It’s “Steal a Player” time for Week 11 of The Athletic’s NFL Power Rankings.
How does this work? Falcons beat author Josh Kendall joins nationwide author Lindsay Jones for our model of NFL Fan Fiction. Let’s faux each workforce can steal one participant from one other workforce so he can repair an issue or fill a roster gap straight away.
For some groups, this may be a participant they might have drafted and didn’t. Or possibly it’s somebody a workforce pursued through commerce or free company however couldn’t signal. In most instances, although, that is all about our dream eventualities.
And on this train, we’re throwing out issues like contracts and salary-cap area you’d have to contemplate in the true world. Anyone on injured reserve (like Derrick Henry) additionally was off-limits.
Finally: We tried to restrict the variety of quarterbacks we stole, although in a number of instances we simply couldn’t assist ourselves.
Before we begin stealing, a number of takeaways from this week’s rankings as voted on by our NFL writers and editors. Things had been loopy in spots after six of final week’s Top 10 groups misplaced:
• The Cardinals’ loss to the Panthers means we as soon as once more have a brand new No. 1 workforce, but it surely’s hardly unanimous. Four groups acquired not less than one first-place vote: the Titans (12), Packers (11), Cowboys (2) and Bucs (1). The Cardinals, in the meantime, fell three spots, after wanting so misplaced towards Carolina.
• It’s cheap to suppose the Cowboys may have been the No. 1 workforce if not for his or her inexplicable Week 9 loss to Denver. Dallas rebounded and throttled the Falcons, and had been among the many greatest risers this week, up 5 spots from No. 8 to No. 3.
• We had been curious what the Lions’ tie with the Steelers would imply for the underside of our rankings. How would our voters view the tie (with a Steelers workforce that actually appeared beatable with out Ben Roethlisberger)? The Lions stay our backside workforce, however much less convincingly so, with the Texans and Jets additionally receiving votes at No. 32.
• Look out, the Chiefs are again within the Top 10.
• As tight as the center of the league is correct now, with 12 groups sitting at 4 or 5 wins, essentially the most troublesome groups to rank this week had been the Steelers and the 49ers. Pittsburgh struggled with out Roethlisberger, who’s on the reserve/COVID-19 record, and may very well be with out him once more on Sunday evening towards the Chargers. Our voters put the Steelers as excessive as 11 and as little as 24. The 49ers, in the meantime, acquired votes from 11 to 26 after their greatest win of the season Monday evening towards the Rams.
1. Green Bay Packers (8-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 10 end result: Beat the Seahawks, 17-0
Somebody was getting Jefferson after his 143-yard Week 10 performance. The Vikings’ budding star has 2,175 receiving yards midway via his second season within the NFL, and the Packers want a complement to Davante Adams within the extensive receiver room. Adams has 65 catches this yr. The second-leading receiver on the workforce — veteran with a capital V Randall Cobb — has 23 catches. Jefferson has confirmed keen to assist in the run sport, too.
2. Tennessee Titans (8-2)
Previous rank: T2
Week 10 end result: Beat the Saints, 23-21
With apologies to future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, the Titans in all probability wish they might have had higher (and youthful) choices to right away exchange the injured Derrick Henry. And there’s no better young running back within the NFL proper now than Taylor, who has 610 dashing yards and 7 touchdowns in his final 5 video games. The Titans want a workhorse again to energy their offense, particularly with receiver Julio Jones now on injured reserve.
3. Dallas Cowboys (7-2)
Previous rank: 8
Week 10 end result: Beat the Falcons, 43-3
Steal a participant: Aaron Donald, Rams defensive sort out
What do you get for the vacations for an proprietor who has all the things? The league’s greatest inside lineman. There’s hardly any room to squeeze in one other offensive weapon on Dallas’ roster, and defensive finish, linebacker and secondary appear simply tremendous. Coming off a 43-3 win, Dallas doesn’t seem to have many weaknesses, however including Donald wouldn’t harm.
