theScore’s Mike Alessandrini, Jack Browne, Michael McClymont, Dan Wilkins, and David Woods rank all 32 teams’ top trio of quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers/tight ends.
Offense I Defense (Thursday)
1. New Orleans Saints
QB Drew Brees, WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara
Brees turned 40 years old in January, but for most of last season, he and Patrick Mahomes were playing at a level no other quarterback could match. Kamara is among the league’s most versatile backs and has only scratched the surface of his potential over two NFL seasons. Thomas went from great to elite in 2018, giving the Saints’ offense three legitimate top-five talents, and pushing the unit to the top of this list.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
QB Philip Rivers, WR Keenan Allen, RB Melvin Gordon
Underappreciated and criminally underrated, the Chargers’ set of triplets are among the most reliable players at their positions. Free of the major injuries that befell him in earlier years, Allen has produced like a top-of-the-line wideout in consecutive seasons. Though he’s aging at 37 years old, Rivers put together perhaps his best season in 2018, completing 68 percent of his throws while leading the Bolts to a 12-4 record. Gordon, meanwhile, is a touchdown machine, scoring 14 times in 2018 even while missing four games with a late-season injury.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce, RB Damien Williams
Mahomes is the league’s top quarterback, and after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, Travis Kelce is the clear-cut top tight end. With Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger separated, Mahomes to Kelce is arguably the NFL’s most intimidating QB-receiver combo. Williams exceeded expectations last season, but it’s hard to trust him after a limited sample size of just three regular-season starts in 2018. If Kareem Hunt was still with Kansas City, this likely would’ve been our top triplet.
4. Cleveland Browns
QB Baker Mayfield, WR Odell Beckham Jr., RB Nick Chubb
We don’t know yet if the hype is real, but the Browns’ offense could explode in 2019. Saquon Barkley barely edged out Mayfield for the Rookie of the Year Award, and now the second-year pivot gets the support of Beckham – one of the best receivers in the league – and Chubb starting for a full season. All eyes will be on Cleveland in 2019.
5. Green Bay Packers
QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Davante Adams, RB Aaron Jones
Rodgers and Adams form a top quarterback-wide receiver duo. When all else failed, Rodgers knew he could turn to Adams in 2018, leading to 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns for the wideout. With nothing but youngsters filling out the rest of the Packers’ receiving corps, Rodgers says he wants to target Adams even more in 2019. Green Bay appears to have unearthed a star running back in Jones. Hopefully, he’ll average more than 12 carries per game under a new coaching staff.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, RB James Conner
The “Killer Bees” are no more, but few teams are better at finding new offensive talent than Pittsburgh. Conner was every bit as productive as Le’Veon Bell during his first season starting (1,470 yards from scrimmage and 13 TDs), and Smith-Schuster is one of just two receivers in NFL history to catch 100 passes in a season before age 23. However, we need to see how he performs as a No. 1 wideout without Brown before returning Pittsburgh’s triplet to elite status.
7. Atlanta Falcons
QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, RB Devonta Freeman
This trio appeared on the verge of greatness after the Falcons’ run to Super Bowl LI. Injuries have slowed and sidelined Freeman over the two seasons since. Ryan and Jones remain among the elite at their positions, even though they’re aging. The Falcons are hoping a healthy Freeman, with the team’s backfield all to himself following the departure of Tevin Coleman, will help their offense rebound to 2016 levels.
8. Indianapolis Colts
QB Andrew Luck, WR T.Y. Hilton, RB Marlon Mack
Luck took a month or so to get back up to speed in 2018, but once he did, Frank Reich’s quick-hitting offense fit him well, and the pivot looked better than ever. Mack isn’t a complete back, but his burst and ability to challenge the edge of defenses complement Indy’s talented offensive line well. Hilton remains one of the league’s more underrated players, even though he’s developed into a well-rounded No. 1 target after starting his career as a one-trick deep threat.
