NFL 2016: The NFL's Elite Receivers
NFL 2016: The NFL's Elite Receivers

The rise of pass-oriented NFL offenses has led to an abundance of elite talent at wide receiver. And there are some great ones. Here's the best wide receivers in the NFL today, heading into the regular season


NFL 2016 Top 20 Receiving Leaders


Last season, four wide receivers -- (1,871) of the Atlanta Falcons, (1,834) of the Pittsburgh Steelers, De Andre Hopkins (1,521) of the Houston Texans, and Brandon Marshall (1,502) of the New York Jets -- recorded at least 1,500 receiving yards, tied for the most such players in a season in NFL history (1995, 2014).

A look at the three seasons which featured four players with at least 1,500 receiving yards:

Four players with at least 1,500 receiving yards

2015 2014 1995
Player Team Yards Player Team Yards Player Team Yards
Source: NFL *Pro Football Hall of Famer
Julio JonesAtl.1,871Antonio BrownPit.1,698Jerry Rice*SF1,848
Antonio BrownPit.1,834Demaryius ThomasDen.1,619Isaac BruceStL1,781
DeAndre HopkinsHou.1,521Julio JonesAtl.1,593Herman MooreDet.1,686
Brandon MarshallNYJ1,502Jordy NelsonGB1,519Michael Irvin*Dal.1,603



Seven players caught at least 100 passes in 2015, the second-most players with 100+ receptions in a single season:

Most players with 100+ receptions in a single season

Season Players
Source: NFL


The seven players with at least 100 catches in 2015:

Players with at least 100 catches

Player Team Catches
Source: NFL
Antonio BrownPittsburgh136
Julio JonesAtlanta136
DeAndre HopkinsHouston111
Jarvis LandryMiami110
Larry FitzgeraldArizona109
Brandon MarshallNew York Jets109
Demaryius ThomasDenver105


The 136 receptions by and last season were the second-most in a single season in NFL history (Marvin Harrison, 143 in 2002). The players with the most catches in a single season:

All-Time Single Season Reception Leaders

Player Team Season Receptions Yards Average TD
Source: NFL
Marvin HarrisonIndianapolis20021431,72212.011
Julio JonesAtlanta20151361,87113.88
Antonio BrownPittsburgh20151361,83413.510
Herman MooreDetroit19951231,68613.714
Wes WelkerNew England20091231,34811.04



The NFL's Most Targeted Receivers

Elite wide receivers earn plenty of attention from opposing defensive backs, but they still get plenty of it from their quarterbacks, too.

Last season, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was targeted 203 times to lead all receivers. Only Calvin Johnson (204 in 2012) and Marvin Harrison (205 in 2002) have had more targets in a season in the past 15 years.

Jones puts much of the credit on the shoulders of his quarterback, MATT RYAN.

"Matt has all the faith in the world in me and I have the same in him," says Jones. "We're a team. When my number is called, I've got to step up and make those plays. Matt is just going to keep being Matt Ryan, throwing great balls and we'll see the outcome."

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was targeted 193 times. After setting franchise records for receptions and receiving yards in 2014, he topped both those numbers with 136 receptions and 1,834 receiving yards in 2015.

Since 2013, Brown has been targeted a league-high 540 times and leads the NFL in receptions (375) and receiving yards (5,031) over that span as well.

Most Targeted Receivers in 2015

Player Team Targets Receptions Yards Average
Source: NFL
Julio JonesAtlanta2031361,87113.8
Antonio BrownPittsburgh1931361,83413.5
DeAndre HopkinsHouston1921111,52113.7
Demaryius ThomasDenver1771051,30412.4
Brandon MarshallNew York Jets1731091,50213.8


Most Targeted Receivers Since 2013

Player Team(s) Targets Receptions Yards Average
Source: NFL
Antonio BrownPittsburgh5403755,03113.4
Demaryius ThomasDenver5033084,35314.1
Brandon MarshallChicago, Jets4422703,51813.0
Calvin JohnsonDetroit4342433,78315.6
A.J. GreenCincinnati4262533,76414.9
Julio JonesAtlanta4262814,04414.4


Reaching 1,000 Career Receptions

Last season, three players -- wide receiver Anquan Boldin (with San Francisco), wide receiver (Arizona) and tight end Jason Witten (Dallas) -- reached the 1,000-reception mark for their careers. It marked the first time in NFL history that three players recorded their 1,000th career catch in the same season.

Boldin, Fitzgerald and Witten joined nine other players -- including Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter and Tim Brown -- as the only players in NFL history to record at least 1,000 career catches.

"To me, the highest honor you can have is when people say you played the game at a high level and you played it at a high level for a long time," says Witten, who joined TONY GONZALEZ as the only tight ends in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions. "To reach a milestone like this, that is consistency. I can't even put into words what an honor it is."

The players with 1,000 career receptions:

NFL All-Time Career Reception Leaders

Player Receptions Yards TDs
Source: NFL *Pro Football Hall of Famer
Jerry Rice*1,54922,895197
Tony Gonzalez1,32515,127111
Marvin Harrison*1,10214,580128
Cris Carter*1,10113,899130
Tim Brown*1,09414,934100
Terrell Owens1,07815,934153
Reggie Wayne1,07014,34582
Andre Johnson1,05314,10068
Isaac Bruce1,02415,20891
Jason Witten1,02011,21560
Larry Fitzgerald1,01813,36698
Anquan Boldin1,00913,19574


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