The Top 10 Best Fantasy Football Seasons in NFL History
Written by Michael Cattermole, special to Bleacher Report. Introduction and layout by Joe Rapolla Jr.
As we enter Week 6 of the NFL season, many of us are thriving in our fantasy football leagues. For those of you who are perhaps not as fortunate, however, why not delve into a little NFL history and check out the best fantasy seasons of all time.
This is how I would rank the best fantasy football single seasons of all time. It is not strictly about points, it also about positional value as well as a tad bit of historical relevance. Also fumbles and missed FG’s don’t count against the player.
While your friends about winning your fantasy league at the bar in January, shove this knowledge down their throat, and then sit down and enjoy a good beer.
The Scoring System
Here is the scoring system I used to gauge the player's offensive success:
Scoring for offense:
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Randall Cunningham QB 1990 Eagles
3,466 passing yards 30TD/13 INT, a career-best 942 rushing yards and 5 TD’s
369 total points: 23.06 ppg
Vick before Vick and he was a better passer. Revolutionary with his feet.
Shaun Alexander RB 2005 Seattle Seahawks
27 rushing TDs, 1880 yards, 15 catches 78 yards 1 td
370.5 total points: 23.16 ppg
A true running running back. Barely went out for a pass but still managed a top 25 fantasy season of all time.
Dante Culpepper QB 2004 Minnesota Vikings
4,717 yards passing 39TD/11INT, 406 rushing yards 2 TD’s
385 total points: 24.06 ppg
Yet another person to benefit from having Moss to throw to. Add in decent mobility and you got yourself a fantasy anchor.
Best Defensive Season Ever: 1985 Chicago Bears
Mike Powell/Getty Images
262 total points: 16.36 ppg
The team is known as the greatest defense of all time for a reason. Mike Singletary was the defensive player of the year and future hall of famer playing with two hall of famers in DE’s Richard Dent and Dan Hampton. Buddy Ryan revolutionized defense with the 4-6 Defense (and revolutionized coaching trash talk with his two sons Rex and Rob). The team was out of this world.
10. Randy Moss, WR, 2007 New England Patriots
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
98 catches 1493 yards 23 TD’s, 93 yards per game
336 total points: 21 ppg
Randy was the most physically gifted WR ever in league history and rarely was he ever truly focused on football. 2007 was one of those rare times. Moss unfocused was a probowl receiver; Moss focused was a force of nature. That combined with golden boy Tom Brady made for unstoppable duo that kind of broke Rice’s single season TD receptions record (Moss had a full 16-game schedule). Production in the 20 PPG range for a wide out is unworldly. I wish we could have seen Moss as dedicated as some other players, but what we got was still a treat to watch.
Best Game:10 Rec for 128 yards and 4 TD’s= 41 points
9. (tie) Dan Marino, QB, 1984 Miami Dolphins
Paul Spinelli/Getty Images
5,084 yards passing, 48 TD’s, 17 INT’s, 0 rushing yards
378 total points: 23.6 ppg
Dan Marino was everything you wanted in a quarter back until the playoffs but luckily for us (if you’re not a dolphin fan) he was money in the Fantasy Playoffs.
The legend had 6 games with 4 TD’s or more and broke both the single season TD and yardage record for passing. This season at its time, the best season ever put together by a quarterback. This started the trend for Marino’s whole career.
At its time before the league became this pass happy, he was putting up video game numbers. He had 16 more TD’s than his closest competitor along with 108 QB rating. He may not have won a Super Bowl, but I am sure he took home a lot of Fantasy titles.
