News & Analysis

Fantasy point leaders over 2017-18 combined

By Daniel Kelley
Apr 29, 2019

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Dec 30, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) reacts after a play during the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s NFL draft season, and with that comes a lot of excitement about success for both real and fantasy football. Some of that is short-term excitement and some of it is long-term, but it’s excitement.

Short-term excitement is great! Everybody remembers, say, Jonas Gray’s four-touchdown game or that famous Matt Flynn outing. But sometimes even when we’re on the lookout for the dangers of the small sample size, we underestimate. Alex Smith drew plenty of sleeper buzz in 2018 after his QB4 2017 season and the move to Washington, then regressed heavily. Guys have fluke seasons all the time — please remember Peyton Hillis.

So today, we’re broadening our sample size. These are the best fantasy producers (both in total and on a per-game basis) over the last two seasons. Who have had the most productive two-year runs? And what do those numbers mean for fantasy in 2019?

Quarterbacks

Best two-year point totals

Quarterback fantasy point totals
2017 2018 Combined
1 Russell Wilson 360.9 Patrick Mahomes 431.1 Russell Wilson 669.4
2 Cam Newton 315.5 Matt Ryan 360.5 Ben Roethlisberger 625.7
3 Tom Brady 305.9 Ben Roethlisberger 353.0 Cam Newton 607.1
4 Alex Smith 302.2 Deshaun Watson 346.6 Matt Ryan 606.6
5 Kirk Cousins 300.6 Andrew Luck 339.5 Tom Brady 600.6

The most interesting thing, to me, is that there isn’t a single quarterback who has been top-five each of the last two years — it was a total turnover at the top of the charts. As a result, the two-year top-five is made up of the top three quarterbacks from 2017 (Wilson, Newton, Brady) and two of the top three from 2018 (Ryan, Roethlisberger), with Mahomes’ dominant season the other top-three season.

Also notable here is the quarterback completely absent from this chart. Aaron Rodgers was hurt for a big chunk of 2017 and disappointed in 2018, but the end result is that for whatever reason Rodgers has only one top-five season in the last four years and two in the last six.

It’s only fitting that Newton and Ryan are so close to one another given their respective recent histories.

Best two-year points per game

Quarterback fantasy points per game
2017 2018 Combined*
1 Deshaun Watson 25.0 Patrick Mahomes 26.9 Patrick Mahomes 26.0
2 Russell Wilson 22.6 Matt Ryan 22.5 Deshaun Watson 22.7
3 Carson Wentz 22.1 Ryan Fitzpatrick 22.2 Russell Wilson 20.9
4 Alex Smith 20.1 Ben Roethlisberger 22.1 Carson Wentz 20.7
5 Cam Newton 19.7 Deshaun Watson 21.7 Cam Newton 20.2

(*min. 1 game played each season)

It feels almost like cheating to have Mahomes make it, but the point is to have players whose points were accumulated in both years and, well, Mahomes did play in 2017. Watson’s ridiculous average in 2017 helps him to a solid second-place, and unlike the raw totals, his appearance does give us one repeat top-five guy.

On a per-game basis, Wentz has been a very strong quarterback the last two years, but his injury issues have kept his raw totals in check.

Fitzpatrick’s average in 2018 was pretty ridiculous considering he was benched two different times, but he’s always good for a huge game or two in any given year.

Running backs

Best two-year point totals

Running back PPR point totals
2017 2018 Combined
1 Todd Gurley II 387.3 Saquon Barkley 383.8 Todd Gurley II 755.4
2 Le’Veon Bell 345.6 Christian McCaffrey 383.2 Alvin Kamara 662.6
3 Alvin Kamara 314.4 Todd Gurley II 368.1 Christian McCaffrey 613.8
4 Kareem Hunt 297.2 Alvin Kamara 348.2 Melvin Gordon III 559.6
5 Melvin Gordon III 288.1 Ezekiel Elliott 331.1 Ezekiel Elliott 536.3

Over the five-year period 2013-2017, Bell’s 2016-2017 was the only time a running back repeated as a top-five PPR back. So of course we had two repeaters in 2017-2018, with Gurley and Kamara cracking the top both years. Gurley’s two-year run is especially dominant, as he’s 90 points ahead of second-place Kamara and more than 140 ahead of third-place McCaffrey.