9. Houston Texans
QB Deshaun Watson, WR DeAndre Hopkins, RB Lamar Miller
The 2018 season gave us a glimpse of what’s possible when Watson is throwing to Hopkins for a full year. Watson rose to stardom, throwing for 4,165 yards with a 26:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and Hopkins became perhaps the league’s best wideout with his 1,572-yard season. The two did all that despite an awful offensive line, and Miller leading an average rushing attack.
10. Seattle Seahawks
QB Russell Wilson, WR Tyler Lockett, RB Chris Carson
Lockett’s breakout season, in which he averaged nearly 17 yards per catch and hauled in 10 touchdowns, somewhat mitigates losing Doug Baldwin. The speedster isn’t a typical No. 1 receiver, but his strong connection with Wilson can’t be understated. The lone star of this triplet, Wilson pushes the unit into the top 10. Carson’s a solid back with a punishing style, and he didn’t receive enough credit for his 1,151-yard campaign in 2018.
11. Dallas Cowboys
QB Dak Prescott, WR Amari Cooper, RB Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys field one of the most star-filled triplets, though the team ranks lower here because its best player out of the three is the running back, Elliott. Prescott looked reinvigorated in 2018 following the trade for Cooper, but we can’t forget how lost he seemed prior to the receiver’s arrival. He’s not more than an average starter. Similarly, while Cooper’s talents are undeniable considering how much he improved Dallas’ passing attack, he can’t be considered a top-10 wideout without more game-to-game consistency.
12. Los Angeles Rams
QB Jared Goff, WR Brandin Cooks, RB Todd Gurley
This dynamic trio strikes fear in the hearts of opponents, but each player has a weakness. Goff put together a second consecutive scintillating season in 2018, but he can be contained, as the Patriots’ stifling defense showed in the Super Bowl. Gurley has scored 40 touchdowns over the past two seasons, but the heavy workload finally caught up to him in the 2019 playoffs, and there are significant concerns about his knee moving forward. Cooks leads a talented wide receiver group, but he lacks the complete skill set of other top wideouts.
13. New England Patriots
QB Tom Brady, WR Julian Edelman, RB Sony Michel
The Patriots’ offensive machine often eschews star weapons in favor of role players who excel in specific areas. That’s led to multiple Super Bowl wins, but when it comes to comparing top talents, New England falls short. Brady, of course, is still, well, Tom freaking Brady. Edelman reminded the NFL of his skills this past postseason, and he’s still among the league’s best slot weapons. Michel was great running the ball as a rookie, but with James White hoarding targets, the jury is still out on his ability to be a three-down back.
14. Minnesota Vikings
QB Kirk Cousins, WR Adam Thielen, RB Dalvin Cook
While Minnesota boasts easily the best one-two punch at wide receiver, we have to pick one here. Thielen gets the nod over Stefon Diggs due to his insane eight-game streak of 100-yard-plus performances to open the 2018 season. Cook’s talent is easy to see when he’s on the field, but he hasn’t been healthy often enough. It’s a make-or-break year for him in 2019. Cousins disappointed during his first season in Minnesota. His price tag is elite, but it’s clear he’ll never come close to cracking the top tier of passers.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
QB Carson Wentz, TE Zach Ertz, RB Miles Sanders (r)
The connection between Wentz and Ertz is nearly unstoppable. Wentz is an MVP candidate when healthy, and Ertz is a target monster, hauling in an absurd 116 balls and recording 1,163 yards in 2018. However, Philly’s running game leaves much to be desired. The Eagles finished 28th in rushing a season ago, averaging only 98.1 yards per game. Enter Sanders, a 2019 second-round pick the Eagles are hoping can give their offense the balance it sorely needs.
16. Carolina Panthers
QB Cam Newton, WR D.J. Moore, RB Christian McCaffrey
A former MVP and a potential MVP candidate lead this triplet. Newton remains one of the league’s most dangerous weapons, though he’s recovering from shoulder surgery. McCaffrey highlights the Panthers’ efforts to surround Newton with young talent. The 5-foot-11 dynamo nearly racked up 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving during his sophomore season, and he’s bulked up this offseason while trying to exceed that plateau. The Panthers are a stud receiver away from being much further up this list.
