Keep Your Sanity: Ignore the NFL Network Top 100

No matter how unjust this year's rankings may seem, it's important to remember that they ultimately don't matter.

The NFL Network’s Top 100 list occupies the same place in my life as Keeping up with the Kardashians.

You heard me correctly. They’re both well-produced TV shows. I have very little respect for either, but I also find it hard to look away. They both consist of fascinating nonsense, which is why it’s a waste of time—however tempting—to let either stay on the mind after the TV is turned off.

For what it’s worth, I only keep up with the Kardashians because my girlfriend watches, but I could easily find something else to do. I get trapped. Likewise, no matter how often I tell myself not to care about the Top 100, I found myself ready to step up on my soap box about underrated and overrated players revealed so far in this year’s list.

I was prepared to write an analysis of the Packers’ roster, lamenting the lack of elite players surrounding Aaron Rodgers through the years, despite a long list of good or very good players on the team every year. And my initial reaction to seeing David Bakhtiari at No. 91 this year—as well as his unranked status last year—is about as close to outrage as I get. I’m not much for ranting, but I had to show some restraint when I saw that. (I mean, seriously. He’s a top-three player at a premium position. He may be the best pass protection lineman in an increasingly pass-driven league. Shouldn’t that justify a top-50 ranking automatically? But, anyways, I’m not going to rant about it.)

As hard as it is as fans, we should be treating the Top 100 how Bakhtiari is treating it: as a meaningless way to keep eyes on the NFL in the least eventful part of the league calendar. Bakhtiari’s online reactions to his place on the list have been appropriately light-hearted, stating that his goal for the next year is to move up 22 spots, so that his ranking can match his jersey number. Nice.

There’s no perfect way to rank players, and maybe that’s why we like debating it so much. But the Top 100 is just one flawed system, much like Madden ratings or Pro Football Focus scores. None of these should be followed religiously, and ultimately, none matters.

So, please, resist the urge to get outraged, no matter how high Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde are ranked or how underrated Davante Adams surely will be. Suppress that crusader instinct, regardless of how many quarterbacks outrank Aaron Rodgers this year. We all know the truth. Remember: it doesn’t actually affect how much of an assassin Rodgers will be in real life in 2018.

It’s no new discovery among committed football fans that the Top 100 isn’t the best way to assess talent. But I’ll never forget the moment I became disillusioned with what I had previously thought was the definitive rating of the NFL’s best according to the players themselves.

In 2014, it was revealed that Miami’s Charles Clay, a college fullback who had successfully transitioned into a starting-caliber tight end, was ranked higher than the Bears’ Matt Forte. That’s when I realized the players get it wrong quite a bit.

This particular binary system in the rankings was particularly offensive to me because I had watched both players very closely the year before. I spent the fall of 2013 in Miami, watching the Dolphins up close. I witnessed first-hand Clay’s breakout season, in which he caught 69 passes for 759 yards. He was good, but I don’t remember being genuinely impressed at any point that season.

Compare that to Matt Forte, a player for which I developed a giant amount of respect as a Packers fan who grew up in Illinois. Besides the fact that Forte had carried the Bears’ offense for the five previous seasons, Forte was coming off his best season in 2013. His 1,339 rush yards were a career high. And, by the way, he made more catches than Clay: 74 grabs for 594 yards. It blew my mind that Forte was ranked 91st by his peers, and I felt like I was on another planet when I saw that Clay was two slots higher.

This was my moment of disillusionment, but it’s just one comparison. I’m sure you have your own Top 100 injustice that’s stayed with you. Keep that in mind as the rest of the 2018 list is revealed over the coming weeks. I understand that we’re desperate for football in these post-draft months, but—for your own sanity—try not to take the bait.

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Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Comments (12)

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The TKstinator's picture

May 18, 2018 at 05:06 pm

Ignore what? Never heard of it.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

May 18, 2018 at 05:23 pm

"The NFL Network’s Top 100 list occupies the same place in my life as Keeping up with the Kardashians."

Hahahaha. Both are just about self importance.

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dobber's picture

May 18, 2018 at 07:49 pm

"Keeping up with the Kardashians."

Huh...I wonder what their 40 times were?

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WKUPackFan's picture

May 19, 2018 at 02:38 am

Their 40 times get a lot faster when they are chasing a NBA player, or Reggie Bush.

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GBPDAN1's picture

May 19, 2018 at 07:48 pm

I'd rather watch a documentary about the history of toilet paper than watch the NFL top 100 or the Kardashians

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Tundraboy's picture

May 18, 2018 at 11:05 pm

Speaking of Toilet Paper. I'd rather listen to the music on How's it's Made for an hour or two.

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mamasboy's picture

May 18, 2018 at 07:29 pm

I think it would be great if not a single Packer would make it into the top 100 during the rest of Rogers' career. We like our guys to have nice big chips on their shoulders.

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4thand1's picture

May 18, 2018 at 09:47 pm

My top 100 include the 90 guys in Packers TC and 10 jags from around the league.

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Nick Perry's picture

May 19, 2018 at 03:39 am

Well I have to hand it to anyone who can actually watch the program because I haven't in years. I forget the last year I actually watched EVERY episode but when I did stop it was because I was so outraged by my boys in Green & Golds rankings. I thought the hell with it, I wasn't going to give the NFL Network even one more viewer after treating my beloved Packers that way.

Now after reading this I am outraged once again to see that David Bakhtiari was at #91 this year and not even ranked last year. I mean WTF! Maybe I'll start watching the Kardashians, at least most of those girls are pretty. Well everyone except Bruce/Katelyn anyways.

I

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Spock's picture

May 19, 2018 at 10:16 am

Well, it's too late to keep my sanity :), but I never have watched either show. My advice to the author is if his girlfriend wants to watch those rich women "reality stars" he should probably find a new girlfriend, lol.

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Finwiz's picture

May 19, 2018 at 10:49 am

So you're saying I should divorce my wife?

I watch them with her, and everybody's happy.

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ricky's picture

May 19, 2018 at 07:00 pm

The year that JJ Watt was #1 to Rodgers #2. No matter how good a defender is, he doesn't have anywhere near the impact of a QB. What is interesting to me is it seems some players are actually using this as a way to motivate themselves to play better. Whatever works.

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