Quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs each earned All-Pro votes during their record-breaking 2020 seasons, fueling a Buffalo Bills offense that set a franchise record for points scored (501), an average of more than 31 points per game.
But despite their successes, both individually and as part of the high-octane Bills offense, Allen and Diggs were both slighted on Pro Football Focus’s recently-released Top 50 players right now list, which ranks the best players in the league heading into the 2021 season.
Before getting to the list, PFF has a disclaimer about its rankings. They are “a projection of what we think will happen and not necessarily a reaction to a spectacular or underwhelming 2020 season.”
Allen, who finished as the NFL’s MVP runner-up after rewriting Buffalo’s passing record books, was ranked 40th by PFF and was their fifth-ranked signal caller, while Diggs, who led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards, was ranked 45th and was the eight-ranked wideout.
Allen trailed Patrick Mahomes (No. 2 overall), Tom Brady (No. 7), Aaron Rodgers (No. 10), and Russell Wilson (No. 22) among the QBs on the list.
Allen passed for 4,544 yards with 37 passing touchdowns and 46 total touchdowns in guiding the Bills to a 13-3 record, their first AFC East title in 25 years, their first playoff win in 25 years, and an appearance in the AFC Championship game. He finished second to Rodgers in MVP voting during his breakout season and, in this writer’s estimation, deserved to be ranked in the same tier as Mahomes and Rodgers, especially when you consider that those three QBs were the only players who received first-place MVP votes.
PFF writer Sam Monson had this to say about his justification for Allen’s ranking:
“Allen was spectacular in 2020, but it was such a giant leap forward from his previous baseline — his overall PFF grade jumped from the mid-60s to 90.9 last year — that the smart analysis is to expect some degree of regression, given what we know about player development at this level. It was certainly a breakout season, but players rarely maintain a development curve with a trajectory to the moon year over year. Allen’s most impressive improvement came in terms of accuracy, where he went from a player with an adjusted completion rate dead last as a rookie to ranking fifth in the league in 2020.”
Diggs led the NFL in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535) during the regular season, becoming the first player in franchise history to lead the league in both receptions and yards in a season.
Yet despite his breakout season, when he recorded seven 100-yard games and had at least six catches in 15 of Buffalo’s 16 games, Diggs was slotted behind Davante Adams (No. 5), DeAndre Hopkins (No. 17), Tyreek Hill (No. 18), Allen Robinson II (No. 34), Julio Jones (No. 35), A.J. Brown (No. 38), and Michael Thomas (No. 44).
After proving himself to be one of the most dangerous receiving targets in the league, PFF has Diggs ranked too low. He should at least be in the same tier as Adams and Hopkins and definitely deserves to be slotted ahead of Robinson (25 fewer catches and 285 fewer receiving yards), Brown (57 fewer catches and 460 fewer receiving yards), and both Jones and Thomas (coming off injury-plagued seasons).
As for Diggs, this is what Monson wrote:
“In his first year in Buffalo, Diggs teamed up with Josh Allen and the rest of the Bills offense to produce his finest season to date. He saw 21 more targets, hauled in 25 more receptions and tallied 403 yards more than he had in any single season to date, and he caught those passes at a higher rate (78.4%) than any other season of his career. Diggs effectively justified the frustration he felt in Minnesota — he knew that he was capable of much more; all he needed was increased opportunity. He showed that in Buffalo in Year 1 as one of the best and most complete receivers in the game.”
What do you think of these rankings for Allen and Diggs?