Had he played in 2018, Bell would have only needed a below-average season for his standards to make the two-year list. He could have averaged 12 points per game across a 16-game schedule and cracked the two-year top-five.

Best two-year points per game

Running back PPR points per game
2017 2018 Combined*
1 Todd Gurley II 25.8 Todd Gurley II 26.3 Todd Gurley II 26.0
2 Le’Veon Bell 23.0 Saquon Barkley 24.0 Ezekiel Elliott 21.5
3 Ezekiel Elliott 20.5 Christian McCaffrey 24.0 Alvin Kamara 21.4
4 Alvin Kamara 19.7 Alvin Kamara 23.2 Melvin Gordon III 20.0
5 Kareem Hunt 18.6 Melvin Gordon III 22.6 Kareem Hunt 19.5

(*min. 1 game played each season)

The one-game minimum cuts Bell and Barkley from this group, but it helps Elliott, who missed six games to suspension in 2017. Interestingly, he averaged more points per game in 2018 than 2017, but he didn’t make the most recent top-five because a lot of running backs had even higher averages.

Gurley remains ridiculous. He led the league in fantasy points per game in consecutive years and has the two-year PPG average by 4.5 points. That’s destroying the field.

Wide receivers

Best two-year point totals

Wide receiver PPR point totals
2017 2018 Combined
1 DeAndre Hopkins 311.8 DeAndre Hopkins 337.5 DeAndre Hopkins 649.3
2 Antonio Brown 308.3 Julio Jones 329.9 Antonio Brown 638.2
3 Keenan Allen 278.2 Tyreek Hill 328.0 Julio Jones 606.2
4 Jarvis Landry 264.0 Davante Adams 327.6 Michael Thomas 591.6
5 Larry Fitzgerald 260.6 Antonio Brown 323.7 Tyreek Hill 584.3

Hopkins led the position two straight years, so it’s only logical he’d lead in the two years combined. But considering that, the face that he’s only 11 points ahead of Brown is notable. In fact, Hill in fifth place is closer to first at wide receiver than second-place Kamara was to the first-place running back. There’s an elite class at wide receiver and they’re all pretty close to one another.

Fourteen points separated the top five receivers in 2018. More than 50 separated them in 2017. And on top of that, the No. 1 2017 receiver wouldn’t have had a top-five total in 2018. Scoring was way up last year, friends.

Michael Thomas: Not a top-five fantasy receiver either of the last two years, but fourth in scoring across the last two years combined. He’s finished sixth each of the last two years after finishing seventh in 2016 as a rookie.

Best two-year points per game

Wide receiver PPR points per game
2017 2018 Combined*
1 Antonio Brown 22.0 Davante Adams 21.8 Antonio Brown 21.8
2 DeAndre Hopkins 20.8 Antonio Brown 21.6 DeAndre Hopkins 20.9
3 Odell Beckham Jr. 18.5 DeAndre Hopkins 21.1 Davante Adams 19.0
4 Keenan Allen 17.4 Julio Jones 20.6 Odell Beckham Jr. 18.4
5 Jarvis Landry 16.5 Tyreek Hill 20.5 Tyreek Hill 18.4

(*min. 1 game played each season)

Because wide receivers tend to be less injury-prone than the other skill position players, these charts bear a lot of resemblance to one another. The notable difference is Beckham, who cracked the top five in 2017 and makes the two-year list. Overall, though, you aren’t learning much here that you wouldn’t learn from raw totals.

