As the NFL regular season wore on, I kept a close eye on the wide receivers throughout the league. With the conclusion of the season, I’m ready to unveil my top ranked wide receivers in the NFL.
We are currently in what Trevor Sikkema likes to call “the golden age of wide receivers.” The depth of the position currently across the league is at its highest point in history, while the top-end talent is as good as ever.
With that said, the following list is just my informed opinion and preference. The list was generated through extensive film study, with an eye towards their statistics too. Let’s get into the overall ranking.
Note: I left Josh Gordon out of the ranking entirely. While he was effective for stretches of this season, he still has limited game action over the last few seasons. With his status on reinstatement currently undecided, I felt it best to remove him.
TOP 20 WIDE RECEIVERS
1. Deandre Hopkins
Hopkins has been one of the top wide receivers in the NFL for a number of seasons, but there was one glaring “weakness” to his game a couple of years ago. While he had a knack for spectacular receptions through contact or along the boundary, he produced minimal yards after the catch. With a more accurate quarterback throwing him the ball over the last two seasons, that has changed for Hopkins. With his suddenness as a route runner, strong hands and ball skills, Hopkins is the premiere player at the position right now.
2. Julio Jones
3. Michael Thomas
Thomas’ breakout campaign was highlighted by his otherworldly catch rate when targeted. Hauling in 85.0% of his targets while leading the league in receptions is no small feat, and happened because of his ability to create clear throwing windows on a consistent basis. Smooth, long and explosive, Thomas has no weaknesses to his game.
4. Antonio Brown
5. Adam Thielen
6. Odell Beckham Jr.
7. Tyreek Hill
The premiere downfield threat in the NFL, Hill has developed as a route runner over his time in the NFL. He’s the most explosive player in the league, forcing defenses to show him extra attention at all times. Despite that, he still tears apart NFL secondaries on a weekly basis. Hill’s smaller stature can limit his effectiveness at times, but he’s clearly shown to be one of the best weapons in the NFL.
8. Mike Evans
9. JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu had a breakout second season, producing over 1,400 receiving yards while operating a lot out of the slot. An explosive threat vertically or with the ball in his hands, his special talent is the perfect compliment to Antonio Brown. The next step for JuJu will be dominating his outside reps as effectively as he does from the inside.
10. Davante Adams
11. Keenan Allen
12. Stefon Diggs
With shiftiness and crisp cuts, Diggs just might be the best route runner in the NFL. Few receivers have his ability to sell multiple routes before breaking in a different direction, and on top of that Diggs only suffered from a single drop all season. That combination of consistent separation and soft hands make him one of the best all-around wide receivers in the league.
13. AJ Green
14. TY Hilton
15. Brandin Cooks
16. Robert Woods
Woods has found a home in Sean McVay’s offense, as his intermediate route running and ability as a ball carrier allow him to thrive. Woods’ versatility to play from a variety of alignments and motions let the Rams expose matchups on a play to play basis. While his 2018 performance may be his ceiling, expect Woods to play at or near this level as long as he’s utilized in similar fashion moving forward.
17. Amari Cooper
18. Kenny Golladay
19. Tyler Lockett
Russell Wilson’s favorite target put together a complete season, with just under 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. An effective route runner with smooth breaks, Lockett is an instant separator who thrives in the intermediate. While the touchdown mark is likely unsustainable moving forward, Lockett’s progression as a wide receiver was obvious this season.
20. Emmanuel Sanders
5 WIDE RECEIVERS WITH A POTENTIAL BREAKOUT LOOMING IN 2019
1. Mike Williams
Williams had games where his redzone presence was the Chargers best offensive weapon, as he finished with 10 receiving touchdowns in year two. Staying on the field was his biggest improvement from last season, and with Tyrell Williams an impending free agent, Williams may be in line for even more targets next year.
2. Corey Davis
3. Tyler Boyd
Hitting the 1,00 yard mark put him right on the fringe of the top 20 receivers in the NFL this season. With easy route transitions and consistent hands, Boyd increased his production with AJ Green out of the lineup.
4. Calvin Ridley
5. DJ Moore
5 WIDE RECEIVERS ON THE DECLINE
1. Larry Fitzgerald
2. Doug Baldwin
Still effective when healthy, Baldwin’s health has become a concern. Now in his early 30’s, his overall athleticism has begun to slow him down. Though he is still a top 30 receiver in the NFL, his best days seem to be behind him.
3. AJ Green
4. Demaryius Thomas
5. Randall Cobb
Cobb struggled to put together consistent stretches of play this season, posting just 383 receiving yards in 9 games. An impending free agent, Cobb’s will be 29 years old and likely playing for a new franchise next season. His 1,200 yard and 12 touchdown 2014 campaign feels like ages ago.