Continuing my positional rankings from the past decade, wide receivers are the focus this week.
These players will be ranked only on what they did in between January of 2000 and December of 2009. Players will be ranked on regular season production, postseason production, and awards, as well as their impact on the game.
There were even tougher calls on this list than the running back rankings. The top five are almost impossible to separate.
To me there is no question AJ is one of the top two wide receivers in the game right now.
Considering that he played on mostly mediocre teams with mostly mediocre players around him, it is amazing he can make the list with the three-year disadvantage he has to so many others.
But the numbers are there: 587 receptions, 7,948 yards, 13.5 yards per catch, and 42 TDs. Johnson has also been to four Pro Bowls in seven years.
On numbers alone Plaxico Burress would have edged Johnson, but stupidity has to get Burress bumped at least one spot.
Muhsin was a bit of a surprise on the list when I compiled the numbers, considering he mostly played on run-first teams and hasn't been a name mentioned much in the last five years.
He has really good numbers though, accompanied by one of the better seasons any receiver had this decade (1,400 yards and 16 TDs in 2004).
His numbers for the decade: 644 catches for 8,520 yards and 47 TDs. He also contributed 30 catches for 558 yards and three TDs in the postseason and helped the Panthers get to a Super Bowl.
Coles is the last of the surprises on the list. He did have at least 82 catches in four different seasons between 2002 and 2006 and went over 1,000 yards three times.
His numbers for the decade: 674 catches for 8,520 yards and 47 TDs. He added another 27 catches, 282 yards, and one TD in the postseason.
Fitzgerald would obviously be higher had he not missed the first four seasons of the decade, but consistently stellar play and one monstrous postseason make him a no-brainer.
In his six seasons he has had at least 90 catches and 10 TDs four times and at least 1,400 yards three times.
His numbers for the decade: 523 catches for 7,067 yards and 59 TDs. He added 30 catches for 546 yards and seven TDs in the postseason and is a four-time Pro Bowler.
Mr. Consistency, Driver has at least 70 catches and 1,000 yards in each of the last six seasons and seven times this decade, and he has done an awesome job keeping younger guys that were higher draft picks on the bench most of his career.
His numbers for the decade: 644 catches for 9,019 yards and 49 TDs. He's added 32 receptions for 461 yards and two TDs in the postseason and is a three-time Pro Bowler.
Smith is a guy who maybe if he played with a Peyton Manning or Brett Favre most of his career would be a best player on the planet candidate.
But even in the offense he has played in, he has managed 1,000 yards and seven-plus TDs five different times. His best year was 2005, when he had 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 TDs.
His numbers for the decade: 574 catches for 8,330 yards, 52 TDs, and 14.5 yards per catch. He added 47 catches, 782 yards, and eight TDs in the postseason and was a three-time Pro Bowl WR—as a rookie he went as a kick returner.
At first I thought Bruce would be higher on the list, but he did a lot of his damage in the '90s as well. He helped the Rams to two Super Bowls in the 2000s and had at least 1,000 yards five times.
His numbers for the decade: 635 catches for 9,380 yards, 60 TDs, and 14.8 yards per catch. He added another 44 catches for 759 yards and four TDs in the postseason and went to three Pro Bowls this decade.
Mason has caught at least 70 passes for 1,000 yards in eight of the 10 years this decade. He also did it playing on many run-first offenses and was a very good return man the first half of the decade.
His numbers for the decade: 816 catches for 10,481 yards and 56 TDs. He added another 43 catches for 518 yards and two TDs in the postseason.
Wayne spent his first few years in the league being the other guy in the offense but has now caught at least 80 passes the last five years, helping the Colts win a Super Bowl, and has been voted to four straight Pro Bowls.
His numbers for the decade: 676 catches for 9,393 yards and 63 TDs. He added another 66 catches for 963 yards and eight TDs in the postseason.
Ochocinco may be more known for his antics than his play now, but from 2003-2007 he caught at least 87 passes for more than 1,200 yards every year.
His numbers for the decade: 684 catches for 9,952 yards, 62 TDs, and 14.5 yards per catch. In his only two postseason games he has added only six catches for 87 yards and has been to six Pro Bowls.
The next five are very hard to separate.
By far the quietest guy on the list, he would have been higher had his first few years been this decade or had he not fizzled out these last few years.
In his prime, though, he might have been the best in the business. He caught at least 82 passes for 1,100 yards and 10 TDs in each of the first seven years of the decade.
In 2002 he caught an NFL-record 143 passes for 1,722 yards. That record could stand for a long time, as the next highest total is 20 catches behind.
For the decade, his numbers are 791 catches, 10,439 yards, and 95 TDs. He added another 62 catches for 812 yards and two TDs in the postseason and helped the Colts win the ring in 2007. Seven-time Pro Bowler.
Ward is the toughest receiver on the list and is known by defenders as much for his blocks as his catches.
He is a four-time Pro Bowler, a two-time champion, and was the MVP of SB XL. His best season statistically was 2002, when he caught 112 passes for 1,329 yards and 12 TDs.
His numbers for the decade: 819 catches for 10,063 yards and 72 TDs. He added another 76 catches, 1,064 yards, and eight TDs in the postseason. He has the most postseason catches and receiving yards and is tied for the most postseason TDs this decade.
It's hard to deny TO's greatness on the field, though many of us would like to. I even wanted to bump him down a few spots, but the numbers just won't allow it.
Owens had at least 1,000 yards eight times this decade and had over 1,300 four of those times.
His numbers for the decade: 784 catches for 11,644 yards, 114 TDs, and 14.9 yards per reception average. He added another 32 catches for 449 yards and three TDs in the postseason and was a six-time Pro Bowler.
There are a lot of reasons to say Holt should be No. 1 on this list. He has the most catches, the most yards receiving, won a Super Bowl, and was tied for the most Pro Bowls at the position with seven.
His stats for the decade: 868 catches, 12,594 yards, 68 TDs, and a 14.5 yard per catch average. He added another 47 catches for 630 yards and four TDs in the postseason.
The reason Moss is No. 1 is TDs. Moss has 120 of them this decade. At a position where big plays rule, Moss made big plays the most often.
He had over 1,200 yards and 10 TDs in six different seasons this decade, including 2007, when he set the receiving TD record at 23 and had 1,493 yards, helping the Patriots to the first ever 16-0 regular season.
His stats for the decade: 777 catches for 11,739 yards, 120 TDs, and a 15.1 YPC average. He added 32 catches for 669 yards and eight TDs in the postseason and has been voted to five Pro Bowls.