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Greatest Fantasy Football QB Seasons of All-Time: Where Do Mahomes, Hurts, and Allen Rank?

Patrick Mahomes - Fantasy Football Rankings, DFS Lineup Picks, NFL Injury News

Heading into the Super Bowl, we are gifted with a pair of tremendous signal-callers still remaining. The AFC has Patrick Mahomes, a player who has put up some of the best fantasy seasons in recent memory. Meanwhile, the NFC has a quarterback in Jalen Hurts who looked to be on pace for one of the best fantasy seasons in memory until he hurt his shoulder.

But are we just subject to recency bias? Where do these seasons truly stack up among the best of all time?

As we prepare for Super Bowl LVII, I will be looking back at some of the best fantasy football seasons of all-time position by position. While it's mainly an exercise for amusement, I wanted to see just how spoiled we've been of late or how much we've forgotten the greatness of the past.

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Best Fantasy Football Quarterback Seasons of All-Time

We're going to start off with the quarterback position. I used Pro Football References fantasy stats, which go back as far as 1978, and collected the best half-point PPR seasons (listed under FanDuel scoring on the site). Below is the top 25 leaderboard sorted by points per game. I believe this is a fair way to adjust for the current longer season as well as situations like Hurts, where the player plays almost the whole season but misses a few games due to injury.

I've then broken down some of the best seasons below for larger context, and you'll also see VBD mentioned, which was popularized by Joe Bryant in the 90s and is the player's fantasy points minus the fantasy points of the baseline player at that position. It's used to highlight just how much better a player was than their peers, so think of it like Wins over Replacement.

#25. Dan Marino (1984)

Stats: 5,084 yards on 64.2% completion, 48 touchdowns, 17 interceptions (3% INT%), 9.4 air yards/attempt

Even though Marino is not in the top 10, I wanted to include him because Marino has the highest VBD on this list, which means his performance in 1984 was the best season when compared to other quarterbacks of any signal-caller since 1978.

It's not hard to see why. Marino threw for over 400 yards more than the next closest quarterback and his 48 touchdown passes were 16 more than Dave Krieg, who finished second. 16 more touchdown passes than the next closest guy! Marino threw more than the other quarterbacks, but not by that much. His 564 attempts were only four more than Neil Lomax and 31 more than Phil Simms.

However, Marino and the Dolphins pushed the ball down the field in a way that was well ahead of their time. His 9.4 air yards per attempt was 0.7 higher than Joe Montana, who was second that season. Oh, and just for fun, Marino was only sacked 13 times that whole season, so it's no wonder he won MVP even though he lost to Montana and the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

#20. Daunte Culpepper (2004)

Stats: 4,717 yards on 69.2% completion, 39 touchdowns, 11 interceptions (2% INT%), 9.1 air yards/attempt, 406 rushing yards, 2 rush TDs

Culpepper is not in the top 10, but appears on the larger list as well for his 2000 season, and I felt like it was worthy of a shoutout here. His 2004 season is top 10 in VBD thanks to leading the NFL in passing yards and completions. His 69.2% completion rate was far and away the highest of his career, and the 406 rushing yards were the second most among quarterbacks behind Michael Vick.

Sadly, this was Culpepper's last full season. He only played seven games for the Vikings in 2005 and then was let go. He bounced around to the Dolphins, Raiders, and Lions in the four years after that, starting just 20 combined games.

What could have been?

#14. Tom Brady (2007)

Stats: 4,806 yards on 68.9% completion, 50 touchdowns, eight interceptions (1.4% INT%), 9.4 air yards/attempt, two rush TDs

Tom Brady is not the runner that Allen, Jackson, and Vick are but he's one of the top fantasy producers more times than anybody other than Aaron Rodgers. Brady is in the top 25 twice in terms of points per game and five times in the top 50 seasons of all-time. When it comes to VBD, Brady's 2007 was the third-best season by a quarterback of all time.

That year, Brady led the NFL in passing yards, completion percentage, passing touchdowns, air yards per attempt, QB rating, and game-winning drives. Much of that was thanks to his relationship with Randy Moss, who had 98 catches for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Brady's lack of rushing means he has a narrower window to achieve high-level fantasy success but everything came together for him in 2007.

