With the calendar turning to August, millions of football fans around the country can almost smell the cool fall weather and early evenings that bring the promise of men in pads and helmets knocking the snot out of each other on a gridiron.
Actual football means another season of fantasy football as well. Countless leagues have already drafted, and owners in leagues that haven’t are eagerly ticking off the days in anticipation of their drafts.
Since another exciting season of fantasy goodness is upon us, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most incredible fantasy performances of all time. Undoubtedly, these will stick out in the memory of anyone who was on the giving or receiving end of these epic stat lines. In many cases, these bonanzas single-handedly carried owners to victory or brought crushing defeat to a team that may have withstood even a merely excellent game by the player of note.
In the first part of this series, we’ll look over the 10 greatest fantasy football performances ever by a QB and compare the incredible stats using FanDuel and DraftKings scoring.
10. Tony Romo – Oct. 6, 2013
One of the most divisive QBs of the modern era, it’s perhaps fitting that Tony Romo appears as the only losing QB on this list. Sports are ultimately almost always remembered for the dichotomy of winners and losers, something Romo knows better than almost anyone.
Pitted against the guy with the fourth-best game on this list and backed by a porous defense, Romo knew he needed a monster game and he delivered. He fired 36 passes, completing 25 for 506 yards and five touchdowns en route to 48 points on the scoreboard. Unfortunately for Romo, Peyton Manning matched him step-for-step with 48 points of his own. Romo took the ball for the final time needing yet another score but instead made his first and only misstep with an interception in his own territory. With the master of the game-winning drive on the other side, the rest was a formality, and Romo locked up the ignominious title of most productive loser of all-time.
Passing: 25-36 506 yds 5 TD 1 INT
Rushing: 1 rush 7 yds 0 TD
DraftKings: 42.94 Points
FanDuel: 39.94 Points
9. Randall Cunningham – Nov. 4, 1990
A trailblazer in many ways who proved QBs who ran often could survive and thrive in the NFL, Randall Cunningham ran for an amazing 942 yards in 1990, lapping other top scramblers like Steve Young and John Elway. A 60-degree day on the astroturf of Veterans Stadium was the greatest showcase of Cunningham’s all-around talents.
It was perfect weather and a perfect opponent for Cunningham as the 1990 Patriots put together one of the most woeful seasons in league history, finishing 1-15. Cunningham passed for a solid 240 yards and four TDs and ran wild for 124 more and another score. He led the Eagles to a 48-20 romp, finishing his day in style with a 52-yard run to paydirt before the backups tacked on the final touchdown.
Passing: 15-24 240 yds 4 TD 0 INT
Rushing: 8 rush 124 yds 1 TD
DraftKings: 47 Points
FanDuel: 44 Points
8. Ben Roethlisberger – Oct. 26, 2014
All of the entries ahead of Ben Roethlisberger here had one thing in common: they won going away, burying their opponents in a deluge of touchdowns. On one hand, you could argue if the games were more competitive, those players would have racked even more fantasy points up. On other hand, defenses don’t bring the same intensity as they would in a close contest.
Roethlisberger’s team needed all six of his touchdowns in an epic shootout against the Colts in the middle of the season. An 11-yard touchdown with just over five minutes left put the game on ice as it gave the Steelers a 51-34 lead that proved to be the final. Roethlisberger piled up a whopping 522 yards but perhaps more impressively remained turnover-free despite 49 dropbacks. His 40 completions in those attempts made him the most accurate QB to make this list at 81.6 percent.
Passing: 40-49 522 yds 6 TD 0 INT
Rushing: 1 rush -1 yd 0 TD
DraftKings: 47.78 Points
FanDuel: 44.78 Points
7. Nick Foles – Nov. 3, 2013
At 24, Nick Foles is the youngest entry on this list. Fans and league pundits alike reacted with skepticism when Chip Kelly took over as head coach of the Eagles in 2013, but he turned anonymous second-year QB Foles into a fantasy star with his innovative offense.
A match-up with the hapless Raiders in Week 9 proved to be Foles’ finest moment, as he turned in a record-tying performance – 22-for-28 for 406 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions. Kelly was known for running up the score at Oregon but he called off the dogs late in the third with a 49-13 lead or Foles might be the sole record-holder for single-game touchdowns. Of the four QBs with seven touchdowns on this list, Foles was the only one to record a perfect 158.3 QB rating in his signature game.
Passing: 22-28 406 yds 7 TD 0 INT
Rushing: 4 rush 10 yds 0 TD
DraftKings: 48.24 Points
FanDuel: 45.24 Points
6. Joe Kapp – Sept. 28, 1969
Perhaps the most anonymous name on this list to modern football fans, Joe Kapp actually began his pro career in the Canadian Football League, where he spent the first eight years of his career. When he finally made the jump the NFL in 1967, Kapp struggled with 34 interceptions his first two years against just 18 touchdowns.
He got almost halfway there on one memorable late September night in his third season. Against the Baltimore Colts, Kapp tied three of his compatriots on this list – we’ll get to the last two shortly – with seven TD tosses as the Vikings wrecked the Colts 52-14. He threw for 449 yards and tacked on another 14 on the ground. Unfortunately for Kapp, he would prove something of a one-hit wonder. He finished out a solid 1969 campaign before a wretched 1970 season featuring a ghastly 3-17 TD-INT ratio proved to be his last in the NFL.
