The Ringer's Fantasy
Football
Hall Of Fame

Illustrations by Oriana Fenwick. Photographs and illustration references from Getty Images.

For decades now, fantasy football has coexisted alongside the NFL. The two operate parallel to each other, but they’re far from the same thing. Great NFL players aren’t always great fantasy players (hello, every offensive lineman); stellar fantasy assets aren’t always the most talented guys on the field. A transcendent fantasy football player has come to occupy a singular spot in the sports universe, because in many ways, fantasy has blossomed into its own sport entirely. It’s spawned a unique culture, mythology, and methodology.

That inspired us to create the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame. Our goal: celebrate the most iconic fantasy players ever, the guys who won us—and, hopefully, you—a championship or two along the way. Immediately, questions arose: Which position groups should be eligible? Was it better for a player to have a higher peak or a longer track record of consistency? And how much should fun factor into the Fantasy Hall of Fame equation? (A lot!)

Rather than assign one person the monumental task of determining who deserves fantasy football immortality, we assembled a panel of 10 voters: Bill Simmons, Sal Iacono, Joe House, Robert Mays, Mallory Rubin, Danny Kelly, Danny Heifetz, Riley McAtee, Zach Kram, and Craig Horlbeck. The rules were simple: Vote for as many guys as you like on this ballot, and any player who receives six votes (a 50-percent-plus-one threshold) would be inducted. In all, 25 players were selected.

Here is our inaugural class of players who earned you fantasy football bragging rights over the years. And, yes, we’re fully prepared to argue about our choices.

Players are listed in order of the percentage of ballots they appeared on.

LaDainian Tomlinson
NFL CAREER: 2001 - 2011 Unanimous Selection

LaDainian Tomlinson

The superstar running back who could run, catch, and even pass has the strongest claim to being the fantasy football GOAT.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 18456
  • YDs/G 108.6
  • TDs 162
  • TDs/G 0.95

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2851
  • PTS/G 16.8
  • PPR 3475
  • PPR/G 20.4

Peak Traditional Stats 2006 Chargers

  • Rush 348
  • YDs 1815
  • Y/A 5.2
  • TDs 31

Peak Fantasy Stats 2006 Chargers

  • PTS 427.1
  • PTS/G 26.7
  • PPR 483.1
  • PPR/G 30.2
Read More

The phrase “this person needs no introduction” is trite at this point, but in this setting, Tomlinson needs no introduction. LT is, quite simply, the greatest fantasy football player ever. In 2006, Tomlinson’s 2,323 scrimmage yards and 33 total touchdowns (including two passing touchdowns!) translated to 427.1 fantasy points—the most ever in a single season, at any position. Let’s just take a moment to consider how ridiculous that is. On the list of highest-scoring fantasy seasons of all time, the guys ranked 2 through 9 are all quarterbacks. Tomlinson’s output that season was about 50 points higher than the next running back on the list (Marshall Faulk, who tallied 378.9 points in 2000). If you had Tomlinson in your league in 2006 and didn’t win your league’s title, let me know. It’d be nice to have a list of folks to never share an elevator with. 

It’s a given these days that quarterbacks will lead all players in raw fantasy points, which makes Tomlinson’s feat in ’06 all the more absurd. He scored 10 more points than Patrick Mahomes tallied last season. Mahomes threw 50 touchdowns. During a stretch from mid-October to mid-December, Tomlinson scored multiple touchdowns in nine of 10 games; he scored three or more times in five of those games. It’s undeniably the best fantasy season of all time, and it’s probably one that will never be topped. —Mays

Team History

San Diego Chargers 2001-2009
New York Jets 2010-2011

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 13, 2002: In an overtime game against the Broncos, Tomlinson put up 45.1 points with a line that looks like it came from outer space: 37 carries for 220 yards and three touchdowns, plus a whopping 11 catches for 51 yards (congrats to anyone playing PPR in 2002).

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Emmitt Smith
NFL CAREER: 1990 - 2004 Unanimous Selection

Emmitt Smith

The absolute must-have running back for fantasy football owners in the 1990s.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 21579
  • YDs/G 95.5
  • TDs 175
  • TDs/G 0.77

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 3192
  • PTS/G 14.1
  • PPR 3730
  • PPR/G 16.5

Peak Traditional Stats 1995 Cowboys

  • Rush 377
  • YDs 1773
  • Y/A 4.7
  • TDs 25

Peak Fantasy Stats 1995 Cowboys

  • PTS 364.8
  • PTS/G 22.8
  • PPR 426.8
  • PPR/G 26.7
Read More

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: Smith was a ridiculously prolific fantasy running back. In his career, he led the league in rushing four times and in touchdowns three times. They say volume is king in fantasy football, and Smith was a volume god: He led the league in touches four times.

Most of those eye-popping accomplishments happened in the early years of Smith’s long career. Beginning in 1991—his second NFL season—the Dallas running back dominated fantasy. He finished third at the position in fantasy points that year, and over the next four years he finished first, first, first, and first. Yeah—for those playing fantasy football in the early 1990s, Smith basically broke the sport. 

If PPR formats had existed in the 1990s, Smith would have been rock solid in those as well: From his rookie year in 1990 to his final Pro Bowl appearance in 1999, he averaged 44 receptions per season. 

Smith is the prototype for a fantasy-dominant running back. He could handle a massive workload, had a versatile skill set, played in a lethal offense with a dominant offensive line, and virtually never got injured. In many ways, when you’re seeking the right running back to build a fantasy team around, you’re looking for the modern equivalent of Smith. —McAtee

Team History

Dallas Cowboys 1990-2002
Arizona Cardinals 2003-2004

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 1, 1995: Smith opened the 1995 season with a 40.3-point fantasy performance: 21 carries for 163 yards and four scores. He went on to make ’95 his most prolific fantasy season.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Peyton Manning
NFL CAREER: 1998 - 2015 Unanimous Selection

Peyton Manning

Arguably the most statistically accomplished quarterback in league history, he had multiple all-time great seasons.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 71940
  • YDs/G 270.5
  • TDs 539
  • TDs/G 2.03

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTs 4726
  • PTs/G 17.8
  • PPR 4727
  • PPR/G 17.8

Peak Traditional Stats 2013 Broncos

  • Cmp% 68.3
  • YDs 5477
  • Y/A 8.3
  • TDs 55

Peak Fantasy Stats 2013 Broncos

  • PTs 412.0
  • PTs/G 25.8
  • PPR 412.0
  • PPR/G 25.8
Read More

Manning’s mark on the NFL, fantasy football, and television commercials is unassailable. The legendary quarterback and pizza spokesman finished his career third all time in fantasy points (4,726.3). He tossed 539 touchdowns (most all time) and threw for 71,940 yards (second only to Drew Brees). He was a virtual lock to hit the 4,000-yard benchmark, passing for at least that many yards in an NFL-record 14 seasons. He tossed four-plus touchdowns in a record 35 games, owns two of the top-10 fantasy scoring seasons of all time (2004 and 2013), and still holds the records for both touchdowns (55) and yards (5,477) in a single season. He finished as a fantasy QB1 in every single one of his first 16 seasons (we don’t talk about what happened in the 17th, except for that Super Bowl thing). He never said no to an endorsement deal. 

