Every NFL Team's MVP of the 2021 Season

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2021

Every NFL Team's MVP of the 2021 Season

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    In 2021, an NFL MVP award is often thought of as being exclusively for quarterbacks. 

    How could it not be? Since 2000, only four non-quarterbacks have won the Associated Press' MVP award, with signal-callers winning it nine out of the last 10 times. 

    But things are hardly that simple when zooming in to look at each team's MVP of an individual season. In some cases, the elite weapons who help make a quarterback's strong season possible are the real MVPs. In others, defensive production that spurs an entire unit, or statistical outliers on either side of the ball, have bigger impacts than their team's passers. 

    While no position is more important than quarterback, big performances from other premium spots weigh heavily in each team's MVP race in 2021 because no team gets as far as it has without the following players. 

Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray

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    We have to start things off with a quarterback thanks to Kyler Murray. 

    The Arizona Cardinals don't come close to a 9-2 start without Murray, an outright MVP favorite. The team is 7-1 with him under center this year, and he's completed a league-leading 72.7 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns while rushing for another three scores on the ground. 

    Murray's experienced a third-year leap that enables the entire offense and pressures defenses in a way most can't. He's earned a career-high 85.6 Pro Football Focus grade, placing him just a few points shy of the "elite" category, for good reason. 

    While Murray isn't the only impressive performer in Arizona (linebacker Markus Golden has 10 sacks, as one of many examples), it all pales in comparison to the impact the versatile top-10 passer has when he's on the field. 

Atlanta Falcons: RB Cordarrelle Patterson

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    "Team MVP RB Cordarrelle Patterson" probably isn't something fans would have predicted for the 2021 season. 

    Patterson, 30, was a first-round pick for Minnesota back in 2013 and has been a journeyman player for years. Back in April, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons, where he's made the shift to running back and leads the 5-6 team with 411 rushing yards and four touchdowns on a 4.4 per-carry average. 

    But it hardly stops there. Patterson is the only back with notable time on the field who's averaging better than 3.2 yards per carry. He's also second on the team in receiving with 500 yards and five scores, averaging 12.2 yards per catch with eight receptions of 20-plus yards. 

    It still doesn't stop there. Patterson has been working kickoff returns, and he's now listed as a backup safety on the depth chart, too. 

    Without Patterson, Matt Ryan (16 touchdowns and 11 picks) and the offense would be dramatically worse, never mind everything else he's doing for the rebuilder. 

Baltimore Ravens: QB Lamar Jackson

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    Lamar Jackson might not be able to ever replicate his 2019 MVP campaign, but he's still the biggest reason the 8-3 Baltimore Ravens are in the hunt for the AFC's top seed. 

    Jackson has appeared in 10 games this season, going 7-3 while completing 64.2 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, the latter number a career high but inflated by a four-pick showing in a Week 12 win over Cleveland. 

    As has become the norm, Jackson also leads the Ravens in rushing with 707 yards on a 5.7 per-carry average, and he's picked up 44 first downs as a runner, twice as many as anyone else on the depth chart. 

    There's always a lot of good happening on the Ravens defense (Odafe Oweh is a breakout rookie with five sacks), but nothing outpaces Jackson in terms of overarching value. 

Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Allen

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    We've got a similar situation for the 7-4 Buffalo Bills with quarterback Josh Allen. 

    There hasn't been a single Bills player that has had a bigger impact than Allen, even if he's already matched his 2020 16-game interception total from last year (10) over 11 games. 

    Allen has completed 66.8 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns, putting him in striking range of last year's 37 scores. He's also second on the team in rushing with 383 yards and a trio of scores on a 5.6 per-carry average. 

    While some might suggest Allen has regressed, the fact he's still this productive as defenses adapt to what's on film is impressive, and his 28 touchdowns are second only to Tom Brady's 31. The Bills without Allen would be brutal, which says all that needs to be said about his MVP candidacy. 

Carolina Panthers: WR D.J. Moore

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    If the Carolina Panthers had their way, it would be star running back Christian McCaffrey earning MVP honors. Or even new arrival Sam Darnold under center. 

    But both have suffered spotty attendance, and in Darnold's case, he has downright underwhelmed. Instead, the honor goes to the underappreciated D.J. Moore, who has endured the mediocre quarterback situation to the tune of 854 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 12.9 yards per catch. 