#12. Steve Young (1998)

Stats: 4,170 yards on 62.3% completion, 36 touchdowns, 12 interceptions (2.3% INT%), 8.4 air yards/attempt, 454 rushing yards, six rush TDs

Steve Young was one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the NFL before rushing quarterbacks became as prevalent. While he ran for more yards in 1992 and more touchdowns in 1994, he put it all together in 1998, which is even more impressive since he was 37-years-old.

Young also set a career-high for passing yards in 1998 and led the league with 36 touchdown passes. He also led the league with 278 passing yards per game but missed one game in the middle of the season, so he finished 42 passing yards behind Brett Favre for the NFL lead.

 

#8. Drew Brees (2011)

Stats: 5,476 yards on 71.2% completion, 46 touchdowns, 14 interceptions (2.1% INT%), 8.8 air yards/attempt

There was a 12-year stretch where Drew Brees and the Saints offense were truly something special. Brees' Pro Football Reference page is littered with league-leading boldfaced type and he has three of the top 30 seasons ever by a quarterback in terms of points per game. Yet, like with Brady, his "best-ever" upside is capped by his lack of rushing. His passing numbers are better than almost any quarterback on here, but he falls behind guys who also run the ball in terms of best fantasy seasons of all-time.

However, in 2011, he led the league in both passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completion percentage with a ridiculous 71.2%. He did it all with only one reliable receiver in Marques Colston, but he did have a generational tight end that year in Jimmy Graham, who had 1,310 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.

He was the Offensive Player of the Year and the runner-up for MVP but wasn't even the top fantasy quarterback of the year. In fact, 2012 and 2008 were the only two years that Brees ever finished as the top quarterback based on points per game scoring despite his long run of excellence.

#7. Josh Allen (2022)

Also #15 (2021) and #10 (2020)

Stats: 4,283 yards on 63.3% completion, 35 touchdowns, 14 interceptions (2.5% INT%), 7.7 air yards/attempt, 762 rushing yards, seven rush TDs

This year, we witnessed two of the top seven points per game fantasy seasons ever by quarterbacks, but it somehow doesn't feel like that when it comes to Allen. Maybe it was the way he broke out last year or maybe it's the red zone interceptions, but you'd be forgiven for not realizing this year was actually a better fantasy season for him than last year. In fact, Allen finished with just 8.1 fewer total fantasy points this year despite playing one fewer game than in 2021.

Allen's 2.5% interception rate is less than Marino had in his year and pretty consistent with some of the other big-play quarterbacks on this list, but the air yards per attempt is low, which is a result of the new two-high safety look in the NFL. Still, Allen's passing prowess mixed with his rushing ability makes him a lethal fantasy weapon, even in years like 2022 where he doesn't lead the league in any one stat.

 

#6. Jalen Hurts (2022)

Stats: 3,701 yards on 66.5% completion, 22 touchdowns, six interceptions (1.3% INT%), 8.4 air yards/attempt, 760 rushing yards, 13 rush TDs

Jalen Hurts only appeared in 15 games this season, but he could have had a top-five season of all-time if he had remained healthy. Obviously, the rushing total is what drove Hurts' success this year as the 13 rushing touchdowns are the most you'll see on this list. However, he led the league in no statistical categories, and his VBD ranking was 39th, which suggests that his season wasn't nearly as impressive when compared to some of the other quarterbacks on this list.

 

#5. Peyton Manning (2013)

Stats: 5,477 yards on 68.3% completion, 55 touchdowns, 10 interceptions (1.5% INT%), 8.3 air yards/attempt

Nope, it's not any of Manning's years in Indianapolis that cracks this list, but his second season in Denver. But that's what 55 touchdown passes will do for you. In fact, the Broncos had four players in 2013 with double-digit touchdown catches: Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker. It helped lead to a season where Manning easily set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns, which helped back up for his total lack of running, as we covered above with Brady and Brees.

