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Who are the 100 best players in the NFL right now?

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Thursday, May 21, 2020
Welcome to Thursday, friend!
I hope your spirits and productivity are staying high these days. I'm still out here rocking a very healthy 5 a.m. to noon(ish) sleep schedule, and I'm not quite sure how I'm gonna manage to undo that when all of this is over! That being said, I'm at least getting some things done. While you were sleeping, I did some cleaning and rearranged my office desk at 3 a.m. Also, I got an early morning Warzone win. What a night morning!
Of course, I also put together a wonderful little collection of sports news for you to snack on this morning. And speaking of snacks, I can't believe how many people got all up on my case yesterday after I said ketchup is good on hot dogs. Of all the things you could judge me for, you're gonna choose that?!
But let's start the day by talking some sports, as usual. After that, I've got an entire morning to sleep through before I wake up and listen to Carly Rae Jepsen. Off we go.
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๐Ÿ“ฐ What you need to know
1. The top 100 players in the NFL ๐Ÿˆ
Leading off today's topics is an item that combines two things I personally love: 1) An ambitious and controversial rankings list, and 2) a whole lot of people getting angry at our Pete Prisco.
Prisco has decided to pry himself off the Florida beaches long enough to deliver a new list of his top 100 players in the NFL right now. He loves doing these rankings every offseason and, to his credit, it's a serious undertaking. Ranking the top 1oo of anything sounds like a nightmare to me, but there are so many NFL players and the league landscape tends to shift rather rapidly, so that makes it even more challenging.
And, as you'd probably imagine, every year his list seems to tick a lot of people off. It's impossible to please everyone with a list of this magnitude. And while people love to pick it apart from top to bottom, the strongest reactions tend to come from the front end. So, with that in mind, let's see who he's got in the top 10 slots:
  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Aaron Donald
  3. Russell Wilson
  4. Michael Thomas
  5. Christian McCaffrey
  6. Stephon Gilmore
  7. Lamar Jackson
  8. Chandler Jones
  9. Khalil Mack
  10. Aaron Rodgers
Okay, so Mahomes at No. 1 seems very fair, especially coming off a Super Bowl win. Hard to imagine a lot of people will have gripes with that. Aaron Donald is a freak of nature and I'm sure he won't hear too many arguments either. But the other 98 spots on the list? It's probably open season on Prisco's head for those.
Some of the complaints that came across Prisco's desk yesterday:
  • Aaron Rodgers in the top 10
  • Myles Garrett at No. 47
  • Bud Dupree at No. 60
  • Deshaun Watson at No. 62
  • Derrick Henry at No. 69 (after leading the NFL in rushing last year)
  • Chris Godwin over DeAndre Hopkins
  • Carson Wentz and Minkah Fitzpatrick out of the Top 100
And many more! So many people had issues with his list... and it was wonderful! Our own Jamie Eisenberg even recommended printing out the list and using it as toilet paper during this pandemic. Very smart... very resourceful!
Hell, even a couple of NFL players shared their disapproval with Prisco yesterday. Deshaun Watson just laughed at his ranking on Instagram, while Steelers DE Cam Heyward reached out to Pete and said his list was "wild and inaccurate." (Heyward, who came in at No. 33, thought his teammates T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick should have gotten more respect.)
I'm sure we all miss arguing about sports and puffing out our chests in defense of our favorite players and teams, so Prisco making himself the sacrificial lamb was pretty honorable. And, as someone who enjoys watching Pete smugly quote tweet his haters on Twitter all day, yesterday was a joy.
2. Disney World is clear front-runner to host NBA playoffs ๐Ÿ€
"A small world after all" might soon become "a small world built for ball."
The NBA season has been on hold since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but progress is being made toward a return to play. As the league's quest to resume picks up steam, Disney World in Orlando has reportedly emerged as the clear front-runner to serve as a hub for that return.
Some more details:
  • Disney is considered the favorite to be a single bubble site to host all teams and games
  • Walt Disney World has begun the early stages of preparing hotel space for potential housing of NBA staffs and the league's needs
  • Las Vegas remains a possibility to serve as the single host site as well
  • The NBA remains hopeful for games to tip off by mid-July. No word on whether they would go straight to playoffs or finish the regular season.
Disney emerged as a possible host site in late April and, as we discussed then, the games would most likely be played at the Wide World of Sports venue in Orlando. The site makes a lot of sense considering the number of hotels/housing on the Disney grounds, plus WWoS holding multiple courts and having broadcast readiness. (Not to mention the NBA has a broadcast partnership with ABC and ESPN, which are owned by Disney.)
Here's what I wrote about the possibility of the NBA finishing its season at Disney back in April:
  • "Disney World could be a pretty interesting, sensible and -- dare I say, cool? -- place to wrap up the NBA season. At the very least, I feel like it could lead to some unique promotional and merchandising opportunities for fans, which could be important considering they can't attend the games."
I'm still standing by that, as I think the Disney is the most intriguing (for lack of a better word) destination for a hub city. Disney World's primary functions are hospitality, entertainment and putting on a great show, so I feel like the NBA setting up shop there could help the league get the most out of a very weird, non-ideal scenario.
