AP NEWS

Where do Chargers triplets stand in NFL?

June 16, 2016 GMT

Good morning.

Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com compiled a ranking of each NFL team’s top three offensive players.

The Chargers “triplets” came in 14th after Barnwell deemed Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen as the offense’s three most useful and important skill-position players for 2016. In the AFC West, the only higher ranking went to Chiefs triplets Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin.

(DeAndre) Hopkins was the third-best receiver in football, but that’s only because Allen missed the final eight games with a lacerated spleen. The work the newly signed veteran put in was staggering in hindsight. He finished those first eight games with 67 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns, numbers virtually identical to those of Marvin Jones (65 catches, 816 yards, four scores) in 16 games. Allen’s projected totals -- 134 catches, 1,450 yards, eight scores -- would leave him just below Brown and Julio Jones as football’s third-most productive receiver. And while Gordon was a mess in his first season and underwent microfracture surgery on his knee, it’s too early to count him out; running backs such as Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman were spectacular in their sophomore seasons after anonymous, underwhelming rookie campaigns.

My take: Danny Woodhead joins Rivers and Allen in my Chargers triplets. The likelihood is that Woodhead will be more useful and important that Gordon. That’s not a knock on Gordon. Rivers and Woodhead have developed a special rapport, so when the moments of truth arrive, the Bolts have Woodhead on the field. On third down and in the red zone, Woodhead still stands to get most of the snaps.

I’m not counting out Gordon having a solid season. Several ingredients argue for improvement from him, including the return of playcaller Ken Whisenhunt, under whom Ryan Mathews rekindled his career.