    Moore's receiving yardage and 45 first downs are top-10 numbers leaguewide. The latter is especially impressive because no other skill position player on the Panthers has more than 24 first downs. He's also generated 13 plays of 20-plus yards, where no other skill position player has more than four. 

    While Haason Reddick has erupted on his prove-it deal with 10.5 sacks, the Carolina offense looks dramatically worse without Moore's quietly elite production. 

Chicago Bears: DE Robert Quinn

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    There isn't a ton going right for the 4-7 Chicago Bears, but defensive end Robert Quinn continues to look like a guy who just doesn't age. 

    Quinn, a 31-year-old 2011 first-round pick, has 11 sacks in 10 games, which ties him for the fourth-highest total leaguewide, pacing alongside names like Myles Garrett and Nick Bosa. 

    The veteran has done this while getting inconsistent appearances from Khalil Mack (seven games, six sacks). He's also making the most of his chances considering he's only playing 77 percent of the defense's snaps. 

    Chicago doesn't really have another serious contender for the MVP award with Mack's attendance so spotty, but it shouldn't undersell what Quinn has been able to accomplish during this monster of a campaign so far. 

Cincinnati Bengals: WR Ja'Marr Chase

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    The Cincinnati Bengals are 7-4 and in the playoff hunt primarily thanks to 2021 fifth overall pick Ja'Marr Chase. 

    Chase got off to the best seven-game start by a receiver since 1954 and has so far racked up 906 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 18.1 yards per catch, which is tops in the NFL among wideouts with more than 40 targets. 

    Granted, Chase has cooled in recent weeks, but defenses going all out to stop him by shading more coverage his way like Pittsburgh did in Week 12 simply opened up the offense for others, leading to a 41-10 blowout win. 

    Chase is the only reason the Bengals passing attack has a vertical element to it this year, hence his 14 plays of 20-plus yards and 34 first downs. Without him, quarterback Joe Burrow wouldn't be having such an impressive sophomore year. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson and his 10.5 sacks in 11 games are the only real threat to Chase's MVP award here, but even that debate isn't very close. 

Cleveland Browns: DE Myles Garrett

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    No great shocker when it comes to the 6-6 Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett is by far the team's best player. 

    Garrett, after recording 12 sacks last year, already has a career- and league-high 14 over 12 appearances. No other Browns defender has more than 3.5, so it's not like he's getting a ton of help. 

    It's not just about one single metric, either; Garrett is a game-breaking presence in every sense. He already has 43 pressures, 13 knockdowns and 14 hurries, all better than his totals over 14 games last season. To cap it off, he's only played on 76 percent of the defense's snaps. 

    A hobbled Baker Mayfield having a bad season and running back Nick Chubb only playing in nine games makes the conversation even easier. Either way, Garrett is a top-five defender in today's NFL. 

Dallas Cowboys: CB Trevon Diggs

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    When thinking about the Dallas Cowboys, one might expect quarterback Dak Prescott or one of his offensive weapons to dominate the MVP discussion. 

    But cornerback Trevon Diggs, a second-round pick in 2020, has had a jaw-dropping season. He paces the NFL with eight interceptions, scoring two touchdowns in the process. 

    Those are game-changing plays, to say the least. But even a lesser season from a ball-hawking stance would still be impressive for Diggs considering he's been targeted times 72 times but has allowed only a 56.9 competition percentage with two touchdowns surrendered. 

    With Dak Prescott inconsistent (two touchdowns and interceptions over a recent two-game slide) and DeMarcus Lawrence limited to one game, rookie linebacker Micah Parsons is the only major threat to the MVP award. The premium nature of Diggs' position and the value of his turnovers make it an easy choice. 

Denver Broncos: S Justin Simmons

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    Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons, the franchise player who signed a monster extension in March, is playing as expected: elite. 

    Simmons has been playing like the best safety in football for most of the year and has four interceptions over 11 games, making it three seasons in a row he's recorded four or more. He's got 56 total tackles, second on the team, and 11 passes defensed. Over the course of 39 targets, Simmons has only permitted a 59.0 completion percentage while playing 99 percent of the defense's snaps. 

    No other Broncos player has really separated themselves from the pack in this type of discussion. Teddy Bridgewater has been so-so under center, which has impacted his weapons' candidacy, and no other defender has been a game-changing presence. 

    Even if that wasn't the case, it would be hard to take the award from one of the game's best safeties. 

