Passing and receiving numbers are more impressive than ever before, as evidenced by many of the recent performances featured in our list of players with the most receptions in an NFL season.
In the modern era, quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends are producing statistical numbers many of their predecessors could have only dreamed of.
The dominance of the passing game, along with the addition of a 17th regular season game, means NFL pass catchers are consistently producing record-setting performances across several categories.
In our list of players who have made the most receptions in an NFL season, the record has also changed hands over recent seasons.
Six of the current top 10 single-season efforts have taken place since 2018, dropping NFL greats like Jerry Rice, Wes Welker, Cris Carter and Calvin Johnson out of top positions.
We recently reviewed the stars with the most career postseason receptions, and now it is time to look at the players who have the most catches in a single NFL season.
1. Michael Thomas: 149 receptions in 2019
A fantastic 2019 season by Thomas remains the mark to beat when it comes to the most receptions in an NFL season.
Starring for the New Orleans Saints, Thomas was in his prime as he racked up 149 catches for 1,725 yards across 16 games that year.
Thomas added nine touchdowns and 91 of his 149 receptions (61.1%) went for first downs, as he caught 80.5% of his 185 targets.
Fed by the relentless accuracy of Drew Brees – who has the second-most passing yards in NFL history – the wide receiver was uncoverable in 2019, resulting in him winning the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
Thomas hit double figures for catches in a huge nine of his 16 games, with his best effort being 13 receptions in a losing effort against the divisional rival Atlanta Falcons.
He might have posted an even more formidable total had he managed more than four catches in a blowout win over the Carolina Panthers to conclude the season.
New Orleans stormed to a 13-3 record in 2019 but lost out to the Minnesota Vikings in an overtime defeat in the playoffs.
2. Cooper Kupp: 145 receptions in 2021
Kupp was the receiving triple crown winner for most catches (145), yards (1,947) and touchdowns (16) in his remarkable 2021 season for the Los Angeles Rams. He became the first NFL player to achieve the feat since Steve Smith in 2005.
While doing so he fell just short of catching Thomas’ mark for the most receptions in an NFL season and also narrowly missed out on Johnson’s all-time record for receiving yards (1,964) in a campaign.
Kupp had 13 catches in a Week 14 win over the Arizona Cardinals, capping a fantastic five-game run that saw him grab 50 receptions and power his way towards the record.
As well as the regular season, the Matthew Stafford and Kupp connection continued through the playoffs, with the wideout going on to be named Super Bowl MVP.
He had eight catches for 92 yards and two scores as the Rams edged out the Cincinnati Bengals in a dramatic Super Bowl LVI at their own SoFi Stadium.
3. Marvin Harrison: 143 receptions in 2002
One player who is yet to be pushed too far down the list by the many modern receiving stars is the former Indianapolis Colts wideout.
Harrison held the record for almost two decades after making 143 receptions in the 2002 season.
Helped by being peppered with a huge 205 targets from quarterback Peyton Manning, Harrison took full advantage of his opportunities, adding 11 touchdowns as he raced to 1,722 receiving yards – the best total of his career.
This was his fourth consecutive 100-catch season, and he racked up 469 between 1999-2002.
The streak ended the following year, but he still had an impressive 94 receptions as Manning won his first of five MVP awards.
T-4. Antonio Brown: 136 receptions in 2015
Brown had huge production across most of his NFL career, but 2015 saw him playing at his best.
He caught 136 passes from Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, more than double the total managed by anyone else in the team (Heath Miller was second with 60 receptions).
Brown had 17 catches in a Week 9 win over the Oakland Raiders and almost matched that towards the end of the year with 16 against the Denver Broncos in Week 15.
Those efforts helped him race on to 1,834 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns for the year, helping the Steelers to the playoffs. But they ultimately fell to the Broncos, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
T-4. Julio Jones: 136 receptions in 2015
Brown was not the only receiver thriving in 2015, as Jones matched his 136-catch effort with an amazing year of his own.
The Atlanta Falcons wideout was just ahead of Brown in yardage, reaching a career-high total of 1,871, and his supreme 116.9 yards per game is a statistic that ranks his season as the highest of any among the top 10.
Jones also recorded 93 catches that resulted in a first down, which also puts him top in that category.
The prototypical No. 1 receiver became a Falcons great by racking up at least 1,394 yards for six straight seasons, including this one.
6. Antonio Brown: 129 receptions in 2014
Brown and Thomas are the only two players who appear twice in the top 10.
The Steelers pass catcher had 129 receptions in 2014, giving him an incredible 265 across the 2014 and 2015 seasons combined.
While his 2015 campaign was the better one for receptions, he had more TD catches in 2014, with the 13 he managed that year being the second-best total of his career.
He helped Pittsburgh to an 11-5 record, but there was postseason disappointment once again, this time against the Baltimore Ravens.
7. Justin Jefferson: 128 receptions in 2022
Jefferson has already broken a variety of records early in his NFL career and may have this one in his sights before he is done.
The 2022 season, only his third in the league with the Minnesota Vikings, saw him record 128 catches, meaning he already has an impressive entry in the top 10.
With 14.1 yards per reception, Jefferson has the highest mark of anyone in the top 10 for that statistic.
The NFL Offensive Player of the Year had 12 catches in three separate games, tormenting the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants. He only had five catches across Weeks 16 and 17 on a reduced snap count, so could quite conceivably have been much higher in this list had the Vikings not been sure of their playoff spot.
8. Stefon Diggs: 127 receptions in 2020
Diggs is another high-profile receiver to be featured among the best single-season efforts for NFL receptions, though unlike Jefferson, he had to leave the Vikings before reaching such a big total.
In his first year with the Buffalo Bills, Diggs raced to 127 catches and 1,535 receiving yards, which both remain career-high efforts.
It was in the second half of the 2020 season when Diggs did the most damage. He had 54 catches through Week 8, but then added 73 in his final eight games of the year, momentum which helped Buffalo reach the AFC championship game.
Other Top Receiving Performances
Thomas appears in the top 10 twice, as he also had a highly productive season in 2018. In the season before his record-setting campaign, he racked up 125 catches for the Saints.
The top 10 is completed by a three-way tie between Davante Adams, Herman Moore and Welker, who have all made 123 catches in a single NFL season.
Adams’ effort was the most recent in 2021, which was his final season with the Green Bay Packers, helping Aaron Rodgers to a second straight league MVP award. Moore and Welker produced the goods for the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots, respectively.
Welker also had a 122-catch season, as did Johnson, Rice and Carter (twice). Carter led the league in receptions in 1994 and then had had an NFL-high 17 TD catches in his remarkable 1995 season with the Vikings.
Isaac Bruce (Rams) and Tyreek Hill (Miami Dolphins) both have 119-catch NFL seasons to their name, which puts them inside the top 20.
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