Spin Cycle: Was Cooper Kupp’s season the best ever? 

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (right) presents Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp with the Super Bowl 56 most valuable player trophy during Super Bowl LVI winning coach and most valuable player press conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp was a man on a mission through the entirety of the 2021-22 NFL season. His performance all season long was amongst the most elite in the history of the NFL, which begs the question: How does Cooper Kupp’s 2021-22 season stack up against the best seasons by a wide receiver in NFL history? 

To recap, Kupp, after finishing last season 22nd among all wide receivers in receiving yards and recording only three touchdown catches, he came out firing, racking in 108 yards and a touchdown all the way back on Sept. 12. His hot start would prove to not be a fluke, as over the course of 21 total games between the regular season and the playoffs, Kupp totaled 2,425 receiving yards — an average of over 115 yards per game — and an astounding 22 receiving touchdowns. 

Over that period, he compiled at least 92 receiving yards in all but two games. In total, Kupp accounted for 40% of the Rams’ receiving yards and 44% of their receiving touchdowns. At the regular season’s conclusion, Kupp was the NFL’s triple-crown winner, leading the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. His efforts made him a two-time offensive player of the month winner in Sept. and Oct., a First-Team All-Pro and the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year. To put the cherry on top, Kupp’s Rams won Super Bowl LVI on Sunday over the Bengals, a game in which Kupp was named Super Bowl MVP. 

Kupp’s 1,947 receiving yards in the regular season are the second-most in NFL history behind only Calvin Johnson, who had 1,964 receiving yards in 2012. To compare, Johnson finished that season with 122 receptions and five touchdowns, while Kupp had 145 receptions, the second-most all time and 16 touchdowns. It seems that Kupp’s all-around performance this year would make his statistical season more impressive than Johnson’s in 2012 

However, Johnson’s performance came when the NFL still followed a 16 game regular season format. Many will question the legitimacy of Kupp’s season as he had the luxury of a 17th game, in which he recorded 118 receiving yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. Had Kupp’s regular season ended after his 16th game, he would have finished with 1,829 receiving yards, placing him fifth all-time behind Johnson, Julio Jones in 2015, Jerry Rice in 1995 and Antonio Brown in 2015 on the all-time regular season list. With that said, Kupp’s combined regular season and playoff receiving yards total is the only season in which a player has accumulated over 2,000 receiving yards, which he bested by a whopping 425 yards. Larry Fitzgerald is second on that list, as he recorded a combined 1,977 receiving yards for the Cardinals in 2008, a remarkable 448 yards less than Kupp. 

In addition, Kupp’s 22 total receiving touchdowns between the regular season and the playoffs ranks second in NFL history, as Randy Moss had 23 receiving touchdowns in 2007. However, of the top-ten seasons with the most combined receiving touchdowns all-time, Kupp’s 2021-22 average of 115.5 receiving yards per game ranks number one, and among that list, he is one of only two players to average over 100 receiving yards per game, as Calvin Johnson also did so in 2011. Despite the increasing volume of passing attempts in the modern-era of the NFL, Kupp’s 115.5 yard average is the highest average since the 2015 season. 

In 2021, Kupp’s performance racked up 294.5 fantasy points, the most all-time by a wide receiver in standard fantasy football leagues. For those unfamiliar with how fantasy football works, it essentially rewards points to players based on how they perform in games, meaning more points equates to better performance. In Johnson’s historic 2012 season, he recorded only 226.4 fantasy points and actually scored more fantasy points in 2011. In terms of average fantasy points per game, Moss’ 2007 season actually ranks ahead of Kupp’s, though in leagues where points are awarded for catches caught, Kupp’s season outbests all other players in terms of both total points and average points. 

Overall, it seems that Kupp has indeed recorded the greatest season by a wide receiver in NFL history. His statistical contributions rank among the best across all major receiving categories, and even deeper statistics, such as fantasy points, prove that Kupp was an elite asset to a Super Bowl-winning team. Rightfully so, Kupp was awarded multiple accolades for his production, none more noteworthy than NFL Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP. With this season in the books, it appears that other receivers will have a hard time surpassing the greatness that was Cooper Kupp in 2021-22. 

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