The NFL has long been a what have you done for me lately league. But when ranking the athletes by position, it's good to keep in mind what they have been doing the last few seasons. This list combines the top wide receivers and tight ends in the NFL.
Even though this list includes 4 tight ends, I'd still like to share my 2015 wide receiver rankings just to compare.
- Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Brown is currently in the midst of the greatest 4 (going on 5) year stretch in NFL history. Since the start of the 2013 season, Brown has caught 481 passes for 6,315 yards and 43 touchdowns. Consistency and availability has Brown firmly entrenched in the top spot.
2016 Stats: 106 receptions 1,284 receiving yards 12 touchdowns
- Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants) – Over the last 11 games of the season, Beckham totaled 74 catches for 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns. As far as I'm concerned, Beckham was an MVP candidate in 2016. Sure the calling card for the 2016 Giants was defense, but Beckham was the driving force behind that offense and he won some games by himself.
2016 Stats: 101 receptions 1,367 receiving yards 10 touchdowns
- Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) – I'm critical of Jones for several reasons, but I have no problem admitting he was by far the best receiver in 2016. He had a stellar postseason as well. Have to wonder what might've happened if he got some catches in the 2nd half of the Super Bowl.
2016 Stats: 83 receptions 1,409 receiving yards 6 touchdown
- Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots) – For the 5th straight season, Gronk has not played a full 16 games. But damn, every year he bounces back and he just looks like his old self. Despite posting his lowest YPG (67.5) since his rookie season, he averaged a career high in yards per receptions (21.6).
2016 Stats: 25 receptions 540 receiving yards 3 touchdowns
- AJ Green (Cincinnati Bengals) – AJ Green was having a monster season before a hamstring caused him to be sidelined during the second half of the season. He finished 36 yards shy of his 6th straight 1000 yard season despite playing in only 9 games. 9.
2016 Stats: 66 receptions 964 receiving yards 4 touchdowns
- Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Evans has seen an improvement in his receptions and receiving yards each year of his career. The scary thing is he's only 23.
2016 Stats: 96 receptions 1,321 receiving yards 12 touchdowns
- Jordy Nelson (Green Bay Packers) – He's not as explosive as he was before the ACL tear and I'm not sure anyone expected him to be. But he's still that go to, reliable target for Aaron Rodgers.
2016 Stats: 97 receptions 1,257 receiving yards 14 touchdowns
- TY Hilton (Indianapolis Colts) – As Andrew Luck has grown over the years, so has Hilton. One of the NFL's very best deep threats, Hilton's game took a big step forward in 2016. He lead the NFL in receiving yards and he also ranked in the top 10 in receptions. Despite having a big season, it was still overshadowed by other top wide receivers who decided to have a monster season themselves.
2016 Stats: 91 receptions 1,448 receiving yards 6 touchdowns
- Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys) – For some odd reason, it seems like Dez Bryant has been an easy target of criticism and hate over the last couple years. But I think it's foolish to let an injury plagued 2015 season and a statistically underwhelming completely
2016 Stats: 50 receptions 796 receiving yards 8 touchdowns
- Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks) – One could say Doug Baldwin took the Richard Sherman approach to getting his play noticed. Unlike Sherman, Baldwin is no superstar but he is a very good receiver. Over the last two seasons, Baldwin's 21 touchdowns rank 3rd among all wide receivers.
2016 Stats: 94 receptions 1,128 receiving yards 7 touchdowns
- Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) – Could 2017 be the year that Travis Kelce pushes Gronk for the NFL's top tight end spot? The gap isn't that close anymore and Kelce actually plays. And he'll enter 2017 as Alex Smith's only reliable receiver so he'll get plenty of opportunities to prove the doubters wrong.
2016 Stats: 85 receptions 1,125 receiving yards 4 touchdowns
- Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders) – The biggest knock on Cooper following his rookie season was that he had a drops issue. PFF credited him with 18 dropped passes in 2015. He cleaned that up in 2016, being credited with just 4 dropped passes.
2016 Stats: 83 receptions 1,153 receiving yards 5 touchdowns
- Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks) – Graham's season ended early in 2015 thanks to a serious knee injury. But he was able to bounce back and be Russell Wilson's #2 target. Still seems like an odd fit in the Seahawks offense but they are making it work.
2016 Stats: 65 receptions 923 receiving yards 6 touchdowns
- Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos) – Thomas has seen his fair share of struggles over the last couple seasons but he's still pretty good. It's a shame his quarterback is ass.
2016 Stats: 90 receptions 1,083 receiving yards 5 touchdowns
- Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers) – Where would the Carolina offense be without Greg Olsen? Over the last few years, the Carolina offense has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, sometimes in the same season. But Olsen has been the most consistent player and he's been Cam's #1 target. His 3 straight 1000 yard seasons are a first by a tight end in NFL history.
2016 Stats: 80 receptions 1,073 receiving yards 3 touchdowns