Judging wide receivers is very tough. One way to do that is to look just at their raw statistics, but a receiver’s production is heavily influenced by the environment he plays in — how often does his team pass, how talented is his quarterback, how good are the other targets on his team, etc. At a high level, it’s easy to assume that the best receivers are playing on the best passing attacks: after all, if a passing game is dominant, the receivers are likely a big part of the reason why.
The 1984 Dolphins, 2004 Colts, 2007 Patriots, and 2013 Broncos all had record-setting passing attacks. And while Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady were great, but they also each had not one, but two star receivers: Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison (and Brandon Stokely), Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker (and Wes Welker!). That’s generally the rule, not the exception: dynamic offenses almost always have a great quarterback, but they also almost always have multiple top receivers. The Falcons offense was outstanding last year, and it’s hard for a wide receiver to be better than Julio Jones, but even he only accounted for 28% of the Atlanta receiving yards and 16% of the Falcons receiving touchdowns (Jones also missed two games). [click to continue…]