Who is the hottest receiver in the NFL right now?
With so much talent glittering team rosters it is harder to pick than a broken nose.
The first name to nominate is a man who shares a name with a legendary exotic singer. Not Enrique, but Julio – Julio Jones. The Atlanta Falcons dynamo is well on his way to being the leading receiver in the NFL this season.
At the halfway mark of the regular season, the 27-year-old has made 839 yards from 43 receptions with four TDs. That is an impressive average of 20 yards per reception and 107 yards per game. It could have been even greater had he made more of an influence on the Falcons last-gasp win over the Green Bay Packers for Sunday Night Football.
Jones has a career average of 15.8 yards per reception so he is in mightily good form.
While he has had three games with less than 30 yards, he monstered the Carolina Panthers with 300 yards from just 12 receptions and a touchdown to claim 174 yards from nine receptions against San Diego. The only man in front of Jones for yards is the brilliant A. J. Green, Andy Dalton’s top target in Cincinnati with 896 yards.
Amari Cooper (Oakland, 787 yards) and T. Y. Hilton (Indianapolis, 709 yards) are the only other receivers to pass 700 yards, however Jones by far has the highest number of yards per reception. This means his gains are big, and he is supremely dangerous once the football is in his hands.
Other top receiving performers include Mike Evans (Tampa Bay), Michael Crabtree (Oakland) and Jordy Nelson (Green Bay) who all have a half-dozen TDs to their name.
Tight end Rob Gronkowsi has missed a few games through injury but he has registered 484 yards from 22 receptions at a league high 22 yards per catch. He leads Pittsburgh’s Sammie Coates (21.3 yards), teammate Chris Hogan (20.6) and Jones.
Jones has been the best all-round performer and appears the most likely to influence a result. Should he stay fit and avoid the injury scare he suffered against Green Bay when he was forced off the field, the receiver is on track for a mega campaign and could help guide the franchise to a Super Bowl appearance.
RODD’S RANKINGS: WIDE RECIEVERS
1. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
The most dynamic receiver in the NFL so far this season. Sure, he has his quiet moments but hauls of 300 and 174 yards illustrates just how good he is when in form.
2. A. J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals
Often the Bengals are maligned for being a one-trick pony on offence. That one trick, however, being Andy Dalton to A. J. Green works so well most defences still can’t stop it. Green has outstanding hands and is hard to stop in the end zone.
3. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers
Hugely talented and extremely brash, Brown is one of the most captivating wide receivers in the game. He is considered a Rolls Royce but with fellow Steeler Martavius Bryant suspended for the season, Brown will need to produce even more than that quality.
4. Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders
The youngest on this list and one of the most exciting offensive playmakers drafted in recent seasons. At the disposal of rising star quarterback Derek Carr, Cooper is a huge red zone threat and dangerous once given space to run. Those two and defensive star Khalil Mack can lead Oakland from the doldrums back into success.
5. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
From the youngest to the oldest, however the great Larry Fitzgerald does not seem to have aged. The 33-year-old is still playing an important role for the Cardinals and quarterback Carson Palmer, and is as dangerous as ever when nearing the touchdown line. Fitzgerald is currently 12th on the all-time receivers list with 13,920 yards and may yet break into the top 10.