Ahhh, it’s that time of year again. The weather’s getting cooler, the leaves are beginning to change color, and football season is upon us. After a lackluster season in 2017, all eyes are on the league to see if it can get back to the exciting, competitive NFL we know and love. Even if the impossible happens, and the NFL has two boring seasons in a row, we’re still guaranteed epic seasons from the league’s best players, however.
Here are my projected winners for the league’s most coveted awards:
Comeback Player of the Year: JJ Watt
Watt has made headlines recently for his heroic efforts in his fundraising for Hurricane Harvey, and he’s also going to make headlines on the field this season. That wasn’t the case last season, when injuries caused him to miss 13 games, and only recorded 1.5 sacks.
In the four season prior, Watt had double digit sacks, leading the league in two of those seasons. His combination of speed and power makes him the one of the–and in my opinion the– best player in the league.
Statline prediction: 62 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles
Offensive Player of the Year: David Johnson
Every year, David Johnson sets out to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. He came agonizingly close last season, rushing for 1,239 yards and receiving for nearly 900 yards on 80 catches, punching it in the end zone a total of 20 times.
I was torn between Johnson and Aaron Rodgers for this award, but the history says it’ll go to Johnson. Quarterbacks haven’t won the award in three consecutive seasons since 1984, when Dan Marino followed fellow quarterbacks Dan Fouts and Joe Theismann. Cam Newton and Matt Ryan won the award in 2015 and 2016.
Statline prediction: 301 carries, 1,326 yards, 86 catches, 922 yards, 22 total touchdowns
Defensive Player of the Year: JJ Watt
As long as he’s healthy, Watt is the favorite for DPOY.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kareem Hunt
The Chiefs starting running backs put up big numbers. Period.
From 2012-2014, Jamaal Charles averaged 1,683 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns per season. A flurry of injuries limited his usage in 2015 and 2016, but Spencer Ware (almost) picked up right where he left off. In 2016, Ware put up 1,368 total yards, but only punched it into the end zone 5 times.
With Ware out for the year, I’m expecting Hunt to put up similar numbers, with a few more touchdowns.
Statline prediction: 203 carries, 1,123 yards, 40 catches, 476 yards, 9 total touchdowns
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Myles Garrett
Garrett was the perennial top prospect in this year’s draft, and in my opinion, is almost a lock to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Aside from Garrett being a physical freak, he’ll have a lot of chances to get after the quarterback. Cleveland has the 27th ranked defense according to Pro Football Focus, and that rank came out before they traded away Joe Haden. Teams will be chucking the rock a ton against Cleveland. Garrett will have ample opportunity to rack up those sack totals.
Statline prediction: 44 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers
There was a stretch from 2015-2016 where it looked like Aaron Rodgers had lost a step. The last 9 games of 2016 ripped apart any such speculation. Rodgers proved that he’s the best QB in the game.
He ended last season as good as any QB ever has, and I have no reason to believe that he won’t pick up right where he left off. A healthy Jordy Nelson, a more mature Davante Adams, and the always reliable Randall Cobb could mean that Rodgers may produce his best season yet.
Statline prediction: 393 completions, 4,742 yards, 44 touchdowns, 6 interceptions