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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 -- Julio Jones (1,871) of the Atlanta Falcons, Antonio Brown (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
|Source: NFL *Pro Football Hall of Famer|
|Julio Jones||Atl.||1,871||Antonio Brown||Pit.||1,698||Jerry Rice*||SF||1,848|
|Antonio Brown||Pit.||1,834||Demaryius Thomas||Den.||1,619||Isaac Bruce||StL||1,781|
|DeAndre Hopkins||Hou.||1,521||Julio Jones||Atl.||1,593||Herman Moore||Det.||1,686|
|Brandon Marshall||NYJ||1,502||Jordy Nelson||GB||1,519||Michael 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
The seven players with at least 100 catches in 2015:
Players with at least 100 catches
|Brandon Marshall||New York Jets||109|
The 136 receptions by Antonio Brown and Julio Jones 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
|Wes Welker||New England||2009||123||1,348||11.0||4|
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
|Brandon Marshall||New York Jets||173||109||1,502||13.8|
Most Targeted Receivers Since 2013
|Brandon Marshall||Chicago, Jets||442||270||3,518||13.0|
Reaching 1,000 Career Receptions
Last season, three players -- wide receiver Anquan Boldin (with San Francisco), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (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
|Source: NFL *Pro Football Hall of Famer|