Best players at every position for Week 8
Six Patriots made our Team of the Week after a big performance on Thursday Night Football. Who else posted games worthy of the roster?
Let’s find out.
Quarterback: Tom Brady, Patriots (+7.6)
Wait, what? No Drew Brees? While Brees posted some eye-popping numbers, it was the brilliance of Brady (with pressure flying at him) that was a true sight to behold. The Patriots’ quarterback is playing as well as he ever has.
Running back: Latavius Murray, Raiders (+1.9)
The Raider finished with 113 yards after forcing four missed tackles to emphasize why he’s the deserved starter in Oakland.
Fullback: Zach Line, Vikings (+3.1)
The Vikings continue to produce fine lead blockers for Adrian Peterson.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (+1.5)
The unstoppable Gronkowski had another touchdown and was simply too much for Miami to deal with, as he ended the day with 113 yards.
Wide receivers: Julian Edelman, Patriots (+4.3) and Demaryius Thomas, Broncos (+4.5)
It’s not just about yardage, and Edelman’s efforts on Thursday Night Football proved that. Thomas was at his best in feasting on the Packers’ secondary.
Tackles: Anthony Castonzo, Colts (+7.3) and Kyle Long, Bears (+3.4)
Beaten for just the one sack on an incredible 55 pass blocks, Castonzo surpassed the competition with some excellent work in the run game. On the right side, it was a nice effort from Long, who is starting to look like more than a makeshift tackle with his quality displays.
Guards: Jeff Allen, Chiefs (+5.6) and Michael Harris, Vikings (+4.1)
There was a time when you wouldn’t see guards dominating Detroit the way Allen did. Not any more. Harris may have been a poor tackle but he’s proved a much better guard, with his Week 8 efforts his best yet.
Center: Matt Slauson, Bears (+4.0)
The Bears, as we mentioned earlier, have had to move some pieces around on the line, so it must be refreshing to see how well guys like Slauson are doing when presented with a totally different challenge.
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 (+13.9) and Aaron Donald, Rams (+4.3)
There are times when you really need to protect your rookie lineman; having J.J. Watt as the opposition is a great example of such an instance. He wreaked havoc to the tune of three sacks, four hits, and three more hurries in a dominant effort. Donald wasn’t quite at that level, but he still ensured the 49ers’ interior line won’t have much fun reviewing the tape this morning.
Defensive interior – nose: Michael Brockers, Rams (+1.5)
With Brockers spending 27 of his snaps either shading or head-on from the center, we feel comfortable with him at this position—especially after he added three defensive stops in the run game.
Edge rushers: Khalil Mack, Raiders (+6.1) and Cameron Jordan, Saints (+7.5)
Greg Hardy is a little unlucky to not make the team, but the pure pass-rushing brilliance of Jordan earned him the nod. Eight hurries got lost in the score-fest that was the Giants’ trip to Louisiana, but it was a remarkable effort. Each week, Mack just goes about his business—and each week, we’re impressed. He’s spearheading the Raiders’ return to relevance.
Linebackers: Jerrell Freeman, Colts (+8.2) and Luke Kuechly, Panthers (+5.0)
Monday Night Football was a showcase for two of the best linebacker performances we’ve seen all year. Freeman was a menace in the run game with Kuechly dominant all over the field. It was fitting one of them would make the games defining play.
Cornerbacks: Richard Sherman, Seahawks (+5.0) and Darius Slay, Lions (+3.3)
It hasn’t been his best season so far, but Sherman showed he hasn’t lost a step. Thrown at five times, he allowed just one reception and broke up the other four passes. Slay broke up two passes and allowed just seven yards in London.
Safeties: Roman Harper, Panthers (+4.1) and Kurt Coleman, Panthers (+3.6)
It doesn’t get much better for a team when their safeties play like this. The two were thrown at a combined seven times and walked away allowing just 28 yards after deflecting three passes and intercepting another.
Kicker: Justin Tucker, Ravens
Is there any player you’d trust more than Tucker to kick a game-winner?
Punter: Johnny Hekker, Rams
You almost feel bad for the ball when Hekker charges that leg up.
Returner: Marcus Sherels, Vikings
He didn’t have a lot to do, but boy, did he do it well.
To see the worst players at every position for Week 8, visit Bryson Vesnaver’s Worst Team of the Week.