Randy Moss. Antonio Brown. Odell Beckham. While QBs will always hold the spotlight as the biggest names in the NFL, wide receivers often come in right behind them, as the best wideouts often exude both talent and personality. But what about their sidekicks? A great receiver (perhaps with the exception of Calvin Johnson) can only do so much, and that’s why a dynamic receiver duo often opens the door for a truly explosive offense.
It’s important to recognize greatness in its midst. And, as we live in arguably the most gifted generation of receiver talent ever, let’s take a look at the top 10 wide receiver duos entering the upcoming season:
10. Will Fuller V and Devante Parker – Miami Dolphins
Though each of Will Fuller and Devante Parker have been consistently been hampered by injuries throughout their careers, there’s no denying the bevy of talent these two bring to the gridiron. The only 1,000+ yard season between either of them was Parker’s 72 catch, 1202 yard campaign in 2019, but with Parker, Mike Gesicki, and the newly acquired Fuller, it’s hard to argue that there’s many more exciting receiving corps in the NFL than the Miami Dolphins. If healthy, Fuller and Parker could definitely climb up this list.
9. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers
Despite working within Anthony Lynn’s run-centric offense the last few seasons, Allen has notched at least 992 receiving yards and 97+ catches in every season since 2017. As the pinnacle of modern-day route running in the NFL, there is perhaps no more reliable and consistent wideout out there.
As for Williams, it was only two seasons ago when he had a 1,000+ yard season en route to leading the league in yards per reception, with 20.4. With a 6’4 frame, 4.54 40 yard dash, and some of the best ball skills in the league, Williams can stretch the field on downfield shot plays with the best of ’em. With record-breaking QB Justin Herbert ready to take the leap to stardom, expect big numbers from this duo.
8. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins – Cincinatti Bengals
It might be surprising to see Boyd and a second-year player ahead of more exciting names like Keenan Allen and Will Fuller, but the relative lack of popularity for Boyd and Higgins is surely neither of their faults.
Boyd has posted 2 1,000+ yard seasons in the last three years on a 66.9% catch rate, and almost surely would have been 3 for 3 had Joe Burrow not gone down with an ACL tear late in 2020. Higgins, the 33rd overall pick in the 2020 draft, superseded expectations in his rookie seasons and will only improve from here, as he posted 908 receiving yards on the year despite being buried behind A.J. Green on the depth chart to start the year. He’s clearly shown that he’s ready to take on the No. 1 receiver role on the team in 2021.
7. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry – Cleveland Browns
While the common notion of OBJ and Jarvis Landry is that of two aging receivers whose best days are behind them, a look into the numbers shows a duo that still remains elite. Beckham has still yet to finish with less than 1,000 receiving yards in a season he’s played more than 7 games in, while Landry has averaged 996 yards per season in his 3 seasons with Cleveland, while maintaining a PFF receiving grade above 80 in each of the past two campaigns.
After the Browns experienced the failed Freddie Kitchens experiment and dealt with a myriad of skill-position injuries in 2020, don’t be surprised if OBJ and Landry finally have a year where their chemistry and performance come together for big-time production.
6. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams
Despite the lack of hardware between Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods (no Pro Bowls!), the two have been as reliable of a receiving duo as it gets over the last three seasons. Even while playing with a relative inexplosive Jared Goff at quarterback, the two each amassed over 1,100 yards in 2019.
Now that former Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford is in town, the two should be able to take their games and their numbers to new heights, as Stafford has been able to facilitate huge passing numbers throughout the course of his career.
Kupp and Woods are simply two guys who every team could use – hard-nosed, rugged gamers who excel in both run-blocking and pass-catching.
5. Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb – Dallas Cowboys
Here’s where we get to the real meat of the list. For Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb entering 2021, the sky’s the limit. Cooper and last year’s 17th overall pick combined for over 2,000 yards receiving last year, even with Dallas’ often-anemic offensive attack shouldering the load following Dak Presott’s injury.
As Prescott was on his way to break all sorts of passing records before the brutal injury, it’s truly possible that this could’ve been a duo for the ages. Everyone knows the immense talent that these two guys have – the only thing in the way of a crazy year with outlandish point totals will be health.
4. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks
When “let Russ cook” took off to start the the 2020 campaign, it looked as if Lockett and Metcalf could possibly have one of the best WR duo seasons in NFL history. Though the Seahawks offense eventually slowed down and their numbers came back to earth, D.K. and Lockett’s numbers were nothing to scoff at at season’s end. Each finished with 1,000+ yards and 10+ touchdowns, including Metcalf’s monster 1,300 yard campaign in only his second season.
Metcalf, a big-bodied tank with incredible straight-line speed, and Lockett, an agile, dynamic playmaker who creates separation at will, are a rare duo in that they offer two entirely different skill sets but can both stretch the field and punch the ball in at the goal line. Anything better than last year’s performance should vault them into the top 3.
3. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings
Though the Vikings offense is predicated on running the football with Dalvin Cook, Jefferson and Thielen exploded last year for 2,325 yards and 21 touchdowns. Jefferson’s 1,400 receiving yard season was a rookie record, and shows the promise of a perennial Pro Bowl player.
Even Jefferson, Thielen, and Kirk Cousins’ first year all together, the trio displayed a synergy marching down the field that is rare even for longtime teammates. Timing, crisp route-running, and offensive schematics are more prominent for this duo than their physical gifts, but that doesn’t make them any less effective.
2. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With a ring crossed off their bucket lists, there might not be another duo better than Evans and Godwin in terms of both accomplishment and current ability. Evans has made three Pro Bowls and has never had a season with less than 1,000 receiving yards, while Godwin has gone off for over 83 yards per game over the last two seasons.
No one questions the elite duo these two form with legendary QB Tom Brady – and with Antonio Brown back for 2021, the Bucs are going to be tough to stop once again.
1. Julio Jones and A.J. Brown – Tennessee Titans
After acquiring Jones, there’s no dispute that the Titans now own the most freakishly athletic WR duo in a longggggg time. And they have the numbers to back it, too.
With sub 4.5 speed and the strength to bully corners in the slot, Brown has turned in consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons to start his career, and he seriously has the kind of potential to become a Jones-level receiver. And for Julio, despite injuries cutting his season to only 9 games last year, still was on pace for 1,371 yards for a 16-game season. That was his worst 16-game pace since 2013.
If that’s not enough to convince you that these two guys are far and away the best receiving duo in the league, I don’t know what will. Watch out, NFL. The Titans are primed for a big year.