My Top 5 2020 OPOY Candidates
1. The MVP
It’s not the most interesting take but like picking Chase Young for Defensive Rookie of the Year I believe it is the right one.
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.
Hence, the stats show that unless you have an incredible or record-breaking season the MVP wins. While I personally believe the awards should be separate, they are not.
2. Christian McCaffrey
Record he could break: The All-time scrimmage record.
- All-Time total scrimmage yard record, 2,509
- McCaffrey had 2,392 in 2019.
Christian McCaffrey is the best running back in football, which is primarily down to his ability to be both a team’s number one running back and number one receiver out of the backfield. In 2019 he beat his own record of most receptions by a running back in NFL history and became the 3rd player in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.
McCaffrey is just incredible and is changing the narrative for running backs with both his style of play and his huge 4-year $64 million deal which sees him average $16 million a year. Further, now he has a game manager at the very least with Bridgewater under centre the Panthers offense might be able to truly utilise McCaffrey’s greatness. Hence, I wouldn’t be surprised if McCaffrey saw a huge work load again in 2020 and had over 2,500 yard from scrimmage.
3. Michael Thomas
Record he could break: His own All-time single season reception record as well as the All-Time single season receiving yard record.
- His own reception record, 149
- Receiving yard record, 1,964
- Thomas had 1,725 in 2019
Michael Thomas was the first receiver since Jerry Rice to win the award in 2019 and it is on the cards that he does it again in 2020.
Thomas was the best receiver in the NFL in 2019. He is the most efficient and productive receiver in the league regardless of the fact every opposing defense knows Brees is going to throw him 10+ balls a game in the exact same manor. Thomas recorded 7 games with 100+ receiving yards and a touchdown in 2019 which is the most in the last 15 years.
No other receiver sees the volume of targets that Michael Thomas does with 185 in 2019. So, if he can continue to be productive and efficient on his high-volume targets there is no reason why he could not break his own reception record and potentially Calvin Johnsons receiving yard record.
4. Nick Chubb
Record he could break: Its bold but the All-Time single season rushing yards in a season.
- All-Time single season rushing yards for a season, 2,105
- Eric Dickerson Averaged 131.6 yards per game on course to setting the record.
- Chubb averaged 93.4 in 2019 whilst being underutilised
Nick Chubb is so underrated it’s criminal, somehow his 1,494-yard season in 2019 managed to fly under the radar. Chubb has 18 runs of more than 20 yards over the past 2 years which is 2nd to only Saquon Barkley, 3 more broken tackles than any other rushers over the past 2 years and breaks them at the best rate of any back with more than 300 carries in the last 2 years. Chubb also leads the league in missed tackles forced since 2018 in the regular season with 110. Sure, it’s not all about the stats but they are undeniably great and when you stick the tape on its just as great. Chubb is my favourite running back in the NFL to watch and he is going to put the league on notice in 2020 under Stefanski.
Admittedly, Its more likely Nick Chubb has around 1,500-1,800 yards in 2020, but I truly believe he has the talent to be a 2,000 yard rusher he just needs the carries, which I believe could come under Stefanski’s run heavy system if Hunt is used as receiving back instead of a runner.
5. Travis Kelce
Record he could break: All-Time single season records for receptions and receiving yards for tight ends.
- All-Time single season receptions record, 116.
- All-Time single season receiving yards record, 1,377.
- Kelce had 1,336 receiving yards in 2018 and has a career best of 103 catches.
In 2019 Kelce became the first tight end in NFL history to have 4 consecutive seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards, further his 6,367 yards through his first seven seasons shatters the NFL record for a tight end at this point in their career, Kelce also has 1,397 yards after the catch over the past 2 seasons, making him the only other tight end other than George Kittle to eclipse 1,000 yards after the catch. Travis has also made 5 straight Pro Bowls with 2 First team All-Pro’s scattered amongst them.
You can make a very compelling argument that Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL, and no one can tell me he isn’t the best receiving tight end in the NFL. While it’s unlikely Kelce or a tight end ever wins this award as Kelce would be the first, I believe if the Chiefs have a historic offensive season and Kelce sees a high number of targets, he could very plausibly set both tight end records listed above and give himself a very good chance of potentially become the first tight end to ever win offensive player of the year.