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Where does Chargers’ Keenan Allen rank among wide receivers?

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23: Keenan Allen
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23: Keenan Allen
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Los Angeles Chargers’ Keenan Allen says he’s the best wide receiver in the game. Is that true?

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen had a career year to say the least.

After tearing his ACL and missing all but one game (one half) last season, the 2013 third-round pick came back strong and silenced all his critics. The 25-year-old Allen put up the best numbers of his young career, finishing third in the NFL in receiving yards (1,393), fourth in receptions (102) and fourth in yards per game (87.1). His six receiving touchdowns were the most since his rookie campaign.

Allen also came up big when the team needed him most. He finished with a league-high 36 receptions for 552 yards on third down, per ESPN’s Eric Williams. His 512 yards after the catch ranked third among wide receivers.

He was even successful despite the boatload of targets coming his way. 36 players, including RBs, TEs and WRs, finished with 100-plus targets. Of the 36, Allen finished with the 15th-best catch percentage (seventh-best among receivers). Allen (64.2) ranked ahead of players like Antonio Brown (62.0), Julio Jones (59.5), Brandin Cooks (57), DeAndre Hopkins (55.2), A.J. Green (52.4), Dez Bryant (52.3), T.Y. Hilton (52.3) and Mike Evans (52.2).

Allen, who finished with the most receptions and the second-most receiving yards in a single season in franchise history, also set an NFL record with at least 10 catches, 100 receiving yards and one touchdown in three straight games.

He’s been put in a position to succeed, in a scheme that favors him; but Allen’s talent is undeniable. His route-running is so on point and his moves are so dirty that even my legs break as  I sit and watch from the couch. He’s not the biggest guy (6-foot-2, 211 pounds) or the fastest for that matter, but he knows how to find the ball in the air and contort his body to make those spectacular catches in tight spaces. He can line up all over the field and make an impact, something that cannot be said for all receivers.

And with confidence flying high, Allen told ‘Undisputed’ co-host Skip Bayless that believes he is the best receiver in the league.

"I am the best in the league."@Keenan13Allen explains why he's the top WR in the NFL pic.twitter.com/F0uWAkU4h1

— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) January 31, 2018

Yeah, Slayer killed it in 2017.

However, it was the first time he played a full, 16-game season. 2017 marked only the second year that he finished with over 1,000 receiving yards. He finished with under 800 yards the previous three seasons (2014-16). He’s also never scored double-digit touchdowns in a season.

But that rookie year was something else. He regressed his sophomore year but was a beast in 2015, setting an NFL record for most receptions through seven games before lacerating his kidney a week later, which prematurely ended his season. He’s been named the 2017 Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Injuries have been the only thing holding Allen back from consistently being mentioned with the top-tier guys. But you can’t look past that and because of the circumstances, Allen isn’t the best receiver in the league. Here are my current top five wideouts:

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Julio Jones
  3. DeAndre Hopkins
  4. Odell Beckham Jr.
  5. Keenan Allen

Brown is magic. Jones is a rare specimen. Hopkins does his thing with high school-caliber quarterbacks. Beckham Jr. is a game-changer who has the best hands in the game.

After those guys, I’m absolutely putting Allen in my top five. It was a toss up between Allen and A.J. Green, who doesn’t get much recognition either. Mike Evans and his 32 career touchdowns in four seasons make a good case, too, but he disappears far too often in games. Larry Fitzgerald is a legend, Doug Baldwin is underrated and Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Adam Thielen are on the rise, but they don’t make the cut at this current time.

Everyone’s list will be different, but I believe this is a fair assessment and perfect spot for Allen. He’s an elite playmaker who is coming off a fantastic season and still has a ton of room to grow, as long as he remains healthy.

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