In today’s pass-happy NFL, you almost always need a Pro Bowl-caliber QB and a star-level wide receiver to win. Think about it. Who’s the last Super Bowl-winning team that lacked a dynamic, game-wrecking WR1?
As most champions have shown, a top-flight wideout goes a long way in helping your team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl. With that said, let’s dive into our rankings for all 32 NFL team’s No. 1 receiver from WORST to FIRST.
32. Nico Collins (Houston Texans)
With Brandin Cooks getting traded to Dallas, it’s now Collins’ time to shine as the WR1 in H-Town. Despite missing seven games last year, and despite woeful QB play by Davis Mills, Collins caught 37 passes for 481 yards and two touchdowns.
Collins should enjoy an immediate QB upgrade with CJ Stroud taking over the offense. And if he’s healthy, Collins could be one of the top offensive breakout players of 2023. But we need to see it to believe it, hence his last-place ranking here.
31. Rashod Bateman (Baltimore Ravens)
Injuries limited Baltimore’s 2021 first-round pick to 18 total games over his first two seasons. He showed promise as a rookie with 46 catches for 515 yards and a touchdown.
It bodes well for Bateman that new offensive coordinator Todd Monken will transition to a more balanced offense this year.
30. Adam Thielen (Carolina Panthers)
Hard to believe, but Thielen hasn’t been a 1,000-yard receiver since 2018. Granted, injuries and Justin Jefferson’s rise to stardom in Minnesota didn’t help matters for Thielen.
The 33-year-old had 70 catches for 716 yards and six scores last year. With a thin receiving corps outside of Thielen, expect Bryce Young to look his way aplenty. Maybe Thielen can turn back the clock and push for 1K yards again.
29. Marquise Brown (Arizona Cardinals)
If Kyler Murray weren’t missing a good chunk of the year, Brown would have been a bit higher. But it’s hard to see Brown doing much of anything a) with Colt McCoy feeding him the ball and b) DeAndre Hopkins and AJ Green no longer there to draw more attention from the opposing D.
28. Kadarius Toney (Kansas City Chiefs)
The Chiefs trust Patrick Mahomes enough to turn the ex-New York Giant and 2021 first-round pick into a star. So much so that they were okay letting JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman walk to free agency.
Toney didn’t have eye-popping stats after joining the Chiefs via trade, but he was the unsung hero of their Super Bowl 57 win over Philadelphia. So let’s see what he can do in a full year with this offense…
27. Darius Slayton (New York Giants)
Slayton has surpassed 700 yards receiving in three of his first four NFL seasons. Unlike most other guys on this list, however, he’s not the undisputed WR1 in New York. Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard, Parris Campbell and rookie Jalin Hyatt will push for that crown as well.
But among the bunch, Slayton is the most established and proven.
26. JuJu Smith-Schuster (New England Patriots)
The Patriots haven’t had a true star wideout since 2019 Julian Edelman. Will free agent signing JuJu Smith-Schuster step up and take over as “the guy” in Foxborough?
He rebuilt his value by putting together a nice year in KC which culminated with his first Super Bowl ring. Of course, JuJu will have competition for the WR1 role there alongside DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and even under-the-radar rookie Kayshon Boutte.
25. Drake London (Atlanta Falcons)
Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder didn’t exactly crush it as Atlanta’s QBs last year, but it didn’t stop London from turning in a real-solid rookie year. London finished the year with 72 catches for 866 yards — the third-most among rookie wideouts in 2022 — and four touchdowns.
With Bijan Robinson in the fold and Kyle Pitts returning from injury, however, it remains to be seen how much of the pie London will get in the passing game. Stay tuned.
24. Christian Watson (Green Bay Packers)
Watson and Jahan Dotson of Washington finished in a tie for first in receiving touchdowns among rookies with seven apiece. Impressive for Watson, considering that he missed three games.
Watson had three 100-yard receiving games last season. If healthy, this could be the year he establishes himself as the next great wideout in Green Bay. Of course, it largely depends on how Jordan Love fares at QB…
23. Jerry Jeudy (Denver Broncos)
The Broncos had the worst scoring offense last year, but Jeudy still turned in a career year with 67 catches for 972 yards and six touchdowns.
Every Broncos player and fan can only hope that Sean Payton’s arrival will help the Russell Wilson-led offense live up to its sky-high potential after a miserable 2022 campaign. But Jeudy is capable of pushing for 1,000 yards if healthy — no matter who’s throwing the ball to him.