Perhaps more important than Manning’s individual or team accomplishments, though, was how he helped to spearhead the NFL’s offensive evolution. He was one of the pioneers of the wide-open, pass-happy, up-tempo shotgun offenses we see taking over the league today. I think I speak for all of fantasy football when I say thank you for that, Mr. Manning. —Kelly

Team History

Indianapolis Colts 1998-2010
Denver Broncos 2012-2015

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 1, 2013: Manning got a quick start on his 55-touchdown season, throwing for 462 yards and seven scores against what ended up being an above-average Ravens defense. That was good for 46.3 fantasy points.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Randy Moss
NFL CAREER: 1998 - 2012 Unanimous Selection

Randy Moss

One of the most talented receivers to grace an NFL field doubled as one of the most fun fantasy players to ever have on one’s team.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 15451
  • YDs/G 70.9
  • TDs 156
  • TDs/G 0.72

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2505
  • PTS/G 11.5
  • PPR 3487
  • PPR/G 16.0

Peak Traditional Stats 2007 Patriots

  • RECs 98
  • YDs 1493
  • Y/R 15.2
  • TDs 23

Peak Fantasy Stats 2007 Patriots

  • PTS 287.3
  • PTS/G 18
  • PPR 385.3
  • PPR/G 24.1
Read More

It’s hard to pick a favorite Moss moment, but here goes: I was a sophomore in college during the 2007 NFL season. At Mizzou, we used to watch games at a place called The Coliseum (RIP), which served the best skillet cookie in the history of man. These were the days when Sunday Ticket would have cut into my beer budget a little too much.

Anyway, during Week 7 that year, Moss pulled off the two most disrespectful catches I’d ever seen. On the first, he actually levitated over a helpless Cameron Worrell and snatched the ball out of double-coverage for the score. On the second, Moss went up into double-coverage—again—and casually caught a 50-yard bomb against his hip. Worrell was recently hired as a salesman for AstroTurf, which is great news. I’m glad he’s doing well. Because if that were me, I’d still be wandering the earth without any shoes on muttering “Randy Moss” over and over.

Moss’s fantasy ADP before that season was 16th among wide receivers and 48th overall. He was going seven spots lower than Lee Evans and one pick later than Donald Driver. That seems unthinkable now, but at the time, people were wondering how much the new Patriots wideout had in the tank after a disappointing stretch in Oakland. The answer was a lot—because he’s Randy freaking Moss. He finished 2007 with 1,493 yards and a league-record 23 touchdowns. It was arguably the most surefire league-winning performance in fantasy history. With 287.3 points, Moss returned the second-best fantasy season ever for a WR (behind only Jerry Rice in 1995) as a fifth-round pick. Oh, and he also happens to own the third-best fantasy season at the position, too, after tallying 1,632 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2003. Moss is a singular talent in the history of professional football, and that status translates to the fantasy realm. We’ve never seen anyone like him. I’m not sure we ever will again. —Mays

Team History

Minnesota Vikings 1998-2004
Oakland Raiders 2005-2006
New England Patriots 2007-2010
Tennessee Titans 2010
Minnesota Vikings 2010
San Francisco 49ers 2012

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 10, 2001: Moss grabbed 10 receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants, including the score that put the game away with 6:32 remaining. That performance was good for 36.9 fantasy points.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Tony Gonzalez
NFL CAREER: 1997 - 2013 Unanimous Selection

Tony Gonzalez

The gold standard for what a receiving tight end can accomplish in the NFL, he was a fantasy stalwart for more than a decade.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 15141
  • YDs/G 56.1
  • TDs 111
  • TDs/G 0.41

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTs 2190
  • PTs/G 8.1
  • PPR 3515
  • PPR/G 13.0

Peak Traditional Stats 2000 Chiefs

  • RECs 93
  • YDs 1203
  • Y/R 12.9
  • TDs 9

Peak Fantasy Stats 2000 Chiefs

  • PTS 174.3
  • PTs/G 10.9
  • PPR 267.3
  • PPR/G 16.7
Read More

This is the second enshrinement this month for Gonzalez, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 3. It’s safe to say that Gonzalez isn’t just one of the best tight ends ever, he’s one of the best pass catchers ever. The longtime Chiefs and Falcons tight end is second to Jerry Rice all time in receptions (first among tight ends), sixth all time in receiving yards (first among tight ends), and eighth all time in receiving touchdowns (second among tight ends). 

Even more impressive than Gonzalez’s career statistics is his consistency. From 1998 to 2013, Gonzalez was one of the top three tight ends in standard scoring 11 times and never finished lower than 10th at the position. In 2004 he led the NFL in catches and yards per touch—the only tight end to accomplish either feat in the 21st century. He was a forerunner for the tight ends that have dominated this decade, like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and Travis Kelce.

Unlike many tight ends, Gonzalez was also one of the most durable players in NFL history. In his 17-year career, he missed just two regular-season games, and in his final three seasons, when he was 35, 36, and 37, respectively, he finished fourth, third, and third at the position. —Heifetz

Team History

Kansas City Chiefs 1997-2008
Atlanta Falcons 2009-2013

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 4, 2002: Gonzalez grabbed seven catches for an incredible 140 yards and three scores against the Dolphins—just one of five games with at least 140 yards in his career. Those three scores made this performance worth 32 points, easily the most of the tight end’s career.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
BONUS LIST
The Fantasy Single-Season
Pantheon Team

The Fantasy Football Hall of Fame celebrates the greatest fantasy careers, but what about the greatest fantasy seasons? And what if you could put the players who had those seasons onto one unstoppable team? Here’s a look at the best fantasy seasons ever. For the full breakdown, check out Danny Heifetz on The Ringer.

QB

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs, 2018: After just one season as a starter, Mahomes isn’t a Fantasy Hall of Famer yet. But he did just score the most fantasy points by a quarterback in NFL history—he’ll get here.

RB

LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, 2006: LT has the most fantasy points on record. Tomlinson’s 33 touchdowns (28 rushing, three receiving, two passing) would have made him the 10th-highest-scoring running back in fantasy in 2006 without any of his league-leading 1,815 rushing yards or his 508 receiving yards.

RB

Priest Holmes, Chiefs, 2003: Holmes actually scored more points per game in 2002, but he missed Week 16, when most fantasy championships take place. His 2003 performance, with a then-record 27 rushing touchdowns and still the third-most fantasy points by a running back ever, is a worthy replacement.

WR

Jerry Rice, 49ers, 1987: Rice set the NFL record for receiving touchdowns (22) in a strike-shortened 12-game season that stood until Randy Moss broke it in 16 games in 2007.

WR

Randy Moss, Patriots, 2007: The superstar wideout was the catalyst for one of the greatest offenses in history, and Moss’s 2007 is the biggest fantasy point total by a receiver ever.

TE

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, 2011: The only season Gronk started all 16 games he had 90 catches for 1,327 yards and a league-leading 17 receiving touchdowns. His 218.1 fantasy points were more than double that of Antonio Gates, the seventh-best tight end in 2011.

FLEX

Marshall Faulk, Rams, 2000: Faulk played in only 14 games in 2000, but had a mind-numbing 27.1 fantasy points per game (32.9 per game in PPR). He capped off the year with 11 touchdowns from Week 14 through Week 16, right in the heart of the fantasy playoffs.

K

David Akers, 49ers, 2011: Akers recorded the most points for a kicker in the modern era, going 44-for-52 on field goals for the year and 7-of-9 from beyond 50 yards.

Jerry Rice
NFL CAREER: 1985 - 2004 Unanimous Selection

Jerry Rice

The greatest receiver ever may have been the most dominant fantasy force of all time, but only for those owners who signed up early enough to take advantage.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 23540
  • YDs/G 77.7
  • TDs 207
  • TDs/G 0.68

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 3595
  • PTS/G 11.9
  • PPR 5158
  • PPR/G 17.0

Peak Traditional Stats 1995 49ers

  • Recs 122
  • YDs 1848
  • Y/R 15.1
  • TDs 16

Peak Fantasy Stats 1995 49ers

  • PTS 292.0
  • PTS/G 18.3
  • PPR 414.0
  • PPR/G 25.9
Read More

Bow down. Rice holds every receiving record that matters, both real and in fantasy, and is likely to keep them for decades, à la Wayne Gretzky in hockey, Barry Bonds in baseball, or Joey Chestnut in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Simply put: We may never see a player like him again.

Rice finished as the no. 1 receiver in fantasy football eight times in an 11-year stretch from 1986 to 1996, and in the other three seasons he finished second, second, and fourth. His 1995 season, when he had 1,848 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, remains the record for most single-season fantasy points by a receiver. And his single-season-record 22 receiving touchdowns was technically broken by Randy Moss in 2007, but Rice set his mark in a strike-shortened 12-game season in 1987. 

His longevity and durability boggles the mind. Rice did not miss a game until he was 35 years old. By that point he had already racked up more than 16,400 receiving yards—still more than anyone else in NFL history—and then he played seven more seasons. And in case anyone tries to tell you that he was the product of Bill Walsh’s system, remember this: His first two seasons in Oakland were 2001 and 2002, his age-39 and age-40 seasons, and he was eighth among receivers in combined fantasy points. —Heifetz

Team History

San Francisco 49ers 1985-2000
Oakland Raiders 2001-2004
Seattle Seahawks 2004

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 6, 1990: It should be hard to pick a peak Jerry Rice performance, but one stands above the rest: A 13-reception, 225-yard, five-touchdown demolishing of the Falcons that was worth 52.5 fantasy points.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Barry Sanders
NFL CAREER: 1989 - 1998 Unanimous Selection

Barry Sanders

Playing in subpar Detroit offenses couldn't stop the most elusive runner in history from putting up mind-boggling numbers.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 18190
  • YDs/G 118.9
  • TDs 109
  • TDs/G 0.71

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2443
  • PTs/G 16.0
  • PPR 2823
  • PPR/G 18.5

Peak Traditional Stats 1997 Lions

  • Rush 335
  • YDs 2053
  • Y/A 6.1
  • TDs 14

Peak Fantasy Stats 1997 Lions

  • PTS 319.8
  • Pts/G 20.0
  • PPR 352.8
  • PPR/G 22.1
Read More

Sanders’s career may have been short, but it was so very sweet. In his 10-year career, he finished as a top-10 fantasy running back nine times. He had more seasons inside the top four fantasy running backs (six) than outside that threshold (four). The only year he finished outside the top 10 was in 1993, when he played just 11 games—but through Week 13 of that year he was the second-highest-scoring running back.  

Sanders never fell out of the top five in rushing yards in any season, and he is one of nine players since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to retire with 5.0 or more yards per carry. Sanders led the NFL in rushing yards four times, including 1997, when he became one of three running backs to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season (now seven players have done it). He had almost as many games with more than 100 rushing yards (76) than games with less than 100 rushing yards (77). Sanders was exceptional in real life and in fantasy from the moment he entered the league until the day he left. —Heifetz

Team History

Detroit Lions 1989-1998

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 13, 1991: Sanders once put up a ridiculous 49.1 points with 251 total yards and four touchdowns against the Vikings. He was just 10 rushing yards shy of averaging 10 yards per carry.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Drew Brees
NFL CAREER: 2001 - Present Unanimous Selection

Drew Brees

The model of quarterbacking consistency: He's returned fantasy value in every season that he's been in New Orleans.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 74437
  • YDs/G 282.0
  • TDs 520
  • TDs/G 1.97

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 4805
  • PTS/G 18.2
  • PPR 4813
  • PPR/G 18.2

Peak Traditional Stats 2011 Saints

  • Cmp% 71.2
  • YDs 5476
  • Y/A 8.3
  • TDs 46

Peak Fantasy Stats 2011 Saints

  • PTS 395.6
  • PTS/G 24.7
  • PPR 395.6
  • PPR/G 24.7
Read More

Brees is easily the greatest statistical quarterback of all time, and therefore a unanimous selection into the Fantasy Hall. He’s the all-time passing yardage leader, and will almost certainly break the all-time record for passing touchdowns this season (he’s 19 away from Peyton Manning’s mark). He basically hasn’t had a bad season since leaving the Chargers for the Saints in 2006, reeling off 11 consecutive years of top-six fantasy QB production, good enough to put you in the top half of your 12-team league. Brees has had 106 20-point fantasy weeks in his career. Since Brees entered the league, only 23 quarterbacks have even played that number of games, total. Brees also played one of the greatest fantasy games of all time, a 505-yard, seven-touchdown game against the Giants in 2015, the sixth-highest fantasy performance by a quarterback since 2000. I could go on, but you get the idea—his stats are incredible.

Brees, however, is somewhat of a victim of fantasy scoring. There have only been 11 seasons in which a quarterback has passed for more than 5,000 yards, and Brees has five of them. That’s ridiculous! Unfortunately, passing yards are worth only 40 percent of rushing yards in most leagues, and most leagues start only one quarterback, so Brees has never been the most valuable overall player in fantasy. In a version of fantasy football that valued quarterbacks as much as on-field football, Brees would be the GOAT. Instead, he’s just been a reliable great, a complementary piece on many a championship roster. —Sherman

Team History

San Diego Chargers 2001-2005
New Orleans Saints 2006-Present

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 8, 2015: In a 52-49 scorcher, Brees beat the Giants with 505 passing yards and seven touchdowns, good for 44.3 fantasy points. Eli Manning could muster only a paltry six scores.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Calvin Johnson
NFL CAREER: 2007 - 2015 Unanimous Selection

Calvin Johnson

Had a chance to be on the Mount Rushmore of receivers if he'd stuck it out with the Lions just a bit longer, but he’s a fantasy all-timer nonetheless.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 11786
  • YDs/G 87.3
  • TDs 84
  • TDs/G 0.62

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 1677
  • PTs/G 12.4
  • PPR 2408
  • PPR/G 17.8

Peak Traditional Stats 2011 Lions

  • Recs 96
  • YDs 1681
  • Y/R 17.5
  • TDs 16

Peak Fantasy Stats 2011 Lions

  • PTS 265.2
  • PTS/G 16.6
  • PPR 361.2
  • PPR/G 22.6
Read More

Johnson looks like one of those “build the perfect receiver” exercises, but instead of borrowing all the best traits and features of all the best pass catchers in the game and creating a Frankenstein amalgamation of five or six different guys, it’s just … Calvin Johnson. Standing 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Megatron combined 4.3 speed with preternatural body control, raw explosiveness, sinewy power, and automatic hands. He was, and probably still remains, the platonic ideal for the receiver position. 

Johnson was drafted second overall by the Lions in 2007, and he wasted little time in emerging as one of the NFL’s most dominant pass catchers, finishing as the WR3 in just his second season while catching 78 passes for 1,331 yards and a league-leading 12 touchdowns. After a down year as part of the Lions’ horrific 2-14 team in 2009, he bounced back with gusto, going back over 1,000 yards receiving in 2010 while catching 12 touchdowns. From that point until he retired, Johnson was an automatic first-round fantasy pick and the unquestioned go-to guy for Matt Stafford. In the five-year stretch from 2011 to 2015, Megatron caught 461 passes (third) for 7,428 yards (first), and 50 touchdowns (fourth).

