Not every partnership is a match made in heaven. But even unexpected combos can become blessed unions.
Here are three NFL duos few envisioned having this much success together.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – DeSean Jackson
Who would have thought that the marquee tandem to open the season would have been a journeyman passer and a wideout with 11 years on his legs?
Two weeks into the campaign, no duo was more lethal than Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeSean Jackson. Fitzpatrick led the league in pass yards at that point and Jackson was the NFL’s leader in receiving yards. The pair combined on bombs of 58, 36, 35, and 75 yards, proving they can each still dominate.
The two only connected three times for 37 yards in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but their scorching start likely altered the way the defense covered Jackson.
There’s no telling how long the Fitzmagic will last after Jameis Winston returns to the roster this week. Nonetheless, the unexpected allies deserve much of the credit for the Buccaneers’ 2-1 start.
Alvin Kamara – Mark Ingram
When New Orleans used a third-round pick on Alvin Kamara in the 2017 draft, it was believed that Mark Ingram’s days were numbered with the Saints.
Instead, the pair of running backs combined to form the most dynamic rushing attack in the NFL. Kamara won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after producing more than 1,550 total yards and 13 touchdowns, and Ingram was named to his second Pro Bowl while putting up career highs in carries (230), rushing yards (1,124), and touchdowns (12).
In their pursuit of Kamara, the Saints determined that he’s best used in multiple roles and not as a traditional lead back. So while Kamara comes at opposing defenses in a variety of ways, Ingram helps shield him from the regular wear and tear a three-down back endures.
Stefon Diggs – Adam Thielen
Perhaps the most unexpected tandem is the one between Minnesota Vikings pass-catchers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
Thielen was an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State in 2013 and Diggs a fifth-round pick by the Vikings in 2015. Neither was expected to emerge as the team’s lead wideout; if anything, they’d compete for touches. Yet, they’ve managed to share the spotlight after two breakout years.
They each caught a shade under 1,000 yards in 2016. Last year, Diggs led the team in touchdowns with eight while Thielen made the Pro Bowl after a 1,276-yard campaign.
The two have each exceeded the production of 2016 first-round pick Laquon Treadwell and are regarded as one of the best receiving duos in the league.