Entering the past two seasons, I’ve given my picks for the best player on every NFL team. It’s still early in the offseason, but I’m running out of ideas, and this is a series that everyone enjoys turning into a debate. So, I’m releasing this article a little ahead of schedule.
It’s easy picking out the best player for some teams. However, the conversation often comes down to two or three players and their importance to the team’s success. This perspective favors quarterbacks slightly, but only seven signal-callers found their way into this article.
Ten players repeated as the best players on their teams from 2019 to 2020. Only four of those men claimed the top spot on their team in all three editions of this series. You’ll find the selections for 2018 and 2019 listed below the official picks for the 2020 season.
Arizona Cardinals- Chandler Jones, OLB
Best Player in 2019- Patrick Peterson, CB
Best Player in 2018- David Johnson, RB
In the past, it’s been challenging to pick a top player for the Cardinals. However, with Peterson missing the first six games in 2019, Jones easily took home the selection. A 2019 Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Jones led the NFL with eight forced fumbles. He also posted a career-high 19 sacks and 26 quarterback hits on his way to a First-Team All-Pro selection.
Atlanta Falcons- Julio Jones, WR
Best Player in 2019- Julio Jones, WR
Best Player in 2018- Julio Jones, WR
In a year where Devonta Freeman and Matt Ryan struggled, Jones held down the fort in Atlanta. The perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer recorded 99 receptions for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games. He earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection and found out that he made the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
Baltimore Ravens- Lamar Jackson, QB
Best Player in 2019- Earl Thomas, S
Best Player in 2018- Terrell Suggs, OLB
The Ravens produced a long list of Pro Bowlers and All-Pros in 2019, but Jackson broke records and took home the league MVP award. The former Heisman Trophy winner led the NFL with 36 passing touchdowns. He also ran for 1,206 yards while leading the league with 6.9 yards per carry. At times, Jackson looked utterly unstoppable.
Buffalo Bills- Tre’Davious White, CB
Best Player in 2019- Tre’Davious White, CB
Best Player in 2018- LeSean McCoy, RB
No Bills player came close to having the impact White made in 2019. The third-year cornerback tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions and earned a First-Team All-Pro selection. He also defensed 17 passes and forced two fumbles as the Bills made the playoffs behind their dominant defense.
Carolina Panthers- Christian McCaffrey, RB
Best Player in 2019- Luke Kuechly, ILB
Best Player in 2018- Luke Kuechly, ILB
One of the ten best players in the NFL this past season, McCaffrey became the third running back ever to record 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in a single season. He led the league with 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns. Naturally, the third-year running back earned a First-Team All-Pro spot as well.
Chicago Bears- Khalil Mack, OLB
Best Player in 2019- Khalil Mack, OLB
Best Player in 2018- Jordan Howard, RB
Chicago and Mack took a step back in 2019, but the former Defensive Player of the Year can’t take the blame for his team’s shortcomings. However, Mack did post the fewest sacks (eight) and quarterback hits (14) of his career since his rookie season. Maybe the former All-Pro and Chicago can rebound and get back to the playoffs in 2020.
Cincinnati Bengals- Joe Mixon, RB
Best Player in 2019- Geno Atkins, DT
Best Player in 2018- A.J. Green, WR
Only two players even deserve consideration for this spot. I’m giving the edge to Mixon over rookie quarterback Joe Burrow since the LSU product hasn’t taken an NFL snap yet. Last season, Mixon averaged 102 rushing yards per game in his final eight appearances. He should perform even better now that Cincinnati addressed issues at quarterback and along the offensive line.
Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE
Best Player in 2019- Odell Beckham, WR
Best Player in 2018- Myles Garrett, DE
Beckham never blossomed in Cleveland, and his career trajectory seems pointed in the wrong direction. However, Garrett posted ten sacks in ten appearances last season before receiving a season-ending suspension for whacking Mason Rudolph with a helmet. Garrett should become a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the near future.
Dallas Cowboys- Zack Martin, G
Best Player in 2019- Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Best Player in 2018- Zack Martin, G
The pendulum continues swinging back and forth between Elliott and Martin. I gave the edge to Zeke last year, and he produced the fewest yards from scrimmage per game of his career. So, I’m leaning toward Martin in 2020. Martin hasn’t missed a Pro Bowl in his six-year career, and he earned his fourth First-Team All-Pro selection last season.
Denver Broncos- Justin Simmons, S
Best Player in 2019- Von Miller, OLB
Best Player in 2018- Von Miller, OLB
While he made his eighth Pro Bowl, Miller posted the second-fewest sacks (eight) and quarterback hits (20) of his career, only trailing his nine-game season in 2013. On the other hand, Simmons intercepted four passes and defensed 15 more. The Associated Press named him as Second-Team All-Pro. Miller could rebound when Bradley Chubb returns in 2020, but Simmons holds the title for now.
Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford, QB
Best Player in 2019- Darius Slay, CB
Best Player in 2018- Matthew Stafford, QB
The Lions recently traded Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles, which made this selection easy. Besides Kenny Golladay, Stafford is one of the few standout players in Detroit. When his season ended eight games early, Stafford was pacing 4,998 yards and 38 touchdowns. He set a new career-high with a 106.0 passer rating.
Green Bay Packers- Aaron Rodgers, QB
Best Player in 2019- Aaron Rodgers, QB
Best Player in 2018- Aaron Rodgers, QB
Several Green Bay Packers produced standout performances in 2019, but nothing shook Rodgers from his spot atop the team. He’s no longer a perennial MVP candidate, but Rodgers is still an elite quarterback. He led the Packers to a 13-3 record this past season while throwing 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
Houston Texans- Deshaun Watson, QB
Best Player in 2019- J.J. Watt, DE
Best Player in 2018- J.J. Watt, DE
As injuries continue sapping Watt’s prime, it’s time to look toward the future in Houston. Watson went 10-5 as a starter in 2019 and made his second consecutive Pro Bowl. The former College National Champion completed 67.3% of his pass attempts while producing 26 passing touchdowns and a career-high seven rushing touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts- Quenton Nelson, G
Best Player in 2019- Darius Leonard, OLB
Best Player in 2018- Andrew Luck, QB
Like the situation in Dallas, I think Indianapolis’ best player will continue flip-flopping between Nelson and Leonard for years. However, with Leonard missing three games in 2019 and Nelson earning his second consecutive First-Team All-Pro selection, the guard takes home Indianapolis’ top spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars- Yannick Ngakoue, DE
Best Player in 2019- Jalen Ramsey, CB
Best Player in 2018- Jalen Ramsey, CB
The Jaguars parted ways with Calais Campbell and Ramsey over the past year. Ngakoue’s departure seems inevitable, especially since he’s no longer interested in playing for the team. However, when he’s fully motivated, Ngakoue is still Jacksonville’s best player.
Kansas City Chiefs- Patrick Mahomes, QB
Best Player in 2019- Patrick Mahomes, QB
Best Player in 2018- Eric Berry, S
Duh. Mahomes didn’t match his 2018 MVP numbers this past season, but he did lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory. The 24-year-old quarterback is well on his way to becoming a football legend.
Las Vegas Raiders- Rodney Hudson, C
Best Player in 2019- Antonio Brown, WR
Best Player in 2018- Khalil Mack, DE
Oof, that Brown selection from a year ago isn’t looking so good. Maybe I can right that pick by giving the nod to Hudson this year. The 30-year-old center made his third career Pro Bowl appearance in 2019, and the Associated Press selected Hudson as a Second-Team All-Pro. Hudson narrowly edges out Darren Waller for this spot.
Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S
Best Player in 2019- Phillip Rivers, QB
Best Player in 2018- Phillip Rivers, QB
I’d love to give this spot to Joey Bosa, who doesn’t receive enough recognition, but James is the best safety in the NFL. Even on a team filled with Pro Bowl players, he stands out as a beast among men. James missed most of last season, but he earned a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2018.
Los Angeles Rams- Aaron Donald, DT
Best Player in 2019- Aaron Donald, DT
Best Player in 2018- Aaron Donald, DT
Another obvious selection, Donald is head and shoulders above every other player on the Rams (that includes Jalen Ramsey). In 2019, Donald made his fifth consecutive appearances as a First-Team All-Pro. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year posted 12.5 sacks and 24 quarterback hits.
Miami Dolphins- Byron Jones, CB
Best Player in 2019- Xavien Howard, CB
Best Player in 2018- Reshad Jones, S
Jones replaces his fellow cornerback as Miami’s best player. Howard missed 11 games last season with a knee injury, so I don’t know how he’ll perform in 2020. On the other hand, Jones appeared in 15 games last year. He’s a season removed from a Second-Team All-Pro selection.
Minnesota Vikings- Danielle Hunter, DE
Best Player in 2019- Harrison Smith, S
Best Player in 2018- Harrison Smith, S
Smith posted another stellar season in 2019, but Hunter surpassed him in impact, at least for now. In his fifth season, Hunter made his second consecutive Pro Bowl. The LSU product recorded three forced fumbles, 14.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits, and 70 tackles. Eric Kendricks deserves an honorable mention for his 2019 First-Team All-Pro selection.