4. Arizona Cardinals (8-2)
Previous rank: 1
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Panthers, 34-10
Steal a participant: Vita Vea, Buccaneers nostril sort out
Offense received’t be an issue when Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins return. Pass protection has not been an issue largely due to how effectively the Cardinals stress the passer. They’re eighth within the NFL in sacks (25). But run protection? That may be an issue. Arizona is final within the league, permitting 4.8 yards per carry. The Panthers rushed for 166 on Sunday. Adding the 350-pound Vea would assist now and would possibly assist much more when the playoffs roll round.
5. Buffalo Bills (6-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 10 end result: Beat the Jets, 45-17
Steal a participant: Nick Chubb, Browns working again
The Bills know they’re allowed to run the ball, proper? If they had a back like Chubb, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll may name a extra balanced sport, and one which may be higher fitted to the Buffalo situations in December and January, when the Bills hope to be internet hosting playoff video games. Quarterback Josh Allen is understandably the focal piece of the offense, however it might be good to take among the stress off him to be a main dashing menace (Allen is second on the workforce in dashing yards, with 322, and third in makes an attempt).
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
Previous rank: T2
Week 10 end result: Lost to Washington, 29-19
Steal a participant: Darren Waller, Raiders tight finish
It’s been away from late and especially so Sunday how a lot Tom Brady misses tight finish Rob Gronkowski within the purple zone. Some of that’s simply due to Brady’s lengthy bromance with Gronkowski however extra of it’s as a result of Brady loves a giant physique in tight quarters. Gronkowski may very well be again anytime, however he’s performed solely 4 video games this yr because of a wide range of accidents, and it’s unwise to depend on him being a gradual roster presence the rest of the season. The Bucs could be joyful to take the 6-foot-6 Waller, who can add a lot to the vertical sport, too.
7. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
Previous rank: 4
Week 10 end result: Lost to the 49ers, 31-10
Steal a participant: N/A
Les Snead takes all of the enjoyable out of this week’s premise as a result of he’s already gone out and gotten each participant he needs, from the quarterback (Matthew Stafford) to the cross rusher (Von Miller) to the pass catcher (Odell Beckham Jr.). Sure, a man like Ezekiel Elliott would look nice in January on a workforce that presently ranks twentieth within the NFL in yards per carry (4.0), however the Rams deserve no extra personnel riches. Our utterly made-up psychological train, our guidelines!
8. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
Previous rank: 12
Week 10 end result: Beat the Raiders, 41-14
Steal a participant: Micah Parsons, Cowboys linebacker
There had been loads of intriguing linebacker choices right here, just like the 49ers’ Fred Warner, however the Chiefs’ must get youthful and quicker at nearly each defensive place made Parsons the goal. The rookie is on a Pro Bowl trajectory, and his production is only improving, with 3 1/2 sacks and eight tackles for a loss within the final three video games.
9. New England Patriots (6-4)
Previous rank: 11
Week 10 end result: Beat the Browns, 45-7
Steal a participant: Stefon Diggs, Bills extensive receiver
As spectacular because the Patriots have been currently, think about what Mac Jones’ trajectory could be like if New England had an elite No. 1 extensive receiver, as an alternative of the gathering of 2s, 3s, and 4s with whom they’re presently working? Considering the Patriots had been concerned within the Odell Beckham Jr. talks final week, it might make sense for Bill Belichick to need somebody like Diggs, who has 750 yards and 4 touchdowns this yr, and has recorded greater than 1,000 receiving yards every of the previous three seasons.
10. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Previous rank: 6
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Dolphins, 22-10
Steal a participant: Trevon Diggs, Cowboys cornerback
Baltimore has missed Marcus Peters’ ball-hawking skill since shedding the beginning nook to a torn ACL simply earlier than its Week 1 sport. As the Ravens now attempt to get some distance from the remainder of the division, think about if they’d a nook like Diggs reverse Marlon Humphrey. Diggs already has eight interceptions this yr, whereas the Ravens protection as a complete has simply seven turnovers. He would possibly hand over some huge performs, not not like Peters, however the propensity for picks makes it price it.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
Previous rank: 9
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Vikings, 27-20
Steal a participant: Nick Bosa, 49ers defensive finish
A evident weak spot on the Chargers roster is the dearth of a second cross rusher to line up reverse Joey Bosa, who leads the workforce with 5 1/2 sacks. The remainder of the workforce has 11 1/2, with no participant having greater than 2 1/2, and the protection ranks thirtieth in third-down conversions. Stealing Nick Bosa (who recorded his eighth sack of the season on Monday night) from the 49ers to play together with his older brother could be enjoyable as hell for a artistic, defensive-minded coach like Brandon Staley and a nightmare for opposing offenses.
