PFF’s Dream Team: Best players at every position
Steve Palazzolo selects the top performers at every position heading into Week 8 of the season.
PFF’s Dream Team: Best players at every position
Competition is heating up for the PFF Dream Team. For the top teams, most of the scheduled cupcakes are in the rearview mirror, and strong performance in conference play is essential for inclusion on this roster. A few players have tapered off after strong starts, while others have made a valiant push in recent weeks.
Here’s a look at this week’s PFF Dream Team as we head into Week 8 of the college football season.
Trevone Boykin, TCU, +33.3
After Cal QB Jared Goff dominated this space in recent weeks, his subpar game against Utah, combined with Boykin’s tear in recent games, gives the nod to the Horned Frog. Boykin’s +30.3 passing grade leads the nation while adding a strong run threat at +3.6.
Leonard Fournette, LSU, +23.8 as runner
By far the top runner in the country, Fournette is showing no signs of slowing down after he put up 180 yards on 31 carries against a good Florida defense, good for a +5.4 run grade for the game. He’s forced the fourth-most missed tackles in the nation (41), and his elusive rating of 126.1 ranks fifth.
Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State, +15.7 as runner/receiver
Elliott continues to be Ohio State’s top offensive weapon after putting up another 153 yards on 27 carries against Penn State. He’s added some good work in the passing game, and we’ve even credited him with a number of good blocks in Ohio State’s passing game, whether leading out in front or in pass protection.
Dalvin Cook, Florida State, +17.4 as runner
We’re going with the three-man backfield this week, as Cook’s explosiveness was too much to pass up. He’s gained 68 percent of his yards on 15+ yard runs, by far the highest percentage in the nation. Cook ranks second with an elusive rating of 163.8, and his big-play ability has him in the thick of Heisman contention.
Josh Doctson, TCU, +19.3 receiving
The hottest receiver in the country continued his roll with another 190 yards on 10 catches to go with two touchdowns against Iowa State. He leads the nation with 15 receptions and eight touchdowns on deep passes.
Corey Coleman, Baylor, +16.1 receiving
The phrase ”video game numbers” describes Coleman’s season, as he tacked on three more touchdowns against West Virginia to bring his 2015 total to an absurd 16. He’s only had 17 incompletions thrown his way, while catching 70.7 percent of his targets and averaging 21.4 yards per reception. His 5.53 yards per route leads the nation.
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky, +16.4 receiving
Taylor returns to the roster, as he’s emerged as the top receiver from non-Power 5 schools. He’s averaged 18.3 yards per reception while catching 10 touchdowns, six of which have come on deep passes, tied for second in the country. He also ranks second in yards per route at 4.49.
David Morgan II, Texas-San Antonio, +20.2
With underwhelming options at TE, Morgan makes the cut on the strength of a +15.0 run blocking grade that leads the nation. He’s been no slouch in the passing game, either, leading the Roadrunners in all major receiving categories with 30 receptions, 361 yards, and four touchdowns, good for a +6.0 receiving grade that ranks third in the country.
Joe Dahl, Washington State, +12.2 pass blocker
A change among the tackles, Dahl gets the nod this week for his outstanding work in pass protection. His +12.2 pass blocking grade leads the nation, just as he did last year at +21.0. He’s surrendered only 12 pressures on 364 snaps in protection, and has been solid in the run game at +2.6.
Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech, +18.0
Clark is right behind Dahl with his pass blocking grade of +18.0 while grading at +6.4 in the run game. He’s surrendered just six total pressures on 340 attempts, and his +14.2 grade against Power-5 competition also ranks second to only Dahl.
Joshua Garnett, Stanford, +21.1
There hasn’t been a better guard in the nation than Garnett over the last few weeks, as he’s vaulted himself onto the team behind a +17.0 run blocking grade that ranks third in the country. He’s only given up six pressures on 165 attempts, and his +19.8 grade against Power-5 competition is by far the best among guards.
Joe Thuney, NC State, +20.5
Thuney keeps his spot during NC State’s bye week. He’s given up only two pressures on 179 attempts, and his +14.1 run grade ranks sixth in the nation.
