All-Pro Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said he thinks he can go for 3,000 receiving yards this season, which would be quite the accomplishment considering no player has ever gone for 2,000 yards receiving in a season. Former Lions receiver Calvin Johnson currently holds the single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards, but that mark is in jeopardy every season in a league that’s trended toward passing. So, which current players have the best shot at hitting 2,000 yards in 2019? Keep in mind, these are not fantasy rankings or real-life receiver rankings; these are simply the guys with the best chance of having a monstrous 2,000-yard season.
7. Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill went from 593 receiving yards as a rookie, to 1,183 yards in 2017, to 1,479 yards last season. Perhaps he’ll take another step forward and get close to 2K in 2019. Patrick Mahomes just threw for 5,000 yards last season, so there’s plenty to go around for Hill—and if you watched, you saw that Mahomes actually missed a noticeable number of deep balls; with Hill’s big-play ability, a few more hits could easily be another 200 or so yards.
What must happen: Patrick Mahomes is as good or better than last season, while Hill gets better all-around and connects on several more deep balls.
6. Amari Cooper
After Amari Cooper joined the Cowboys in a trade from Oakland last season, he was on pace for 1,303 yards across his 11 games in Dallas. That was after joining a new team and learning a new offense in middle of the year. Also, dating back to his time with the Raiders, Cooper has shown the ability to dominate games, and he did that twice in 2018 with the Cowboys, with games of 8/180/2 and 10/217/3 in divisional matchups. If he can get more consistent, Cooper could push for the league-lead in receiving.
What must happen: The Cowboys must open their offense up and feed Cooper double-digit targets every game.
5. DeAndre Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins has gone for over 1,500 yards twice in his career, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in the mix to hit that number again (barring injuries). However, because Hopkins is typically so successful on his targets and rarely drops passes, he could be given more opportunities to win on the outside and make plays down the field. If Will Fuller and Keke Coutee can’t stay healthy, Hopkins could near 2,000 yards this season.
What must happen: Deshaun Watson must give the heavily-targeted Hopkins even more opportunities in 2019.
4. JuJu Smith-Schuster
Ben Roethlisberger already targeted JuJu Smith-Schuster 166 times last season (fourth in the NFL), and 169 targets are missing from Pittsburgh’s offense after the departure of Antonio Brown. Big Ben has indicated that he has immense trust in the young receiver, and it’s possible he decides JuJu deserves a decent chunk of those. Smith-Schuster is one of the league’s better big-play threats, and 40-to-50+ yard plays would be important for a player to rack up 2,000 yards in a season.
What must happen: Smith-Schuster gets around 200 targets and continues to hit on big plays.
3. Davante Adams
Speaking of 200 targets, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, who cover the Packers, believes Davante Adams can hit that number this season. Aaron Rodgers has already said he wants to get his Pro Bowl receiver the ball more after he was tied for second in the NFL with 169 targets last season, so 200+ targets should be a possibility. They’re different players, but it’s worth noting that former Packers receiver Jordy Nelson went for 1,519 yards on just 151 targets back in 2016.
What must happen: Adams must actually get more targets like Rodgers has suggested, while also averaging more than the 12.5 yards per reception he was at in 2018.
2. Antonio Brown
Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock, and the Raiders took the risk of acquiring Antonio Brown and handing him a new contract, and you can bet they are going to get their money’s worth from him in 2019. Brown was routinely among the league-leaders in targets with the Steelers, and that shouldn’t change with the Raiders. It’s not likely that AB forms as good of a connection with Derek Carr as he had with Ben Roethlisberger immediately, but he could still be in the 2,000-yard mix if he’s force-fed targets.
We must happen: Brown and his new quarterback must instantly have a solid connection, with Gruden making Brown’s playmaking ability the focal point of his offense.
1. Julio Jones
It’s basically impossible for Julio Jones (or any receiver) to hit 3,000 yards in a season—and Jones might have been half-joking when he made the remark—but he should have the best chance of any player to hit 2K in 2019. Jones averages the most yards per game at NFL history, and he has the second-highest single-season receiving yardage total in history with 1,871 yards in 2015. Julio also has the most 250+ yard games in league history (three), and he’s one of only five players to have multiple 1,600-yard years in a career. His ability to absolutely take over a game means he has a better chance to knock out 10% of 2,000 in one game than anyone else.
What must happen: If Jones can avoid statistical duds while throwing in his usual massive performances, 2,000 isn’t unrealistic.