Fantasy football has become one of the nation’s greatest pastimes, almost as popular as the NFL itself. Now that 100 professional football seasons have been played, we are looking at the top 10 fantasy football performances of all time. We used PPR (points per reception) scoring to calculate the 10 most amazing individual campaigns in the history of the game.
Most readers will not be surprised to find that only two quarterbacks and one wide receiver made the list. Tight end is the only skill position to not make the cut for this article simply because no tight end has ever come close to producing as many fantasy points as the other players on this list. Running backs have always been the most important position in fantasy football, which is why there are seven of them featured below.
Let’s take a look at the 10 most outstanding fantasy football performances of all time:
1. LaDanian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers (2006) - 481.1 points
Tomlinson is one of just three players to ever average more than 30 fantasy points per game throughout an entire NFL season. He is the only player in history to accomplish this feat while playing all 16 games. LT turned his 348 carries into 1,815 rushing yards and a whopping 28 touchdowns. Not only that, but he also caught 56 passes for an additional 508 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he completed 2-of-3 pass attempts, each conversion resulting in yet another touchdown. All in all, the man was responsible for 33 touchdowns in 2006. I highly doubt that the NFL will ever again see another 16-week performance like that. Tomlinson was like a video game cheat code, and likely led his fantasy owners to a championship.
2. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (2019) - 471.2 points
McCaffrey did wonders for the Panthers last season, producing more than 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. CMC became the third player in NFL history to accomplish that feat, and the first since Marshall Faulk. He was fewer than 10 fantasy points away from becoming the highest-scoring producer in fantasy football history, despite the fact that he scored 14 fewer touchdowns than Tomlinson. Not to mention, CMC played most of the season with raw quarterback Kyle Allen. McCaffrey is a once-in-a-generation talent. He is the clear-cut top pick in all fantasy formats in 2020.
3. Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams (2000) - 459.9 points
Had Faulk played all 16 games in 2000, he would probably be at the top of this list. After playing just 14 games, the stud running back produced a ridiculous 1,359 rushing yards on 253 carries, plus an additional 830 receiving yards on 81 receptions and 26 total touchdowns. Faulk averaged more PPR fantasy points per game (32.85) than even Tomlinson. Not to mention, he did what every head coach loves; he didn’t lose one fumble all season long. Fantasy owners love consistency and there is nothing more frustrating than your first-round pick being unable to suit up every week of the season. Still, when all was said and done, I highly doubt Faulk’s owners were complaining very much.
4. Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs (2002) - 440.7 points
Holmes arguably has two of the top 10 seasons of all time, but for the sake of this article, we had to choose one season per player. Although he secured more fantasy points in 2003, it was his 2002 campaign that was truly mind boggling. Outside of Faulk, Holmes was the only other player to average more fantasy points per game than Tomlinson’s historic 2006 season. The 29-year-old produced 1,615 yards on 313 carries and 21 rushing touchdowns. Holmes was also a weapon in the passing game, hauling in 70 passes for 672 yards and an additional three touchdowns. Despite missing two games, I don’t think fantasy owners were complaining about his 31.48 fantasy points per game. Simply a historic season.
5. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (2019) - 415.68 points
Jackson was fewer than two points shy from producing the most fantasy points ever at the quarterback position. Although he didn’t break the record, he played in one fewer game than Patrick Mahomes or Peyton Manning in their respective historic seasons. In 15 games, the second-year quarterback out of Louisville threw for 3,127 yards and 36 passing touchdowns compared to just six interceptions, plus he ran for a whopping 1,206 rushing yards and an additional seven touchdowns. Jackson averaged more than 27 fantasy points per contest. The lightning-quick signal caller was simply unstoppable, and there is no reason to think that he won’t continue to produce at extraordinary levels.
6. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (2018) - 417.1 points
Mahomes’ 2018 MVP season still goes down as the most fantasy points ever produced by a quarterback in a season. The young man threw for 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also rushed 60 times for 272 yards and two more scores. He is one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to average over 26 fantasy points per game. With all the weapons that Mahomes has on offense, including Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, the 2019 Super Bowl MVP could easily break his own record in 2020.
7. Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers (1995) - 414 points
Finally, we get to the first and only wide receiver to make this list. Of all the wideouts to play in the NFL, it wasn’t difficult to predict that if only one was going to make this list, it would be Jerry Rice. However, it was surprising to see that his best season from a fantasy point of view came when he was 33 years old. That season, Rice hauled in 122 passes from Steve Young for 1,848 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown and a passing score. One could make the argument that Rice’s 1987 strike-shortened season was more impressive, as he caught 22 touchdown passes in just 12 games. Regardless, Rice is the best wide receiver to ever play the game, both in fantasy and in reality.
8. O.J. Simpson, Buffalo Bills (1975) - 383.3 points
The Juice trucked for 1,817 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 329 carries in just 14 games. He averaged more than a rushing touchdown per game in 1975. He also chipped in with 28 receptions for 426 yards and seven more scores. It was a historic season for Simpson.
9. Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys (1995) - 414.4 points
The Dallas Cowboys may have had Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, but the offense ran through Emmitt Smith. The legendary three-time Super Bowl winner and Hall of Famer produced his best season in 1995. Smith carried the ball 377 times for 1,773 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also added 62 receptions for 375 receiving yards to eclipse 2,000 overall yards. Smith averaged more than 100 rushing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. He finished the season with 25.93 fantasy points per outing.
10. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (2006) - 415.4 points
Many fantasy football players have almost forgotten about Steven Jackson’s best playing days (I almost did!). Once he left the Rams, he slowed down considerably. His final three seasons in the NFL (two with the Falcons and one with the Patriots) were very underwhelming. However, Jackson was an absolute stud in his hay day. In his third NFL season, Jackson rushed for 1,528 yards and 13 touchdowns on 346 carries. Perhaps just as impressive as his running ability was his pass-catching prowess out of the backfield. He hauled in 90 receptions for 806 additional yards and three more touchdowns.
Honorable Mentions: Peyton Manning (2013), Chuck Foreman (1975), Todd Gurley (2017), Jamaal Charles (2013), Randy Moss (2007), Antonio Brown (2015)
MORE FROM SI: