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Top 10 big-play wide receivers entering Week 3 of 2022 NFL season: Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill dazzle

Each week of the 2022 NFL season, the Next Gen Stats analytics team will present a different Position Power Ranking, meant to spotlight the top performances among a specific group of players. This week, we've assembled a list of the top 10 big-play wide receivers heading into Week 3.

Before we dive in, though, a note on our methodology: To help create quantifiable rankings, we have devised a formula that yields a Next Gen Stats percentile score, which measures how a player is performing relative to their peers. The formula uses each player's percentile score across a series of key metrics to create one composite score, indicating which players at that position performed best. We will lean on this formula to inform our rankings when applicable.

NOTE: Player percentiles are based on components such as each receiver's speed, pass-catching ability, yards after catch and success on deep passes. The metric and overall scores are based on each player's performance in Weeks 1 and 2.

Tyreek Hill
Miami Dolphins · WR
  • Receiving score: 92
  • YAC score: 99
  • Score on deep passes: 88
  • Speed score: 97

New team? No problem. The most explosive player in the NFL is in a league of his own no matter who is throwing him the ball. In last week's comeback win over the Ravens, Hill erupted for 190 yards to help the Dolphins erase a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit, hauling in two deep touchdown passes where the ball traveled more than 30 air yards. The Cheetah laps the rest of the league in production on deep targets (passes of 20-plus air yards) in the NGS era (since 2016) -- he has eight more touchdowns (30) and 420 more receiving yards (2,740) than any other player in that span. The gap between Hill and the rest of the NFL is even more apparent when looking at how often he reaches his top gear as a ball-carrier. Hill has reached at least 20 miles per hour on 47 touches since the start of the 2018 season, almost three times as often as the next-closest player (Saquon Barkley, 18).

Stefon Diggs
Buffalo Bills · WR
  • Receiving: 91
  • YAC: 90
  • Deep: 88
  • Speed: 74

Diggs has dominated in the Bills' aerial attack so far this season, earning a target on a league-high 40 percent of his routes (min. 40 routes). Suffice to say, he has made the most of those opportunities. Of his 270 receiving yards this season, Diggs has gained +136 yards over expectation (a metric that takes into account the difficulty of his targets and the space around him on his receptions). That number easily leads the field as the next-closest receiver is Baltimore's Rashod Bateman, who has gained +82 receiving yards over expectation this season. Opposing cornerbacks face an impossible choice when Diggs runs at them with a vertical stem. Trying to play Diggs tight is a dangerous game; he has caught all three of his targets on go routes this season for 109 yards and two TDs. But if you give him too much cushion, Diggs will break off on a hitch route. He has 50 receptions on such routes since joining the Bills in 2020, 15 more than any other player in that span.

Jaylen Waddle
Miami Dolphins · WR
  • Receiving: 87
  • YAC: 99
  • Deep: 75
  • Speed: 90

Between using a first-round pick to trade up for Waddle in the 2021 NFL Draft and trading multiple picks for Tyreek Hill before making him the highest-paid receiver in the league, no team has devoted more capital to the wide receiver position over the last two offseasons. It's no coincidence that both Hill (99) and Waddle (90) rank in the top three in speed score this season. The archetypal field-stretching duo has opened up a Dolphins offense that put up 42 points in Week 2. Waddle has been the most explosive player after the catch this season, having gained a league-high +56 YAC over expected.

Cooper Kupp
Los Angeles Rams · WR
  • Receiving: 87
  • YAC: 97
  • Deep: 80
  • Speed: 72

The reigning triple-crown winner has kicked off the 2022 season just as he ended 2021. The focal point of the Rams’ offense, he might be the only player on the team who hasn’t suffered a Super Bowl hangover. Kupp once again has been hyper-efficient on a league-leading volume of targets. He’s caught +3 more receptions than expected this season, trailing only Stefon Diggs (+4), and leads the NFL in the metric dating back to 2021. A “power slot” who can block as well as most tight ends in the league, Kupp shattered the NGS era record for receiving yards operating out of the slot last season (1,321, the only player to gain over 1,000 yards in a season since 2016). Like the other players on this list, Kupp excels at creating yardage once the ball is in his hands. He has gained a league-high 1,001 yards after the catch since 2021 (+205 YAC over expected, third in NFL).

Rashod Bateman
Baltimore Ravens · WR
  • Receiving: 76
  • YAC: 97
  • Deep: 89
  • Speed: 90

The Ravens traded away Marquise Brown this offseason with the expectation that Bateman would lead the aerial attack as the top receiver on the outside, and he has not disappointed so far. Serving as the perfect complement to TE Mark Andrews, Bateman has gained 163 receiving yards when aligned wide this season, good for fifth most in the NFL. The second-year receiver has shown savvy route-running ability, averaging the sixth-most separation at the time of throw on his routes this season while still getting downfield (13.9 yards average route depth, ninth among 77 WRs with 40-plus routes run). Bateman showed off his blazing speed on his 75-yard catch-and-run TD against the Dolphins in Week 2, reaching a top speed of 21.48 mph, the fastest speed by any ball-carrier on a play from scrimmage this season. It’s plays like these that have helped Bateman earn the second-highest speed score this season (90), trailing only Tyreek Hill.

