*With the schedule flipping from Week 8 to Week 9, we've reached the midpoint of the 2016 season -- which means it's time for Chris Wesseling to present his Midseason All-Pro team: *
You can't extract the quarterback from his surrounding talent. Ryan isn't Aaron Rodgers. He has always been more of a distributor than a dazzling playmaker. Those point-guard skills had no outlet last season, when Julio Jones was his lone running mate. With the aid of coordinator Kyle Shanahan's masterful play calling, Ryan is now exhibiting exceptional decision-making, pocket movement and accuracy while utilizing the specific strengths of eight or nine different pass catchers each week. Can Tom Brady make this a two-horse race by December?
As it turns out, we underestimated Johnson in our summertime Making the Leap series, setting his ceiling as the No. 1 fantasy back and 2,000 yards from scrimmage. The dynamic, well-rounded second-year pro is actually on pace for 2,224 yards at the season's midpoint -- a number in line with Adrian Peterson's 2012 MVP season (2,314 yards from scrimmage) and DeMarco Murray's 2014 Offensive Player of the Year campaign (2,261 yards from scrimmage).
Superlative as a runner, receiver and blocker, Elliott is the physical tone-setter on a surprising 6-1 Cowboys outfit. He's on pace for 1,826 rushing yards, a total that would surpass Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson's long-standing rookie record of 1,808.
Jones ranks first in plays of 20-plus yards and is second only to Green in receiving yards. The Falcons don't have to force the ball to him this year, but he can still take over games when called upon.
Other slot receivers, such as Jarvis Landry, have gaudier numbers. None has been more important to his team's success than Beasley, Dak Prescott's go-to target and an ultra-reliable third-down conversion machine this season. He's the primary reason Dallas' aerial attack didn't skip a beat with Dez Bryant out of the lineup for most of October.
Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez -- owner of every major record at the tight end position -- recently anointed Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett the greatest tight-end duo in NFL history. The lone competition for that honor is the tandem of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in 2011. Limited to blocking while Bennett shined as a receiver early in the season, Gronkowski has exploded since Tom Brady's Week 5 return, generating the most productive month-long stretch (118.25 yards per game) of his unparalleled career. It's amazing that a tight end leads the NFL in average yards per reception, as Gronk's 22.0 figure bests even situational deep threats such as Sammie Coates (21.3) and Marquise Goodwin (21.5).
Lest you feel tempted to parrot the Buffalo Bills' hot take that Gronkowski's prowess is merely a byproduct of his Hall of Fame quarterback, consider the following numbers: Since Gronk entered the league in 2010, Brady has a 105.0 passer rating with his All-Pro tight end in the lineup, per NFL Media Research. That figure drops to 82.5 in 16 games without Gronkowksi. Over that same time span, Brady sports an NFL-high 132.8 passer rating on throws to Gronkowski versus 104.4 when targeting all other players. Transcendent players enjoy a symbiotic relationship, pushing each other to greater heights. That's been a truism in football since the days of leather helmets, frozen tundra and oversized coal miners. Just ask Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.
If you asked all 32 general managers to choose one tackle, one guard and one center to build their respective teams around, how many would choose the Cowboys' trio of Smith, Martin and Frederick? I would guess at least half. For all of the deserved hype surrounding the rookie duo of Elliott and Dak Prescott, it's worth considering that Dallas' offense is powered by a handful of stars with perennial All-Pro potential (Smith, Martin, Frederick, Elliott and Bryant) in addition to future Hall of Famer Jason Witten.
The greatest clutch kicker in NFL history recently set an NFL record by converting his 43rd consecutive field-goal attempt. The 21-year veteran has yet to miss a kick this season despite attempting 11 of his 18 kicks from 40 yards or beyond. That reliability stands out when kickers have combined to convert just 69.0 percent of field goals in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime -- the second-lowest rate of the past 20 years, per NFL Research.
Second only to Andre Roberts in combined return yardage, the elusive Hill is averaging a league-best 15.9 yards per punt return. Drawing comparisons to Devin Hester and former Chiefs return ace Dante Hall, the fifth-round rookie is proving to be one of the league's most dynamic threats with the ball in his hands. The Chiefs are even starting to take advantage of his 4.25 speed as a deep-threat receiver.