Darkhorse NFL MVP Candidates
Note: This list does not contain obvious MVP candidates such as Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Baker Mayfield, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, J.J Watt, and Khalil Mack.
Kirk Cousins, QB Minnesota Vikings
With a massive chip on his shoulder heading into the 2019 season, Cousins will look to prove that his record setting contract was well deserved. With playmakers like Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, and Irv Smith Jr in the mix, along with a revamped offensive line, expect a big year from Captain Kirk and the Vikings offense as a whole.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB Pittsburgh Steelers
While I’m not the biggest Big Ben fan personally, I think he has a good motivation to perform at an elite level in 2019, following a season where he led the league in passing yards. With the Antonio Brown/Le’veon Bell drama still lingering, look for Roethlisberger to do everything in his power to silence his critics.
Matthew Stafford, QB Detroit Lions
If the Lions retooled receiving core can stay healthy this season, expect a bounce back season for Stafford, a perennial member of the 4,000(+) yard passing club. Following a season marred by injuries and personal crisis (his wife was receiving treatment for a brain tumor), I fully expect Stafford to rebound in 2019.
Kyler Murray, QB Arizona Cardinals
While I’m not entirely sold on Murray or Kliff Kingsbury in the NFL, you have to think that the upside of their offense could potentially push Murray into Patrick Mahomes territory from a statistical perspective. Likewise, Murray’s running ability has a good chance to supplement his (expected) high volume of passing. If everything goes smoothly, Murray’s name should come up more often than not in the MVP discussion.
Jameis Winston, QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston has always had nice stats (as long as you don’t check his turnover numbers) but under new head coach Bruce Arians, Winston has a chance to truly become the player we all thought he would be coming out of Florida State. With a solid offensive line, a great group of pass catchers, and a make-or-break contractual situation, Winston has no reason not to ball out in 2019.
Christian McCaffrey, RB Carolina Panthers
While McCaffrey isn’t exactly an under the radar player for fantasy football fans, the concept of him as an MVP candidate might sound a bit far fetched right? Well, consider the situation in Carolina. Cam Newton is presumably still suffering from a chronic shoulder injury, and the team is set to rely on a mix of young players (Curtis Samuel, Ian Thomas, and D.J Moore) and over-the-hill veterans (Greg Olsen, Chris Hogan, and Torrey Smith). If McCaffrey can duplicate his performance from last season, when he acted as the top option in both the rushing and receiving game for the Panthers, we could be seeing his name floated around in the MVP discussion sooner rather than later.
Travis Kelce, TE Kansas City Chiefs
If Tyreek Hill winds up missing this whole season due to his ugly domestic violence case, Kelce should see absurd volume in the high octane Chiefs offense. A 100(+) catch, 1,500(+) receiving yardage, 12(+) receiving touchdown season for Kelce could be enough to garner Kelce MVP consideration, especially if the team can still manage to win the AFC West.
Myles Garrett, DE Cleveland Browns
It could be argued that nobody benefitted more this offseason than Garrett, an already dominant pass rusher, who now finds himself alongside two more elite talents in the form of Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon. With Richardson and Vernon eating up several blockers, expect Garrett to produce incredible numbers for the Browns in 2019.
Bobby Wagner, LB Seattle Seahawks
The lone remaining member of the Seahawks 2013 Super Bowl winning defense, the success of Seattle will run through it’s two quarterbacks. As much as we hear about their QB on the offensive side of the football as an MVP candidate (Russell Wilson) their defensive signal caller should feel some love from the MVP voters as well, should Seattle return to the playoffs in 2019.
Justin Tucker, K Baltimore Ravens
Alright, I know what you’re thinking but hear me out for a second. If you’ve kept up with the Ravens for the last decade you might know that they perhaps the best kicker of all time on their roster with Tucker. His leg strength and accuracy are unparalleled in the modern NFL. However, if you have kept up with the Ravens for the last year you might know that they are suffering from a severe lack of talent one offense. With almost no proven commodities at receiver, in conjunction with Lamar Jackson’s struggles throwing the ball, the team will likely need to rely on Tucker’s leg to keep them in a lot of games. If the team somehow sneaks back into the playoffs, it will be on the heels of Tucker’s cleats, and in that case he should get some MVP consideration.