CBS Sports Senior Writer Pete Prisco annually releases his list of the Top 100 NFL Players heading into the coming season. Because this is an annual list, it is easy to see which players rose and fell based on their excellent or subpar performances from the prior year.
Unsurprisingly, quarterbacks dominate the top 10 of the list. It is the most crucial position on an NFL field, and the best players playing this position are the face of the league. In the 2021 version, the No. 1 QB and overall player stayed the same while several passers below him changed spots.
One signal-caller represents the biggest mover on the entire list, going from outside the top 100 in 2020 to No. 10 in 2021: Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen.
QBs dominate the top of the Top 100 NFL Players in 2021 list
Two other passers remain in the top 10 from last year’s list, albeit in different spots. The Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers went from No. 10 to No. 3 following his 2020 MVP season. Seattle Seahawk Russell Wilson went the other way, falling from No. 3 in 2020 to No. 8 in 2021.
Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady jumped into the top 10 after a year away. He vaulted from No. 19 the previous season to No. 4 going into the coming one. While Prisco ranked Brady lower last season, his 2020 write-up of the QB was prescient:
By his standards, his numbers were pedestrian last season with the Patriots. But he had little help from his skill group, which will change in Tampa. His numbers should go way up this season.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson took a big tumble down the list between 2020 and 2021. In the former year, coming off an NFL MVP season, the Louisville product was ranked No. 7 while, on the latter list, he comes in at No. 29.
Josh Allen went from off the list in 2020 to No. 10 in 2021
While Brady rose 15 spots and Jackson fell 22, no one made a more significant leap, either on the field or on Prisco’s list, in the last year than Allen.
The No. 7 pick in the 2018 draft made the move from young prospect to NFL superstar in 2020. Allen put together his first Pro Bowl season and led Buffalo to their first AFC East top finish since 1995 and their first AFC Championship Game appearance since 1993.
Allen took the Bills to these lofty heights with passing numbers not seen in Orchard Park since the Jim Kelly days. The Wyoming product threw for 4,544 yards with a 69.2% completion rate, 37 touchdowns, and just 10 picks.
On his 2021 list, Prisco writes of Allen:
In his third season, he blossomed into an MVP candidate. His ability to move and make plays made him a tough quarterback to defend. The biggest growth, though, came from the pocket.
As the 2021 season grows near, Bills fans can’t help but be excited about their young MVP candidate and the recognition he’s getting.
Allen has the third-best odds to win the 2021 NFL MVP Award
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Allen (+1300) has the third-best odds to win the 2021 NFL MVP Award. The QB, who finished second in MVP voting last season behind Rodgers, the eventual winner, is currently only behind the Green Bay signal-caller (+900) and Mahomes (+500).
The other players who make up the top 10 in MVP odds are all also QBs. Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Dak Prescott (+1500) tied for fourth, Jackson (+1700) is seventh, Wilson and Justin Herbert (+2000) are eighth, and Kyler Murray (+2300) rounds out the top 10.
If you plan to put money down on Allen or any other players on the MVP futures list, backing a QB is the only play that genuinely makes sense. This position gives us the last eight consecutive MVPs and 13 of the previous 15. Only running backs Adrian Peterson in 2012 and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 have broken up this positional dominance in the last decade and a half.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference