Still some rugby to play, and the prize seems to be already decided, but let's start the bets.
I'd say that something quite cataclysmic would have to happen for Kieran Read not to get it, while Ben Smith and Leigh Halfpenny seem to me the most serious competitors.
Jean De Villiers should get a nomination, as probably should Conrad Smith (can you believe he's never been nominated?). Michael Hooper stands a chance of a nomination and I think Brodie Retallick and Eben Etzebeth could make it as well. I don't think any Argentines hold a chance of nomination, unless the IRB try to correct not nominating Fernandez Lobbe last year, and nominate him this year as consolation prize.
For the NH players, the 6N seems far away, but Halfpenny and Cuthbert were the standouts there. Johnny Sexton is the only one, I think, who could be nominated other than those two (maybe Picamoles?).
So, my prediction is:
Winner: Kieran Read
Other nominees: Jean De Villiers, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Leigh Halfpenny.