The pinnacle of that run was his record-setting 2012 campaign, when he caught a league-best 122 passes and broke Jerry Rice’s long-standing record for receiving yards in a single season, finishing with 1,964 yards through the air. That record still stands today. —Kelly

Team History

Detroit Lions 2007-2015

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 8, 2013: Johnson’s 14-reception, 329-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Cowboys was good for 36.9 fantasy points and the second-most receiving yards in a single game in league history.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Marshall Faulk
NFL CAREER: 1994 - 2005 Unanimous Selection

Marshall Faulk

The engine of the Greatest Show on Turf was fantasy football gold at the turn of the century.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDS 19154
  • YDS/G 108.8
  • TDs 136
  • TDs/G 0.77

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2745
  • PTS/G 15.6
  • PPR 3512
  • PPR/G 20.0

Peak Traditional Stats 2000 Rams

  • Rush 253
  • YDs 1359
  • Y/A 5.4
  • TDs 26

Peak Fantasy Stats 2000 Rams

  • PTS 378.9
  • PTS/G 27.1
  • PPR 459.9
  • PPR/G 32.9
Read More

Faulk brought football into its modern era. He was the perfect dual-threat running back about a decade and a half before the rest of the NFL figured out how to use one. Parsing credit for the Greatest Show on Turf era of the Rams isn’t easy, but it’s hard to argue against Faulk as the best player on those teams. From 1999 through 2001, he averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry each season. He was the league MVP in 2000—a season that saw him rush for 1,359 yards and catch 81 passes for 830 yards and eight touchdowns. If you just took Faulk’s receiving stats from that season, he would have finished as WR22 in fantasy. He missed two games due to injury that season, but on a per-game basis, Faulk actually averaged more points than LaDainian Tomlinson did during his legendary 2006 season. 

A useful measuring stick for any player is where they stack up in Bill Belichick’s eyes. And when the Rams and Patriots squared off in the Super Bowl after the 2001 season, the Patriots’ entire game plan was tailored to stopping the Rams’ all-around stud running back. Faulk was the most exciting player on one of the most exciting offenses in history, and he brought just as many thrills to anyone smart enough to draft him in those years. —Mays

Team History

Indianapolis Colts 1994-1998
St. Louis Rams 1999-2005

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 7, 2002: In the waning days of the Greatest Show on Turf, Faulk still had gas left in the tank, as evidenced by his 235 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns against the Seahawks.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
BONUS LIST
Which Current Stars Could Become Fantasy Hall of Famers?

We didn’t rule out active players for the Fantasy Hall of Fame, which is why Antonio Brown, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Larry Fitzgerald are inductees. But some active players still haven’t done enough to justify inclusion—yet. Which active stars are next up for this list? Here are six such players waiting in line; for the full list and a complete breakdown of their prospects, check out Riley McAtee on The Ringer.

RB

Frank Gore: Gore is the current active leader in fantasy points among flex-eligible players, though he’ll have a tough time cementing himself as a fantasy legend. Gore’s longevity is nearly unmatched, but he’s had just three top-10 seasons at his position in his career, the most recent of which came in 2009.

WR

Odell Beckham Jr.: Beckham was a top-five wideout in each of his first three years in the league, but injuries hampered him during his last two years in New York. His prospects for this Hall rest on how he’ll do in Cleveland.

WR

Julio Jones: Why is Antonio Brown a unanimous selection but Julio can’t even get in the door? The answer is that Jones has been a top-five receiver just twice, and has never finished first at the position. Still, Atlanta’s star wideout is on the cusp.

RB

Le’Veon Bell: Bell has three incredible seasons to his name: 2014, 2016, and 2017. He’ll have to add a few more of those with the Jets to be inducted into the Fantasy Hall.

WR

A.J. Green: Green has finished in the top 10 at his position four times, and each time he has missed that mark has been partially due to missed games. He’s exiting his prime, but we’ve seen enough wide receivers blossom in their 30s to know that Green could still carve himself a space in fantasy football lore.

QB

Patrick Mahomes: It’s not too early to start talking about Mahomes as a fantasy legend: In 17 career games played, Mahomes has averaged 25.2 fantasy points. That’s bound to regress some, but Mahomes looks primed to be an all-time fantasy great.

Priest Holmes
NFL CAREER: 1997 - 2007 Unanimous Selection

Priest Holmes

Superstar runner whose Apex Mountain is as high as anyone in the history of fantasy football.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 11134
  • YDs/G 98.5
  • TDs 94
  • TDs/G 0.83

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 1677
  • PTS/G 14.8
  • PPR 2016
  • PPR/G 17.8

Peak Traditional Stats 2003 Chiefs

  • Rush 320
  • YDs 1420
  • Y/A 4.4
  • TDs 27

Peak Fantasy Stats 2003 Chiefs

  • PTS 373.0
  • PTS/G 23.3
  • PPR 447.0
  • PPR/G 27.9
Read More

Holmes may not be the first name that comes to mind when people think about fantasy football legends, but his résumé rivals anyone in fake football history. He’s one of two players ever with two top-15 fantasy seasons by total points, at any position. The other is Tom Brady. The Kansas City teams of the early 2000s featured some of the most underrated offenses the league has ever seen. They finished no. 1 in DVOA in 2002 and were even better in 2003, when they were nearly twice as efficient as every other offense in the league. Kansas City finished with the league’s best offense and the no. 1 seed in the AFC but eventually fell short of the Super Bowl. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it should. (You deserve better, Chiefs fans. You really do.)

Tony Gonzalez, Willie Roaf, and Will Shields are the real-life Hall of Famers from those teams, but Holmes was its fantasy superstar. From 2001 to 2003, Holmes averaged 1,530 rushing yards, 20.3 total touchdowns, and 2,188.7 yards from scrimmage. There have been six such seasons in NFL history. Along with his superhuman production, Holmes also had one of the best stories in the league. A former underdrafted free agent, Holmes was kicked to the curb by the Ravens following the 2000 season before he revived his career behind an all-time-great offensive line in Kansas City. Injuries derailed Holmes’s career after that historic run, but no one can ever take away what he did for those three seasons. —Mays

Team History

Baltimore Ravens 1997-2000
Kansas City Chiefs 2001-2007

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 12, 2002: Holmes had 197 rushing yards and 110 receiving yards to go with three touchdowns in a 48.7-point outing against the Seahawks. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, though, Seattle still won, 39-32.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Antonio Brown
NFL CAREER: 2010 - Present Unanimous Selection

Antonio Brown

The technically precise pass-catcher has earned the crown as the best wide receiver of his generation, both in real life and in fantasy football.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 11326
  • YDs/G 87.1
  • TDs 74
  • TDs/G 0.57

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 1606
  • PTS/G 12.4
  • PPR 2443
  • PPR/G 18.8

Peak Traditional Stats 2014 Steelers

  • Recs 129
  • Yds 1698
  • Y/R 13.2
  • TDs 13

Peak Fantasy Stats 2014 Steelers

  • PTS 257.9
  • PTS/G 16.1
  • PPR 386.9
  • PPR/G 24.2
Read More

Brown’s induction into our Fantasy Football Hall of Fame is unique: He’s the only active player to make it with less than a decade in the league. Yet it’s not like the star wideout sneaked in—he was a unanimous selection. The only other active player to be voted in unanimously is Drew Brees, and his career has spanned more than double the seasons that Brown’s has.

Brown is by far the most accomplished wide receiver of his era and one of the best ever, a technician on the field even if he has shown that he can be a bit of a loose cannon off of it. Since 2014, Brown has been a top-three fantasy receiver for five seasons running. The only other player on this list to accomplish that feat is Jerry Rice, and Brown has a chance to notch a sixth such season if he can keep up his usual production with the Raiders.

What’s made Brown such a standout in fantasy is his knack for the end zone. Since 2012, his first season as a starter, he has recorded 72 receiving touchdowns, a full 14 more than the next best player in that span (Dez Bryant). It’s hard to believe: He’s a 5-foot-10 sixth-round pick from a MAC school, yet he’s the NFL’s premier touchdown maker.

