NFL MVP ballot for 2023 season: Ranking top 100 players

Illustration by ESPN

I love player awards. But ranking just one player is a little limiting, isn't it? Fortunately, the Associated Press has expanded its NFL MVP ballot to include a top-five ranking. I still want more, however, especially because the NFL MVP award is almost by definition the league's best quarterback every season, which is both correct and kind of boring.

What happens if we expand that list? It means other positions come into play, and we have to tangle with the tension between varying skill levels at positions of differing importance.

That's why I'm unveiling my 100-player MVP ballot for the 2023 season, ranking the 100 most valuable players (check out last year's here). We can all agree on plenty of wide receivers who had a great season, but which players were truly in the top three? What about the top five?

Before we dive into the top 100, a few notes on how I came up with the ranking:

  • This is a purely descriptive exercise. All that matters is which players generated the most value in the regular season.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Creating a list like this was a challenge, but it's one of the reasons I like football. There's so much disagreement about the worth and ability of individual players. That's what makes it fun!

Let's dive in, starting with the real most valuable player of 2023.