It’s hard not to look at the wide receivers in today’s NFL without concluding we’re truly spoiled.
It could easily be argued the position has never been stronger at the top; nor has it been deeper throughout the league. Cooper Kupp won the receiving triple crown and an Offensive Player of the Year Award in 2021-22. He narrowly missed out on the top five in our rankings.
FOX Sports’ crew of NFL writers took on the difficult task of differentiating between the league’s very best wide receivers. Each writer ranked their best 10 based on their confidence in each wide receiver’s ability (with good health assumed) in a hypothetical game right now. A first-place vote merited 10 points in our methodology and descended from there, down to a single point for 10th place. We then combined the scores to determine our rankings.
Our No. 1 receiver was unanimous across eight ballots. After that, things got contested.
1. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
Ben Arthur: In just three NFL seasons, Jefferson has become the (mostly) undisputed best wide receiver in football. His 4,825 receiving yards through three seasons are the most ever. He finished in the top five in MVP voting in 2022, the top non-quarterback. He’s clutch. He’s everything you want in a receiver, with few discernable flaws. He’s obviously on a gold-jacket pace. Heck, if he keeps this up, he’ll be in the conversation for the best ever years down the line.
Carmen Vitali: This might be the easiest No. 1 we’ve had yet. Jefferson won Offensive Player of the Year and garnered MVP votes last season because he finished first in most major receiving categories.
As Ben noted, Jefferson’s career pace is the best ever and with quarterback Kirk Cousins buying into head coach Kevin O’Connell’s philosophy of ‘opportunity balls’ last season, Cousins helped Jefferson to the aforementioned stats that landed him on top at NFL Honors. That is, Cousins started throwing Jefferson the football even when he wasn’t open. And Jefferson delivered, which is one of the myriad things that make him the best in the league.
2. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins
Henry McKenna: There’s no faster football player in the NFL. And I make that distinction — football player — because there are probably faster track athletes. But Hill’s generational playing speed makes him downright unguardable, at times. You’d think his size (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) might inhibit just how great he can be, but he is quite gifted at attacking the football in the air to win jump balls, even when the defensive back is larger than him. He has now thrived in two different offensive systems. Maybe Justin Jefferson is the prototype at the position. But Hill might just be the better playmaker despite his stature.
3. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
Ralph Vacchiano: There’s no doubt Adams benefited from having Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback during his eight seasons in Green Bay. But any doubts about his greatness were erased last year when he caught 100 passes for 1,516 yards and 14 touchdowns from Derek Carr and Jarrett Stidham. His last five seasons have been Hall of Fame worthy, and even though he’ll be 31 in December, he doesn’t look close to done yet.
4 (tie). Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
Greg Auman: He didn’t play a full 2022 season, but I feel like touchdowns are the ultimate currency at the top of these rankings. Chase has 22 touchdown catches in 29 career regular-season games, and the only players with more in that span since Randy Moss are Rob Gronkowski and Odell Beckham. Personally putting him over Tyreek Hill at No. 2 is a tough call for me – the volume of Hill’s impact is incredible – but I did that with touchdown productivity in mind.
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4 (tie). Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
McKenna: Before he was drafted, Diggs drew comparisons to Harry Douglas. At the risk of being slightly disrespectful of Douglas, that’s not the comparison you want. And while most draft prospects fail to match the production of their NFL comps, Diggs has far surpassed the expectations surrounding him. He is a route-running technician with a gift for doing the three things receivers are supposed to do: get open, catch the ball, get yards after the catch. Maybe he’s not as fast or as big as other receivers on this list. But he gets the job done and then some.
6. A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles
Vacchiano: He is so reliable and productive that when he had a few uncharacteristic drops during his first season in Philadelphia, it was stunning. What’s most eye-opening, though, is he caught 88 passes for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns on a team that prefers to run the ball and has a No. 2 receiver (DeVonta Smith) who deserved consideration for this list. No wonder the Eagles traded premium draft picks and gave him a $100 million deal.
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7. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Eric D. Williams: Even though he missed eight games last season with a high ankle sprain, Kupp is second in receiving touchdowns (22), fourth in receiving yards (2,759) and fourth in receptions (220) over the past two seasons. According to Next Gen Stats, the Eastern Washington product leads all receivers in yards after the catch during that same time frame with 1,322. Kupp is also one of the best run-blockers in the game among receivers, giving head coach Sean McVay added diversity in what he can do in the run game.
Auman: He’s a year removed from the receiving triple crown, leading the NFL in catches, yards and touchdowns, an incredibly rare club to join. His 2022 stats — 812 yards and six touchdowns in nine games — are formidable when prorated over a healthy full season. He’s 30, but I’ll go back to 2021: 145 catches, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns.
8. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
David Helman: For all the talk last year about whether Lamb could grow into an elite receiver, we probably aren’t giving him enough credit for doing so. Lamb entered 2022 without Amari Cooper, and with Michael Gallup looking like a shell of himself.
Despite the attention paid to him by every opposing defense, he turned in a 1,300-yard season and was named a second-team All-Pro. Now Lamb enters Year 4 with Gallup fully healthy, and with Brandin Cooks added to the mix. With defenses forced to honor Cooks’ speed, Lamb is poised to thrive in the slot and post his best season yet.
9. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
Williams: Known for his unique ability to carry the load as a runner, the “wide back” is looking to bounce back from what he considered a down year relative to his high expectations. Samuel remains one of the best receivers in the league with the ball in hands. His 1,306 yards after the catch over the past two seasons is behind only Cooper Kupp. However, his 13 drops over the last two seasons tie for third-most in the NFL over that time frame, per Next Gen Stats.
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10. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions
Vitali: Projected, and previously classified as a slot receiver, St. Brown delivered like a true No. 1 last year for Detroit. He ran routes out of every alignment and was a massive weapon for an offense that averaged the fifth-most points per game last season with 26.6. St. Brown ranked in the league’s top 10 in both catches and targets, while finishing 11th in total yards with 1,161.
The Lions should benefit from having a true ‘X’ receiver once Jameson Williams comes back from suspension. They also picked up Denzel Mims this offseason. But St. Brown, with his crisp route-running and ability to separate, will continue to make a massive impact on this team as they reach for the division title.
11. Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders
11. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
13. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins
14. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
These rankings were compiled by:
AFC South reporter Ben Arthur (@benyarthur)
NFC South reporter Greg Auman (@gregauman)
Dallas Cowboys reporter David Helman (@davidhelman_)
AFC East reporter Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis)
NFL and betting analyst Geoff Schwartz (@GeoffSchwartz)
NFC West reporter Eric D. Williams (@eric_d_williams)
NFC East reporter Ralph Vacchiano (@RalphVacchiano)
NFC North reporter Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV)
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