 

#4. Lamar Jackson (2019)

Stats: 3,127 yards on 66.1% completion, 36 touchdowns, six interceptions (1.5% INT%), 8.9 air yards/attempt, 1,206 rushing yards, seven rush TDs

Lamar Jackson won the MVP in 2019, so his season ranking among the best of all time shouldn't be a surprise. He led the league in passing touchdowns with 36 and also ran for over 1,200 yards. It's actually the only season in his NFL career where he had over 30 passing touchdowns and only the second season where he's had over 20 passing touchdowns.

Whether that's a criticism of Jackson as a passer or the Ravens as a front office is a debate for another time. Jackson's 2019 season was the third-most points ever scored by a quarterback in fantasy football and the fourth-most points regardless of position, so even if it marks his career-high point, it will be one of the highest points for any player even when it comes to fantasy football.

#3. Michael Vick (2010)

Stats: 3,018 yards on 62.6% completion, 21 touchdowns, six interceptions (1.6% INT%), 8.5 air yards/attempt, 676 rushing yards, nine rush TDs

Michael Vick only played 12 games in 2010, so you won't see this season near the top of many best-of-all-time lists, but I wanted to put it on here to highlight just what he was doing as a 30-year-old in his second season after two years away from the game (for running an illegal dogfighting ring, if you forgot).

Vick played the first three games of the 2010 season, passing for 750 yards and six touchdowns, while also rushing for 170 yards and another touchdown before breaking two ribs while being sacked against Washington in Game 4. He missed three games and then came back to continue producing tremendous numbers before sitting the final game of the season as the Eagles prepared for the playoffs. Given that he averaged over 300 yards of total offense per game and was second in Offensive Player of the Year voting, it's fair to wonder what his season might have been like if it weren't for the injury.

 

#2. Patrick Mahomes (2018)

Also #11 (2022) and #9 (2020)

Stats: 5,097 yards on 66% completion, 50 touchdowns, 12 interceptions (2.1% INT%), 9.6 air yards/attempt, 272 rushing yards, two rush TDs

Mahomes has had more than a few good seasons with both his 2020 season and 2022 season making the top 11 in terms of best all-time seasons by a quarterback; however, 2018 takes the cake. Thanks to the NFL not yet playing the two-high safety look, Mahomes led the league with 9.6 air yards per attempt in his first year as a starter.

While Mahomes has put up better rushing stats in subsequent years, he's never quite reached the heights of 2018 given the changes in defensive strategy. This was the only season he's had average air yards over 9.0 and net air yards over 7.9. It's also his only year with over 41 passing touchdowns, and it stands out as the most total fantasy points ever scored by a quarterback in a season.

 

#1. Aaron Rodgers (2011)

Stats: 4,643 yards on 68.3% completion, 45 touchdowns, six interceptions (1.2% INT%), 9.2 air yards/attempt, 257 rushing yards, three rush TDs

However, Aaron Rodgers' 2011 season still reigns supreme as the most fantasy points per game ever scored by a quarterback and we don't want to punish him because he was held out of a meaningless Week 17 game with the Packers resting up for the playoffs (although maybe he should have played since Green Bay lost their first game to the Giants).

The difference between Mahomes' 2018 and Rodgers' 2011 is pretty minimal. Mahomes finished with 26.818 points per game in 16 games, while Rodgers finished with 26.893 points per game in 15 games. Rodgers was helped by fewer interceptions and one extra rushing touchdown, and VBD ranked Rodgers' year as 175 while Mahomes scored 134, which is an indication of how pass-happy the league was in 2018 compared to when Rodgers put up these numbers in 2011 when he also won MVP.

In 2018, NFL teams averaged 237.8 passing yards per game and 23.3 points scored per game, whereas in 2011 teams averaged 229.7 passing yards per game and 22.2 points per game. While those seem like minor differences, when you're comparing league-wide numbers, it's actually a significant difference.

Still, Rodgers has three of the top 20 best fantasy seasons ever by a quarterback, whether you sort by points per game or total points scored. What's most impressive is that those seasons came in 2011, 2016, and 2020, so Rodgers was an elite fantasy asset for the better part of a decade.

In fact, Rodgers, Mahomes, and Josh Allen are the only three quarterbacks to have three seasons rank inside the top 20 all-time in terms of quarterback scoring, both in points per game and total points scored.

So while the game has certainly changed to benefit quarterback fantasy scoring, we're witnessing some of the best to ever do it right now.



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