When the early slate of games kickoff on Sunday, we will officially move into the second half of the NFL schedule. Every squad has played somewhere between 8-10 contests now and we have an idea now of which teams we can expect to see contending for Super Bowl LVI in a few months. With the first half of the year in the books, we’ve also got a decent gauge on who will take home some end of season trophies, but if we were just handing out awards for the accomplishments to date, here are the 2021 midseason winners.
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Coach of the Year
Winner: Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers
Honourable Mentions: Kliff Kingsbury
You can’t blame NFL fans for slotting in the leader of the best team as the coach of the year frontrunner, but my vote is going elsewhere. After being blown out by the Saints in Week 1, the Green Bay Packers have hardly missed a beat and while Aaron Rodgers deserves a lot of credit for their 7-2 record, so does 3rd-year head coach Matt LaFleur. Sitting just one win off the pace for the best record in the league, there’s a chance that LaFleur can take out the end of season trophy if Green Bay finishes the year with a flurry.
Offensive Player of the Year
Winner: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Honourable Mentions: Cooper Kupp
For two straight seasons Titans tailback Derrick Henry has led the NFL in rushing yards – but no more. While Henry is the current rushing leader after nine weeks of action, more than 100 yards in front of second place, it appears as though he won’t be adding to that total during the regular season after succumbing to a Jones fracture in his foot. Even with Henry’s year cut dramatically short, that doesn’t take away from his ridiculous start to the 2021 campaign that includes a trio of games where Tenneesse’s main weapon ran for at least 130 yards and three scores.
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Defensive Player of the Year
Winner: Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Honourable Mentions: Myles Garrett
Depending on personal preference, you could make the argument for either Browns pass-rusher Myles Garrett or Dallas corner Trevon Diggs, with the latter earning my vote through the early portion of the season. The league leader in INT’s came close to tying the NFL record for the most consecutive games with an interception, with all of Diggs’ picks coming in the first six games of the season. It’s been 40 years since a player recorded at least 11 interceptions and the Cowboys pass thief is in the box seat to not only break that threshold but chase down Dick Lane’s record of 14 INT’s in one campaign.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Winner: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Honourable Mentions: Najee Harris, Mac Jones
No offence to Najee Harris or Mac Jones, but this one was an easy choice. After suffering a bad case of the ‘drops’ during the preseason we were unsure of how Ja’Marr Chase would start his NFL career. The early signs are certainly promising for Bengals fans with the former LSU product reeling off the 3rd most receiving yards while sitting 4th in the NFL for receiving touchdowns. Promising chemistry between him and former collegiate teammate Joe Burrow should see the duo form a lethal one-two punch in Cincinnati and keep Chase in the mix for OROY honours all season long.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Winner: Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
Honourable Mentions: Azeez Ojulari
The play of rookie linebacker Micah Parsons has been a huge reason for Dallas’ fast start, with the former 12th overall pick stepping up particularly when Demarcus Lawrence suffered a season-ending foot injury. There were concerns over his character in the pre-draft process, but the Cowboys are certainly chuffed with how Parsons has performed so far. Thriving as an immediate game-wrecker Parsons has stood head and shoulders over his first-year defensive peers with his presence felt all over the field eight games into his career. With 5.0 sacks, 14 QB hits and 10 tackles for loss on the season, the award is his to lose at the moment.
Comeback Player of the Year
Winner: Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Honourable Mentions: Joe Burrow
This one was an easy choice, despite plenty of concerns around the health of the Cowboys QB prior to Week 1. Since he took to the field to start the season, Dak Prescott has played like an MVP contender, bouncing back from a nasty ankle fracture that held him to just five matches in 2020. Joe Burrow certainly deserves recognition after his own return from a major injury, but he can’t dethrone Prescott for this trophy. With Dak performing at this elite level and steering Dallas to a likely NCF East crown, I won’t be surprised if he and the Cowboys are still firing at the pointy end of the season.
