Our recent survey asked 117 NFL analysts a series of questions for the upcoming season. Here are the results:
24 - Kirk Cousins
18 - Lamar Jackson
9 - Derek Carr
8 - Jalen Hurts
6 - Tua Tagovailoa
5 - Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson
4 - Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, Justin Fields, Kyler Murray
3 - Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Davis Mills, Jared Goff
2 - Patrick Mahomes, Matthew Stafford, Justin Herbert
1 - Baker Mayfield, Carson Wentz, Ryan Tannehill, Tyrod Taylor
Kirk Cousins was a popular response, with good reason. He’s been a solid performer ever since he got the opportunity to start, and has paired with great receivers like Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. With the Vikings likely implementing a pass-heavy offense this season, Cousins could be in for his best year yet.
My vote: Russell Wilson
8 - Saquon Barkley
7 - AJ Dillon
6 - Nick Chubb
5 - Aaron Jones, Kareem Hunt, D’Andre Swift
4 - Leonard Fournette, Miles Sanders, Chase Edmonds, Tony Pollard, Rhamondre Stevenson
3 - Joe Mixon, Melvin Gordon, David Montgomery, Javonte Williams, Rashaad Penny, Damien Harris, Antonio Gibson, Michael Carter
2 - Ezekiel Elliot, Alexander Mattison, Breece Hall, Devin Singletary, Austin Ekeler, Elijah Mitchell, James Robinson, JK Dobbins, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Josh Jacobs, Najee Harris
Other players receiving a mention: Sony Michel, Anthony McFarland, Dameon Pierce, Travis Etienne, Duke Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Khalil Herbert, Cam Akers, James Cook, Kenneth Gainwell
Saquon Barkley led the league with over 2,000 scrimmage yards as a 21-year-old rookie in 2018, seemingly living up to his billing as a generational prospect. However, injuries (high ankle sprain, 2019; torn ACL, 2020) have hampered his production since then. Two years removed from his ACL tear, and with a new coaching staff in place, Barkley has a prime opportunity to return to elite status.
My Vote: Saquon Barkley
15 - DJ Moore
10 - Brandin Cooks
8 - Elijah Moore
6 - Diontae Johnson, Jakobi Meyers, Keenan Allen
5 - Tee Higgins
4 - Hunter Renfrow, Rashod Bateman
3 - Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Cortland Sutton, Mike Evans, Terry McLaurin, Tyler Lockett
2 - AJ Brown, Brandon Aiyuk, CeeDee Lamb, Darnell Mooney, Isaiah McKenzie, Marquise Brown, Robert Woods, Tyler Boyd
Other players to receive a mention: Adam Thielen, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Ashton Dulin, Auden Tate, Chase Claypool, Christian Kirk, Deandre Hopkins, Deebo Samuel, Desean Jackson, DeVante Parker, DeVonta Smith, DJ Chark, Donovan Peoples-Jones, George Pickens, Jaylen Waddle, KJ Osborn, Michael Pittman, Mike Williams, Stefon Diggs
DJ Moore is the only wideout to tally 1,175 or more receiving yards in each of the past three seasons. Yet, he’s constantly left off the list of elites at the position, mostly due to the lack of quality quarterbacks he’s played with. If Moore were to ever get a legit quarterback, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him put up numbers alongside the greats at the position. Will Baker be the answer?
My vote: DJ Moore
10 - Ezekiel Elliot
7 - Najee Harris
6 - Aaron Rodgers
4 - Leonard Fournette, Gabriel Davis, Joe Mixon
3 - Mike Evans, Cam Akers, Jamal Adams, Kyler Murray
2 - Matthew Stafford, Amari Cooper, Deebo Samuel, Jerry Jeudy, Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Thomas, Dalton Schultz, DK Metcalf, Trey Lance, Juju Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Jimmy Garoppolo
Other players to receive a mention: Dawson Knox, Derek Carr, Hunter Renfrow, James Conner, Chase Claypool, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, Patrick Mahomes, Javonte Williams, D’Andre Swift, Allen Lazard, Keenan Allen, Tony Pollard, Jaylen Waddle, Josh Allen, Dalvin Cook, Patrick Peterson, Tyreek Hill, Baker Mayfield, TJ Hockenson, Russell Wilson, Josh Jacobs, Joe Burrow, Kenny Golladay, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, AJ Brown, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Christian McCaffery
Also mentioned: Bill Belichick
Ezekiel Elliot is currently the third-highest-paid running back in the league, despite unimpressive performances for two straight seasons. Zeke hasn’t finished in the top 35 in yards created per touch or breakaway run rate since 2019, while his backfield mate/competition, Tony Pollard, has finished in the top 10 in these metrics. Is this once-mighty cowboy at the end of his trail?