And while some of his more recent antics are worrisome for fantasy owners, Brown has been fun as hell over the years. Please never forget that he once was flagged for twerking. —McAtee

Team History

Pittsburgh Steelers 2010-2018
Oakland Raiders 2019-Present

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 11, 2017: On Thursday Night Football, Brown had what feels like a typical line for him: 10 receptions, 144 yards, and three touchdowns against the Titans, good for 32.4 fantasy points.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Terrell Owens
NFL CAREER: 1996 - 2010

Terrell Owens

The boisterous wideout was a joy to have on a fantasy team and a headache to go against.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 16185
  • YDs/G 73.9
  • TDs 156
  • TDs/G 0.71

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2561
  • PTS/G 11.7
  • PPR 3639
  • PPR/G 16.6

Peak Traditional Stats 2001 49ers

  • Recs 93
  • Yds 1412
  • Y/R 15.2
  • TDs 16

Peak Fantasy Stats 2001 49ers

  • PTS 239.3
  • PTS/G 15.0
  • PPR 332.3
  • PPR/G 20.8
Read More

It was a struggle to get Owens into the real Hall of Fame, because many fans and writers did not appreciate his flamboyant personality, his feuds with teammates, his team-hopping, or his in-your-face celebrations. That was pretty dumb, huh? Luckily, nobody gives a crap about courtesy in the Fantasy Hall of Fame—just production. And holy crap, was TO productive. 

Owens had seven seasons as a top-five fantasy wide receiver. His first year of WR1-level production was in 1998; his last was in 2008. He led the league in receiving touchdowns three times, in 2001, 2002, and 2006. And he almost certainly won his teams the fantasy championship in 2000, when he put up one of the greatest Week 16 performances of all time: 283 yards and a touchdown, the second-most fantasy points by any wide receiver in Championship Week since 2000. (I don’t think anybody was playing PPR in 2000 but Owens had 20 receptions that day. Game over.)

Owens was pretty unpopular among casual fans, which made him an ideal fantasy pickup—is there anything better than beating people with a player they hate? Let’s hope TO accepts the invitation to our HOF induction ceremony. —Sherman

Team History

San Francisco 49ers 1996-2003
Philadelphia Eagles 2004-2005
Dallas Cowboys 2006-2008
Buffalo Bills 2009
Cincinnati Bengals 2010

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 11, 2007: Owens scored every touchdown for the Cowboys in a 28-23 win over Washington, racking up eight receptions for 173 yards and four scores. The 41.3 fantasy points he totaled is the only time he eclipsed 40 in his career.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Rob Gronkowski
NFL CAREER: 2010 - 2018

Rob Gronkowski

The most dominant tight end in history—when he was on the field.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 7863
  • YDs/G 68.4
  • TDs 80
  • TDs/G 0.70

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 1264
  • PTS/G 11.0
  • PPR 1785
  • PPR/G 15.5

Peak Traditional Stats 2011 Patriots

  • Recs 90
  • YDs 1327
  • Y/R 14.7
  • TDs 18

Peak Fantasy Stats 2011 Patriots

  • PTS 240.9
  • PTS/G 15.1
  • PPR 330.9
  • PPR/G 20.7
Read More

Assuming Gronkowski stays retired, he’ll ride off into the sunset with 521 catches (15th among tight ends), 7,861 yards (ninth), 79 touchdowns (third), and 1,264.3 standard fantasy points (eighth). You’d almost expect him to be higher, given his incredible talent. But while Gronk’s career was cut short by a series of injuries, it’s hard to dispute that he’ll go down as the single most dominant player at the tight end position, ever. 

Teams simply couldn’t match up with the stupidly athletic 6-foot-6, 265-pound behemoth, who was not only one of the most unguardable downfield and red zone threats in football during his nine years in the league, but also one of the most devastating in-line blockers, too. Gronkowski’s best statistical season came in 2011, when he caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and an NFL-best 17 touchdowns (plus one rushing touchdown) to end the year with a position-best 241 fantasy points. He finished as the overall TE1 in 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2017, plus he tacked on a second-place finish in 2012. While he struggled with injuries throughout his career, missing 29 games due to back, forearm, knee, hamstring, and chest ailments, he still scored more touchdowns than any other player during his time in the league.

Gronk’s incredible touchdown-scoring talent cannot be understated. Pro Football Focus’s expected touchdowns metric tracks the play-by-play data of every target and carry a player gets, including his position on the field and proximity to the endzone, then spits out the number of touchdowns that a perfectly average player would’ve scored given those opportunities. According to that stat, Gronkowski scored 24.1 touchdowns over expectation during his career, most among all players over the past decade. In other words, he was a touchdown machine; there may never be another player quite like him. —Kelly

Team History

New England Patriots 2010-2018

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 8, 2014: You’d think Gronk’s best performance would have come during his historic 2011 season, but his line against the Bears—nine receptions, 149 yards, three touchdowns—was worth 32.9 points, his career high.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Adrian Peterson
NFL CAREER: 2007 - Present

Adrian Peterson

Wildly talented and dominant runner who sat atop fantasy draft boards for nearly a decade.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 15541
  • YDs/G 104.3
  • TDs 112
  • TDs/G 0.75

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2202
  • PTS/G 14.8
  • PPR 2474
  • PPR/G 16.6

Peak Traditional Stats 2012 Vikings

  • Rush 348
  • YDs 2097
  • Y/A 6.0
  • TDs 13

Peak Fantasy Stats 2012 Vikings

  • PTS 307.4
  • PTS/G 19.2
  • PPR 347.4
  • PPR/G 21.7
Read More

Peterson is one of the best pure runners I’ve ever seen. His 2009 touchdown run against the Browns is seared into my memory. From virtually the moment he entered the league in 2007, he was the type of running back who could carry a fantasy team to the playoffs or even a championship. 

Peterson was prolific as a rookie, rushing for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns on an incredible 5.6 yards per carry. He played in only 14 games and, despite losing starts and touches to Chester Taylor, finished as the third-highest-scoring running back in standard formats. He went on to finish in the top eight in each of his first seven years in the league, including his banner 2012 season: 2,097 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. That season would be an all-timer on its own; the fact that it came after he tore his ACL in December of the previous season makes it truly historic. Overall, Peterson led the league in rushing three times and hit double-digit touchdown numbers in eight seasons.

Even after leaving the Vikings following the 2016 season, Peterson wasn’t done. His 2018 season is one of the best by an old-man running back ever. Peterson’s career is winding down now, but he doesn’t need to do anything else on the field to enter our Hall of Fame. For the better part of a decade, Peterson was a no-brainer first-round pick, the type of running back you could consistently build a fantasy squad around. —McAtee

Team History

Minnesota Vikings 2007-2016
New Orleans Saints 2017
Arizona Cardinals 2017
Washington Redskins 2018-Present

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 9, 2007: As a rookie, Peterson had 315 total yards and three touchdowns against the Chargers, worth a whopping 47.5 fantasy points. It was the second time he went over 200 rushing yards in his first season.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
BONUS LIST
Six Snubs Who Just Missed the Cut

As with the actual Pro Football Hall of Fame, this Hall has players who are right on the outside looking in. These are the six fantasy stars who missed induction by just one or two votes. Maybe next year, fellas. 

RB

Terrell Davis: Davis placed in the top 12 among running backs as a rookie and then rocketed into the top two from 1996 to 1998. But injuries ended his fantasy relevance after that. 

