Fantasy football is a game loved by men and women of all ages. Starting back in 1962 and created by Wilfred Winkenbach, it has become a growing national trend season after season.
What's better than watching your favorite team play every Sunday? Probably nothing, unless you're a Browns fan of the last 10 seasons. But the next best thing is watching the ticker at the bottom of games, seeing if your fantasy quarterback has thrown a touchdown.
If you're like me, you're watching the ticker from start to finish, impatiently waiting for Peyton Manning to throw that first touchdown and then slamming your beer on the table when you found out he's thrown an interception instead.
We're here to take a look back at the best fantasy football performances over the last 20 seasons.
We'll start with a few honorable mentions. It just felt wrong to leave these guys out of the picture.
It would be an absolute crime to not mention Rob Bironas' eight field-goal performance in 2007 against the Houston Texans. That game set a record for most points scored in a game by a kicker with 26. He scored 29 points for fantasy owners, according to ESPN Standard League scoring. He hit on field goals of 52, 25, 21, 30, 28, 43, 29 and 29, all in the first half.
Another can't-miss performance was Jimmy Smith, wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who caught 15 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He recorded 47 points in that matchup.
And lastly, how can we forget the biggest sleeper of the last four games in 2009 in Jerome Harrison. The former Browns, and now Eagles, running back (who was a part of the Washington Redskins massacre on Monday night) rushed for 286 yards, almost eclipsing the NFL record set by Adrian Peterson. Harrison ran for three touchdowns and amassed 47 fantasy points for owners who most likely didn't even have him in the lineup.
The Priest came to town to bless the Chiefs in Week 12. Holmes was a dominant fantasy running back for a few seasons after being a backup in Baltimore to start his career.
Holmes rushed for 197 yards on 23 rushing attempts and two touchdowns. Now that doesn’t seem like a performance that matches Adrian Peterson or Mike Anderson. That is, until you add in his seven receptions for 110 yards and another touchdown in the air.
Holmes’ 300-plus yard, three-touchdown performance added up to 48 points for fantasy owners.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had one of the top defenses in the last 10 years. The year 2000 wasn’t any different. They had only given up nine rushing touchdowns all season and three of them were in Week 12 against Fred Taylor and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Some may remember Taylor before he was injury-prone. In Week 12 of that year, he rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns. He added 14 yards and a receiving touchdown in the air on three catches as well, totaling 48 fantasy points for owners making a last-minute playoff push.
Some of you may have heard of Peterson. He’s referred to as "All Day" Adrian Peterson, as he just seems to run all over defenses all day. In his rookie season, Peterson blew up against the Chargers in Week 9.
Peterson set the NFL rushing record with 296 yards on 30 carries. He added three touchdowns on the ground. His one reception for 19 yards gave him another fantasy point, bringing his total to 48 for the week.
Peterson is one of the few rookies in the last few years to really make a difference in fantasy football for an entire season, and he’s not slowing down in his fourth year.
Who is Mike Anderson? Remember back in the day when Mike Shanahan had a plug-and-play running back system? There were Anderson, Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Clinton Portis and even Reuben Droughns. All of them seemed to produce.
Anderson filled in for Terrell Davis in Week 14 and rushed for 251 yards on 37 carries. He had just five receiving yards, but his four touchdowns on the ground gave fantasy owners the edge in their Wild Card playoff match.
Anderson’s rushing yardage and touchdowns added up to 49 points.
Arguably the best running back to ever play the game, perhaps one of Barry Sanders‘ best single-game performances came in Week 13 of the 1991 season.
Sanders ran the ball 31 times and had 220 yards on the ground. He added four touchdowns to that total and he caught four passes for 31 more yards, finishing with 251 yards of offense.
If you were playing fantasy football back then, you most likely won your last regular-season game, as Sanders totaled 49 fantasy points.
Some of you younger guys may remember this performance. That is probably because it happened less than 12 hours ago. Vick and the Eagles started off with a 28-0 lead on the road.
Michael Vick didn’t have an incomplete pass until his 11th attempt and he went on to complete 20 of his 28 passing attempts for 333 yards in the air. Don’t forget to add in the four passing touchdowns, all to different receivers. If that’s not enough to impress you, he added another 80 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns.
Vick rewarded many lucky owners with 49 fantasy points. I’ve seen that number go as high as 61 in some leagues.
Corey Dillon’s rookie year was special for the Cincinnati Bengals. It took the Washington product 15 weeks to get over 200 yards on the ground. But owners that relied on him in the playoffs weren’t complaining as he tallied up 246 rushing yards.
Along with those 246 yards came four touchdowns and 30 yards receiving. This totaled 51 points for some lucky playoff managers, as they most likely moved into the championship game with that performance.
Back in the day, Shaun Alexander was one of the best running backs in the league, if not the best. His performance in Week 4 against the Vikings only reinforced that idea.
Alexander set the record for most points in one half after rushing for 139 yards and four scores on the ground. He didn’t just make plays on the ground, as he caught three passes for 92 yards and got one of them in the end zone for his fifth touchdown of the half.
His five touchdowns and over 270 yards of offense rewarded owners with 52 fantasy points. I remember that day vividly, as that game propelled me to my first ever 4-0 start. That was back in the day when I only had one league, not nine.
The 1990 campaign was good for the San Francisco 49ers, at least until the NFC Championship. In Week 6, Jerry Rice gave fantasy owners a huge performance after catching five touchdowns and recording 225 yards in the air. He absolutely torched the Atlanta Falcons secondary.
His 13 receptions also made any sort of PPR league happy, as he would have amassed closer to 60 points. This legendary performance by a wide receiver totaled 52 points. Anybody who started him most likely won that week.
In 2003, Clinton Portis went absolutely nuts against the Kansas City Chiefs. With the Broncos at 7-5 and in the playoff hunt, they needed to keep the wins coming for a chance to win the division. Denver decided to ride on the back of Portis en route to a 45-27 victory at Mile High Stadium.
Portis finished the day amassing 218 yards rushing on just 22 carries. He recorded five touchdowns on the ground and added two receptions for 36 yards.
Fantasy owners that started Portis in the first week of the playoffs in Week 14 were rewarded with 54 points.