I already wrote about the top ten MVP candidates, but this list is a little different. While the offensive player of the year (OPOY) often also wins the MVP, that isn’t always the case. Therefore, this article isn’t the same as the one listing out MVP candidates. You will see a lot of the same names though.
1. Patrick Mahomes, QB Kansas City Chiefs
It’s impossible to leave Mahomes off of the list. In his first year as a full-time starter, Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns. The reigning MVP still has a good offensive supporting cast around him with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. It will be hard for him to repeat his statistical success this year, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
2. Saquon Barkley, RB New York Giants
With Odell Beckham now in Cleveland, Barkley is the lone gem in the Giants offense. The young running back led the NFL in yards from scrimmage as a rookie and will likely see even more action in 2019. Barkley is one of the best all-around running backs in the league. Last season he recorded 1,307 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 91 receptions, 721 receiving yards, and four receiving touchdowns.
3. Drew Brees, QB New Orleans Saints
If not for Mahomes, Brees would have won his first league MVP in 2018. The two-time Offensive Player of the Year set a record for completion percentage in a single season last year. While it was his first season since 2005 with fewer than 4,000 passing yards, he still threw 32 touchdowns and led the league in quarterback rating. Brees has always posted huge passing numbers, but he found success in hyper-efficiency this past season instead.
4. Todd Gurley, RB Los Angeles Rams
I got no idea what’s going on with Gurley’s knee. One reporter says one thing, and another says something entirely different. We’ll only know what to expect from the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year once we’ve seen him play a few games. When he’s healthy, Gurley is the best running back in the game. In the past two seasons, he has 2,556 rushing yards, 30 rushing touchdowns, 1,368 receiving yards, and ten receiving touchdowns.
5. Aaron Rodgers, QB Green Bay Packers
Unlike many people, I don’t worship at the temple of Rodgers. However, he does have to be considered for the OPOY award this coming season. He has a new coach and a lot of people are calling on him to drag the Packers out of mediocrity. Rodgers didn’t have a bad season in 2018 either. He only threw two interceptions despite recording the second-most single-season pass attempts of his career.
6. DeAndre Hopkins, WR Houston Texans
Hopkins was the best wide receiver in the league this past season. He posted great overall numbers with 115 receptions, 1,572 receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns. Hopkins was voted as a First Team All-Pro for the second year in a row. Now that he has Deshaun Watson throwing to him instead of some journeyman quarterback, Hopkins is finding his stride.
7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB Dallas Cowboys
Zeke has led the NFL in rushing yards per game since he entered the league back in 2016. He’s been the focal point of the Cowboys offense since day one, and he got even more involved in 2018. His involvement in the passing game nearly doubled. However, we might not even see him hit the field in 2019. Elliott is currently holding out for a new contract. It’s a smart move considering he’s racked up 1,003 touches in three years. Even for a great running back like Elliott, that takes a toll on a player’s body.
8. Le’Veon Bell, RB New York Jets
Bell sat out last season because of a contract dispute. While most people would view that as a negative, it’s a full year that Bell wasn’t taking hits from some of the most physical athletes in the world. Playing with Sam Darnold, Bell’s impact in the receiving game might be limited by the young quarterback’s capabilities. However, that means Bell could see more action in the run game.
9. Julio Jones, WR Atlanta Falcons
Jones has surpassed the 1,400 receiving yards mark in each of the previous five seasons. He led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,677 in 2018. Jones is always in the conversation for the receiving yardage crown thanks to his strong connection with Matt Ryan and freakish athletic abilities. His biggest limitation is that he doesn’t reach the endzone very often and can go weeks at a time without scoring.
10. Michael Thomas, WR New Orleans Saints
In 2018, Thomas led the NFL in receptions with 125. He has averaged over 100 receptions and 1,200 receiving yards in each of his three years in the league. This past season was Thomas’ best and he was named a First Team All-Pro. The star receiver recently signed a massive extension with the Saints ensuring he’ll be with the team for the next six seasons. He and Drew Brees make a deadly duo.
1. Antonio Brown, WR Oakland Raiders
Brown could easily finish among the top ten offensive players in the league next season and make me look silly. However, veteran players don’t always thrive when changing teams. I can think of at least one all-time great receiver who went to Oakland and disappeared into the black hole of mediocrity. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with Brown.
2. Russell Wilson, QB Seattle Seahawks
Wilson is a great quarterback for the offensive system the Seahawks want to run, but he’ll never post the numbers necessary to win an award like this in that system. The tradeoff for not posting great total stats is winning. Wilson has never had a losing season and is currently 75-36-1 as a starter.
3. Philip Rivers, QB Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers and Rivers have drawn a lot of attention this offseason. Rivers was in the MVP race last season, but he was overshadowed by Brees and Mahomes. If he has another good year and the Chargers win a bunch of games, he could receive some votes.
4. Alvin Kamara, RB New Orleans Saints/ Christian McCaffrey, RB Carolina Panthers
Kamara scored five more touchdowns in 2018, but McCaffrey had 373 more yards from scrimmage. Both of these running backs are fantasy football godsends, but neither has dominated enough on the ground or through the air to win a major league award yet.