We have been kicking around lifespans of running backs. That is, when should one start to move away from a featured back because he has too many carries or too many seasons on his odometer? With that in mind, now might be a good time to roll out some of the similar numbers with wide receivers.

With most wide receivers, wear and tear isn’t a big issue. There are a few who play with a physical style (looking at you, Deebo Samuel), making them more prone to wide receivers. But in general (with wide receivers) it’s the fear of them getting less explosive and athletic with age that’s the concern, rather than the potential of them wearing down because of a 90-catch season.

Yesterday I posted a chart showing the 50 running backs who’ve finished with top-5 numbers in the last 10 years. Below see the same figures, except for wide receivers. And the players trend older.

On the running back chart, only 13 of the 50 players (about 1 in 4) had already completed five seasons of their career. With the wide receivers, there’s 19 of those guys. That’s an increase of about 50 percent, and it gets more pronounced if you’re looking at the best of the best. Of the top 30 running backs, only 5 were in their sixth season or later. With wide receiver, 13 of those top 30 were in season 6 or later.

I take this as evidence that when you have a really good wide receiver who’s in his third, fourth or fifth season, he’s got a better chance of hanging around and continuing to be elite for another clump of seasons. With running backs, those players are more likely to burn out (think Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott). Not that every player can simply be plugged into that profile, but that’s the general tendency.

On the chart below, there are 11 players who are in their fifth season, and there are 11 players who are in their third season. Those are the busiest years. There are only 4-5 seasons in all of the other years between No. 2 and No. 8. Only one rookie (JaMarr Chase) is on the list, and only two players with more than 9 years of experience (10th-season Brandon Marshall and 14th-year Larry Fitzgerald).

Focusing this on the 2022 season, I see age creeping in with some of the wide receivers. Davante Adams is a great receiver, but he’s well into the back half of his career; he’s in his 9th year. Tyreek Hill is two seasons behind Adams, but with his game being heavily dependent on his elite quickness, I think it’s fair to worry about him some. And DeAndre Hopkins (pictured) is in his 10th season; I’m assuming he’s now something less than what he was previously.

Justin Jefferson has put together a pair of big seasons and is entering just his third year. He looks awfully compelling, especially in a dynasty format.

TOP-5 WIDE RECEIVERS (last 10 yrs)
2021Cooper Kupp, LAR51451,94716439.51
2015Antonio Brown, Pitt.61361,83411392.21
2014Antonio Brown, Pitt.51291,69814391.11
2015Julio Jones, Atl.51361,8719377.12
2019Michael Thomas, N.O.41491,7259374.61
2020Davante Adams, G.B.71151,37418360.41
2012Calvin Johnson, Det.61221,9645348.41
2021Davante Adams, G.B.81231,55311344.32
2015Brandon Marshall, NYJ101091,50214343.23
2021Deebo Samuel, S.F.3771,40514343.23
2014Demaryius Thomas, Den.51111,61911340.92
2018DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.61151,57211337.51
2012Brandon Marshall, Chi.71181,50811334.62
2018Tyreek Hill, K.C.3871,47914334.02
2021Justin Jefferson, Min.21081,61610332.84
2015DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.31111,52111331.14
2018Julio Jones, Atl.81131,6778329.93
2018Davante Adams, G.B.51111,38613329.64
2020Tyreek Hill, K.C.5871,27617328.92
2020Stefon Diggs, Buff.61271,5358328.63
2014Jordy Nelson, G.B.7981,51913327.93
2018Antonio Brown, Pitt.91041,29715323.75
2015Odell Beckham, NYG2961,45013319.35
2013Demaryius Thomas, Den.4921,43014319.01
2014Dez Bryant, Dall.5881,32016316.04
2013Antonio Brown, Pitt.41101,4999315.12
2013Josh Gordon, Cle.2871,6469314.43
2017DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.5961,37813311.81
2017Antonio Brown, Pitt.81011,5339310.32
2016Antonio Brown, Pitt.71061,28412307.31
2016Jordy Nelson, G.B.9971,25714306.72
2021JaMarr Chase, Cin.1811,45513306.65
2013A.J. Green, Cin.3981,42611306.64
2013Brandon Marshall, Chi.81001,29512305.55
2016Mike Evans, T.B.3961,32112304.13
2012Dez Bryant, Dall.3921,38212303.73
2012A.J. Green, Cin.2971,35011301.84
2014Emmanuel Sanders, Den.51011,4049301.85
2016Odell Beckham, NYG31011,36710298.64
2012Demaryius Thomas, Den.3941,43410297.45
2020DeAndre Hopkins, Ariz.81151,4076291.84
2017Keenan Allen, LAC51021,3937284.23
2020Calvin Ridley, Atl.3901,3749283.55
2019Chris Godwin, T.B.3861,3339276.12
2019Julio Jones, Atl.9991,3946274.13
2016T.Y. Hilton, Ind.5911,4486273.85
2019DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.71041,1657270.64
2019Cooper Kupp, LAR3941,16110270.55
2017Jarvis Landry, Mia.41129879264.04
2017Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.141091,1566263.75

—Ian Allan