Best Game: 311 yards 5 TD’s= 32 points
9. (tie) Steve Young, QB, 1998 San Francisco 49ers
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
4,170 yards 36 TD’s, 12 INT’s, 454 rushing yards and six TD’s
15 games(missed Week 9 abdominal strain)
379 total points: 25.26 ppg
After losing three straight times to Brett Favre in the playoffs after his 1994 Super Bowl, Steve Young came back with a vengeance (and later knocked out Favre in the playoffs). He quickly silenced his critics with a season for the ages. Fantasy speaking his rushing helped him a lot and put him over the top of many other great seasons by a quarterback. Young has third-most rushing yards of any QB and used his legs quite bit in 1998 and posted a 6.5 ypc. He was a scrappy leader who wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was dead set on scoring whether it was a beautiful rocket to Rice or a 15-yard scramble that was your choice. By leading the league in passing TD’s and leading QB’s in rushing TD’s, he showed he was better with his feet and his arm.
Best Game: 303 yards and 3 TD’s, 23 yards rushing and 1 TD=32 points on Monday Night
8. O.J. Simpson, RB, 1975 Buffalo Bills
1,817 rushing yards 16 TD’s, 28 rec for 426 receiving yards and 7 TD’s
14 games (didn’t play 16-game schedule until 1978)
375 total points: 26.78 ppg
I could of used his 2,000 rushing yard campaign (the first player to reach that mark and the only one to in a 14-game season) but this season would make any fantasy owner drool because of his then record setting 23 total TD’s(double the amount of his 2,000 yard season). Obviously it would be broken later on but he still managed put up on one of the best Fantasy seasons of all time. He was one of the most electric backs(his O-line was dubbed the “Electric Company”) of all time graced with power, speed, and finesse. Man how the image of this man has changed…
Best Game: 123 rushing yards 1 TD, 3 Rec for 100 yards and 2 TD’s= 38.5 points
7. Priest Holmes, RB, 2002 Kansas City Chiefs
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
1615 rushing yards, 70 rec for 670 yards and 24 total TD’s (21 rushing/3 receiving)
Injured week 16 & 17
407 total points: 29.00 ppg
Probably the most forgotten name on this list but he has the second highest PPG ever recorded in fantasy. He was a shooting star in fantasy. He led the league in points twice but only had three pro bowl seasons and quickly burned out. He broke Faulk’s record of total touchdowns the following year but only posted 3threemore fantasy points in two more games. Also, in 2005 he was on pace to break his own record(15 TD’s in eight games) before he seriously injured his spine and derailed his whole career. If you were lucky enough to catch him on the way up, you truly caught a blessing. He was untouchable dashing and cutting through defenses… well until he got touched and was out for the TWO MOST IMPORTANT WEEKS. Hopefully he got you far enough where you won back your money but he cannot be in the top five missing the championship week.
Best Game: 122 Rush Yards 4 TD’s, 6 rec 19 yards. 40 points
6. Jerry Rice, WR, 1987 San Francisco 49ers
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
65 rec for 1078 yards 22 TD’s, 51 rushing yards 1 TD
282.5 total points in 12 games (strike shortened season): 23.54 ppg
He has so many seasons that would make it on this list but for some reason this one just pops out at you. He has the two highest PPG season’s for a receiver (the other being when he broke the receiving yards record with 1,848 receiving yards and 16 total TD’s) but this one is more magical because of the "what if?". Those are ridiculous stats for one season let alone 12 games. All we can do is wonder, but he still comes in at #6. This is by far the best season ever for a WR don’t even try Randy’s season because Jerry Rice’s next closest competitor in receiving TD’s was 11 by the Eagles Mike Quick, marking the only time in NFL history the league leader has doubled his next closest competitor in any major category.
Best Game: 7 rec for 126 yards 3 TD’s=33.5 points
*Projected stats if he played 16 games based on AVG’s for season:87 rec for 1437 yards and 29 TD’s, 68 rushing yards and 1 TD
5. Tom Brady, QB, 2007 New England Patriots
4,806 passing yards, 50 TD’s, 8 INT’s, 2 rushing TD’s and 98 yards
405 total points: 25.3 ppg
Our first QB had to be an obvious choice. The greatest regular season team ever also had the best single season by a QB ever. Tom Brady could do no wrong in 2007(minus the super bowl) and boy did he have the stats to back it up. He tore up defenses out there. Randy Moss made the two the scariest passing duo since Montana and Rice. Brady did spread the love a bit more and there was plenty to go around. He averaged over three TD’s per game to go along with 300 YPG through the air. Brady may not have won the big game in real life in 2007, but I’m sure he won the big game in Fantasy for some proud owner.