Detroit Lions: TE T.J. Hockenson

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    There isn't much good to say about the 0-10-1 Detroit Lions. 

    T.J. Hockenson, at least, has performed as expected when given chances. The 2019 eighth overall pick has caught 57 of his 76 targets for 534 yards and three touchdowns. That's the best of any Lions target in every category. 

    Hockenson still averages a healthy 9.4 yards per catch, and his seven plays of 20-plus yards are also tops among all Lions offensive skill players. The premium nature of the mismatches he can create all over the offense give him the nod over running back D'Andre Swift, and he'd likely be the bigger loss if forced to missed time. 

    Making Hockenson's performance more impressive is the bad quarterback and overall situation surrounding him while defenses are free to throw more resources at him. 

Green Bay Packers: QB Aaron Rodgers

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    Aaron Rodgers isn't throwing nearly as many touchdowns as he did last season. But, for one, he was never going to, and two, the Green Bay Packers would be in a miserable place without him regardless. 

    After throwing 48 scores with a ridiculous 9.1 touchdown percentage in 16 games last season, Rodgers has regressed to 23 and 6.2, respectively, over his 11 appearances so far. 

    And that's still team-MVP level. To be fair, Rodgers has already been sacked more this season (21) than last year. He's completing 66.2 percent of his passes, his best mark since 2013 (aside from last year). His QB record is 9-2, and he has spread the love, helping seven targets score at least two receiving touchdowns. 

    Wideout Davante Adams has soaked up 115 targets (the next closest player has 48), but the Packers lost their one game without Rodgers this year, and he's playing elite ball with a hurt toe. 

Houston Texans: DE Jonathan Greenard

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    Similar to Detroit, there isn't a whole lot going right for the Houston Texans when it comes to individual performances. 

    But defensive end Jonathan Greenard is the big exception. 

    A 2020 third-rounder, Greenard has eight sacks in as many games this year, double anyone else on the Texans roster. He's also forced two fumbles and has three passes defensed. 

    Greenard has been so impressive amid 2-9 chaos that he's earned an 85.7 PFF grade, putting him in the "Pro Bowler" category. Were he playing nearly anywhere else, he'd be all over the place as a breakout star on pace to earn household-name status. 

Indianapolis Colts: RB Jonathan Taylor

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    Jonathan Taylor is in the middle of one of the NFL's biggest outright breakouts for the Indianapolis Colts. 

    After rushing for 1,169 yards and 11 scores on a 5.0 per-carry average as a rookie over 15 games, Taylor is already up to 1,205, 14 and 5.8, respectively, over 12 games and on fewer carries. 

    Over those 12 games, Taylor has 10 rushes of 20-plus yards and has picked up 74 first downs while averaging 100.4 rushing yards per game. He's also second on the team in receiving with 36 catches and two scores. 

    Taylor is the league's top back in rushing yards, scores, first downs and total 20-plus-yard plays and is tied in per-carry average among backs with double-digit attempts. Though his Colts are 6-6, his showing should have him in MVP talk well beyond a team-only award. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Josh Allen

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    The "other" Josh Allen gets an MVP nod, too. 

    This Allen, a 2019 first-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, continues to be a criminally overlooked pressure creator and game-changing presence. 

    Now in his third season, Allen leads all Jaguars with 5.5 sacks, putting him within striking distance of his career high of 10.5 as a rookie. Over 11 games, he's also put up 18 pressures while playing 75 percent of the snaps. 

    Allen gets more credit than anyone else because he's primarily responsible for one of his team's two wins this year via his sack, interception and fumble recovery in a 9-6 win over Buffalo in Week 9. 

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Tyreek Hill

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    It's easy to clamor for Patrick Mahomes as the MVP of the Kansas City Chiefs, but that big early-season regression while the team started 2-3 and his 11 interceptions, one off a career high already, dampen his outlook, at least for now. 

    Star wideout Tyreek Hill, on the other hand, has been his typical self seemingly regardless of how the quarterback plays. 

    Hill has 932 yards and eight scores on 84 catches, nearly topping his numbers over 15 games last season despite only appearing in 11 so far. While his per-catch average is 11.1, down from 14.7 in 2020, he's still got nine plays of 20-plus yards and 57 first downs. His yardage and scores are both top-five among all receivers, and his total first downs are second only to Cooper Kupp. 