A.J. Brown
Philadelphia Eagles · WR
  • Receiving: 83
  • YAC: 88
  • Deep: 74
  • Speed: 67

After years of spending draft capital on wide receivers to underwhelming results, Eagles GM Howie Roseman finally found a potential star in 2021 with first-round pick DeVonta Smith. But with a young quarterback on a rookie contract, Roseman eschewed the draft this offseason and made a play for a more established stud, trading for Brown on draft day and signing him to a four-year extension. Brown has monopolized the Eagles’ passing attack during the first two games this year, accounting for 52.9 percent of the team’s air yards, the second-highest air yards share in the NFL. The fourth-year wideout’s ability to win on in-breaking routes has opened up the middle of the field for Jalen Hurts, a promising development in the young quarterback’s career. Since entering the NFL in 2019, Brown has gained +525 of his league-high 1,857 receiving yards over expected on in-breaking routes (100 more than any other player).

Christian Kirk
Jacksonville Jaguars · WR
  • Receiving: 78
  • YAC: 94
  • Deep: 71
  • Speed: 81

The Jaguars turned heads across the football world when they handed Kirk a hefty contract this offseason, but the early returns have been fruitful. Trevor Lawrence’s new favorite receiver has run 79 percent of his routes from the slot. Kirk has excelled operating out of his more natural position this season, gaining a league-high 154 yards on slot receptions (75 YAC also leads the NFL). New Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson has used Kirk more dynamically this season, sending him in motion on 31 percent of his snaps (more than triple the rate of any other year of Kirk’s career). Kirk even had his first reception out of the backfield of his career in Week 2 on this 10-yard touchdown. Remarkably, none of Kirk’s 18 targets this season have been in a tight window (less than one yard of separation).

Terry McLaurin
Washington Commanders · WR
  • Receiving: 75
  • YAC: 80
  • Deep: 92
  • Speed: 83

The quarterback carousel in Washington continues to spin, with Carson Wentz becoming the team’s sixth different Week 1 starter in the past six seasons, but one constant for the franchise is McLaurin, who has dominated regardless of who is under center. McLaurin has already connected with his new quarterback on a pair of deep balls and ranks fourth in the NFL this season with 84 receiving yards on deep targets. The fourth-year wideout has always been a threat to push defenses vertically, averaging 14.3 yards of route depth this season (sixth most in NFL, min. 40 routes). Regardless of who’s playing quarterback, passers can trust McLaurin to win at the catch point -- only Mike Williams (990) and DeVante Parker (942) have more receiving yards on tight-window targets than McLaurin (702) since he entered the league in 2019.

Amon-Ra St. Brown
Detroit Lions · WR
  • Receiving: 81
  • YAC: 94
  • Deep: 59
  • Speed: 66

The youngest player on this list at 22 years old, St. Brown has wasted no time becoming the go-to option for a resurgent Lions offense. The second-year receiver has been on a tear dating back to last year, catching at least eight balls in eight consecutive games -- tied for the longest such streak by any NFL player since at least 1950. St. Brown has 12 receptions when aligned in the slot this season, trailing only Cooper Kupp (13). He’s displayed a nose for the end zone as well, as he and Kupp are the league’s only wide receivers with multiple receiving TDs on out-breaking routes this season. Don’t let his 66 speed score fool you; St. Brown reached 21.09 MPH on a 58-yard rush in Week 2, tied for the fifth-fastest top speed as a ball-carrier by any wide receiver this season.

Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings · WR
  • Receiving: 82
  • YAC: 87
  • Deep: 67
  • Speed: 52

Despite coming off of a down game in Week 2 (at least for his lofty standards), Jefferson has still been among the league’s most explosive wideouts both this season and throughout his three-year career. Jefferson has accounted for 53 percent of the Vikings’ air yards through two games this season, the highest air-yards share in the NFL. Since being drafted in 2020, Jefferson leads the NFL in receiving yards (3,248) and receiving yards over expected (+801). The two-time Pro Bowler makes his living in the intermediate level of the defense, gaining 1,477 yards on targets traveling between 10 and 19 air yards in his career (more than 400 more than any other player since 2020). And after leading the NFL in receiving yards when aligned wide in 2021 (1,180), Jefferson ranks second in receiving yards from the slot this season (139). If there’s anything Jefferson can’t do on the field, defenses are still struggling to diagnose what it might be.

HONORABLE MENTION: Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots; Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals; Drake London, Atlanta Falcons.

-- Keegan Abdoo, Mike Band and Cole Jacobson contributed to this piece.

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