making his presence felt whenever he was on the field.
Edge rushers: Pernell McPhee, Bears (+6.2) and Trent Murphy, Redskins (+6.1)
There’s always a fear that a big-money free agent signing will rest on the laurels. Well, there is no fear of that with McPhee, who is getting better and better for the Bears. Over in Washington, Murphy beat up on a hobbled Lane Johnson to put in a career day against the Eagles.
Linebackers: Brandon Marshall, Broncos (+5.9) and Paul Worrilow, Falcons (+3.4)
This is how life can be. One week you earn a grade lower than any other player, the next you’re on the Team of the Week. Kudos to the turnaround for the Falcons’ Worrilow. It was another excellent effort from Marshall, who should be hearing his name mentioned among the best linebackers in the league by now. He’s been that good for a while.
Cornerbacks: Josh Norman, Panthers (+4.3) and Desmond Trufant, Falcons (+3.3)
Did anybody see this coming with Norman? His superb start to the year shows no signs of slowing down, with two more picks and just two receptions allowed into his coverage. Trufant couldn’t match those numbers, but did return a fumble for a touchdown and break up two passes.
Safeties: William Moore, Falcons (+3.1) and Chris Conte, Buccaneers (+2.6)
While Moore has struggled with missed tackles early in the season, he let nothing get past him this week. For the Buccaneers, Conte had another solid outing and is putting forward plenty of reason for him to get a bigger role.
Kicker: Justin Tucker, Ravens
It doesn’t get much better than kicking from 50-plus yards in overtime for the win.
Punter: Johnny Hekker, Rams
Hekker continues to be a big field-position weapon for the special teams-conscious Rams.
Returner: Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
It wasn’t all bad for the Dolphins against the Jets … just mostly bad.