In today's fantasy football-driven world, fans are quick to dismiss players if they aren't performing well on the field. But the stats don't always tell the entire story.
This is true of players on both sides of the ball. But since this is the Offensive Player Rankings (sorry, defensive guys), here are five offensive players who are better than their stats suggest heading into Week 6:
2020 stats: 5 games | 66.9 pct | 1,451 pass yds | 8.9 ypa | 9 pass TD | 5 INT | 83 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost
Deshaun Watson is trying to navigate rough waters after the events of the last seven months, most notably the trading away of the league's best receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, and last week's firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. The dynamic fourth-year pro has a plethora of new offensive skill players around him and an inconsistent offensive line that's allowed him to be sacked 17 times in five games. (But then, what's new about that? Watson has been sacked more than anyone else in the NFL dating back to 2018.) Despite all of the changes, Watson still has a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 100.5 passer rating for the season. He's a student of the game, plays far above the X's and O's and is Houston's best offensive player by far. The staff must do everything it can to preserve and elevate him. In the Texans' first win of the season, a 30-14 victory over Jacksonville in Week 5, he got some big plays from his receivers and the David Johnson-led run game. But this group needs to find some consistency and help out its young passer, who often gets in trouble when trying to make up for deficiencies.
2020 stats: 5 games | 60.0 pct | 1,188 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 6 pass TD | 9 INT | 122 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 1 fumble lost
From a film standpoint, Carson Wentz played his best game of the season on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His reads improved dramatically from his last few performances, as there were only two times where the fifth-year pro was looking in the wrong direction (something I mentioned a few weeks ago). The Steelers are great at disguising coverages, but Wentz made some good throws down the sideline and in tight windows despite having a decimated offensive line and inexperienced receivers. According to Next Gen Stats, Wentz, who has been sacked 19 times this season, was pressured on 20 of his 40 dropbacks on Sunday. His throwing options are fresh off the practice squad (Where did Travis Fulgham come from?!), while Zach Ertz seems to have disappeared. In fact, the veteran tight end is on pace to finish below or near career lows in most receiving categories. Wentz needs some help.
2020 stats: 5 games | 101 att | 374 rush yds | 3.7 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 19 rec | 123 rec yds | 1 rec TD
Joe Mixon seems to have run into a buzz saw in 2020 after recording back-to-back seasons with at least 1,100 rushing yards. The fourth-year pro has had one game, a Week 4 win over Jacksonville, in which he rushed for 150 yards, more than 6.0 yards per carry and a TD (he had two). He's failed to crack the century mark in every other game and has recorded less than 3.0 yards per carry in three games. Even with this rough start, Mixon's 3,305 career rushing yards leads the loaded 2017 draft class, which includes guys like Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. That's saying something.
Mixon is at the mercy of a first-year quarterback and a bad offensive line in the Cincinnati offense, which is often playing from behind. Although the Bengals have shown more balance over the last two weeks, they must find some consistency in the run game, which in turn will help Joe Burrow. Right now, the rookie passer can't protect himself against constant pressure (he's almost on pace to hit my rookie sack mark of 76, and that's not a good thing), and the only way to alleviate that pressure is to give the ball to Mixon.
2020 stats: 5 games | 32 targets | 19 rec | 231 yds | 0 TDs
It's pretty easy for defenses to make T.Y. Hilton a non-factor right now, without a real receiving complement to work with -- promising rookie Michael Pittman Jr. is out with a leg injury. Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor have been good pass-catchers out of the backfield, but the ninth-year pro desperately needs another weapon to help stretch the field. He faces the top cornerback each week, and it doesn't help that Philip Rivers has made some poor decisions in the pass game. The only way out of this rut might be to use Hilton more creatively in formations and alignments, or to get a playmaker opposite him.
2020 stats: 5 games | 27 targets | 17 rec | 153 rec yds | 1 rec TD
Austin Hooper isn't going to have Travis Kelce- or George Kittle- type production in the Cleveland Browns' run-heavy offense. Five weeks into the season, the Browns average a league-high 188.4 rushing yards per game, and the offseason signee has been a big part of that, as a player who's willing to block in Kevin Stefanski's outside-zone run scheme. Pro Football Focus has given Hooper the highest run-blocking grade (71.9) among the team's skill-position players (RB, FB, WR and TE) with 50-plus run-blocking snaps. He does have value in the pass game as a reliable target for Baker Mayfield, but Hooper's contributions in the run game have been key.
Top 15 Offensive Players
Each week in the 2020 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 6 pecking order is below.
NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week's rankings.
Was there ever a doubt that Russell Wilson was going to orchestrate a 94-yard, game-winning drive with less than two minutes to play? If you said yes, you're only kidding yourself. We've seen Wilson do this time and time again, to the point that it's almost expected. Sunday's 27-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings marked his 30th career game-winning drive, the most by any QB since Wilson entered the league in 2012. Securing wins like this is how you become and continue to be the MVP front-runner, as Wilson has his team sitting at 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Aaron Rodgers played some good football over the first quarter of the season, and I don't see that changing when I look at how the Packers' schedule sets up the rest of the way after their Week 5 bye. Much like last season, the Packers are cycling through receivers, and it makes no difference with Rodgers under center. You can only imagine how good this offense will be when Davante Adams and Allen Lazard get healthy.
The Las Vegas Raiders stunned the Kansas City Chiefs, 40-32, and everyone inside Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, as they handed Patrick Mahomes his first-ever loss of seven-plus points. The quarterback was under duress for most of the game, getting sacked three times and recording a career-low 51.2 completion percentage. I gotta say, this wasn't an awful game by Mahomes; rather, you have to give credit to a Raiders defense that forced Mahomes' first interception of the season.
