The Top 10 Receivers in the league (right now)
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
As week 14 approaches, we’ve seen several wide receivers light it up on the field. I wanted to take time to look at some of the best and explore what makes them so great.
10. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
Coming into this season, we all thought OBJ was going to be the big name in Cleveland. Of course, we also thought Cleveland had a chance of making the playoffs, so we weren’t very smart, were we? Either way, though Beckham has disappointed this season, Landry has been as good as ever. He has 919 yards and 5 touchdowns on 65 receptions, on pace for his career high in yards. The Dolphins gave Landry to the Browns because that’s where football players go to die. To repay them, Landry had 148 yards and his first 2-touchdown game since December of 2017 when they played a few weeks ago. Instead of dying, Landry helped transform Cleveland from 0-16 to on the cusp of .500. The Browns might not have been the super team that we all thought they were going to be this year, but if Landry keeps doing what he’s been doing, then the Browns really have a shot in the next few years.
9. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Due to a combination of waiving Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon, losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement, and Tom Brady having his worst year in over a decade, Edelman has become the face of the Patriots offense. And he’s handling the pressure pretty well. He’s on pace to have his third career 1,000-yard season, and his first since 2016. His projected 1,220 yards and 7 touchdowns would both be career highs for him. Although he is leading the league in drops with 10, he is still the most consistent receiver on a very strange Patriots team. I think that Edelman is one of the more underrated receivers in the league that really didn’t get the recognition he deserved until winning Super Bowl MVP last year, and even still he’s not seen as one of the best in the league right now. Maybe it’s because the Patriots have nobody else to rely on, but I think Edelman is better than most people give him credit for.
8. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
You can never really count out DeAndre, can you? He may be having a down year, at least compared to his incredible 2017 and 2018, but he’s still as reliable as ever. He has 903 receiving yards on 86 catches, which is 14th and 2nd in the league, respectively. With Kenny Stills and Will Fuller V being pretty inconsistent, he’s been the player keeping the Texans alive in the playoff race (aside from, you know, Deshaun Watson). If they manage to snag a first-round bye, they have him and Watson to thank. What more do I have to say about Hopkins to get you to believe me that he’s towards the top of the league this year? You already know he’s insanely good.
7. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Here’s the big surprise of the list. Yes, Kenny Freakin’ Golladay is on my list for best receivers in 2019. Why? Well, Golladay is the definition of a big play receiver. He makes most of his yards on big plays with few receptions. As a matter of fact, he ranks 49th (49th!!) in the league with only 47 receptions, and yet is tied with Julio Jones for the 6th most receiving yards at 950. Aside from Mike Williams, he has the most yards per catch of any other receiver in the NFL (min. 23 receptions) with 20.2. Are you ready for my favorite stat of his? He has only two games with less than 13 yards per catch, which is better than the season averages of Cooper Kupp, Michael Thomas, and DeAndre Hopkins. Wait, here’s a better one. He has three games with more than 30 yards per catch. Against the Bears in week 13, he had 4 receptions for 158 yards. Add onto that his league-leading 9 touchdown catches, and you have yourself a top 10 player.
6. DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers
As I was researching for this list, this one kind of surprised me. The Panthers have been mostly one-dimensional offensively this season, with most plays seeming to go to Christian McCaffrey. I was shocked, honestly, to see that a receiver on the Panthers actually has compiled 980 receiving yards despite Cam Newton being out virtually all season. Admittedly, I have not watched all of the Panthers games. But in the game they played against the Saints a few weeks ago, I definitely noticed him, as he torched their secondary for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. Moore has put together a solid but quiet season as the leading receiver on the Panthers, and he’s only just starting.
5. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I was contemplating putting Mike Evans lower on this list, but in the end, I decided that the player who has the third most yards in the league should at least make it top 5. I’m sure you’re wondering why such a great player with a pretty impressive stat line ranks lower than people with worse stats than him, and that’s simply because I’m disappointed with him. Mike Evans has never had below 1,000 receiving yards in a season and has consistently been one of the best and most elite receivers in the league. That’s still true, but Mike Evans should by all means be the best receiver on the team. He’s behind Godwin in every relevant stat except one--targets. That’s right, the ball has been thrown his way 116 times, 12 more than Godwin, and yet he’s caught 8 less passes. He has more drops, less yards, less catches, and less touchdowns. All of this to say that Mike Evans is incredible and the Buccaneers might just be underutilizing him this season, which is weird to say about a receiver with over 1,000 yards receiving. He’s still very good and definitely elite. I just can’t understand why he hasn’t done more with the opportunity he’s been given as a clear cut top choice on the team. No Adam Humphries, no DeSean Jackson, just him. And he somehow isn’t the best receiver in Tampa.
4. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Amari Cooper was one of the best young receivers in the league when he was inexplicably traded to the Cowboys last season. Since then, however, he’s exploded. He’s on pace this season to have his career highs in receptions and receiving yards, which is made more impressive by the fact that he didn’t catch a single ball against the New England Patriots. He currently has 971 receiving yards, good for 5th in the league, and 7 touchdowns on 64 catches. Dak Prescott might not be the best quarterback in the league (or even in the NFC East), but I believe that he’s going to keep his job as long as Cooper stays in Dallas. The Cowboys are currently set to take the 4th seed in the playoffs, and that’s largely thanks to Cooper keeping the team alive in some tough games.
3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Julio has consistently been one of the best receivers in the league since he was drafted in 2011 and he shows no signs of slowing. He’s compiled 64 catches for 950 yards and 4 touchdowns, but it’s important to note that he missed one game due to injury. Julio is one of those players who can catch virtually anything thrown his way, which would explain why he’s had only one drop on the season. The only other receiver on this list with the same or less? Chris Godwin, who also has one. In fact, if you were sorting by receiving yards, you’d have to scroll down all the way to #34 to find a receiver who has 0 drops, and that’s Larry Fitzgerald, the greatest receiver of the generation. The point is, Julio is amazing, and deserves way better than to be on such a terrible Falcons team.
2. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Godwin is currently in second place in the league with 1,121 receiving yards, only 170 behind Thomas, and he’s doing it on only 74 receptions. Let that sink in. He has more yards than Julian Edelman, Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins, despite having less receptions than all three of them. He also is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns with 9, along with Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay. Oh, and did I mention he’s playing with Jameis Winston, one of the least accurate and most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the league? AND he’s playing as the second string receiver behind Mike Evans? Enough said. Moving on!
Honorable Mention: Austin Ekler, Los Angeles Chargers
Yes, I know Ekler isn’t a receiver. I don’t care. He’s been incredible in the passing game this season. Ekler has the most receiving yards for a running back with 718, second most receptions with 69, and most touchdowns with 7. In addition, he’s done this without dropping a single pass. Whenever we think of a receiving back, we always think of Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, not Austin Ekler. I just wanted you guys to make a mental note of this: Ekler has more receiving yards than any single player on the Cardinals, Ravens, Packers, Colts, Giants, Jets, Steelers, 49ers, Titans, and Redskins. As a running back.
1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Why are all the best receivers in the NFC South? It’s almost like...none of the teams have anything resembling a secondary unless Marshon Lattimore decides to show up! Drew Brees hasn’t played the whole season, and yet Michael Thomas is still leading the league in receptions and receiving yards. I’m not trying to put down Teddy Bridgewater--he had an amazing 5-0 stretch in New Orleans--but he is no Brees. Through week 13, Thomas has 110 receptions for 1,290 yards and 6 touchdowns. Before a relatively slow performance last week where he only caught 6 passes, he was on pace to not only break, but to shatter Marvin Harrison’s single season reception record, which sits at 143. He still is on pace to break the record, but not by as much as before. Thomas is moving at an astonishing pace and if he keeps it up, he could find himself in the MVP shortlist at the end of the season.