5 Vikings Rank in ESPN’s Top 100

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What could have been with Kirk Cousins. That’s one of the Minnesota Vikings takeaways from ESPN’s Top 100 Most Valuable Players list of 2023 and a what-if from the season on the whole.

ESPN released the list this week, and somewhat surprisingly, five Vikings players made the cut, which could’ve been lower considering the team’s 7-10 losing record this season.

5 Vikings Rank in ESPN’s Top 100

But that was not the case, and Minnesota was well represented. These five players ranked in the Top 100:

No. 55 = RT Brian O’Neill
(Position Rank: 6th)
No. 70 = OLB Danielle Hunter
(Position Rank: 12th)
No. 86 = LT Christian Darrisaw
(Position Rank: 11th)
No. 88 = WR Justin Jefferson
(Position Rank: 14th)
No. 90 = S Josh Metellus
(Position Rank: 3rd)

5 Vikings Rank
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The list was fair and maybe even a bit odd, with O’Neill leading the pack over Darrisaw and Hunter not ranked as the Vikings’ most valuable player.

The aforementioned Cousins would’ve earned a spot on the list, too, if not for injury. He was injured in Week 8 at Lambeau Field and tabulated a pace for 5,000 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

Unveils Latest Danielle Hunter
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Seth Walder described the Top 100 MVP criteria, “The ballot represents my opinion, which is usually heavily influenced by quantitative evidence, such as pass block win rates and our Receiver Tracking Metrics. I factor in All-Pro teams and qualitative information such as Pro Football Focus grades, though, too. I also shared versions of the list with trusted colleagues and NFL team staffers to get feedback, which I consider quite valuable. Crowdsourcing is an important aspect of opinion-building.”

Lamar Jackson is the frontrunner to ultimately win the 2023 NFL MVP award, although Walder’s Top 100 featured Dak Prescott and Josh Allen ahead of him. Sportsbooks peg Jackson’s MVP odds around -1,000 as of January 16th.

15 Injury Report
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“To reconcile different positions, I considered how much value a player created over an average starter at his position. This means quarterbacks will dominate the top of the list because they play the position with the most variance, but also that there could be only 16 or so at most in the top 100. Another example is the league’s eighth-best offensive tackle is ranked ahead of the third-best running back, because running back value is much more tightly clustered than the value of tackles,” Walder added about his rating system.

In time, Vikings rookies Jordan Addison and Ivan Pace Jr. should gain placement on such lists, just not yet. It was also refreshing for Vikings fans to see Metellus on the list, representing one of his first bits of keynote recognition. Metellus was also voted a Pro Bowl alternate this year.

A Vikings Stalwart
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No former Vikings players made the list. Kyle Hamilton, a safety from the Baltimore Ravens who Vikings fans frequently daydream about, checked in at No. 23.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman rounded out the list at No. 100 and is scheduled to hit free agency in eight weeks.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.