In 2012 Detroit Lions wide receiver (and my personal favourite) Calvin Johnson set the league alight with a record-breaking 1,964 receiving yards throughout the regular season.
Last season, Pittsburgh dynamo Antonio Brown and Atlanta standout Julio Jones both managed 136 receptions, with Brown managing 1,834 yards and Jones a league-best 1,871 – 93 short of Johnson’s mark.
Throw Odell Beckham Jr into the mix and there are certainly three explosive receivers who have the necessary tools to threaten Megatron’s phenomenal achievement.
Johnson broke the record which was held by Jerry Rice and now the NFL’s top pass-catchers chase Johnson.
Let’s break down why each superstar wideout could break the record and maybe even reach the magical mark of 2,000 receiving yards in a single-season;
Antonio BROWN (Pittsburgh)
Of all the contestants, Brown likely has the most bases covered. An elite quarterback, a high-octane offence, high usage and a strong track record. Brown had to deal with nearly five full games without Ben Roethlisberger but still put up gaudy numbers. Brown also has the motivation of a pending new contract to help him post even greater numbers. Steelers No.2 wideout Martavis Bryant is suspended for the entire 2016 season and superstar running back Le’Veon Bell will miss the first four matches for missing a drug test. Brown lacks the size to win on jump balls but he is a nightmare cover and is always open, meaning you can be sure Big Ben is calling AB84’s number.
Julio JONES (Atlanta)
The former Alabama beast has some of the same advantages that Brown has, but maybe not quite to the same level. Matt Ryan is a competent quarterback who sometimes plays to an elite level and sometimes plays to a mediocre level. But he always goes Jones’ way. Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are long gone in Atlanta and whilst Mohammed Sanu will attract some targets, expect Julio to 200+ balls. Jones is huge, brutal to tackle and can beat any coverage – meaning he is the one most likely to get to 2k.
Odell Beckham Jr (New York)
OBJ set tongues wagging when he burst onto the NFL scene. After his slightly-shortened rookie campaign, Beckham had sponsors across the United States wanting a piece of him as his star shone bright. The former LSU receivers profile enhanced even more as a sophomore, solidifying himself as a top five WR in the NFL. Eli Manning is known for flinging the ball all around the field and with question marks over Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shephard, Beckham is the man in The Big Apple.
Texans stud DeAndre Hopkins gained 1,521 yards despite catching balls from four different quarterbacks in a topsy-turvy season in Houston. Brock Osweiler was given a boatload of money to be the man at QB in Houston and IF he lights up, Hopkins is an outside chance to go near 2,000. Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones are gone and tight end Tyler Eifert is injured, meaning AJ Green will be Andy Dalton’s one and only man in Cincinnati. Green is more about efficiency than volume but he could make a big jump from his near-1,300 yards in 2015. Jets No.1 man Brandon Marshall put up career-best stats last year but with Eric Decker attracting attention and Matt Forte arriving in town, expect Marshall’s 1,502 to be his best mark. Young gun Allen Robinson exploded onto the scene with Blake Bortles maturation in Jacksonville but with a few other offensive weapons (namely Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas and Chris Ivory) Robinson seems set to share the load.