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Most Valuable Player
Winner: Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Honourable Mentions: Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray
The ageless wonder Tom Brady is in prime position to win his 4th MVP trophy, 14 years after he claimed the award for the first time. Ranking No. 1 for passing TD’s (25) and No. 2 for passing yards (2,650) so far this year, Brady has helped the Bucs surge to a 6-2 record, putting them in the mix to claim the NFC’s top seed by the end of the regular season. Conference foes Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford are his main threat for the award with the pair of QB’s owning a more appealing narrative that may help them claim the award over Brady. Still, with the Buccaneers poised to make another deep playoff run Touchdown Tom is primed to claim MVP honours unless someone can knock him off his perch.
Choosing the seven winners for the NFL awards was relatively straightforward with most categories easy to identify a clear winner. However, it wouldn’t be award season without some novelty trophies! Here are seven more winners for the not-so-mainstream awards.
Winner: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Honourable Mentions: Derrick Henry
In PPR leagues, no player has scored more points this season than Rams wideout Cooper Kupp. The talented receiver has hauled in over 1,000 yards already on the season with 10 scores helping him emerge as a true league winner for those coaches that drafted him. With a 17th game on the schedule this season we could see Kupp make a run at Megatron’s all-time single-season receiving record, but fantasy coaches will just hope L.A.’s main weapon can stay hot and guide them to fantasy championship glory.
Good Job Keeping Your Job
Winner: Urban Meyer
Honourable Mentions: Matt Nagy
Less than a month ago, NFL fans expected to see Jacksonville part ways with head coach Urban Meyer at any moment, following a rocky start for the former collegiate legend. Off-field antics made Meyer’s early tenure with the Jags somewhat of a grind, with an 0-5 start to his pro career not helping matters. However, two wins in the last three outings, including a shock victory over the heavily favoured Buffalo Bills has breathed life into his future with the franchise and given Jacksonville hope that they did hire the right man for the job.
Image from au.sports.yahoo.com
Waiver Wire Wizard
Winner: Cordarelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Honourable Mentions: Christian Kirk, Hunter Renfrow
After going undrafted in most fantasy leagues, Cordarelle Patterson quickly became a must-roster player. Scoring a hair under 24 points in Week 2 led to a massive spike in ownership for the Falcons RB and those who quickly pounced on the kick-returning specialist have been handsomely rewarded. Currently slated as the 7th highest scoring tailback, Patterson has emerged as a true league winner for the fantasy community and those who stashed him early on are reaping the rewards.
Most Valuable Team
Winner: Los Angeles Rams
Honourable Mentions: Tenessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals
Following some swift trades, the Los Angeles Rams have the best on-paper team in the entire league and are well-positioned for a run to the Super Bowl. There are teams with a better record than the Rams entering the second half of the season, but adding Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr to this already star-studded roster gives them a virtual All-Pro talent at every position. They have balance on both sides of the ball, an MVP candidate in Matthew Stafford and with play-calling guru Sean McVay on the sidelines it’s hard to look past L.A. as the NFL’s most valuable team.
Winner: Mike White’s coming out party
Honourable Mentions: D’Ernest Johnson’s first start
Cleveland running back D’Ernest Johnson deserves mention for his heroics in his first NFL start – rushing for the 6th most yards of any player so far this season. However, you can’t look past Mike White’s stunning NFL debut as one of the strangest moments of the season. Entering a clash with the Cincinnati Bengals as heavy underdogs ahead of his first start no one could have predicted what came next with White throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns to shock the NFL world. His stunning debut saw him join Cam Newton as the only player since 1950 to throw for 400 or more yards in their first career start with his 37 completions also an NFL record for a player in their first start.
Game of the Year
Winner: Packers vs. Cardinals Week 8
Honourable Mentions: Ravens vs. Raiders Week 1, Bills vs. Titans Week 6
It was tough to pick the best contest of the season so far, but Green Bay’s stunning win over the Cardinals gave us flashbacks to their epic playoff game from 2015. Arizona entered this Week 8 matchup as the last undefeated team in the league and there was little hope for the Packers’ chances of pulling off the upset after their top-two receiving threats were ruled out earlier in the week. However, Aaron Rodgers once again thrived in the face of adversity without Davante Adams and Allen Lazard in uniform and former Cardinal Rasul Douglas picked off Kyler Murray with 12 seconds left to seal the result and put the icing on the cake of a memorable victory.
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