Thank God for Wilfred Wilkenbach. Who is that you might ask? Well, he's the nerd who laid the groundwork for fantasy football almost 50 years ago. He's the guy that has you wondering if Nick Folk's last field goal was 39 or 41 yards. Yeah, he's that guy.
Though the idea of fantasy sports had been humming around since the end of World War II, Wilkenbach applied said concepts to football.
But, what is this? A history lesson? Who cares about Wilfred Wilkenbach? Let's rank the best fantasy football players in the game today.
Remember: this year's stats count. But a player who has been consistently good over a long span of time will get some play, too.
Here are 20 Fantasy Players Head and Shoulders Above the Rest.
Note: Since Peyton Manning's neck injury has come to light, he has been omitted from this list. Zero fantasy points out of your quarterback sucks.
Matt Forte is one of those fantasy players that is on the cusp of greatness. He'll give you a huge week, then he'll disappoint you the next.
His strength isn't necessarily out of the backfield. He's a fantastic pass catcher who has accumulated more than twice as many yards through the air than on the ground in 2011.
Last year he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and caught for more than 500. He scored nine touchdowns and had some enormous weeks.
Isn't Fred Jackson a little too old to be this prolific? Maybe not, considering Buffalo has finally figured out how to use their three very viable offensive threats.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is slinging the ball all over the field and imposing his Wonderlic genius against any defensive package thrown at him. Stevie Johnson is grabbing every pass in sight and blaming God for the balls he can't hang onto. Then, there's Fred Jackson.
At 30, Jackson has never looked better. Averaging 6.4 yards per carry in the early going, Jackson has bullied opposing defenses. He's also received for 115 yards and pushed past the goal line three times.
I know, I know, we typically draft kickers in the final round every year, but Sebastian Janikowski is different.
The 2000 first round pick of the Raiders seemed like a silly choice. Most kickers bring the same skill-set to the table. Perfect from inside of 30, damn-near perfect from inside of 40 and a coin flip anywhere outside of 50 yards. Janikowski makes 50 plus yard field goals look like chip shots.
In his NFL career, he has blasted 59 FGs from 50 yards or further. And this season he hit a spectacular 63 yard bullet in the rain to tie Tom Demspey and Jason Elam for the NFL record.
And by the way, if punters were prevalent fantasy players, Janikowski's teammate, Shane Lechler would be at the top of the draft board.
Tony Gonzalez' inclusion in this list is somewhat of a lifetime achievement award. His career has tapered off over the last two seasons, but he's still a top flight tight end nonetheless.
With Kansas City, Gonzo had four 1,000 yard seasons, and three with 10 touchdowns or more. In Atlanta, he has remained productive: scoring six times in 2009 and 2010.
He's caught fire early in 2011, also. He's already halfway to his touchdown totals from a year ago.
There's no way Welker can keep up with what he has done to opposing DBs this year. He has averaged 152.7 yards per game. A figure grossly effected by his bananas 217 yard, 16 catch day against the Bills.
Welker is racking up touchdowns this year, too, as Brady is looking for the pint-sized receiver with more regularity.
If you had Welker in any of your leagues from 2007 to 2009, his appearance on this list shouldn't baffle you. Over that three year span, Welker caught 112, 111, and 123 balls, respectively.
Over the past two seasons, Ray Rice has been the driving force behind Baltimore's offense. In 2009, he caught 73 passes and rushed for a career-best 1,339 yards.
The next year, he put up similar stats and solidified himself as a legitimate number one back in any league.
This year, it's more of the same. Already on pace to apex 1,000 yards rushing for the third straight season, Rice is averaging more than 12 yards per reception and a touchdown a game.
When you think of go-to tight ends historically you think of: Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark. But, Jason Witten's name should spring to mind as well. He is like a robot sent back in time to catch anything Tony Romo tosses his way.
Coming off his best season a year ago, Witten has eclipsed 100 yards in two of his first three games in 2011. He has received for better than 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and added nine TDs in 2010.
Typically a position that doesn't get you much as far as fantasy points are concerned, Witten provides a wild card factor in which he can almost emulate the best receivers in fantasy.
There's nothing like a deep-threat receiver to boost your stats. With a single reception, they can turn a dark Sunday into a joyous one.
Miles Austin is a deep threat. He's also a medium threat and a short threat.
After solidifying himself as the number one receiver in a talented passing attack, Austin has become one of those guys in your league that you wish you had.
With two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons in the bag, Austin has already scored four times in the two games in which he appeared.
Austin may be sidelined with a hamstring issue right now, but he's also a great trade candidate for teams in dire need of a win in your league.
2010 should have been Stafford's coming out as a great NFL quarterback. But, he crippled his team and fantasy owners the world over when he went down with a shoulder injury.
2011 will be different. Hell, the Lions are 3-0 for the first time since the invention of the Cotton 'Gin. Stafford and his favorite target, Calvin Johnson, are to thank.
In his first three starts, Stafford has averaged 325.7 yards per game in the air and has thrown nine touchdowns against two interceptions. If Stafford is on the block in any league, make a move to acquire one of the most promising quarterbacks since Peyton Manning (not pictured...get well soon).