17. Oakland Raiders
QB Derek Carr, WR Antonio Brown, RB Josh Jacobs (r)
Carr’s reputation has fallen far from his days as an MVP candidate in 2016. But he’s still a solid starter who can produce the occasional top-tier performance. The arrival of Brown will undoubtedly buoy the quarterback, as the former Steeler almost single-handily pushes this group from bad to average. Jacobs, Oakland’s third first-round selection in 2019, has the talent and the opportunity to become a 1,000-plus yard rusher as a rookie.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green, RB Joe Mixon
Mixon looked like a burgeoning star during his sophomore season, and he could explode if he takes the next step as a receiver. Green turns 31 in July, and injuries have slowed him in recent years. But he’s still among the best receivers in the league, and the emergence of Tyler Boyd should help relieve some pressure. Dalton is clearly the weakest link here, and Cincinnati should show him the door.
19. Detroit Lions
QB Matthew Stafford, WR Kenny Golladay, RB Kerryon Johnson
Two short years ago, Stafford was the highest-paid player in NFL history. However, his play has plateaued, and the Lions’ competitive window has closed. Youngsters Golladay and Johnson have replaced Stafford’s old supporting cast, too. Golladay is best used as a complementary piece rather than a No. 1 option. Johnson, however, could become the great backfield threat the Lions have been missing.
20. San Francisco 49ers
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, TE George Kittle, RB Tevin Coleman
Kittle has emerged as a premier tight end, and Garoppolo is expected to vault into the top tier at his position if he stays healthy. The quarterback’s first five starts with the Niners were legendary, but an ACL tear cut his 2018 season short. The running back position has been a revolving door during the Kyle Shanahan era in San Francisco, and now the 49ers are banking on career backups Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon to end that trend.
21. New York Jets
QB Sam Darnold, WR Robby Anderson, RB Le’Veon Bell
This threesome could rise dramatically in 2019. Darnold’s rookie year was a roller coaster, but he looked like a stud during a late-season hot streak. Bell is dangerous, and while it’s fair to be concerned about his season off, he’s still just 27 years old. Anderson was a disappointment in 2018 after appearing primed to break out following a 941-yard campaign the season before. But, like Darnold, his production picked up late in the season, as he racked up three touchdowns and 336 yards over the final four games to re-establish himself as an up-and-coming player.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Jameis Winston, WR Mike Evans, RB Peyton Barber
Winston to Evans has been a great combo, with the wideout posting 1,000-plus receiving yards in each of his five NFL seasons. Evans is also coming off a 1,524-yard, eight-touchdown campaign. However, the running back position brings this trio down. The Bucs haven’t fielded a 1,000-plus yard rusher since 2015, and Barber likely isn’t the man to do it. He won the job almost by default in 2018, and the veteran will hold it again in 2019 unless last year’s second-round pick Ronald Jones improves.
23. Arizona Cardinals
QB Kyler Murray (r), WR Larry Fitzgerald, RB David Johnson
The Cardinals’ trio could become one of the game’s best. Murray has the tools to take the league by storm, and Johnson has already reached dynamic status. Fitzgerald is in the final stage of his career, but Arizona has done well to support him with a group of promising youngsters. One of Christian Kirk, Hakeem Butler, or Andy Isabella could emerge as the Cardinals’ next great receiver.
24. Tennessee Titans
QB Marcus Mariota, WR Corey Davis, RB Derrick Henry
We’re still waiting on the Titans’ offense to break out. That appeared to happen in 2016 when Mariota posted a 26:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. But in the two seasons since, he’s thrown 24 touchdowns and 23 picks. Davis is Mariota’s top weapon, but he’s been given additional targets in A.J. Brown and Adam Humphries this offseason. If Henry can build off the late-season stretch when he averaged 146 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game over the final four contests in 2018, Tennessee will finally field a diverse attack.
25. New York Giants
QB Eli Manning, WR Sterling Shepard, RB Saquon Barkley
Barkley entered the league more hyped than any running back in recent memory. He still rose above those expectations despite a poor offensive line. He’s a natural pass-catcher, a threat to score any time, and his elusiveness both between and outside the tackles is a nightmare for defenses. Shepard, meanwhile, is an ascending slot receiver, but Manning has regressed to become one of the worst starting quarterbacks.
