The Best Wide Receiver In The NFL Right Now?

Each week of the 2022 NFL season, the Next Gen Stats analytics team will present a different Position Power Ranking meant to spotlight the top performances among a specific group of players. This week, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 wide receivers heading into Week 15.

Before we dive in, though, a note on our methodology: To help create quantifiable rankings, we have devised a formula that yields a Next Gen Stats percentile score, which measures how a player is performing relative to his peers. The formula uses each individual’s percentile score across a series of key metrics to create one composite score, indicating which players at that position performed best. We will lean on this formula to inform our rankings when applicable.

5. Stefon Diggs

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Diggs went from good to great following his trade from Minnesota to Buffalo in 2020. Since joining Josh Allen and the Bills, Diggs leads the NFL with 2,953 receiving yards when aligned wide, and his 1,077 yards on hitch routes over that span are 370 more than the next-closest player (Tyler Lockett, 707). As it pertains to this season specifically, Diggs has not slowed down, leading the league with 10 receiving TDs when aligned wide.

The Allen-Diggs connection leads all QB-receiver duos with +61.0 expected points added this season, helping the Bills surge to the top spot in the AFC entering Week 15 and giving both players plenty to be thankful for.

4. A.J. Brown

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Brown recently said he feels like he “won” the trade that sent him from Tennessee to Philadelphia during the 2022 NFL Draft, and it’s hard to argue with him, based on the results. Brown has been dominant on tight-window throws this season, with a career-high 273 yards on such targets (second in the NFL behind George Pickens).

In fact, with four games remaining on the schedule, Brown already has set the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016) single-season record with four touchdowns on deep, tight-window passes. The addition of Brown has helped Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense reach new heights, as Hurts has a league-high nine TD passes on go routes this season with Brown being responsible for an NFL-best five of them.

3. Davante Adams

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Speaking of top-end receivers who switched teams in the offseason, Adams presents another great case study in positional value. The Packers’ offense has faltered for most of the season without Adams to create explosive plays. Meanwhile, the veteran wideout has scored a league-high eight touchdowns on deep targets for his new team, two more than any other player. Again, Adams’ impact is felt beyond just the box score.

The Raiders have faced Cover 6 at an outlier rate this season (17 percent, the only team over 13 percent), as defenses “cloud” Adams’ side of the field, drawing a safety farther away from the ball. This makes fitting the run more difficult for defenses, helping Josh Jacobs run away with the rushing title (so far) this season.

2. Tyreek Hill

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After the Chiefs traded Hill in the offseason, he presented an ideal case study for how important an elite receiver can be to an offense. What would Hill’s performance look like when he didn’t have an out-of-this-world quarterback throwing to him? Instead of taking a step back, Hill has elevated an entire offense and been the key to third-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s breakout season.

The “Cheetah” has put up historic efficiency numbers this season, gaining 3.7 yards for every route run. To put that in perspective, he is currently the only player in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016) to average over 3.3 yards per route in a season (min. 300 routes run). Like Jefferson in Minnesota, Hill’s presence forces defenses to become more predictable and one dimensional.

1. Justin Jefferson

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Very few players in NFL history have immediately dominated the way Jefferson has since entering the league in 2020. Last month, the former LSU star surpassed another legendary Vikings receiver — none other than Hall of Famer Randy Moss — for the most receiving yards in a player’s first three seasons, and he has only added to that total over the last couple weeks.

Jefferson makes the improbable look routine, with six more receptions (24) than any other player this season on passes with less than a 50 percent completion probability. With defenses afraid to leave a corner on an island, the Vikings have faced the lowest rate of single-high coverages this season (45 percent).

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