The best players at every position for Week 1

Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Donald and two Brandon Marshalls headline our list of the top players at every position for Week 1.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

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.

  • jim

    sadly no bears.

  • MachoMenos

    This article is EXACTLY why I didn’t subscribe this year. No Verrett, no Keenan, no thank you. Plus, the cost went up, too. Again, thanks but no thanks.

    • Moralltach

      So you’re upset because the author didn’t unfairly favor the Chargers? Verrett had only two tackles and one PDEF, and Allen never scored.

      • Blatant_Bolt

        You don’t seem to understand the grading. A CB that has a lot of tackles usually is not the best. Blanket coverage means the ball is not thrown your way. They are graded on every play, whether the ball is thrown their way or not. Allen not scoring doesn’t mean that much either. A 1 yard TD is not as valuable as 20 yards on third and 19.

        I’m sure the overall scores incorporate a lot more than the box score you are looking at. By box score alone, Allen probably makes it, but they incorporate a lot more which bumps up others. By grades alone, I’m sure Verrett did well, but just not #1.

        • knucklebear

          Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that Flowers was on Megatron most of the game with Verrett on Tate.

          Regardless, both had great games.

          • Blatant_Bolt

            That is my understanding as well. That helps Verrett’s numbers, since the biggest flaw (IMO) in the grades on this site is opponent adjustments. (next biggest is probably counting stat vs rate).

        • Dohkay

          Verrett was the 10th highest rated CB this week despite playing only 47 snaps while other like Gilmore had 77 snaps. My guess is if the volume increased his grade would have, too, and he likely would have eclipsed at least one of the CBs listed.

          • Julien Bélair

            Verrett had a perfect game…PERFECT. I don’t understand how he can’t be #1….perfect freaking game

          • Dohkay

            Are you going to be okay? This travesty seems to really be affecting you.

          • Julien Bélair


      • Tim Edell

        Verrett had an excellent game as Megatron was held to 2 catches and Golden Tate had 4 catches. Normally if your CB has a lot of tackles it means he is giving up plenty of completions.

        • Julien Bélair

          Tate had one catch for 6 yards on a third and 10 all game.

          Te 3 other catches of Gate were not vs Verrett

    • Keenan Coit

      It’s based off the grades they received from the entire game. Not favoritism.

    • Ken

      NFL does not revolve around the Chargers. Hard to believe but it’s true.

    • Adam Sisneros

      There’s actually such a thing as Chargers fan? When did this happen?

    • SDChargers will go 8-8

      stop crying fangirl

  • SeattleSteve

    Wondering if they’ll bring back the “Had a bad day” weekly articles.

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  • Sam Doohan

    The stats for tight ends continue to have major, major flaws here. The degree that they favor blocking vs receiving isn’t even funny. Gronk gets 94 yards and three touchdowns, gets +3.9. Kelce gets 100 yards and 2 tds, he gets +1.6. How is that even close to right? How can these guys putting up dominant, career highlight kind of games and Gronk only makes it to +3 because he blocked well too.

    That’s just crap. I get that blocking matters, more than the NFL makes out because we’re all super into fantasy these days, but receiving matters too. PFF says themselves that Gronk is as dominant as J.J Watt. So how comes a reasonably average performance by Watt’s standards comes out at +10, while probably the second best performance in Gronk’s career (second only to a 145 yards, 3TD performance) comes out at a mere +4. That’s nuts. That means your model is broken.

    • AJ

      No, those raw grades cannot be compared across positions. You can only compare those grades to other players at the same position. Gronk’s grade cannot be compared to JJ Watt’s, only to other tight ends.

      This year, PFF introduced a system that converts grades for each position to a 0-100 scale in an attempt to let people compare across different positions.

      • MosesZD

        The point is that blocking is secondary to production, especially as it’s usually run-blocking. And running is definitely secondary in importance to passing effectiveness in the NFL. And it’s a vast gulf, silly fantasy scoring to the contrary.

        Without Gronkowski and Kelce doing so well in the passing game, it’s likely the Patriots and Chiefs lose instead of win. Regardless if their replacements got great grades in run-blocking.

        • eYeDEF

          Still don’t see your point. No one transcended Gronk’s grade because of sky high run blocking marks.

    • HTTR

      That wasn’t an average day by watt. He had 11 qb hurries, which is ridiculously good….and tied his career high in TFL’s with 6