Each NFL team’s most surprising player this season
New Orleans Saints – Alvin Kamara, RB
A third-round pick of the Saints in 2017, Alvin Kamara was expected to play behind Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson this season. However, Kamara’s all-around ability eventually made Peterson expendable and helped him snag some snaps away from Ingram. Through 10 games this season, the do-it-all Kamara is second on the team with 908 yards from scrimmage and first on the team with 1,026 all-purpose yards. He’s also second on the team with seven total touchdowns. How’s that for a surprise?
New York Giants – Landon Collins, S
Giants safety Landon Collins is not having a particularly bad year, but through 10 games, he’s been nothing close to the All-Pro he was a season ago. He leads the team with 71 tackles and has two interceptions, but he’s been a part of some ugly coverage busts this year. Even with a dominating Week 11 performance against the Chiefs, Collins’ overall performance has been a bit of a letdown for a Giants team that has been an equal letdown all season.
New York Jets – Josh McCown, QB
A spot-starting journeyman quarterback of 15 seasons, Josh McCown finally found a home with the Jets during what was expected to be a horrendous season. However, thanks in large part to his play, they’ve already exceeded expectations at 4-6. To top that off, McCown is having a career-best season, completing nearly 70% of his passes for 2,242 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The touchdown-to-interception ratio may not be great, but honestly, who saw McCown ever even approaching these kind of numbers on a weekly basis?
Oakland Raiders – Marshawn Lynch, RB
When the Raiders lured Marshawn Lynch out of retirement and acquired his rights from the Seattle Seahawks, they were expecting a bell-cow back who would pound away at opposing defenses and gain over 1,000 yards on the season. And while Lynch hasn’t been awful, averaging 4.0 yards per carry, he hasn’t exactly looked like his former self. He’s gained only 390 yards rushing on the season and, as usual, has been a bit of a distraction. He also drew a one-game suspension for contacting an official.
Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz, QB
If the season ended right now, a strong case could be made for Carson Wentz as the league MVP. After an up-and-down rookie campaign, Wentz returned in 2017 firing on all cylinders. And while he could still work on improving his completion percentage, his 2,430 yards passing and 25 touchdowns to only five interceptions is impressive. So is the 9-1 record he’s navigated the Eagles to through 11 weeks of the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Martavis Bryant, WR
Martavis Bryant was expected to be a big-play talent for the Steelers, but 2017 has not gone that way at all. Bryant has been at odds with the team, trashed his teammates on social media, faced a suspension and fallen down the depth chart. When opportunities have come his way, he’s failed to capitalize. He could soon find himself on the way out of Pittsburgh, which is seemingly what he wants.
San Francisco 49ers – Marquise Goodwin, WR
Marquise Goodwin spent his first three seasons doing very little for the Bills, but maximized his opportunities in 2016. The 49ers saw that and wanted him to be a part of their rebuild. Still, no one could have anticipated just how well he’d play for one of the league’s worst teams. Although there are still some improvements to be made, Goodwin has gained a team-leading 500 yards through the air and is best in the league with 21.7 yards per reception (15 or more receptions).
Seattle Seahawks – Eddie Lacy, RB
The Seahawks really believed they had something in Eddie Lacy after he got himself into better shape, but to date, that hasn’t quite worked out. Not only has Lacy been dealing with injuries for much of the season, but he’s struggled when on the field. In seven games (three starts), Lacy has mustered only 130 yards at 2.5 yards per carry. He’s also not seen the end zone a single time and has been a healthy scratch a few times this season. His time in the NFL seems to be winding down.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Demar Dotson, OT
Demar Dotson joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted rookie free agent and worked his way up to a starter in 2012. Since then, Dotson has been solid but not spectacular. In 2017 however, that’s changed. Although aging, Dotson has pieced together one of the best seasons of his career and is among the most-efficient pass blocking offensive tackles in football. Pro Football Focus also has him graded out as the fourth-best overall tackle in the league through 11 weeks.
Tennessee Titans – Kevin Byard, S
Kevin Byard had a strong rookie campaign for the Titans, but no one could have expected a sophomore season quite like the one he’s pieced together thus far. Byard leads the league with six interception, is third in the league with 100 return yards off those interceptions, and has added a fumble recovery for good measure. Pro Football Focus has him graded out as the fourth-best safety in the game. He’s only getting better.
Washington Redskins – Terrelle Pryor, WR
After a breakout year with the Browns, the Redskins signed Terrelle Pryor to a one-year, $6 million deal in hopes of boosting their production at receiver. That did not at all come to fruition as Pryor never seemed to get the offense down. In nine games, Pryor managed only 20 receptions for 240 yards and one touchdown. Shortly after Week 11, he was lost for the season due to ankle surgery.