22. Calvin Ridley (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Ridley was suspended for all of 2022 after the NFL caught him gambling on games. Hehasn’t played a full season since 2020, so why a top-22 ranking?
Well, consider that Ridley recorded over 60 catches and north of 800 receiving yards in his first three seasons while with Atlanta. To us, there’s no doubt he’ll regain his Pro Bowl-caliber form in a Doug Pederson-coached and Trevor Lawrence-led offense.
21. DeAndre Hopkins (Tennessee Titans)
Hopkins is a tough one to rank here. He has been a top-five receiver in the game when healthy, but the problem is that injuries and suspensions limited him to 19 games over the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Also, it’s dangerous betting on D-Hop to perform like a superstar now that he’s on the wrong side of 30…and that his quarterback is also an ageing and injury-prone commodity in Ryan Tannehill.
If Hopkins plays all 17 games, though, he just might return to top-10 wide receiver status.
20. Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis Colts)
The Colts passing game sucked big time last year, but it didn’t stop Pittman Jr. from hauling in a career-high 99 passes for 925 yards and four touchdowns.
Pittman Jr.’s strong production without good QB play factored high in his rankings here. If rookie Anthony Richardson comes as advertised, Pittman Jr. could go off in his contract year.
19. Diontae Johnson (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Three straight seasons of 80-plus catches and over 800 yards for Johnson…also without a solid QB option. It’ll be neck-and-neck between Johnson and second-year product George Pickens for the WR1 job in 2023.
But either way, Kenny Pickett is set up nicely to succeed as a sophomore with this dynamic receiving duo.
18. Mike Williams (Los Angeles Chargers)
Williams could have set personal bests in 2022 if he didn’t miss four games. Regardless, he has supplanted Keenan Allen as the WR1 in Chargers land.
Allen is injury prone and ending his prime, but Williams remains one of the game’s toughest one-on-one covers with the ideal combination of size, physicality and game-changing speed. Expect Williams and Justin Herbert to again be one of football’s premier pass-catching duos in 2023.
17. Chris Olave (New Orleans Saints)
With Derek Carr now taking over the offense, Olave could make the jump from “good” to “great” in 2023.
16. Amari Cooper (Cleveland Browns)
You know what you’re getting with Cooper. He has surpassed 1,000 yards in six of his eight NFL seasons. In fact, the 1,160 yards he put up in year one with the Browns was the second-best mark of his career. And those nine receiving TDs? A personal best!
If Deshaun Watson can bounce back and return to his Texans-like form, Cooper could easily turn in his best season yet.
15. D.J. Moore (Chicago Bears)
You know you’re a real-solid receiver when a “down year” consists of 888 catches and a career-high seven TD receptions. Remind us who was throwing the ball in Carolina again last year?
Justin Fields is already better than any QB Moore worked with in Carolina, so you can expect another season of 60-something catches and 800-plus receiving yards.
14. Amon-Ra St. Brown (Detroit Lions)
Still can’t believe this speedy and slick wideout was a fourth-round pick in 2021. St. Brown was one of nine receivers to hit the 100-catch plateau last season, but we’re sure bigger things away here in 2023.
Jared Goff made significant improvement in his second season with the Lions. No reason to believe this dynamic QB-receiving combo will slow down in 2023. If anything, it’ll be even better.
13. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Unlike a box full of chocolates, you know what you’re getting with Evans. Nine NFL seasons down, nine 1,000-yard campaigns. A remarkable model of consistency.
Tom Brady’s retirement hurts, no doubt, but Evans was putting up elite numbers well before Brady arrived anyway. He should once again surpass 1K this season, regardless of who’s throwing the football.
12. Deebo Samuel (San Francisco 49ers)
Samuel missed four games last year and thus couldn’t build off his breakout 2021 season in which he tallied 1,770 yards of offense and 14 total TDs.
But keep in mind Samuel had to work with three different starting QBs last season. He’s had a full summer now to build more chemistry with Brock Purdy, and if healthy, will again be the go-to receiver in San Fran’s loaded offense.
11. Terry McLaurin (Washington Commanders)
McLaurin’s consistent production is especially impressive because the best QB he’s had in his career up to this point is Taylor Heinicke. But all he does is continue to put up Pro Bowl-like numbers, exceeding 70 receptions and 1,000 yards in each of the last three years.
