End-of-season offensive player rankings: Todd Gurley reigns


People of Buffalo are riding high after their Bills clinched their first playoff spot in 17 seasons. The thing is, the celebration has a real chance of lasting another week. Yes, you read that correctly.

Even though the Bills have been below the league average in point differential (-57), sack differential (-20) and yards differential (-840), they've made some plays when it counted and won close games. Four other playoff teams in the Super Bowl era have had a point differential as bad as or worse than this Bills team: the 2011 Broncos (-81), 2010 Seahawks (-97), 2004 Rams (-73) and 1989 Steelers (-61). All of those teams won a wild-card game before being eliminated in the Divisional Round.

Most of the time, these teams are riding emotional highs or are playing their best football heading into the postseason. The Bills have gone 4-2 since the Nathan Peterman debacle, while the Jaguars, Buffalo's opponent next week, are skidding into Sunday after going 0-2 the last two weeks. It was the first time the Jags have lost consecutive games this season, and they looked anything but playoff-ready. After a short stint in which we all thought Blake Bortles was the answer, the QB and offense have come to a screeching halt. Bortles threw seven TDs against zero INTs in Weeks 13-15 but has regressed immensely since Week 16, with a TD-to-INT ratio of 2:5. That's not the type of quarterback play the Jags, whose defense ranked in the top two in many categories, including points, yards and passing yards, are looking for.

The Bills' offense runs with LeSean McCoy, who exited Sunday's game with a sprained ankle and did not return. Yet, Bills coach Sean McDermott said Shady has a chance to play against the Jaguars. He has to play if Buffalo wants a chance. The run game is one of the NFL's best, and with McCoy, the Bills will be able to stay away from Jacksonville's young but dominant secondary.

Tyrod Taylor's apparent heightened sense of awareness that there are only 32 starting QB jobs has made him slightly better. He's taking care of the ball (one pick in his last five starts) and can make one or two spectacular plays a game, which is all the Bills have needed of late. Sunday is Taylor's first playoff game as a starter, and he's more than capable of coming out 1-0.

Right now, it's Buffalo against the world, and you're mistaken if you think the Bills are going to lay down now. All signs point to a Buffalo victory in Duval County.

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 year-end pecking order is below.

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



Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

What a year! Gurley really benefited from Sean McVay's play-calling as the center of the Rams' offense. The third-year running back finished with 2,093 yards from scrimmage (1,305 rushing, 788 receiving) and 19 total touchdowns (13 rushing) in 15 games. Like I said last week, I think Gurley is one of the best running backs in the NFL.



Tom Brady, QB, Patriots

For the sixth time in Brady's career, he finished a season with a passer rating above 100.0 (102.8). The 40-year-old closed the year out with 4,577 passing yards, making him the oldest player in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards for a season, breaking Fran Tarkenton's record (38 years old in 1978). The guy's still got it, and it doesn't look like he's slowing down anytime soon.



Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

Bell had another great season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, with 1,946 yards from scrimmage (1,291 rushing, 655 receiving) and 11 total touchdowns. Bell is a top-five player in the league when healthy, and that's exactly what we got this season.



Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints


Kamara and Mark Ingram were phenomenal this season, as they each had at least 1,500 yards from scrimmage. The rookie sensation ended the year with a bang statistically, putting up 128 yards from scrimmage, one rushing TD and a 106-yard kick return for a touchdown against the Buccaneers. He'll be around for quite a long time.



DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans


It's pretty incredible what Hopkins is able to do every year with different quarterbacks. I'm not sure any other receiver could put up the numbers he does in this situation. Hopkins ended the season with 96 receptions for 1,378 yards and 13 TDs. I'd want this guy on my team.



Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots


On Sunday against the Jets, for the first time in his career, Gronk wasn't targeted at all in a game, though he played 58 offensive snaps. Even so, the five-time Pro Bowler notched his fourth 1,000-yard receiving season with 1,084 yards on 69 receptions and eight TDs.



Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

This statistic is outrageous: Wilson scored 97.4 percent of Seattle's offensive TDs this season (37 of 38), the highest percentage by any player in the Super Bowl era. The quarterback, whose team is missing the playoffs for the first time in his six-year career, put the Seahawks on his back in a season when the team lost some huge defensive playmakers.



Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

Ingram more than deserves praise for the season he had. He set career highs in almost every significant category: carries (230), rushing yards (1,124), rushing TDs (12), receiving yards (416) and yards from scrimmage (1,540), among others.



Jared Goff, QB, Rams

Making a 180-degree turnaround from Year 1, Goff was great this season under head coach Sean McVay. With his 2017 performance, Goff joined Kurt Warner as the only quarterbacks in Rams history with multiple games of at least 300 passing yards, four passing TDs and no INTs in the same season. (Goff had two, and Warner had three in 2001.) A memorable year for the California kid, to say the least: 62.1 percent completion rate, 3,804 passing yards, 28:7 TD-to-INT ratio and a 100.5 passer rating.



Drew Brees, QB, Saints

The Saints didn't need to lean on Brees as much as they have in past years, but no quarterback in NFL history has had a more efficient season than the one Brees had in 2017. He set the all-time single-season NFL completion percentage record (72.0) and finished the season in the top three in several passing categories, including quarterback wins (11), completion percentage, yards per attempt (8.1) and passer rating (103.9). There's nothing Brees can't do.



Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers

The Chargers made a good last-second push for the playoffs, but it was too little, too late. Philip Rivers' top receiver had nine catches for 133 yards and a receiving TD against the Raiders on Sunday, also scoring on a Melvin Gordon fumble recovery. Allen, who missed 23 games from 2015 to '16, played in all 16 games for the first time in his five-year career -- and he was stellar, finishing with a career-best 1,393 receiving yards, plus six TDs and a franchise-record 102 catches.



Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs

Kelce's success comes from being one of the biggest mismatches on the offense. He totaled 83 receptions for 1,083 yards and eight TDs in 15 games.



Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs


Hunt became the second straight rookie to win the league rushing title, finishing the season with 1,327 rushing yards. Hunt also had more than 1,700 yards from scrimmage in his first season. The future is bright.



Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

With five receptions for 80 yards in Sunday's win over Carolina, Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 9,000 career receiving yards, doing it in 95 games to edge Hall of Famer Lance Alworth (98). In what seemed like a pedestrian year for Jones, he still finished with 1,444 receiving yards and three TDs on 88 catches.



LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills

The Bills are in the playoffs because of what McCoy has done. Defenses know he's going to get the ball, and yet, he's running all over 'em. Without playing much in Week 17, he finished with 1,586 yards from scrimmage (1,138 rushing) and eight total TDs on 346 touches.

Dropped out: Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings (previously No. 13).


Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings: Keenum played his best football for a Vikings team primed to make a postseason run. As a starter this season, he went 11-3 with an average of 243.4 passing yards per game, a 67.0 completion percentage, a 21:7 TD-to-INT ratio and a 97.6 passer rating.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers: This guy hasn't lost a game as an NFL starter. What else does he need to do to get a little recognition? He wasn't perfect, but he was pretty dang good as the 49ers averaged 28.8 points per game and went 5-0 with him.

Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Thielen quickly became one of my favorite receivers this season, with his great route-running ability and hands. Every time the ball is near him, he's hauling it in. The first-time Pro Bowler finished the regular season with 91 catches for 1,276 receiving yards and four TDs.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: The second-year pro had himself a year, with 1,183 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. I can see him flying by with the peace sign as we speak.

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints: Thomas flew under the radar in 2017 as the Saints' running backs took the lead, but the second-yard WR was still impressive. After his six-catch, 94-yard outing on Sunday, Thomas finished with 104 receptions for 1,245 yards and five TDs on the season, adding to his rookie-year total of 92 receptions for 1,137 yards and nine TDs.

Follow David Carr on Twitter @DCarr8.



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