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The Greatest Fantasy Football Team of All Time

The pantheon of single-season performances, featuring the likes of Jerry Rice, LaDainian Tomlinson, and a few newcomers

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

On Tuesday, The Ringer unveiled its Fantasy Football Hall of Fame, honoring 25 past and present NFL players as the greatest fantasy stars ever. We’re celebrating the guys who won us championships over the years, from Emmitt Smith to Drew Brees. You can see the full list of our choices here—and yes, we’re fully prepared to argue about them.

Behold, mere mortals. Below is the finest fantasy football team ever assembled. We have reached decades back into the fantasy football past to build this pantheon and pulled out the finest single-season performances. A few of our guiding principles for this exercise include:

  • We limited the scope to when fantasy football was mainstream from the late 1980s through today. Apologies to the three dozen people playing fantasy football in 1965 who witnessed Gale Sayers’s 56-point explosion in Week 13.
  • Most fantasy leagues ignore Week 17, and this ranking will too. All references to season-long fantasy points refer to Week 1 through Week 16.
  • The fantasy pantheon requires a strong performance in the fantasy playoffs. If you ain’t first, you’re last.
  • Unless specified, all point totals refer to standard fantasy scoring. Point per reception scoring has become the default on major platforms within the last few years, but for the vast majority of fantasy football history it was an eccentricity.

Without further ado, here is the greatest fantasy football team of all time.

QB: Patrick Mahomes, 2018

Mahomes came this close to the first 400-point season by a quarterback, but settled for merely the highest-scoring fantasy season ever by a passer with 399.7. There is an argument here for a few other players, including Peyton Manning in 2013, Aaron Rodgers in 2011, and Tom Brady in 2007. Each of those put a wider gap between themselves and a replacement-level QB than Mahomes did in 2018. But drafting Rodgers in 2011 required a top-20 pick according to Fantasy Football Calculator, while Brady and Manning were both being drafted in the top 40 overall in 2007 and 2013, respectively. Meanwhile, Mahomes was going well outside the top 100 in 2018 and then submitted the highest-scoring QB season ever, providing far more value on draft day. That’s why more than one out of three fantasy football players who owned Mahomes last year won their league on

RB: LaDainian Tomlinson, 2006

Tomlinson’s 2006 is the diamond standard for fantasy football. He scored an unholy 417 fantasy points (27.8 per game in the 15 he played), by far the best of all time thanks to a record 33 touchdowns (28 rushing, three receiving, and two passing). He outscored the rest of the field by so much that you could remove his league-leading 1,815 rushing yards and his 508 receiving yards and Tomlinson would still be the 10th-highest scoring running back of 2006. “GOAT” is a diluted term, but Tomlinson’s season qualifies.

RB: Priest Holmes, 2003

This was not even the most fantasy points Holmes scored in the first 16 weeks of a season. In 2002, Holmes led the league in yards from scrimmage and rushing touchdowns while submitting the second-most fantasy points for Weeks 1 through 16 of all time for a non-QB in just 14 games (he also helped inspire the creation of Football Outsiders’ DVOA statistic). The problem was the game Holmes missed. He sat out with a hip injury in Week 16, when most fantasy championships take place, sending his owners scrambling. Any Holmes owners who turned to his backup Mike Cloud were rewarded with 16 carries for 19 yards. So we’ll slot in Holmes’s 2003 when he had 2,110 yards from scrimmage and a then-record 27 rushing touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points by a running back. This time in Week 16, he scored three touchdowns.

WR: Jerry Rice, 1987

This is where the interseasonal fantasy play gets complicated. The strike-shortened 1987 season featured just 12 games with non-replacement players. But in those 12 games, Rice scored a mind-boggling 22 touchdowns.

Rice’s record stood until Randy Moss broke it in 16 games in 2007. No pass catcher has had more than 17 touchdowns since. Rice caught a touchdown in every game of the season and had three touchdowns in a third of his games, leading to 250.9 fantasy points (20.9 per-game). The only two receivers to top Rice’s fantasy totals—not per-game figures, his totals—from his 12-game season season are … Jerry Rice (1986, 1989, 1995) and Moss (2003, 2007).

