The featured list ranks the league’s top 32 wide receivers according to the following…
- Route Running
- Yards After Catch
The following players have been omitted from the list due to incomplete 2017 seasons from injury.
- Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)
- Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears)
- Brandon Marshall (New York Giants)
- Cameron Meredith (New Orleans Saints)
32. Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia Eagles)
2017 Stats: 62 Receptions, 768 Yards, 8 Touchdowns (16 Games)
Nelson Agholor was one of the league’s biggest surprised last season. He consistently got open and he was a big reason the Philadelphia offense was so consistently productive throughout the season. He still has the occasional focus drop here and there, but I think a move from the outside to the slot was in Agholor’s best interest for the long haul in his career.
31. Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs)
2017 Stats: 75 Receptions, 1,183 Yards, 7 Touchdowns (15 Games)
#31 you ask? Hear me out. Tyreek Hill put up terrific numbers in 2017, but he did it because he’s a better playmaker than wide receiver. He has average hands and he’s an average route runner at best. What the Chiefs do well is find ways to get the ball in his hands, because when they do magical things happen. He might be the most dynamic athlete in the NFL and he’s near impossible to tackle in the open field.
30. Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta Falcons)
2017 Stats: 67 Receptions, 703 Yards, 5 Touchdowns (15 Games)
Mohamed Sanu is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career in 2017. His versatility adds a positive element to the Atlanta offense. Being able to play inside and out makes it tough for opposing defenses to gameplan against because of Sanu’s size. He’s one of, if not the biggest slot receiver in the league. He’s the perfect WR2.
29. Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders)
2017 Stats: 48 Receptions, 680 Yards, 7 Touchdowns (14 Games)
Amari Cooper has the potential to be much higher on this list, but his inconsistency in 2017 was enough to place him towards the bottom of this list. His name was towards the top of the league in drops and his production in numbers dropped off, significantly. He’s still a terrific route runner and I firmly believe a non-healthy Derek Carr had a lot to do with the drop in Cooper’s play, but until he proves in 2018 that it wasn’t a fluke, he won’t be a top 20 wideout in my book.
28. Sterling Shepard (New York Giants)
2017 Stats: 59 Receptions, 731 Yards, 2 Touchdowns (11 Games)
Sterling Shepard’s numbers suffered big time when Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall went down with injuries. Shepard actually suffered through some of his own injuries, missing 5 games. He’s a great route runner, sure-handed, and a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands after the catch. With Odell Beckham back and the addition of Saquon Barkley in New York, look for Sterling Shepard to be a “Breakout Player of the Year” candidate in 2018.
27. Michael Crabtree (Baltimore Ravens)
2017 Stats: 58 Receptions, 618 Yards, 8 Touchdowns (14 Games)
Michael Crabtree has some of the most underrated hands in football and he makes his money in the red zone, posting 51 touchdowns in 9 seasons in the league. He’s not as quick as he used to be and his route running is the department that has suffered for it, but he can still beat you consistently in the short game and he’s a reliable/competitive wideout that will give you his best each and every Sunday.
26. TY Hilton (Indianapolis Colts)
2017 Stats: 57 Receptions, 966 Yards, 4 Touchdowns (16 Games)
It was obvious that TY Hilton missed Andrew Luck dearly last season. For the first time in four years, he failed to produce a 1,000 yard season and he also posted the lowest touchdown receptions number of his career (4). But nonetheless, he is still an excellent route runner and his incredible speed makes him one of the most dangerous vertical threats in all of football.
25. Brandin Cooks (Los Angeles Rams)
2017: 65 Receptions, 1,082 Yards, 7 Touchdowns (16 Games)
I had much higher expectations for Brandin Cooks last season in New England, but he still made a splash. With Julian Edelman sidelined for the year, Cooks became the WR1 in the Patriots’ wide receiver corps. The best way I can define Brandin Cooks is “jack of all trades, master of none”. He does a lot of things very well, but nothing exceptional. He has good hands, he’s a good route runner, and he’s dynamic after the catch…but I believe his size limits him from being amongst the “great” wideouts.
24. Pierre Garcon (San Francisco 49ers)
2017 Stats: 40 Receptions, 500 Yards, 0 TD (8 Games)
I know what you’re thinking. What is Pierre Garcon doing this high on the list? Hear me out. Garcon put up pretty decent numbers halfway through the season before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He also played with two below-average quarterbacks that inhibited him from having success. In 2018 Garcon will have the chance to start fresh with Jimmy Garoppolo. I’m very excited to see where he winds up in next offseason’s rankings.