    Whether working from the slot or elsewhere, Hill has morphed into a chain-moving elite threat to fit the Chiefs' needs, and the passing attack without him would be not great, to put it nicely. 

Las Vegas Raiders: DE Maxx Crosby

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    The Las Vegas Raiders have a handful of guys playing flashy football on the offensive side, but Maxx Crosby stands out dramatically on the defensive side. 

    The breakout success story of a 2019 fourth-round pick who had 17 sacks over his first two seasons has added five more to his resume over 11 games in 2021. That's second on the team to Yannick Ngakoue, though the numbers go far beyond that. 

    The respect offenses pay Crosby says it all (and enables his teammates). He's doubled more than any edge in the league besides Nick Bosa, yet has hit home for 29 pressures and 16 quarterback knockdowns, the former just below his 16-game totals from last year and the latter already more than double. 

    Crosby's performance in the face of extra resistance would explain the 92.1 PFF grade, placing him in the "elite" category. He's arguably the best player on the roster, though Darren Waller is in the debate. But Crosby is one of the best outright defenders in the league and playing like it. 

Los Angeles Chargers: QB Justin Herbert

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    Justin Herbert has done nothing but improve a year removed from his rookie campaign that positioned him as the team's MVP then, too. 

    Herbert has completed 66.0 percent of his passes over 11 games, throwing for 3,230 yards and 24 touchdowns. He's got six more games to surpass his rookie numbers of 4,336 yards and 31 scores. He's also averaged 5.7 rushing yards over 43 attempts, scoring twice. 

    As we saw last year, Herbert is one of the NFL's deadlier deep passers already. He's one of the three most accurate quarterbacks on 10-plus-yard throws, per PFF, and his grade has jumped to 85.8 from last year's 79.9.

    Even Herbert's bad-throw percentage has dipped (14.7 vs. 18.0), and he's helped two different teammates record 700-plus receiving yards and two others at least seven receiving scores. 

Los Angeles Rams: WR Cooper Kupp

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    Cooper Kupp is perhaps the most statistically dominant wideout in the NFL. 

    Matthew Stafford joining the Los Angeles Rams hasn't hurt, of course. But Kupp has already blown all of his past seasons out of the water over 11 appearances, catching 92 passes for 1,237 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 13.4 yards per catch. 

    The performance, which boasts an elite-tier 90.5 PFF grade, has him topping all receivers in yardage, tied in touchdowns, second in plays of 20-plus yards (18) and tops in first downs (58). No other Rams skill position player has more than nine of those explosive plays or 36 first downs. 

    We could point to a defender like Aaron Donald or Jalen Ramsey too, but Kupp has been the heart of the offense in a way most players can't considering he's already got double the yardage of anyone else, never mind the touchdowns, chain-moving plays and leaguewide context. 

Miami Dolphins: CB Xavien Howard

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    The Miami Dolphins are one of the harder teams to nail down an MVP for, which makes sense given the season's wild swings, including seven losses in a row before four straight wins. 

    Nobody on offense has really stood out from the pack, and defensively, Jaelan Phillips' team-high 6.5 sacks don't supplant the attention Xavien Howard deserves at corner. 

    The man who picked off 10 passes last season has three over 11 games this year and 13 passes defended, both team-high marks. That latter is tied for the second-most in the NFL. He's also got two forced fumbles and recoveries, including one that went back for a touchdown. 

    While Howard has been credited with giving up six touchdowns, he's given up four or more in three of his four seasons now. He's been targeted 77 times already, yet only allows a 54.5 completion percentage. Any other corner getting targeted that much would end up on the bench, but not Howard in Miami. 

Minnesota Vikings: WR Justin Jefferson

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    Eleven games in, it's safe to say there's no sophomore slump for Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson. 

    Jefferson erupted onto the scene last year with 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 15.9 yards per catch. It's an encore performance for him so far, as he's gained 1,027 yards and six scores on a 15.3 average. 

    Impressive, considering defenses have a full year of tape to understand what he can do. Jefferson is behind Adam Thielen in receiving touchdowns (10), but one could argue that's helped due to the attention the sophomore demands. Jefferson is tops on the team with 19 plays of 20-plus yards and 48 first downs, tied for fourth among all receivers. 

    Even if star running back Dalvin Cook hadn't missed two games already, it's safe to say this nod would go to Jefferson—something Vikings fans might want to get used to for a long, long time. 

