In the NFL’s list of Top 100 Players of 2017, J.J. Watt was named the thirty-fifth best player in the NFL, according to his peers. #99 certainly wasn’t pleased, but not because he felt like he was short-changed. In fact, just the opposite:
Watt was the #1 player on the list in 2015, and was ranked third in 2016. His 3-game 2016 is the reason for his fall, but thirty-two spots? Mind-boggling.
Currently, the players that we know that are ranked immediately ahead of Watt are Seahawks DB Kam Chancellor (34), Titans RB DeMarco Murray (33), Chiefs DB Marcus Peters (32), and Lions QB Matthew Stafford (31). Yes, Matthew Stafford.
Is Stafford really a better NFL player than Watt? Absolutely not. None of the players listed above are better than Watt, which shows a glaring flaw in the list. Comparing players at all different positions can be like comparing apples and oranges, but it also shows the kind of respect people have for the position.
Reputation matters when it comes to this list. Adrian Peterson only ran for 72 yards, but somehow made the list at #98, while multiple 1,000 rusher Lamar Miller didn’t even make the Top 100. Although Watt played in a very limited role last season, it is hard to think that players in the NFL think there are 34 players better than the Texans’ All-Universe defensive end.
Peterson is a different situation. He’s in his 30s and has had practically two redshirt seasons in three years. On the other hand, Watt is entering his age-28 season with 76.0 sacks in six years and was the three-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year going into last season. It’s hard to imagine Watt has fallen this low, even coming off a season-ending injury, but I’m sure 99 is going to add this into his overflowing bucket of fuel for the 2017 season.