New England Patriots- Stephon Gilmore, CB
Best Player in 2019- Tom Brady, QB
Best Player in 2018- Tom Brady, QB
It’s nearly impossible for cornerbacks to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, but Gilmore added one to his trophy case this past season. Featured on the defense that allowed the fewest total yards per game, Gilmore tied for the league lead with six interceptions in 2019. He also returned two interceptions for touchdowns and led the NFL with 20 passes defensed.
New Orleans Saints- Michael Thomas, WR
Best Player in 2019- Drew Brees, QB
Best Player in 2018- Drew Brees, QB
While Drew Brees missed five games last season, Thomas broke the single-season receptions record. He led the NFL with 149 receptions and 1,725 receiving yards. The Ohio State product won the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year award and made his second consecutive appearance as a First-Team All-Pro.
New York Giants- Saquon Barkley, RB
Best Player in 2019- Saquon Barkley, RB
Best Player in 2018- Odell Beckham, WR
Barkley went through a sophomore slump in 2019, but New York dealt with a transition when they shifted from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones. Barkley is still the heart of the offense. He produced 1,441 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns in 13 games last season. Behind New York’s improving offensive line, Barkley should return to glory in 2020.
New York Jets- Jamal Adams, S
Best Player in 2019- Le’Veon Bell, RB
Best Player in 2018- Jamal Adams, S
Adams might not be the best player in New York much longer. The 2019 First-Team All-Pro recently requested a trade per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The move doesn’t come as a surprise considering Adams and New York’s front office don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. The fourth-year safety produced 6.5 sacks and 75 tackles in 2019.
Philadelphia Eagles- Jason Kelce, C
Best Player in 2019- Jason Kelce, C
Best Player in 2018- Carson Wentz, QB
Kelce is the best center in the NFL. As a Steelers fan, it hurts to admit that, but Kelce is the leader of Philadelphia’s offense upfront. He’s earned three consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections and is arguably even a better football player than his brother, Travis. Plenty of other Eagles garnered attention for this spot, but I think Kelce even stands apart from Brandon Brooks, Darius Slay, and Wentz.
Pittsburgh Steelers- T.J. Watt, OLB
Best Player in 2019- Ben Roethlisberger, QB
Best Player in 2018- Antonio Brown, WR
In a year where Pittsburgh’s offense imploded, the defense held steady. Three of Pittsburgh’s defenders earned First-Team All-Pro selections, including Watt. The Wisconsin product tied for the NFL lead with eight forced fumbles. He also produced two interceptions, four fumble recoveries, 14.5 sacks, and 36 quarterback hits. T.J. is now the best Watt in the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers- George Kittle, TE
Best Player in 2019- George Kittle, TE
Best Player in 2018- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB
While Nick Bosa might challenge for the title shortly, Kittle stands alone as San Francisco’s best player entering the 2020 season. In 2019, Kittle caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. However, the former fifth-round pick separates himself in the running game, where he blocks like a sixth lineman. Kittle earned a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2019.
Seattle Seahawks- Russell Wilson, QB
Best Player in 2019- Russell Wilson, QB
Best Player in 2018- Russell Wilson, QB
One of the three best quarterbacks in the NFL, Wilson is a perennial MVP candidate who continues keeping Seattle afloat. In 2019, Wilson led the Seahawks to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. During the regular season, he completed 66.1% of his pass attempts for 4,110 yards, 31 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Wilson still hasn’t missed a start during his career.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tom Brady, QB
Best Player in 2019- Mike Evans, WR
Best Player in 2018- Lavonte David, ILB
Several Buccaneers could make claims to this position. Shaquil Barrett produced 19.5 sacks this past season. Evans and Chris Godwin are the best wide receiver duo in the league. David never receives enough credit. However, you don’t know football if you pick anyone other than Brady.
Tennessee Titans- Derrick Henry, RB
Best Player in 2019- Jurrell Casey, DT
Best Player in 2018- Jurrell Casey, DT
This is an open and shut case. Henry led the NFL with 303 carries for 1,540 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns this past season. He averaged 102.7 yards per game. Tennessee’s offense completely revolves around Henry. Without him, the team’s entire gameplan would crumble to pieces.
Washington Redskins- Brandon Scherff, G
Best Player in 2019- Trent Williams, OT
Best Player in 2018- Trent Williams, OT
With Williams no longer in Washington, the title for best player falls to Scherff. The Iowa product made the third Pro Bowl of his career this past season. I also considered Landon Collins, but he hasn’t intercepted a pass in two years. Usually, Ryan Kerrigan would also be in the running, but he produced the worst numbers of his career this past season.