I love football. NFL football to be specific. While NBA basketball is my first love and will be number one on my sports priorities at least for the foreseeable future, I love NFL football for a completely different set of reasons. Unlike the NBA (Lakers), I have no emotional vestige in the NFL. And I love that. (That will probably change when/if LA gets an NFL team.) But nevertheless, I probably follow the NFL more closely than any other sports (including the NBA). Why? FANTASY FOOTBALL of course...
So I decided to make a list of my all-time FANTASY FOOTBALL starting line-up. Here are a couple of things to take note of before you go balls deep (pun intended) into this list...
1. This list is about fantasy football. Not real football. So the players here might not be the best at their positions. It's all about the stats. Not about championships, talent, skills, clutchness, pedigree, etc. That's why guys like Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, and Terrell Davis are not on this list.
2. The modern game of football has seen an explosion in the offensive part of the game. The game is quicker and much more complex (especially the offense) than in the past. Touchdowns, yardage, and scoring is on the rise. That's why if you look up the stats, most of the all-time leaders in major offensive categories will be relatively modern players. So naturally, this list will contain mostly modern players.
3. There are many fantasy football formats. For the purposes of this list, I have chosen to go with the format that I have personally played in for more than 10 years. It consists of QB WR WR WR RB RB TE K DEF.
4. In order to determine who should be on this list, I have used several factors besides the obvious one, which is stats. I have taken account injury risk as well. Has the player been relatively healthy and durable throughout his career? Consistency is also considered when determining a player's fantasy value. That includes year to year as well as game to game consistency.
5. I have left out the emerging stars. This is because they are still young and we don't know what their careers will turn into. So great fantasy ballers like Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Arian Foster, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Larry Fitzgerald, and even Calvin Johnson have been left off the list...for now...
So without further a due, here is the list:
Quarterback - Peyton Manning
Whether Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all-time or not is a question that can be debated for hours and hours. But you know what is an undisputed fact? Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all-time in fantasy football. Just like with any all-time ranking, this doesn't mean he's the best fantasy quarterback right now. It doesn't even mean he had the greatest fantasy season ever. (Guys like Brady and Brees have had better individual seasons.) It just means he has been the greatest throughout his overall career. Here are a few statistics to prove it. If you didn't know them, they are pretty amazing.
1. During the first 13 years of his career, Peyton Manning did not miss a single game! THIRTEEN YEARS! Most football players don't last 13 total years in the league. Until recently when Manning missed the entire season last year, he was the most durable player in fantasy football history. (Except for Bret Favre, but with Favre's interception totals, sometimes his fantasy owners wished he would miss a game or two.)
2. With the exception of his rookie year, Peyton Manning has thrown for at least 4000 years every single year of his career. That's incredible. Throwing 4000 yards is not easy. To do it year in year out was nearly impossible. Notice I said "was". The last couple of years the league has evolved into a passing league. So 4000 yards will eventually be the average. But that was not the case when Manning was in his heyday.
Brady is a much better fantasy quarterback now and has been recently. After Manning had the greatest fantasy season of all time in 2004 (49TD/10INT), Brady came back in 2007 and had an even better season (50TD/8INT). Remember in the beginning I mentioned consistency. Peyton Manning has been a fantasy football stud his entire career. Brady on the other hand, was considered more of a Derek Jeter type during the first half of his career. He was someone with great intangibles and knew how to win but just an average quarterback when you looked at the numbers. Only during the second half of his career did Brady turn into a fantasy monster. A combination of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. But as the old football adage goes...if you have 2 quarterbacks, you have none. And since there can only be one, there is no one worthy of being our all-time fantasy football starting quarterback, other than the one and only...Peyton Manning!!!
Wide Receiver 1 - Jerry Rice
This is the biggest no-brainer of all time. Are you kidding me? Jerry Rice owns almost every single receiving record ever. Forget being the best receiver, Jerry Rice is considered to be the greatest football player ever by many people. He's the Michael Jordan of the NFL. Just look at his career stats. Find me a wide receiver who has had a better career. To give you an example, the following are the statistical career categories that Jerry Rice leads. Look at how much distance there is between him and the next guy:
1. Jerry Rice (1549)
2. Tony Gonzalez (1154)
Difference: 395 receptions (To give you an example of how big this difference is, 395 receptions is how many receptions Greg Jennings, a pro-bowl star receiver who has been playing for 6 years has. It is also the same amount of receptions Nate Burleson has, who has been a starting WR in the NFL for 9 years.)
Career receiving yards
1. Jerry Rice (22895)
2. Terrell Owens (15934)
Difference: 6961 yards (This is approximately the same amount yards as the career yardage for the following star/well known receivers: Wes Welker, Antonio Freeman, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Dwight Clark, Brandon Marshall, Deon Branch.)
Career receiving TD
1. Jerry Rice (197)
2. Randy Moss (154)
Difference: 43 TDs (43 TDs is approximately equal to the career TDs of Roddie White, Dallas Clark, Terry Glenn, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Lee Evans, Todd Heap, and Jason Whitten.)
In addition to these, Jerry Rice is the all-time leader in overall TDs, points scored by non-kicker, yards from scrimmage, and all-purpose yards. This is incredible considering the fact that there is a whole bunch of great running backs, and Rice was a WR.
He had 4 seasons with 1500 yards, 9 seasons with over 1200 yards, 6 seasons with over 1300 yards, and 13 seasons with over 1000 yards!!! In 1995, the dude had 1848 yards!!!! Incredible. He was also remarkably durable. The man played 20 years in the NFL. That's a possible 320 games. Out of those, Jerry Rice only missed 18 games!!! I am not sure why I spent so much time explaining how good Jerry Rice was. I am pretty sure I didn't need to convince anyone that he belongs on this fantasy team.
