Skip to main content

Offensive player rankings, Week 3: Return of Tom Brady

*With the 2017 NFL season underway, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr takes a look at all offensive players and ranks his top 15. For the first quarter of the season, the rankings are based on a combination of: *

1) Player accomplishments prior to the 2017 season.
2) Weekly performances while considering strength of opponent.

Rankings will be solely based on this season's efforts following Week 4. Now, let's get to it. With Week 2 in the books, Carr's pecking order is below.

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

After Week 1, it's back to reality, with Tom Brady at the top of seemingly every "best of" list. I realize the Saints aren't a great defense, but Brady made them look exactly how he should. The Saints brought the same approach that the Chiefs succeeded with in Week 1, but Brady and Co. adjusted and played extremely well against coverages they struggled against a week prior. There was no way Brady was going to let the Patriots start 0-2 for the first time since 2001, as he finished 30 of 39 for 447 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 139.6 (the best mark in the league for Week 2).

Sure, Brown didn't have the best numbers against the Vikings (five receptions for 62 yards), but he opened the field up for Martavis Bryant, who made his presence known once again after his one-year suspension. Bryant had a huge game because Brown was constantly double- and triple-teamed. He's hands down the most dynamic player in the league.

Derek had the performance we all expected against a rebuilding Jets team (an 82 percent completion rate, three touchdowns and a 136.6 passer rating). He gets everybody on the offense involved. It seems like a new player has a huge game each week -- this week, it was Michael Crabtree with three TDs. The next step for Derek is keeping this level of play up going forward.

Jones was doubled for most of the game, and he still racked up 108 yards on five catches. I have to give credit to Matt Ryan and Steve Sarkisian for putting Jones in good positions -- and Jones, too, for actually getting open. If Brown is the most dynamic receiver in the NFL, Jones is the most physical. He adds great playmaking ability.

Ryan is as efficient as they come. He has a ton of weapons, but he never hurts the team. Ryan makes the right decisions and makes the throws. As long as he does those two things, the Falcons will always be contending for a division title and maybe more. In my book, he was the better QB on Sunday night.

The Steelers played a good Minnesota Vikings defense, but Big Ben made the plays when needed. The run game was tough sledding at times, but Roethlisberger was able to find receivers and keep the Vikings at bay. He's not going to wow anyone with mechanics or look like a prototypical quarterback, but he buys time, makes plays and always has the trust of his receivers. That's evident in how long he keeps plays alive and the way his receivers never quit on him.

It was great seeing Gronk back to form. He's a great player, but in Week 1, he just so happened to face Eric Berry, who can make stars look very average. Against anyone else, Gronk will do what he did Sunday (six catches for 116 yards and a TD). As far as this groin injury is concerned, Gronk's dealt with injury stuff forever. I'm not even sure if he was 100 percent heading into the game. He's learned to deal with injuries, and we'll see how he recovers.

It's safe to say Hunt isn't a one-hit wonder. He ran hard and caught the ball out of the backfield, and the Chiefs didn't shy away from getting Hunt touches. The rookie sensation had two touchdowns against a good Eagles defensive front. Another productive game moves him up this list.

Rodgers was limited due to the health of his offensive line -- and eventually, the health of other offensive weapons. Atlanta's Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley put pressure on him, and Rodgers still made a ton of throws only a handful of quarterbacks can make. If one or two plays had gone differently, Green Bay might be 2-0 heading into Week 3.

Osemele is one of the best offensive guards in the league, and Sunday's performance should only support his position on my rankings. You'll have a tough time finding an interior lineman who's more physically dominant than Osemele. He pushes around defensive linemen even when his team's up by 20. His effort is always 100 percent.

Bell had a tough matchup against the Vikings' defense. He was a focus and the reason why Ben Roethlisberger had to make the plays. There isn't a more patient runner, and it's just a matter of time before he's racking up 150-plus scrimmage yards per game. But his lack of production numbers-wise is what keeps him out of the top 10 for now.

Let's face it: Brees is just not on a good team. So much is asked of him, and he always gives the Saints a chance. He's not the quickest, but is sudden with movement in the pocket. I'm not sure how many wins the Saints will have this year, but it's possible they wouldn't win any games without him.

Smith continued to push the ball down the field in Week 2. I don't think it was ever an issue that he couldn't make the deep throws, but he's definitely proven he can make them under pressure.

Stafford outdueled Eli Manning on Monday night and led the Lions to a 2-0 start. Detroit didn't have to operate a fourth-quarter comeback this time around, as Stafford and Co. controlled the clock most of the night. Playing well in prime time with a chance to take a lead in the NFC North, Stafford really impressed and solidified his place here.

I spoke with my brother, Derek, prior to Week 2, and he said his WR2 is an underrated player. Then Crabtree went out and scored three touchdowns against the Jets. He's a receiver who's overshadowed by some other big names on this offense, but he makes the unit go. Crabtree has great hands in traffic and amazing body control, and he's nowhere near the end of his career.

Dropped out: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (previously No. 4); LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills (5); Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (15).


Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders: Since Lynch came into the league in 2007, defenses must know where he's at on the field. Though Lynch isn't the center of the Raiders' offense, he's still making his presence known.

Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers: I think the Packers have found their running back. No. 88 brings a new element to the Packers' offense as a dual threat in the run and pass games.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants: OBJ has been such a weapon since he entered the league in 2014, and the Giants desperately need him on the field. We all saw the electricity Beckham brought to MetLife on Monday night when he was involved in a play. The Giants need to get him the ball more. In Big Blue's Week 2 loss to the Lions, Beckham was targeted five times and caught four passes for 36 yards.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons running back had a big performance Sunday night with two TDs. Freeman also played an instrumental role in Atlanta's Super Bowl run last year.

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.