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Justin Jefferson is one of the NFL’s top MVP candidates, and for good reason.


Disclaimer: This column contains all kinds of biases, including personal, recent, positional, and geographic biases. If I can find a few more along the way, I’ll throw them in like extra potatoes in a stew.

Here are my picks for the 10 most valuable players in the NFL right now — which means anyone who is injured or plays for a bad team has no chance of being considered.

That leaves out the usual suspects like Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Tom Brady.

Josh Allen was not selected because he is playing poorly with a sore elbow. 49ers tackle Trent Williams may be the best offensive lineman in the game, but he’s an offensive lineman, and that doesn’t compare to skill position players and impact defenders. Patriots defenseman Matthew Judon leads the league in sacks, but we saw Thursday night that he’s not a dominant force on a game-by-game basis.

What we saw on Thursday night was Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson again performing to a national audience, this time while setting an NFL record for most receiving yards in three seasons – and he has six games left in his third season.

She’s a star. Read on to find out where he ranks on my list of MVP candidates:

10. Micah Parsons, Cowboys sprinter. Possibly the most valuable defender in the NFL. He probably deserves to be ranked higher than 10th, but attacking players in a skill position are able to make more meaningful plays than even the best defenders.

9. Lamar Jackson, Ravens quarterback. Casual NFL fans might not be able to name a healthy Ravens running back, receiver or defenseman, but Jackson’s multiple skillset keeps the Ravens at the top of their division.

8. Stefon Diggs, Bills wide receiver. Allen would be near the top of this list if he were healthy and playing efficiently, but he isn’t. Diggs is currently the best player on what may yet turn out to be the best team in the NFL.

7. Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Pairing him with Jaylen Waddle transformed Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins offense and the entire franchise.

6. Derrick Henry, running back for the Titans. His combination of speed and power allows Titans coach Mike Vrabel to play his favorite physical and punishing style – all while getting big plays. He leads the NFL in rushing by a wide margin.

5. Saquon Barkley, running back for the Giants. The Giants don’t seem to be doing very well. Barkley’s running and receiving skills kept them afloat. He ranks second in the NFL in scrimmage yards behind only Justin Jefferson.

4. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Are the Dolphins winning because of their new coach, their new star receiver, their overall talent or their quarterback? Miami is 7-1 when Tagovailoa attempts 18 or more passes and 0-2 when limited or absent. It is very good and very valuable.

3. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. NFL MVP lists will always be quarterback-heavy because it’s the most important position in professional sports. Hurts is the main reason the Eagles have the best record in the NFL.

2. Justin Jefferson, Vikings receiver. The Vikings are 9-2. What would their record be without Jefferson? Maybe 5-6. Maybe 2-9. Which of their victories would have happened without his presence? They’re 8-0 when he has 98 or more receiving yards and 1-2 when he doesn’t.

Perhaps the Vikings would have found a way to defeat the Lions without him; he only passed for 14 yards in that game. Other than that, the Vikings won narrowly and largely because they have the best player on the court.

Jefferson is on record pace for receiving yards. He may be the best player in the NFL. He is perhaps the most valuable non-quarterback.

1. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is like Michael Jordan at his peak. We can invent contenders for the annual MVP awards, but it’s his trophy, and we just ask him to loan it out once in a while.

Without Tyreek Hill and only one star-caliber position player (tight end Travis Kelce), Mahomes is once again the dominant player in the NFL.

startribune Gt Itly

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