Pittsburgh has the triplet market cornered
while other teams are scrounging to find one fantasy star.
When the term “Triplets” comes up while talking about
the NFL, it conjures up the names – Troy Aikman, Emmitt
Smith and Michael Irvin. Their careers intertwined from 1990-99
and they helped the Dallas Cowboys win three Super Bowls (1992,
1993 and 1995).
However, by today’s statistical standards, they won those
three titles with fairly ordinary offensive numbers. Aikman only
threw for 300 yards a total of 10 times … in 10 seasons.
Irvin posted 100 yards or more just 44 times. Only Smith’s
production stands the test of time as he rushed for 100 yards
63 times and posted at least two rushing touchdowns 34 times.
Contrast that to the current “Triplets” in Pittsburgh – Ben
Bell and Antonio
Brown. Although the Steelers trio have been together for just
five seasons (2013-17), Ben has cracked the 300-yard mark 29 times
and thrown at least three touchdown passes in a game 21 times.
Aikman managed three scores just 10 times. Brown has posted 34
100-yard receiving games and Bell has 18 100-yard rushing games
while still being a major force in the passing game.
Below I have ranked each team’s 2018 “Triplets.”
There aren’t many teams who can boast top quality at all
three positions. In fact, after the top-five threesomes from Pittsburgh,
Atlanta, L.A. Chargers, L.A. Rams and New Orleans, the question
Tampa Bay – Is the threat of rookie
Jones running the ball enough to free up the talented Evans?
New England – It’s hard to have
a star RB when four running backs are involved in the offense.
New York Giants – If I knew the
OL would hold up for 16 games I’d have this trio a lot higher
because Barkley and Beckham have out-of-this-world talent.
Wilson and Doug
Baldwin are a proven combination, but this team hasn’t produced
a running game since Marshawn
Lynch “retired.” Not including Wilson’s 586 yards on the ground,
the Seahawks managed just 1,043 yards from seven running backs
averaging 3.35 ypc.
Carolina – Will newcomer C.J.
Anderson steal enough carries to drag Christian
McCaffrey down? In this era of passing, Cam Newton has never
thrown for more than 4,051 yards and that was in his rookie season
Arizona – Assuming Bradford gets
hurt on the opening drive … Rosen will have to learn on the job.
Good thing he has the return of highly-skilled David
Johnson and Mr. Reliable Larry Fitzgerald to lean on for support.
Oakland – If Jon Gruden really
does go “old school” that’s a bad thing most fantasy owners.
Allen will likely be the starter before the halfway point,
McCoy is the only sure thing here.
Howard averages 118 ypg in wins, which hasn’t been often for
the struggling Bears, and 64.8 ypg in losses, and Allen
Robinson hasn’t been elite since 2015. Mitchell
Trubisky should take a step up in Year 2, but it better be
a giant leap after managing just seven touchdown passes in 12
By the time you reach No. 22 on the list, there are multiple
Dalton hasn’t been worthy of a fantasy start since 2013 and
I’m not convinced Joe
Mixon is the answer after averaging just 3.5 ypc last season.
New York Jets –Josh
McCown played well last season before injuries stopped him,
Anderson’s availability is a question mark and the running
back workload will be split.
Denver – Opponents won’t fear their
running game which will make it tougher on Case
Keenum and Demaryius
Thomas. Remember when Thomas was elite? It was 2014 and Peyton
Manning could still throw. Keenum is not Manning … OK, maybe he’s
San Francisco –Jimmy
Garoppolo took the league by storm in the second half of 2017,
but defensive coordinators have had an entire offseason to dissect
his play. Jerick
McKinnon is more third-down back than bell cow and is aging
Garcon the best of the receivers?
Cleveland – Changes, changes everywhere
don’t lead to continuity. Individually, Tyrod
Hyde and Jarvis
Landry are solid veterans, but I’m not ready to say they can
produce at a top fantasy level.
Indianapolis – I’ll believe Andrew
Luck can withstand a grueling 16-game schedule if he’s still
standing under center on December 30. He’s got no running game
and one talented, but wildly inconsistent receiver in T.Y.
Hilton (three games of 150 yards or more and eight games of
30 yards or less).
Jacksonville – A bruising running
back in Leonard
Fournette and a great defense means the Jaguars won’t ask
a lot of their passing game. That’s good for hometown fans, but
bad for fantasy owners of anybody other than the tailback.
And the bottom two teams, Baltimore and Washington, in my mind,
have question marks everywhere! It’s going to be a tough
pro football season around the nation’s capital.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.