TE

Shannon Sharpe: Sharpe is one of the greatest receiving tight ends ever, earning eight Pro Bowl nods and four first-team All-Pro appearances. But like all players who peaked before the internet came into vogue, Sharpe faced an uphill battle for the Fantasy Hall of Fame.

QB

Steve Young: Young fares well in any era-adjusted statistical leaderboards, and that’s no different in fantasy: He was the no. 1 fantasy quarterback four times. But Young’s run as a fantasy-relevant passer was shorter than those of most of the QBs we inducted.

RB

Curtis Martin: The real-life Hall of Famer has a great argument for inclusion on this list: He had 1,400 scrimmage yards in each of his first 10 seasons in the league. But his lack of a clear peak limited his fantasy upside: He failed to ever eclipse 2,000 scrimmage yards. 

RB

Ricky Watters: Watters cracked the top 10 in running back points nine times, but made the top three only once. He was a perennial RB1 but never carried fantasy teams to a championship.

RB

Arian Foster: Foster was a top-five running back four times, but those were the only four seasons he even sniffed fantasy relevance.

Marvin Harrison
NFL CAREER: 1996 - 2008

Marvin Harrison

The Colts' go-to wideout turned in top-five fantasy performance after top-five fantasy performance in the early aughts.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 14608
  • YDs/G 76.9
  • TDs 128
  • TDs/G 0.67

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2239
  • PTS/G 11.8
  • PPR 3341
  • PPR/G 17.6

Peak Traditional Stats 2001 Colts

  • Recs 109
  • YDs 1524
  • Y/R 14.0
  • TDs 15

Peak Fantasy Stats 2001 Colts

  • PTS 242.7
  • PTS/G 15.2
  • PPR 351.7
  • PPR/G 22.0
Read More

 If Randy Moss was the most talented receiver of his generation, Harrison was the most consistent. He recorded double-digit touchdowns, at least 1,100 receiving yards, and 80 catches every season from 1999 to 2006, and he was the top fantasy wide receiver four of those eight seasons and never finished lower than ninth. 

Volume is king in fantasy football, and Harrison is tied for fourth in targets per game (9.4) since 1992, when the stat started being tracked, and third in receptions per game (5.8) in the same time frame. He still holds the all-time record for single-season receptions with 143, and he’s fifth all time in career receptions, fifth all time in career receiving touchdowns, ninth all time in career receiving yards, and 10th in career receiving yards per game. —Heifetz

Team History

Indianapolis Colts 1996-2008

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 9, 2001: Harrison grabbed nine balls for 174 yards and three scores against the Dolphins, racking up 35.4 fantasy points. It was one of nine games in his career when he nabbed three touchdowns.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Shaun Alexander
NFL CAREER: 2000 - 2008

Shaun Alexander

Crashed quickly after his 2005 MVP season, but his fantasy performances in the years prior were better than most people remember.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 10973
  • YDs/G 89.2
  • TDs 112
  • TDs/G 0.91

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 1769
  • PTS/G 14.4
  • PPR 1984
  • PPR/G 16.1

Peak Traditional Stats 2005 Seahawks

  • Rush 370
  • YDs 1880
  • Y/A 5.1
  • TDs 28

Peak Fantasy Stats 2005 Seahawks

  • PTS 363.8
  • PTS/G 22.7
  • PPR 378.8
  • PPR/G 23.7
Read More

Alexander was absurdly prolific as the bell cow of Mike Holmgren’s Seahawks offense from 2001 to 2005, rushing for league highs in yards (7,504) and touchdowns (87) while adding 1,346 yards and 11 scores through the air. In that five-year stretch—in which he played in every single game—Alexander gave real-life Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson a run for his money as the most dominant back in football; Alexander’s 98 combined touchdowns were the most among all players, and his 1,449 fantasy points ranked second only to Tomlinson. Alexander finished inside the top 10 in fantasy scoring four straight times from 2002 to 2005 and led all players in points in 2005. His incredible run reached its zenith that year when he was named the NFL’s MVP.

The silky smooth home-run hitter racked up a league-high 1,880 yards on 370 totes that season and set a then–all time record with 28 total touchdowns, grabbing 27 on the ground and another through the air. Alexander’s touchdown record lasted just one year—Tomlinson broke it in 2006 with 31 scores—but the Seahawks star’s explosion in 2005 cemented his place among the all-time fantasy greats. When you add in his far less famous but still impressive 2004 season, in which he scored a combined 20 touchdowns, Alexander’s name shows up on a list of just five skill-position players in league history who’ve recorded consecutive seasons of 20-plus touchdowns (joining Hall of Famers in Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, and Marshall Faulk, and Priest Holmes).

Watching Alexander run roughshod was, well, easily my best and most vivid memory from that era of Seahawks football. Seattle’s hard-nosed offensive line—which boasted a left-side combo of Hall of Fame tackle Walter Jones and five-time All Pro guard Steve Hutchinson—certainly deserves a nod, but Alexander’s slashing style and breakaway speed made him an incredible weapon in both real and fantasy football. —Kelly

Team History

Seattle Seahawks 2000-2007
Washington Redskins 2008

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 4, 2002: Alexander had 231 scrimmage yards and an incredible five touchdowns against the Vikings. The 53.1 fantasy points he scored is the highest single-game performance of any inductee in the Fantasy Hall of Fame.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Aaron Rodgers
NFL CAREER: 2005 - Present

Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay's fire-breathing dragon has fantasy owners holding their breath for a resurgence.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 42944
  • YDs/G 260.3
  • TDs 338
  • TDs/G 2.05

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 3361
  • PTS/G 20.4
  • PPR 3363
  • PPR/G 20.4

Peak Traditional Stats 2011 Packers

  • Cmp% 68.3
  • YDs 4643
  • Y/A 9.3
  • TDs 45

Peak Fantasy Stats 2011 Packers

  • PTS 397.4
  • PTS/G 26.5
  • PPR 397.4
  • PPR/G 26.5
Read More

People have asked me in the past what it’s like, as a Bears fan, to root against Rodgers twice a year. I try to explain the dread that creeps in, the utter terror that comes from knowing that no lead is safe, the impending doom of Rodgers tearing out your heart. I usually just sigh and shake my head. 

Patrick Mahomes may get there someday, but to this point, Rodgers is the the most physically gifted quarterback of my lifetime. It’s not about no-look passes or throwing the ball out of a stadium, either. Rodgers has an absolute rocket, sure. But his ability to fit back-shoulder throws down the sideline, slice and dice teams around the goal line, and seemingly bend the ball to his will have always been what has set Rodgers apart. In his career, Rodgers has thrown 223 red zone touchdowns. He’s been intercepted in that area of the field just 10 times. Consider that for a second. As I’ve said many times, Aaron Rodgers is not a human quarterback. He’s a fire-breathing dragon, here to burn down your defense before he moves on to the next town. 

Lost seasons due to injury have prevented Rodgers from being a top-tier fantasy option every year, but he’s still one of the most accomplished fantasy quarterbacks in the history of the game. Rodgers is the only fantasy QB ever with two top-10 seasons at the position, and the only one with three of the top 15. During his 2011 MVP season, Rodgers averaged 26.5 points per game—the most ever for a QB. There is only one dragon. —Mays

Team History

Green Bay Packers 2005-Present

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 16, 2018: Rodgers paired 442 passing yards and two passing touchdowns with 32 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground against the Jets. The 42.9 points he totaled surely altered the outcome in many fantasy leagues.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Tom Brady
NFL CAREER: 2000 - Present

Tom Brady

Super Bowl rings don't count in fantasy, but the greatest QB ever put up some prolific regular-season stats, too.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 70514
  • YDs/G 262.1
  • TDs 517
  • TDs/G 1.92

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 4761
  • PTS/G 17.7
  • PPR 4764
  • PPR/G 17.7

Peak Traditional Stats 2007 Patriots

  • Cmp% 68.9
  • YDs 4806
  • Y/A 8.3
  • TDs 50

Peak Fantasy Stats 2007 Patriots

  • PTS 398.0
  • PTS/G 24.9
  • PPR 398.0
  • PPR/G 24.9
Read More

This one doesn’t need much explanation. Super Bowl rings don’t count in fantasy football, and Brady has led far more fantasy teams to glory than real ones. He’s finished as a top-three fantasy quarterback six times, including 2007, when he had one of the best fantasy seasons ever for a quarterback by becoming the first player to throw 50 touchdowns in a season. Brady is not the fantasy GOAT, but he’s been a top-10 fantasy quarterback a whopping 11 times (plus has two more 11th-place finishes). 

