Offensive player rankings, Week 17: Todd Gurley MVP by default

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Todd Gurley has been making his case for the league MVP award for quite some time. His case got a lot stronger over the weekend with the running back's monster performance against the Titans: 22 carries for 118 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 10 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns. That's a grand total of 276 scrimmage yards.

With as well as Rams QB Jared Goff has played in his second NFL season, Gurley has established himself as the heartbeat of Sean McVay's offense. This past weekend, he eclipsed 2,000 scrimmage yards for the season. He's had an incredible year, but to be the MVP of the league as a non-quarterback, you have to have had a historic season. Look back at the last three non-QB MVPs: RB Shaun Alexander (2005), RB LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) and RB Adrian Peterson (2012).

In 2005, Alexander set the league's single-season touchdown record (28), and tied Priest Holmes' record of 27 rushing TDs in a season. In 2006, Tomlinson broke Alexander's record for TDs in a season with 31 (28 rushing) and totaled 2,323 scrimmage yards. In 2012, the year after he tore his ACL, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, finishing 8 yards shy of Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season mark.

Gurley is deserving of being in the MVP conversation this year, but if it weren't for two factors, we wouldn't be talking about Gurley in this category at all. First, there's been a TON of injuries to top players this season. Guys have dropped like flies in 2017, and up until Week 14, I had Carson Wentz as my MVP favorite. Antonio Brown, whom I had behind Wentz, went down with a calf injury in Week 15.

And this is the second reason: Tom Brady's recent struggles. Brady had been right up there with Wentz and Brown all season in terms of production, but he has dropped off the last month. Brady's thrown five picks -- and just four touchdown passes -- over his last four games, an uncharacteristic span for the 40-year-old QB. If Brady were playing like Brady, he'd be the MVP -- no questions asked. But because of the lull, we're hearing: Is Father Time catching up? Can Brady's body hold up? Is he slowing down? Well, news flash: He's always been slow.

But seriously, because of the injuries to major players and Brady's poor December, Gurley kind of takes this one by default. Don't get me wrong -- he's had an incredible year. But is it the kind of season recent non-QB MVPs have enjoyed? I'd say no.

Each week in the 2017 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts. Now, let's get to it -- the Week 17 pecking order is below.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week's rankings.

RANK

1

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

2

Wow! Every week he proves that he's one of the best backs in the league -- 276 scrimmage yards vs. Tennessee -- and it's really hard to argue. Gurley became the fourth player in Rams history with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in a season, joining Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. What a special season for Gurley.

RANK

2

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots

1

Brady has shown that he's human the last month with a 4:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in four games. Believe it or not, Brady's best game in that span was Sunday vs. the Bills, when he completed 21 of 28 passes for 224 yards and two TDs, with one INT and a 108.6 passer rating. After throwing a pick-six early in the second quarter, Brady only threw three more incompletions. Nobody is better at coming back after a mistake than Brady.

RANK

3

Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

1

Without Antonio Brown in the mix, Bell must carry a lot of the load. He did his part against the Texans, getting into the end zone late in the third quarter. Bell, who is up to 406 touches on the season, certainly deserves the rest he's about to get.

RANK

4

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

2

Hopkins delivered a Christmas present -- gift-wrapped and all -- with his toe-tapping TD reception. My goodness, that was pretty! He keeps climbing the list because he makes plays like this on the regular.

RANK

5

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots

2

I was happy to see there was no fight between Gronkowski and Tre'Davious White. With Brady struggling the last four games, Gronk's been about the opposite. The overpowering tight end has averaged 9.8 targets, seven receptions and 116 receiving yards per game, with three total TDs. Get ready for some postseason Brady-Gronk magic.

RANK

6

Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints

2

Since returning from a concussion, which he suffered in Week 14, Kamara hasn't been quite as effective. He's averaged 89.5 scrimmage yards in the last two games, with 12 carries for 32 yards and seven receptions for 58 yards in Sunday's win over Atlanta.

RANK

7

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

2

The scrappy QB didn't even throw for 100 yards against the Cowboys, but he didn't have to. With some help from the defense -- containing Ezekiel Elliott in his return to action and forcing Dak Prescott to make more decisions -- Wilson was able to do just enough to keep Seattle's playoff hopes alive. Wilson is the 2017 Seattle Seahawks, as he's accounted for 81.6 percent of the team's offensive yards and 97.2 percent of offensive TDs. What more can he do?

RANK

8

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

Ingram scored his 12th rushing touchdown of the season in New Orleans' win over Atlanta. The Saints have so many weapons on offense that it's not necessary for any one player to go off. That's exactly what we saw in Sunday's crucial divisional win.

RANK

9

Jared Goff, QB, Rams

1

I'm so impressed with Goff's improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. He's executing the difficult throws and making good decisions in the pocket. Goff had a monster game at Tennessee -- completing 22 of 38 passes with four TDs, zero INTs and a 118.4 passer rating -- and helped the Rams claim the NFC West title for the first time since 2003.

RANK

10

Drew Brees, QB, Saints

1

Brees joined Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history with at least 70,000 career passing yards -- Brees also reached the mark in the fewest games played (248). More important: The Saints clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013. It's good to see a Sean Payton-led team back in the postseason.

RANK

11

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

1

Since Week 11, Allen ranks first among receivers in targets (67), receptions (49) and receiving yards (664). He's playing well and even recorded his first career INT at the end of Sunday's game. It's too bad the Chargers played so poorly in Kansas City two weeks ago. They still have a chance to play in the postseason, but will need some help.

RANK

12

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs

1

Kelce's four-catch, 47-yard day that was highlighted by a touchdown (and should have been two) helped boost the Chiefs to their third straight win. OC Matt Nagy has this Chiefs offense clicking again and it's fun to watch.

RANK

13

Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings

2

Thielen's production has dropped off the last two weeks, as he's averaged just 27 receiving yards per game. That's down from an 89.3 average over the first 13 games. That said, the Division II product still has 1,215 yards this season.

RANK

14

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

NR

After some light weeks of late, Julio put up the kind of game we're all used to seeing, finishing with seven catches for 149 yards. (He totaled five receptions for 122 yards against Saints rookie CB Marshon Lattimore.)

RANK

15

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills

NR

It doesn't matter who's on the other side -- Shady McCoy will pick anyone apart. In another loss to the Patriots, McCoy was a bright spot with 147 scrimmage yards (71 rushing, 76 receiving).

Dropped out: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (previously No. 14); Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings (No. 15).

JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 15:

Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings: Keenum kept the Vikings moving forward offensively by doing just enough Saturday night at a frozen Lambeau Field. Thanks to a shutout by the Vikings' D, Keenum didn't have to force the ball downfield. He finished with a season-low 139 pass yards, one TD and an 85.2 passer rating. He's led this team to 10 wins this season -- more than he had in his previous five NFL seasons combined as a starting QB.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: Hunt's solid effort against the Dolphins marked his 10th game with at least 100 scrimmage yards this season. He's getting back to form just in time for playoffs.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: Hill should've had a touchdown -- with a heck of an acrobatic effort -- to go along with his 109 receiving yards on Sunday. An impressive performance nonetheless.

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints: Another solid outing for Thomas with four receptions for 66 yards against the Falcons -- especially considering he was a game-time decision with a hamstring injury. The Saints need him healthy in the postseason.

Follow David Carr on Twitter @DCarr8.

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