Top 100 Players of 2018: Seven juicy storylines to watch

*"The Top 100 Players of 2018" kicks off with a doubleheader starting at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network on Monday. The first episode will reveal the players who were ranked from 100 to 91, with the players ranked 90 to 81 following immediately after at 10 p.m. ET. Before the names start flying, Jeremy Bergman digs into seven burning questions about this year's ranking. *

Will Tom Brady repeat at No. 1 despite not winning the Super Bowl?

Brady rarely loses, but is there a possibility that, after yet another MVP season, the G.O.A.T. loses his lead atop this esteemed list? The Pats QB secured the No. 1 slot on last year's Top 100 rundown after missing the first four games in 2016 and still putting up career numbers en route to a Super Bowl title. In 2017, Brady won his third MVP award, but this time, lost in the Super Bowl (and Super Bowl MVP voting, obviously) despite setting the record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl (505). Brady has never dipped below the top four since this countdown's origins. Don't expect him to fall far, if he falls at all. But might someone supplant Brady? Antonio Brown (No. 4 in '17), Von Miller (2) and Carson Wentz (unranked) are all realistic, if not surefire options.

Will the league's nouveau riche be rewarded?

It won't be crystal clear for another season or two, but we saw a changing of the guard in 2017. With perennial playoff players like the Colts, Broncos, Seahawks and Packers all sidelined in January, upstart teams that ended lengthy postseason droughts (the Jaguars and Rams) and rejuvenated contenders (the Eagles and Saints) took up the mantle, as did many of their players. On the '17 list, those four clubs were represented by just five players who were on their rosters in 2016 -- the Jaguars had zero. This year, oh, we expect an increase. Carson Wentz, Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Michael Thomas, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley could all see entry onto this list (up high, too), not to mention New Orleans' two Rookies of the Years and Leonard Fournette. Football's new money has arrived. Have their contemporaries noticed?

Will rookies get a warm response?

In 2017, there were four rookies on the list (Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyreek Hill, Joey Bosa), two of whom (Prescott and Bosa) were named Rookies of the Year in 2016. This time around, there might be even more first-timers. The OROY and DROY from '17 both came from the same team -- the Saints' Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore. The first overall pick last year, Myles Garrett, had a stellar rookie season for the Browns, finishing tied for second with Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt among rookies with seven sacks; Cincinnati's Carl Lawson tallied eight. Before he suffered a season-ending knee injury, Houston's Deshaun Watson was the most electric QB in the league and on pace to set multiple rookie passing records. And we haven't even mentioned Fournette's fellow 1,000-yard gainers Kareem Hunt and Christian McCaffrey.

Market correction: How far do Cowboys, Raiders fall?

On the heels of their teams' shocking breakout seasons in 2016, Cowboys and Raiders players like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack shot into the top 15 of the Top 100 list (in Mack's case, the top five). 2017 was not kind to either of these ball clubs, especially to their stars, who had just been reviewed highly by their peers. Elliott was mired in suspension drama and missed six games; Prescott suffered a sophomore slump, partially due to Elliott's absence, and couldn't lead Dallas back to the playoffs; and as Oakland's vertical passing efficiency diminished in '17, so did Carr's stock. Eleven combined Cowboys and Raiders made the list last year. How many will be left in the top 25 this year?

Will a swath of injuries affect the position of NFL's big stars?

The league was riddled by the injury bug early last season, from the bottom to the very top. Before the calendar turned past Halloween, we had lost Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham, David Johnson, Eric Berry and J.J. Watt; Andrew Luck never saw the field. Four of those players were in the top 13 in 2017; Watt was No. 3 in 2016 before missing most of that season, and Luck has oscillated between Nos. 51, 92 and 7 over the last three years. Will their season-ending setbacks change voters' perceptions of these potential future Hall of Famers?

How will voters welcome Jimmy Garoppolo?

Has the Jimmy G-sus hype spread to locker rooms around the league? The Patriots-turned-Niners quarterback has started just seven career games, but Garoppolo's hot-fire five-game stretch to close the 2017 season was enough to inspire hopes in San Francisco of future NFC West titles. The numbers bear out the league-wide hoopla. Among quarterbacks who started at least five games last season, Jimmy G ranks fourth in completion percentage (67.4), first in passing yards per attempt (8.76) and, most importantly, last in losses (0). General managers, coaches and players, even outside the Niners' facility, rave about his ability and promise, but do the Top 100 voters feel the same way?

Will the Jets or Bears crack the top 100?

Give the losers some love, will ya? The only two franchises to go oh-fer on last year's list were the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, two clubs that have compiled a combined 18-46 record over the past two seasons. Could any players crack the top 100 this time around? I'm pegging Jordan Howard and one of the Leonards (Williams and Floyd) for promotions.

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