The 2018 NFL’s Best (and Worst) Offensive Triplets

We've made a top ten list of the NFL’s best offensive triplets (quarterback / running back / receiver or tight end) plus a few of the worst ones.

When you combine an NFL franchise’s three main offensive weapons – quarterback, running back and wide receiver / tight end – football fans refer to it as the team’s offensive ‘triplet’. Every team has one, except some are a whole lot better than others.

With a productive triplet, a team can challenge the defense at multiple levels of the field by balancing the passing and rushing attack against each other, moving the ball and scoring big. And often.

The triplet gold standard is Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

When you look at their 1995 offensive numbers (that was the year their Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17) only one modern triplet beats their offensive output, and ironically it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Technically, there’s no specific statistic to measure and compare the output of the various NFL triplets, so for the sake of this article we’ll attempt to create a very basic stat right here:

Triplet Output Number (TON) = total offensive yards + (total touchdowns x 6)

It’s not perfect, but as you’ll see for the purposes of comparing and ranking triplets, it does just fine.

Here’s the Aikman / Smith / Irvin triplet’s TON:

1995 Dallas Cowboys, 12-4, 3-0, Super Bowl XXX Winners

QB Troy Aikman

  • Regular season: 3,304 passing yards & 32 rushing yards for 16 + 1 = 17 total TDs
  • Playoffs: 717 passing yards & 0 rushing yards for 4 total TDs

RB Emmitt Smith

  • Regular season: 1,773 rushing yards & 375 receiving yards for 25 + 0 = 25 total TDs
  • Playoffs: 298 rushing yards & 60 receiving yards for 6 + 0 = 6 total TDs

WR Michael Irvin

  • Regular season: 1,603 receiving yards for 10 TDs
  • Playoffs: 185 receiving yards for 3 TDs

TOTALS: 8,347 yards + (65 TDs x 6) = 8,737 TON

The key to being a powerful triplet is not having a weak link. Most of the modern triplets include quarterbacks with noticeably better numbers than Aikman, but Smith’s and Irvin’s fat stats more than make up for it when combined.

Here are the NFL’s top ten triplets ranked according to their TON.

Also, there are five ‘What ifs…’ that should probably be included in this discussion.

And finally, there’s the NFL’s two worst triplets in 2017, one that actually used their starting quarterback, and one that couldn’t.

Feel free to debate the results in the comment section below – especially if you have a better method of measuring and comparing triplet effectiveness.

Here we go, starting with…

The Philadelphia Eagles 13-3, 3-0, Super Bowl LII Winners

The only reason why quarterback Carson Wentz’s triplet ranked a ‘lowly’ 10th was because he just played in 13 games. It’s going to be fun watching him return in 2018 and boost this triplet’s output.

QB Carson Wentz

  • Regular season: 3,296 passing yards and 299 rushing yards for 33 + 0 = 33 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

Philadelphia Eagles's Carston wentz

RB Jay Ajayi

  • Regular season: 873 rushing yards & 158 receiving yards for 1 + 1 = 2 total TDs.
  • Playoffs 184 rushing yards & 70 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR Alshon Jeffrey

  • Regular season: 789 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 9 + 0 = 9 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 219 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 3+ 0 = 3 total TDs

TOTALS: 5,888 yards + (47 TDs x 6) = 6,170 TON

The Minnesota Vikings 13-3, 1-1

Quarterback Kirk Cousins played for the Washington Redskins last season, so this one probably shouldn’t count. But it’s too hard to not wonder how this triplet will stack up, especially paired with the league’s top defense getting them lots of offensive playing time.

QB Kirk Cousins

  • Regular season: 4,093 passing yards and 179 rushing yards for 27 + 4 = 31 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

Minnesota Vikings's Kirk Cousins

RB Dalvin Cook

  • Regular season: 354 rushing yards & 90 receiving yards for 2 + 0 = 2 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR Adam Thielen

  • Regular season: 1276 receiving yards & 11 rushing yards for 4 + 0 = 9 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 102 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 6,105 yards + (42 TDs x 6) = 6,357 TON

The Detroit Lions 9-7, 0-0

Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s Lions are the big sleeper ready to wake. This triplet lacks a blowout runner to distract defenses from the passing game effectively.

