Now that the 2017 NFL regular season is done and the Wild Card Round is on the horizon, it is time to dish out some regular season hardware. If I had an official vote for the various awards and All-Pro Team selections, here would be my selections for 2017 with a few awards of my own.
MVP: Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley – Had Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz stayed healthy, he likely would have thrown 40 touchdown passes this year and he would have easily won the award as the best quarterback on the best team in the NFL. That did not happen though. Wentz tore his ACL late in the season and Gurley was a beast down the stretch. He had 591 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns in his final three games to secure the third seed for the LA Rams. That strong finish gave him 1,305 yards rushing, 788 yards receiving and a league-leading 19 touchdowns. Take him off the Rams and they are probably a 6-win team. Gurley was the centerpiece of an offense that was first in points scored and 10th in yards gained. He was the regular season MVP.
Offensive Player of the Year: Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley – Again, had WR Antonio Brown stayed healthy and reached 2,000 yards, I probably would have split the MVP and OPOY award. Injuries were the story of the 2017 season and there were so many promising seasons that were cut short by injury. Gurley was the best offensive weapon on the league’s best scoring offense; in addition to the league MVP he was also the Offensive Player of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year: Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald – There are so many directions you could go with this award and Donald is just one of many good candidates. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson called Donald the best defensive player in the league earlier this year and I would have to agree. Headed into Week 17, he had 11 sacks, which is very solid for an interior lineman. Per Pro Football Focus, he had 91 quarterback pressures on the year headed into Week 17. The next closest interior lineman was 25 pressures behind him and it was 12 more than any edge rusher. Nobody rushed the passer quite like him this year and he is a big reason the Rams are in the playoffs this year.
Coach of the Year: Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay – I promise there will be awards for people that are not employed by the Rams, but McVay demonstrated the difference a head coach can make. The Rams had RB Todd Gurley last year, he had only 1,212 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. They had QB Jared Goff last year, he had a QB rating of 63.6 in seven starts. Mcvay took a Jeff Fisher team that was 32nd in yards gained and 32nd in yards gained and made them the top-scoring offense in the NFL and 10th ranked yardage offense. Had they played starters in Week 17, they would have been much higher in both categories. The Rams went from 224 points scored to 478 points scored, over twice as many points scored over last year. They went from 4,203 yards gained to 5,784 yards gained. They did add some new pieces, but the biggest addition was a head coach that understood modern offense. He took what many people thought was going to be a major rebuilding effort and made them into one of the most exciting teams in the NFL.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara – Similar to the NFL MVP Award, this award was changed by injury. Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson had 1,699 yards passing, 19 touchdown throws, eight picks and a QB rating of 103.0 in just seven games. He also had 269 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns. He tore his ACL midseason and his historic campaign was history. Around the same time, Kamara emerged after RB Adrian Peterson was traded and finished the year with 728 yards rushing, 826 yards receiving, 347 yards in kick returns and 14 touchdowns. He was one of the most dynamic players in the NFL on one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. If he can build on his rookie performance, the sky is the limit for him in 2018.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore – The reason the Saints went from (7-9) and a horrific defense to (11-5) and a team with Super Bowl hopes is they hit homeruns in the NFL Draft. Lattimore gave them a shutdown corner that they desperately needed and teams were no longer able to throw against this team at will. They went from the 32nd ranked passing defense to 15th and the biggest reason for that improvement was a cornerback that could contain the opposition’s best wide receiver.
Comeback Player of the Year: Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen – He seemed destined to remain on the IR after playing just nine games the last two seasons, including a season ending injury in Week 1 of the 2016 season. He responded in 2017 with 102 receptions for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection and he was third among fantasy receivers. If he can stay healthy in 2018, he should be one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Fantasy Player of the Year: LA Rams RB Todd Gurley – WR Antonio Brown was making a case for the award headed into Week 15, but he suffered a regular season ending injury that week and Gurley was the top scoring fantasy player, thanks to three games to end the season where he tallied 591 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. He was the Fantasy Player of the Year and anyone that owned him likely dominated the fantasy playoffs.
Fantasy Disappointment of the Year: Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan – There is a million different directions you could go with this pick, starting with Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson. He was the top pick in many fantasy drafts and he was lost for the season in Week 1.
I try not to go with injured players here. I prefer a player that played 16 games and just was not able to live up to expectations. Ryan played all 16 games and he went from 4,944 yards passing and 38 passing touchdowns to 4,095 yards passing and 20 passing touchdowns without a major injury to him or a key player on the offense. The only major change was Kyle Shanahan moving from offensive coordinator to San Francisco 49ers head coach and that move resulted in Ryan going from the second ranked fantasy quarterback to the 15th ranked fantasy quarterback. He was not the same player this year, WR Julio Jones had only three touchdown passes this year and the whole offense underwhelmed with a new play caller, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Most Surprising Team: Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) – The Rams were surprising too, but I am not going to give them every award. The Jaguars were 25th in points scored, 23rd in yards gained, 25th in points allowed and sixth in yards allowed last year. They appeared to be one of the most clueless organizations in football. They hired Tom Coughlin to be the executive vice president of football operations, he hired Doug Marrone to be the head coach and the result was a team that was fifth in points scored, sixth in yards gained, second in points allowed and second in yards allowed. They suddenly have the scariest defense in the NFL and the best rushing offense in the league. Nobody saw that coming in September when they opened the season at Houston as 5.5-point underdogs. They have a very good young team that should be good for the foreseeable future.
Most Disappointing Team: New York Giants (3-13) – The Giants were (11-5) last year and they added a bunch of talent in free agency and the NFL Draft. They started the season (0-5), had every wide receiver become an IR casualty, fired their head coach and GM and basically went from one circus to the next this year. Having WR Odell Beckham Jr. healthy next year will help them improve, but this entire roster is in need of an overhaul.
Honorable mention to the Cleveland Browns, but they really do not qualify as a NFL team at this point. The Browns set a two-year record for futility, going (1-31) and completing the second winless season in the 16-game schedule era. The only other team to pull off the feat was the 2008 Detroit Lions. The problem is that was not disappointing for them, it was expected.
All Pro Team (Offense)
QB – Tom Brady, New England Patriots
RB – Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
RB – Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
WR – Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
WR – DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Flex (RB or WR) – Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
TE – Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
LT – Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
RT – Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
LG – Kelechi Osemele, Oakland Raiders
RG – David DeCastro, Pittsburgh Steelers
C – Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons
K – Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams
KR – Pharoh Cooper, Los Angeles Rams
All Pro Team (Defense)
Edge Rusher – Calais Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars
Edge Rusher – Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings
DT – Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
DT – Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles
LB – Von Miller, Denver Broncos
LB – Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals
LB – Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
CB – Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
CB – Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota Vikings
SS – Landon Collins, New York Giants
FS – Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
Slot Corner – Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals
P – Brett Kern, Tennessee Titans
Special Teams Player: Budda Baker, Arizona Cardinals