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Zwiller: The confusing race for MVP

| Thursday, December 2, 2021

When I ask if there is an MVP this season, it is a genuine question, and I honestly do not have the answer. 

Of course, I have an opinion, but if I recall, there is some sort of saying about those. 

So, today, instead of presenting you with information and then giving you my conclusion, I will simply give you the candidates I think you can make a case for and let you draw your own conclusions. 

Jonathan Taylor

It sort of makes sense that this season has no clear-cut candidate for MVP, given how crazy it has been. 

And who better than to capitalize on that chaos than Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor?

The last running back MVP was Adrian Peterson way back in 2012. He rushed for 2097 yards, had 12 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.

Taylor is likely to come up a little short of the yardage goal; he is on track for a little over 1,700 yards on the ground and 500 receiving yards. He also could get 21 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns. 

Quite a season for a second-year back, all things considered. ZLO had him as a 160 last year and he has improved his value to 224 this season, which is better than most quarterbacks.

Josh Allen

In my opinion, Allen had a much better case for MVP before his loss in the battle for best Josh Allen. Not only did the other Allen help his team get the win, but I would say he had more of an impact on the game than the Bills QB. 

But that aside, Josh Allen has led the Bills to 7-4 as well as being in the race for both the AFC East and the overall AFC one seed. 

And from a value perspective, Allen is one of the most valuable players in the league. He is currently being paid just above $10.2 million, and at a ZLO value of 247, he is an absolute bargain.

My only hesitation is that Allen, much like the Bills, has had the opportunity to beat up on many bad teams and acquire most of their stats via stat-padding. The Bills have played the second-weakest schedule by SRS in the NFL. 

You do not have to play the most demanding schedule in the NFL, but considering ZLO thinks that the Bills should at least have two more wins, the Bills are arguably underperforming.

Aaron Rodgers

The reigning MVP certainly did not start out with a bang; instead, it was much more of a whimper. He threw two interceptions, only had 133 yards and got benched in a 3-38 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

However, since then, Rodgers has played exceptionally well. In 10 games, he has put up 24 touchdowns, 2,700 yards and only added two interceptions. 

He certainly has not played up to the level of player he was last year; ZLO had him as the second-highest player in the league at 287 (only Mahomes ranked higher at 288). This year he sits at 214.

But, when you remove his first game as an outlier sample, he jumps up to 235. 

Again, not up to par with last season, but if he could get the Packers to the number one seed in the conference, he certainly would fulfill the storyline criteria.

Dak Prescott

Dak is going to win comeback player of the year. It could have been Joe Burrow, but I think that is wrapped up because the Cowboys could win the NFC East while the Bengals could miss the playoffs.

That does not mean that Dak cannot win two awards in one year; in fact, I almost think it strengthens his argument. But if I had to pick an award that Prescott would win, it would much sooner be the CPTY.

Don’t get me wrong, he has a good stat-line. Twenty-two touchdowns and 3,000 yards is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider that he missed a game already. That’s a ZLO of 211!

I do worry that he missed playing against the Vikings. He will also likely sit during the last week of the regular season. Two games missed are probably too much.

Kyler Murray

If Dak has to be worried about the missing game’s narrative, Kyler has that problem but much, much worse.

The young QB has missed three games; otherwise, I think we would be handing him the award now.

That is a shame; in his third year, Murray has a ZLO of 199 and a cap hit of $6.3 million, which is even better than Josh Allen! Allen is being paid about $41,295 per ZLO point. Murray is that much better at $31,658 per ZLO point.

Tom Brady

I’m not too fond of this pick from a narrative perspective. Tom Brady is on a loaded team and I agree with Dan Graziano: The Buccaneers are at their best when they do not need Brady to win them the game. 

If Brady were to get the MVP, he should give it to his treasure trove of weapons, defensive front seven and offensive line.

But from a statistical point of view (and a ZLO perspective), Brady is arguably a shoo-in for the award.

With 30 touchdowns, 3,400 yards and nine interceptions, all on a 68% passing percentage, Brady has undoubtedly put up a good stat line.

He is the highest valued QB in the NFL, sitting 270 as a pure passer and 265 as an overall player (his fumbles are accounted for in his rushing stats).

Because there is not a solid case to be made for the rest of the field, I genuinely think Brady will end up with the award, but as I said: I’m not too fond of it. 

Give it to a non-QB once in a decade, would ya?

Personally, I like Jonathan Taylor: His pay per ZLO point is $7,943, which is a figure untouched by anyone on this list. But… we live in a QB world.

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About Thomas Zwiller

Thomas is a sophomore currently in attendance at Holy Cross College, and is a Business major and Computer Science minor. He is from Saint Joseph MI, and went to high school at Saint Joseph High School SB, playing both varsity football and hockey. Feel free to contact him about all things NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB, particularly if you're a stathead.

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