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CBSSports.com’s wide receiver rankings are... questionable

Let’s get mad about rankings!

It’s the season of lists and power rankings right now, which means it’s also the season of getting mad about these pointless lists and power rankings.

So, let’s do that.

On Tuesday, CBSSports.com’s Jared Dubin ranked the NFL’s top 10 wide receivers heading into the 2020 season. His list, if we’re putting things lightly, is at least questionable. First, the criteria that he’s basing these rankings on:

“So, the natural question here: Is this is a ranking of the league’s best receivers in a vacuum, or the receivers we expect to have the best 2020 seasons? To those questions, I would simply say: “Yes.” It’s our attempt to combine those things as best we can, taking a look at how each of the league’s best wideouts has performed in their current role, the context surrounding that performance, all kinds of narrower statistics to highlight different parts of their respective skill sets, what we can expect from them in the 2020 season, and more.”

He starts things off with Odell Beckham Jr. at No. 10. OK, whatever. You may be able to argue that he’s too low in these rankings, but we don’t have all day.

One half of the Buccaneers’ dynamic receiving duo comes in at No. 9, and that’s Chris Godwin. Truth be told, I can see this being fair for Godwin as of right now. He is legitimately in the top five conversation if we’re talking the 2019 season alone because, yes, he was that good. But listing him at No. 9 seems about right given that he has just the one elite season under his belt. He’s sure to be higher in the top 10 a couple of years from now—as long as he stays on the same trajectory he is currently on.

Coming in at No. 8 is Los Angeles’ Keenan Allen. I won’t argue there, although there’s a case—to me—for Allen and Beckham to be flipped. It just feels like there’s been a tad more consistency from Beckham than Allen, but that may just be me.

Now, No. 7. Here’s where my problems with this list really begin. Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, one of two receivers in LEAGUE HISTORY to start a career with six consecutive seasons of 1,000 receiving yards. The other is Randy Moss. Not to mention, Evans only turns 27 in August. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down—and why should he? He’s consistently been a top five receiver since entering the league in 2014 and now he will be transitioning to catching passes from Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all-time.

Dubin points to catch rate and drops as the “knocks” on Evans, but I’m not buying him as only the seventh-best receiver in the league. And I’m certainly not buying him being lower on this list than Amari Cooper, who comes in at No. 6. Dubin has this to say about placing Cooper ahead of Evans:

I can hear the complaints already. Cooper ahead of Evans? Really? Well ... for his career, Evans averages an 82-1,291-9 line per 16 games. Since arriving in Dallas, Cooper has averaged 84-1,225-9 per 16 games, and he’s done it on considerably lower target volume. (He’s played all 25 games.) He’s also got a much higher catch rate (67.2 percent), so even though his yards per catch average (14.6) trails that of Evans, he’s still been a bit more efficient on a per-route basis (2.24 yards per route run). That advantage holds even if you take out Evans’ rookie season, where he was something of a co-No. 1 option alongside Vincent Jackson.

At least he admits that he could hear the complaints coming ahead of time, I guess. Cooper is undoubtedly a fantastic receiver and I can understand that his efficiency-per-route and catch rate numbers are better. But I’m not buying those stats as a strong enough reasoning for picking him ahead of Evans, who has been making history by the year. I’ve admittedly seen far more of Evans’ career (considering I cover the Bucs) than I’ve seen of Cooper’s but I just don’t agree with this, y’all.

That’s the biggest problem I have, but it doesn’t end there. The top five in these rankings unfolds like this:

5. Davante Adams

4. DeAndre Hopkins

3. Tyreek Hill

2. Julio Jones

1. Michael Thomas

I’d legitimately take Evans over Adams and Hill in this top five. I certainly wouldn’t have Hill ahead of Hopkins, and I really feel like there’s a case to be made for Hopkins as the No. 2 receiver in the league, if he’s not No. 1. And I’m sorry, but I’m not agreeing that Michael Thomas is the best receiver in the league. All of this, of course, is my opinion. But here’s one of the overarching problems I have with Dubin’s list: he doesn’t seem to think his top five is debatable. From the very beginning of the article:

“The top five are pretty clear cut, but after that it’s really close”

The top five aren’t at all clear-cut to me. But enough about my problems with these rankings, which are ultimately pointless and not worth the 930 words that I’ve written about them. But you’ll have to forgive me, as we’re just at the point in the offseason where all we really have to discuss is random power rankings.

Anyway, it’s your turn, Bucs Nation. What are your thoughts on these rankings? Do you have problems with the way things unfolded? Do you hate my opinions even more? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

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