23. DeSean Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
2017 Stats: 50 Receptions, 668 Yards, 3 Touchdowns (14 Games)
The dynamic deep-threat was a bit of a disappointment in 2017. He’s not as fast as he used to be and he’s no longer a WR1, but he still has the quickness to make him a well-rounded route runner to go along with serviceable hands. He’s pretty much non-existent as a blocker. Another offseason under his belt with Jameis Winston should do wonders for him in year #2. I firmly believe he’s a much better player than last season’s numbers indicate.
22. Dez Bryant
2017 Stats: 69 Receptions, 838 Yards, 6 Touchdowns (16 Games)
A lot of people will be upset by this ranking. I have one stat for you. Dez Bryant led the league in drops in 2017 and it wasn’t really all that close. He’s not the wideout he once was and I believe he’s past his prime. Though, his athleticism cannot be denied. He’s still a big-time red zone threat and he will still put up big-time numbers if he puts forth the effort. Something of which isn’t always there…
21. Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia Eagles)
2017 Stats: 57 Receptions, 789 Yards, 9 Touchdowns (16 Games)
Arguably one of the most dangerous red zone threats in the league, the 6’3″- 220-pound wideout comes in at #21. When you’re that big it’s tough to improve your quickness. He runs good routes but he has a hard time separating because of his lack of quickness. He still has exceptional hands and he’s a lot better blocker than people give him credit for. Getting him locked up this offseason was a smart front office decision for the Eagles.
20. Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos)
2017 Stats: 47 Receptions, 555 Yards, 2 Touchdowns (12 Games)
By now you’ve probably noticed that I’m not much of a box score scout and I don’t base my rankings off of numbers like most do. Emmanuel Sanders is the prime example of a wideout that had his play suffer because of quarterback play last season. Catches, yards, and touchdowns all dropped significantly in 2017 because of it. He’s still a pinpoint route runner and his ability to separate from defensive backs is what makes him so lethal. If Case Keenum can repeat his 2017 performance, Emmanuel Sanders will have his name listed at the top of a pro bowl ballot once again.
19. Marvin Jones (Detroit Lions)
2017 Stats: 61 Receptions, 1,101 Yards, 9 Touchdowns (16 Games)
For the first time in his career, Marvin Jones broke 1,000 yards receiving. He’s steadily improved each and every season he’s been in the league and he’s had some success against some of the league’s top corners. He has occasional focus drops but other than that he’s as consistent as they come across the board and he’s become Matthew Stafford’s most reliable target in the red zone.
18. Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers)
2017 Stats: 74 Receptions, 885 Yards, 10 Touchdowns (14 Games)
Davante Adams earned a Pro Bowl nod for the first time in his career in 2017 and he did it without Aaron Rodgers for nearly half a year. Adams surpassed Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as the teams #1 wideout in the past two seasons and he did it by consistently beating the guy across from him on nearly every rep. Playing at a high level without Aaron Rodgers, solidified Adams’ spot as one of the top wideouts in football. If he can stay healthy in the years to come, Rodgers/Adams has the potential to be one of the leagues deadliest duos.
17. Sammy Watkins (Kansas City Chiefs)
2017 Stats: 39 Receptions, 593 Yards, 8 Touchdowns (15 Games)
I’m bound to take a lot of heat for this ranking. So let me try and explain my side. Sammy Watkins is one of those wideouts that can frustrate you greatly because he has the tools and potential to be a top 10 wideout in the NFL, but because of numerous injuries, he hasn’t been able to stay on the field to prove it. 39 catches in 15 games is an incredibly low number in the Rams’ high powered offense, but if you go back and actually watch a Rams game you’ll see that Jared Goff missed Watkins numerous times and he didn’t receive as many targets as he should have in 2017. A fresh start in Kansas City with the young gunslinger Patrick Mahomes should do a lot of good for Watkins.
16. Jarvis Landry (Cleveland Browns)
2017 Stats: 112 Receptions, 987 Yards, 9 Touchdowns (16 Games)
There’s not a player in the league that was more force-fed than Jarvis Landry last season. Seriously…how do you catch 112 balls and STILL not reach 1,000-yards receiving. But that’s beside the point. He’s quicker than fast and what makes him so dangerous is his ability to stop on a dime and juke defenders out of their jocks. Oh, and he has pretty good hands too…
15. Golden Tate (Detroit Lions)
2017 Stats: 92 Receptions, 1,003 Yards, 5 Touchdowns (16 Games)
One of the leagues top slot receivers eclipsed yet another 90 catch season. His quickness and ability to separate from defenders is what makes him so dangerous each and every season. He’s one of the best route runners in the business and his hands are about as reliable as they come. As I sit here and write this up I actually have to ask myself why I didn’t put him higher on this list…because there’s really nothing he can’t do. This 15th spot is where the leagues top receivers separate themselves from the rest.
14. Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks)
2017 Stats: 75 Receptions, 991 Yards, 8 Touchdowns (16 Games)
Doug Baldwin’s release off the line of scrimmage is scary. His numbers in 2017 don’t indicate the type of player he truly is. Production dropped off because of Seattle’s inability to run the football and Russell Wilson’s lack of protection. Regardless, Baldwin still found a way to be productive. At this point in his career, he’s one of the top 5 best route runners in football and he rarely ever drops a pass. If you want to see how the wide receiver position should be played, turn on some Doug Baldwin film. PASSION!
13. Adam Thielen (Minnesota Vikings)
2017 Stats: 91 Receptions, 1,276 Yards, 4 Touchdowns (16 Games)
The league’s top slot receiver comes in at #13. Last offseason I placed Adam Thielen at #30 in my wide receiver rankings and I took a lot of heat for it. Now I’m saying “ya’ll will listen to me someday”. Thielen will beat you inside and out and it doesn’t matter who you line up across from him. He might have the deadliest release off the line of scrimmage in all of football and his play catches fire like a domino effect. His route running is elite, he doesn’t drop a ball that’s thrown his way, his catch radius is insane, and he gives you 110% every single snap. From being an undrafted free agent that was invited to a Vikings rookie minicamp to one of the leagues top wideouts. Adam Thielen is the prime example of what hard work will do for you.
12. Keenan Allen (Los Angeles Chargers)
2017 Stats: 102 Receptions, 1,393 Yards, 6 Touchdowns (15 Games)
FINALLY…Keenan Allen finally stayed healthy for a majority of the season and look what happened. Another versatile wideout who can play inside and out and win on a consistent basis. He’s a nightmare matchup for most corners because of his size and athleticism. He ranks right up there towards the top with the other elite wideouts in terms of route running and sure hands. I’d like to place him higher on this list but because of the horrible injury history that he has sustained over the course of the past few seasons, I can’t push myself to put him in the top 10.
11. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
2017 Stats: 83 Receptions, 949 Yards, 5 Touchdowns (16 Games)
Much like Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas’ numbers and production suffered in 2017 because of the poor quarterback play in Denver. Thomas has gotten better every single season as a route runner because he’s learned how to separate from defenders in and out of his breaks through experience. Even with the poor QB play, his route running still improved in 2017 and it’s now become border-line elite. Guarding a 6’3″, 230-pound wideout that can run like a horse isn’t an ideal matchup for a corner. I’ll say it again…if Case Keenum can repeat his 2017 season, we’ll all be talking about how Demaryius Thomas should be considered a top 10 wideout again at this time next offseason.
10. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings)
2017 Stats: 64 Receptions, 849 Yards, 8 Touchdowns (14 Games)
I should probably stop saying how elite all of these route runners are…and Stefon Diggs is no different. Diggs has embarrassed a few defensive backs, badly with his route running skills and his ability to high point a contested a football for his size is rare. What he’s able to do on the field cannot be denied and some will even have him higher on their list. I have concerns about his career being sustainable because of numerous injuries he’s suffered over the course of his first few seasons in the league. He’s also disappeared at times, but I’m confident 2018 will be the season he finally puts it all together if he can stay healthy.
9. Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns)
2017 Stats: 18 Receptions, 335 Yards, 1 Touchdown (5 Games)
Don’t badger me with your numbers again. I could also care less that he only played 5 games last year. Josh Gordon is the closest thing we’ve seen to Randy Moss. Am I saying that I’m comparing him to Randy Moss? No. But, the combination of size, speed, and athletic ability is comparable. Gordon had the chance to get his feet wet towards the end of the 2017 season after being away from football for an extended amount of time due to off the field issues. I’m hoping he has finally learned his lesson, because if he has…we won’t be arguing about why he should be in the top 10 anymore…we’ll be arguing about why he should be in the top 5.
8. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
2017 Stats: 71 Receptions, 1,001 Yards, 5 Touchdowns (15 Games)
The 2017 season was probably a bit of a disappointment for Mike Evans and yet he still found a way to eclipse 1,000 yards through 15 games. At 6’5″ 230 pounds, Evans is one of the most dangerous deep/red zone threats in the league and his ability to be a terrific run blocker is what separates him from other wideouts on this list, which is what makes him so well-rounded as a player. I’m looking forward to a “bounce-back” season from Evans in 2018.
