Written by Jack Bourgeois
Every year towards the end of the NFL season, arguments for who deserves to be crowned the Most Valuable Player are made amongst fans and analysts everywhere. So how does someone win such an arbitrary debate? First, we must determine the actual definition of an MVP to be able to state our case. What is the definition of value? And is it even possible to weigh the value of one player with another? There are so many factors, from different positions, to surrounding talent, to wins and losses- the list goes on and on! Since quarterback is obviously the most crucial position on the field, shouldn’t the award automatically be dealt to the QB who had the best year? Should it be stat based, or do we go by team performance?
The variables are nearly limitless, but Blitzalytics’ MVP Rating has taken a handful of the most important factors that make up a player’s season, along with team success, and integrated these numbers into an evenly weighted metric from position to position to determine a player’s value. This is better explained as “player over team, over league, over average.” A player who’s had a great statistical season but poor team success will be devalued, while a player who has limited surrounding talent and carries his team to a respectable record will be rewarded. All statistical categories are gauged against the league average per position in order to evenly compare a player’s contribution. These factors include, but are not limited to:
Total yards gained
Total points scored
Percentage of total team offense
Percentage of offensive totals over the league average
Strength of supporting cast including defense
Touchdown to turnover ratio
Games missed; “The best ability is availability” (Minus earned playoff rest)
With all these statistical categories considered, Blitzalytics has come up with a metric that’s not only one of a kind, but the first ever MVP metric in NFL history. Finally, we have analytical evidence to support our claims in the debate for the league’s MVP.
The issue with metrics like QBR or Passer Rating is that two quarterbacks can throw for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. One QB had a strong offensive line, a run game, and a top ranked defense but lost, while the other QB ran for his life behind a shaky offensive line, with no run game or defense, but won. Yet their quarterback grades can look identical since they had the same passing stats. Peyton Manning’s perfect 158.3 Passer Rating is equal to Chad Pennington’s 158.3 Passer Rating, even though Chad only completed 11 passes and actually lost that game. Shouldn’t one great performance be able to outweigh another? And shouldn’t win percentage be the biggest factor of them all?
This season, we saw some astonishing performances from players at all positions.
Russell Wilson carried his team far beyond any other player in the league in 2017. He contributed a staggering 88.52% of his team’s total yards, nearly 10% higher than the next closest player, all while losing star teammates Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor on the defensive side of the ball and having the worst O-line/rushing attacks in the league. Wilson played out of his mind this season, but it didn’t translate to the win column, hence his stat line being deflated by his win percentage. Antonio Brown was on a record setting pace at the wide receiver position but went down with 2 games to go and somehow still graded out as the league’s most valuable WR.
Let’s take a look at who finished with Blitzalytics Highest MVP Rating.
Top 10 Most Valuable QB’s of 2017
Top 10 Most Valuable RB’s of 2017
Top 10 Most Valuable WR’s of 2017
1. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams 121.26
With a league high 121.26 MVP Rating, the Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley takes the crown as 2017’s Most Valuable Player, as per our metrics. Scoring 19 total touchdowns, gaining 2093 yards from scrimmage, and contributing 37.82% of the #1 offense’s total yards, Gurley had a much better season than one is led to believe. He was the focal point of the entire team, leading the Rams to their first playoff appearance since 2005 and scoring the 15th most points by any non QB in league history. Gurley wasn’t without stiff competition this year, as both Carson Wentz and Antonio Brown were in the running before going down with injuries.
2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots 111.91
The ageless Tom Brady takes this year’s silver with a score of 111.91. If not for New England having such a well-rounded team, Brady surely could have been this year’s winner, though he’s on record stating he enjoys the title of Super Bowl MVP (#4) a little bit more. The 40-year-old is less than a week away from his 8th Super Bowl appearance and is coming off a stellar season. He posted his 6th best statistical season of his 19 year career, including 4605 combined yards and 32 touchdowns, over 45% more offense than league average. He also put up his 3rd highest completion percentage of his career but somehow his 3rd worst Quarterback Rating. Tom Brady is currently tied with Charles Haley as the only NFL player with 5 Super Bowl wins, possibly making history this Sunday. Regardless of what the numbers say, it’s hard to deny the G.O.A.T.’s value.
3. Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs 109.29
The now Washington Redskin is coming off the best season of his 12-year career. With 27 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions, Smith tallied a list of league #1’s, including Passer Rating, interception percentage, touchdown to turnover ratio, and accuracy of 25+ yards. He was the NFL’s best deep ball thrower, something that has been in question his entire career. Smith lead his team to their 4th playoff appearance in 5 years, before being shipped out for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a 3rd round pick late Tuesday night. The stigma of being considered a game manager has haunted Smith since his early days in San Francisco, and once again he’s being replaced by a second year QB with a cannon for an arm. Smith may never be the “game changer” that his past two teams were looking for, but he can certainly be a top 10 franchise QB for the next 3–5 years. He will be well worth the four-year $94 million contract, which includes $74 million guaranteed (3rd highest in league history), that he signed with Washington.
All Stats collected from Pro-Football-Reference.com