Fantasy football is like an amazing cream cheese icing on top of the world's greatest cake. The NFL is entertaining enough, but fantasy offers fans, from the die-hard fanatic to the part time enthusiast, another way to further their enjoyment of the game. Whether money is involved or a league is simply about bragging rights, fantasy football is just one more reason to watch the NFL every week.
One of the amazing aspects of fantasy football is that a lineup of great regular producers on one's team can easily be out shined any week by a single player who dominates in an opponent's lineup. This list will detail the greatest single game performances, from a fantasy point of view, since 1960.
The reason for 1960 being the date used is twofold. First, there are numerous stories accounting for the first fantasy football league and each claim that fantasy football leagues started popping up in the early 60's. While many have come to believe that the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators' League was the first true fantasy football league, there are many other tales of the origins of FF, but each argues that it was started in the early 1960's. The second reason for starting in the early 60's is that statistical data from prior to the 60's is somewhat inconsistent. If there is disagreement regarding my choice of starting year, feel free to bash my life choices in the comments section.
Since everyone and their neighbor has their own method of scoring in fantasy leagues, I will use the ESPN standard scoring method. In ESPN Standard a touchdown pass is four points, a rushing or receiving score is six, as well is kick or punt return touchdown. Ten yards rushing or receiving gives a player a single point, while 25 passing yards equals a point for passers. Fumbles and interceptions each amount to a loss of two points. I have also not rounded down or up, and have used each yard as a tenth of a point to provide accuracy. If this is offensive to any readers, or there are objections to my use of ESPN Standard because it is "unfair" to quarterbacks, please attack me personally in the comments section.
Our list starts off with the three-way tie between a quarterback, a running back and a receiver at 48.7 points.
20 T18. Priest Holmes: 2002 - 48.7 Points
19 T18. Art Powell: 1963 - 48.7 Points
18 T18. George Blanda: 1961 - 48.7 Points
Blanda deserves a lot of credit in any article or list discussing fantasy football. While there is some speculation about the history of FF, the legend that claims the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League invented the contest, also claims that Blanda was the first pick ever.
He holds several records to this day, including being tied for most passing touchdowns in a game with seven, having played 26 seasons in the league and being the oldest player to play in a game, having done so at age 48. Brett Favre can dream all he wants, but there is no way he will step back on the field in three years.
17 Fred Taylor: 2000 - 48.8 Points
Throughout his thirteen injury ridden years in the league, Fred Taylor was able to rack up over 11,000 rushing yards and 74 total touchdowns. His best game occurred in November 2000 when his Jacksonville Jaguars took on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh.
16 Barry Sanders: 1991 - 49.1 Points
The number three rusher of all time had tons of memorable games throughout his ten years with the Lions. Unfortunately, he played for the Lions.
He was a Pro Bowl selection in each of those ten seasons and still holds several professional football records, including most seasons over 1,400 yards and having led the NFL in rushing four times. He is widely considered to be the third or fourth best running back of all time, depending on one's views on Jim Brown, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
15 Michael Vick: 2010 - 49.3 Points
Many like to argue that Michael Vick's best years happened before his incarceration. While it is easy to make such a case, his greatest single game (from a fantasy perspective) came in 2010 while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
14 Larry Brown: 1973 - 49.5 Points
13 Mike Anderson: 2000 - 49.6 Points
If it wasn't for injuries, he might be a more renowned player, but unfortunately, the Marine-turned-running back is mostly known for two good seasons over the course of eight injury riddled NFL seasons. After being drafted in the 6th round by the Broncos out of the University of Utah, Anderson ran for 1487 yards in 2000, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
12 Jerry Butler: 1979 - 50.7 Points
11 Doug Martin: 2012 - 51.2 Points
I took Doug Martin as one of my backup running backs in a fantasy pool this year. He has been almost as much of a disappointment during the 2014 campaign as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have as a team. However, back in 2012 he was a rookie Pro Bowl selection who ran for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. He added 472 receiving yards that year.
10 Jamaal Charles: 2013 - 51.5 Points
On a cheerier topic than Doug Martin's gradual downfall, Jamaal Charles is a regular producer in the NFL who has made the Pro Bowl three times and rushed for 1000+ yards four times throughout his seven years in the league. While 2011 saw Charles sidelined due to an ACL tear, he bounced back, being selected to the Pro Bowl in both 2012 and 2013.
9 9. Corey Dillon: 1997 - 51.6 Points
Number seventeen in all-time rushing yards, Corey Dillon played ten years in the NFL, first for the Cincinnati Bengals and then with the New England Patriots. The four-time Pro Bowler won a Super Bowl with the Patriots, but arguably his best single game performance occurred in his rookie year with the Bengals.
8 Jerry Rice: 1990 - 52.5 Points
7 Jim Brown: 1961 - 52.9 Points
Jim Brown is widely considered to be one of the greatest running backs of all time. He played for the Cleveland Browns between 1957 and 1965, achieving over 12,000 rushing yards, 106 touchdowns and 20 receiving touchdowns.
6 Shaun Alexander: 2002 - 53.1 Points
Shaun Alexander had an impressive career for the Seattle Seahawks in the early to mid-2000's. After his rookie year in 2000, he had several increasingly impressive seasons culminating in 2005, where he rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, setting a new rushing touchdown record that would be beaten just a year later by LaDainian Tomlinson.
5 Abner Haynes: 1961 - 54.2 Points
Playing in the AFL from 1960 until 1967, Haynes competed for the Dallas Texans and then for the Kansas City Chiefs after the team moved from 1960 until 1964. Fro 1965 to 1967 he played for the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and finally the New York Jets.
To this day, he is still known as one of the most dynamic runners in the history of the league. Not only was he a gifted runner, but he also possessed capable hands and was able to contribute returning kicks and punts in addition to at the line of scrimmage.
4 Cookie Gilchrist: 1963 - 54.3 Points
Until 1961, Cookie Gilchrist played in the CFL, but after one Grey Cup win and several years in that league, he was brought into the AFL to play for the Buffalo Bills. Late into his second year with the Bills, the fullback hammered through the New York Jets' defense for a total of 243 rushing yards. His five rushing touchdowns on the day won the game for the Bills.
3 Clinton Portis: 2003 - 55.4 Points
After being drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft out of Miami by the Denver Broncos, Portis achieved 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons in the league. In the 2003 season, Portis' week 14 performance against the Kansas City Chiefs earned him number three on our list.
2 Gale Sayers: 1965 - 56.2 Points
The Kansas Comet, Gale Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 1977 after a seven year career playing for the Chicago Bears. He was a versatile running back whose hands were roughly as useful as his feet and could also return punts and kicks.
1 Billy Cannon: 1961 - 63 Points
Cannon played 11 years in the AFL/NFL, playing running back in his first few years and tight end for much of his later career. Known for his amazing balance of strength and speed, he was selected first overall in the 1960 draft. His first four seasons were spent with the Houston Oilers, while the remainder of his career was spent in Oakland.
The most impressive single game fantasy score in pro football since 1960, occurred in week 13 of 1961. Cannon and the Oilers were facing the New York Titans. Cannon's versatility was central to the 48-21 win, as he was able to rush for three touchdowns and catch two passes to score. His yardages totaled 216 on the ground and 114 through the air.
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