Tight ends

Best two-year point totals

Tight end PPR point totals
2017 2018 Combined
1 Travis Kelce 235.5 Travis Kelce 296.6 Travis Kelce 532.1
2 Rob Gronkowski 225.4 Zach Ertz 280.3 Zach Ertz 484.7
3 Zach Ertz 204.4 George Kittle 256.7 George Kittle 363.2
4 Delanie Walker 178.5 Eric Ebron 224.2 Eric Ebron 358.6
5 Evan Engram 173.6 Jared Cook 193.6 Rob Gronkowski 358.6

Gronkowski’s strong 2017 plus his underwhelming 2018 is exactly equal to Ebron’s disappointing 2017 and his breakout 2018. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but it’s interesting. And with the top-four across the last two years exactly matching the top-four from 2018 alone, basically what we are seeing is the changing of the guard at a struggling position.

Best two-year points per game

Tight end PPR points per game
2017 2018 Combined*
1 Rob Gronkowski 16.1 Travis Kelce 18.5 Travis Kelce 17.2
2 Travis Kelce 15.7 Zach Ertz 17.5 Zach Ertz 16.2
3 Zach Ertz 14.6 George Kittle 16.0 Rob Gronkowski 13.3
4 Evan Engram 11.6 Eric Ebron 14.0 George Kittle 11.7
5 Jack Doyle 11.5 Jared Cook 12.1 Evan Engram 11.5

(*min. 1 game played each season)

There is a little more interest in the PPG rankings across the two seasons, if only because Engram cracks the list after missing some games to injury. Still, the disparity between Kelce and Ertz (and Kittle if you don’t want to discount him for his rookie season being included) and the field at tight end is dramatic.

Kicker

Best two-year point totals

Kicker fantasy point totals
2017 2018 Combined
1 Greg Zuerlein 183 Ka’imi Fairbairn 170 Justin Tucker 322
2 Stephen Gostkowski 172 Justin Tucker 160 Wil Lutz 312
3 Robbie Gould 170 Wil Lutz 151 Greg Zuerlein 311
4 Justin Tucker 162 Jason Myers 151 Stephen Gostkowski 310
5 Matt Bryant 162 Harrison Butker 147 Robbie Gould 309

Best two-year points per game

Kicker fantasy points per game
2017 2018 Combined*
1 Greg Zuerlein 13.1 Greg Zuerlein 11.6 Greg Zuerlein 12.4
2 Caleb Sturgis 13.0 Ka’imi Fairbairn 10.6 Harrison Butker 10.6
3 Harrison Butker 12.3 Justin Tucker 10.0 Justin Tucker 10.1
4 Stephen Gostkowski 10.8 Mason Crosby 9.7 Wil Lutz 9.8
5 Robbie Gould 10.6 Giorgio Tavecchio 9.7 Stephen Gostkowski 9.7

(*min. 1 game played each season)

I wrote two years ago about the inconsistency of kickers — at the time, the only kickers in 10 years who were finished in the top five in back-to-back years were Steven Hauschka in 2013-14, David Akers in 2008-10, and Gostkowski in 2007-09 and 2011-16. Since then, Gostkowski did it again in 2017, but exactly one name has been added to the list — Tucker, each of the last three years. You’re drafting your kicker last because you just can’t guess what’s going to happen.

Defense

DST fantasy point totals
2017 2018 Combined
1 Jacksonville Jaguars 203 Chicago Bears 186 Los Angeles Rams 335
2 Baltimore Ravens 186 Los Angeles Rams 155 Chicago Bears 322
3 Los Angeles Rams 180 Houston Texans 147 Jacksonville Jaguars 318
4 Philadelphia Eagles 157 New England Patriots 143 Baltimore Ravens 315
5 Los Angeles Chargers 157 Kansas City Chiefs 131 Los Angeles Chargers 269

The Jaguars and Bears led each of the last two years, but it’s actually the Rams who lead over the two-year stretch. Considering the strength of that offense, and the productivity of the defense, the Rams are the best full roster for fantasy purposes in the league, and it’s not especially close.

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