My vote: Leonard Fournette
18 - Elijah Moore
15 - Rashod Bateman
11 - Gabriel Davis
5 - Michael Pittman
4 - Brandon Aiyuk, Christian Kirk, Trevor Lawrence, AJ Dillon
3 - Kyle Pitts, Jalen Hurts, Cole Kmet
2 - Rhamondre Stevenson, George Pickens, Rondale Moore, Cortland Sutton, Darnell Mooney, Trey Lance, Kadarius Toney, Jerry Jeudy, Nico Collins, Juju Smith-Schuster, D’Andre Swift
Other players mentioned: Dameon Pierce, JK Dobbins, Chris Olave, Justin Fields, Parris Campbell, Javonte Williams, Chase Edmonds, CeeDee Lamb, Travis Etienne, Drake London, Saquon Barkley, Devonta Smith, Allen Lazard, Isaiah McKenzie, Devin Singletary, KJ Osborn, Tua Tagovailoa, Tee Higgins, DJ Moore
Elijah Moore has all the makings of a breakout receiver. From Weeks 8 to 13, Moore finished top seven among all wide receivers in the league in yards per route run and target per route run. And he did it as a rookie! As a prospect, he checked all the boxes for a future star wideout. There’s been a constant buzz in training camp this offseason, as fans and beat reporters are expecting a huge year.
My vote: Kyle Pitts
This one was very interesting, heading into this I thought it would be a near 50-50 split. Jefferson has the most receiving yards of all time through two seasons, but Chase just broke Jefferson’s rookie receiving yardage record last season. Both look to be Hall of Fame level talents at the position for the next decade.
My vote: Ja’Marr Chase
Trevor Lawrence got the majority of first-place votes, and 81% of the analysts had him in their top two. Lawrence was the clear favorite, despite a tough rookie season.
Trey Lance was the consensus number two quarterback analysts would start a franchise with. Garnering 27% of the first-place votes was certainly interesting, and illustrates the unknown when it comes to Lance’s on-field performance.
Mac Jones was in the top-to-middle on most lists, as 84% of the analysts ranked him at two, three, or four. He and Justin Fields were both ranked extremely closely. Jones had the best rookie season by far of the QBs on the list, but his below-average weapons and lack of perceived upside explain the middling ranking.
Justin Fields had a similar distribution to Mac Jones. Despite a poor rookie year and what still seems to be an uninspiring offense, Fields does have his believers.
Zach Wilson was by far the bottom of the barrel. I wasn’t anticipating this much of a negative outlook on Zach Wilson after just one season, especially with the emergence of his supporting cast. Only 8% of analysts ranked him in their top three.
Patrick Mahomes got the majority of votes here, as 86% had him either first or second. Mahomes is statistically the greatest quarterback ever through his first four seasons as a starter, so this was no big surprise.
Josh Allen was the clear second choice here, garnering more first-place votes than he did third or fourth-place votes. Allen is also the favorite to win the MVP according to multiple sportsbooks.
Justin Herbert came in as the third option, but he also hasn’t been in the league as long as Mahomes or Allen. It’s possible this same exact survey would look very different two years from now.
Even coming off a Super Bowl run in just his second season, Joe Burrow was the least favorite among these superstars. After a torn ACL took out half of his rookie season, last year was really the first season we got to see Burrow’s full skills on display. With more experience in the league, we’ll see what Joe Sheisty truly has to offer.
Drake London was the clear favorite wide receiver as 72% of the analysts had him in their top two.
