Best player at every position in NFL Week 4
Week 4 of the 2016 NFL season is complete, and PFF’s grades for every player to take a snap are in the books. Here are the top performances over the week at every position:
Week 4 offense
Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, 89.1
Julio Jones has been wide open all year, but against Carolina, Matt Ryan was finally hitting him with nearly everything he threw his way, and it resulted in 300 receiving yards for Jones, over 500 passing yards for Ryan, and another monster day from the Atlanta offense.
Running back: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns, 86.1
Isaiah Crowell has been a large factor in the Browns playing teams closer than many expected this season. This week, he broke 10 tackles on just 19 touches, gaining almost 6 yards per carry after contact.
Wide receiver: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, 99.1
When you rack up 300 receiving yards, it’s a pretty good bet you’re going to be featured on the team of the week. Jones proved to be another kind of athlete to the players in the Carolina secondary, who just couldn’t match up one-on-one with one of the game’s best. Jones gained 9.1 yards for every route he ran during the game, 3.5 more than the next-best figure for the week.
Wide receiver: Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders, 87.1
This was very close between Michael Crabtree and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, who almost doubled Crabtree’s receiving yardage. The Raider, though, scored three times, including an excellent toe-tapping affair in the back of the end zone to help Oakland hold off Baltimore for a tough road win.
Slot receiver, Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears, 81.7
Eddie Royal caught all seven passes thrown his way as Chicago’s slot receiver for 111 yards and a score, quickly becoming QB Brian Hoyer’s favorite target. Hoyer’s passer rating when throwing at Royal was a perfect 158.3 for the game.
Tight end: Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks, 97.0
Injuries have derailed Jimmy Graham’s impact in Seattle, but we saw the kind of special receiver he can be in Week 4, as well as the trouble defenses have in matching up with him. Against the Jets, Graham caught six of the eight balls thrown his way for 113 yards, beating three different defenders in coverage.
Left tackle: Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans, 85.8
There is no tackle in the league outperforming Tennessee’s Taylor Lewan right now, and he earns another spot on the team of the week. Lewan allowed just a single hurry against Houston’s vaunted pass-rush across 36 snaps of pass blocking, and graded well in the run game.
Left guard: Josh Sitton, Chicago Bears, 83.9
Chicago’s unexpected O-line import has been a big upgrade, giving the team one of the league’s best interior lines. He allowed only one hurry against the Lions, and the Bears averaged 4.8 yards per carry on the six runs that went inside of his blocks.
Center: Justin Britt, Seattle Seahawks, 87.1
Seattle’s Justin Britt was excellent this week at center, despite the rest of the line being typically poor. Against a strong Jets’ defensive front, Britt didn’t allow a single QB pressure and was consistently moving guys in the run game.
Right guard: Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys, 89.6
Zack Martin is one of the league’s best guards, and the tape from Week 4 provides a perfect example as to why he’s earned that distinction. Dallas averaged 10.6 yards per carry on runs that went either side of Martin’s block, and his ability to execute within the Cowboys’ zone runs was a thing of beauty.
Right tackle: Morgan Moses, Washington Redskins, 82.7
All of the top RT performances this week benefitted to some degree from the competition they were going against, but Washington’s Morgan Moses kept a clean sheet from a pass-protection standpoint, allowing no pressure or penalties on his 62 snaps.
Week 4 defense
Edge defender: Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals, 88.2
Dunlap was a monster against the Dolphins, notching two sacks, a hit, four pressures, two batted passes, and forcing a fumble over the course of his 36 snaps of play. You won’t find many more-impressive outings from any defensive player this week.
Defensive interior: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams, 89.2
Another week, another dominant Aaron Donald performance for the Rams. The defensive tackle is clearly the best defender in football right now, and leads the league with 25 total pressures, finally getting the sacks that had eluded him prior to this week.
Defensive interior: Nick Fairley, New Orleans Saints, 87.3
Another player to have an impressive day while the defense as a whole surrendered points, Nick Fairley was a force against the Chargers, notching two sacks, two hits, and two hurries for a total of six overall QB pressures on 28 pass-rushes.
Edge defender: Olivier Vernon, New York Giants, 89.2
Playing 70 defensive snaps against the Vikings, the Giants were determined to get their money’s worth from Olivier Vernon, who was repaying them with impressive play all game. He notched a QB hit and five hurries and graded well against the run.
Linebacker: Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers, 93.3
The Panthers’ defense as a whole couldn’t stop the Falcons from scoring, but Shaq Thompson actually performed well in his role, posting strong grades in both coverage and against the run. He notched five defensive stops and allowed only 4 yards in coverage when he was the primary coverage defender.
Linebacker: Zach Brown, Buffalo Bills, 91.4
Zach Brown was everywhere for the Bills this week. Racking up huge tackle numbers and 11 defensive stops, the most in the league by two clear stops, he was one of the big reasons the Patriots’ offense couldn’t get going all game.
Cornerback: Rashard Robinson, San Francisco 49ers, 94.2
Fourth-round rookie Rashard Robinson has been quietly something of a revelation for the 49ers so far this season. This week was his best game of the year, facing a Dallas receiving corps without Dez Bryant. Robinson was thrown at six times, allowing just three catches for 20 yards, and he broke up the other three that fell incomplete.
Cornerback: Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos, 92.6
Playing against his former team, Aqib Talib clearly had extra motivation for this game, and put in one of his finest performances. He was thrown at four times, and caught more of the passes himself (two) than he surrendered to Tampa Bay receivers (one). He allowed a total of 6 yards into his coverage all game.
Slot cornerback: A.J. Bouye, Houston Texans, 92.0
We might be stretching the definition of “slot” a little for Bouye here, but he did play nine of his 25 Week 4 snaps in the slot, and the drop to the next legitimate slot corner was too great to pass on the Texan. Bouye was thrown at six times, allowing just one catch for 11 yards while breaking up two passes.
Safety: Quintin Demps, Houston Texans, 85.4
Quintin Demps recorded a vital interception for the Texans, helping them to secure a close win against a divisional rival. Demps’ play in coverage was an important deciding factor in the game.
Safety: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins, 84.6
Six tackles and three defensive stops go some way toward indicating the kind of impact Reshad Jones had against the run this week for Miami, but he also notched a hurry on the QB on the blitz and was one of the best players on Miami’s defense.
Week 4 special teams
Punter: Marquette King, Oakland Raiders
Marquette King posted the best single-game grade PFF has seen from a punter in a decade of grading. His punts averaged 51.8 yards, but had excellent hang time and direction on them, as well as pure distance. It’s tough to ask for a better day than King had against the Ravens.
Kicker: Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
There was no standout kicker performance this week, but Mike Nugent was five for five on field goals, and kicked the only extra point he attempted, providing 16 of Cincinnati’s 22 points against Miami on Thursday night.
Special teamer: Joshua Shaw, Cincinnati Bengals
Joshua Shaw has been an impressive player for the Bengals this season at cornerback, but has also been seeing time on special teams, notching a couple of tackles this week, and earning strong grades on both kickoffs and punt coverage.
Return specialist: Andre Roberts, Detroit Lions
With a punt-return touchdown to his name, Roberts also racked up another 86 return yards on punt and kick returns for the Lions, making this a closer game than perhaps it deserved to be.