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Fantasy Football Hall of Fame


ZWK

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Who are the best fantasy players of the past 30 years? Looking at careers, not individual seasons, here's a ranking by the numbers. These are the top 100 plyaers by career VBD (the sum of each individual season's VBD) who entered the NFL in 1980 or later, using PFR's numbers (1/10 yd rush/rec, 1/25 passing, 6/td all, -2/int; baseline of RB24, WR30, QB12, and TE12).

The columns (left to right) show career VBD, position, the player's name, the year they entered the NFL, a * if they're still active, and then a count of the number of players, RBs, WRs, QBs, and TEs so far.

VBD	Pos	Player		Year	Act	Count	RBs	WRs	QBs	TEs1624	wr	Jerry Rice	1985		1	0	1	0	01316	rb	Emmitt Smith	1990		2	1	1	0	01311	rb	LaDainian Tomlinson 2001 *	3	2	1	0	01217	rb	Barry Sanders	1989		4	3	1	0	01189	qb	Dan Marino	1983		5	3	1	1	01165	qb	Brett Favre	1991		6	3	1	2	01157	rb	Marshall Faulk	1994		7	4	1	2	01077	qb	Peyton Manning	1998	*	8	4	1	3	0 995	wr	Randy Moss	1998	*	9	4	2	3	0 905	rb	Marcus Allen	1982		10	5	2	3	0 888	qb	Steve Young	1985		11	5	2	4	0 886	rb	Eric Dickerson	1983		12	6	2	4	0 858	wr	Terrell Owens	1996	*	13	6	3	4	0 844	rb	Thurman Thomas	1988		14	7	3	4	0 837	qb	Randall Cunningham 1985		15	7	3	5	0 832	rb	Curtis Martin	1995		16	8	3	5	0 820	rb	Ricky Watters	1991		17	9	3	5	0 810	wr	Marvin Harrison	1996		18	9	4	5	0 807	qb	John Elway	1983		19	9	4	6	0 755	te	Tony Gonzalez	1997	*	20	9	4	6	1 743	rb	Shaun Alexander	2000		21	10	4	6	1 731	rb	Edgerrin James	1999		22	11	4	6	1 703	qb	Warren Moon	1984		23	11	4	7	1 673	rb	Priest Holmes	1997		24	12	4	7	1 642	rb	Tiki Barber	1997	*	25	13	4	7	1 631	wr	Cris Carter	1987		26	13	5	7	1 622	rb	Herschel Walker	1985		27	14	5	7	1 613	te	Shannon Sharpe	1990		28	14	5	7	2 597	rb	Clinton Portis	2002	*	29	15	5	7	2 592	rb	Terrell Davis	1995		30	16	5	7	2 561	wr	Torry Holt	1999		31	16	6	7	2 553	qb	Tom Brady	2000	*	32	16	6	8	2 551	rb	Eddie George	1996		33	17	6	8	2 548	rb	Ahman Green	1998		34	18	6	8	2 548	rb	Roger Craig	1983		35	19	6	8	2 538	wr	Tim Brown	1988		36	19	7	8	2 512	qb	Daunte Culpepper 1999		37	19	7	9	2 503	wr	Sterling Sharpe	1988		38	19	8	9	2 501	wr	Isaac Bruce	1994		39	19	9	9	2 492	wr	Mark Clayton	1983		40	19	10	9	2 480	te	Antonio Gates	2003	*	41	19	10	9	3 473	rb	Corey Dillon	1997		42	20	10	9	3 469	qb	Drew Brees	2001	*	43	20	10	10	3 468	wr	Michael Irvin	1988		44	20	11	10	3 458	rb	Neal Anderson	1986		45	21	11	10	3 454	wr	Chad Ochocinco	2001	*	46	21	12	10	3 453	qb	Boomer Esiason	1984		47	21	12	11	3 447	rb	Adrian Peterson	2007	*	48	22	12	11	