New England Patriots: HC Bill Belichick

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    New England Patriots pass-rusher Matthew Judon and his 11.5 sacks could get the nod here, as could J.C. Jackson and his seven interceptions. 

    But the fact the Patriots are in the running for the AFC's top seed just two years post-Tom Brady with rookie Mac Jones under center is all on head coach Bill Belichick

    It's Belichick that got uncharacteristically aggressive during the offseason, spending big money on Judon and offensive weapons like Hunter Henry. It's him that gambled the 15th overall pick on Jones, then implemented an offense that has allowed the Alabama product to complete 70.3 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns while going 8-4 as a starter. 

    And from the looks of things for the AFC East-leading Patriots, this borderline instant reboot, which includes wins over supposed AFC contenders Tennessee and the Los Angeles Chargers already, has laid the foundational groundwork for another decade-plus of domination. 

    That's worth the only non-player exception for team MVPs, to say the least. 

New Orleans Saints: RB Alvin Kamara

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    New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is so good it's impossible to omit him even though he's only appeared in eight games. 

    Over those eight appearances, Kamara is still leading the team with 530 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He's gained more first downs as a rusher than any back or receiver on the roster (21). And in the passing game, he's third on the team with 310 yards and four scores and another 15 first downs. 

    As a whole, the Saints have been pretty statistically unimpressive besides solid defensive numbers. That's partially because Jameis Winston was the starter under center for seven games and the defense and a heavy dose of Kamara were used to hide him. (He averaged just 167.1 passing yards per game, ranked outside the top 30). 

    The lack of Kamara over three consecutive losses was as blatant as it gets, which makes him the most valuable asset on either side of the football. 

New York Giants: S Xavier McKinney

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    With Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay missing time around ineffective quarterback Daniel Jones, there isn't a ton to write home about for the New York Giants. 

    But don't sleep on a budding superstar like safety Xavier McKinney. 

    A second-round pick who only played in six games as a rookie last year, McKinney is third on the team in total tackles with 61 and first with five interceptions, one of which he took back for a touchdown. He's got nine passes defended and only permits a 57.1 completion percentage over 35 targets. 

    It's admittedly a small sample size on McKinney so far, but he's managing to stick out in an elite way on a bad team, hinting he's a critical building block for the rebuild. 

New York Jets: DE John Franklin-Myers

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    There's a similar vibe elsewhere in New York, where John Franklin-Myers is in the midst of a breakout for the 3-8 Jets. 

    It's easy to forget about Franklin-Myers considering he's a fourth-rounder from 2018, who before this season, had never played 50 percent of the snaps in a campaign. 

    But in 2021, he's at 64 percent over 11 games, and the opportunity has him tied for team lead in sacks with six. He's got six tackles for loss, 20 pressures, seven knockdowns and seven hurries, all close to being career-highs.

    The highest-graded Jets player at PFF, it's safe to start wondering if he can't keep reeling in these sorts of awards as the team around him improves and he gets even more playing time in future seasons. 

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Jalen Hurts

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    It's easy to get bogged down in the debate as to whether the Philadelphia Eagles should find a new franchise passer next year because they likely own three first-round picks in 2022, two of them currently in the top 10. 

    But that really undersells the value Jalen Hurts has brought to the team this year over the 5-7 start. He's completed 60.1 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions and also leads the team in rushing with 695 yards and eight scores. 

    While averaging 5.7 yards per carry, Hurts has picked up 50 rushing first downs. No other Eagles runner has more than 21, and no receiver has more than 34. And while Hurts is only 5-7 as a starter this year with some middling passing performances (he's thrown for less than 200 yards eight times), he's earned an 80.0 PFF grade, well into the "starter" category. 

    Quarterback draft talk is always fun, but it's easy to forget Hurts only got to attempt 148 passes as a rookie. He's still developing on an upward curve and easily the team's MVP this year. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Najee Harris

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    A very ugly Pittsburgh Steelers passing attack has derailed the numbers for most guys, but it has also revealed something else: That first-round investment in running back Najee Harris has unearthed a gem. 

    Despite defenses knowing a 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger can't hurt them as much as in the past, Harris has picked up 708 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, earning 40 first downs in the process. He's also third on the team in receiving, hauling in 52 catches for 351 yards and two scores and adding 17 more first downs to his team-high tally. 

