Maybe it's a sign of the evolving pass-happy NFL, but whatever the reason, we didn't even make it to the weekend in Week 1 before we saw one of the all-time greatest fantasy games.
It's no secret -- and perhaps no surprise -- that Peyton Manning, arguably the greatest fantasy quarterback ever, put on the show, likely saddling someone in your league with an insurmountable hole.
Manning, going against the defending Super Bowl champions on the NFL's opening night, threw for 462 yards and seven touchdown passes on the Ray Lewis-less Ravens defense, which is good enough for 46 fantasy points (standard scoring). It was the best performance by any fantasy player since Doug Martin scored 51 points (also standard scoring) in Week 9 last year.
Manning became just the sixth quarterback to throw seven touchdowns in a game, and the first in more than 40 years. His 46 points stands as the second-best fantasy scoring game by a quarterback in the internet age behind Michael Vick's incredible performance in Week 10 of 2010, when he scored 49 points.
Here's a look at the best performances of all-time by a fantasy quarterback (based on standard fantasy scoring):
1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles -- Week 10, 2010: 33 yards passing, four passing TDs, two rushing TDs (49 fantasy points)
This is the gold standard for fantasy quarterbacks and remains one of the most memorable performances by any player on Monday Night Football. Kevin Kolb had been injured in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers and Vick had taken over the huddle for the Philadelphia Eagles. Featuring a dynamic offense with Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson on the outside, Vick launched long touchdown pass after long touchdown pass, torching the Redskins defense.
The game was a blowout as the Eagles won 59-28, trouncing Washington with former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb under center. But what really pushed Vick's fantasy points to an elite level was his ability to make plays with his legs. Vick rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns, meaning he essentially combined the scoring output of an elite quarterback and a solid running back into one unforgettable night.
2. Mark Rypien, Washington Redskins -- Week 11, 1991: 442 yards passing, six passing TDs, one rushing TD (47 fantasy points)
At this time, fantasy leagues were scored using the box scores in the morning newspapers and adding up the points by hand. That's part of the reason why quarterbacks don't get the full six points in most leagues for passing touchdowns: it would have meant much higher numbers for your commissioner to add back when these things were being done the old-fashioned way.
In the midst of stomping through the season, the then 9-0 Redskins welcomed Atlanta to RFK Stadium. The Falcons didn't put up much of a fight, as Washington demolished the Birds 56-17. Oddly enough, Rypien completed just 16 of his 31 passes in this game, proving that sometimes it doesn't matter how efficient you are -- just that when you do hit, you hit big. For the game, he averaged almost 15 yards per attempt.
Rypien had his best season as a pro in 1991, throwing 28 touchdowns, six of which came in this game, as the Redskins rolled to the Super Bowl. Rypien was the Super Bowl MVP and then promptly faded into obscurity.
3. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos -- Week 1, 2013: 462 passing yards, seven TD passes (46 fantasy points)
In arguably the single-greatest aerial performance in history, Manning tied the single-game record for touchdown passes with seven and threw a quarter-mile worth of yards in the mile-high city. You know it had to be an historic performance when a first-time starter at tight end scores twice, and he's not the biggest fantasy story of the game. That tight end, Julius Thomas, had a pair of scores, as did Demaryius Thomas, who was actually having a rather pedestrian game until his 78-yard score in the fourth quarter. Manning's new toy, Wes Welker, also caught two touchdowns to help spoil the opener of the Ravens' Super Bowl title defense.
Coincidently, Peyton's brother Eli was the second-best fantasy quarterback in Week 1 with 31 points. The two Mannings were an identical 47-for-62 throwing the ball. Peyton finished with 462 yards, while Eli had 450. The major difference was Eli tossed just -- just, ha -- four touchdowns and coupled it with three picks. Peyton didn't throw a single interception.
The craziest part of Peyton Manning's week is that in Yahoo! leagues, he was started on 96 percent of teams. Who did the other four percent start?!
4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers -- Week 4, 2011: 408 passing yards, four passing TDs, two rushing TDs (45 fantasy points)
If you want to blame anyone for giving the world "Tebow Time," blame Aaron Rodgers. In Week 4, in the middle of arguably the greatest season by a quarterback ever (coincidentally, Peyton is probably the only player who can counter with a better one) Rodgers dazzled the Lambeau Field crowd with laser touchdown passes, and he doubled-up on rushing touchdowns, flashing his signature discount double-check.
Green Bay rolled the Broncos 49-23, and Rodgers went on to become the league MVP, finishing with an astonishing 45-6 touchdown to interception ratio. The following week, the Broncos benched starter Kyle Orton in favor of Tim Tebow in San Diego. You know the rest.
5. George Blanda, Houston Oilers -- Week 10, 1961: 418 passing yards, seven passing TDs, one interception (48 fantasy points); YA Tittle, New York Giants -- Week 7, 1962: 505 passing yards, seven passing TDs (48 fantasy points)
These two are combined just for some perspective and as a counter-example for those who believe the 1960s featured the Lombardi sweep and that's about it -- although Lombardi's Packers did win NFL titles in both 1961 and '62.
Blanda certainly has a case for greatest fantasy game ever, considering he also kicked seven extra points in this game. If he would have made the field goal he attempted, it would have been the greatest performance by a quarterback ever. He played all over the field, and scored seemingly from wherever he played. Blanda is sixth all-time in scoring, the only position player in the Top 20 (even though he was also a kicker.
Tittle's 1962 season was downright futuristic by NFL standards, as he threw for more than 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns -- an unheard of feat in those days. Johnny Unitas -- you may have heard of him -- threw the second-most touchdown passes that season with just 23.