Matt Skura, Duke, +25.0
Duke was on his bye week as well, locking in Skura’s spot for another week. He’ll be tough to unseat as his +18.1 run grade is tied for second, while his +5.1 pass blocking grade ranks fifth (only two pressures surrendered on 216 attempts).
Joey Bosa, Ohio State, +38.2
Perhaps the top player in the entire country, don’t be fooled by the low sack totals (we have him with three). His pass rush grade of +21.6 ranks second in the country among edge rushers, and he leads with 14 QB hits. One of these games, he’ll pick up three or four sacks and no one will be questioning his “production.” Bosa also leads the nation with a +17.4 grade against the run.
Myles Garrett, Texas A&M, +22.1
Garrett gets the nod in a heated battle with Missouri’s Charles Harris and Penn State’s Carl Nassib. The deciding factor was Garrett’s +18.2 grade against Power-5 competition, second behind only Bosa in the country. His +16.1 pass rush grade against Power-5 teams leads the nation, while grading at +3.1 overall against the run.
DeForest Buckner, Oregon, +43.7
Two sacks and four hurries against Washington keeps Buckner at the top, as he’s now notched six sacks, six hits, and 25 hurries on 284 rushes this season, good for a nation-high 27.9 pass rush grade. His +16.8 run grade is 11th in the country, and he’s tied for the national lead with 24 stops.
Sheldon Rankins, Louisville, +31.9
As we mentioned last week, the battle for this No. 2 spot behind Buckner is a heated one, with Nebraska’s Maliek Collins, Notre Dame’s Sheldon Day, UCLA’s Kenny Clark, and Alabama’s Jarran Reed all in the mix. Rankins gets the nod on the strength of a monster game against Florida State that saw him pick up four hits and nine hurries, while grading at +2.7 against the run. His +20.8 season grade against the run ranks fourth.
Steven Daniels, Boston College, +26.9
The nation’s top-graded linebacker, Daniels ranks second with a +16.0 grade against the run, while performing well in coverage at +4.8 and as a pass rusher at +6.7. He’s picked up two sacks, three hits, and seven hurries while his 31 stops rank 10th in the country.
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri, +23.4
The stop machine added nine more against Georgia, bringing his season total to 53. That dwarfs the second-best linebacker’s total of 37 (Salamo Fiso of Arizona State) and puts last year’s top mark of 94 by TCU’s Paul Dawson in plain sight. Brothers leads the nation with a +17.5 run grade and solid +5.4 coverage grade.
Reggie Ragland, Alabama +18.5
It’s been a slow climb for Ragland who has graded positively in every game this season. He does some work as an edge rusher in Alabama’s scheme, grading at +8.0 as a rusher, good for fourth among linebackers. His +6.7 coverage grade is tied for third and he’s been solid against the run at +3.3.
Jourdan Lewis, Michigan +15.9
A back-and-forth battle against one of the nation’s top receivers in Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge is not enough to keep Lewis off the team. He was targeted 17 times, all against Burbridge, giving up seven receptions and 109 yards, but he also got his hands on four passes. It was an epic battle by two All-American candidates. For the season, Lewis still boasts the top coverage grade among corners at +14.2, while allowing 35.3 percent of passes to be completed his way and notching a nation-high 12 passes defensed.
Jalen Myrick, Minnesota +14.4
Myrick repeats as the No. 2 corner on the team, as his +12.1 coverage grade comes in right behind Lewis. He’s allowed 17 catches on 35 targets for 183 yards, while intercepting three and defending four others.
Jeremy Cash, Duke, +26.8
There’s no slowing down for Cash, who leads all safeties with a +13.7 run grade and +9.2 pass rushing grade. His 25 stops rank second, and he’s picked up two sacks, seven hits, and 10 hurries on only 27 rushes.
Jayron Kearse, Clemson, +15.1
Kearse returns to the team, as this No. 2 spot has also become hotly contested. His +8.7 run grade ranks third in the nation, while his +5.5 grade in coverage ranks 13th. He’s graded positively in every game this season.