Offensive Player Rankings

Offensive player rankings, Week 13: Drew Brees delivers again

If there's one thing I know about Drew Brees, it's that his New Orleans Saintsalways have a chance to win. Sunday's game vs. Carolina was no different.

When Panthers kicker Joey Slye missed the go-ahead field goal with 1:56 remaining in regulation and the game tied at 31, I knew this one was over. The 40-year-old quarterback strung together an 11-play, 65-yard drive to set up a 33-yard, game-winning field goal by Wil Lutz. It was the 50th game-winning drive of Brees' illustrious career, trailing only Peyton Manning (54).

Great athletes are often defined by how they play in big moments. Some players tense up or fear making a mistake, while others look for opportunities. Brees is the latter, coming through in the clutch every time. He never looks rattled, and it's because I believe he and head coach Sean Payton have the entire two-minute offense planned before taking the field. This pair is very certain about who gets the ball and when. There's no scrambling by Brees, and now that I think of it, I don't think I've ever seen Payton frantically flipping the card on the sideline.

Payton and Brees have a clear-cut agenda when the game is on the line, which is why the veteran passer has more game-winning drives than most quarterbacks have starts. This got me thinking about which other players are great in clutch moments, who I'd want on the field if I had one offensive series to win a game. Here are the players who could be on my All-Clutch Team.

Quarterback: Drew Brees, Saints. Obviously.

Running back: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers. In a game-winning situation, you don't necessarily need a physical, one-cut runner like Adrian Peterson. You need a guy the quarterback can throw to, which is exactly what McCaffrey brings to the table. He's as much of a threat in the passing game as he is as a rusher. Welcome to the team, CMC.

Wide receiver: DeAndre Hopkins, Texans. I considered a few receivers -- Julio Jones was definitely one of them -- but Hopkins best suits the situation. These game-winning drives aren't always pretty. There might be a fourth down or two. The wideout might not have a perfect route, and the defense will play tight coverage. Hopkins is the perfect choice in this scenario because of his incredible body control and phenomenal catch radius. Plus, he has made some of the craziest catches I've ever seen.

Wide receiver: Julian Edelman, Patriots. Edelman might not be the sexiest pick for a No. 2 receiver, but just look at what he's done in the postseason. The New England Patriots are 3-0 in Super Bowls that Edelman has appeared in, and in those games, he averaged six receptions and 84.3 receiving yards. Oh, and he was named MVP of Super Bowl LIII. Remember that one catch Edelman made in New England's epic comeback in Super Bowl LI? This guy has nerves of steel. I gotta have him on the team.

Tight end: George Kittle, 49ers. Y'all know by now that I'm a huge fan of Kittle, and he has the goods to get it done as a pass catcher, pass protector and run blocker in a two-minute drill. It doesn't get much better than a tight end who can do all three and be a big target in the red zone.

Each week in the 2019 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 13 pecking order is below.

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

Rank
1
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks ·

It feels like Wilson and the Seahawks are one of the league's most dangerous teams with a month left in the regular season. They fought a tough Eagles defense and the elements to improve to 9-2 and keep the pressure on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West. Wilson would've had two more TDs to his name if it hadn't been for drops by his receivers. He can become the winningest quarterback over the first eight seasons of his career in NFL history if he wins three of his remaining five games, per NFL Research.

Rank
2
1
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens ·

Welp, I'd say Lamar Jackson deserves to climb the ranks after Monday night's beatdown of the Rams. The second-year quarterback dazzled everyone but the Rams and their fans with his legs -- it looks like he'll shatter Mike Vick's rushing record -- and darts through the air. Jackson put on a magical five-TD performance in his Monday night debut, and it feels like the Ravens will go as far as their young quarterback takes them.

Rank
3
1
Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey
Carolina Panthers ·

The Panthers' offense had five plays inside the Saints' 10-yard line -- thanks to a reversed non-call -- with three minutes remaining and a chance to go up by a touchdown. With the league's best running back in the backfield, the Panthers failed to score a touchdown, eventually missing a 28-yard field-goal try, and watched their playoff hopes all but end with a loss to the Saints. McCaffrey missed the opportunity to add a game-winning TD to his MVP resume.

The Panthers' offense had five plays inside the Saints' 10-yard line -- thanks to a reversed non-call -- with three minutes remaining and a chance to go up by a touchdown. With the league's best running back in the backfield, the Panthers failed to score a touchdown, eventually missing a 28-yard field-goal try, and watched their playoff hopes all but end with a loss to the Saints. McCaffrey missed the opportunity to add a game-winning TD to his MVP resume.

Rank
4
1
Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas
New Orleans Saints ·

Thomas seems to etch his name in the history books by the week. With 10 receptions for 101 yards (and a TD) on Sunday, Thomas became the fifth player to have at least 100 receptions and 1,200 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons in NFL history (tied Jerry Rice and Herman Moore for third-most all time). Amid all of the moving parts in the Saints' offense this season, Thomas has been a constant, and his production has put him in the MVP conversation in some circles.

Rank
5
1
Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook
Minnesota Vikings ·

It's that time of the year when every game feels like a must-win game, and it's certainly that for the Minnesota Vikings, who hold the final NFC wild-card spot. Cook and the Vikings should be fresh when they travel to play Seattle in prime time on Monday night. Cook, who's one of three players with 1,000 rushing yards this season, MUST come ready to play.

