There are always MVP candidates lurking from week-to-week. While the list of front runners had the usual players, a couple of notable names were left off.
Even the best of the best—we’re looking at you Tom Brady—can put themselves in a compromising position for the end-of-year awards. Luckily for Brady and the rest of this shortlist, there’s a chance to improve their MVP stock immediately in Week 2.
Here are five players who are in strong positions to boost their stock this week:
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
There are only a few quarterbacks redefining the position in their golden years. While Brady’s ability to do that is still questionable with his transition to Tampa Bay, Drew Brees is making it happen in New Orleans. The longtime Saints quarterback will be 42 years old in January and is likely playing his last season; a recent report detailed Brees would have retired after last season but changed his mind. Brees broke a number of records en route to another disappointing playoff loss. If this is his final year in the league, I’d imagine it comes with the same gusto as before, and with that, a run that could result in his first MVP honors. However, he’ll need to improve on his Week 1 numbers and he’ll need to do so without his favorite target. Michael Thomas’ high-ankle injury is reportedly more serious than originally anticipated and he will miss multiple weeks. What Brees can do with the rest of the receiving corps and other help around him will determine how far he’ll get in the MVP race. Having success without Thomas will only bolster his case.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
Now that Ryan Tannehill has reemerged in Tennessee, the next step is an MVP season; it would also prove his comeback season wasn’t a one-off. The Titans surprised the best of us with their playoff run last season, and another big year could be what Tannehill needs to at least get a share of the votes. Tennessee narrowly escaped with a win Monday, but he still threw the ball 43 times; that sort of passing volume that will keep him in the running if he and the Titans are successful.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
If we’re mentioning Tannehill as a potential MVP award recipient then his counterpart in the backfield, running back Derrick Henry, needs to also be considered. Henry was the engine behind the Titans’ success last season and their offensive attack still centers around him. He had more than 100 yards in Week 1 and helped open up the field for Tannehill, who was chucking the ball as much as he could. If Henry can continue to bulldoze his way through opponents, the Titans can move well through a relatively weak AFC South. Minnesota had a middling run defense in 2019 and have struggled to stop the run early this season. It leaves room for Henry to have another big game.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Saquon Barkley keeps the New York Giants’ offense running. He had 1,000-plus yard seasons his first two years, and although he didn’t necessarily start his 2020 season off well—he had just six rushing yards in the Giants’ Monday Night Football loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers—he can only get better from here. It’ll take a string of the impressive performances we’ve seen from him in the past to even come close to dethroning a quarterback for this award.
Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Now to the G.O.A.T.
Brady’s Buccaneers debut was disappointing, but he’s still one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Sometimes, even the best of them need time to acclimate to new surroundings. Tampa Bay loaded its roster to win-now with Brady, so we can expect better production. After all, opening the season against the Saints isn’t easy for a well-acclimated passer. Brady can work out the kinks against the rebuilding Carolina Panthers defense in Week 2.