QB Matthew Stafford

  • Regular season: 4,446 passing yards and 98 rushing yards for 29 + 0 = 29 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

Detroit Lions's Matthew Stafford

RB Ameer Abdullah

  • Regular season: 552 rushing yards & 162 receiving yards for 4 + 1 = 5 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR Golden Tate

  • Regular season: 1003 receiving yards & 22 rushing yards for 5 + 0 = 5 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 6,283 yards + (39 TDs x 6) = 6,517 TON

The New England Patriots 13-3, 2-1

The fact that top NFL quarterback and league MVP / GOAT Tom Brady’s triplet is ranked out of the top five is a result of their weaker running game. The fact that they continue to show up in the playoffs and the Super Bowl says a lot about what Brady and head coach Bill Belichick manage to do with the rest of the team, too.

QB Tom Brady

  • Regular season: 4,577 passing yards and 25 rushing yards for 32 + 0 = 32 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 1132 passing yards and 8 rushing yards for 8 + 0 = 8 TDs

RB James White

  • Regular season: 171 rushing yards & 429 receiving yards for 0 + 3 = 3 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 60 rushing yards & 72 receiving yards for 3+ 1 = 4 total TDs

New England Patriots's James White

WR Rob Gronkowski

  • Regular season: caught for 1,084 & ran for 0 yards for 8 + 0 = 8 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: caught for 218 yards and ran for 0 yards for 3+ 0 = 3 total TDs

TOTALS: 6,286 yards + (58 TDs x 6) = 6,634 TON

The Carolina Panthers 11-5, 0-1

Quarterback Cam Newton is a double threat to pass or run, so he makes up for the relatively lower rushing and receiver numbers of this triplet. 

QB Cam Newton

  • Regular season: 3,302 passing yards and 754 rushing yards for 22 + 6 = 28 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 349 passing yards and 37 rushing yards for 2 + 0 = 2 TDs

RB Christian McCaffrey

  • Regular season: 435 rushing yards & 651 receiving yards for 2 + 5 = 7 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 16 rushing yards & 101 receiving yards for 0 + 1 = 1 total TDs

WR Devin Funchess

  • Regular season: 840 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 8 + 0 = 8 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 79 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 6,447 yards + (46 TDs x 6) = 6,723 TON

The Los Angeles Chargers: 9-7, 0-0

Whenever your quarterback puts up over 4,500 passing yards, chances are he’s part of a top tier triplet. Quarterback Phillip Rivers and his trio continue to put up big numbers quietly while the team continues to stay right out of the playoffs.

QB Phillip Rivers

  • Regular season: 4,515 passing & -2 rushing yards for 28 + 0 = 28 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards & 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

RB Melvin Gordon

  • Regular season: 1,105 rushing yards & 476 receiving yards for 8 + 4 = 12 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

Los Angeles Chargers's Melvin Gordon

WR Keenan Allen

  • Regular season: 1,393 receiving yards & 9 rushing yards for 6 + 0 = 6 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 7,496 yards + (46 TDs x 6) = 7,772 TON

The Atlanta Falcons: 10-6, 1-1

The Falcons’ triplet has no weak links. Their 8th ranked offense came close to returning to the Super Bowl last season, and this trio of production was a big reason for that.

QB Matt Ryan

  • Regular season: 4,095 passing yards & 143 rushing yards for 20 + 0 = 20 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 428 passing yards & 5 rushing yards for 2 + 0 = 2 TDs

RB Devonta Freeman

  • Regular season: 865 rushing yards & 317 receiving yards for 7 + 1 = 8 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 73 rushing yards & 29 receiving yards for 1+ 1 = 2 total TDs

Atlanta Falcons's Devonta Freeman

WR Julio Jones

  • Regular season: 1,444 receiving yards & 15 rushing yards for 3 + 0 = 3 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 195 receiving yards & 13 rushing yards for 1+ 0 = 1 total TDs

TOTALS: 7,622 yards + (36 TDs x 6) = 7,838 TON

The Los Angeles Rams: 11-5, 0-1

The Rams and their improved offense are on everyone’s radar these days. Coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff have figured out how to effectively audible and this triplet has turned the team’s total offensive production around.

