During the season, fans love to talk about the MVP race and very often it’s between various quarterbacks that are having exceptional seasons. It makes sense because quarterbacks are the most valuable position on a team. Without a good quarterback, the team won’t win games but there are other generational talents in the NFL that help their team thrive just as much. This list is saying if every NFL team had an average quarterback on their roster, these players would shine through the most and propel their team to the top.
This is a list of player’s that are the most valuable to their respective teams.
10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
Despite rumors that he may be traded, Beckham is the glue that holds the Giants offense together. When the team’s leading receivers last year were Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram (neither of which eclipsed 750 yards), it shows how desperately the Giants need him. Does Beckham immediately make them a contender? Of course not but with him, the team at least looks competent and can win more than two games. With Beckham on the field, the team isn’t in disaster mode.
9. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Not only did Gurley lead the league in yards from scrimmage by nearly 150 yards and include himself in the talk for the actual MVP award in 2017, but he’s the best player on the field every time he steps out there. The Rams offense has obviously experienced a rebirth under new head coach Sean McVay, and Gurley is at the helm of it. Every time Gurley touches the ball, there’s worry that he’ll break free and take it all the way. He’s that explosive and dangerous.
8. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Clearly, we all saw Elliott’s value this past season when he was suspended and the entire Cowboys team suffered. Both Dez Bryant and Dak Prescott experienced dips in production when Elliott was removed from the offense. Elliott is the type of threat that defenses have to work their game plans around. When he’s taken away, it’s easier to focus on the other play-makers and zero in on them rather than having to focus on multiple players at once.
7. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
I know what you’re going to say: “Gronkowski benefits from Tom Brady.” But actually, Brady benefits from Gronkowski. Brady’s stats take a dip without Gronk on the field and it’s not hard to see why. Whenever you have a sure-handed tight end that catches anything in his area and can be trusted to make plays, that’s valuable to the team. He may be a tight end, but don’t try to say he’s not the focal point of the offense. The offense hasn’t had an effective running back for the longest time and they found an effective top receiver in Brandin Cooks and then traded him away after one season, so Gronk remains the top pass catcher in the offense.
6. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
How did a defensive player make the list? Donald is the single most important defensive player in the NFL. He is underappreciated and without him the Rams would flop. He has posted at least eight sacks in each of his four seasons in the league and more than 10 sacks in two of those four. Over four years (62 games), he has posted 39 sacks, 106 quarterback hits, 74.5 tackles for losses, and nine forced fumbles. That is a man that absolutely terrorizes offensive lines regardless of matchups. A presence like him on a team strengthens an entire defense and as a result an entire team.
5. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell might be low to some, but when he’s not on the field Pittsburgh doesn’t suffer as much as expected. They still have an effective passing attack and can move the ball down the field. It’s criminal for Bell not to be on this list because he is a dual threat running back that can run and catch. However, he’s not the most valuable piece on the Steelers offense. The team can lose him and still be a force to be reckoned with.
4. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Don’t let the perception of Jones’s “bad” season last year turn your head. He still put up 88 catches and 1,444 yards, which are better than last year’s numbers. There are a few easy plays that could have been made to make those numbers even better and only three touchdowns which makes most people undervalue his performance last year. The bottom line is that Jones is a freak of nature and, like many of the other players on this list, does things that many players at his position could only dream of doing. He’s the heart and soul of the Falcons offense and they would be lost without him.
3. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Hopkins is known for two things his toe drag and ability to elevate. He is most popularly the culprit of #ToeDragSwag tweets all across Twitter. He knows when he’s on the sidelines and has to stay in bounds and his ability to go up and get the ball is like no other. A quarterback could throw the ball within a half-mile radius of Hopkins (which given the recent track record of Texans quarterbacks isn’t far off) and Hopkins would be able to come down with it. There are few pure athletes like him in the NFL.
2. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
In this case, Johnson may be the Most Valuable Player on the Cardinals offense even including the quarterback. How often do you see a running back take control of a team and become their identity? He had 20 total touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2016. That’s not easy to do. That’s a pace of more than one touchdown per game and around 125 yards from scrimmage each game which is production we haven’t seen since Adrian Peterson in his prime. He takes control regardless of the matchup and just goes out there and plays the game and once he’s in his zone, he cannot and will not be stopped.
1. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Brown is a transcendent talent in the NFL. There is truly no one like him. He’s Ben Roethlisberger‘s safety blanket. He’s the guy that’s trusted to make the plays in desperate situations. Notice how at the end of games when the Steelers are trailing, it’s always Brown making the plays. That’s because Brown is always the one being targeted in those situations. You would think teams would start to put more than one player on Brown in those situations if that’s the case, right? They do. In 2017, he was doubled 35 times, 24 more than the NFL average and his success rate when doubled was 77.1prcent, which is 28 percent above the NFL average. He’s truly a special player and cannot be game planned for because he simply cannot be stopped. The only way to hold him down is to keep up with him using your own offense and we’ve learned time and time again that no one keeps up with Brown.
Those are the players that are capable of dominating and entering the MVP ranks. A lot of these guys are worthy of winning the award. It is just, well you know, it is a passing league.