Splash’s Top 100 (2019): Players 20-11

#20: David Bakhtiari, Offensive tackle, Green Bay Packers:

An All-Pro at left tackle in 2018, Bakhtiari has played 90 of a possible 96 games in his six-year career with the Packers. A Pro Bowler in 2016, Bakhtiari has been critical in helping Aaron Rodgers fuel the offense. In 2019, Bakhtiari already will be used to create running lanes for the likes of Aaron Jones and to again protect Aaron Rodgers over the course of the season. If the Packers want to make the playoffs in 2019, they will need an effective Bakhtiari to help on the offensive line.

#19: Jamal Adams, Safety, New York Jets:

In just two seasons, Jamal Adams has established himself as an elite level safety in the NFL. With 32 starts in 32 possible games, Adams has revolutionized the safety position in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Adams exemplifies versatility over two seasons, recording an interception, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and 5.5 sacks along with 197 tackles. A Pro Bowler in 2018, Adams will look to lay siege to the All-Pro spots that were held by Eddie Jackson and Derwin James in 2018.

#18: Derwin James, Safety, Los Angeles Chargers:

James had an incredible season with the Chargers. Used as a chess piece in the Chargers’ defense, Gus Bradley utilized James all over the field, highlighting James’s incredible versatility in both pass plays and run plays. James recorded a trio of interceptions to go along with 3.5 sacks and 105 total tackles. An All-Pro as a rookie, James must continue to play at an All-Pro level in order for the Chargers to continue to make playoffs and be productive.

#17: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, New England Patriots:

Gilmore had yet another productive campaign in 2018, recording a pair of interceptions and 20 pass defenses in the Patriots’ secondary. A first-time All-Pro and second-time Pro Bowler in 2018, Gilmore was the catalyst for a very strong Patriot secondary that carried them all the way to a Super Bowl 53 victory. While Gilmore may not be as consistent as the likes of Jalen Ramsey or Chris Harris over the past couple seasons, Gilmore was the best cornerback in football in 2018 and has played at a high level over the last couple seasons.

#16: Travis Kelce, Tight end, Kansas City Chiefs:

A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Kelce had the all-time record for most receiving hours in a season by a tight end for a few minutes before it was broken by fellow tight end George Kittle. Despite the setback, Kelce recorded the best season of his career. Kelce posted career highs in catches (103), yards (1,336), and touchdowns (10) during the season. Kelce was targeted 150 times in the Chiefs offense, and he was critical the moving the chains for Patrick Mahomes.

#15: Michael Thomas, Wide receiver, New Orleans Saints:

In just three seasons, Michael Thomas has developed as one of the best receivers in football. He has a pair of 100-catch seasons to go along with three 1,000-yard reception seasons. In 2018, Thomas was named to a second Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro team as he led the NFL with 125 catches and posted more than 1,400 yards. As Drew Brees continues to age, Thomas will be critical in gaining first downs and chunk plays for the Saints offense.

#14: Ezekiel Elliott, Running back, Dallas Cowboys:

Elliott has led the NFL in rushing yards in two of his three seasons in the NFL. In all three of his seasons, he led the NFL in yards per game. He has 28 touchdowns over the course of three seasons, and he has represented the NFC in the Pro Bowl on two occasions. An All-Pro in 2016, Elliott will look to regain his form if he actually plays. As of now, Elliott is considering a holdout for a larger contract from Dallas. With 4,000 rushing yards over the last three seasons, Dallas has a tough decision on their hands. Running backs have diminished value, but Elliott has improved as a pass-catching option in his NFL career.

#13: Saquon Barkley, Running back, New York Giants:

The Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, Barkley exploded onto the scene with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, pacing the NFL. The Penn State standout also recorded a total of 15 touchdowns on 352 touches. A Pro Bowler right out of the gate, Barkley has immense value as a runner and pass catcher, catching 91 passes and rushing for more than 1,300 yards. Moving forward, Barkley will be the centerpiece of the Giants’ offense as Eli Manning ages and Daniel Jones gets prepared to be the starter.

#12: Akiem Hicks, Defensive tackle, Chicago Bears:

Hicks had an impressive season with the Bears this season. After 8.5 sacks in 2017, Hicks brought it back with 7.5 sacks and was effective in the run game at the center of the Chicago defense. Hicks is the heart and soul of the Bears’ elite front seven, and he offers immense upside even moving into his age 30 season. A first-time Pro Bowler in 2018, Hicks will look to replicate this season and continue to rock up sacks for the Bears. In three seasons in the Windy City, Hicks has recorded a total of 23 sacks.

#11: Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs:

The reigning MVP set the world on fire with 50 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards in his “rookie” season. An All-Pro and Pro Bowler in his first real year as the starter, Mahomes dazzled and mystified fans across the NFL with a variety of throws, including no-look passes. Leading the Chiefs to their first AFC championship game since the 1990s, Mahomes had the Chiefs just an overtime frame away from the Super Bowl for the first time since the Nixon administration.

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