Picks for Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown is No. 1

PFF ranks the top five Offensive Player of the Year candidates this season, picking Steelers WR Antonio Brown as the winner.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Don Wright)

(AP Photo/Don Wright)

Picks for Offensive Player of the Year: Antonio Brown is No. 1

An award that is often difficult to separate from the MVP voting, the Offensive Player of the Year award should be about outstanding offensive performance, regardless of position. For that reason, at PFF, we’ve looked at all offensive positions to find the winner and we’ve even included offensive linemen in the mix in past years. This year’s winner was chosen with an internal consensus at PFF, although the other top performances were still among the best we’ve seen since our data has started in 2007.

Here’s a look at the best offensive players in the NFL this season:


Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Despite playing a few games with backup quarterbacks Landry Jones and Michael Vick, Brown posted the highest receiving grade we’ve seen, and he finished with the top rating among wide receivers at 96.5.

The gaudy numbers speak for themselves — 136 receptions, 1,841 yards, 10 touchdowns, 23 missed tackles forced, 2.89 yards per route run — but it’s how Brown achieves such numbers that makes him great. Despite his small stature, he can get open at every level of the field using slippery route-running and above-average downfield ball skills to make plays. In addition to winning within the framework of the offense, Brown and QB Ben Roethlisberger have excellent chemistry when plays break down, and Roethlisberger’s improvisational skills mesh perfectly with Brown’s ability to lose a defender during the scramble drill.

Perhaps most impressive about Brown is his continued improvement. He finished as the second runner up for this award last season and somehow surpassed last year’s performance, which also had him ranked as the top receiver in the league. On top of all of the production, Brown dropped only five passes in 141 catchable opportunities (3.55 percent), good for fifth in the league. He brings the total package to the table, and Brown is not only the best receiver in the league, but also this year’s Offensive Player of the Year.

First runner-up

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals

While Brown has been ascending to his position the top, Palmer’s rise came out of nowhere. He’s always been talented, but this is the first season he’s really put it all together, and he did so with a week-to-week consistency that is among the best quarterback seasons we’ve graded since 2007.

Arizona’s passing attack is as aggressive as any in the league and Palmer ran it to perfection, making accurate, big-time throws to all levels of the field. He led all quarterbacks with a PFF rating of 98.5 and he posted a positive grade in all 16 games. While it’s just one part of the equation, Palmer’s passes to the intermediate level between the numbers look like a typo: 58-for-79 (73 percent), for 998 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions, good for a passer rating of 130.1.

His deep-ball accuracy and intermediate-level domination were unmatched this year, making for an MVP-like season and runner-up as Offensive Player of the Year.

Second runner-up

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

If not for Antonio Brown, Jones was the league’s best wide receiver, though he may get bonus points for being the only viable threat in the Falcons’ offense. Few receivers can take over a game like Jones, and his combination of deep speed, ball skills, and after-the-catch ability makes him special. Whether separating from man coverage, finding a hole in a zone, or picking up yards on a screen, Jones’ versatility makes him a factor in every game he plays.

His numbers are not far off from Brown’s, as he finished with 136 receptions for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns, all while leading the league with 637 yards after the catch. If the Falcons can find a complement to Jones, either at wide receiver or tight end, the numbers may drop a bit, but Jones has clearly established himself as a top-3 receiver in the league.

Third runner-up

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

No tight end can change the game like Gronkowski, and it’s been evident every time he has missed games due to injury in his young career. He’s already putting up Hall of Fame numbers despite his being in the league only six years.

This season, he led all tight ends with a PFF grade of 96.4, including a 94.9 mark as a receiver. He led all tight ends with 1,176 yards, averaging a gaudy 16.3 yards per reception and a league-high 546 yards after the catch, catching 11 touchdowns and dropping just four passes.

Further separating Gronk from the pack at is position is his blocking ability. His 88.8 grade as a run-blocker was the highest of any tight end this season.

Fourth runner-up

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Gronkowski’s quarterback deserves proper credit for his season as well. Brady came out on fire, perhaps running the offense at the highest level we’ve ever seen from him, and even though he tailed off toward the end of the season, injuries along the offensive line and out wide were both big factors. Brady finished No. 2 behind Palmer with a PFF grade of 92.9, and he didn’t post a bad individual game grade until Week 17.

Brady set a PFF record with 15 touchdowns while pressured, and he took care of the ball better than any quarterback in the league, as he had a turnover-worthy play (TWP) on just 1.11 percent of his dropbacks. Even as his teammates went down to injury, Brady’s decision-making and accuracy were stellar all season in his best wire-to-wire effort since 2007.


For more PFF awards, visit the following page:

Dwight Stephenson Award (Given to the best player in the NFL)

Most Valuable Player

Defensive Player of the Year

Rookie of the Year

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • crosseyedlemon

    No surprise here as the site flaunts it’s pro Steeler bias yet again.

