After five weeks, the best players of 2012 have started to emerge. It's looking very unlikely we'll have a repeat winner of the NFL MVP award this season. ** **
We asked last week if Watt possibly could keep up his pace. And then he dominated yet another game against the pass and run on "Monday Night Football" against the New York Jets. Defensive players never get considered for MVP awards, but they should. Watt has put up the most singular season in the NFL thus far.
Eli was far better in 2011 than he had ever been in his career. It was natural to wonder if he'd maintain those gains. Instead, he has taken things to another level. Advanced metrics peg Eli as the top quarterback in the NFL. He passes the eyeball test, too.
We had Big Ben in our top five last week when the Steelers were 1-2, so he's not dropping far after a terrific game-winning drive. Let down by his offensive line and running backs for most of this season, Roethlisberger overcame a number of drops from his receivers against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has eight touchdown passes and one interception during what could be his best year.
Harvin makes his first appearance on the list. With running back Adrian Peterson still rounding into shape, Harvin is the key to the Vikings' 4-1 start. He's their most explosive offensive player and a huge difference maker on special teams. He leads the NFL in all-purpose yards. He's a power runner. There simply isn't another player like him.
Green defines value. The Bengals' offense isn't very good, and it might be among the NFL's worst if not for Green. He has made strides in his second season and already could be the best receiver in the league.
He's coming off his worst game of the season, which wasn't even that bad.
Wake quietly has been the best overall pass rusher in football, including Watt. It's not just the sacks. Wake gets a ridiculous amount of hurries and hits.
With apologies to Reggie Wayne, we're capping the list at nine this week. Anyone else felt like a stretch.