I was a little surprised that Alvin Kamara didn't get a single touch in overtime during the Saints' nine-play drive that resulted in a field goal. As a home-run hitter from anywhere on the field, Kamara should've gotten the ball on at least one-third of those plays. If he did, there's a good chance the Saints would've ended the game right then and there with a TD.
Though Lamar Jackson had his lowest passer rating (71.9) and rush yards (3) of the season, the Ravens utterly dominated the Cincinnati Bengals from start to finish. In other words, he didn't need to be great in this game. Jackson's relatively slow afternoon could be partly attributed to the reigning MVP missing two days of practice last week (due to a knee injury and illness). It's nice when you can win ugly -- but he can't make this a weekly thing.
The 49ers' offense definitely did not put up the performance it wanted in Jimmy Garoppolo's return. The offense struggled to get any sort of rhythm going for most of the game, but that's not George Kittle's fault. He had a below-average day by his standards (four catches, 44 yards), but I must give Brian Flores' Dolphins defense some credit for double-teaming the All-Pro tight end and forcing the rest of the 49ers to try to beat them.
Ezekiel Elliott was one of the main reasons Dallas beat the winless New York Giants, elevating his play after Dak Prescott's gut-wrenching season-ending injury in the third quarter. Zeke averaged nearly 3 yards per carry more in the second half than he did in the first two quarters, finishing with 19 carries for 91 yards and a pair of rushing TDs. Losing Prescott is a huge obstacle, but it just means the Cowboys' star running back has to be that much better going forward.
The first-year Cardinal reached 9,000 career receiving yards in Sunday's win over the New York Jets. At 28 years and 127 days old, DeAndre Hopkins is the fourth-youngest player in NFL history to hit the milestone (behind Hall of Famer Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson and current teammate Larry Fitzgerald). He's been a game-changer in Kliff Kingsbury's offense, helping take everyone's production to the next level.
Coming off the bye week, Aaron Jones has his work cut out for him against a Buccaneers defense that's giving up just 58.4 rushing yards and 239.8 passing yards per game. Jones has been as big an asset in the passing game as he has been in the running game, and I don't expect that to change, even when some of the Packers' receivers return to full health.
Josh Allen had an off night on Tuesday, throwing as many interceptions (both to Malcolm Butler) against the Titans as he did touchdown passes. Leading up to Week 5, Allen's accuracy looked much improved, as he routinely hit open targets and floated balls right into his receivers' hands. He missed too many throws to players who were wide open in the loss to Tennessee, completing 63.4 percent of his pass attempts; compare that to his completion rate of 70.9 percent coming into the game. It just wasn't his night.
Even with Allen struggling to hit his targets, Diggs was all over the field making plays in Tuesday's loss, finishing with 10 catches for a game-high 106 yards. He left a few out there, but he's continuing to show his value to the Bills' offense.
I strongly considered moving Derek Carr into my top 15 last week, and his big day against the Raiders' AFC West rivals -- and the reigning Super Bowl champs -- gave me the nudge I needed. Derek is playing some of the best football of his career, and a lot of it has to do with Jon Gruden finding his rhythm as a play-caller. Gruden gives Derek a chance for a big play (or a completion, at the very least) on every snap. The Raiders are winning routes more often than not, and Derek's doing a great job of understanding what the defense is giving him, getting the ball out and completing his passes, whether via a 6-yard or 60-yard completion. He has the Raiders in a great position heading into their Week 6 bye.
The Vikings' offense controlled the entire first half against the Seahawks, with Dalvin Cook logging 17 carries for 65 yards and a TD. It was a beautiful thing watching Gary Kubiak's machine run through Cook effectively -- and it was the exact opposite to see Cook pull up with a groin injury just after halftime. Though Alexander Mattison stepped up to the plate for Minnesota in Cook's absence, it makes you wonder how this game would have played out had Cook, the league's leader in rushing TDs (seven), been in for four quarters.
Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's defense gave it the old college try, but the Chiefs couldn't keep Darren Waller out of the end zone. Waller is Derek Carr's favorite target by a mile, with Waller posting 47 targets thus far, 24 more than the team's next closest pass-catcher, Hunter Renfrow. Waller is nearly impossible to guard one-on-one, and despite being on the league's radar, he just keeps getting better every time out.
The Raiders' defense did a heck of a job stalling the high-powered Chiefs in the second half of Sunday's divisional tilt, limiting them to one score late in the fourth quarter. It was a 7-yard touchdown reception by Travis Kelce (followed by a completed two-point conversion) to bring the Chiefs within eight. The Chiefs' tight end always brings it when facing the Raiders; he's averaged 73.3 receiving yards against them (highest in the Super Bowl era, min. 10 games).
DROPPED OUT: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys (previously No. 13); Derrick Henry, RB, Titans (No. 15).
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: Tuesday's game against the Bills was Ryan Tannehill's night, but no Titans game goes without a Derrick Henry highlight. The bruising back's stiff arm of Josh Norman could be the jaw-dropping play of the season so far. And while Henry only rushed for 57 yards, he was most valuable in the red zone with a pair of scores. I'll take that any day of the week.
DK Metcalf, WR, Seahawks: DK Metcalf is playing at a high level early in his second season, and he has been on the receiving end of Russell Wilson's MVP campaign. On Sunday, Metcalf clearly out-matched the Vikings' young cornerbacks throughout the second half. His effort was highlighted by a 39-yard catch on fourth-and-10 to keep the game-winning drive alive -- and, of course, the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-goal. He's establishing himself as the Seahawks' new WR1.