Kelce, Adams or Henry for OPOY?
While the NFL MVP Honours look to be a sealed deal, Offensive Player of the Year is still a hot debate with three players all arguably deserving the award: Travis Kelce, Davante Adams and Derrick Henry. Each of players have reached the pinnacle of play at their respective position this season, with all three widely cementing their place as the best in the NFL at said position.
In this article I will breakdown each of their cases as of why they deserve to win the award and present who I believe should win Offensive Player of the Year.
Travis Kelce – 16 Games:
*Amongst all NFL Receivers
5th in Catches, 105
2nd in Yards, 1,416
3rd in Yards Per Game, 94.4
T-5th in TDs, 11
1st in First Downs, 79
3rd in Yards After Catch, 583
7th in Broken Tackles, 10
T-14th in Drop Percentage, 1.4%
1st in PFF Grade, 93.5
Amongst all NFL Tight Ends
2nd in Catches, 105
1st in Yards, 1,416
1st in Yards Per Game, 94.4
1st in TDs, 11
1st in First Downs, 79
1st in Yards After Catch, 583
1st in Broken Tackles, 10
4th in Drop Percentage, 1.4%
1st in PFF Grade, 93.5
Whilst Kelce has been elite for 5 straight years now his play in 2020 elevated him to a whole new level: Kelce became the first tight end in NFL history to have multiple 100-catch seasons, the only tight end in NFL history to record five consecutive 1000-yard seasons, all on course to breaking the single season receiving yards record for a tight end. Travis has revolutionised the tight end position forever, paving the way for guys like George Kittle and Darren Waller. All season long Kelce has been an unstoppable force, he is a mismatch for every defense given his size and athleticism, which when you partner with his finesse in his route running and his ability to sink his hips, makes him un-guardable.
Davante Adams – 14 Games:
Amongst all Wide Receivers
2nd in Catches, 115
T-4th in Yards, 1,374
1st in Yards Per Game, 98.1
1st in TDs, 18
T-2nd in First Downs, 73
1st in Yards After Catch, 597
8th in Drop Percentage, 0.7%
1st in PFF Grade, 92.2
For several years I have said Davante Adams is the best route runner in the NFL, but the production just wasn’t good enough yet to call him the best all-round receiver. His release is out of this world and his ability to breakdown in his routes and sell defensive backs on the route makes him un-guardable. Whilst other receivers rely on speed and athleticism, Adams does not, which makes him incredibly hard to cover and scheme against. Adams finished the year with 18 touchdowns and 98.1 yards per game, which may not have broken any league records, but it is one of the best seasons a wide receiver has had in recent memory.
Derrick Henry – 16 Games:
Amongst all Running Backs
1st in Carries, 378
1st in Rushing Yards, 2,027
1st in Rushing Touchdowns, 17
3rd in Yards Per Carry * Minimum 150 Carries, 5.4
1st in Yards After Contact, 1073
1st in Broken Tackles 34
1st in 20+ Yard Plays, 48
1st in PFF Grade, 92.4
8-0 when Henry has over 115 Yards Rushing
3-5 when Henry has less than 115 Yards Rushing
Derrick Henry is the best running back I’ve ever watched and his dominance throughout the stats show he is clearly the best in the NFL right now. What makes Henry so dominant is that 6ft 3 and 247lbs he is not just a hard-nosed running back who just runs into contact. Henry has the ability to elude defenders, break tackles, possesses breakaway speed and can explode for big plays. Further, his durability is rarely mentioned but the fact he has such a high usage rate but has remained healthy is very impressive. Additionally, while Tannehill is undoubtably a very good quarterback there is no denying that the Titans offense runs through Henry, the win/loss when he is over or under 115 rushing yards proves that.
Since 2010 there have been 5 times that the MVP also won Offensive Player of the Year.
2018 MVP and OPOY - Patrick Mahomes
2016 MVP and OPOY – Matt Ryan
2015 MVP and OPOY – Cam Newton
2013 MVP and OPOY – Peyton Manning
2010 MVP and OPOY – Tom Brady
The 5 seasons in which that did not happen were either mind blowing seasons or close to or record-breaking years:
2019 – Michael Thomas – Thomas finished 7th all time in receiving yards and 1st all time in receptions with 149 catches for 1,725 yards.
2017 – Todd Gurley – Gurley had 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns.
2014 – DeMarco Murray – Murray finished 17th all-time in rushing yards in a season. Leading the leagues in carries, yards and touchdowns, with 392 rushes for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns
2012 – Adrian Peterson – 2,097 rushing yards ranking 2nd all time to Dickerson who had 2,105.
2011 - Drew Brees – Brees led the league in completion percentage, passing yards and touchdowns. 71.2%, 5,476, 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions but Aaron Rodgers won MVP due to his record and equally great level of play.
- First tight end in NFL history to have multiple 100-catch seasons.
- Single season receiving yards record for a tight end.
- The only tight end in NFL history to record five consecutive 1000-yard seasons
- Adams broke Sterling Sharpe’s franchise record for receptions.
- Adams tied Sharpe’s franchise record for touchdowns.
- 5th most rushing yards ever in a season
Although I view Davante Adams as the best receiver in the NFL and his season has been incredibly dominant, I believe the fact Kelce broke several records propels him ahead of Adams, and because Henry has a more direct effect on the offense, I believe he also is ahead of Adams.
The Kelce Vs Henry argument is an incredibly tough one in my opinion. Whilst a lot of people will immediately jump to call Derrick Henry Offensive Player of the Year, they should re-think Kelce’s case. Kelce’s season is arguably the greatest ever by a tight end in NFL history and he broke several impressive records. This season in my view has earned him a place in Canton.
With that said, as much as I would love for Kelce to win the award given, he is my favourite player in the NFL and the reason I fell in love with the game. It cannot be denied that Derrick Henry deserves the award. Neither Kelce nor Adams were at any point true MVP candidates whereas Henry was. Further, Kelce and Adams both play quarterback dependent positions with Mahomes and Rodgers throwing them the ball, whereas Henry does not. Those two facts alone make him in my opinion Offensive Player of the Year.
Image by: Tennessee Titans