Obviously, it's all contingent on being able to keep players and staff healthy, but if that's possible then I'm all for trying to tap into Disney World's seemingly endless supply of magic. The only downside is how many players would become out of shape immediately after discovering Dole Whip.
3. Tiers of NFL starting QBs ๐Ÿˆ
Another day, another Jason La Canfora special. Earlier this week, we had JLC ranking the NFL's contenders in tiers -- sorting each of the league's 32 teams by how much promise they have heading into 2020.

Yesterday, he was back at it, this time sorting the NFL's starting quarterbacks in tiers. So much of a team's hopes and dreams of success hinges on the quarterback position, so it would make a lot of sense for the promise rankings and quarterback rankings to have a little symmetry between them.
Who falls into the category of being an unquestionable "franchise QB?" Who's a rising star? Who's just serviceable? Who stinks? Let JLC deliver those assignments. Here's what he's got:
Tier 1: Bona Fide Franchise QBs
  • Patrick Mahomes
  • Lamar Jackson
  • Russell Wilson
  • Deshaun Watson
  • Tom Brady
  • Drew Brees
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Carson Wentz
  • Ben Roethlisberger
Tier 2: Top Pros, Proven Winners
  • Matt Ryan
  • Matt Stafford
  • Dak Prescott
Tier 3: Rising Stars
  • Kyler Murray
  • Jimmy Garoppolo
Tier 4: You Can Win With Them
  • Derek Carr
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Baker Mayfield
  • Josh Allen
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Jared Goff
  • Philip Rivers
  • Tyrod Taylor
Tier 5: Guys, Veterans and Place Holders
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick
Tier 6: Good Luck
  • Mitch Trubisky
Tier 7: The Verdict Is Out
  • Joe Burrow
  • Gardner Minshew
  • Sam Darnold
  • Jarrett Stidham
  • Dwayne Haskins
  • Drew Lock
  • Daniel Jones
Not only is worth checking out JLC's justifications for his rankings here , but he also provides a little transparency by also including what his tiers were last year. There are a number of quarterbacks who proved to be risers (D. Watson, L. Jackson, C. Wentz, D. Prescott, K. Murray) but also a some guys who tumbled in their status a bit (J. Goff, B. Mayfield, M.Trubisky). I did get a laugh at Ryan Fitzpatrick just being listed under "guy." That seems about right.
Congratulations to you if your team's QB falls into the top few tiers... that probably means you've got some good things to look forward to this year! (Well, okay, maybe not if you root for the Lions.) As for me, my franchise QB left me this offseason (along with my wife), and there's a big ol' question mark from Tier 7 in his place. However, Jarrett Stidham is already getting rave reviews from his Patriots teammates, so that's promising.
Oh, what's that? You don't want to hear me talk about the Patriots being plagued with uncertainty after being spoiled the past two decades? And... say again? You think my team is made up of a bunch of filthy cheating a-holes and you'd rather see the season get canceled than watch the Pats be relevant for even one more second? Yeah, that's fine. I figured.
Also, I wonder how JLC feels about Wentz (one of his elite Tier 1 quarterbacks) not even getting a top 100 designation from Prisco yesterday. ๐Ÿค”
4. The evolution of the Jordan 'Flu Game' ๐Ÿคฎ
There's been a lot of talk about the infamous Michael Jordan "flu game" from the 1997 NBA Finals lately, mostly because it was a big topic of discussion during the penultimate episode of "The Last Dance" over the weekend. That's when we received confirmation from Jordan that food poisoning was allegedly the root of his struggles that night.
With the topic hot in the streets these days, our Gabe Fernandez -- who, like me, just recently joined Team Headband to deal with his out-of-control quarantine hair -- decided to examine how the legend of the flu game has grown and evolved over the years.
My guy Gabe explores what we know to be absolutely true about the game and Jordan's performance, as well as some of the developing mythology and inconsistencies in claims since '97. He also discusses some of the recent craziness surrounding the event, including the Park City Pizza Hut manager who claimed responsibility for the pizza this week, as well as another man who shot down the Pizza Hut theory and claimed his friend who worked at a bar made the pie.
The story is worth a read, as it's pretty fascinating to see how the story has taken on a life of its own. Fernandez, who seems pretty skeptical about Jordan's telling of the events leading up to the game, does a pretty good job of summing up the whole thing here:
  • "It's been nearly 23 years since one of the greatest moments in the career of arguably the greatest player of NBA history, and fans are no closer to the truth today than they were over two decades ago. But the mystique and mythology of the performance still remains as strong as ever. It's a game that will continue to be used as something to cement Jordan's status as the GOAT, serve as evidence as to why Jordan is tougher than LeBron James among the Sisyphus wannabes who continue to hash out that debate, and be a source of mystery among basketball fans of how it really came to be. Throughout it all, one opinion will stay the same: the game was impressive as hell."
Let this be the last we talk of the "flu game" or the "food poisoning game" or whatever you want to call it... at least for some time. It was a very impressive and gutsy performance by Jordan and it should remain a key gem in his legacy, but I think I would have rather had the illness stay a mystery forever than deal with a bunch of random dudes piping up to claim that they whipped up the pizza that made Jordan yack all night and day.
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๐Ÿ“ Odds & ends
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