Unlike so many of his peers, Brady was often available at a discount in drafts in his prolific seasons, rewarding his true believers. Brady is second all time in career fantasy points (ahead of Peyton Manning and behind Drew Brees) and he’s gotten better with age, finishing as a top-four fantasy quarterback fives times since 2010. That doesn’t include 2016, when he was suspended for the first four games of the year but was a top five quarterback the rest of the way. Simply put: Brady has been as reliable in fantasy as he has in real life. —Heifetz

Team History

New England Patriots 2000-Present

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 6, 2009: The Patriots’ infamous 59-0 thrashing of the Titans also brought Brady’s best fantasy line: 380 passing yards and six touchdowns, good for 39.2 points.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Antonio Gates
NFL CAREER: 2003 - 2018

Antonio Gates

Tight end who never played college football came to the pros and immediately became an every-down mismatch—and fantasy superstar.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 11841
  • YDs/G 50.2
  • TDs 116
  • TDs/G 0.49

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 1876
  • PTS/G 8.0
  • PPR 2831
  • PPR/G 12.0

Peak Traditional Stats 2004 Chargers

  • Recs 81
  • YDs 964
  • Y/R 11.9
  • TDs 13

Peak Fantasy Stats 2004 Chargers

  • PTS 174.4
  • PTS/G 11.6
  • PPR 255.4
  • PPR/G 17.0
Read More

Don’t let Gates’s late-career transition into an unspectacular but reliable target for Philip Rivers make you forget how dominant he was in his prime. After an unspectacular rookie year in 2003—understandable, considering he did not play college football—Gates led all tight ends in fantasy scoring in each of the next three seasons. In 2005, he scored 2.5 more points per week than the next-best tight end, Jeremy Shockey. Gates has six of the top 17 seasons by tight ends between 2000 and 2010, arguably the formative decade of fantasy football consumption. (Pretty wild considering he played only seven full seasons in that time.) 

Gates’s on-field legacy will be bolstered by his longevity, but his fantasy reputation may be hurt by it. He hasn’t really been a reliable option since 2012, which is right when some other star tight ends around the league took off. (Gates’s last Pro Bowl year, 2011, was when Rob Gronkowski had 21 touchdowns.) So if you drafted a 35-year-old Gates based on his legacy, you were probably disappointed. But Gates had one final burst of fantasy relevance in 2014, tipping that year’s championship in thousands of leagues with a 92-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 16, the last time he’d muster more than 15 fantasy points in a game.

If only “Announcer Mentions of College Basketball Careers” were counted in fantasy leagues, he would’ve been truly unstoppable. —Sherman

Team History

San Diego Chargers 2003-2016
Los Angeles Chargers 2017-2018

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 8, 2005: Gates’s 10 receptions for 145 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs in 2005 were worth 32.5 fantasy points—the only game of his career in which he eclipsed 30.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
BONUS LIST
The Greatest Fantasy Football One-Hit Wonders

The Fantasy Hall of Fame inductees aren’t the only players who have helped win fantasy championships over the years. They say the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, but the candle for these players burned out nearly as soon as it was lit. Here are five notable players who achieved virtually all of their fantasy success in just one season.

RB

Peyton Hillis, Browns, 2010: An incredible line of 1,654 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns propelled Hillis to a Madden cover, but he never made fantasy noise again. His total yardage in the remainder of his career—four seasons combined—is less than what he got in just 2010.

WR

Josh Gordon, Browns, 2013: Gordon’s 2013, in which he racked up 1,646 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, is one of the greatest seasons by a receiver ever. Fantasy owners are still holding out hope that the troubled wideout can recover from substance addiction and rebuild his career.

RB

Robert Edwards, Patriots, 1998: The former first-round pick quickly grabbed 1,115 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, but a gruesome injury in a Pro Bowl practice essentially ended his career. He’s one of football’s what-ifs.

RB

Justin Forsett, Ravens, 2014: Forsett played for nine seasons but achieved fantasy relevance in only one: A 1,529-yard, eight-touchdown campaign in 2014.

RB

Steve Slaton, Texans, 2008: A 1,659-yard, 10-touchdown rookie season rocketed Slaton toward the top of the following year’s fantasy drafts, but fumble issues relegated him to the bench and his career ended after just four short years.

Cris Carter
NFL CAREER: 1987 - 2002

Cris Carter

Late bloomer who flourished in Minnesota as a perennial top-10 fantasy wideout.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 13940
  • YDs/G 59.6
  • TDs 130
  • TDs/G 0.56

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2181
  • PTS/G 9.3
  • PPR 3268
  • PPR/G 14.0

Peak Traditional Stats 1995 Vikings

  • Recs 122
  • YDs 1371
  • Y/R 11.2
  • TDs 17

Peak Fantasy Stats 1995 Vikings

  • PTS 239.1
  • PTS/G 14.9
  • PPR 361.1
  • PPR/G 22.6
Read More

Carter is the rare NFL player who put in his best football in his 30s. As a 1987 fourth-round pick with the Eagles, he established himself as a red zone threat early, catching 17 touchdowns in his second and third seasons in Philly. But head coach Buddy Ryan cut Carter due to the wideout’s problems with substance misuse, and it took Carter years to rebuild his career.

He finally broke out with the Vikings in 1993, with 1,071 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. In the early ’90s, those numbers were good enough to earn him a fifth-place finish at the position. He’d go on to be a top-12 receiver for seven more seasons, making him a perennial, reliable WR1. He did that with a merry-go-round at quarterback, catching passes from Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpepper, and Jeff George, among others. 

Carter had a particular feel for the end zone. During those eight peak seasons, he averaged 1,182 yards and 11 touchdowns per year, and he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns three times in that span. Carter is the exact type of receiver fantasy owners look for every year: a reliable producer regardless of quarterback who grabs touchdowns like a machine. —McAtee

Team History

Philadelphia Eagles 1987-1989
Minnesota Vikings 1990-2001
Miami Dolphins 2002

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 10, 1999: Carter’s nine receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears were worth 32.1 fantasy points. Meanwhile, his teammate Randy Moss put up 204 yards—but the touchdowns made Carter the fantasy MVP of this game.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Brett Favre
NFL CAREER: 1991 - 2010

Brett Favre

Football's iron man lit the league on fire in the 1990s, then remained a relevant fantasy starter for another decade.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 71838
  • YDS/G 237.9
  • TDs 508
  • TDS/G 1.68

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 4509
  • PTS/G 14.9
  • PPR 4509
  • PPR/G 14.9

Peak Traditional Stats 1995 Packers

  • Cmp% 63.0
  • YDs 4413
  • Y/A 7.7
  • TDs 38

Peak Fantasy Stats 1995 Packers

  • PTS 338.6
  • PTS/G 21.2
  • PPR 338.6
  • PPR/G 21.2
Read More

Beginning in 1994, Favre wasn’t just one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy, he was one of the best players at any position. From 1994 to 1997 (a stretch in which Favre won three MVP trophies, by the way), the Packers legend averaged 4,015 passing yards, 36.3 touchdowns, and 14.0 interceptions per season. Those numbers aren’t as eye-popping in 2019, but they were unbelievable in the mid-’90s. 

