Ranking the NFL's Top WR Duos After First Month of NFL Season

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2021

Ranking the NFL's Top WR Duos After First Month of NFL Season

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    Vikings WRs Justin Jefferson (left) and Adam Thielen (right)
    Vikings WRs Justin Jefferson (left) and Adam Thielen (right)Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    After one month of NFL action, we've witnessed the development of young wide receivers who look like the present and future of the position.

    Some teams have a high-octane passing attack with a blend of upstart and veteran wide receiver talent. Other clubs have a tandem that clicks with each other because of complementary traits. Perhaps one wideout wins his matchups with a physical presence while his teammate attacks defenses with speed.

    As we look at the best wide receiver duos across the league, let's focus on the top five with an honorable mention.

    Among these high-performing tandems, we've based our rankings on production from the first three weeks of this season with an emphasis on catch volume, scoring and efficiency. Also, we'll weigh the output for each wideout equally, which means both teammates must produce at a high level to make the list.

    Which teams have lit up defenses with a standout pair of wide receivers?

Honorable Mention: Ja'Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Bengals WRs  Ja'Marr Chase (middle) and Tyler Boyd (right)
    Bengals WRs Ja'Marr Chase (middle) and Tyler Boyd (right)Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Quarterback Joe Burrow has a talented wide receiver trio that includes Tee Higgins, but he missed Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a shoulder injury, so Tyler Boyd, who primarily lines up in the slot takes his spot for now.

    Chase has stretched defenses, averaging 20 yards per catch and scoring three of his four touchdowns on 30-plus-yard plays. Meanwhile, Boyd leads the team in receptions (14). Both wideouts have become reliable targets with catch rates above 68 percent.

    Going into Week 3, Chase and Boyd were listed within the top 50 in receiving yards, and the pair scored all three of the Bengals' touchdowns in a 24-10 victory over the Steelers. 

    In order for the Bengals' duo to crack the rankings among the best tandems, both wideouts need more catches. Between Chase and Boyd, they have one game with more than five receptions. 

5. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Buccaneers WRs Chris Godwin (left) and Mike Evans (right)
    Buccaneers WRs Chris Godwin (left) and Mike Evans (right)Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

    Based on career accolades and receiving numbers from years past, this duo would easily rank higher than fifth, but Mike Evans had a season-opening dud going against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs (h/t Next Gen Stats), hauling in just three catches for 24 yards in that game.

    Evans has bounced back with 13 receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns over the past two weeks. He'll likely continue to see an uptick in productivity with wideout Antonio Brown on the reserve/COVID-19 list. 

    Chris Godwin has scored twice out of three games. Despite a couple of drops in Week 1, he has an impressive 76 percent catch rate. 

    In Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams, Evans and Godwin combined for 14 catches and 180 yards but fell short in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams. 

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' duo had some rough patches early on that dropped them a few spots, but they're on the rise.

4. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

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    Seahawks WRs Tyler Lockett (left) and D.K. Metcalf (right)
    Seahawks WRs Tyler Lockett (left) and D.K. Metcalf (right)Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett connected for gaudy numbers through the first two weeks, but the latter battled through a leg injury and logged just four receptions for 31 yards against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

    Going into Week 3, Lockett ranked second across the league in receiving yards (278). After his quiet performance Sunday, he's still averaging 19.3 yards per catch with three touchdowns and an 80 percent catch rate. 

    While DK Metcalf doesn't have eye-popping numbers, he's still a viable pass-catching threat with 16 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns with a 64 percent catch rate.

    The Seattle Seahawks only scored 17 points against the Vikings, but Lockett and Metcalf haven't needed an extended adjustment period to acclimate themselves to new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's system. On top of that, when healthy, it seems Lockett has upped his game to the next level. 

    Because of Lockett's big-play ability and impressive efficiency, the Seahawks' tandem lists fourth over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' duo. 

3. Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Vikings WRs Justin Jefferson (left) and Adam Thielen (right)
    Vikings WRs Justin Jefferson (left) and Adam Thielen (right)David Berding/Getty Images

    This season, Kirk Cousins has put together a string of strong passing performances, throwing for 918 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception in large part because of his top-notch wide receiver duo.

    Last year, Jefferson emerged as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate (1,400 receiving yards and seven touchdowns), and he's not headed toward a sophomore slump. The LSU product has 20 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns through three weeks.

    Thielen has been one of the league's most reliable targets, with an 80.8 percent catch rate. He also leads the Vikings in receptions (21) and touchdowns (four). The 31-year-old wideout is on pace to eclipse his 14-touchdown mark from the 2020 season.

    Thielen and Jefferson slightly edge DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett because of their scoring volume. They have six touchdowns compared to five for the Seattle Seahawks duo.

2. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

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    Cowboys WRs CeeDee Lamb (left) and Amari Cooper (right)
    Cowboys WRs CeeDee Lamb (left) and Amari Cooper (right)Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys have a Monday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles. By the end of that contest, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb could lead the league in multiple receiving categories.

    Before the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans kicked off Week 3 on Thursday, Cooper tied three other players for most receptions (16) while Lamb was listed as one of six pass-catchers with 15. They also ranked 19th and eighth, respectively, in receiving yards.

    In Week 2, Cooper suffered a rib injury, which likely impacted his performance (three catches for 24 yards). Meanwhile, Lamb continued to shine, hauling in eight out of nine targets for 81 yards. 

    Unless Cooper has a serious issue with his ribs, he should continue to serve as a reliable target for quarterback Dak Prescott. The four-time Pro Bowl wideout has a 72.7 percent catch rate. Lamb leads the team in receiving yards (185) with a 62.5 percent catch rate.

    Lamb showed the ability to handle the spotlight while Cooper battled an injury, while Michael Gallup went on injured reserve with a calf issue. The Cowboys may have two star wideouts, which is why their tandem ranks one spot above the Minnesota Vikings' duo. While Lamb is still on the rise, Thielen lacks the receiving volume three games into his age-31 term. He's finished with 50 yards or fewer in each of the last two games.

1. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

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    Chargers WRs Keenan (left) and Mike Williams (right)
    Chargers WRs Keenan (left) and Mike Williams (right)Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    A full routine offseason with second-year quarterback Justin Herbert has seemingly paid early dividends for Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

    Allen and Williams have 43 receptions, 553 yards and five touchdowns combined. With that volume, they're the top tandem through September.

    While Allen has two 100-plus-yard performances in three weeks, Williams continues to dominate in the red zone, hauling in three of his four touchdown receptions within 12 yards of the goal line. 

    Neither receiver has top-gear speed, but Herbert can depend on them to win their one-on-one matchups. Allen and Williams have solid catch rates at 63.3 and 71.0 percent, respectively.

    Though Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb haven't suited up for their third game, the former struggled while he played through injury last week. Allen and Williams are healthy, and they're both averaging at least 86 receiving yards per game.

    Among the Cowboys' and Chargers' top two wide receivers, Williams averages the most yards per game (98.3). 

     

    Stats via Pro Football Reference

    Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.

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