Wide Receiver 2 - Terrell Owens
I don't care what you think about Terrell Owens' personality. Sure he was a bad teammate. Sure he was selfish. Sure was a locker room cancer. But fantasy football doesn't care. Fantasy football is all about the numbers. And when it comes to the numbers, Terrell Owens was really really really fucking good. One of the most talented players to ever step foot on the football field, TO was a touchdown machine. I am sure guys like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald will replace TO when I make this list 5 years from now, but for now, TO belongs as the number 2 WR on the all-time fantasy football team.
Wide Receiver 3 - Randy Moss
With his combination of height, speed, and hands, Randy Moss is the most talented and naturally gifted receiver ever. The problem with Randy is consistency. Randy Moss played the game one of two ways. He was either all-in or all-out. His career numbers clearly reflect that. But when Randy Moss was all in, boy was he fucking good! In 2007, he had the second single greatest season by a WR ever (1493/23) behind Jerry Rice's 1995 season (1848/22). As a rookie, he had 1313 yards and 17 TDs!!!
Running Back 1 - LaDainian Tomlinson
In his prime, LT was a beast when it came to fantasy football! And when it came to fantasy football, LT was in his prime pretty much his entire career. LT probably had the longest stretch of time of any player where he was considered a fantasy football number 1 pick. Here is why:
1. From 2001 to 2008, he was a shoe-in to get a guaranteed 1500 yards, double digit TDs, and near 2000 yards from scrimmage.
2. In 2006, LT had the greatest offensive season of all-time and the greatest fantasy football season for a non-QB. He had more than 1800 yards rushing, more than 500 yards receiving, more than 2300 yards from scrimmage, and total of FREAKING 31 TOUCHDOWNS!!! (28 rushing, 3 receiving) That's insane.
3. In that same 2001-2008 stretch, LT only missed ONE GAME!!!!!
Running Back 2 - Marshall Faulk
Marshall Faulk is one my favorite players of all time. Why? Unlike Randy Moss, Marshall Faulk wasn't naturally gifted. He wasn't the fastest or the strongest or the most talented. He kind of looked fat. I don't know how the hell Marshall Faulk did what he did on the football field. The man had a special ability to make something out of nothing. He also had brains. And also, a big part of it was the great offense he was playing in. Marshall Faulk was a true running back and a true WR. The man used to line up in the backfield, in the slot, on the edge. It didn't matter. He knew how to run. He knew how to catch. He knew how to catch and then run. Marshall Faulk was one of the most versatile players in NFL history! Here are some crazy Marshall Faulk stats.
1. In 1999, Marshall Faulk had more than 1300 rushing yards AND more than 1000 RECEIVING YARDS!!!! Are you kidding me??? The man was a RB and he had over 1000 receiving yards. The year before and the year after, he did pretty much the same thing with more than 900 and 800 receiving yards.
2. Marshall Faulk had more than 2000 yards from scrimmage for 4 years in a row!!!! (1998-2001)
3. As a rookie, Marshall Faulk had more than 1800 yards from scrimmage (1200 rushing/600 receiving) and 12 TDs. AS A ROOKIE!!!!!
4. Even in his waning years (2002-2004), when he was getting old, due to his versatility as a receiver, Marshall Faulk managed to get more than 1000 yards from scrimmage as an aging out-of-his-prime veteran.
Tight End - Tony Gonzalez
This is going to be a moot point in a few years after Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham have had a few years under their belts. But for now, this one is not even close. Are you kidding me? For all of you Antonio Gates fans, just go ahead and compare Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates' careers. Look at the total numbers, average numbers, and also durability. Then come back and tell me who belongs on this team as the starting tight end:
Tony Gonzalez Career Stats vs. Antonio Gates Career Stats
Kicker - Adam Vinatieri
Anyone that has played fantasy football knows you just can't spend too much time researching on your kicker. So I won't spend much time here. There are two big factors that go into deciding your kicker. First is the team's offensive powers. Second is the kicker's ability to make kicks. Adam Vinateiri was strong in both. He played for the great Brady's Patriots offense and then for Manning's Colts offense. And we all know the man could make a field goal with the best of them.
Defense - Baltimore
Over the years, there have been many great defenses in fantasy football. Some are pretty new and used to suck. Like the 49ers, Texans, and Jets. Others used to be great but now are not. Like the Buccaneers, Bears, and Eagles. But there has only been one team that has been a true great defense pretty much the entire time during the fantasy football era. That is the Baltimore Ravens! When is the last time you heard the Ravens giving up 30+ points? Can you remember? Me neither.
See the Peyton Manning Section
Who do you think was the beneficiary of all of those great Peyton Manning years?
Extremely underrated. The man was a top 5 WR year in and year out.
See the Tony Gonzalez section. The only other option is Antonio Gates.
Three words: Fantasy football beast!!!!! Still has many years ahead of him to move into the starting line up if injuries don't keep him out.
One word: CONSISTENCY!!!!!
To summarize, here is my ALL-TIME FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM
QB - Peyton Manning
WR - Jerry Rice
WR - Terrell Owens
WR - Randy Moss
RB - LaDanian Tomlinson
RB - Marshall Faulk
TE - Tony Gonzalez
K - Adam Vinatieri
Def - Baltimore Ravens
Bench - Tom Brady
Bench - Marvin Harrison
Bench - Tory Holt
Bench - Antonio Gates
Bench - Adrian Peterson
Bench - Emmitt Smith
Thanks for reading!
The King of Nothing