The NFL season has reached its midway point and we are beginning to distinguish actual Super Bowl contenders from those who are not. The New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers reached the halfway point undefeated, whilst the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins reached the same point without a victory to their names.
As the football betting starts to heat up and fans of the Patriots start to dream of seeing their side lift the Vince Lombardi trophy once again, we take a look at the top five stand-out players of the 2019-20 NFL season so far.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Tom Brady has made another good start to the NFL season, but to include him in this list would feel a little bit boring. Instead, as the star quarterback of the season so far we’re picking Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
The 30-year-old thrower has led in all of the major quarterbacks categories so far this campaign like TD:INT ratio (22:1), passer rating and fourth-quarterback comebacks. It’s not just consistency that has earned Wilson a spot on this list though, he has also stolen the show with some real moments of brilliance.
In Week 5, his through the eye of a needle touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett against the Rams had viewers in raptures. It wasn’t just a one-off throw though, it was just one example of his world-class skill.
Wilson’s expected completion rate for passes so far this season is 60.9, something he outperformed by 7.3. That figure shows that he is performing above himself so far this season, which is very much why he’s our pick for the best quarterback of the season so far.
Russell Wilson has been immense so far this season and will surely feature higher than #25 in this list next year
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers
When you’re growing up as a sportsman or sportswoman you are always told to respect the final say of your coaches and managers. Sometimes though the people in charge get things wrong and it can be hard to keep your mouth shut.
In a situation like this, it is not unusual for the parents of a player to get involved and speak on behalf of their son or daughter. It is, however, unusual for that to happen in the world of professional sport.
When reporter Omar Kelly took to Twitter back in August to criticise the performance of Minkah Fitzpatrick in a warm-up game, he stirred the ire of the player’s mother. Fitzpatrick’s Mom Melissa responded by saying that her son was being played out of position to accommodate other players in the Dolphins team.
It turned out that Melissa was right and that her son wasn’t best suited to playing side safety. Cue a move to the Pittsburgh Steelers where Fitzpatrick has shone as the deep centre fielder, allowing a tiny 10.8 rating on passes of over 20 yards or more.
Fitzpatrick has been a revelation to the Steelers defense, and what makes it all the more sweeter is that his absence is being felt keenly by the Dolphins.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
The turnaround in Christian McCaffrey’s form this season compared to last has been absolutely remarkable. In his first two seasons as a rookie wide-receiver, there were serious question marks over McCaffrey’s ability to cut it at the top level.
This season, however, he has shone for the Panthers and looks like one of the best all-round physical running backs in the NFL. McCaffrey’s 42.5 mark in the percentage of team’s scrimmage yards outranks any other running back in the league by some distance.
On top of that, he features highly in all of the main areas you would associate with a top-class running back. His touches per game (25.9), rushing yards per game (110.1) and rushing touchdowns (10) all point to the fact that he has been one of the best players in the NFL so far this season.
If McCaffrey keeps up his recent levels of performance he could be set to beat Chris Johnson’s single-season record for yards from scrimmage (2,509). McCaffrey’s form could also see him register the highest fantasy football season since LaDainian Tomlinson’s prolific season in 2006.
Christian McCaffrey looks intent on breaking all sorts of records this season as well as opposition defenses
Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
The competition for best defensive tackler of the season so far is hotly contested, with several players standing out for their respective teams. Shaquil Barrett, Myles Garrett and handler Jones have all been impressive, but it is Aaron Donald that has really stood out.
Last season he registered 20.5 sacks and at the time of writing is sitting on just 5 for the season so far. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he has dropped off in efficacy this season, he has been just as unblockable this year as he was last.
So far this season teams have made a concerted effort to go up against Donald with double and triple-team blocks, but he still comes out on top. Donald has answered every question asked of him and remains the best defensive player in the NFL.
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Football isn’t just about the glamour players, winning sometimes comes down to specialist players like kicker Justin Tucker. The Baltimore Ravens player has been recognised by both his own coach John Harbraugh and Patriots coach Bill Belichick as the best kicker in the history of the league.
Josh Lambo and Chris Boswell have run Tucker close this season for near-perfection, but the Ravens man still remains the best kicker in the league and is invaluable to his team.