Predicting the risers and fallers on this year's 'Top 100'


Since 2011, hundreds of NFL players have annually filled out ballots to determine a collective opinion on the very best in their business. Now we get to see the results of that voting with The Top 100 Players Of 2016 countdown on NFL Network.

Last year, Texans star J.J. Watt claimed the top spot, making him the first defensive player to do so. Will Watt repeat the feat in 2016? If not, you can assume the reigning Defensive Player of the Year will find a snug spot in the top 10.

Who else will crack the countdown? Before players 100-91 are revealed Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network, let's make some predictions about how this list will look different than what we saw a year ago.

One thing we can tell you with no threat of condemnation from a Shadowy League Figure: There are four definite openings on this list as Peyton Manning (No. 5), Calvin Johnson (No. 6), Marshawn Lynch (No. 9) and Charles Woodson (No. 64) trade the gridiron for the couch on Sundays. Beyond that, my guess is as good as yours.

Let's get on with it. The number in the parenthesis represents the player's ranking on last year's list.


Odell Beckham Jr. (32), Aaron Donald (92),  Larry Fitzgerald (68),  Khalil Mack (49),  Brandon Marshall (57),  Von Miller (33),  Adrian Peterson (62),  Cam Newton (73)

Cam is going top 10 after his MVP masterpiece. Miller should join him after what he did to Cam in the Super Bowl. ... All Day tumbled last year on the heels of his season-long punishment for domestic abuse, but he should return to his rightful place in the top 10 after yet another rushing title. ... Brandon Marshall has always been underrated, but having the best season by a wide receiver in Jets history should bump him a few spots. ... Fitzgerald is universally respected, but he returned to being a superstar producer in 2015. ... Beckham, Donald and Mack are the future of their respective positions.


Justin Forsett (65), Arian Foster (80), Jimmy Graham (31), Brent Grimes (38), Eddie Lacy (60), DeMarco Murray (4), Darren Sproles (81), Julius Thomas (45), Mario Williams (42), Jason Witten (93)

Foster and Graham suffered serious leg injuries that put their future in some doubt. ... Ranking Forsett and Sproles so highly a year ago was perhaps a charitable act. ... Lacy is probably the best bet of this group to find himself back on this list in 2017, though that might be ultimately up to the P90X gods. ... Murray, Williams and Witten all performed like players in decline in 2015. Witten has made this list five straight years -- we'd be shocked if he went six for six.


Blake Bortles, NaVorro Bowman, Kirk Cousins, Carlos Dunlap, Todd Gurley, Sean Lee, DeAndre Hopkins, Josh Norman, Doug Martin, Tyrann Mathieu, Carson Palmer, Marcus Peters, Allen Robinson

I know what you're thinking. There's no way all these guys were overlooked on the 2015 list. But this stuff goes on every single year on the Top 100. Sometimes -- in the case of Bowman, Lee and Palmer -- an established star falls off the grid due to an injury. Other times -- as is the case with Bortles, Cousins, Hopkins and Robinson -- a young player explodes in their development. Then there's the vets who have something click suddenly and reach their full potential -- Dunlap, Martin and Norman are fine examples.

Every one of these guys deserves to be in the Top 100, but that doesn't mean they will be. We'll find out over the next couple of months starting Wednesday.