J.J. Watt may not win the NFL's MVP award this season, but he can now add one more piece of virtual hardware to his trophy room. Pro Football Focus has decreed that the Texans' All-Galaxy defensive end is the best player in football. Not the most valuable. The best.
PFF recognizes that, in football, "the most valuable players are all quarterbacks," thanks to the evolution of the game. Thus, PFF endeavors to find out who the best player in the NFL is, regardless of position:
This award comes with no positional bias whatsoever. A guard has every bit as much chance to win it as a cornerback, pass-rusher, quarterback or any other position. All they need to do is dominate and perform during the regular season.
Without the natural bias in favor of quarterbacks, J.J. Watt was declared the best player in all of football for the third year in a row. Below is some of PFF's analysis, all of which is worth a read:
It’s beginning to get difficult to explain just how much better than his peers Watt is. Zero is designed to be the ‘average’ PFF grade. There were 20 3-4 DEs with a grade lower than zero this season. Only 27, including Watt, graded above zero. The second-best of those was Sheldon Richardson with a +39.9 grade, nine sacks, 54 total pressures and 32 defensive stops. Watt posted an insane +107.5 grade, 21 sacks, 119 total pressures and 61 defensive stops. He also had 10 batted passes, four forced fumbles, an interception, a defensive touchdown, a safety… oh, and he scored three receiving touchdowns moonlighting as a tight end in goal-line packages.
Watt is so far out on his own in terms of play that he breaks every graph we create to try and illustrate it, extending axes and generally sitting off on a data point all to himself. He is completely redefining what we thought a defensive player was capable of, and is only getting better.
You knew it, and PFF knows it: We are watching one of the best players to ever play the game, and we get to do it every week as Texans fans.