Who Wins What?
Patrick Mahomes (KC) (+500)
Mahomes showed everyone that he is a generational talent and the most valuable player in the league last season. His ability to throw from any awkward arm angle that is required while still delivering a dart down the field is simply stunning. Going into 2019, there is no reason that he will not be able to build on his electric production from a year ago, especially with new weapons on both sides of the ball (Hardman, Mathieu)
Lamar Jackson (BAL) (+3300)
Baltimore threw their Super Bowl winning quarterback to the wolves this past summer, and they did it with excitement towards the future. Lamar Jackson is undeniably the most dynamic quarterback in the NFL. He carries the ball with the twitch and elusiveness of an elite running back, but can also drop back and air out the deep ball. At Louisville, Lamar started out as strictly an offensive weapon while trying to learn the offense. As time progressed, he became comfortable with the offensive scheme and was quickly named starting QB. The rest is history, as Jackson flourished into a prolific Heisman Trophy winner. Keeping this timetable for learning and progression in mind, a second year of reading NFL defenses combined with his special ability to improvise and create plays for their offense will be lethal. The addition of veteran Mark Ingram will also help to offset some of the massive weight that Lamar had to carry last year as the leader of the offense. One obstacle is his lack of pass catching weapons may put his offense’s ceiling lower than it could be. However, I fully expect his development as an NFL QB to take the next step this year. The only question is how drastic can that step be?
Aaron Rodgers (GB) (+1200)
With Mike Mccarthy out the door, in comes offensive mind Matt LaFleur to lead Green Bay this season. In theory, this should allow for an even more efficient and dominant Aaron Rodgers than he had ever been under the past regime. However, this QB-HC relationship is everything, and reports signify a volatile environment so far this preseason. With Rodgers being the figure that he is and LaFleur being the respected offensive mind that he is, it is essential that they put their pride aside and work with one another. With effort, they can get over this early bump in the road. With a young and improved defense in GB, Rodgers has the potential to build his legacy to new heights.
Darkhorse: Sam Darnold (NYJ) (+6600)
This spot reminds me of a Jared Goff or Patrick Mahomes type situation. Year 2 for a highly touted QB prospect after struggling but showing signs of greatness in their rookie seasons. A great offensive mind as Head Coach to learn from. A young and talented team around him. Sam Darnold is going to live up to every bit of the hype and more. His talent is marvelous on the field, and maybe even better off of it. He has been putting gorgeous NFL throws on tape since his freshman year at USC, showing an innate ability to throw a receiver open time and time again. His struggles come from turnovers, but that should decrease with experience. His rookie season as the starter went well, as the expectation for his production had to be low with respect to how bad his supporting cast was. With Le’Veon in the fold, Darnold will be surveying defenses that must be thinking about the run game. That is a recipe for success for any QB, especially for someone as smart as Sam is. Don’t sleep on Sam, and don’t sleep on this team either.
Offensive Rookie of the Year:
David Montgomery (CHI) (+1200)
We loved Montgomery coming out of Cyclone country. His ability to make people miss is special at his size, and the Bears recognized that when they drafted him in the third round. He is going to be another one of those gems in the third round that is inserted right away into an already established offense and produces immediately (Kamara, Hunt). Sorry Melvin Gordon, you aren’t worth it. I think a big year is coming for Montgomery, as he will become the focal part of an offense that should not be pass first at its greatest height.
Darkhorse: Mecole Hardman (KC) (+1800)
Another guy drafted by KC that can be categorized as a straight playmaker. Hardman balled out at UGA on the biggest stages College Football has to offer. Now, his lethal speed is inserted next to Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins. While defenses try to take away Hill and Kelce early on in the season, Mecole is going to burn them where they aren’t. KC passing offense was great last year, and it got better with Mecole. Watch out.
Defensive Rookie of the Year:
Devin Bush (PIT) (+400)
The Steelers defense has lost its identity these past few years, and it caused them to waste their few years with AB and Le’Veon. They knew they needed a young dawg to transform their defense in the offseason, and they went out and got him in Devin Bush. Bush is a heat seeking missile in the middle that can play both run and pass effectively. He is exactly what the doctor ordered in Pittsburgh.
Defensive Player of the Year:
Bradley Chubb (DEN) (+8000)
Vic Fangio brought Kalil Mack’s game to the next level last season in Chicago with his designated edge rushing position. Now in Denver, Fangio has passed along this position to Bradley Chubb, not Von Miller. With Chubb rapidly becoming more comfortable with NFL offenses and their linemen, his superior athleticism and strength should take over at some point this season. With Von on the opposite side, look for Chubb to live in the backfield in the same way that Mack did last season.
Comeback Player of the Year:
Le’Veon Bell (NYJ) (+450)
You know that feeling when you sit on the couch and do nothing for an entire season. Yeah, so does Le’Veon Bell. Well not actually, but that feeling of him being the greatest running back in the league seems like a distant memory to most fans right now, and Le’Veon can not enjoy that feeling. That is why he is going to explode in New York alongside his young QB. To be honest, I wanted to list Le’Veon as a potential MVP candidate, but I settled for this award instead. The idea that a year off will hurt Bell makes no sense to me, as a running back having a year to recoup his fresh legs only sounds positive. Additionally, it is not as if Bell was doing nothing all the time he was away from the league. In fact, his instagram was littered with private workouts almost every day of the offseason. Now, after all this time, he has the chance to reintroduce himself to the league. He will once again show that not only is he a dominant ball carrier with his patient running style, he is an elite receiver wherever he may lineup. Gase should have a lot of fun with him.
North: Cleveland Browns
South: Jacksonville Jaguars
East: New England Patriots
West: KC Chiefs
Wild Card: Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets
North: Green Bay Packers
South: New Orleans Saints
East: Philadelphia Eagles
West: LA Rams
Wild Card: Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears
AFC Champ: KC Chiefs
NFC Champ: New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl Champions: KC Chiefs