The 2019 fantasy season saw some prodigious performances, but how exactly did they stack up through the lens of fantasy history? Breakout Live breaks down the 2019 Fantasy NFL Season.
Note: The below is for PPR and portrays just weeks 1-16 of the fantasy season, as most leagues don’t play Week 17.
You knew someone was taking Patrick Mahomes in the first round, but you had other plans. You were going to wait and load up at RB and WR while everyone else “foolishly” wasted draft capital at the position. You waited until the 11th round to take your QB, but did you get Ben Roethlisberger (not so good)? Or did you hit this season’s lottery ticket, league MVP Lamar Jackson?
The 2nd year quarterback from Louisville wasn’t on Bill Polian’s radar as a potential fantasy breakout candidate. But for your sake, let’s hope he was on yours. When your quarterback throws 36 touchdown passes, he’s had an outstanding season for your fantasy team. When your quarterback additionally runs for over 1000 yards, sets a new season high for a quarterback rushing yards with 1206, and passes Michael Vick in the process, that’s next level up from priceless.
All told, Jackson tallied 43 touchdowns rushing and receiving against just 6 interceptions, while throwing for 3,127 yards. His 400.2 fantasy points established a new all-time season high for the position, besting 2011 Aaron Rodgers and 2018 Patrick Mahomes.
There you were just minutes before the start of your 2019 draft, the draft order randomizer had spoken and you had a pick in the Top 4. You’re thinking to yourself, there’s no way you can blow this. You’re getting one of the Top 4 running backs in the draft, and maybe Top 3, if someone has visions of 2018 Patrick Mahomes in their eyes, or if someone in front of you employs zero-running back strategy. You’re on the clock. Who’s it going to be? Saquon, Kamara, Zeke or CMC? I had a similar dilemma and chose Saquon (Thanks, recency bias), and there went my hopes of repeat fantasy glory in 2019. Let’s hope you made the correct choice.
The 3rd year Stanford standout carried a heavy load for the Panthers offense in 2018. Amid concerns the workload was too heavy for a smallish CMC in year two, a season-ending injury to Cam led to an even greater reliance on McCaffrey in year three. The Newton news was spun into fantasy gold for McCaffrey owners, who saw an uptick in carries over 2018 by over 4 attempts per game. His 116 receptions helped him become only the 3rd running back in NFL history to have over 1000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
McCaffrey’s 1387 yards rushing combined with his 1005 receiving yards and 19 combined touchdowns rocketed CMC into the pantheon for all-time great seasons in fantasy with a whopping 444.4 fantasy points and a ridiculous 29.6 fantasy points per game. Only LaDainian Tomlinson’s renowned 2006 season was any better for anyone at any position, when he set the all-time single season best bar at an Usain Bolt-like 468.8. LT remains the only fantasy player in history to average 30 or more fantasy points per game with 31.3.
All told, Christian McCaffrey has two of the top 5 seasons ever by a running back. The 2nd– and 5th-best with 2016 David Johnson and 2017 Todd Gurley sandwiched in between.
You grabbed your stud RB in Round 1 and switched focus in Round 2, eyeing the best WR available. Or perhaps you decided to go WR late in Round 1. DeAndre, Davante, Julio were your likely targets with Michael Thomas, OBJ, and (gulp) Antonio “Hot Air Balloon” Brown in the next tier. Hopefully, you missed out on the top trio and identified Thomas as your guy over the initialisms, OBJ and AB.
The former Buckeye was a bonanza at his 11.95 ADP. If you had him, I don’t need to tell you, you hit that pick right on the sweet spot. But how good was Michael Thomas from a fantasy historical perspective? 2007 Randy Moss comes to mind when thinking about the best fantasy wide receiver season ever. You can still see Brady and Moss hooking up for splash plays all over the field.
Meanwhile, you see Thomas as a methodical possession WR catching multiple intermediate balls from Bridgewater and a diminishing-skills Brees, and an occasional target from Taysom Hill. Surprisingly, Thomas wins out over 2007 Randy Moss, 364.9 to 356.2. The greatest fantasy season ever by a wide receiver was built on the following stat line: 149 receptions, 1725 yards, and 9 touchdowns. In comparison, 2007 Randy Moss posted: 98-1493-23 which still stands for 2nd all-time.
If you played fantasy in 2018, you remember what a wasteland tight end was as you scrambled to stream some very unsexy names like Dissly, Jonnu Smith, Njoku, etc., trying to find someone – anyone – who could give you points from the position. In 2019 there was no more Gronk, leaving the pool nearly completely depleted. Old Mother Hubbard opened that cupboard and saw Travis Kelce… and everybody else. Sure, Kittle and Ertz were reasonably attractive options, but you had your guy. Your “smartest guy in the draft room” late-rounder who was just going to be somebody this season. Who was your big sleeper? Austin Hooper, O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, Jared Cook? Tight end proved again to be a position you couldn’t really wait on. You may have caught lightning in a bottle with a pickup off the wire in Waller or Andrews, (if you drafted either, you’re a true fantasy savant). But for the fourth straight season, one man stood alone.
As noted above, Travis Kelce cemented himself as the best fantasy TE for the fourth straight season, but where did this dynamo and Super Bowl Parade Speech scintillator rate all-time? Unlike QB, RB and WR, where guys pushed the record books, tight end was a very down position in 2019 from an historical perspective. In fact, Kelce had a much better 2018 season when he finished 3rd all-time behind 2011 Gronk and 2013 Jimmy Graham.
So, how bad was it this season? Kelce still rated inside the Top 10 in fantasy seasons from the position with a respectable 9th overall finish (248.9). Juxtapose that with 2018 Kelce (281.4) and you see it was a somewhat disappointing follow-up season to the run he and Mahomes enjoyed in 2018. If there is any takeaway here, get your TE early in 2020, and hopefully it’s Travis Kelce. And if you’re wondering, 2011 Gronk’s 300.1 fantasy points stands alone as the greatest single fantasy season ever.