3 445	rb	Ricky Williams	1999	*	49	23	12	11	3 442	rb	Fred Taylor	1998	*	50	24	12	11	3 442	rb	Terry Allen	1990		51	25	12	11	3 436	rb	Jerome Bettis	1993		52	26	12	11	3 430	qb	Jim Kelly	1983		53	26	12	12	3 428	wr	Reggie Wayne	2001	*	54	26	13	12	3 419	wr	Andre Rison	1989		55	26	14	12	3 418	wr	Andre Reed	1985		56	26	15	12	3 412	qb	Kurt Warner	1998		57	26	15	13	3 408	rb	Billy Sims	1980		58	27	15	13	3 406	rb	Steven Jackson	2004	*	59	28	15	13	3 406	qb	Jim Everett	1986		60	28	15	14	3 405	rb	Curt Warner	1983		61	29	15	14	3 403	wr	Jimmy Smith	1992		62	29	16	14	3 403	rb	Brian Westbrook	2002	*	63	30	16	14	3 399	wr	Herman Moore	1991		64	30	17	14	3 399	wr	Rod Smith	1995		65	30	18	14	3 399	qb	Rich Gannon	1987		66	30	18	15	3 392	wr	Larry Fitzgerald 2004	*	67	30	19	15	3 389	rb	James Brooks	1981		68	31	19	15	3 387	wr	Mike Quick	1982		69	31	20	15	3 382	rb	Jamal Lewis	2000		70	32	20	15	3 376	te	Ben Coates	1991		71	32	20	15	4 366	rb	Maurice Jones-Drew 2006	*	72	33	20	15	4 365	rb	Larry Johnson	2003	*	73	34	20	15	4 361	wr	Steve Smith	2001	*	74	34	21	15	4 360	te	Keith Jackson	1988		75	34	21	15	5 353	rb	Chris Johnson	2008	*	76	35	21	15	5 350	qb	Neil Lomax	1981		77	35	21	16	5 348	rb	Earnest Byner	1984		78	36	21	16	5 339	wr	Henry Ellard	1983		79	36	22	16	5 335	wr	Joey Galloway	1995	*	80	36	23	16	5 333	qb	Donovan McNabb	1999	*	81	36	23	17	5 331	wr	Mark Duper	1982		82	36	24	17	5 328	wr	Andre Johnson	2003	*	83	36	25	17	5 326	wr	Anthony Miller	1988		84	36	26	17	5 325	wr	Hines Ward	1998	*	85	36	27	17	5 323	rb	Jamal Anderson	1994		86	37	27	17	5 323	wr	Art Monk	1980		87	37	28	17	5 320	rb	Chris Warren	1990		88	38	28	17	5 320	qb	Jeff Garcia	1999		89	38	28	18	5 319	rb	Stephen Davis	1996		90	39	28	18	5 316	qb	Drew Bledsoe	1993		91	39	28	19	5 311	wr	Joe Horn	1996		92	39	29	19	5 304	qb	Dave Krieg	1980		93	39	29	20	5 303	rb	Greg Bell	1984		94	40	29	20	5 302	rb	Rodney Hampton	1990		95	41	29	20	5 302	rb	Gerald Riggs	1982		96	42	29	20	5 298	qb	Aaron Rodgers	2005	*	97	42	29	21	5 298	rb	James Wilder	1981		98	43	29	21	5 297	wr	Anquan Boldin	2003	*	99	43	30	21	5 292	rb	Deuce McAllister 2001		100	44	30	21	5
A few interesting patterns. First, the positional balance. Near the top the players are almost half RBs, about a quarter each at WR and QB, and just a few TEs. Once you get outside the top 60 or so then WRs become even more common and QBs become less common. The top 10 break down 5-2-3-0 and the top 60 are 28-15-14-3, but the last 40 (players 61-100) are 16-15-7-2. The fact that some players are still active doesn't alter the positional distribution; the top 50 players who began their careers before 2000 are 23-13-12-2.