12. New Orleans Saints (5-4)
Previous rank: 15
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Titans, 23-21
Steal a participant: Dak Prescott, Cowboys quarterback
With apologies to everybody else within the NFC South, the NFL is extra enjoyable when Sean Payton has a quarterback. No offense, Kellen Moore; we love what you’ve performed with Dak; however think about a Payton and Prescott workforce. Dak is firmly in the MVP conversation. Put him with Alvin Kamara, throw in a protection ranked fifth within the NFL in anticipated factors contributed (7.75) and let’s see what occurs.
13. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
Previous rank: 16
Week 10 end result: Bye
Steal a participant: Xavien Howard, Dolphins cornerback
The Bengals preserve taking swings on cornerbacks. A number of have hit, most notably Chidobe Awuzie, signed as a free agent from Dallas earlier this yr. Others, like Trae Waynes and Eli Apple, have been misses. We’d like to see a shutdown nook like Howard in that different beginning spot, somebody able to taking part in man protection towards No. 1 receivers and who may help the Bengals enhance their turnover numbers. They have seven interceptions, 5 by linebacker Logan Wilson.
14. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Previous rank: 18
Week 10 end result: Beat the Jaguars, 23-17
Steal a participant: Tristan Wirfs, Buccaneers proper sort out
The Colts love proper sort out Braden Smith, and earlier this yr signed him to a long-term extension. But he’s solely been capable of play in 4 video games to date this season. In this hypothetical train, we attempt to get rid of the stress on Carson Wentz on a couple of third of his dropbacks. Wirfs is the best young right tackle in the NFL, permitting only one sack in 401 cross blocking snaps this yr, per TruMedia.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1)
Previous rank: 13
Week 10 end result: Tied the Lions, 16-16
Steal a participant: Joe Thuney, Chiefs guard
We know what the Steelers wish to be offensively and, truthfully, what they need to be, and that’s a working workforce that may dominate on the line of scrimmage. Adding guard Trai Turner within the offseason has helped, however we’ve got to think about that if Mike Tomlin had been scouring the offensive line rosters of his rivals proper now, Thuney could be excessive on the wish record. He’s a great cross protector (no sacks allowed, and solely 11 pressures, per TruMedia) however it might be enjoyable to see him blocking for a workforce that emphasizes the run like Pittsburgh does.
16. Cleveland Browns (5-5)
Previous rank: 10
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Patriots, 45-7
Steal a participant: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs quarterback
We can’t pin all the Browns’ recent struggles on Baker Mayfield, and we had been cautious to not dream up too many quarterback swaps right here on this fictional universe. But the Browns have a significant choice to make about Mayfield’s future quickly, and, effectively, Mahomes has already confirmed to be one of many biggest clutch quarterbacks of this period. You make this swap in a heartbeat if in case you have the prospect.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)
Previous rank: 14
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Chiefs, 41-14
Steal a participant: Derwin James, Chargers security
If Jon Gruden had been nonetheless the Raiders coach, we’re undecided we may have resisted “stealing” Khalil Mack from the Bears right here. But Gruden’s gone and, for as soon as, the cross rush is just not among the many Raiders’ greatest considerations. Instead, we’ll proceed the pattern of Gus Bradley accumulating his former gamers from the Chargers (the place he was the defensive coordinator) or the Jaguars (the place he was head coach). Bradley solely acquired to teach James in 21 video games throughout their three years collectively, due to accidents in 2019 and 2020. And the Raiders may actually use a rangy, versatile defensive again like James to place within the backfield with Johnathan Abram.
18. Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
Previous rank: 19
Week 10 end result: Beat the Chargers, 27-20
Steal a participant: Myles Garrett, Browns defensive finish
Mike Zimmer is out right here terrorizing quarterbacks with, and we imply this with all due respect, D.J. Wonnum and Everson Griffen. The Vikings are tied for the NFL lead with 29 sacks, so it won’t appear to be they want a cross rusher, however imagine what Zimmer could do by including Garrett to this combine. With Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson, Minnesota has sufficient offense to be an element if it might enhance a protection that ranks twenty first within the league in yards per play allowed (5.6).
