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Offensive player rankings, Week 9: Russell Wilson vaults to No. 8

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 9 pecking order is below.

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

The Patriots' offense has slowed in the last four games, putting up 21.8 points per game in that span after posting 32.3 in their first four games. However, New England has won four straight thanks to a defensive resurgence. Brady is still playing well ( against the Chargers, he completed 32 of 47 passes for 333 yards, with one touchdown, no picks and a 95.4 passer rating), but the offense hasn't been quite as dynamic as we've seen in the past. I don't care -- Brady still ranks first in passing yards (2,541), third in yards-per-attempt (8.22), second in passer rating (106.5) and third in passing touchdowns (16), and he's the best player in this game.

With JuJu Smith-Schuster getting all the attention -- after a bike-centric week -- Brown had a relatively quiet night against the Lions, with 70 receiving yards on five catches (10 targets) in the win. But like I've said before, new Steelers receivers seem to break out every year because Brown's talent demands a double- or triple-team.

The Steelers are 6-2 after eight games for the first time since the 2011 season, and Bell has been a huge reason why. He's averaged 28.6 touches this season (most in the NFL), finishing Sunday's win with 25 carries for 76 yards and one touchdown, plus two catches for 5 yards. Even though Big Ben and the passing game have improved after a slow start to the season, I still believe the Steelers should lean on their explosive back.

For the first time in his NFL career, Hunt didn't get 100 yards from scrimmage in a game. He had 22 carries for 46 yards and three receptions for 22 yards against the league's top defense. Luckily, the Chiefs' defense and Travis Kelce showed out in the win. We all knew Hunt's yards-from-scrimmage streak would come to an eventual end. I'm not going to penalize him for being merely impactful in Week 8 after being outstanding in his first seven games.

Brees didn't throw a touchdown in a win over the Bears, who couldn't catch a break. His efficiency (82.1 percent completion rate) helped the Saints win their fifth straight game and remain at the top of the NFC South.

Life in Philadelphia is good right now. Wentz has guided the Eagles to a 7-1 record -- tied for the best start by an Eagles starting QB through eight games since 1991 -- after throttling the 49ers 33-10. He continues to impress and gets every member of the offense involved. Wentz has the most completions (540) in NFL history through the first 24 games of a player's career. Though he's only in Year 2, Wentz is playing like a veteran, and I like everything about it. Wentz and rookie Deshaun Watson lead all quarterbacks with 19 passing TDs apiece heading into Week 9. It's no coincidence both of their teams are in charge of their respective divisions.

Eight weeks in, Smith finally forked over his first turnover of the season, a strip-sack by Denver's Shaquil Barrett. Still, Smith helped the Chiefs get out of a two-game slump with a solid (if not quite outstanding) performance: He completed 14 of 31 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos, adding four rushes for 33 yards. It's an OK outing against the NFL's top defense. He's lucky his defense forced five turnovers, because the Broncos definitely left a lot out on the field Monday.

There were a lot of good performances in Week 8 from guys on this list. I'm keeping Gurley here even though he's coming off a bye. Heading into Week 9, Gurley is fifth in the league in rushing yards (627) and tied for second in rushing touchdowns (five).

Incredible. That's what Wilson's Sunday performance was. He alone outdueled the Houston Texans and finished with 452 passing yards, four touchdowns and a 123.2 passer rating. I re-watched that game on the All-22 Coaches Film, and it was clear to me that it was the best game of his six-year career. He had no help from his offensive line. The pocket and run game (running backs totaled 5 yards) were nonexistent. The Duane Brown trade will help Wilson immensely.

Hopkins' second 100-yard receiving game of 2017 was a memorable one, to say the least. He finished with eight catches for 224 yards and one TD against Seattle -- his fourth straight game with a touchdown, the longest such streak of his career. Hopkins is on pace for 103 receptions, 1,385 receiving yards and 16 receiving TDs this season, thanks to the stellar play of his rookie quarterback. Speaking of ...

Wow, the rookie looked good Sunday, with 402 passing yards, a 4:3 TD-to-INT ratio and a 106.9 passer rating, plus eight carries for 67 yards. He extended plays and put immense pressure on the defense from a run and pass standpoint. The thing that I love about Watson is he has absolutely no fear. Some of the game's best quarterbacks avoid players like Marcus Peters (who gave up two TDs vs. Watson in Week 5) and Richard Sherman, but Watson has been throwing right at them. He did toss a few picks, but Houston's franchise QB went right at Sherman and Earl Thomas all game long. You gotta love Watson's approach.

In all reality, the Chargers-Patriots game could've gone either way. But Gronk's easy touchdown reception certainly helped, along with a solid performance from the defense. The tight end was the most-targeted pass-catcher (with nine) for the Patriots on Sunday, and rightfully so -- he finished with five receptions for 57 yards and that TD. The biggest takeaway from this game? Gronk's health.

He hasn't been the Julio we all know of late, with his slump continuing on a rainy day at MetLife. He had three catches on six targets for 74 yards as the Falcons snapped their three-game losing streak. I realize they were playing in a monsoon, but offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has to figure out a way to get the ball in the hands of the Falcons' best player.

As with Gurley, I'm not going to fault Goff for having a bye week. He's been playing well, so he stays put.

McCoy is very deserving of this spot after the last two weeks. In the last two games, he's averaged 25 carries, 121 rushing yards and 4.8 yards per carry, and he added three touchdowns over the course of two Bills wins. McCoy ran all over the Raiders' defense Sunday, with 27 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown, plus six catches for 22 yards. He reached season highs in carries, rushing yards and yards per carry (5.6). He is the perfect back to pair with Tyrod Taylor's ability to run the ball and is the hardest back to tackle one-on-one. Welcome to the top 15, Shady!

Dropped out: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (previously No. 12); A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (No. 15).


A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Green posted 27 yards on Sunday, his lowest single-game total of the season, but he did get in the end zone. Despite a down game, Green sits in fourth in receiving yards after Week 8.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: He's been out for two weeks (one for a bye), but I kept him on here because he was so productive when he did play. Can't wait to see this guy back on the field vs. the Bengals.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: Ryan had 254 passing yards and two touchdowns Sunday, but he also had three fumbles (losing two). Even with the win, I can't justify keeping Ryan in the top 15.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Zeke's heating up, along with his offensive line. He had a career-high 33 carries for 150 yards and two touchdowns in Dallas' convincing win over Washington. We'll see what happens going forward, with Elliott's six-game suspension scheduled to be reinstated Tuesday, based on a ruling by a federal judge.

Follow David Carr on Twitter @DCarr8.

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