Best Game: 306 yards 3 TD’s, 12 yards rushing with 2 TD’s=43 points
4. Jim Brown, RB, 1963 Cleveland Browns
1,863 rushing yards, 24 Rec for 268 yards, 15 total TD’s
314 total points:22.4 ppg
He had a better fantasy season statistically speaking in his last year but this one has much more significance. Jim Brown is arguably the best player ever and anyone who saw him will attest to that. When he entered the league the highest rushing total for anyone ever was Steve Van Buren with 1,146 yards. He broke that in his second year and topped his own record in 1963. He was in a league of his own at the time, the next closest rusher Jimmy Taylor had 1,018 yards on Green Bay. He was a man among boys on the field and in the fantasy world.
Best Game: 162 Rush yards 2 TD’s, 3 Rec 100 yards 1 TD=45.5 pts
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, 2006 San Diego Chargers
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
1,815 rushing yards, 508 receiving yards, 56 rec, NFL-record 31 touchdowns (28 rushing/ 3 receiving), 2 TD passes for 19 yards
453 total points: 28.3 ppg
LT truly did it all an offense. He was special to watch in the mold of Marshall Faulk, where he could truly do it all on offense. He was a touch down machine rushing for 28, catching three, and even throwing two. He has the highest fantasy total for a single season all time and did not miss a single game. He was consistent week in and week out. He carried several teams to the playoffs and torched the record books on his way. It was a season for the ages that will not be soon forgotten.
2. Marshall Faulk, RB, 2000 St. Louis Rams
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
1,359 rushing yards, 81 Rec, 830 receiving yards and 26 total touchdowns (18 rushing/8 receiving)
414.5 total points: 29.6 ppg
At the time it was the single season TD record and he accomplished this in only 14 games. He was shining right when Fantasy Football was going complete mainstream, he was the obvious number one choice three years. He sat out Week 9 and 10 due to injury but still managed to make the Rams the greatest show on turf, and also one of the best offenses in league history especially in terms of balance. The Rams were a fantasy players dream during the Mike Martz era and Marshall was the crown jewel. He posts the highest points per game out of any player in history. He had three games with four TD’s and got hurt in one of them. His 156 yards from scrimmage per game was ridiculous. He is the gold standard for receiving running backs and was always a weapon on the field. Whether it was big gains in the air or punching it in on the 1 yard line Marshall Faulk was your man. His highest ever PPG for a season is the reason he gets number two.
Best Game: 220 yards rushing, 7 rec for 41 yards, 3 TD’s= 37.5 points
1. George Blanda, QB/K, 1961 Houston Oilers
3330 passing yards 36 TD’s, 22 INT
16 FG (1+40, 2+50 yd FG’s) 64XPM
(14-game season and in AFL)
372 total points: 26.57 ppg(points per game)
Yes, you are reading the correctly. George Blanda played both kicker and quarterback. He was truly something special just imagine doing your line up and having your kicker get you 26 points per game! A kicker throwing over two and a half TD’s a game. Even if he had to play QB, he still set the record for passing touchdowns in a season in 1961, a record broken and broken again by men further down this list(but they needed 16 games to do it). He won the AFL title and AFL player of the year. He was a once in a generation player and something won’t happen for a very long time…maybe even a longer time than we see our next barefoot kicker. With out his field goal kicking he was still a top fantasy player but then you throw in his kicking expertise and he is the GOAT of Fantasy Football(Greatest of All Time).
Best Game: 418 passing yards, 7 TD’s, 7 XP’s= 42 points put up against the old New York Titans