26. Chicago Bears
QB Mitch Trubisky, WR Allen Robinson, RB David Montgomery (r)
Trubisky has shown flashes of brilliance, including his six-touchdown performance against Tampa in Week 4 of 2018. But he’s yet to display the ability to dominate on a consistent basis. The Bears have spent significant capital to surround Trubisky with playmakers. Robinson possesses top-receiver talent, but he hasn’t been utilized in that role yet in Chicago. He recorded just one game of 100-plus receiving yards during the 2018 season. Montgomery should become the team’s starting running back after the offseason Jordan Howard trade, though Tarik Cohen will maintain a large role.
27. Baltimore Ravens
QB Lamar Jackson, WR Hollywood Brown (r), RB Mark Ingram
The Ravens’ triplet has yet to play a snap together, which pushed it below more established groups. But figuring out how to stop Jackson and Brown, who possess otherworldly speed, will likely cause sleepless nights for defensive coordinators. Jackson’s passing limitations are a major concern, though, and Brown’s injury history could be a problem, too. Finally, Ingram’s battering-ram style should balance the Ravens’ offense, but it’s fair to wonder how much the 29-year-old has left in the tank.
28. Denver Broncos
QB Joe Flacco, WR Emmanuel Sanders, RB Phillip Lindsay
At this stage of his career, Flacco hurts his offense far more than he helps. It likely won’t be too long before Drew Lock pushes to take the starting job. Sanders was among the league’s most productive receivers from 2014 to 2016. However, the 32-year-old lost a step in 2018, and that was before suffering a torn Achilles. Lindsay produced one of the best-ever seasons from an undrafted running back in 2018, but the fact he’s Denver’s most reliable weapon says a lot about the team’s offense.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Nick Foles, WR Dede Westbrook, RB Leonard Fournette
Jacksonville used the fourth pick in the 2017 draft on Fournette, and yet the team still ranks near the basement on this list. The star running back has been a disappointment, as has the Jaguars’ offense as a whole. Foles brings some respectability to the quarterback position after the Jaguars sunk five years into Blake Bortles. Following success with the Eagles, Foles gets the chance to lead an offense full time. He’ll get support from some exciting young receivers, including DJ Chark and Dede Westbrook.
30. Buffalo Bills
QB Josh Allen, WR John Brown, RB LeSean McCoy
The Bills’ quantity-over-quality approach in free agency isn’t necessarily a bad team-building philosophy, but their offense still doesn’t have much high-end talent. Brown earned the nod here because he can stretch defenses deep, where Allen looked most comfortable throwing as a rookie. But we could’ve easily picked Cole Beasley or Robert Foster. The same goes for McCoy, who looked like a shell of his former self in 2018, and the more productive but even older Frank Gore could push him aside. The Bills’ offensive fate still rests with Allen in 2019. While the young passer experienced more first-season highs than most predicted, his lows lead to doubt about the pivot’s ability to develop into a top QB.
31. Washington Redskins
QB Dwayne Haskins (r), TE Jordan Reed, RB Adrian Peterson
If Haskins wins the starting QB job, one of the league’s oldest active running backs and an injury-prone tight end will be his main weapons. The Redskins severely lack receiver talent. There isn’t a No. 1 receiver to be found among Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, and rookie Terry McLaurin. Derrius Guice would be a capable backfield running mate, but he’ll likely be brought along slowly while sharing the load with Peterson as he recovers from a torn ACL last preseason.
32. Miami Dolphins
QB Josh Rosen, WR Kenny Stills, RB Kenyan Drake
Stills is often overlooked despite consistently putting up good No. 2 receiver numbers. But at 27 years old, he’s likely reached his ceiling after failing to rise in 2018, even with Jarvis Landry gone. While Drake has shown starter potential over three seasons, he’s yet to handle a full workload and might best fit in a scat back role. Rosen was a top-10 draft pick for a reason, and he’s still talented enough to turn his career around. Still, he was terrible as a rookie, making Miami an easy pick for the final spot.