Pro Football Focus, the hotly contested analytics site, unveiled their annual list of 2016’s Top 101 players and five Pittsburgh Steelers made the list. Keep in mind this is reflective of just this season’s play, not the totality of someone’s career.
Here’s PFF’s list.
Antonio Brown came in as the 21st best player, a steep-ish decline from last year, where he was regarded as the second best player in the league. Here’s why they had to say.
“Antonio Brown wasn’t quite the force he was a season ago for the Steelers, but much of that was a problem at the source, and not at the end of the production line…Brown still racked up 1,284 receiving yards and a dozen touchdowns over the regular season and was dangerous enough for teams to go out of their way to scheme him out of the game, as evidenced by how the Patriots defended him in the postseason.”
Brown was the third highest graded receiver in 2016, only behind Julio Jones (6th) and Mike Evans (12th).
Le’Veon Bell came in six spots behind him at 27th, and likely would’ve been higher had he been available the entire season. They sum his season up well.
“By the end of the season, Le’Veon Bell was having the kind of year at running back that Aaron Rodgers was at QB, making him pretty much impossible to defend.”
Bell was, and is, the best running back in the league, but finished as just the third best back by PFF. David Johnson and Zeke Elliott came in a couple spots above of Bell, 22nd and 23rd respectively. Only five running backs made the top 101. Jay Ajayi came in 31st and Jordan Howard 75th.
Ramon Foster was next on the list, ranking 36th. Dave Bryan covered it well this morning so I won’t add much to it. It is nice to see Foster get some much-deserved, and frankly, overdue, recognition for his steady play.
At 67th overall was James Harrison, a man who continues to defy Father Time. PFF correctly noted that he was the Steelers best pass rusher this season. He finished the regular season with five sacks before adding another 2.5 in the playoff run.
Finally, David DeCastro came in at 80th place. From the site’s evaluation.
“During the regular season, David DeCastro was excellent, but he continued his fine run into the playoffs, and was dominant in the run game against both Miami and Kansas City before struggling more in the AFC Championship against the Patriots.”
The site gave DeCastro a “perfect” grade in pass protection in five games this season. His play, which picked up remarkably after the first month of the season, earned him another Pro Bowl berth.