With the NFL’s top 100 well under way, we here at Real Sport thought we would give you our own version; The RS 100. Every writer here had the chance to vote for the 100 best players from the 2015 season. This ranking was done regardless of position value or salary cap cost. It was simply based on who had the best 2015 season. As a result you won’t see quality players like Jordy Nelson anywhere on our ranking as he didn’t play a single snap in the 2015 season. Voting panel: Toby Durant, Remy Cabache, Cameron Tennyson, Rebecca Rennie, Daniel Hernandez, David Pruett, Ryan Tolster
Mike Daniels, Defensive Tackle, Green Bay Packers
(TD: #61, RC: #56, CT: #91, RR: #53, DH: #87, DP: #79, RT: #90) Daniels makes our top 50 after a brilliant season in the middle of the Packers defense. The young tackle, drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 season, started every game for the Packers and was the linchpin to their run defense all year. 49 tackles and 4 sacks is great production from someone trying to eat rather than beat blocks, but Daniels was in terrific form doing all the thankless tasks that come with interior line play in a 3-4 defense.
Jarvis Landry, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins
(TD: #95, RC: #58, CT: #70, RR: #96, DH: #64, DP: #59, RT: #55) Jarvis Landry is the latest graduate from the “Wes Welker Uncoverable Slot Receiver” school. 110 catches for 1,157 yards gave Landry a 10.5 yard per catch average, right in Welker’s sweet spot. Any yet he looks far more dynamic with ball in hand. After getting 166 targets in just his second season in the NFL it’s clear Ryan Tannehill likes what Landry can offer him. There are still so few receivers capable of causing havoc from the slot that Landry’s skill set is irreplaceable to the Miami offense.
Emmaunel Sanders, Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
(TD: #76, RC: #72, CT: #44, RR: #90, DH: #81, DP: #65, RT: #68) While Landry was causing havoc underneath, Emmanuel Sanders was doing to everywhere! Despite the well-known issues with Denver’s quarterbacks last season Sanders logged 1,135 yards and 6 touchdowns on just 76 catches. He single handedly destroyed the Pittsburgh defense in week 15 with a 10 catch, 181 yard game that would be far more memorable but for what was happening on the other side of the ball. Sanders was brilliantly consistent in Denver’s run through the playoffs as well, taking at least 5 catches in each game as he kept the limited Denver offense moving at every opportunity.
Delanie Walker, Tight End, Tennessee Titans
(TD: #63, RC: #54, CT: #73, RR: #73, DH: #96, DP: #53, RT: #76) It was long theorized that Delanie Walker could be very effective as the full time tight end outside of San Francisco. Now that he is in Tennessee we’ve started to see that those theories were indeed correct. While Walker broke the thousand yard barrier for the first time in his career in 2015 the 94 catches, 1,088 yards and 6 touchdowns are not the sole reason for his inclusion in this list. His run blocking is superb and his flexibility allows the Titans to line him up in a variety of places and roles and still have an effective player.
Derrick Johnson, Inside Linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs
(TD: #73, RC: #45, CT: #85, RR: #36, DH: #69, DP: #73, RT: #88) Derrick Johnson has been the man in the middle of the Kansas defense for a while now, but even at 33 years old he shows little signs of slowing down. He lead the team once again in 2015 with 116 tackles and was also a strong contributor to their backfield presence with 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 5 QB hits. His performance in 2015 earned him a trip to his 4th Pro Bowl as well as a place on the 2nd team All-Pro.
Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs
(TD: #67, RC: #42, CT: #46, RR: #41, DH: #71, DP: #71, RT: #93) Johnson’s team-mate Justin Houston checks in at #45 after a disappointing 2015 campaign. After coming close to breaking the single-season sack record in 2014 a lot was expected of Houston last year and he fell short of those expectations by a long way. Houston missed 5 games and his sack total fell to just 7.5. Some of that regression stems from the fact that he is an inconsistent rusher, always coming some way down the QB hit ranks, as well as injury issues. But there were other parts of his game that impressed. Houston grabbed 2 interceptions in the regular season, including a pick 6 against San Diego.
Jordan Reed, Tight End, Washington Redskins
(TD: #83, RC: #57, CT: #60, RR: #69, DH: #65, DP: #28, RT: #66) 2015 was the year, finally, when Jordan Reed was able to stay on the field and show what he can really do. What we got was 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns as Reed became a terror for the Redskins offense and a wonderful option for quarterback Kirk Cousins. Reed isn’t much of a blocker but his athleticism allow the Redskins to move him outside more than your usual tight end and at 6 foot 3, 235 pounds he is a nightmare even for big safeties to deal with. Hopefully he can play all 16 games in 2016 (he only managed 14 last year) and we can see the evolution of Reed into a dynamic playmaker.
Devonta Freeman, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
(TD: #88, RC: #47, CT: #41, RR: #89, DH: #65, DP: #28, RT: #66) After failing to make the impact people expected him too in his rookie year, Freeman came back in 2015 to be the man in Atlanta’s backfield and put up strong numbers. After starting slow in the first 2 games Freeman proceeded to tear through Dallas for 140 yards and 3 touchdowns, then the next week he scored 3 more against Houston, followed by 153 yards against Washington. Freeman’s middle of the season was monstrous, he averaged 4.97 yards a carry from week 3 to 11 before suffering an injury against Indianapolis. When he came back Freeman had a tough time of things against the brutal run defense of Carolina but also against some weak ones, but that stretch in the middle was sheer brilliance.
Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, Minnesota Vikings
(TD: #27, RC: #61, CT: #63, RR: #33, DH: #70, DP: #80, RT: #91) On the face of things Anthony Barr’s 2015 doesn’t look that impressive. 68 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss and one interception. It’s his all round prowess that has Barr so high up this list. He doesn’t seem to have a weakness in his game, even now after just 2 years in the NFL as an off the ball linebacker (he was an edge rusher in college).His coverage skills are excellent and have their foundations in his impressive athleticism. He can get up the field in a flash when he finds a seam and really hits hard. He is a cornerstone for the Vikings defense and should only get better in 2016.
AJ Green, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
(TD: #41, RC: #82, CT: #71, RR: #58, DH: #80, DP: #41, RT: #34) We’re in a golden age of wide receivers at the moment, and AJ Green is a big part of that. His 86 catches, 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015 don’t look all that great compared to some that you’ll see later, but when you look at the tape he leaps out at you. Green can be unstoppable on his day. On the road against Baltimore in week 3 he put the team on his back and refused to lose – bringing in 10 catches for a ridiculous 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In a similar situation in Pittsburgh Green put up 118 yards on 11 grabs with one score. On the road against 2 bitter division rivals, in games that were decided by less than 7 points, AJ Green refused to be on the losing team. That’s the kind of play that gets you on this list even in a “down” year.