Pro Football Focus released its annual top-101 NFL players list, and there are some shocking players who find themselves on the outside looking in. The guys over at PFF, who we respect immensely for their brutally painstaking work they do, left the likes of Adrian Peterson, NaVorro Bowman and Aaron Rodgers out of their Pro Football Focus Top 101.
Here is their list of the top guys left off:
- Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
- Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
- NaVorro Bowman, LB, San Francisco 49ers
- Cordy Glenn, OT, Buffalo Bills
- Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
- Ryan Khalil, C, Carolina Panthers
- Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns
- DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Denver Broncos
Now, nobody in their right minds would leave Aaron Rodgers out of the top 10 when coming up with a list of best players. Not only that, but every single one of these guys was a top performer in the league. Like, tippity-top.
This is what drives so many people mad about analytics. But all it really does is prove the very salient point that you should never do your analysis of the league based purely on analytics.
They serve a purpose.
But they are, in no way, shape or form, the end-all, be-all in evaluating talent.
Here’s what the guys at PFF had to say about leaving probably the top quarterback in the league, Rodgers, off the list:
“There was just too much bad. Rodgers had three games graded in the red (-1.0 or lower in PFF’s cumulative grading scale) and five passing performances that earned that distinction, which is three more than a year ago. His completion percentage dropped almost five percent from the 2014 season, and as much as his receivers became a problem, Rodgers lost faith in them too, bailing on plays too early and not even trusting that they would come open before they had a chance.”
Yeah, he also put up 31 touchdowns, made plays that NOBODY else in the world could possibly dream of making and came awfully close to making into the NFC Championship game, playing with a dilapidated cast of supporting players.
You have to be kidding… the hail mary play pic.twitter.com/PpKa1OeWQw
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) January 17, 2016
Peterson, even at the age of 30 last year, led the entire NFL in rushing (1,485 yards) and was tied for first in rushing touchdowns (11). The guy was a buzz saw last year and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Yet he’s not in the top 101.
These lists are always going to be controversial. Lists, by their nature, are meant to stir up conversation. But most of these snubs above are just mind-blowing.
Analytics represents a great tool for evaluating certain things. And oftentimes the best players on the stat sheets are the top guys at their position from an analytics perspective. But the two sides don’t always marry, as we can clearly see from the Pro Football Focus Top 101 list.