QB Jared Goff

  • Regular season: 3,804 passing yards & 51 rushing yards for 28 + 1 = 29 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 259 passing yards & 0 rushing yards for 1 TDs

RB Todd Gurley

  • Regular season: 1,305 rushing yards & 788 receiving yards for 13 + 6 = 19 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 101 rushing yards & 10 receiving yards for 0 total TDs

Los Angeles Ram's Todd Gurley

WR Brandin Cooks

  • Regular season: 1,082 receiving yards & 40 rushing yards for 7 + 0 = 7 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 155 receiving yards & 1 rushing yards for 0 TDs

TOTALS: 7,596 yards + (55 TDs x 6) = 7,926 TONz

The New Orleans Saints: 11-5, 1-1

With a consistent stats machine like quarterback Drew Brees, it’s no surprise his triplet has the second highest TON. He’s got solid help, of course.

QB Drew Brees

  • Regular season: 4,334 passing yards & 12 rushing yards for 23 + 2 = 25 total TDs
  • Playoffs: 670 passing yards & 3 rushing yards for 5 TDs

RB Mark Ingram

  • Regular season: 1,124 rushing yards & 416 receiving yards for 12 total TDs
  • Playoffs 47 rushing yards & 16 receiving yards for 0 total TDs

WR Michael Thomas

  • Regular season: 1,245 receiving yards for 5 TDs
  • Playoffs 216 receiving yards for 2 TDs

TOTALS: 8,083 yards + (49 TDs x 6) = 8,377 TON

The Pittsburgh Steelers: 13-3, 0-1

The modern-day triplet gold standard is the Killer B’s of the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers. This trio has yet to turn their offensive prowess into a Super Bowl appearance, but last season they came close. They’re the only triplet whose TON is larger than Aikman/Smith/Irvin’s.

 QB Ben Roethlisberger

  • Regular season: 4,251 passing yards & 47 rushing yards for 28 + 0 = 28 total TDs
  • Playoffs: 469 passing yards & 16 rushing yards for 5 total TDs

RB Le’Veon Bell

  • Regular season: 1,291 rushing yards & 655 receiving yards for 9 + 2 = 11 total TDs
  • Playoffs: 67 rushing yards & 88 receiving yards for 1 + 1 = 2 total TDs

WR Antonio Brown

  • Regular season: 1,533 receiving yards for 9 TDs
  • Playoffs: 132 receiving yards for 2 TDs

TOTALS: 8,549 yards + (57 TDs x 6) = 8,891 TON

Pittsburgh Steelers's Antonio Brown

What Ifs and You-Never-Knows

Perhaps you’ve noticed a few of the more prominent NFL triplets are missing from this top ten list. Due to injury, there were three groups that probably would have made it to the top ten but instead ended up being fair to middling. 
They are:

The Green Bay Packers

If you use injured (and arguably the best current NFL quarterback) Aaron Rodgers’ 2016 numbers, the Green Bay Packers’ triplet would rank at #6. And if my Aunt was a man she’d be my Uncle.

QB Aaron Rodgers (*Pre-injury 2016 numbers)

  • Regular season: 4,428 passing yards and 369 rushing yards for 40 + 4 = 44 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 1004 passing yards and 62 rushing yards for 9 + 0 = 9 TDs

RB Aaron Jones

  • Regular season: 448 rushing yards & 22 receiving yards for 4 + 0 = 4 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR Davante Adams

  • Regular season: 885 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 10 + 0 = 10 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 7,228 yards + (67 TDs x 6) = 7,630 TON

The Houston Texans

Speaking of tempting ‘what ifs’, every Houston Texan fan is wondering how their triplet would stack up had quarterback Deshaun Watson not been injured during a November practice last season. Here’s what his triplet might have looked like, which would have been good enough to make #6 in our list.