19. San Francisco 49ers (4-5)
Previous rank: 22
Week 10 end result: Beat the Rams, 31-10
Steal a participant: Cameron Heyward, Steelers defensive finish
You can run on the Niners and people realize it. San Francisco is twenty eighth in yards per sport allowed on the bottom (131.6) and twenty second in anticipated factors added by its run protection (minus-5.23). Only the Jets and Texans have given up greater than the Niners’ 12 touchdowns on the bottom. San Francisco proved Monday night it might nonetheless transfer the soccer. If it may cease individuals from doing the identical, it may get into the muddled NFC wild-card race. Heyward continues to be one of many NFL’s greatest inside run and cross defenders.
20. Carolina Panthers (5-5)
Previous rank: 25
Week 10 end result: Beat the Cardinals, 34-10
Steal a participant: Tom Brady, Bucs quarterback
If NFL groups are stealing gamers, you recognize any person goes to take the person who may be the best quarterback of all time. With apologies to the Cam Newton Reboot Project, the Panthers want a quarterback. Brady has confirmed for a very long time that he’s the rising tide that lifts all boats. Put him with Christian McCaffrey and a salty protection, and who’s to say Carolina doesn’t grow to be Tampa Bay?
21. Denver Broncos (5-5)
Previous rank: 17
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Eagles, 30-13
Steal a participant: Josh Allen, Bills quarterback
GM George Paton’s choice to cross over Justin Fields and Mac Jones this spring in his first draft for cornerback Patrick Surtain II has been hotly debated, however the greater quarterback “what if” is John Elway’s choice to take cross rusher Bradley Chubb with the No. 5 choose in 2019 when Allen was nonetheless on the board. The choice has haunted the Broncos, and on this fictional train, they get a do-over and eventually fix their unsolvable quarterback problem.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)
Previous rank: 24
Week 10 end result: Beat the Broncos, 30-13
Steal a participant: Najee Harris, Steelers working again
The Eagles have a number of holes to fill, but when they’re going to continue to build round quarterback Jalen Hurts past this season (and so they simply would possibly), they may as effectively put gamers round him who match. Harris is seventh within the league in dashing yards (646) in his rookie season, and simply as importantly he’s already a confirmed cross catcher out of the backfield (44 catches, 317 yards). Hurts nonetheless is working to grow to be a complete passer so let’s give him as many simple completions as we will and a greater run sport.
23. Seattle Seahawks (3-6)
Previous rank: T20
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Packers, 17-0
Steal a participant: David Bakhtiari, Packers offensive sort out
The Seahawks have loads of locations they could use help, however no matter they do that season have to be constructed round Russell Wilson, so this transfer is all about making life as simple on him as doable. Wilson has been sacked on 8.8 % of his dropbacks this season, his second-highest proportion since 2013. His QBR is 50.5, which might stand because the lowest of his profession by a large margin. The Seattle quarterback wants a wholesome finger and extra assist. Bakhtiari, the Packers sort out, would offer it.
24. Washington Football Team (3-6)
Previous rank: 27
Week 10 end result: Beat the Buccaneers, 29-19
Steal a participant: Joey Bosa, Chargers linebacker
This would not less than ease the sting of shedding Chase Young, who’s out the remainder of the season with an ACL tear. It may also spark a Washington protection that wasn’t excellent even with Young. Washington was purported to be carried by its protection. Instead, it’s been sunk by it. The Football Team is twenty seventh within the league in yards allowed per play (5.9) and simply twenty first in sacks (19). A hair-on-fire man off the sting would assist.