Garrett Wilson was viewed favorably by the analysts with 55% of the voters putting him in the top three, second highest behind London.
Jameson Williams got the second-most first-place votes but also got the third-most last-place votes. His responses were evenly distributed as he has the biggest range of outcomes according to these analysts.
George Pickens has had a great offseason, but these analysts aren’t quite ready to put him at or near the top of this class yet. 62% of voters put him in the third, fourth, or fifth spot.
Chris Olave was viewed less favorably than these other wide receivers. 50% of the analysts had him in the bottom two of their rankings.
Treylon Burks after an off-season in which he hasn’t earned starter snaps has analysts down on him versus the rest of these wide receivers. 36% of them had him last.
There were tons of fun and interesting answers here. This was a completely open-ended question, but surprisingly, multiple respondents answered with the same prediction.
Here were some of the duplicate answers we saw:
5 answers: Lions make the playoffs/win the NFC North.
3 answers: Jaguars make the playoffs/win the AFC South.
2 answers: Eagles win the Super Bowl.
2 answers: Kyle Pitts breaks the tight end receiving record.
2 answers: The Chiefs miss the playoffs.
2 answers: Ja’Marr Chase has 2,000 receiving yards.
2 answers: CeeDee Lamb wins the triple crown at wide receiver (most catches, touchdowns, receiving yards).
2 answers: Gabriel Davis leads the league in receiving touchdowns.
2 answers: DJ Moore leads the NFL in receiving yards.
My prediction: Joe Burrow breaks the passing yardage record and Chase has 2,000+ receiving yards.
Thank you all to those who participated in the survey! I highly recommend you follow the great work of the following on Twitter: Russell Clay, Justin Boone, James Schiano, Jack Settleman, Anthony Amico, @WyattB_FF, Luke Sawhook, Jordan Vanek, Anthony Staggs, Michael Leone, Derek Brown, Jakob Sanderson, Ryan McDowell, Travis May, Eric Romoff, Matthew Freedman, Cooper Adams, Kev Mahserejian, Andrew Erickson, Tom Trudeau, SharpeClarke, Josh Larky, Justin Edwards, Cooterdoodle, Ryan Noonan, Brian Drake, Marvin Elequin, Jake Tribbey, Dave Kluge, Troy King, Salvatore Stefanile, Jake Estes, Joe Paeno, Justin Herzig, Connor Allen, Ryan Barlow, Alexis Kraft, Kevin O’Brien, Edwin Porras, Pat Daugherty, Bradley Stalder, Corey Spala, Fusue Vue, Kyle Dvorchak, Chris Allen, Vegas Refund, Tony DiBiase, Amr Gabr, Rich Hribar, Nick Skrip, Justin Henry, Mike Braude, Frank Ammirante, Alex Caruso, David Zach, Miguel Chapeton, Akash (YZR_Fantasy), Jake Trowbridge, Parker Olhiser, JetPack Galileo, Bob Harris, Mark Garcia, Danny Kelly, Jacob Rickrode, Cody Carpentier, Jordan Richards, Jeff Haseley, Billy Muzio, Conor O’Driscoll, Dan Williamson, TJ Hernandez, Sam Wallace, Erik Beimfohr, Madi Kroll, FF_Wheeler, Sam Choudhury, Jared Hall, EKBaller, Nick Constantino, Anand Nanduri, James Brimacombe, Sam Hoppen, Austin (Devydeets), Nelly (anellytics), Dynasty Masters, Joey Volpe, Adam Wilde, Jack Miller, Eliot Crist, Ray Garvin, Nate Hamilton, John Daigle, LaQuan Jones, Jeff Hicks, Kevin Tompkins, Alex Baker, Faraz Siddiqi, Ryan Reynolds, DFBeancounter, Max the Animal, Pat Fitzmaurice, Jennifer Eakins, Lawrence Jackson Jr., Pat Kerrane, Jax Falcone, Asher Molk, Matt Donnelly, Nick Ercolano, Sean Green, Matt Harmon, Rob Waziak, Ian Hartitz, DynastyIM, Ben Cummins, Sam Wagman, Matt Kelley