Finding an elite receiver is difficult in the NFL. What even makes an elite receiver anyways? It consists of route routing, hands and even catches in traffic. These receivers rank among the best to start the 2020 season.
Although stats are a major factor in determining the best of the best when it comes to wide receivers, it is not all that matters. Other components include quarterbacks, importance to the team and performance.
Amari Cooper (DAL)
Cooper starts this list at seventh. The Cowboys star wide receiver has been fantastic since he was traded for a first-round pick from Oakland to Dallas. In his first full season with Dallas, he caught 79 passes for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns. This was all while Cooper was battling injuries. Despite playing all 16 games, he was only on the field for 77.7 percent of the snaps which is extremely low for a four-time Pro Bowler.
Cooper still ranked seventh in receiving yards and eighth in touchdowns. In this upcoming season, a lot of attention will be drawn to Cooper so look for Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb to get more action.
Mike Evans (TB)
Evans has been every bit of fantastic since he entered the league in 2014. Last season with Jameis Winston, he caught had 67 catches. However, his 67 catches totaled 1,157 yards with an average of 17.3 yards/catch with eight touchdowns. Although his 67 catches ranked 24th on the season, he still is a solid deep threat option.
At 6-foot-5, Evans ranked fourth in deep targets (30), eighth in yards per route (2.67) and second in target distance (1,875) from a season ago. Now, Evans gets one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the position in Tom Brady. Even though, Brady is now 43, Evans with his length and size will have a spectacular season.
Davante Adams (GB)
Adams checks in at fifth on this list. Last season, Adams missed four games due to his turf toe injury. One of the best route runners in the game still contributed enough production to make his third straight Pro Bowl.
Adams finished the year with 83 catches on 997 yards and five touchdowns. The amount of separation that Adams creates to due his route-running is astronomical. As a result, he is one of the most lethal options in the red zone. With a great quarterback like Rodgers, Adams placed third in red-zone catches (16) and fifth in yards/route (2.87). If Adams can stay healthy and play all 16 games, Adams can compete for the league’s most receiving yards in 2020.
Tyreek Hill (KC)
The cheetah takes the next spot on this list. Is anyone faster than Hill in the NFL? Last year Hill tied the fastest speed in the NFL clocking in at 22.81 mph running with his teammate Damian Williams for a touchdown. Hill is impossible to guard because of his speed. He comes in at 5-foot-10, but height is not a part of his game.
In Hill’s four year career, he has earned four Pro Bowls and two First-Team All-Pro awards. Although Hill missed four games like Adams in 2019 because of a sternoclavicular joint injury, he still managed to catch 58 passes for 860 yards and seven touchdowns.
The reason Hill is fourth and not Adams is because of how hard it is to guard Hill. No one matches Hill’s speed. With a healthy Hill, Mahomes and the Chiefs are an extremely dangerous team to repeat as champions.
DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)
Hopkins at three might come as a surprise to some. Hopkins can be placed at the number one spot for his excellent numbers even with quarterbacks like Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and T.J. Yates. Since Deshaun Watson took the starting job for the Texans in 2017, Hopkins has made three consecutive First-Team All-Pro selections.
Last season, Hopkins continued his dominance catching the second-most passes (104) and 10th most yards (1,165). For Hopkins and the Texans, his time in Houston was cut short and was traded to the young, but evolving Arizona Cardinals. Murray, as a rookie, threw for 3,722 yards and will improve with Hopkins to throw to. Hopkins has been amazing in each of his first seven years in the league, don’t expect it to stop in Arizona.
Michael Thomas (NO)
Despite the fact that Thomas broke the single-season record for receptions in a season passing Marvin Harrison, he ranks as the second-best receiver going into 2020. Although he finished first in receptions (149), first in receiving yards (1725), first in red-zone catches (20) and third in touchdowns (9), he does not take the first spot.
Why is this?
When looking at Thomas’s stats, a lot of his yards and catches were due to short passes. Thomas is a great runner with the football, his run after catch placed him third among all receivers (550). The problem with Thomas’ game is he never makes those spectacular catches as his nine deep targets placed him 72nd in all of football.
There’s no doubt Thomas is an elite receiver even if most of his catches come within 10 yards. Thomas has the most accurate passer in history throwing to him, Drew Brees and has had 1,100+ yards in every season since he joined the league in 2016. Thomas will try to top his 1,725-yard season and try to break the single-season receiving yard record.
Julio Jones (ATL)
Jones is the best receiver going into the 2020 season. Jones is a major difference-maker for the Atlanta Falcons. Without Jones, Atlanta would be one of the worst teams in football. Jones brings leadership and value to the Falcons.
Jones makes catches that no one else can. He fights for every yard and has some of the best toe-tap catches including his Super Bowl 51 catch on the sideline. At 6-foot-3, Jones has the height, agility and hands to make any catch that is thrown his way.
While playing 15 games in 2019, Jones caught 99 passes for 1394 yards and six touchdowns. His 99 receptions and 1,394 yards placed him fifth and second in their respective categories.
Honorable Mentions: Kennan Allen (LAC), Chris Godwin (TB)
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