Five Leading Candidates For 2016 NFL Least Valuable Player Award
Week 8 is the final game of the official first half of the NFL season, so naturally it's around this time every year that the MVP candidates start to separate themselves from the pack. There are some usual suspects at the top of the list like Tom Brady and Von Miller, and some surprise names as well; such as Matt Ryan and a couple of Cowboys in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot.
I personally find it tedious to have the MVP discussion this earlier in the season. I am admittedly a proponent of deciding the MVP after the Super Bowl, so that postseason performance can be taken into account. Cam Newton was superb last season and he deserved to be recognized as the best NFL quarterback of 2015. But he shit the bed in the Super Bowl, and so I find it a little disingenuous to say that he was the best player of the entire year. The award should have gone to Broncos linebacker Von Miller. In the two most important games of his career, he destroyed not just Newton but also Tom Brady.
So with my disdain for the nature of the NFL MVP in mind, I decided to delve into a distinction that is far more likely to stick: the league's Least Valuable Player.
Now the NFL LVP can't be just any old schlep on a crappy team with undesirable stats. The LVP has to be a starter who gets a lot of playing time and of whom much was expected prior to the season. Ergo, their performance this year has to show significant statistical drop off that clearly impedes the team's ability to be better on offense, defense or special teams. Put simply, the player has to have had high perceived value to begin with.
For example, some solid leading candidates for the 2015 NFL LVP would have been DeMarco Murray, Melvin Gordon and Peyton Manning. Yeah sure, the Broncos won the Super Bowl, but it was in spite of Manning. Oh, and because Cam Newton and the Panthers crumbled like bleu cheese. (You were robbed, Von.)
So here are your leading 2016 NFL LVP candidates so far:
QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
Joe Flacco currently leads the NFL in pass attempts (208) and completions (308) but that amounts to an unimpressive 61.4 completion percentage. He has also passed for a very respectable 1,837 yards, but has thrown just 5 TD passes and 6 interceptions, which is of course, very not good. Particularly for a franchise quarterback who just signed a 3-year, $66,400,000 contract $44,000,000 guaranteed and a record-high $40,000,000 signing bonus.
To put his craptastic season so far into perspective, here he is compared to Drew Brees and Andrew Luck, the QBs with the 2nd and 3rd most completions so far this season.
RB Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (3-4)
Oh, Todd. We believe in you so. Why are you letting the Rams dampen your spirit and dull your shine?
Of the 36 running backs with 50 or more rush attempts this season, the Rams stud sophomore running back ranks 35th in yards per rush (3.01.). This is especially concerning because he has carried the ball 134 times, which ranks as 7th most. Now sure he has 3 touchdowns this season, but it's hard to applaud him for that when he's carrying the ball an average of 19 times a game.
If the Rams offense is going to center that much around the run game and hand the ball off to Gurley that often, he has to either do a lot better than 3 yards a carry (like Lamar Miller) OR he has to find himself in the end zone more often (like LeGarrette Blount.)
WR Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1)
Carson Palmer has not been the epitome of the passing quarterback that he was last year, but he certainly hasn't been bad enough that he should have to take responsibility for Michael Floyd's horrendous catch percentage thus far. Floyd, who at 6'3" and 220 lbs. is larger than most of the defensive backs covering him, has just 19 receptions on 43 targets. That's a 44.2 catch percentage, which ranks 98th out of the 102 receivers with 30+ targets this season.
This would all be a little easier to swallow if Floyd were constantly double or triple covered, but he's far from the only reliable target on his team. Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and David Johnson all get significant attention from the defense. If Floyd is going to be the big, deep ball receiver on a team in the hunt for the playoffs, he's going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that.
DB Darrelle Revis, New York Jets (2-5)
In 2015, Darrelle Revis had 30 tackles and 9 assists to go with 5 interceptions for 48 yards and 9 total passes defensed. In other words, he looked like he was on his way back.
Yeah, not so much.
Through 6 starts this season, Revis has 17 tackles and 3 assists with zero interceptions and just 1 pass defended. This 17 total tackles puts him tied at 29th among all 36 cornerbacks that have started 6+ games this season, which means that he's one of the worst starting cornerbacks in the NFL right now. Revis Island has officially been deserted, and probably for good.
Should have stuck with the Pats, bruh.
K Steve Gostkowski, New England Patriots (6-1)
At the start of the 2016, no NFL analyst - or football fan for that matter - would have argued that Stephen Gostkowski wasn't clearly the best kicker in the league. Historically speaking, he's been one of the most accurate kickers of all time. Coming into this season, he hadn’t missed an extra point since 2006.
So far this season, Gostkowski has already missed two extra points and three field goals which puts his overall percentage at 84.8. Compared to his career make-rate of 94.6%, that's horrendous.
And all of his missteps are compounded by the fact that the Patriots have relied heavily on his steadiness and consistency throughout the years. It's one thing to know that you can't rely on your kicker in big moments, and it's another thing entirely to have complete faith that you can and then be blindsided. Even more concerning is the fact that there seems to be no explanation for what's going on. By all accounts it's either a mental thing or he's had the worst luck of his career. Either way, he's got to snap out of it.
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