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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

10 offensive NFL players having monster seasons so far

Jared goff

The first five weeks of NFL action have produced a whole lot of standout players and performances. Some are expected — there’s nothing particularly surprising about Drew Brees going off anymore, as much as we can all appreciate it. But others have come out of the blue. Foremost among them? A second-year quarterback in Kansas City who is unexpectedly at the helm of what may be the NFL’s best team.

So who are these standout offensive players who are getting it done so far? Here’s a look at ten players who are putting up big numbers and having a huge impact for their teams.

10. Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons

Ridley’s total yardage isn’t extremely impressive at just 302 yards through five games, but he’s very quickly become a Matt Ryan red-zone favorite. The rookie out of Alabama has already caught six touchdowns this season, good enough to lead the NFL and probably deeply annoy Julio Jones fantasy owners. He’s on pace for outstanding production, and while he’ll probably slow down a bit, there’s no ignoring what he’s been able to do thus far.

9. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings

Cousins has been as advertised and then some for Minnesota. For the first time in his career, he’s completing over 70 percent of his passes. He looks to be well on his way to another 4,000-yard season, with 1,688 passing yards already through five games to go with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He’s comfortably throwing for over 300 yards a game and has made the most of his new partnerships with Stefon Diggs and especially Adam Thielen. He’s taken the Minnesota offense to a new level, even if their win-loss record hasn’t shown it yet.

8. Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints

Kamara continues to be the master of all-purpose yardage. His 650 yards from scrimmage are ahead of his pace last season. 299 of them have come on the ground, as have five of his six touchdowns. He continues to be a huge threat in the receiving game as well, with 351 yards through five games. Kamara can do it all for the explosive Saints offense, and they’re very good at using him in many different ways, making him one of the NFL’s most dangerous players.

7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

The fledgling partnership with Deshaun Watson that looked so promising last season continues to flourish now that the quarterback is healthy again. Hopkins is averaging nearly 119 receiving yards per game and leads the NFL with 594 total receiving yards, even if he’s only managed to score two touchdowns. Watson clearly loves throwing to him, and Hopkins is quite obviously doing the job. He already has three 100-yard games this season, including two consecutive games with over 150 receiving yards. His big play in overtime helped deliver a win over the Cowboys in Week 5.

6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints

Brees set the NFL passing yardage record in fitting fashion on Monday night, but it’s just one moment in what is shaping up to be yet another successful season for him. He’s completing nearly 78 percent of his passes, a career-best even by his standards. He has yet to throw an interception compared to 11 touchdowns. He has 1,658 yards, putting up his usual gaudy totals. The Saints offense is great, and all of it revolves around Brees, who doesn’t look like he’s slowing down at all.

5. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers

Rivers is still Rivers, and for the Chargers, that’s a good thing. He has 13 touchdown passes, second only to Patrick Mahomes among NFL quarterbacks. His 1,495 yards aren’t quite as impressive, but he’s still passing at a pace of nearly 300 yards per game, and his 76.8 QBR is the best mark of his career to date. A big part of that is that Rivers, who is usually prone to a few interceptions, has only thrown two of them this year. That added ball security has been a boon without sacrificing too much of what makes him great.

4. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

The reigning Offensive Player of the Year gets a lot more publicity than Jared Goff does, and it’s not completely unwarranted. Gurley stills gets a ton of touches for the Rams and makes the most of them, scoring a league-best seven rushing touchdowns thus far in 2018. He looks well on his way to another 1,000-yard rushing season, having hit 415 within five games. Add another 230 yards and two touchdowns in the passing game, and you have one of the most valuable players in the NFL.

3. Jared Goff, QB, Rams

The Rams’ high-powered offense continues to dominate opponents, and Goff looks like a legitimate star in it. In fact, it is he, not Brees nor Tom Brady or another bigger-name quarterback, who is leading the NFL in passing yardage with 1,727 yards. He has 12 touchdowns to four interceptions and continues to show marked improvement every year he passes. Now in his third NFL season, he looks to be on the cusp of greatness, as do his unbeaten Rams.

2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

Given how much Dak Prescott has struggled under center this season, Elliott basically is the Dallas offense. His 635 yards from scrimmage aren’t far behind Alvin Kamara for the NFL lead, and his 480 rushing yards are pacing the NFL. The two touchdowns are disappointing, but for the third year in a row, Elliott is leading the rushing yards per game race and looks set to get the ball more and more. The standout so far came against the Detroit Lions, when he put up 240 yards from scrimmage and keyed a late comeback with a huge 34-yard reception.

1. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

Mahomes’s first full season as Chiefs quarterback hasn’t just been great, it’s been record-breaking. We’re to the point where his first two interceptions of the season, which came in Week 5, seemed downright shocking. His 14 touchdown passes lead the league, and he’s got 1,513 passing yards on top of that. Nobody has a better QBR than his 87.2. He looks like a well-poised veteran and hasn’t been rattled by his rare mistakes. And while he failed to throw a touchdown against the best defense he faced in the form of Jacksonville’s, he was still good for 313 yards. He’s just a star, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be fading anytime soon.

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