Best wide reciever in the nfl right now
Debate Rounds (3)
DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins took the NFL by storm this year. 111 Receptions, 1521 Yards, 11 Touchdowns. And the critics will say "oh but his stats weren't as good..."
Yeah, because he was catching passes from a motley collection of Brandon Weeden, TJ Yates, Ryan Mallet and Brian Hoyer. Hoyer being the best of the lot... the same career backup journeyman Hoyer who threw 4 INTS and posted a pathetic 15.9 passer rating in the Texans 0-30 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
And who are those other weapons on the Texans roster who help take the defense's focus off Hopkins? They don't exist.
When has Ben Roethlisberger ever experienced issues with team success? He's been with the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2004 and the worst record they've ever had during that time frame is 8-8. Here's the Pittsburgh Steelers record over the last four seasons:
During this time frame the Steelers running game improved:
2012 - 26th best in the league
2013 - 27th
2014 - 16th
2015 - 16th
And their pass protection improved. If you look at Roethlisberger's Sack% - aka the number of times Ben is sacked per pass attempt - you'll see steady improvement over the last several seasons:
2012 - 6.3%
2013 - 6.7%
2014 - 5.1%
2015 - 4.1%
Brown has been excellent but crediting him with the entire team's collective improvement is not only unfair to the remaining 52 players on the Steelers roster, it's statistically inaccurate. But enough about Brown, let's talk about my boi Nuk. First off, that's a badass nickname: Nuk.
Second of all, when I judge a wide receiver I want to know how he performed against elite cornerbacks. Antonio Brown faced off against both Richard Sherman (6 rec, 51 yards, 0 TDs) and Patrick Peterson (3 rec, 24 yards, 0 TDs). Not exactly record breaking numbers. Where exactly is AB when he's not feasting on inferior competition?
Now my boi Nuk? He had the displeasure of drawing Darrelle Revis in Week 11 and completely owned Revis Island to the tune of 5 receptions, 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. While mind you, catching passes from back-up QB TJ Yates.
Sources? I found all my stats on pro football reference.
What if Brown's play falls down miserably next year? The future is purely speculative. We only have the present and past with which to judge.
As stated the Houston Texans had a rotating door at the QB position, featuring four different starters during 2015:
- Brian Hoyer started 9 games
- Ryan Mallet started 4
- TJ Yates started 2
- Brandon Weeden started 1
- Even 5th string scrub BJ Daniels had to step in and toss a few pass attempts in Week 16.
And while Antonio Brown may face double coverage from time to time, teams can't afford to focus solely on him. When they do, you end up with games like fellow Steelers WRs Martavis Bryant's 178 yards game in Week 10 and WR Markus Wheaton's 200+ yards performance in Week 12. Bryant and Wheaton take a lot of pressure off Antonio Brown. They keep teams honest and force defense's to play the majority of their day with single coverage on Brown.
Meanwhile opposing defenses only need to worry about one game every week: Deandre Hopkins.
When I look at Antonio Brown I see:
- Better quarterback
- More weapons to take the pressure off
- Lesser performances against elite cornerbacks (Sherman & Peterson from Argument #2)
- He's got the easier job.
When I look at DeAndre Hopkins I see:
- A receiver who has proven he can produce no matter who is playing QB
- Relatively no fellow teammates on offense who can take the pressure off
- A guy who, despite all those challenges, was still able to dominate an elite cornerback (Darrelle Revis)
I get it, Antonio Brown has slightly better stats. But stats don't tell the whole story. It's time to recognize DeAndre Hopkins as the best wide receiver in the NFL right now.
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