The best players at every position for Week 1
After a fantastic start to the NFL season, we’ve identified the best players at every position for Week 1. Yes, back by popular demand, it’s the PFF Team of the Week.
(Note: Changes might be made following our review process and once Monday Night Football games have been analyzed and graded.)
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Packers (+7.0)
He looked like he was in midseason form as he led his Packers to a win at Soldier Field, with only four “aimed” incompletions.
Running back: Carlos Hyde, 49ers (+5.4)
Massive day for Hyde who dominated on Monday Night Football to push DeAngelo Williams out of the team. Frank who?
Fullback: Darrel Young, Redskins (+2.6)
Young only earned 10 snaps, but he made them all count to score the highest blocking grade of the week.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowsi, Patriots (+3.9)
You know what you’re getting with Gronkowski, but as his three touchdowns show, you still can’t stop him.
Wide receivers: Antonio Brown, Steelers (+3.9) and Julio Jones, Falcons (+5.7)
It’s not the first time Brown has made this team, and probably won’t be the last. He destroyed cornerback Malcolm Butler in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Patriots. Over in Atlanta Julio Jones couldn’t be stopped as he picked up 141 yards and two touchdowns as he dominated.
Tackles: Tyron Smith, Cowboys (+4.0) and Zach Strief, Saints (+3.8)
Smith did get beaten for one hit allowed in pass protection, but outside of that was nearly flawless in his 71 snaps. Meanwhile, Strief was flagged for a penalty, but the unheralded right tackle continues to be an excellent contributor for the Saints.
Guards: Clint Boling, Bengals (+4.5) and D.J Fluker, SD (+2.7)
Both our guards made it on the strength of their run blocking. In that area, these two had the top grades on the week.
Center: Weston Richburg, NYG (+3.2)
Edging out Mitch Morse, Richburg excelled in the run game.
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: Aaron Donald, Rams (+10.1) and J.J. Watt, Texans (+8.3)
There were some outstanding efforts at this position, but you can’t look past these two guys. Watt had his usual outstanding game with seven quarterback disruptions and a further six defensive stops, while Donald matched his sack count and was just one shy on the stops front. Dominating.
Defensive interior – nose: Dan Williams, Raiders (+7.1)
Where was this Williams in Arizona? It just took 38 snaps for him in Week 1 to show he could be one of the free agent pickups of the offseason.
Edge rushers: DeMarcus Ware, Broncos (+9.4) and Von Miller, Broncos (+6.4)
This makes for ugly reading for the Ravens’ offensive tackles, because they were embarrassed by the Broncos’ edge rushers. Ware had a monster day with double-digit (11) disruptions, but Miller had himself a fine day as well.
Linebackers: Brandon Marshall, Broncos (+5.4) and Derrick Johnson, Chiefs (+4.5)
Make that two Brandon Marshalls on this team. Trying to prove last year was no fluke, Marshall did a little bit of everything to earn green grades (above +1.0) in every facet of the game. Over in Kansas City, it’s nice to see Derrick Johnson back on the field, looking like he hasn’t missed a step.
Cornerbacks: Stephon Gilmore, Bills (+3.2) and Coty Sensabaugh, TEN (+3.3)
The Colts went after Gilmore 14 times, and while they got some passes in against him, he largely won the battle with four pass breakups of his own. Sensabaugh had a career game in allowing just one reception. That’s the same number of picks he had.
Safeties: Darian Stewart, Broncos (+3.4) and Will Hill, Ravens (+3.6)
It feels like a long time since Stewart was starting in St. Louis, but he is really trying to make the most of the opportunity in Denver with the highest grade of the week. On the other side of the field, Hill continues to be one of the best safeties in the league, with end-of-season awards a real possibility if he can avoid off-field trouble.
Kicker: Brandon McManus, Broncos
He was perfect on the day after nailing two field goals from 50-plus yards.
Punter: Sam Koch, Ravens
He certainly got plenty of practice. But with excellent hang time and distance, he didn’t look like he needed it.
Returner: Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
He looks explosive with the ball in his hands, and got his first NFL touchdown on a punt return.