Playmaker (n): In sports, someone with the preternatural ability to influence the outcome of a game by making incredible plays
In football, playmakers are the guys that consistently rip off huge chunk plays and find themselves in the endzone. Playmakers are guys that get that timely strip sack or come up with that crucial interception at the most pivotal point of a game. Playmakers strike fear into opposing teams and are often the vocal point of game plans week in and week out. The playmakers are the reason football fans tune in every Sunday. As we begin to move towards the beginning of the new season, these are my top 10 playmakers in the NFL for 2017:
10. Marcus Peters
Even though he has been a ball hawk with 14 interceptions through his first two seasons as a pro, his most memorable play to this point was a game changing forced fumble in Week 10 of last season against the Carolina Panthers. With the game tied 17-17 and 25 seconds left on the game clock, Marcus Peters ripped the ball right out Kelvin Benjamin’s hands in Panthers’ territory setting up a Chiefs game winning FG in the final seconds.
9. Tyreek Hill
The Kansas City Chiefs faced plenty of scrutiny for drafting Hill in the 5th round of the 2016 draft after his disturbing off the field issues, but he rewarded them handsomely by becoming arguably the most electric player in the NFL. As a rookie, Hill took snaps at wide receiver and running back while also being the team’s number one return man. He finished the season with 1800 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns (6 receiving, 3 rushing, 1 kick return, 2 punt returns) and likely factored into the decision to move on from Jeremy Maclin last month.
8. TY Hilton
I have no idea why TY Hilton’s name doesn’t come up when we talk about the best wide receivers in the NFL. He just completed his fourth straight 1000-yard season where he also ranked number one in receiving yards with 1,448 and in big plays, with 16 going for a gain of 25 yards or more. Give this man more respect.
7. Khalil Mack
The 2016 Defensive Player of the Year was tied for 2nd in the NFL with 5 forced fumbles. He is the heart and soul of the Raiders defense and is one of the many reasons they have returned to prominence over the past two seasons. In Week 12 against the Carolina Panthers, Mack got into the endzone for the first time in his career with a pick 6 off Cam Newton. He also finished with a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery making him the first player since Charles Woodson in 2009 to accomplish all four feats in a single game.
6. Ezekiel Elliot
Zeke and the Dallas Cowboys was a match made in heaven. As a rookie he rushed for over 1600 yards and 15 touchdowns while establishing himself as a top back in the NFL. The casual NFL fan will try to downplay his success by saying he did this only due to his great offensive line, but the fact of the matter is he’s just really damn good. He shows great vision and patience, finishes runs violently and he’s one of the top three best pass blocking backs. He’s not too shabby catching the rock either.
5. Julio Jones
If you could draw up the perfect wide receiver, chances are he would look something like Quintorris Lopez “Julio” Jones. Julio finished second in the league with 1409 yards and had the best catch of the entire 2016 season in Super Bowl LI. Late in the 4th quarter on 2nd-and-9 from the Patriots 49-yard line, Matt Ryan threw a deep pass to Jones at the right sideline, where he plucked the ball right out of the air over Eric Rowe, while still managing two get two feet down on the sideline. Julio also had the most historic performance of the 2016 season in Week 4 where he slow roasted the Carolina Panthers secondary to the tune of 300 yards and a touchdown. A man lost his job and got cut the following week because of this guy.
4. Antonio Brown
The most consistent receiver in the NFL over the past 5 seasons showed again why he is one of the NFL’s best playmakers when it mattered the most in Week 16 of last season. Against the Baltimore Ravens with the division and the Steelers season on the line, Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown on a slant route from 4 yards out where he fought through three Ravens defenders to break the goal line with 9 seconds left in the game. Had he been tackled short of the goal line, the Steelers season would have been over in all likelihood, as they had no timeouts remaining to stop the clock.
3. Le’Veon Bell
Le’Veon Bell is looking to get paid big time sooner than later and it’s not hard to see why. The Steelers offense propels to the next level when he is on the field. He ran for 1,268 yards and was the Steelers number 2 receiver for the second time in 4 years despite missing the first 4 games due to suspension. Bell’s most notable performance in 2016 came in Week 14 in snowy Buffalo, where he ran for 236 yards, caught for 62 more and scored 3 TDs. Bell can literally do everything at running back as the Steelers would be wise to figure out a way to keep him on the roster.
2. David Johnson
If somebody said they felt David Johnson was the best running back in the NFL, I would have no issue with it whatsoever. For my money, Bell and Johnson are 1A and 1B for me. David Johnson 7th in the NFL in rushing, but he finished number one in receptions and yards amongst backs. He finished with 20 total touchdowns, most among running backs and the Cardinals offense goes as he does. He’s also legitimately their second best receiver and I take coach Bruce Arians at his word when he says Johnson could be one of the best of all time. I see a ton of Marcus Allen and Marshall Faulk in his game.
1. Odell Beckham Jr.
In 2016, OBJ became the fastest player in the history of the NFL to reach both career milestones of 200 receptions and 4,000 receiving yards. Over the course of the his first 3 seasons, he has recorded 288 receptions, 4,122 yards and 35 TDs, which ties him for first amongst all wide receivers. We all know Beckham Jr. has a flare for the spectacular one handed grabs, but he can also catch fade routes like he’s 6’6”, make tough catches in traffic, and take a quick slant to the house in the blink of an eye. He is the ultimate weapon at wide receiver and could be set to have a historical 2017 season as long as Brandon Marshall is effective opposite him.