QB Deshaun Watson (*Pre-injury stats, 7 games played adjusted for entire season x 2.29)

  • Regular season: 3,890 passing yards and 369 rushing yards for 44 + 0 = 44 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

RB Lamar Miller

  • Regular season: 888 rushing yards & 327 receiving yards for 3 + 3 = 6 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR Deandre Hopkins

  • Regular season: 1,378 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 13 + 0 = 13 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 6,853 yards + (63 TDs x 6) = 7,231 TON

The Indianapolis Colts w/ a healthy Andrew Luck

With a healthy quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts’ triplet would have easily made the top ten list. Colts fans are hoping he’ll be back to do just that in 2018.

QB Andrew Luck (*Pre-injury 2016 stats)

  • Regular season: 4,240 passing yards and 341 rushing yards for 31 + 2 = 33 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

RB Marlon Mack

  • Regular season: 358 rushing yards & 225 receiving yards for 3 + 1 = 4 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR T.Y. Hilton

  • Regular season: 966 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 4 + 0 = 4 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 6,130 yards + (41 TDs x 6) = 6,376 TON

The New York Giants

So here’s a fun possibility – will the New York Giants’ otherwise struggling triplet enter the top ten now that their star receiver is healthy again and they have drafted running back phenom Saquon Barkley? 
Since Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t play most of last season, let’s use his pre-injury 2016 numbers. Plus, it’s not fair to compare Barkley’s college numbers to pro stats, so here’s a low-ball (for a rookie-phenom) estimate of his Pro numbers to get an idea of how this triplet might do with him onboard in 2018. 

QB Eli Manning

  • Regular season: 3,468 passing yards and 26 rushing yards for 19 + 1 = 29 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

RB Saquon Barkley (Projected Pro numbers, low-balled)

  • Regular season: ran for 800 yards & caught for 800 yards for 4 + 4 = 8 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: ran for 0 yards & caught for 0 yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR Odell Beckham (Pre-injury 2016 numbers)

  • Regular season: 1,367 receiving  yards & 9 rushing yards for 10 + 0 = 10 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 6,470 yards + (47 TDs x 6) = 6,752 TON

The bottom of the triplet barrel

And finally, the last place triplets.

With all due respect, some seasons just don’t pan out the way they were supposed to.

 

Last year, the Indianapolis Colts had the triplet with the lowest TON, but because their starter Andrew Luck was injured, they were playing with their backup quarterback, Jacoby Brissett. 

 

The Cincinnati Bengals used their starters and still their triplet took the second to last place spot.

The Indianapolis Colts

QB Jacoby Brissett

  • Regular season: 3,098 passing yards and 260 rushing yards for 13 + 4 = 17 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

RB Marlon Mack

  • Regular season: 358 rushing yards & 225 receiving yards for 3 + 1 = 4 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR T.Y. Hilton

  • Regular season: 966 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 4 + 0 = 13 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 4,907 yards + (34 TDs x 6) = 5,111 TON

The Cincinnati Bengals

The 2017 triplet using their starting quarterback with the lowest TON was the Cincinnati Bengals. Again, it’s a made-up and arguable stat, but relatively speaking the Bengals have the longest road back to triplet dominance.

QB Andy Dalton

  • Regular season: 3,320 passing yards and 99 rushing yards for 25 + 0 = 25 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 passing yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 TDs

RB Joe Mixon

  • Regular season: 626 rushing yards & 287 receiving yards for 4 + 0 = 4 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 rushing yards & 0 receiving yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

WR A.J. Green

  • Regular season: 1,078 receiving yards & 0 rushing yards for 8 + 0 = 8 total TDs.
  • Playoffs: 0 receiving yards and 0 rushing yards for 0 + 0 = 0 total TDs

TOTALS: 5,410 yards + 37 TDs x 6) = 5,632 TON

Betting Guide

See All

State by State

See All