11. ARIAN FOSTER-HOUSTON TEXANS-RB #2
The guy is just amazing. He had 17 TDs and 1,641 total yards last year. He does it so consistently and makes it look so easy that people sometimes take his greatness for granted. He is clearly the second best RB in the NFL today. If he and the Texans take the next step and make it to the Super Bowl people should start to see him as Adrian Peterson's equal.
12. GENO ATKINS-CINCINNATI BENGALS-DT #2
Aktins and #15 on my list Earl Thomas are probably the two most underrated players in the NFL to the common fan. Playing in a small market for the Bengals and playing the non glamorous DT position hurt Atkins' notoriety. However his stats don't lie. He was 6th in the league with 12.5 sacks and also had 4 forced fumbles. In advanced stats, according to Pro Football Focus, he was 4th in in run stop percentage among DT's. The guy can do everything from the DT position. He is only 25 years old so the sky is the limit for this already productive player.
13. JARED ALLEN-MINNESOTA VIKINGS-DE/PR #4
It was going to be nearly impossible for Allen to duplicate his 22 sacks of 2011. However a 12 sack season is no disappointment and good enough to have him finish 8th in the league in sacks. Since 2007, Allen has averaged 14.9 sacks per season. He is one of the best pass rushers in a league that values getting to the QB.
14. PATRICK WILLIS-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-ILB (non edge) #1
His teammate NaVorro Bowman (#20 on my list) may get more tackles than Willis but Willis is the better all around play maker and frees up Bowman to make many of his tackles. Willis does a little bit of everything from the ILB spot, he covers TE's and WR's in the slot, he takes on blocks and makes tackles. He had 2 interceptions and 9 passes deflected in 2012. He runs like a safety and hits like a DE. His skills in coverage are second to none compared to any LB in the league.
|2012||San Francisco 49ers||16||16||120||88||32||0.5||--||9||2||2||1.0||2||0||2|
|2011||San Francisco 49ers||13||13||97||74||23||2.0||--||12||1||10||10.0||10||0||4|
|2010||San Francisco 49ers||15||15||128||101||27||6.0||--||5||--||--||0.0||--||--||2|
15. EARL THOMAS-SEATTLE SEAHAWKS-S #1
Thomas is the best player on an elite Seahwaks defense. His range and ball hawking ability allow Seattle's two big corners, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner to play physical press man. Thomas' skills as a free safety also allow big strong safety Kam Chancellor to play in the box most of the time. His numbers don't show just how important he is to the Seattle defense.
16. HALOTI NGATA-BALTIMORE RAVENS-DT #3
Ngata is another guy where numbers don't illustrate how great and important he is. Even when he wasn't at 100%, Ngata was still a force in the middle of the Ravens Super Bowl winning defense. In 2012, Ngata made his 5th straight All-Pro team. If he keeps having All-Pro seasons, he should join his former Raven's teammates Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in Canton one day.
17. CHARLES TILLMAN-CHICAGO BEARS-CB #1
Over the past two seasons, Tillman has come out of no where to become one of the best playmaking DB's in the NFL. In 2012 he tied for the lead in defensive TD's with 3 interceptions returned for scores. His 10 forced fumbles were also tops in the league. It seemed like he was single handily responsible for the Bears fantasy defense having several MONSTER games in 2012. Over the past two seasons, he has 5 TD's, 6 interceptions and 28 passes deflected. Tillman is the best player on a stacked Bears defense.
18. ALDON SMITH-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-OLB/PR #5
Smith improved on his rookie sack numbers going from 14 sacks in 2011 to 19.5 sacks last year. He made the jump from situational pass rusher as a rookie to a full time player in 2012. While Aldon is an emerging superstar, he is clearly a product of playing along side the best interior defensive lineman in the league Justin Smith. Once Justin Smith got hurt in Week 15, Aldon didn't have a single sack the rest of the season and didn't have a sack in the playoffs neither. The 49ers need more consistency from their young stud in order to WIN the Super Bowl next year.
|2012||San Francisco 49ers||16||16||66||50||16||19.5||--||1||1||6||6.0||6||0||3|
|2011||San Francisco 49ers||16||0||37||31||6||14.0||1||4||--||--||0.0||--||--||2|
19. RAY RICE-BALTIMORE RAVENS-RB #3
In 2012 Rice had a less productive season than usual. Yet when it matters most, Ray Rice is a go to guy. On 4th and 29 against the Chargers in week 12 he had arguably the play of the season.
It is a must watch in Real Time!
Rice was also a key member of the Ravens offense en route to a win in Super Bowl XLVII.
20. NaVORRO BOWMAN-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS-ILB (non edge) #2
Bowman is the second best ILB on his own defense but he's also the second best ILB in the league. He's the perfect fit to play along side Willis and Aldon Smith because he doesn't miss tackles. With Justin Smith, Willis and Aldon Smith taking getting extra blocks, Bowman is often free to roam. Bowman has made the best of his opportunity. finishing tied for second in the league in tackles last year. Over the past two seasons he has averaged 145.5 tackles per season.