I am not going to be able to put up Bill Simmons' column on Friday, so I thought I would try to get his Friday chat up sometime this weekend and give another unsolicited opinion on the top 20 receivers in football, inspired by this article. I am not including tight ends in this discussion and, as always, this is my opinion so feel free to disagree. I am not taking the past statistics of these players into account, but put them where I believe they rank right now.
1. Andre Johnson- He has Matt Schaub/Sage Rosenfels throwing him the ball, which is an automatic disadvantage and yet he still put great numbers. I don't always buy that he has not much else around him, simply because he has a great tight end in Owen Daniels and Kevin Walker helps to take some of the load off him, but he is the best regardless of who is around him. If Bill Simmons wants someone underrated, this would be a decent pick.
2. Larry Fitzgerald- This is not based on his postseason performance but based completely on the fact teams often know the ball is coming to him and yet he still catches it. I am not an expert but it seems he is great at going up and catching the ball in traffic. I have seen this first hand in person and on television too many times. I think the playoffs are his official coming out party. I just wish someone would double team him at some point. Maybe that would work...
3. Calvin Johnson- To amass 1,300 yards receiving and having the ball thrown to him by quarterbacks who have no business starting NFL games is impressive to me. Throw in the fact his numbers are almost the exact same before and after Roy Williams was traded to the Cowboys and I think he could be the best receiver in football in 2 years. Easily.
4. Steve Smith- Forget how tall he is or anything else about his physical stature, he is very hard for just one cornerback to bring down, is fast, and possibly insane. Considering his quarterback is Jake Delhomme, whose favorite pass is the Hail Mary down the field to Smith, it is amazing he has 1,400 yards...and that was in 14 games.
6. Anquan Boldin- Whether he is throwing hissy fits on the sidelines or not, he is a great receiver. He played in 12 games this year and still had almost 1,100 yards receiving. It's not a Kurt Warner thing either, he had 1,400 yards in 14 games in 2004. Injuries seem to be a problem (not including the hit that knocked him out this year, he has only played a full season twice), but Boldin is a great receiver with or without Fitzgerald on the other side of the field.
8. Greg Jennings- This was Jennings first year where he played all 16 games and he responded with almost 1,300 yards with a new quarterback (though I am sure he has played with Rodgers at some point in the past three seasons in practice). This year Driver and Jennings switched places in the Packer receiver pecking order and Jennings seems to be the new #1 receiver.
10. Wes Welker- I know this is going to seem too low for some people and way too high for others but the bottom line is that Welker had incredibly similar numbers from last year to this year and he had two different quarterbacks. He has his niche on offense and does well within it. Does it help to have Randy Moss on the other side of the field? Sure, it really helps him with his underneath routes, but that is not all that he runs. He is not a prototypical receiver, so it is hard to judge him against these other guys in my opinion.
12. Terrell Owens- This feels low to me but I would rather have every other receiver that is ranked above Owens right now than Owens. He caught 10 TD's and had another 1,000 yard receiving year which good. There were too many drops and he was ranked 41st in the league in catches for a first down. This may mean very little by itself and it may mean nothing. Under half of his catches led to first downs, which tells me personally either Romo is squeezing short passes into Owens or he is not breaking as many tackles as he used to. I am sure Cowboys fans will disagree with me.
14. Randy Moss- If anyone, besides Patriots fans, missed Tom Brady this year, it was Randy Moss. His receptions and yards nose dived this year, though he still had 11 touchdowns, which is good for most mortals. If Brady comes back next year I think Moss will have a much better year, he is nowhere near washed up and Welker takes care of all the tough passes over the middle so you don't have to worry about him getting his head knocked off. Whether Moss is still among the league's elite, I am not so sure.
16. T.J. Houshmandzadeh- It is a shame he is on the wrong side of 30 and has Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing the ball to him. He is a free agent this year and though he is not exactly a deep threat, he is like Muhsin Muhammad with a little bit more speed (and that is a compliment...sort of). I think he may end up getting some more respect than he currently gets because being on the other side of Chad Johnson.
17. Plaxico Burress- He only played in 10 games this year for, ummmm..., various reasons but this is still too low of a ranking for Plaxico and I do realize it. It's not that I don't think he is a great receiver, because he is, I am not sure he is one of the best in the league right now. New York Giant fans, feel free to explain how I am an idiot.
18. Dwayne Bowe- This is his second year in the league and has had two great seasons. I can only imagine how much I would think of him if he actually had one quarterback constantly throwing him the ball. The Chiefs shockingly actually did something right when they drafted him, now they just have to give him another receiver to take some attention off him or maybe help him out by putting an actual NFL team on the field.
19. Santana Moss- I have always thought of him as Steve Smith Lite for some reason. Maybe it is his height, though he is taller than Smith. If this were based on his past two years of statistics, I would not put him in the top 20 of receivers in the NFL, but I think he and Jason Campbell are actually getting some good chemistry together and this year showed that.
20. Derrick Mason- Consistency thy name is Derrick Mason. Every year between 1,000-1,100 yards (with a couple years as outliers) and 3-5 touchdowns. His only down year since 2000 was when Steve "Air" McNair was brought in to specifically jumpstart the offense in 2006. McNair played all 16 games that year and Mason struggled. I found that funny, maybe he had an injury of some sort that year. Either way Mason is part of a long line of good Michigan State wide receivers. Excluding Charles Rogers of course.
I plan on putting up the Simmons chat sometimes soon, so be sure to dread/look forward to that. For now though feel free to give me your opinion and tell me why I am right/wrong on these rankings. This was a lot harder than the QB rankings.