News & Analysis

How do the best fantasy seasons of 2019 compare to the best seasons of the PFF era?

Sep 8, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Another year, another fantasy season is now in the books. Our fantasy director already put a bow on the season with his lessons learned in 2019, and now I’m going to take a look at how the top positional scorers of this season compared with the top-10 from the past.

The charts below visualize total PPR scoring and value over replacement for the main positional groups, highlighting the top-three scorers for each group this season and previous top scorers from 2006 to 2018. For simplicity, I’m defining VORP as points scored over the last “starter” for the position. The baselines I’m using for starters are the 12th-highest scorer for QB and TE, 24th for RB and WR. This encompasses Weeks 1-16, assuming players might rest in Week 17, and it’s normally not part of the fantasy football season anyway.

We all know Lamar Jackson was amazing, but was he really better than having Patrick Mahomes last season, or even Tom Brady in 2007? Christian McCaffrey was the clear RB1, but did he approach the value of LaDainian Tomlinson a decade ago, or even Jamaal Charles in 2013? We’ll answer these questions and more below.

Quarterback

Jackson was indeed head-and-shoulders above his 2019 brethren also highlighted in red. But even Jackson’s incredible season doesn’t compare to prior years in terms of value due to a steadily increasing baseline for production. Brady in 2007 and Aaron Rodgers in 2011 both provided more value over Jackson versus the 12th highest scorer at the position, but Jackson dominated the rest this season’s top-3 (Deshaun Watson and Dak Prescott) unlike what we’ve seen before.

Season Player Team Position Fantasy Points Per Game VORP
2019 Lamar Jackson BLT QB 400.2 26.7 154.0
2011 Aaron Rodgers GB QB 388.6 25.9 184.3
2018 Patrick Mahomes KC QB 383.0 25.5 121.0
2013 Peyton Manning DEN QB 374.6 25.0 134.5
2007 Tom Brady NE QB 370.5 24.7 186.5
2011 Tom Brady NE QB 359.9 24.0 155.6
2011 Drew Brees NO QB 355.4 23.7 151.1
2015 Cam Newton CAR QB 355.1 23.7 100.5
2015 Tom Brady NE QB 351.5 23.4 97.0
2011 Cam Newton CAR QB 348.5 23.2 144.2
2019 Deshaun Watson HST QB 304.7 20.3 58.5
2019 Dak Prescott DAL QB 298.6 19.9 52.4

Running back

Anyone lucky enough to roster McCaffrey this season knows what sort of value he produced, and those who went with Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott instead may know even better. McCaffrey didn’t really approach Tomlinson in terms of value over the 24th-best seasonal running back, but he had a healthy margin over previous seasonal leaders and the rest of the competition in 2019. Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler didn’t really compare to McCaffrey, with a huge gap between the leader at the top of the mountain and those below.

Season Player Team Position Fantasy Points Per Game VORP
2006 LaDainian Tomlinson SD RB 468.8 31.3 304.9
2019 Christian McCaffrey CAR RB 444.4 29.6 289.7
2016 David Johnson ARZ RB 394.8 26.3 235.3
2017 Todd Gurley II LA RB 377.3 25.2 227.0
2018 Christian McCaffrey CAR RB 376.2 25.1 219.2
2013 Jamaal Charles KC RB 373.2 24.9 209.1
2006 Steven Jackson SL RB 370.8 24.7 206.9
2018 Todd Gurley II LA RB 366.1 26.2 209.1
2009 Chris Johnson TEN RB 363.6 24.2 198.0
2018 Saquon Barkley NYG RB 359.6 24.0 202.6
2019 Aaron Jones GB RB 299.5 20.0 144.8
2019 Austin Ekeler LAC RB 289.1 19.3 134.4

Wide receiver

Last week I discussed if Michael Thomas has had the greatest “real” football season by a wide receiver ever, and he’s got an even more compelling fantasy case. Thomas tops the previous post-2006 leader Randy Moss in total PPR points and VORP.

Chris Godwin and DeAndre Hopkins couldn’t compare to Thomas, but both were solidly in the range of where you’d hope to find picks you may have gotten in the fourth and second rounds, respectively.

Season Player Team Position Fantasy Points Per Game VORP
2019 Michael Thomas NO WR 364.9 24.3 172.2
2007 Randy Moss NE WR 356.2 23.8 168.9
2014 Antonio Brown PIT WR 355.1 23.7 165.5
2015 Antonio Brown PIT WR 345.2 23.0 148.0
2015 Julio Jones ATL WR 341.2 22.8 144.0
2012 Calvin Johnson DET WR 330.2 22.0 141.2
2018 Davante Adams GB WR 327.6 21.8 140.5
2011 Wes Welker NE WR 324.8 21.7 145.9
2018 Antonio Brown PIT WR 323.7 21.6 136.6
2012 Brandon Marshall CHI WR 321.6 21.4 132.6
2019 Chris Godwin TB WR 274.1 19.6 81.4
2019 DeAndre Hopkins HST WR 266.5 17.8 73.8

Tight end

This wasn’t the most exciting year for tight end scoring, though preseason favorite Travis Kelce was able to finish out the year with a strong season as the top scorer. Kelce’s 2019 campaign doesn’t compare to his 2018, or previous top seasons like Rob Gronkowski’s 2011 and Jimmy Graham’s 2013. Perhaps we will see a renaissance at the position in coming years, though it looks far away at the moment with Kelce getting older and few promising younger tight ends to push scoring higher.

Season Player Team Position Fantasy Points Per Game VORP
2011 Rob Gronkowski NE TE 300.1 20.0 147.6
2013 Jimmy Graham NO TE 285.4 19.0 153.3
2018 Travis Kelce KC TE 281.4 18.8 157.3
2018 Zach Ertz PHI TE 273.8 18.3 149.7
2011 Jimmy Graham NO TE 270.3 18.0 117.8
2014 Rob Gronkowski NE TE 266.4 17.8 117.7
2009 Dallas Clark IND TE 257.5 17.2 117.2
2015 Rob Gronkowski NE TE 251.8 18.0 115.2
2019 Travis Kelce KC TE 248.9 16.6 126.3
2008 Tony Gonzalez KC TE 246.3 16.4 131.2
2019 Zach Ertz PHI TE 213.6 14.2 91.0
2019 Darren Waller OAK TE 204.4 13.6 81.8

 

Monkey Knife Fight. Official Fantasy Sponsor of PFF. Join to receive a free EDGE subscription.
Sponsor

Fantasy Featured Tools

  • Sort projected player stats and fantasy points by position, week, and category.

    Available with

    Edge
  • Research past fantasy performance with sortable player stats including PFF-exclusives like aDOT and fantasy points per opportunity.

    Available with

    Edge
  • Available with

    Edge
  • PFF’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SoS) metric provides a league-wide, season-long view of opponent matchups for each fantasy position.

    Available with

    Edge
  • Create winning NFL Daily Fantasy Sports with PFF’s DFS Lineup Optimizer. Set custom exposures and team stacks to optimize lineups effectively before exporting and uploading the unique lineups to DraftKings, FanDuel or Yahoo DFS.

    Available with

    Elite
Pro Subscriptions

Unlock NFL Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft

$9.99 / mo
$39.99 / yr

Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS

$34.99 / mo
$199.99 / yr