Not sure how Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett will fare at QB, but we do know that “Scary Terry” will be his usual dominant self in 2023. As usual, a must-have for your fantasy team.
10. D.K. Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks)
Metcalf helped Geno Smith turn in a career year that culminated in Comeback Player of the Year honors. Though the six receiving TDs were the lowest mark of Metcalf’s career, he did haul in a career-high 90 receptions.
Metcalf hasn’t missed a game through his first four seasons. The arrival of promising rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba means Metcalf can expect fewer targets, but it’s hard to think of more than five pass-catchers who are tougher in one-on-one coverage than the beast in Seattle.
9. Garrett Wilson (New York Jets)
Wilson won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors on a Jets team whose best QB in 2022 was Joe freaking’ Flacco. Just a hunch, but we think Wilson will go off as a sophomore now that he has Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback.
83 yards for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. Can’t wait to see what Wilson does for an encore with A-Rod now captaining the offense.
8. A.J. Brown (Philadelphia Eagles)
Despite having to share targets with fellow star DeVonta Smith, Brown tallied a career year in 2022 and nearly helped the Eagles to a Super Bowl 57 championship. Brown was fourth in receiving last year with 1,496 yards. Only Davante Adams and Travis Kelce topped Brown’s TD receptions total of 11.
Something tells us Brown will be just as good — or even better! — in 2023 in this high-powered Philly offense.
7. Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams)
The Super Bowl 56 MVP and 2021 Offensive Player of the Year unfortunately missed the final eight games last year with an ankle injury. BUT, only Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill averaged more yards per game than Kupp’s 90.2.
If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy after battling a variety of injuries last year, Kupp should re-assert himself as a top-five wideout in the game. I mean, we all know what happened in his last fully healthy season.
6. CeeDee Lamb (Dallas Cowboys)
As expected, Lamb made the jump from “great” to “superstar” following Amari Cooper’s departure. Lamb more than established himself as the new WR1 in Dallas, racking up 107 catches for 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns.
Dallas lacked a capable No. 2 receiving option in 2022, and yet there was no slowing Lamb down. But the arrival of Brandin Cooks opens the door for Lamb to put up even better numbers in year four.
5. Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills)
There were trade rumors and plenty of whispers that Diggs is unhappy with Buffalo, but the three-time Pro Bowler is still a member of the Bills. For now.
Diggs’ 338 receptions since 2020 are tied with Davante Adams for the most. Coming off a third straight season of 100 catches and over 1,200 yards receiving, Diggs should once again be in contention for the receiving crown in 2023.
4. Tyreek Hill (Miami Dolphins)
No Patrick Mahomes, no problem. All Hill did in year one outside of KC was tally 119 receptions for 1,710 yards — both career bests — and seven TDs. Only Justin Jefferson had more catches and receiving yards than Cheetah.
Pretty impressive considering Hill had to share targets with another superstar wideout in Jaylen Waddle. Now we wait and see if Hill can manage to top his 2022 totals…
3. Ja'Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals)
Unbelievable! Chase missed five games as a sophomore and still had 87 catches for 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns. In Cincy’s three playoff games, he had 20 catches for 220 yards and two TDs as they fell just short of a second straight Super Bowl appearance.
Chase has to share the ball with Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon. Yet he just keeps on humiliating defenders with his slick routes and contested catch abilities. Is it too early to suggest that Chase and Justin Jefferson will fight for the crown of the league’s best receiver over the next few or so years?
2. Davante Adams (Las Vegas Raiders)
The Raiders curiously got worse last year despite monster years from Adams and rushing champion Josh Jacobs. But the good news for the Silver and Black is that Adams showed he doesn’t need Aaron Rodgers to dominate.
Adams 1,516 receiving yards were a Raiders single-season record. His 14 receiving TDs also led the NFL – the second time in three years where Adams finished tops in that category. No reason to think he’ll slow down here in 2023.
1. Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings)
Most years when we do this list, it’s a tough call for No. 1. There was none of it this year, though.
The reigning Offensive Player of the Year led the NFL in both catches and receiving yards. He became just the sixth player to exceed 1,800 receiving yards, which is pretty darn good for those who aren’t good at math.
Oh, and Jefferson leads the NFL in receiving yards since breaking into the league in 2020. Need we say anymore?
Who do you think is the best wide receiver in the NFL entering 2023?
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