Matchup nightmares are the reason that NFL coaching is a round-the-clock job. The toughest mismatches, like Rob Gronkowski, have lifted already potent offenses to another level.
The NFL playoffs will showcase many of the players on this list. Every team is flawed, so exploiting advantages and not turning the ball over are the predominant pillars of every game plan.
There are compelling arguments to be made for players like Jordy Nelson and Patrick Peterson, but they are still a year away from entering this elite group.
These players' influences on the game are noticeable to even the most untrained eye.
Calvin Johnson is the main catalyst on an otherwise benign Detroit Lions offense. Megatron began the season as a high-scoring point guard and has become a Chris Paul-like facilitator.
Johnson's 6'5" height and ridiculous vertical enabled him to record two touchdowns in each of the Lions' first four games. During the streak, Johnson made defenders look helpless as he out-leapt multiple players to haul in jump balls.
He has caught only one scoring pass in the last five games. Nonetheless, the attention paid to Johnson has allowed other players, especially Titus Young, the room needed to excel.
Anytime a defense lines up two defensive backs on the line across from a receiver (as New Orleans recently did), somebody is bound to be open.
John Harbaugh receives his deserving share of the credit for the San Francisco 49ers' revival.
However, Harbaugh was blessed with Patrick Willis, a player that embodies the hard-nosed traits his coach prefers.
Willis can move with lightening quickness and still deliver the punch of a 240-pound man. Regardless of his natural abilities, the crucible of his game is his natural instinct.
Linebackers that accumulate large numbers of tackles have the ability to shed blockers. Willis is always among the league leaders in tackles, as evinced by his annual All-Pro selection.
Aaron Hernandez has enjoyed a solid beginning to his career, but Rob Gronkowski is shattering records.
More than a few fantasy football seasons have exceeded expectations due to the University of Arizona product. Gronkowski's combination of speed, power and agility makes it impossible to cover him with a linebacker or defensive back.
Defensive end is the most coveted position in the NFL, after quarterback. Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings is the prototype when it comes to mismatches in the trenches.
His mullet exemplifies his fearless attitude. He plays fast and mean, with little regard to the devastation that ensues.
His 6'6", 265-pound frame explodes with an incredible burst off the line. Then his 4.7 speed puts signal-callers on their heels before they have a chance to get into their progressions.
With 17.5 sacks so far this season, Allen needs only five more over the last few games.
The Green Bay Packers have an embarrassment of riches. Aaron Rodgers has so many weapons that his team can win by 30 without Jermichael Finley catching a single pass.
The Packers won a Super Bowl despite the stud tight end's absence, but Finley's importance to his team is similar to Calvin Johnson's: When he is on the field, the defense must be aware of where he is at all times.
Antonio Gates opened the door for athletic tight ends. Jermichael Finley is version 2.0.
The Detroit Lions appear to be the beneficiary of "lucky" wins.
The truth is that players like Calvin Johnson, Cliff Avril and Ndamukong Suh create the types of mismatches that have resulted in good fortune.
Suh broke out quickly, earning All-Pro honors in his first season. His numbers have declined this season, but his impact is just as real.
Defensive end Cliff Avril has benefited from the attention paid to Suh, as illustrated by his team-leading nine sacks and six forced fumbles.
All aggression issues aside, the work ethic of the Nebraska Cornhuskers alumnus has paid dividends across the board.
Every few years, an NFL player enters the zone, and the debate erupts about whether he is having the best season in league history.
Aaron Rodgers is adding his 2011 season to a list that includes the 2007 Tom Brady production and Peyton Manning's 2004 performance.
Rodgers looks completely at ease, dictating where the defensive backs go instead of vice versa. He has a realistic chance of topping Brady's 50 touchdowns, considering that Rodgers has 39 with three games left to play.
He has been extremely effective against the blitz, but you can't allow him enough time to pick the secondary apart either. Furthermore, he has an above-average running ability that allows him to pick up first downs on the ground as well.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had little consistency in the organization, from quarterback to owner.
Maurice Jones-Drew is the only aspect of the franchise that has been steady every week.
Blaine Gabbert and the Jags passing offense has been the least productive in the league. Yet, Jones-Drew is still averaging 4.5 yards per carry against defenses loading up to stop him.
His vertically challenged, stout build allows him to burst through the line unseen and bounce off linebackers.
Perhaps most impressively, he is on pace for over 400 touches this season and hasn't shown any signs of wearing down.
The Chicago Bears could not have known what they were getting when they selected Devin Hester with the 57th pick of the 2006 NFL draft.
He was brilliant at the University of Miami, but his NFL run has been unprecedented.
The career record holder for touchdown returns possesses the incredible acceleration and vision to adjust to every punting strategy. His talent for making quick cuts at near-top speed means even proper contain by the punt coverage may not be enough.
The only safe play against him is to sacrifice field position by punting the ball out of bounds.
Fantasy football owners feel as though they are playing roulette when they play New Orleans Saints wide receivers. Drew Brees spreads the ball around to his arsenal to keep defensive coordinators from keying on any one guy, meaning the receivers are boom or bust.
However, Jimmy Graham always gets involved. He is the only Saints pass-catcher to have at least four receptions in every game.
Graham can line up at any position. At 6'6" and 260 pounds, he is too big for defensive backs, but his 4.5 speed lets him run away from linebackers.
Jimmy Graham is the definition of a mismatch.