Remember when Andre Johnson caught for more than 1,500 yards in 2009? Well, I do. Because he was on my team, helping me torch my opposition.
Consequently, Johnson burned me and my big fat mouth the year prior when he received for 1,575 yards and eight touchdowns.
If I can nitpick a little, it's that Johnson doesn't get into the end zone nearly as much as he deserves. Entering his ninth NFL campaign, Johnson has only scored 50 times. Though, he has two TD receptions in this young season.
Jermichael Finley looks poised to take over as the best tight end in the game today. He's big and physical and he doesn't drop a lot of passes.
After an injury-ridden 2010, Finley has gotten plenty of rest. And with the quick start he has gotten in 2011, it appears as though Finley is entering his prime.
Look for Jermichael (what were his parents thinking) to be the first tight end taken in every draft for the next five years. With Aaron Rodgers targeting him, he is a great security blanket out there.
As a fantasy owner, you gotta love indoor quarterbacks and kickers. Without the elements to slow them down, you can rely on their God-given ability. Drew Brees has a lot of the aforementioned ability.
Since taking the reigns in New Orleans, Brees hasn't passed for less than 4,388 yards in a season. He's thrown for 26 or more touchdowns and in 2009, his completion percentage was over 70.
He's at it again in 2011, too. In three games his passer rating is an astonishing 109.7. Brees is an elite quarterback who can melt your deficit away.
With the most dangerous and versatile quarterback in the same backfield, McCoy's skill-set is only magnified.
Though he only scored nine touchdowns in 2010, McCoy is poised for a big year. He has averaged 115 yards on the ground in his first three games and has already scored more than half (5) of the touchdowns he did a season ago.
He's a double threat, too. McCoy is an excellent pass catcher and a great bail out weapon when Vick is scrambling outside the pocket.
I don't know how Mike Wallace did it, but he received for 1,257 yards on only 60 catches last year. His receiving average is bonkers. Over his first 35 games as a pro, Wallace has averaged 19.9 yards per catch. That's Jerry Rice in his prime territory.
Yards equal points in fantasy and in some leagues, you get a nice little bonus for a 100 yard-plus day. Mikey has three of them this year and a long of 81 yards last week against the crumby Colts.
Mike Wallace will be a fantasy front-runner at wide out for years to come. Mark my words.
What Megatron wants, Megatron gets. And when Calvin Johnson wants to expose a disproportional height advantage over his opposition, he does.
Johnson's 2008 was huge: 1,331 yards and 12 TDs. That was with an 0-16 team with quarterbacks ranging from Daunte Culpepper to Dan Orlovsky.
Now, Johnson has the right guy under center in Matthew Stafford. Watch Johnson and Stafford become a combination for the ages. It's bound to happen. But more importantly, watch Johnson's production on your fantasy skyrocket to an unknown dimension.
Sometimes I can't sleep at night, thinking about the botched draft of 2005. It haunts me. You see, I'm a 49er fan. We needed (yes, I said we) a quarterback and we could have taken anyone since the first pick was ours. But, I digress. No need to re-hash the past.
Aaron Rodgers has the presence under center that offensive coordinators and fantasy owners dream about. Last year's Super Bowl MVP is a can't-miss quarterback in any league.
He's accurate (71.8 completion percentage this year), doesn't make bad decisions (only one pick in his first three games), and cured his fumble-itis from 2009.
This bruising tailback has been killing his opposition for years-- both in fantasy and in real life. And by real life, I mean fantasy. (For some of us, it's all we got.)
Since his rookie campaign in 2007, Peterson has rushed for over 6,000 yards and breached the end zone 57 times. His touches might be a little low this year, but he's averaging a touchdown a game and more than five yards per carry.
Love him or hate him, Tom Brady is Fantasy Jesus. He redeems and delivers every week.
In 2011, he is off to an unreal start. With an average of 442 yards per game, Brady has tossed 11 touchdown passes in the early going. If he keeps this going, he'll finish the year with 7,000 yards through the air.
Brady also has the benefit of throwing to another player on this list: Wes Welker. The sure-handed receiver ensures that anytime Brady targets him, he brings it down.
Tom takes care of the ball, too. He's yet to fumble this year and last season he only threw four picks to 36 TDs. Yeah, I know he miscued four times against the Bills, but that had to be a fluke. Right?
Where do I even start with this fantasy God? Vick can get you points through the air and on the ground. He scores touchdowns like a maniac and cannot be stopped in the open field.
Last year, Vick proved he was an accurate passer, too. His 100.2 passer rating was amongst the league leaders and he rushed for a career-best nine touchdowns.
Combine that with his 3,000 yards passing and you got yourself a game-changer. Vick can win a week for you all by himself.
After a not so stellar genesis to his NFL career in 2009, McFadden really came on during the 2010 season. Rushing for over 1,100 yards and receiving for more than 500 yards, McFadden finished ten plays in the painted section.
This year, McFadden is off to a break-neck pace. In his first three games, he has averaged 131 yards per game and his hands are seemingly always on the ball.
Whether it's catching passes out of the backfield or breaking huge runs, McFadden will be a must-have back for years to come.