Wide receiver drama is nothing new at NFL training camps across the country. Thanks to guys like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, we've all come to expect noise from our star wideouts. So far this year, that has been no different. Training camps are hardly a week old and we are already have conflict involving two of the game's best pass catchers.
Antonio Brown has made his desire for a new contract known within the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. DeAndre Hopkins decided to take a stand.....for a day. He held out against the idea of holding out. He's now back in camp with the Houston Texans, but he's still looking for a fat new deal.
With Brown and Hopkins in my mind and fantasy football drafts right around the corner, I've come up with my list of top 5 NFL receivers heading into the 2016 NFL season:
5. DEZ BRYANT. This was the toughest ranking by far. Dez barely edges out DeAndre Hopkins because I am ranking these players by past production and future performance. Unfortunately for DeAndre Hopkins - just like his entire career, he will have another unknown throwing him the ball. Brock Osweiler is a wildcard without much history of success in this league. Dez, on the other hand, gets Tony Romo back. With Romo under center, Dez put up some of the best numbers in the NFL from 2012-2014. Bryant posted more than 1,200 yards in each season with a total of 31 TDS. He is still 27 years old and the Cowboys' offense will try to mirror the success of their 2014 team with a solid O-line and run game. That is something that will benefit Dez Bryant more than anyone.
4. AJ GREEN. He is sort of the forgotten man when it comes to wideout debates amongst fans. Green has steadily improved every season since entering the league in 2011 (he was injured in the 2014 season). He has put together three years of at least 86 receptions and nearly 1,300 yards. He has also hit the 10 TD plateau three times in his young career. His QB, Andy Dalton was on pace for his best season ever before getting injured late in 2015. Look for Dalton and Green to pick up right where they left off this season.
3. ODELL BECKHAM JR. Outside of an infamous game-long scuffle with Josh Norman, ODB was suspiciously under the radar last year, wasn't he? That likely had to do with following up the best rookie wideout season since Randy Moss of 1998. While fans came to expect one-handed 50 yard TDs on every play, Beckham quitely became one of the league's most complete wideouts last year. A re-vived Eli Manning helped Beckham to 96 catches, 1,450 yards and 13 TDs last season. He looks to improve on those numbers in 2016. A healthy Victor Cruz on the opposite side could help ODB out tremendously as well.
2. JULIO JONES. With Calvin Johnson now retired, Jones can take the title of biggest matchup nightmare across the league. He lead all wideouts in receptions and yards in 2015. He also did that with little help in the passing offense. Roddy White struggled mightily and the Falcons never found a consistent threat opposite Jones. Now, the team brings in Mohamed Sanu from the Bengals in hopes of taking eyes away from Jones. Since getting healthy in 2015, Jones has emerged as the biggest home run threat in the NFL. He has amassed 240 catches in the past two seasons.
1. ANTONIO BROWN. He is not only the best wideout in the game; he is also a likely candidate to go number one overall in most fantasy football drafts. Even without a completely healthy Big Ben, Brown managed to put up astounding numbers in 2015: 136 receptions, 1,834 yards to go along with 10 scores. Brown is the best offensive weapon in the league at just age 28. The former sixth round pick has an incredible 375 grabs since 2014. With a new contract on his mind, look for Brown to have the best season of his career starting in September.
Just missed the cut:
- DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
- Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
- Brandon Marshall, Jets
- Allen Robinson, Jaguars
- Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
- Sammy Watkins, Bills
- Amari Cooper, Raiders
- Mike Evans, Buccaneers
- Brian Benesch (On Twitter: @IMean_ThisGuy)