The NFL’s Top QB1-RB1 Duos

Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) celebrate with running back Nick Chubb (24) after Chubb scored a touchdown during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus tallies annual and weekly in-season grades throughout a calendar year. When a season finishes, year-end grades are the final product, allotting for NFL analysts and fans a score for every NFL player.

This examination calculates and ranks each team’s QB1 and RB1 as a total sum via PFF 2020 grade. For some players like Christian McCaffrey, 2019 scores are used to imply 2021 performance rather than their injury-ravaged campaigns of 2020.

The only two rookie quarterbacks interwoven are Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson — each man was given a generic 65.0 score. These fake grades are largely moot because neither team remotely approaches the Top 5.

Based on 2020 PFF grades, here are the Top 5 QB1-RB1 combinations heading into 2021, ranked from good to best.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes (91.8) and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (77.2)

When the 2020 NFL Draft rolled around, Patrick Mahomes arguably didn’t need additional weaponry — he just captured his first Super Bowl (and the Chiefs’ third). But the rich got richer with the addition of Edwards-Helaire to the franchise.

Edwards-Helaire was quite effective in the 13 games that he graced in his rookie adventure. He tallied 1,110 yards from scrimmage, accompanied by five touchdowns — a respectable paydirt total for one’s rookie year.

Mahomes is widely accepted as the best signal-caller in the world, although Aaron Rodgers ripped MVP honors from Boy Wonder in 2020. So, the Mahomes plus Edwards-Helaire checks in at #5 per PFF.

4. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers (95.1) and Aaron Jones (75.6)

The man that “stole” the 2020 MVP from the aforementioned Mahomes displaces the Chiefs duo at #4. Rodgers may not play for the Packers in 2021, but if he does, Rodgers and his fellow Aaron comprise a wicked combination.

Jones experienced a slight drop-off from his 2019 production, though. It wasn’t astronomical, yet his touchdown total fell from 19 to 11 in one year’s time. That’s like batting .360 in baseball one season while “tumbling” to .310 the following year. Ergo, not a big deal.

After encountering a bit of a performance decline from 2015 to 2019 (it wasn’t really noticeable to the general public because Rodgers is revered), Rodgers returned with a vengeance. We shall see if he brings that stardom to Wisconsin in September — or the westerly United States.

3. Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins (83.5) and Dalvin Cook (89.0)

There was a brief moment in 2020 when Dalvin Cook was a quasi-MVP candidate. He just shattered the Packers for four touchdowns and continued on in the following weeks with shred-worthy presentations for a few other teams. Ultimately, the Vikings merely sniffed a winning record for the season, disabling any serious MVP consideration for Cook.

But Cook did slice his way to 17 total scores, second in the business to Alvin Kamara (and tied with Derrick Henry). In fact, Cook is always second-best to Derrick Henry in major rushing categories amid the last two seasons.

Cousins is Cousins. Some perceive him as a consistent, 30-TD-per-season passer whereas others believe he isn’t a winner. PFF disagrees with the latter crowd as evidenced by his 83.5 grade — the 11th-best in the NFL during the pandemic season.

2. Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield (85.7) and Nick Chubb (88.3)

If one peered into the future four years ago and saw these men on this list, the response would sound like, “Who the hell are they?”

Well, they’re the Cleveland Browns, suddenly one of the league’s top franchises. Free agents are even seeking Cleveland as a sexy destination nowadays. And that’s because the likes of Mayfield and Chubb rejuvenated the fan base. Also, don’t forget Myles Garrett, Odell Beckham, and head coach Kevin Stefanski.

Mayfield is climbing the ranks of NFL passers, gradually increasing his dependability and consistency. On Chubb, from the moment he was handed the starting gig, he absolutely thrived. Last season, Chubb missed 25% of the season and still hit 1,217 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns.

So long as Mayfield doesn’t turn into a fourth-year pumpkin, the Browns finally feel like a winning AFC mainstay. Whooda thunk it?

1. Tennessee Titans

Ryan Tannehill (90.6) and Derrick Henry (91.8)

To some onlookers, Tannehill is still afflicted by that Kirk Cousinsitis. That is — folks refuse to recognize the truth that each man is a good, productive quarterback. Tannehill wasn’t even brought to Tennessee to start, grabbing the QB1 title in Week 6 of 2019.

How did he work out? Not bad — the Titans reached the AFC Championship in his first season as the man in charge. Tannehill is Top 12 quarterback despite what naysayers spew.

His pal, Derrick Henry, is contemporarily the best halfback in the NFL. He bruises and bulldozes linemen, chucks corners across the field, and stacks yards aplenty. And, he’s a work horse. True-blue bellcow running backs are rarity in today’s league as teams prefer an RB1-RB2 platter.

Not the Titans, however. It’s Henry and his blunt-force trauma.