- Associated Press - Friday, October 5, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) - Antonio Brown is always on the receiving end of something.

Passes from Ben Roethlisberger .

Criticism for off-the-field issues .

As well as acclaim for being the top wideout in the league.

Brown was the near-unanimous choice as the NFL’s top wide receiver by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press. The All-Pro received nine first-place votes in balloting released Friday.

Brown was also last year’s top choice.

“Brown might not be off to an eye-popping start with 29 catches for 272 yards and three touchdowns, but he’s still well on pace for over 100 catches and 1,000 yards for the sixth straight year,” said New York-based AP Football Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. “He’s consistently dominant - on the field and in the end zone with his touchdown celebrations.”

Atlanta’s Julio Jones finished second overall. He received the remaining first-place vote. Jones has 29 receptions for 502 yards, but zero TDs as the Falcons have staggered to a 1-3 start.

“Jones is perhaps the most physically gifted receiver in the league and is on pace for more than 2,000 yards this season,” said Bay Area-based AP Football Writer Josh Dubow. “If he caught TD passes, he’d probably be No. 1 on this list.”

The Saints’ Michael Thomas, who leads the NFL with 42 receptions through the first four weeks of the regular season, is third. He set an NFL record with 28 catches, the most of any NFL receiver in the first two weeks of a season.

“He might catch 150 balls in that offense,” said Philadelphia-based AP Football Writer Rob Maaddi.

The Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., tied for fourth in the league with 31 receptions, but also no TDs through the first four weeks, finished fourth.

“Who would have thought a healthy (Julio) Jones and Beckham would have zero touchdowns combined a quarter of the way through the season? Nobody,” said Dallas-based AP Football Writer Schuyler Dixon.

Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins was fifth followed by Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans at No. 6.

“One of the biggest targets in the game, he’s off to a flying start with Ryan Fitzpatrick this year,” Minnesota-based AP Football Writer Dave Campbell of the Buccaneers’ 6-foot-5 wideout who has reached 1,000 yards in each of his first four seasons.

The Vikings’ Adam Thielen finished seventh.

Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, who caught a game-winning TD pass with 7 seconds remaining to beat Atlanta last week, was eighth.

“Off to a terrific start while playing hurt, Green has been at his most dangerous in the Bengals’ surprising 3-1 start,” said New York-based AP Football Writer Barry Wilner.

Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, who has helped the Chiefs get off to a 4-0 start, is ninth.

“Could have a monster season with the now-ambidextrous Patrick Mahomes,” said Denver-based AP Football Writer Arnie Stapleton of the Kansas City quarterback, who threw a memorable left-handed pass in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ 27-23 win over the Broncos on Monday night.

And the Rams’ Brandin Cooks, whose team is also off to a perfect start, rounded out the top 10.

“Still surprising that the Patriots traded him away after only a season,” said Nashville-based AP Football Writer Teresa Walker. “With Jared Goff in the Rams’ offense, Cooks should produce very well even with all the targets Los Angeles has.”


The rankings:

1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta

3. Michael Thomas, New Orleans

4. Odell Beckham Jr., NY Giants

5. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston

6. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay

7. Adam Thielen, Minnesota

8. A.J. Green, Cincinnati

9. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City

10. Brandin Cooks, LA Rams


More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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