Saturday, April 1, 2023

Ranking the Top Five Wide Receiver Duos in the NFL Since Free Agency Opened

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Last week the NFL was turned upside down and turned all around as there were a pair of huge trades that sent two of the league’s best pass catchers to new teams after the new league officially opened up last Wednesday.

The shakeup of Pittsburgh Steelers trading Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants sending Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns have also broken up and shaken up the top receiver tandems in the league. Here is a list of the top five wide receiver duos in the NFL after the first wave of free agency:
1. Adam Thielen & Stefon Diggs: the tandem of Beckham Jr. and Landry have yet to hit the field in a regular season game so until they can prove that they are the more dynamic duo than Thielen and Diggs. They have combined for 4,519 yards, 370 catches and 30 touchdowns over the past two seasons which is the most of any pair of receivers only behind the recently disbanded duo of Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster who combined for 5,173 receiving yards, 374 catches and 38 touchdowns over the same span.
2. Odell Beckham Jr. & Jarvis Landry: The two former LSU Tigers and longtime friends are teammates once again are expected to be the most dangerous duo in the league for years to come with Baker Mayfield. Landry has put up 1,963 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns on 193 catches during his last season in Miami and his first year in Cleveland. In his last two seasons with the Giants in which he’s played at least 12 games, Beckham put a combined 2,419 yards and 16 touchdowns on 178 receptions.
3. Antonio Brown & Tyrell Williams: Brown is a matchup nightmare for any defense that can’t be taken away no matter how well he’s covered or bracketed over top with safety help so he will put up monster numbers no matter what.

The other receivers that line up across from Brown often benefit from facing the opposing teams No.2 corner and single coverage which is a role that Williams is familiar with as he was the Robin in Chargers offense the last four years while Keenan Allen played Batman. The two are expected to assume their usual roles in Oakland after signing lucrative deals with the Raiders.
4. Julio Jones & Calvin Ridley: While Ridley got off to the hottest start of any rookie last season before cooling off down the stretch. He would still finish the year as the most productive of the rookie receivers with 64 receptions, 821 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns. Jones led the whole league in receiving yards with 1,677 on 113 catches and hauled in 11 touchdowns. Players tend to see their biggest leaps in production in year two of careers and if his first year was any indication of what is to come when the two Alabama Alums could be the league’s most dangerous one-two combination for years to come.
5. Keenan Allen & Mike Williams: After not even topping a dozen catches, 100 yards receiving and not recording a single touchdown in 10 games as a rookie in 2017, Williams’ emergence in his sophomore season is what led to the team letting Williams walk in free agency. He followed up his woeful rookie season with a solid second year, finishing with 664 receiving yards on 43 catches and posted 10 touchdowns.

After two injury-riddled seasons in 2015 and 2016, Allen has put together back to back seasons of over 1,000 yards. He has amassed 2589 receiving yards on 193 catches and scored 12 touchdowns in 2017 and 2018 combined.
Honorable Mention:

DeAndre Hopkins & Will Fuller: The two Texans wideouts could be the most explosive tandem in the league if Fuller could just stay healthy. He was on pace for a career year before tearing his ACL not even seven games into the season and was on his way to his first 1,000-yard season and careers highs in catches and touchdowns.

Fuller has yet to play full 16 game season since being selected in the first round out of Notre Dame in 2016. If he can finally shake the injury bug, he and the always dependable Hopkins could make a legit run for the No.1 spot.

AJ Green & Tyler Boyd: Since the seven-time Pro Bowler was dealing with a nagging toe injury for the majority of the season, Boyd churned out the first 1,000 seasons of his career and with Green expected be back at full strength next season the two will form quite the formidable duo.

Micheal Thomas & Whoever: His Twitter handle @Cantguardmike is very accurate as the third-year receiver has been among the best in the league since being selected by the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft. He led the league in catches last season with 125 catches, has the best catch rate of any receiver in the league and has put together back to back season of over 1,000 yards receiving.

He is firmly among the league’s elite at his position and like Brown, Hopkins, and Jones demands and beats double teams and bracketed coverage with regularity. That means whoever lines up across from him will have the opportunity to produce.

Brandon Cooks, Robert Woods & Cooper Kupp: To exclude one of these three off the list would be doing a disservice to whichever of them got left off out. Each of them has flourished in Sean McVay’s highly sophisticated and innovative scheme. Don’t be surprised if they are the only team in the NFL that finishes the year with three 1,000-yard receivers.

If Kupp hadn’t torn his ACL after playing just half the season, it would have happened last year after Cooks crossed that threshold for the fourth straight year in his first year with the Rams and Woods topped the 1,000 marks for first time in his career after leading the team in receiving yards last year with 1,219.

#sports #football

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