2023 NFL Award Winners
MVP: QB Justin Herbert, LA Chargers, +1300
Herbert is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league. He’s big, strong and athletic, offering a rocket arm and good accuracy. Consider the fact that Kellen Moore is coming in as the new coordinator and that Dak Prescott was incredibly productive with Moore. Last season, Herbert played with a broken rib and did not have his Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater for 14 games. He still managed to throw for 4,739 yards with 25 TDs and 10 picks, but the numbers were down from the previous season when he threw for 38 TDs in 15 games. Having a strong receiving corps does not hurt. When healthy, Herbert is a great quarterback to bet on and should dramatically improve his numbers under a new OC.
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Longshot: WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota +1000
Jefferson finished fifth last season so he earned some respect when it comes to earning a rare MVP as a wide receiver. Jerry Rice finished second twice and third two other times in the MVP voting. For Jefferson to be considered, he’d had to finish with over 2,000 yards in receiving, which is not impossible, considering there are now 17 games and he tallied 1,809 yards last season.
AP Offensive Player of the Year: RB Austin Ekeler, LA Chargers, +2000
This usually goes to a receiver or running back. Last season, Austin Ekeler caught 107 passes for 722 yards with five TDs and rushed for 915 yards with 13 TDs. He’s an electric runner after the catch and with the ball. He also playing for a huge contract, so he’ll be looking to hit a lot more than 18 total touchdowns. He should get even more receptions in the passing game and maybe a bit less in the running game though expect him to rush for over 1,000 yards with a better yards per carry average (4.5ypc) with an improved offensive line blocking for him led by Rashawn Slater returning from injury. With Justin Herbert tossing it around to Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Quinton Johnson to throw to, Ekeler will be open a lot. He will put up the kind of numbers expected out of Christian McCaffrey, who can’t stay healthy.
Longshot pick: WR A.J. Brown, Philadelphia, +4500
It’s strange that A.J. Brown is rarely considered as one of the top offensive threats in football. Here’s a guy at 6-1, 225, and just 26. Brown had 88 catches for 1,496 yards with 11 TDs and 17 yards per catch. He’s played for mainly running offenses, but he still received 145 targets with the Eagles last season. Jalen Hurts continues to improve as a down-the-field thrower and Brown saw 29 targets that traveled 20 or more yards last season. He has the speed and strength to beat smaller DBs. He also finished second in yards after the catch with 565. The sky is the limit for Brown.
Defensive Player of the Year: EDGE Nick Bosa, San Francisco, +1200
Bosa is the premier pass rusher in the NFL. At just 25, he’s in his prime and has played every game over the last two seasons. He has 43 sacks in 51 regular season games and even has eight sacks in nine postseason games. He has averaged just 51.5 sacks over his last two seasons, but it’s all about getting pressure on the quarterback. Bosa has an incredible 34 sacks over his last 33 regular season games. There’s no reason he can’t repeat as Defensive Player of the Year.
Longshot: DE Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit, +2500
The second-year pass rusher became the first defensive lineman since Richard Dent to intercept three passes. That type of agility for a 6-7, 265-pounder. He also had 52 tackles and 9.5 sacks as a rookie. He may have worn down at the end of the season and another year of preparation and some added strength will put him in position to double his sack numbers. It also helps that he’s playing with John Cominsky on the other side, so he’s tough to double-team.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta, +250
Robinson is going to take the ball and run with it throughout the season. He’s big, strong and fast with great hands. He has great change of direction and he can finish big runs. He’ll get plenty of reps for an Atlanta team that has a young quarterback in Desmond Ridder. Their best chance to win might be just to run a similar offense that Chicago and Baltimore ran with a mobile quarterback or at least using some RPO.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Tyree Wilson, Las Vegas, +600
Wilson is a mega talent at 6-6, 275, who had 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a redshirt junior at Texas Tech. He started his career at Texas A&M. He had two sacks in the Liberty Bowl in 2021 for the Red Raiders and then suffered a season-ending foot injury in the following season. Playing opposite of Maxx Crosby means he won’t see a lot of double teams.
Coach of the Year: Mike McDaniel, Miami, +2000
Longshot pick: John Harbaugh, Baltimore, +3000
McDaniel needs a healthy Tua Tagavailoa, who went 8-5 as a starter last season. They have an outstanding receiving corps led by Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. McDaniel added Vic Fangio, one of the best defensive coordinators in the game. The addition of Jalen Ramsey will also help the defensive side of the ball, which ranked 27th against the pass last season. An improved defense and a dynamic passing offense should be enough to win the AFC East and get to a strong overall record. Harbaugh is one of the most consistent coaches, but you can only do so much when you don’t have your starting quarterback in 10 games over the last two seasons. Adding a new OC in Todd Monkey was something they should have done the year before, but it will give the Ravens a big boost.
Comeback Player of the Year: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore, +2500
Longshot pick: Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville, +3500
If he steps on the field and does well, Damar Hamlin (-500) will win this due to the fact he’s attempting to return from commotio cordis, after collapsing on the field in Cincinnati. Lamar Jackson is the next best value after playing just 12 games apiece over the last two seasons due to injuries. He’s healthy heading into this season and with Todd Monken as the new OC and the additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers give him the most weapons he’s ever had. As for Ridley, he could catch 135 passes for 2,000 yards and the NFL would not be thrilled with giving him any awards. Yet, Ridley is a very talented receiver playing with an ascending quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. He put up 90 catches for 1,374 yards in 2020 and is 28 so he is capable of duplicating that.