Warning: This column contains all kinds of biases, including personal, recency, positional and geographical. If I can find a few more along the way, I will toss them in like extra potatoes in a stew.
Following are my picks for the 10 most valuable players in the NFL at this moment — meaning anyone who is injured or playing for a bad team has no chance of being considered.
That leaves out usual suspects like Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Tom Brady.
Josh Allen didn't make the cut because he's playing poorly while dealing with a sore elbow. 49ers tackle Trent Williams might be the best offensive lineman in the game, but he's an offensive lineman, and that doesn't compare to skill-position players and impact defenders. Patriots defender Matthew Judon leads the league in sacks, but we saw on Thursday night that he is not a dominant force on a play-by-play basis.
What we did see on Thursday night was Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson again showing off to a national audience, this time while setting an NFL record for most receiving yards through three seasons — and he has six games remaining in his third season.
He is a superstar. Read on to find out where he ranks on my list of MVP candidates:
10. Micah Parsons, Cowboys rusher. Perhaps the most valuable defender in the NFL. He probably deserves to be ranked higher than 10th, but offensive skill-position players are in position to make more meaningful plays than even the best defenders.
9. Lamar Jackson, Ravens quarterback. Casual NFL fans might not be able to name a healthy Ravens running back, receiver or defender, but Jackson's multiple skills keep the Ravens at the top of their division.
8. Stefon Diggs, Bills receiver. Allen would be near the top of this list were he healthy and playing efficiently, but he's not. Diggs is currently the best player on what still could prove to be the NFL's best team.
7. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins receiver. Pairing him with Jaylen Waddle has transformed Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins' offense and the entire franchise.
6. Derrick Henry, Titans running back. His combination of speed and power allows Titans coach Mike Vrabel to play his preferred physical, punishing style — and still get big plays. He leads the NFL in rushing by a wide margin.
5. Saquon Barkley, Giants running back. The Giants don't appear to be very good. Barkley's running and receiving skills have kept them afloat. He ranks second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage behind only Justin Jefferson.
4. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins quarterback. Are the Dolphins winning because of their new coach, their new star receiver, their overall skill-position talent or their quarterback? Miami is 7-1 when Tagovailoa attempts 18 or more passes and 0-2 when he is limited or sits out. He's very good and very valuable.
3. Jalen Hurts, Eagles quarterback. NFL MVP lists are always going to be quarterback-heavy because it's the most important position in professional sports. Hurts is the main reason the Eagles have the best record in the NFL.
2. Justin Jefferson, Vikings receiver. The Vikings are 9-2. What would their record be without Jefferson? Maybe 5-6. Maybe 2-9. Which of their victories would have occurred without his presence? They are 8-0 when he has 98 or more yards receiving and 1-2 when he doesn't.
Maybe the Vikings would have found a way to defeat the Lions without him; he managed just 14 yards in that game. Other than that, the Vikings have won close and in large measure because they have the best player on the field.
Jefferson is on a record pace for receiving yards. He may be the best player in the NFL. He may be the most valuable non-quarterback.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs quarterback. Mahomes is like Michael Jordan in his prime. We can invent contenders for yearly MVP awards, but it's his trophy, and we merely ask him to loan it out occasionally.
Without Tyreek Hill and with only one star-caliber position player (tight end Travis Kelce), Mahomes is again the NFL's dominant player.