I’m about to show you the most objective look possible at who should be the NFL MVP and then give you my opinion on who should win based on the metrics I think are most important.
First let’s start by narrowing down the field. There have been some great performances this year from wide receivers and defensive players but none that stand out enough to warrant MVP consideration. Lots of people would love to give the award to the entire Dallas O-line but unfortunately for them, the ‘P’ in MVP stands for Player and not Players.
The player that outperformed everyone at their position more than anyone else is actually Justin Tucker, kicker for the Ravens, but realistically nobody is going to give a kicker the MVP, so we’re down to running backs and quarterbacks in consideration.
David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliot have been spectacular this season and warrant MVP consideration. Here’s a look at their stars with the best of the three in each category highlighted:
Zeke will finish the season as the league’s leading rusher by a mile but Johnson has more yards, more TD’s and is responsible for a larger proportion of his team’s offense. Elliott also has the best O-line in the game in front of him, which gets held against him, so I think he will win Offensive Rookie of the Year and stop at that.
Johnson’s numbers are spectacular and I think his heavy TD total and proficiency in both the running and passing game will earn him Offensive Player of the Year, but his poor team success this year will rule him out of the MVP conversation.
Bell’s 157 yards per game is unreal but the relatively low amount of TDs and his 3 game suspension to start the season will cost him any individual hardware in my opinion.
This leads me to believe that this year’s MVP will be a Quarterback for the 9th time in 10 years (Adrian Peterson bucking the trend in 2012)
6 Quarterback’s names have come up most often in MVP conversations and their stats are shown below across a number of metrics. The best of the 6 in each category is highlighted dark green, second best is light green, second worst is pink and worst is in red. As you can see, no single QB has dominated this year and a very good case can be made for a few.
Derek Carr and Dak Prescott
The case for Carr and Prescott would be largely based around the success of their teams but looking at the above data, they don’t stand out in their individual performances vs. the other 4 QBs. Let’s eliminate these 2.
Brees leads the league in passing yards and has the highest completion percentage of the bunch. He’s also second to Rodgers in TDs and is a large portion of his teams offense (~75% of it). Unfortunately for Brees, his high number of INT’s (14) and lower team success will cost him any shot at the MVP trophy.
The case for Tom Brady begins with his sparkling 25:2 TD:INT Ratio, far better than anyone else on the list. He’s also led his team to a 9-1 record as the starter and has the second best QB rating. The case against Brady is two-fold. First, his 4 game suspension to start the season cost him quite a bit in terms of total yardage and TDs and the fact that his team went 3-1 without him lowers his perceived value. Secondly, even in the games he did play, his avg. yardage and TD figures don’t stand out compared to the elite and he only represents about two thirds of his team’s offensive production, benefiting from a solid running game. In my opinion, Brady is #3 in the MVP race.
The case for Matt Ryan is all about efficiency. His yards/attempt is historically high at 9.3, which is the best since Kurt Warner in 2000. He also has the highest QB rating and the second highest yards and completion % behind Brees. He’s led his team to a division title with 10 wins and the Falcons also have the most points for in the League. Ryan deserves serious consideration for MVP and I would not be mad if he won it.
The case for Rodgers over Ryan is one of scoring. Rodgers has 40 TD’s, most in the league and 6 more than Ryan. Rodgers also accounts for 82% of his team’s total yards and 85% of his team’s offensive touchdowns. That’s an uncanny number and the 85% TDs is 21 points higher than Matt Ryan. The detractors will point out Rodgers’ lower QB rating and passing yardage vs. Ryan and there’s still a chance that the Packers will miss the playoffs (which would probably cost Rodgers the award), but in my opinion, no player is more valuable to his team than Rodgers. There’s no such thing as WAR (wins above replacement, a baseball stat) in football but if you were to have Rodgers and Ryan switch teams, I believe the Falcons would still have 10 or more wins and the Packers would not have 9 wins and be in a position to win their division on Sunday.
My MVP Ballot
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Matt Ryan
3. Tom Brady
4. David Johnson
5. Ezekiel Elliott
6. Le’Veon Bell
7. Derek Carr
8. Drew Brees
9. Justin Tucker (cause why not!)
10. Matthew Stafford (not mentioned in this article but I have him above Dak).
Who do you have in a different order? Feel free to let me know in the comments.