It’s Week 9 and that marks the official halfway point of the NFL regular season so I thought it was high time I got to prematurely handing out awards I have no authority to give. These are my thoughts on who I would vote for if the NFL season were to end today. I’m going to touch on the major awards as well as a few made up ones. So without further ado, here are my midseason awards.
NFL MVP: Carson Wentz-QB-Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz has taken a HUGE step forward in his second year in the league, leading the Eagles to the NFL’s best record at the season’s halfway point while also being third in passing yards and first in passing touchdowns. His elusiveness in the pocket has been the talk of the league as day-in and day-out he makes plays that are just shocking to behold. This was a tough choice because there are two other really legitimate candidates: Tom Brady and Alex Smith. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards by almost 400 yards despite not having safety net Julian Edelman and Alex Smith has yet to throw an interception this season. But I think I’m going to go with Wentz simply because I think the Eagles would absolutely IMPLODE without him, whereas I think the Patriots and Chiefs would remain afloat without Brady or Smith (that’s more a credit to the coaching than anything).
Others receiving consideration: Tom Brady-QB-New England Patriots, Alex Smith-QB-Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown-WR-Pittsburgh Steelers
I want to set one quick ground rule about my edition of this award. I don’t consider quarterbacks mainly because the MVP is basically already a quarterback’s award unless a runningback has a mind-blowing season (each of the last 3 runningback MVP’s have set a major record in the season they won the award or at least approached one). So you won’t be seeing Brady or Wentz or Smith here. I’m going with Antonio Brown mainly because of how far ahead of other receivers he is right now. His 835 receiving yards leads the NFL, next closest is Adam Thielen with 627. His 57 catches lead the NFL, next closest is Jarvis Landry with 50. His 287 yards after catch is 5th, however everybody else in the top 10 on that list is a runningback, whose yards after catch are pretty much all of their receiving yards because of where they typically catch the ball. So not a difficult decision for me here.
Others receiving consideration: Kareem Hunt-RB-Kansas City Chiefs, Toddy Gurley-RB-Los Angeles Rams, Le’Veon Bell-RB-Pittsburgh Steelers
Defensive Player of the Year: Calais Campbell-DT-Jacksonville Jaguars
Not only is Calais Campbell a terrifying physical specimen (6’8 300 pounds), he’s also a damn good football player. After the Cardinals didn’t resign him in an effort to get younger defensively, Campbell signed with the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars and he has been a leading catalyst in this “Sacksonville” revolution. He’s tied for second in the league with 10 sacks and he’s doing it from the interior of the defensive line, where he faces constant double teams. The potential knock against Campbell would be that perhaps his numbers are so good because opposing offensive lines have to deal with Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr, and people who argue that would have a point. But I present a counter point: why didn’t Ngakoue and Fowler have great production until Campbell got to Jacksonville?
Others receiving consideration: DeMarcus Lawrence-DE-Dallas Cowboys, Marcus Peters-CB-Kansas City Chiefs
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt-RB-Kansas City Chiefs
I want to give a quick shoutout to Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, who may have won this midseason award had he not just torn his ACL as I was starting this blog (seriously, I had my opening paragraph written when a buddy of mine texted me the news). Watson was tied with Wentz for the most passing touchdowns in the NFL with Wentz and his insertion into the starting lineup for Tom Savage changed the Texans from an absolute joke to a juggernaut. Now that I’ve given Watson his due, it’s time to talk about the insane season Kareem Hunt is putting forth. Hunt leads the NFL in rushing at 763 yards. Le’Veon Bell trails him by just 3 yards, however Bell needed 48 more carries and Hunt still leads. Since fumbling his first career carry against New England, Hunt has arguably been the best runningback in the league. Not bad for a third round pick from a mid-major school. I feel ashamed for having 8 runningbacks ahead of him in my NFL Draft rankings.
Others receiving consideration: Deshaun Watson*-QB-Houston Texans, Leonard Fournette-RB-Jacksonville Jaguars
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Marshon Lattimore-CB-New Orleans Saints
I really wanted to consider Browns DE and #1 overall pick Myles Garrett for this, as he has 4 sacks in 4 games played, but he’s missed too much time for me to consider him. There really aren’t a whole lot of other defensive players who stand out outside of the cornerback position, which has been really good for rookies. Bills and Cowboys rookies Tre’Davious White and Jourdan Lewis have been excellent in their roles but I think Marshon Lattimore has been the absolute best of the bunch. Lattimore is already the top corner for the Saints and has been a major factor in this defense’s turnaround. He typically follows the opposing team’s number 1 receiver and can keep up with any receiver in the NFL with his 4.36 speed.
