So here we are 8 games in, halfway through the 2021 NFL season. We watched some good performances, some great performances, and we all have our opinions as to who has been playing the best. Today we’re going to look at VTD’s projections for the individual player awards as of right now.
Ja’Maar Chase; WR / Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Maar Chase has been the biggest playmaker and the most important player catching the ball on the Bengals all year long. Joe Burrow might be the face of the franchise but his main man is Ja’Maar Chase and his 19.0 YPC. Chase is the first look for Joe when he needs that 1st down or needs a big-play made. He trusts him, and his 73 targets already show that he likes to throw the ball his way. His 835 yards are good for tops on the team, and he seems to be surely taking over the lead role from Tee Higgins. He already has 6 games with 65 + yards receiving in just 9 games.
Asante Samuel Jr.; CB / LA Chargers
The undersized cornerback has already grabbed 2 interceptions and leads them in passes defended with 5, in 7 games. Nobody on the Chargers had more than 3 picks last season, that number can fall aside this season. He has certainly emerged as a true NFL DB, and has not been afraid to take on some individual matchups against some of the NFL’s best receivers. He doesn’t shy away and hasn’t disappeared in big games either. One thing is for sure, if this is the level at which Asante is going to be for the next 7-8 years to come, the team will be in for a treat
Cooper Kupp; WR / LA Rams
Cooper Kupp is the favorite target of new Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. He is eating up 103 targets over 9 games – which comes out to a whopping 11.4 targets per game which is +6.4 targets more than the next guy on the team. He’s lit up the NFL for 1019 YDs and 10 TDs already this season…both putting him on track for a career best season. He is a huge reason for the Rams success this year. By the year’s end, there’s a very good chance he ends up being the top wide receiver in the NFL. And playing in the NFC West – he should have a lot of opportunities to put up big-time numbers all year long. His ability to get open, produce yards, TDs, and catches has been fantastic.
T.J. Watt; LB / Pittsburgh Steelers
Watt is currently 2nd on the sacks list in the NFL, with 11.5, only behind Miles Garrett from the Browns. He has been unleashed and allowed to torment QBs all season long. The 27 year old defender has more going on than just sacks – he also has 3 forced fumbles and 4 passes defensed. T.J. is cementing himself as one of the best LBs in the NFL, he has been an avalanching force to deal with, he has been quickly adding on his career sack count in the past 5 NFL seasons, he is built like a tank and moves like a RB. Watt is a real issue on a pass rush and he has been incredibly difficult to slow down without a double team, and many times that hasn’t been successful either. He has recorded 13+ sacks in 4 straight seasons, 15 most recently a season ago, this season looks like it could be even more. Let’s see what he ends up with in 2021.
The Arizona Cardinals have established themselves as the best team in the NFC West and one of the very best in the entire NFL. He has racked up 17 passing TDs, 2276 yards, including his rushing ability which brings him to 20 TDs, while holding an awesome completion percentage of 72.7%. I genuinely feel that they would not be where they are without Murray, the 5-10 QB is incredibly valuable to the success of the Arizona team. The Cards are looking like they can definitely end up as the top seed in the NFC this year. And if they do that is going to rest squarely on the lean shoulders of Kyler Murray. As the League MVP is a reflection of the player’s individual effort – it does help tremendously, when that effort is shown as overall success for the team, and they currently are 8-1.
So those are VTD‘s predictions as of this point of the season. Let’s hear what you think: do you agree, disagree, or have other choices?