    • shaunhan murray

      Huh what bias give examples. This site isnt about raw stats but brown had the second most receptions in nfl HISTORY Ben had the 3rd highest passing yards per game in nfl HISTORY besides those two not a ton of very high grades.If anyone thinks the steelers big three of Ben Bell and Brown are not top3 in the league needs to look at his own football knowledge

      • B17

        Julio had the exact same number of catches WITH MORE YARDS. Less drops and only 2 less TDs

        • shaunhan murray

          brown has done it against dome very good defenses and has single handly won games on a playoff teams…barley more yards and his qb was out for 4 weeks and injured a couple more.

          • B17

            who cares? Hopkins had NO QB. Julio has a DECLINING QB, they done more with MUCH LESS. PFF is always steeler biased.

            thats the steeler way. to always bring up our rings and call ourselves the best

          • shaunhan murray

            No the steeler way is to win ,period.Again the defenses Brown faced (Steelers played one of the hardest schedules) I would guess r better than the likes of the Saints Bucs entire afc south.

          • Kenny Wilson

            You keep bringing up Julio had more yards…. yea like 40 more yards. And then say ONLY 2 TDS LESS!! OMG OMG. Dude, those 2 TDs are way more valuable than the 40 yards. The 40 yards are great, they get you across midfield once. The 2 TDs wins another game or 2. Dumbest argument I’ve ever heard made. Plus Brown played games with Vick and Jones… horrible QBs. And Brown has a serious run game to take up touches…. Julio did too this year but hes legit the only threat and gets volume. Antonio Brown is better than Julio, and this is all from a Ravens fan.

    • Steelerfanic

      AB is beast hoe deal with it fan-girl

    • frank

      Shut your mouth Antonio brown a mediocre he has to be in the slot to get yards and catches top 5 wrs in the nfl right now is 1. Calvin Johnson 2.Dez bryant 3.Demayrius Thomas 4. Aj Green 5. julio Jones

  • Josh Obusek

    Brown had maybe the best season in NFL history. Check out this analysis, https://www.football.com/en-us/antonio-brown-s-coulda-woulda-shoulda-had-season/ Oh wait, you’ll just say I am biased too…

    • Alex

      Stfu he garbage like the Steelers. AB is not even a top 15 wr he has to line up in the slot to get yards and catches. Thats why Patrick Peterson and Sherman check him up because they follow him but against other cb he does good because he takes on the 3rd and 4th string cb martavis bryant is there number 1 wr

  • Brit

    Jason Fox snubbed again.

  • B17

    Jones had more yards in the same # of catches and more yac with only 2 less TDs. If the 2 TD differential is so important then Doug Baldwin should be on here

  • Christian Frazilus

    Are you kidding? Yes Julio and Brown had the same # of catches but let’s be honest, Julio had 3 fumbles on the season, he had two less TD’s, he also does not PR like Brown, Julio is the sole receiving option in Atlanta and finished with just over 40 yards then him, Brown went up against more current and recent pro bowl cornerbacks then Julio, Julio also had the luxury of playing with his starting QB all season, we all know how abysmal Vick was when he started, Brown easily finishes with 2000 on the season if Ben starts all games, now don’t get me wrong I love me some Julio Jones he’s a phenomenal player and the #2 receiver in the league in my opinion but let’s stop pretending it’s “Steelers Bias” that Brown won this he’s simply doing more at a higher level and more consistently then anyone right now.

    • frank

      Shut up julio better than brown sucks 75% of his snaps are in the slot he ain’t no first string wr martavis bryant is there no1 wr since bryant going be out this season brown not going have a good season like he did this past year

  • Samir

    Brown is clearly the most talent we’ve seen in the NFL, those thinking Steelers bias are off their collective rockers, clearly.

    • bigtrip

      IF he were the most talented then there would not have been a huge drop off in his production when Vick and Landry played. Hopkins played with backup QB scrubs all year and put up stats. The combo of Big Ben and Brown is unstoppable, but when Big Ben is out Brown’s production is also.

      • shaunhan murray

        Landry jones and vick arnt just bad they r completely incompetent while hoyer can actually throw the ball to Hopkins while jones vick literally were to inaccurate to hit him when he was WIDE OPEN

    • frank

      You stupid the best to ever do it is G.O.A.T Calvin Johnson he Tbe he was the best wr this year

  • frank

    All of y’all need to shut up real quick Antonio brown a mediocre he has to be in the slot to get yards and catches. If dez wasn’t injured he would of been this year best wr or if the lions had better coaching staff Calvin Johnson would probably break his own record and they would had made the playoffs this year with a 10-6 record or a 11-5 record or demayruis Thomas would have been better than brown and julio if Peyton manning stay healthy this year. #dont get mad# just stating facts# im a great sports analysis