Others receiving consideration: Tre’Davious White-CB-Buffalo Bills, Jourdan Lewis-CB-Dallas Cowboys, Jarrad Davis-LB-Detroit Lions, Carl Lawson-DE-Cincinnati Bengals
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick-New England Patriots
The league almost has to cast Belichick aside because otherwise he would win this award every year. The Hoodie is arguably the greatest coach to put on a headset and he continues to do great work this season. The Patriots have dealt with a number of injuries to key contributors, such as Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower as well as down years from guys like Malcolm Butler but the Patriots still find themselves at 6-2 heading into their bye. The defense also struggled MIGHTILY to start the season but since the Tampa Bay game this defense has gone from embarrassing to very competent and even held the high-flying Falcons offense to 7 points. There’s nobody better in sports today than Bill Belichick.
Others receiving consideration: Andy Reid-Kansas City Chiefs, Sean McDermott-Buffalo Bills, Sean McVay-Los Angeles Rams, Doug Marrone-Jacksonville Jaguars
Comeback Player of the Year: Keenan Allen-WR-Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen tore his ACL and lost his season in Week 1 of the 2016 season, devastating Chargers fans and me, having drafted him in the fourth round of my fantasy draft. The loss of Allen was a huge blow to the Chargers but he returns this year healthy and is 8th in the NFL in receiving yards at 548.
Others receiving consideration: Julius Peppers-DE-Carolina Panthers, Rob Gronkowski-TE-New England Patriots
Offensive Breakout Player of the Year: Alex Collins-RB-Baltimore Ravens
Alex Collins was a guy I liked coming out of the 2016 NFL Draft from Arkansas. He reminded me a little bit of a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch but my main knock was he had bricks for hands. Nevertheless, I thought of him as a third round pick. The rest of the league disagreed with my projection and Collins wasn’t taken until the 6th round by the Seattle Seahawks. He bounced around from practice squad to active roster before getting cut before the 2017 season and claimed by Baltimore. All he’s done for Baltimore is win the starting job and lead the league in yards per carry (6.0). Meanwhile, Seattle struggles to find a runningback that sticks.
Defensive Breakout Player of the Year: Dante Fowler Jr-DE-Jacksonville Jaguars
Dante Fowler Jr was a borderline bust entering this season, who was more known for “savage” moments off the field rather than his performance on it. However this season, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft looks like a completely different player, as he is constantly getting pressure in the quarterback’s face and is on pace for a double-digit sack season.
All Pro Teams (First player listed is First Team, second player listed is Second Team)
QB: Tom Brady-New England Patriots, Carson Wentz-Philadelphia Eagles
RB: Kareem Hunt-Kansas City Chiefs, Le’Veon Bell-Pittsburgh Steelers
RB: Todd Gurley-Los Angeles Rams, Jordan Howard-Chicago Bears
WR: Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh Steelers, Adam Thielen-Minnesota Vikings
WR: DeAndre Hopkins-Houston Texans, Brandin Cooks-New England Patriots
WR: AJ Green-Cincinnati Bengals, Tyreek Hill-Kansas City Chiefs
TE: Zach Ertz-Philadelphia Eagles, Travis Kelce-Kansas City Chiefs
OT: Tyron Smith-Dallas Cowboys, Taylor Lewan-Tennessee Titans
OT: Trent Williams-Washington Redskins, David Bakhtiari-Green Bay Packers
OG: Marshall Yanda-Baltimore Ravens, Shaq Mason-New England Patriots
OG: Zack Martin-Dallas Cowboys, Trai Turner-Carolina Panthers
C: Alex Mack-Atlanta Falcons, Travis Frederick-Dallas Cowboys
DE: DeMarcus Lawrence-Dallas Cowboys, Joey Bosa-Los Angeles Chargers
DE: Everson Griffen-Minnesota Vikings, Yannick Ngakoue-Jacksonville Jaguars
DT: Calais Campbell-Jacksonville Jaguars, Geno Atkins-Cincinnati Bengals
DT: Fletcher Cox-Philadelphia Eagles, Akiem Hicks-Chicago Bears
LB: Justin Houston-Kansas City Chiefs, Ryan Kerrigan-Washington Redskins
LB: Bobby Wagner-Seattle Seahawks, CJ Moseley-Baltimore Ravens
LB: Von Miller-Denver Broncos, Chandler Jones-Arizona Cardinals
CB: Marcus Peters-Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
CB: Richard Sherman-Seattle Seahawks, Jalen Ramsey-Jacksonville Jaguars
S: Earl Thomas-Seattle Seahawks, Devin McCourty-New England Patriots
S: Glover Quin, Detroit Lions, Micah Hyde-Buffalo Bills
K: Greg Zuerlein-Los Angeles Rams, Kai Forbath-Minnesota Vikings
P: Bradley Pinion-San Francisco 49ers, Pat O’Donnell-Chicago Bears
Those are my midseason NFL Awards picks. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.