Playing as an NFL receiver is one of the most demanding positions in world sports. You need to be strong enough to block and stay on your feet while breaking tackles from freaks of nature, quick enough to get away from said natural freaks, and you have to be able to catch an egg-shaped ball that’s being pegged at you. However, if you drop a ball, you’ll get crucified.
There has been plenty of hype around the likes of New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas, as well as the Tampa Bay tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Dallas Cowboys’ Amari Cooper is having a stellar contract year, while others like Odell Beckham Jr are struggling. With that being said, there are a couple of receivers who do not get the attention of the media, yet still have been outperforming plenty of their cohort. Here, we look at six wide receivers who, in no particular order, have been underrated based on their performance in the 2019 season.
Tyler Lockett – Seattle Seahawks
Tyler Lockett is having a career best year in his fifth campaign. Well, at least he was prior to a lower-leg injury that saw him go to hospital after the Week 10 overtime win against San Francisco.
Lockett has six touchdowns; tied for third on the year to go with fifth-most in terms of total yards (793) on 6.2 receptions per game. He catches 81% of the targets at him, with only Michael Thomas having a better reception rate of those who have had 70+ targets.
The game on Monday night saw Lockett held to under 50 yards for the first time in the 2019 season. Head coach Pete Carroll came out and said that he was a key cog in the side that you could tell was missing in the overtime period. It shows that he is highly rated in Seattle, but he definitely hasn’t been given the attention that he deserves this year.
Courtland Sutton – Denver Broncos
The Broncos are 3-6 this year, although four of those losses have been by less than one score. With the quarterback situation not exactly up to par, Courtland Sutton has been a shining light in an offense that has not been lighting up the NFL in most weeks.
The sophomore receiver out of Southern Methodist University has had a breakout season, with just under 700 yards in nine games so far. It averages out to around 15.7 yards per reception, which has Sutton on target for 1,230 yards on 78 receptions. With Emmanuel Sanders now at San Francisco, Sutton will be given more of an opportunity to continue his stellar season.
DJ Moore – Carolina Panthers
Another second-year player who is shining brighter than most expected, DJ Moore is having a breakout season alongside his quarterback in Kyle Allen. It is not necessarily the end results that have Moore underrated, but his impact around midfield that have seen him further develop.
Moore is tied for tenth in total first downs gained with 36. The next-best for Carolina is Greg Olsen, with 26. Moore has a touch under 700 yards; right below Courtland Sutton with 684 receiving yards. He does only have the one touchdown, however, it needs to be mentioned that Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffery are both preferred end zone options.
With the receiver on track for 1,200 yards on nearly 100 receptions by the end of this season, he is well on his way to having a standout year.
John Brown – Buffalo Bills
Buffalo has been the surprise package out of the teams who struggled last year, with Josh Allen coming into his own in 2019. John Brown has done the same, combining with Cole Beasley out wide to provide some great targets while Frank Gore and Devin Singletary give plenty of drive out of the backfield.
While Brown is indeed having an underrated year, it comes on the back of some hot and cold form at both Arizona and Baltimore. He is, oddly enough, right behind Sutton and Moore with 680 receiving yards. That figure already eclipses two of his previous five seasons. He only has one season of 1,000+ yards receiving, which was in his second year at Arizona.
With the Bills in the playoff picture at the moment, and three very winnable games in the run home, Brown has every chance of breaking through for another 1,000-yard season.
T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
Why is T.Y. Hilton an underrated receiver, even though he has only played six games for 360 yards? Well, while his impact on the field is undeniable, it is how the Colts have been doing on the receiving front since his injury that raises thoughts of how underappreciated he is.
In the games that he has played this season, Hilton has a team-high five touchdowns. He still has the leading numbers in terms of receiving yards, as well as receptions. Until the Colts’ Week 10 game against Miami, he had been the leader in first downs gained. Hilton is a pivotal part of this Colts offense; the combination with Jacoby Brissett setting the platform for the fast start that Indianapolis had. As both come back into the starting lineups, the Colts will get back to their best as they run into the playoff picture.
Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions
At the insistence of fellow colleague Tristin McKinstry, I went to look at the statistics for Kenny Golladay. As a result, he may be more underrated than Tyler Lockett.
Golladay has the most receiving touchdowns in the league this year with eight. In addition, he has four games of 100+ receiving yards, averaging 18.3 yards per catch. He has only caught 53.5% of his targets so far this season, however, he makes the most of those receptions when he gets them.
With Detroit’s losses coming by one score or less in every game bar against the Vikings in Week 6, Golladay and Matthew Stafford can consider themselves unlucky in that they deserve to be fairing much better than the 3-5-1 record suggests.
Feature Image: Leon Halip/Getty Imges
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