    As Nick Farabaugh of Pittsburgh Sports Now pointed out, Harris is near the NFL lead in evaded tackles while running behind a poor offensive line and into the teeth of defenses trying to stop him. 

    While T.J. Watt does have 12.5 sacks over nine appearances, he's at least got the benefit of playing alongside a force like Cameron Heyward. Harris has next to nothing in his pro debut and yet has the whole offense on his back. 

San Francisco 49ers: WR Deebo Samuel

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    At 6-5, the San Francisco 49ers run the risk of wasting Deebo Samuel's major breakout. 

    After playing just seven games this season, Samuel has rebounded to smash prior career highs over 11 games this season. 

    Samuel leads the 49ers with 1,006 receiving yards and five touchdowns on a stellar average of 18.0 yards per catch, a top-five mark leaguewide. He's got 15 catches of 20-plus yards and 38 first downs and has also added 203 yards, five touchdowns, four 20-plus gains and 11 first downs as a rusher. 

    One of the NFL's most explosive, versatile weapons is the first in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards and five touchdowns apiece as both a receiver and rusher, hence the 86.4 PFF grade. 

    Standing out on a team where Nick Bosa has 11 sacks in as many appearances is tough to do, but Samuel's breakout has been historic and propped up an otherwise ineffective offense. 

Seattle Seahawks: WR DK Metcalf

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    In the past, it would be easy to write Russell Wilson's name, gesture at Seattle's poor team-building around him, his epic numbers and move on. 

    Not in 2021. 

    The Seahawks are 3-8, and Wilson is 2-6 as a starter this year while being unable to overcome the poor roster around him. A finger injury that kept him out for three games didn't help. 

    Star wideout DK Metcalf, though, has continued to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses no matter who lines up under center. While he's technically second on the team in receiving behind Tyler Lockett (813 yards), Metcalf has 650 yards and eight touchdowns with a team-high 32 first downs. 

    When the Seahawks need a critical play, they dial up Metcalf to move the chains or score. He's tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns against single coverage. With his team struggling this much, he's still come up huge, and more often than most in the league.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Tom Brady

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, great as the roster is, don't tick without Tom Brady. 

    That Brady's still in MVP chatter at the age of 44 is wild, of course. But he's completing 67.6 percent of his passes, better than last year, and has 30 touchdowns, just 10 off his 16-game tally from last season. 

    Brady's 3,403 yards rank him second among all quarterbacks, his 309.4 yards per game is also second, and his 30 touchdowns is tops in the league. He's hit five different targets with at least three touchdown passes, and his bad-throw percentage (18.6) has actually decreased from last season while his PFF grade (91.5) remains relatively the same. 

    As expected, one of the greatest of all time is the key cog in a Super Bowl favorite again. 

Tennessee Titans: RB Derrick Henry

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    Derrick Henry is one of the rare running backs who can classify as the unquestioned MVP of his team.

    Henry is the exception to pretty much any rule, of course, and we've seen this one unfold in real time. 

    The man who rushed for 2,000-plus yards last year had 937 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games this year, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt. His 49 rushing first downs, plus seven more on just 18 catches, distances him from any other Titans skill position player by a huge margin. 

    Unfortunately, Henry suffered a fractured foot and went to injured reserve, putting the rest of his season and the playoffs in doubt. The Titans turned around and went 2-2 without him, even dropping a game to two-win Houston before a 36-13 beatdown at the hands of AFC contender New England. 

    There's zero way to replace Henry, which makes him the MVP in Tennessee. 

Washington Football Team: WR Terry McLaurin

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    Terry McLaurin has had to overcome some big hurdles to sit as the Washington Football Team's MVP over a 5-6 start. 

    Namely, McLaurin had to start the year with 39-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter before things shifted to Taylor Heinicke, who has managed 16 touchdowns and 10 picks over 11 games. 

    McLaurin has caught five of those to go along with 786 yards, positioning himself to best career-highs of seven and 1,118, respectively. He's averaging 13.6 yards per catch and has picked up 36 first downs, more than double the next receiver (15). That's with Curtis Samuel only appearing in five games, meaning defenses can focus on stopping McLaurin. 

    One of those bona fide No. 1 wideouts fans want to "free" from bad teams, McLaurin's case here is only helped by the fact no defender has stepped up statistically and the ground game has underwhelmed. He's the offensive weapon in Washington. 


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