My original plan was to release my wide receiver rankings the week after my running back rankings in May, but this was a complicated list to think about. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been researching for the past two months, but I’ve definitely given some deep thought damn near every day as to who is in my top 5…top 10…top 20 receivers. Unlike the quarterbacks list, it’s become harder to name the league’s most elite pass catchers because a receiver’s total yardage is no longer a reasonable benchmark. In 2014, 23 wide outs reached the 1000 yard mark, 24 did it in 2013, 20 in 2012, 19 in 2011, and 17 in 2010.
As always these are rankings for 2015. Although they are influenced by 2014 production, their 2014 production is not solely being reflected by their rankings. These are also projections on how I believe they will perform in 2015.
2014 Stats: 129 receptions on 178 targets (5 drops) 1,698 receiving yards 13.2 YPC 615 YAC 13 touchdowns
He’s not the fastest receiver nor does he have the best hands, but his route running is absolutely unbelievable. For the second consecutive season (including the wild card game), Brown caught at least 5 passes for 50 yards pushing that streak to 33 consecutive games. Production is the name of the game and you won’t find a wide receiver that has been able to outproduce Brown the last two years. Despite his 5’10 186lb frame, he can run any number on the route tree. He’s got the quickness and strength to go over the middle and take hits, he’s a beast going up for the football and he has the vertical speed to make any DB pay if they decide to take a pass off.
2. Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
2014 Stats: 71 receptions on 124 targets (7 drops) 1,077 receiving yards 15.2 YPC 241 YAC 8 touchdowns
Johnson is 6’5 and we knew sooner or later all those low hits he was taking would cause him to miss some games. Despite missing 3 games in 2014, Johnson still looked pretty dominant. To some it may be blasphemous to not say Johnson isn’t the best receiver in the league but his #2 ranking his less about him and more about the fact #1 is coming off of one of the all time great seasons and that Johnson did suffer through injuries in 2014. I don’t believe Johnson is on the decline and I actually expect him to be back to his normal self. With Golden Tate entering his second year with the Detroit Lions after having a breakout first season, teams are going to have to pick and choose who they want to double cover every play.
3. Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants)
2014 Stats: 91 receptions on 129 targets (2 drops) 1,305 receiving yards 14.3 YPC 481 YAC 12 touchdowns
Am I rushing greatness? No. Am I praising this man for how great his rookie season was and projecting what I think he’ll be in year two? Absolutely. It kills me that some people really think if it wasn’t for his catch against the Cowboys, he wouldn’t be talked about nearly as much and that just isn’t true. Beckham had the second greatest rookie receiving season in history (Randy Moss had 69 receptions, 1,313 yards, 17 touchdowns. Also, I enjoy what Randy did to the Cowboys not once, not twice either but THREE TIMES) and if it wasn’t for the fact that he missed games at the beginning of the year, he would have the best. His rookie season was so good that the only way he can top it in year two is by staying healthy.
4. Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys)
2014 Stats: 88 receptions on 135 targets (5 drops) 1,320 receiving yards 15 YPC 373 YAC 16 touchdowns
I honestly had to think hard about where I would place Dez because although there is no denying his talent, it’s no coincidence his best season happened the same year DeMarco Murray was finally fed the rock. But 4 is a good spot because it isn’t too high nor is it too low.
In 2014, Dez caught 15/28 passes of over 20+ yards 539 yards (40.8% of his receiving yards) and 8 touchdowns without a drop on a catchable pass. As of right now, I know of no true threat coming out the backfield for the Cowboys so until one emerges, it will be up to Dez continue putting up monster numbers without the benefit of deadly play action game (which is how he was able to put up monster numbers on a majority of those 20+ yard catches)
5. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
2014 Stats: 111 receptions on 178 targets (9 drops) 1,619 receiving yards 14.6 YPC 668 YAC 11 touchdowns
The Broncos will be transitioning to Gark Kubiak’s offense so while these reception, target and yardage totals might not be easy to replicate, I fully believe he’ll have his fourth consecutive season of 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns. With Julius Thomas gone, early in the season we’ll see DT get a lot more red zone targets, giving him a better chance to increase his touchdown total.
6. Jordy Nelson (Green Bay Packers)
2014 Stats: 98 receptions on 146 targets (8 drops) 1,519 receiving yards 15.8 YPC 558 YAC 13 touchdowns
Jordy Nelson shut a lot of people up in 2014. As far as I’m concerned he pushed him into the elite receiver tier. Jordy is a top five deep threat and him and Aaron Rodgers are arguably one of, if not the best QB-WR tandem (they are second). When Rodgers targeted Nelson, he had a 128.2 rating throwing only one interception.
7. Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons)
2014 Stats: 104 receptions on 156 targets (8 drops) 1,593 receiving yards 15.3 YPC 553 YAC 6 touchdowns
We’ve been waiting on Julio finally stay health and despite having a career season, he still didn’t stay healthy. It’s scary to think what Julio would’ve done if he was healthy a full 16. Durability will continue to be my knock on Jones. My only knock him.
8. AJ Green (Cincinnati Bengals)
2014 Stats: 69 receptions on 109 targets (4 drops) 1,041 receiving yards 15.1 YPC 312 YAC 6 touchdowns
An injury plagued 2014 season gave other receivers the opportunity to outproduce AJ Green and simultaneously push him out of most top five wide receiver list. Despite missing time he still led all receivers in yards run per route (according to PFF) and he still finished with over 1,000 yards. Against the Steelers we saw the best of AJ and the worst of AJ. When he’s at his best he is a problem. If he can remain healthy we’ll be back to seeing him make crazy catches every Sunday cause we all know Andy Dalton is not accurate among other things.
9. Desean Jackson (Washington Redskins)
2014 Stats: 56 receptions on 87 targets (4 drops) 1,169 receiving yards 20.9 YPC 476 YAC 6 touchdowns
In 2013 Desean Jackson had a career highs only to be cut. In his first year in Jay Gruden’s offense, Jackson did his best ro remind the NFL he was the best deep threat in the league. According to Pro Football Focus,On passes 20+ yards down the field, he recorded 12 catches (no drops) for a league leading 600 yards and he scored 3 touchdowns. If RGIII was a better quarterback it would be possible his yards per catch average would be much higher.
10. Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Boncos)
2014 Stats: 101 receptions on 140 targets (2 drops) 1,409 receiving yards 14 YPC 381 YAC 9 touchdows
I’m not a hater… but Emmanuel Sander’s 2014 season pissed me off. He left Pittsburgh, made sure he talked his shit about Ben Roethlisberger then learned how to catch and had a monster year. But good for him. He always had the potential to be great but the mental lapses caused him to have some big drops when we (Steelers fans) needed him the most.
But no matter where he lined up in 2014, he destroyed defenses week after week. If Sanders is remotely able to maintain this production you can’t leave him out of the top 5 receiver discussion. He’s always had the talent but the numbers didn’t always back that up.
11. TY Hilton (Indianapolis Colts)
2014 Stats: 82 receptions on 123 targets (5 drops) 1,346 receiving yards 16.4 YPC 366 YAC 7 touchdowns
12, Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers)
2014 Stats: 91 receptions on 125 targets (8 drops) 1,287 receiving yards 14.1 YPC 603 YAC 12 touchdowns
13. Alshon Jeffery (Chicago Bears)
2014 Stats: 85 receptions on 135 targets (5 drops) 1,133 receiving yards 13.3 YPC 483 YAC 10 touchdowns
14. Golden Tate (Detroit Lions)
2014 Stats: 99 receptions on 136 targets (6 drops) 1,331 receiving yards 13.4 YPC 709 YAC 4 touchdowns
15. Brandon Marshall (New York Jets)
2014 Stats: 61 receptions on 101 targets (6 drops) 721 receiving yards 11.8 YPC 118 YAC 8 touchdowns
16. Deandre Hopkins (Houston Texans)
2014 Stats: 76 receptions on 120 targets 3 drops 1,210 receiving yards 15.9 YPC 390 YAC 6 touchdowns
17. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
2014 Stats: 68 receptions on 116 targets (4 drops) 1,051 receiving yards 15.5 YPC 162 YAC 12 touchdowns
18. Jeremy Maclin (Kansas City Chiefs)
2014 Stats: 85 receptions on 140 targets (1 drop) 1,318 receiving yards 15.5 YPC 511 YAC 10 touchdowns
19. Anquan Boldin (San Francisco 49ers)
2014 Stats: 83 receptions on 121 targets 10 drops 1,062 receiving yards 12.8 YPC 403 YAC 5 touchdowns
20. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)
2014 Stats: 63 receptions on 100 targets (1 drop) 784 receiving yards 12.4 YPC 333 YAC 2 touchdowns
Make sure you check these out as well:
Follow me on twitter @OnThe50YardLine and let me know if you agree or disagree. I felt like some quality receivers were left out so I know the reader will as well.