What makes up a dream team in the NFL? Since you can’t create a “super team” like we see in the NBA, all we can do is put together our own made-up team of our favorite superstars; players who are flat-out incredible and guys we just love in terms of their skill sets and personalities.
Essentially, a dream team must be made up of stars who can entertain us both on and off the football field. Our seven picks are capable of doing all that and more. (You won’t find any of the most-hated players in the NFL on this list.) Let’s start with a polarizing player who is just too dominate to ignore.
1. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Some people may not be the biggest fans of SuperCam, but there’s no denying that he’d be the most enjoyable NFL quarterback to watch on our 2016 dream team. The guy literally does it all, and with Newton fresh off an MVP season in which his team fell just short of a Super Bowl, we expect him to be hungrier than ever in 2016.
He scored a ridiculous 45 total touchdowns last season (10 rushing) and led his team to a 15-1 record. We’ll take that as the leader of our dream team all day. To top it off, the guy knows how to excite a crowd and has no problem doing his fair share of dancing.
2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Some people won’t like this selection, because it’s risky. Le’Veon Bell’s knee injury is concerning, but we expect him return in full force in 2016. When Bell is healthy, he’s one of the most dynamic, dominant running backs in the NFL.
His 2014 season was a prime example, as he totaled 1,361 rushing yards, 854 receiving yards (on 83 receptions), and 11 combined touchdowns. Call it a concern, but we see it as a way to grab him for our dream team when most people would overlook him. Bell will bounce back in a big way in 2016, and fans better be prepared to watch him go to work.
3. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
One more Steeler for the road. Antonio Brown has posted three straight seasons of 1,499 receiving yards or more, while scoring 31 touchdowns over that span. His ability to beat double coverage is just unbelievable, and there’s little question that he’s one of, if not the best wide receiver in the NFL.
If you don’t want to put him at No. 1, then he’s No. 2 at worst. Brown’s ridiculous 136 receptions, 1,834 yards, and 10 touchdowns last season came with a mix of Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, and Landry Jones throwing him the ball. It doesn’t get much more impressive than that. We’ll put Brown on the dream team and we’ll be ecstatic about it.
4. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
If you want to make a case for a wide receiver who was better than Brown last season, it’s Julio Jones. This guy hauled in 136 receptions of his own, for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns. Matt Ryan looked his way as much as you can possibly imagine, as Jones saw 204 targets and was just a dominant force.
Jones had to work for his catches as well, because if it wasn’t one defensive back draped on him last year, it was two players trying to double him up to find a way to slow him down. Nothing worked, and nothing is going to work when attempting to stop this guy. Jones is elite in every sense of the word, so we’ll pair him with Brown on our dream team.
5. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
You didn’t actually think Rob Gronkowski would be left off this list, did you? He’s one of the most entertaining and, more importantly, most talented players in the entire NFL. Gronk is an absolute force in the passing game. Over his six NFL seasons, he’s totaled 380 receptions for 5,555 yards and 65 touchdowns in 80 games.
The tight end hit the double-digit touchdown mark in all but one of his seasons in the league. Overall, Gronkowski is the type of player who NFL teams dream of landing, which is why there’s a space on our 2016 dream team that’s just calling his name.
6. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
We’ll go ahead and roll right into one of the top-two defensive players in the NFL. J.J. Watt is so dominant that it’s almost scary. He’s played in the NFL for five years, and over the past four has totaled 69 sacks and 15 forced fumbles.
Watt is one of those guys who, when you see him get off the line, you fear for the opposing quarterback he’s facing. Simply put, there is no player who we’d choose over Watt as our defensive leader for our dream team, but there is a player who’s quickly rising and is making quite a case for himself as well.
7. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald is taking his talents to Hollywood. The third-year defensive tackle will continue the dominant start to his NFL career. Over his first two seasons in the league, Donald has totaled 116 combined tackles and 20 sacks. To top it off, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus even named him as the best player in the entire NFL for the 2015 season (yes, ahead of Watt).
While we aren’t completely on board with the fact that he’s better than Watt just yet, there’s no question that he’s an absolute force and is one of the best defensive players in the game. Pairing him and Watt on the dream team defensive line creates a dangerous duo.