As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, wide receivers are more important than ever. When looking at who experts believe are the league’s top receivers, you’ll find players freshly traded as well as players that are part of a dynamic duo. There are receivers who thrive with great QBs and others that excel in spite of shakier ones. Let’s take a look at the 10 best wide receivers in 2019.
10. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans had another solid season in 2018 with 86 catches for 1,524 yards, and he qualified for his second Pro Bowl. Bucs’ QB Jameis Winston has not been reliable over the past two years, but Evans seems to be as sure a thing as you could find in their offensive gameplan. Expect another fine year from the five-year wideout.
9. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
The main reason Steelers fans aren’t sweating Antonio Brown’s departure? Juju Smith-Schuster. He tallied 111 catches and 1,126 receiving yards in 2018, and with Brown’s departure, it means there will be many more balls coming Smith-Schuster’s way in 2019.
8. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green had only 46 catches in nine games last year due to injury, but he remains one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Green’s a big talent who is great for Cincy when he’s in the lineup, but his shaky history of injuries keeps him out of this list’s top five and towards the back end of the top 10.
7. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
With 113 receptions and 1,373 yards receiving last season, Thielen emerged as Kirk Cousins’ favorite target. His production has been on an upward trajectory for several seasons, so look for him to duplicate these numbers in 2019.
6. Keenan Allen, L.A. Chargers
Another year, another stellar campaign from Keenan Allen. He’s not only one of the best wide receivers in the game, but he’s one of the most unheralded. The consistent Chargers’ wideout caught 97 passes last season as Phil Rivers’ number one receiving threat.
5. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas has captured at least 92 receptions and 1,110 yards receiving every year of his career. In 2018, he led the league with a jaw-dropping 125 receptions. Playing in a high-octane offense, and with Drew Brees not slowing down any time soon, means that Saints fans can expect similar production from Thomas this year.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Hopkins may have had his best season of an already stellar career in 2018. He finished with 115 catches and 1,152 yards receiving. After years of futility under center, it seems that the Texans finally have an above average signal caller in Deshaun Watson. If Watson can stay healthy for 16 games like he did last year, Hopkins will have no problem continuing to deliver as one of the best wide receivers in football.
3. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham is well known throughout the league for his incredible athleticism and circus catches. He missed four games near the end of the season due to injury, but he still put up 77 receptions for 1,052 yards. If Beckham stays healthy, he’s probably good for 90-100 catches. He may be the best receiver in the league based on talent alone, but a spotty injury history has held him back. He’ll have a chance to put up even greater numbers in Cleveland this year with young QB Baker Mayfield delivering him the ball.
2. Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
There was a lot of controversy surrounding Antonio Brown last season (and extending into the offseason), but you’d never be able to tell by looking at his production. Brown led the league with 15 receiving touchdowns while tacking on 104 receptions for 1,297 yards. What seemed like an off year for Brown due to negative publicity would have been a career year for most receivers.
Brown has a new home in Oakland with a somewhat less prolific offense, so it’s hard to gauge how close he’ll come to his previous levels of performance. Otherwise, he’d be the top receiver on this list.
1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones has been outstanding since the Falcons drafted him out of the University of Alabama in 2011, and he shows zero signs of slowing down. In 2018, Jones hauled in 113 passes for a league-leading 1,167 yards. He also led the league in yards per game with 104.8.
Why does Jones top our list of the NFL’s best wide receivers? Simple: he’s smack dab in the middle of his prime as a player, he puts up Pro Bowl-caliber numbers every season (he’s been to six of eight Pro Bowls since coming into the league), and he has an emerging deep threat playing beside him in Calvin Ridley. As Ridley develops into more of a playmaker, it’s sure to mean more open looks for Jones.