Going by Pro-Football-Reference’s VBD numbers, which compare a player’s value relative to the last-ranked starters at their position, Favre finished in the top seven in value among all players each season over that four-year stretch. In two of those seasons he finished fifth, and in one of them he was the no. 1 overall player in fantasy. To put into perspective how rare this is for a quarterback: Patrick Mahomes was fifth last year in overall value by VBD. Even Peyton Manning had just three top-10 overall finishes in his entire career

Favre began to fall a bit in 1998 (when he was only the third-best quarterback and the 17th-ranked player overall) but he still had a long, productive career after that. From 1999 through the end of his career in 2010 Favre finished in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position seven times, making him a reliable fantasy starter for a decade after his incredible peak. —McAtee

Team History

Atlanta Falcons 1991
Green Bay Packers 1992-2007
New York Jets 2008
Minnesota Vikings 2009-2010

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 11, 1995: Favre had 336 yards, five touchdowns, and, crucially, no interceptions against the Bears to score 33.6 fantasy points in his first MVP season.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Larry Fitzgerald
NFL CAREER: 2004 - Present

Larry Fitzgerald

Few fantasy receivers have been more reliable—though the same can’t be said about the offenses that have surrounded him.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 16347
  • YDs/G 69.9
  • TDs 116
  • TDs/G 0.50

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2331
  • PTS/G 10.0
  • PPR 3634
  • PPR/G 15.5

Peak Traditional Stats 2008 Cardinals

  • Recs 96
  • YDs 1431
  • Y/R 14.9
  • TDs 12

Peak Fantasy Stats 2008 Cardinals

  • PTS 215.1
  • PTS/G 13.4
  • PPR 311.1
  • PPR/G 19.4
Read More

Since Larry Fitzgerald came into the league in 2004, he’s been targeted 2,154 times (first) and caught 1,303 passes (first) for 16,279 yards (first) and 116 touchdowns (first). He’s scored 2,330.8 fantasy points, which also ranks first in that stretch among receivers … by nearly 600 points. Fitzgerald’s remained astoundingly steady over the past 15 seasons, weathering the changes of the seasons and changes of Cardinals starting quarterbacks with unflinching composure. Fitz has thrived as the primary pass catcher over the years for Josh McCown, Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner again, Derek Anderson, Kevin Kolb (remember him?), John Skelton (no one remembers him), Ryan Lindley, Carson Palmer, and Josh Rosen, along with a handful of short-lived others. 

Yet despite that QB turnover, Fitzgerald has been one of the most reliable fantasy producers of his era, finishing as a PPR WR1 nine times—including top-5 finishes in 2008, 2009, and 2017. He’s notched eight seasons with 90-plus receptions, most in league-history, and is second all time with 213 straight games with a reception. Fitzgerald needs just 22 catches to pass Tony Gonzalez and move into second place on the career-receptions list; he’s 246 behind Jerry Rice, and while it’s unlikely he will hit that mark, Fitz hasn’t seemed to age over the past decade and a half. I won’t be surprised if he makes a run at the top spot. —Kelly

Team History

Arizona Cardinals 2004-Present

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 2, 2015: Fitz is known more for his legendary consistency than his explosive games, but his 112 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears, worth 29.2 fantasy points, stands out as his best performance.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Edgerrin James
NFL CAREER: 1999 - 2009

Edgerrin James

Peyton Manning's backfield buddy instantly became a fantasy force and helped power some of the best offenses in football.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 15610
  • YDs/G 105.5
  • TDs 91
  • TDs/G 0.61

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 2117
  • PTS/G 14.3
  • PPR 2550
  • PPR/G 17.2

Peak Traditional Stats 2000 Colts

  • Rush 387
  • YDs 1709
  • Y/A 4.4
  • TDs 18

Peak Fantasy Stats 2000 Colts

  • PTS 340.3
  • PTS/G 21.3
  • PPR 403.3
  • PPR/G 25.2
Read More

 I’ll admit that James only barely made induction into this hall, receiving the minimum number of votes needed for entry. Edgerrin James? You may be wondering. Sure, he was pretty good, but I don’t remember him being so good that I’d put him in a Fantasy Football Hall of Fame.

Well, let me help you remember. After James was drafted by the Colts with the fourth pick in 1999, he immediately became a dominant fantasy force. And I mean immediately. He had 2,139 scrimmage yards and 17 touchdowns in his very first season in Indianapolis. Excluding quarterbacks, only Eric Dickerson scored more fantasy points as a rookie than James did. Given that Dickerson was a rookie in 1983 and James’s rookie year came 16 years later, that gives James a strong claim for the greatest rookie season in fantasy history. Even recent breakthrough fantasy rookies like Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott fall short of James.

He followed up that performance in 2000 with 2,303 scrimmage yards and 18 touchdowns, good for what was the best sophomore fantasy season ever until Chris Johnson passed him in 2009. An ACL tear derailed his 2001 season, though, and while he never reached the same heights he did as a rookie and sophomore, he still managed top-10 finishes at the running back position in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007. James may never make it to the NFL’s Hall of Fame, but his fantasy accomplishments are certainly worth celebrating. —McAtee

Team History

Indianapolis Colts 1999-2005
Arizona Cardinals 2006-2008
Seattle Seahawks 2009

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 7, 2000: James had many dominant performances early in his career, and in a 2000 game against the Seahawks, the Colts gave James the rock 39 times. In return, he gave the team 228 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns, worth 40.8 fantasy points.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
Torry Holt
NFL CAREER: 1999 - 2009

Torry Holt

The Rams' star wideout was a reliable WR1 for nearly a decade.

Career Traditional Stats

  • YDs 13439
  • YDs/G 77.7
  • TDs 74
  • TDs/G 0.43

Career Fantasy Stats

  • PTS 1790
  • PTS/G 10.4
  • PPR 2710
  • PPR/G 15.7

Peak Traditional Stats 2003 Rams

  • Recs 117
  • YDs 1696
  • Y/R 14.5
  • TDs 12

Peak Fantasy Stats 2003 Rams

  • PTS 242.1
  • PTS/G 15.1
  • PPR 359.1
  • PPR/G 22.4
Read More

Holt is far from the flashiest wideout on this list, but he is the definition of a reliable starting fantasy wideout. And in fantasy football, reliable performance is what you’re after. It’s those types of week-in, week-out valuable performances that propel teams to championships.

From 2000 to 2005, Holt recorded at least 1,300 receiving yards in every season, and averaged eight touchdowns per year in the span. Expand the sample to include 2006 and 2007—in each of which Holt topped 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns—and you get the picture of consistency. 

Holt finished within the top eight at the position in fantasy points scored in six of those eight years. The two seasons he failed to hit WR1 status he was still just on the cusp, finishing 16th in 2002 and 13th in 2007. Essentially, Holt was a wideout you could bank on for the better part of a decade. —McAtee

Team History

St. Louis Rams 1999-2008
Jacksonville Jaguars 2009

Peak Fantasy Performance

Week 6, 2006

Holt was plenty productive even after Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner left. This 2006 performance—eight receptions, 154 yards, and three touchdowns, worth 33.4 fantasy points—is the proof.

SEE MORE RINGER COVERAGE
All fantasy stats from pro-footballreference.com