WR: Randy Moss, 2007

Moss and Rice hold the top six highest-scoring seasons for fantasy wide receivers, but Moss’s 2007 is no. 1. He may not have Rice’s 1987 beat on a per-game basis, but he destroys everyone else. Moss’s 1,497 yards and record-setting 23 scores in 2007 (1,397 and 21 of which came in the first 15 games of the year) were good for 17.7 fantasy points per game. The only receivers within 45 points of Moss’s 2007 total in the 21st century are Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison, Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, Terrell Owens, Tyreek Hill, and Jordy Nelson. Unlike those other players, Moss wasn’t even going in the top three rounds of fantasy drafts in 2007.

TE: Rob Gronkowski, 2011

Gronkowski’s career peaks were higher than anyone else to ever play the tight end position. In 2011, the only season when Gronk started all 16 games, he had 90 catches for 1,327 yards and a league-leading 17 receiving touchdowns. Gronk’s 218.1 fantasy points in 2011 were more than double Antonio Gates, the seventh-best tight end that year. Not only was it the best fantasy season for a tight end ever, but he was available around no. 100 overall and one of the last starting tight ends drafted while a player like Gates was going in the top 40 as the first one off draft boards.

FLEX: Marshall Faulk, 2000

There are plenty of options at flex for his squad, but Faulk’s mind-numbing 22.1 fantasy points per game (27.7 per game in PPR) in 2000 takes the cake. Even though he missed two games in the middle of the season, he more than made up for it in the fantasy playoffs. He capped the year with 11 touchdowns and 91.8 fantasy points from Week 14 to Week 16.

K: David Akers, 2011

Many leagues are eliminating the kicker position, but kicking captures the essence of fantasy football: chaotic good. There was no more chaotic good than Akers’s 2011, when he had the most fantasy points for a kicker in the modern era at 184.6. He set the NFL all-time single-season record for field goal attempts (52) and field goals made (44), and was 7-of-9 from beyond 50-yards.

So how would this team have fared? Here’s how each member of this team would’ve performed each week. (The totals don’t include defense and special teams, and Rice’s numbers for the 1987 season are prorated for Weeks 3 through 5.)

Fantasy Points Per Week, Greatest Team of All Time

Week Number Weekly Points David Akers Jerry Rice LaDainian Tomlinson Marshall Faulk Patrick Mahomes Priest Holmes Randy Moss Rob Gronkowski
Week Number Weekly Points David Akers Jerry Rice LaDainian Tomlinson Marshall Faulk Patrick Mahomes Priest Holmes Randy Moss Rob Gronkowski
1 179.8 15.0 16.6 20.9 29.8 28.3 30.3 24.3 14.6
2 187.2 8.0 21.0 24.2 21.3 38.8 30.8 22.5 20.6
3 171.6 9.0 20.5 10.5 37.9 25.3 27.6 23.5 22.9
4 92.7 6.0 20.5 7.0 9.6 22.9 10.3 22.2 1.5
5 124.9 12.0 20.5 37.5 29.1 15.8 9.1 4.6 3.1
6 165.0 13.0 14.9 21.8 34.6 27.0 20.0 11.9 7.4
7 186.2 8.0 13.2 42.0 15.9 32.8 23.3 24.2 9.4
8 187.3 15.0 13.7 37.2 38.4 26.0 28.9 10.7 16.1
9 179.9 15.0 29.3 39.8 N/A 26.8 27.8 20.5 23.3
10 165.5 11.0 30.6 41.9 N/A 20.1 9.8 36.8 21.6
11 152.1 8.0 15.0 28.2 18.1 35.9 25.1 4.3 11.9
12 167.6 14.0 26.7 31.2 4.3 33.0 30.6 9.4 24.6
13 169.5 13.0 24.3 29.2 12.8 20.8 19.7 25.5 28.0
14 165.5 8.0 20.6 32.4 41.8 18.0 31.6 7.9 5.3
15 167.5 15.0 20.5 13.3 37.2 28.2 28.5 17.0 7.8

The average fantasy football team that makes the playoffs scores 94 points per week. This team misses that figure in Week 4 and is vulnerable in Week 5, leaving the risk of ruining a perfect season. But otherwise this squad is nearly invincible every other week of the season.