Second, value falls off steeply. The top players are a lot more valuable than the slightly lower players. Jerry Rice, the most valuable fantasy player, is worth twice as much in VBD as Marvin Harrison (WR4 and #18 overall), 3 times as much as Tim Brown (WR7 and #36 overall), 4 times as much as Jimmy Smith (WR16 and #62 overall), and 5 times as much as Hines Ward (WR27 and #85 overall). Rice deserves two spots in the Fantasy Hall - he may not quite equal the two best receivers of the modern era, but he's two of the top five (with both even-year Jerry and odd-year Jerry beating out Cris Carter in VBD). Similarly, RB1 Emmitt Smith is worth twice as much as RB13 (Tiki Barber), 3 times as much as RB26 (Jerome Bettis), and 4 times as much as RB37 (Jamal Anderson). QB1 Dan Marino is worth twice as much as QB8 (Tom Brady) and 3 times as much as QB15 (Rich Gannon). TE1 Tony Gonzalez is worth twice as much as TE4 (Ben Coates) and 3 times as much as TE8 (Mark Bavaro, not listed).

There is a shortage of TEs, with only 5 in the top 100. Here are the next 4:

VBD	Pos	Player		Year	Act	Count	RBs	WRs	QBs	TEs291	te	Jason Witten	2003	*	101	44	30	21	6261	te	Wesley Walls	1989		110	48	34	21	7253	te	Mark Bavaro	1985		113	49	35	21	8216	te	Brent Jones	1986		131	54	44	24	9
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Joe Montana was a great leader but not a great fantasy QB. For the same reason people knock Emmitt for having the O-Line he had, Montana had an incredible balance to the teams he led. I personally think he is the most overrated QB in NFL history. Marino may have doubled Montana's SuperBowl wins had he played in SF.

Marino's season with 48 TD's in a time when most QB's didnt break 20 is without a doubt the most impressive player performance in NFL history! He did that mostly out of 2 WR sets with defenses knowing they could not run the ball.

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Any all time list with no Joe Montana falls short. Agree with Rice No.1 and Emmit and the Dallas offensive line No. 2. Surprised Barry is so high, he was a high yards per game but never a real big Td guy, not like Faulk or Priest Holmes when they were dominating the fantasy world.

Montana is likely off because he started his career prior to 1980. Would be interesting to see where he ranked if his career start year was included in the query.
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Footballsavvy,

Joe Montana was a lot more than just a great leader, he was a great football player. He did his best work when it counted, something Marino never seemed capable of.

The arguments of picking players and sticking them on other teams and predicting that they'd do as well or in your case, predicting that Marino would be even better than Montana is stale and sounds like sour grapes. I'm tired of the " If Barry Sanders would have ran behind the Dallas O-line, then he would have had 3000 yards."

Montana over Marino in real life football without a doubt. Marino was a great fantasy QB in his prime.

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Huge Barry fan here, but Barry above Peyton? C'mon, even though yards matter a ton and Barry should be ranked high, Peyton is elite every single year.

BTW - When doing any historic football list that involves the great QBs of the game, its important to always include Montana based off priciple, fantasy or not. :yes:

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Any all time list with no Joe Montana falls short. Agree with Rice No.1 and Emmit and the Dallas offensive line No. 2. Surprised Barry is so high, he was a high yards per game but never a real big Td guy, not like Faulk or Priest Holmes when they were dominating the fantasy world.

Montana started his career in 1979, just missing the cutoff. He would be 15th on the list with 842 VBD, just behind Thurman Thomas and ahead of Randall Cunningham.
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I would break this out into shorter timeframes you could call "era of dominance." e.g., Shaun Alexander compiled almost all of his career stats from 2001-2005, he had an awesome run, yet he's behind Ricky Watters on the list, who is more of a compiler.

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