Could we have scripted a stranger start to the NFL season?
- The 0-5 Giants are the inferior New York team, and the 3-2 Jets, who were supposed to go 0-16, are tied atop the AFC East five games into the season.
- Two rookies—Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette—lead the league in rushing.
- Alex Smith is not a game manager
- The Eagles, Panthers, and Jaguars lead their respective divisions
- Big Ben is going through an end-of-career crisis
- The Rams are…good?
And while there are many more intriguing stories we could include on our list, the only norms so far this season have been the other-worldly play of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, and the winless 49ers and Browns. We can only sit back and soak in the madness, but there happens to be one area where the early dust is beginning to clear and players are starting to separate themselves as the NFL’s elite—the MVP award has gone to a quarterback 9 of the past 10 years, and it’s hard to argue against that narrative—quarterbacks touch the ball every offensive play, and thus should be the most “valuable” to the team. Here’s how our MVP rankings stack up after week 5.
- Alex Smith: 76.6 comp %, 1,391 yards, 11 TD, 0 INT
I went ahead and gave Alex Smith the nod over Aaron Rodgers at number one because Smith has shown the league that this is his team—he’s playing with a grit and intensity that we haven’t seen yet in his career. Yes, he has a very strong team around him (fellow Chief Kareem Hunt makes an appearance later on our list), but it would be criminal to discredit the way Smith has led Kansas City to perfection thus far. He has yet to turn the ball over, has 11 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 125.8—the award is his for now.
- Aaron Rodgers: 66.7 comp %, 1,367 yards, 13 TD, 3 INT
How about the class of ’05 representing at the top? Although this is Alex Smith’s first run with the NFL’s elite, Rodgers is an annual contender for this award. His late-game heroics against Dallas were nothing short of spectacular, and you know Rodgers is a special player when that game-winning drive was regarded as just another drive. The Packers have two more games before the before their bye week, and if Rodgers continues this pace of play, they should be looking at a 6-1 record in 2 weeks. He leads the league in touchdowns with 13, and has been holding down the fort as Packer players are dropping left and right—when tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga return, look out.
- Carson Wentz: 62.1 comp %, 1,362 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT
Few expected the NFC East to pan out in the manner it has thus far—and many had the Eagles at the bottom on the division. This team is out to prove a point to the rest of the league, and they are doing so on the back of second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. Some would be cautious to put Wentz this high seeing as last season the Eagles started off 3-0 and proceeded to lose 9 out of their next 11, but there’s a different energy in Philadelphia than there was last year. The defense is much improved, and I have to go see if Nelson Agholor is available in my fantasy league after this, because he and Wentz are in for big things as the season continues.
- Tom Brady: 68.2 comp %, 1,702 yards, 11 TD, 1 INT
Tom Brady is getting a little bit of the Aaron Rodgers treatment this season—a lackluster defense and a pile of injuries, yet he continues to perform at a high level. The Patriots are fortunate to be 3-2—if not for the poor foot of Nick Folk, they’d find themselves at the bottom of the AFC East. However, though this is not the Patriots team we are accustomed to watching, Bill Belichick is still the best coach in the game—he knows how to adjust, and saves his best for late in the season. And led by Tom Brady, New England will be just fine.
- Kareem Hunt: 97 attempts, 609 yards, 4 TD, 16 receptions, 166 yards, 2 TD
Our first non-QB! When Spencer Ware went down in the preseason, many wondered if the Chiefs would take a step back—who would step in, this rookie out of Toledo? And after fumbling on his very first NFL snap, we expected the typical rookie response—to let it get to your head. But Hunt redefined the definition of “shaking it off”, and hasn’t looked back since—he leads the league in rushing by 143 yards, and is the only back averaging over 100 yards/game on the ground. In all likelihood, Hunt would be higher on this list if not for the superb play of his quarterback, but taking the world by storm as a rookie earns him a spot on our list.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com