25. Atlanta Falcons (4-5)
Previous rank: T20
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Cowboys, 43-3
Steal a participant: DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals extensive receiver
Without Calvin Ridley, Atlanta doesn’t have a large receiver who can persistently get open towards man protection, and the Falcons are averaging greater than a yard higher per play towards zone than man (5.87 to 4.69). It’s making life difficult for coach Arthur Smith as a result of his workforce can’t run the ball, both (thirtieth within the NFL in yards per try at 3.5). One participant received’t repair the run sport points, but it surely would possibly do wonders for the passing sport, which is how Atlanta should transfer the ball going ahead. Smith could be delighted to pluck Hopkins away from the Cardinals to assist him open up the center of the sphere for tight finish Kyle Pitts and Mr. Everything Cordarrelle Patterson.
26. Chicago Bears (3-6)
Previous rank: 23
Week 10 end result: Bye
Steal a participant: Trent Williams, 49ers offensive sort out
This transfer, like all the things else that’s occurring in Chicago this yr and into the foreseeable future, is about Justin Fields. Williams has been the participant everybody anticipated him to be when Washington made him the No. 4 choose in 2010. He’s a franchise tackle now for the 49ers and the kind of participant who could be a consolation for a rookie quarterback who has been sacked a median of three.9 occasions per sport in his seven NFL begins.
27. New York Giants (3-6)
Previous rank: 26
Week 10 end result: Bye
Steal a participant: Wyatt Teller, Browns guard
The Giants working sport shouldn’t stink. New York is twenty sixth within the league in anticipated factors contributed by the run sport (minus-17.27). Quarterback Daniel Jones is just not the issue with this offense, however he could use some help. Saquon Barkley ought to be capable of present it, however the offensive line is just not pulling its weight. Enter Teller, a beast within the run sport.
28. Miami Dolphins (3-7)
Previous rank: 29
Week 10 end result: Beat the Ravens, 22-10
Steal a participant: Justin Herbert, Chargers quarterback
Herbert is for Dolphins followers what Patrick Mahomes is for Bears followers: the quarterback they might have had as an alternative of the one they acquired. While it feels prefer it needs to be too early to bail on Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins have persistently proven us they aren’t totally behind him. We should imagine Miami would love an opportunity to redo the 2020 draft and take Herbert if it had the prospect.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-7)
Previous rank: 28
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Colts, 23-17
Steal a participant: Kevin Byard, Titans security
The Jaguars are final in turnovers, with solely 5 in 9 video games. Byard alone has 5 interceptions, essentially the most amongst all safeties this season, and he’s additionally a revered chief for the Titans off the sphere. A younger, struggling workforce just like the Jaguars may certainly use a presence like that.
30. New York Jets (2-7)
Previous rank: 30
Week 10 end result: Lost to the Bills, 45-17
Steal a participant: T.J. Watt, Steelers linebacker
The Jets are on monitor to have the worst protection in franchise historical past. The causes are plentiful, from shedding cross rusher Carl Lawson within the preseason and security Marcus Maye earlier this month, however the actuality is that the Jets lack elite defensive talent outdoors of defensive sort out Quinnen Williams. A defensive-minded head coach like Robert Saleh would salivate on the probability so as to add an all-around weapon like Watt, some of the persistently disruptive defensive gamers within the NFL.
31. Houston Texans (1-8)
Previous rank: 31
Week 10 end result: Bye
Steal a participant: Alvin Kamara, Saints working again
The Texans have the NFL’s worst dashing offense: final in whole yards, with simply 682 dashing yards in 9 video games, and final in yards per try (3.3). Sure, it’s one in all simply many points for the Texans, and David Culley’s workforce may stand to swap out a player at every position. But an all-around offensive weapon like Kamara could be the right place to start out. Kamara would immediately enhance the Texans’ dashing assault, and he’d even be a receiving possibility not like anybody on Houston’s roster.
32. Detroit Lions (0-8-1)
Previous rank: 32
Week 10 end result: Tied the Steelers, 16-16
Steal a participant: Lamar Jackson, Ravens quarterback
We thought of placing Brady right here, simply to see what he’s actually manufactured from. We additionally thought of saying Matthew Stafford, simply to be imply, truthfully. But Jackson is the one actual alternative. The woeful Lions need everything. No one within the NFL brings just a little little bit of all the things like Jackson, who had 499 yards (the Sixteenth-most in a single sport in NFL historical past) towards the Colts earlier this yr. Sorry, Lamar.
(Top picture: Justin Casterline / Getty Images)