7. AJ Green (Cincinnati Bengals)
2017 Stats: 75 Receptions, 1,078 Yards, 8 Touchdowns (16 Games)
Can we get this man some help? AJ Green received double teams numerous times last season because of Cincinnati’s lack of threats outside of Green. At times last season, AJ Green was the only thing that moved the ball for Bengals. He was a one-man wrecking crew. His combination of size (6’4″), athleticism, and speed make him a nightmare for defensive backs every Sunday, but because he has a quarterback throwing to him that has clear limitations, we may never see AJ Green at his best unless he demands a scenario that allows him to get out of Cincinnati or if the team finally makes a switch at quarterback.
6. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)
2017 Stats: 109 Receptions, 1,156 Yards, 6 Touchdowns (16 Games)
In the picture above you’ll see a real-life alien. What Larry Fitzgerald is doing at 34 years old is inhuman. In 2017 he tied a career high in catches (109) and he did so without virtually any help on offense. David Johnson didn’t play one full game last season and he lost his starting QB (Carson Palmer) early in the year. A true class act. He’s never complained once…and even at the age of 34, there’s really nothing he can’t do. He can still run perfect routes, his hands are as good as anyone’s, and in my opinion, you won’t find a better wide receiver to block for you than Fitz. The future Hall of Famer comes in at #6 in this offseasons rankings…even in his mid 30’s. An incredible player.
5. Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints)
2017 Stats: 104 Receptions, 1,245 Yards, 5 Touchdowns (16 Games)
I hear you “Who Dat” nation. Last offseason I placed Michael Thomas at #20 in my wide receiver rankings claiming that he was simply a glorified product of the New Orleans system and I took some heat for it…and rightfully so. In 2017, Thomas proved to me that he is much more than that. In just two short seasons he’s proved that he is already one of the league’s top route runners and his hands are as reliable as they come. The effort isn’t always there in the blocking aspect of his game, but when he wants to he is more than capable of moving a defender around to spring Kamara/Ingram. This is just the beginning. Thomas is just entering his prime.
4. Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants)
2017 Stats: 25 Receptions, 302 Yards, 3 Touchdowns (4 Games)
An unfortunate injury shortened Odell Beckham’s season in week 5 and unfortunately, he had to miss the remainder of the season while his team struggled to find ways to move the ball without him. OBJ is without question the most athletic receiver in the league and there’s a good chance that every pass thrown his way might end up on Sportscenter, one way or another. He’s doesn’t’ have any holes in his game and his ceiling can be as high as he wants it to be. He is his own worst enemy and at times some corners have been able to frustrate him enough, to cause him to lose his temper. He still has to mature as a player and a teammate, but from a pure player stand-point, you could still make an argument that he is the best wideout in football.
3. Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons)
2017 Stats: 88 Receptions, 1,444 Yards, 3 Touchdowns (16 Games)
Most consider Julio Jones’ 2017 season as a “down year”. The loss of Kyle Shanahan hurt Jones’ production. He wasn’t utilized the same way he had been in years past, but make no mistake about it…the loss of a terrific offensive coordinator doesn’t define the type of player Julio Jones is. An argument can still be made that he is the best wideout in the league (#1 in my 2017 offseason rankings) and he’s a nightmare matchup for any corner in a man-to-man situation. Another full offseason of work with Steve Sarkisian should help his production, greatly.
#2 DeAndre Hopkins (Houston Texans)
2017 Stats: 96 Receptions, 1,378 Yards, 13 Touchdowns (15 Games)
Stop and think about what DeAndre Hopkins was able to do in 2017 without a QB for a good majority of the season, no running game, roughly no help opposite from him, and arguably the worst OL in football. Now, look at his stats. Crazy right? Hopkins is an incredible wideout because of what he’s able to do with the most physical DBs in the league draped all over him. If you go back and watch a Texans game from 2017 when Tom Savage or Taylor Heinicke are under center you’ll see what I’m talking about. At times, the only way the Texans could move the ball was to throw a 50/50 ball at “Nuk” and more often than not, he’d come down with it. I cannot WAIT to see what he does in 2018 with a healthy Deshaun Watson. Watch out.
1. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)
2017 Stats: 101 Receptions, 1,533 Yards, 9 Touchdowns (14 Games)
For the fifth season in a row, Antonio Brown once again eclipsed the 100-receptions total (in just 14 games might I add). In my opinion, it’s hard to make a case for any wideout being better than Brown, right now. He’s the best route runner in football. His routes are crisp and sharp, his release is incredible of the line of scrimmage, his head fakes leave defensive backs turned around, and his foot quickness is “Hall of Fame” elite. Antonio Brown is a pure technician and an argument could be made that he may not only be the best wide receiver in the NFL but the best overall offensive player, period. The former 6th round pick was out to prove doubters once again in 2017 and he did just that.
Who are your top 5 wide receivers?
For more offseason player rankings follow us on Twitter at @AllProNation.