To determine the best 99 players in the NFL.
At least he didn't put 102 guys on the list.
To tackle the mission, I opted not to go all Bill James/Baseball Prospectus style in my methodology. Yes, to the dismay of some, there are no mathematic formulas or sabermetrics involved in what's below. And my apologies to the fine men at Football Outsiders, but I left the abacus at home for this one.
For the fantasy football crowd, you might not be too thrilled either. Sometimes it's not all about statistics. And in ranking the NFL's Top 99, many times it wasn't.
"If I'm wrong, don't worry, there's really no math behind what I did."
Keep in mind: 99 players breaks down to about three guys per team. So once you start putting guys on the list who aren't on the top five on their teams, well...
99. Reggie Bush
98. Rasheen Mathis
Goddamnit Peter Schrager!&!
Kevin Mawae is like the 8th or 9th best player on the Titans. The duo of Devin Hester and Matt Forte suggests the Bears are a top five offense, which, not exactly. Lamarr Woodley is a curious inclusion. Up at No. 67, Matt Cassel is a pretty bad joke. Terrell Suggs can't make it higher than 61? How do you figure that 60 guys are better than Terrell Suggs. Osi Uminyiora gets to be No. 35, and he didn't even play last year.
The top 20, is quite perplexing. If only because being good at football doesn't seem to be a prerequisite to being one of the 20 best players in the NFL according to Peter Schrager.
17. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Now a year removed from the Super Bowl MVP performance, Eli's critics are all over the 212 again. Manning didn't throw a single touchdown pass to a receiver after the Plaxico Burress suspension last season, and failed to inspire in the wind at Giants Stadium in the postseason. Will rookie Hakeem Nicks become his go-to guy? Fellow rookie Ramses Barden? Lots of question marks for Eli this season.
However, clearly better than Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, and Tony Romo, who don't have stupid questions to answer this season. In fact, I'd say there are only 16 players in the NFL who are better than a guy who has to prove he can throw a touchdown pass after losing a single player on their team.
14. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Washington Redskins: The $100 million man. After signing the biggest deal for a defensive tackle in NFL history, Haynesworth has a giant target on his back. Having never stayed healthy for a complete NFL season, there are critics out there. He had better perform. He should.
Clearly, there are 13 players in the NFL better than the 2 time reigning NFL Defensive POY.
9. Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina Panthers: The best defensive end in the game
8. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings: An absolute beast and arguably the NFL's best pass-rushing defensive end since Michael Strahan...
Wait, but you just said the best defensive end in the game was-
6. DeMarcus Ware, DE/LB, Dallas Cowboys: A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Ware is only getting better with every passing year-
Wait, but you just said the best pass-rushing-
5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: A.D. had an incredible sophomore season, tossing the Vikings on his back down the stretch and carrying them to an NFC North title. There's no player in the league who has greater big-play potential, and he brings that big-play potential 25 times a game. Hands down the best running back in the league, he will be in the MVP conversation over the next decade of his career.
I guess every top five players in the NFL list needs to include the one really athletic guy who has never won a playoff game and has a career record of 18-14. He clearly carried his team to new heights. Look at what I can do!
I guess when you leave Brian Westbrook at 53, there's no argument that Peterson is the best. It's not like he leads the league in fumbles every year or anything.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Say what you want about the strength of the Super Bowl champions' defense, but Big Ben is unquestionably the true leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers. With two Super Bowl rings and three AFC championship game starts in just five NFL seasons, he's one of the top three quarterbacks in the league. Win another one and he could be No. 1 on this list next year. Kick and scream all you want about it — Roethlisberger's the real deal.
If I say: you can build your team around any defensive player in the NFL, or any offensive player in the NFL not named Brady or Manning, and you answer Ben Roethlisberger, I'm taking my hypothetical offer and going to someone who isn't a fucking moron.
After putting Peyton at No. 1...
Give me anyone in the league to build a team around — and I'm still taking Manning ... yes, even Tom Terrific. , and Ben Roethlisberger, apparently.