Rank
6
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs ·

Thanks to a poor showing from Raider Nation, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were able to enjoy their bye week more than usual. There is a little more breathing room in the AFC West heading into next week's bout with the Raiders. That said, Oakland shouldn't be overlooked -- nor should any team, for that matter. Mahomes must come out of the bye week playing well to ensure the Chiefs stay atop the AFC West.

Rank
7
Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott
Dallas Cowboys ·

Zeke wasn't the reason the Cowboys lost to the Patriots. The two-time rushing leader had 126 scrimmage yards -- nearly half of Dallas' total yards on offense -- and routinely extended drives against New England's top-ranked defense. There's not much time to recover, with the 8-3 Bills coming to Jerry World for Thanksgiving.

Rank
8
Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans ·

Watson needed a big performance with the division on the line, and he delivered. He wasn't perfect but had a far better performance than he did the week prior, when he posted a season-low 63.7 passer rating in a blowout loss to Baltimore. Against the Colts, Watson did a great job stretching the field and hitting his deep targets. According to Next Gen Stats, the Texans passer threw deep (20-plus air yards) on a season-high 26.7 percent of his pass attempts in a game, and he was 4-of-4 for 160 yards and two TDs on passes traveling 30-plus air yards. The deep passing attack is dangerous when Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller are clicking.

Rank
9
1
Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce
Kansas City Chiefs ·

Two of Kelce's four TD receptions this season have come in the last two games, a good sign for the Chiefs down the stretch. The Chiefs hold a comfortable lead in the division but are looking for that first-round postseason bye. And with games vs. the Raiders and Patriots up next, Kelce must ball to give K.C. a chance to earn one of the top two seeds.

Rank
10
3
Alvin Kamara
Alvin Kamara
New Orleans Saints ·

After a first half that saw Kamara get five touches for 1 scrimmage yard Sunday, he was a difference-maker in the second half with 101 scrimmage yards. His big contribution came on the game-winning drive, when he had five touches for 33 scrimmage yards to set up the winning field goal that moved the Saints to 9-2 -- and helped them claim the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff picture after Green Bay's Sunday night loss.

Rank
11
NR
Drew Brees
Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints ·

I gushed over Brees' unbelievable ability to orchestrate game-winning drives above, but I can't express how important that quality is to a football team. The Saints are going to be in the postseason, and they're going to be put to the test in a very tough NFC. But with Brees, the Saints always have a chance.

Rank
12
NR
Nick Chubb
Nick Chubb
Cleveland Browns ·

Chubb's superb performance (21 carries for 106 yards and one TD, along with three catches for 58 receiving yards) helped the Browns win their third straight game. Even with Kareem Hunt in the mix, Chubb continues to prove himself as the team's RB1. If anything, the second-year back has upped his game since Hunt's reinstatement. The Browns are right in the middle of the AFC wild-card race, and Chubb could be the component that ends Cleveland's postseason drought.

Rank
13
4
Derek Carr
Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders ·

This was a rough go from the very beginning (for all three of the remaining QBs in my list). I did think Derek threw the ball well and moved in the pocket early on, but the offense struggled to get going after Gregg Williams' Jets defense shut down the run game. I know this was a tough loss to swallow, but the Raiders can't dwell on it for too long. Kansas City's up next.

Rank
14
3
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers ·

I expected Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to put up a better showing against the 49ers, especially since they had an extra week to prepare. Rodgers, who was once considered an MVP candidate this season, has underwhelmed over the last three games (1-2 record in those games), posting a 61.9 completion percentage, 166 pass yards per game, a 2:0 TD-to-INT ratio and an 81.9 passer rating. Rodgers must play better if the Packers intend to hold on to the top spot in the NFC North.

Rank
15
3
Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys ·

Prescott was given the chance to orchestrate a game-winning drive to beat the New England Patriots on the road in Foxborough. And he fell short. The Cowboys, who turn right around to host Buffalo on Thanksgiving, are playing with fire right now. They are still in first in the NFC East but have failed to earn a convincing win over a formidable opponent. Think about it. Dallas lost two prime-time home games to NFC North foes and another to the Teddy Bridgewater-led Saints -- and you can't forget the loss to the then-winless New York Jets. My confidence in Dallas is dwindling by the week.

Dropping out: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (previously No. 14); Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs (No. 15).

JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 15

Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings: It's interesting that Cousins' numbers are so similar to MVP candidate Russell Wilson's right now. I'm not ready to put Cousins in the MVP conversation -- if I was, he'd likely be in my top five -- but the two passers face off on Monday night in a game that could have huge playoff implications. If Cousins can lift Minnesota over Seattle in the land of the 12s, that MVP race (along with the playoff picture) could see a major shakeup.

Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers: Evans has been up and down when it comes to his production this. He'll go off for 200 yards one day then be held to 50 the next. It's worth mentioning that on Sunday, Evans joined Hall of Famer Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first six NFL seasons.

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: It was around this time last year that Henry emerged as one of the league's best RBs in a 200-yard rush game vs. the Jags. That's why I got a feeling of deja vu when I saw Henry rush for 159 yards and two TDs Sunday against ... the Jags. His two touchdown runs came within 21 seconds of one another in the third quarter. With how close the AFC playoff race is, it feels like Henry could punch the Titans' postseason ticket with the way he's playing.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: He had a sluggish start to the season but has really come on strong in the last five games (41 receptions, 437 receiving yards (87.4 ypg), four receiving TDs). His massive outing against the Colts, which included six catches for 94 yards and two scores, was a huge reason the Texans sit at the top of the division with just over a month to go.

Follow David Carr on Twitter @DCarr8.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

gamepasswhite_horiz (1)

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.