Passing: 28-43 449 yds 7 TD 1 INT
Rushing: 2 rush 14 yds 0 TD
DraftKings: 49.36 Points
FanDuel: 46.36 Points
5. Aaron Rodgers – Oct. 2, 2011
Fresh off a Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and undefeated after three games, the Packers rolled into Week 4 as comfortable home favorites against the Kyle Orton-led Broncos. Aaron Rodgers had already thrown for more than 900 yards and eight touchdowns, but he was ready to add significantly to those totals.
The Packers rolled as expected, 49-23, and Rodgers had another fine day slinging the rock with 408 yards, four TDs and one pick on 29 completions in 38 attempts. What wasn’t expected was Rodgers doing his best Randall Cunningham impression and punishing the Broncos with his legs. Always known as an excellent athlete, Rodgers mainly used his scrambling to escape the pocket and make accurate throws on the run. On this day, he ventured past the line of scrimmage for 36 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. He would go on to claim the league’s Most Valuable Player honors as the Packers went 15-1.
Passing: 29-38 408 yds 4 TD 1 INT
Rushing: 9 rush 36 yds 2 TD
DraftKings: 49.92 Points
FanDuel: 46.36 Points
4. Peyton Manning – Sept. 5, 2013
It’s not often one of the greatest of all time changes teams while still near the peak of his powers, but the Indianapolis Colts left Peyton Manning for dead after a severe neck injury threatened to end his career and caused him to miss the 2011 season. Manning returned in 2012 as a Denver Bronco and saw his first campaign there end on one of the most miraculous comebacks in NFL history at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.
They say revenge is a dish best-served cold, and Manning had eight months to keep it on ice before the league’s season opener. After a brief lightning delay on an 83-degree Denver night, things were competitive for one half as the Ravens took a 17-14 lead into the locker room. Then, Manning and the Broncos unleashed a five-touchdown fury in the second half as the former Tennessee Volunteer tied the aforementioned NFL record with seven TD strikes. Manning’s stellar performance ended with 462 yards and no picks as the Broncos rolled 49-27. At age 37, he is also the oldest entry on this list.
Passing: 27-42 462 yds 7 TD 0 INT
Rushing: 2 rush -2 yds 0 TD
DraftKings: 49.28 Points
FanDuel: 46.28 Points
3. Mark Rypien – Nov. 11, 1991
The Redskins boasted one of the most loaded rosters in the league in 1991, sending eight players to the Pro Bowl. A Falcons squad that eventually finished 10-6 presented a significant threat to most teams but served as mere roadkill on a cold and windy – 40 degrees with a 16 mph wind – day in November.
Canadian-born Mark Rypien was in his third year as a starter and had established himself as one of the better QBs in the league, tossing 38 touchdown against 24 interceptions the previous two seasons. Accuracy wasn’t Rypien’s calling card, as he was known for his deep bombs. True to form, he completed just 16 of 31 passes but shredded the Falcons with his trademark deep ball – three of his six touchdowns went for more than 60 yards. Rypien totaled 442 yards and even added a four-yard run to his scoring tally in the 56-17 romp. The Redskins went on to finish 14-2 and win the Super Bowl.
Passing: 16-31 442 yds 6 TD 0 INT
Rushing: 1 rush 4 yds 1 TD
DraftKings: 51.08 Points
FanDuel: 48.08 Points
2. Y.A. Tittle – Oct. 28, 1962
Back in 1962, the NFL had yet to evolve into the QB-centric pass-fest we watch every week nowadays. When the Giants and Redskins met at Yankee Stadium on a gusty day in late October – winds were whipping at 17 miles-per-hour – one might have expected a steady diet of running plays.
Giants future Hall-of-Famer Y.A. Tittle had other ideas. He put an aerial circus on display, flinging the rock 39 times, completing 27 passes for a monstrous 505 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s one of just five times since 1960 a QB has hit the seven-touchdown mark in a game. The Redskins kept pace for awhile, trailing just 21-20, but four Tittle TD strikes later it was 49-20 before the Giants called off the dogs and won 49-34.
Passing: 27-39 505 yds 7 TD 0 INT
Rushing: 1 rush 1 yd 0 TD
DraftKings: 51.3 Points
FanDuel: 48.3 Points
1. Michael Vick – Nov. 15, 2010
After well-documented legal troubles stemming from facilitating illegal dog fighting, Michael Vick returned to football in 2009 and mostly sat on the sidelines for the Philadelphia Eagles. He re-established himself as a viable fantasy option after taking over as the starter in Week 2, but a Week 10 explosion against the Washington Redskins vaulted him back to fantasy stardom.
In the 59-28 drubbing of the division rivals, Vick put up a sparkling line of 20-28 for 333 yards and four touchdowns. However, a few such performances happen every year. Where Vick separated himself is on the ground. Vick’s talent for running the ball combined with a cannon left arm has tantalized dreamers for years, and he showed off why in this game as he scampered for 80 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
Passing: 20-28 333 yds 4 TD 0 INT
Rushing: 8 rush 80 yds 2 TD
DraftKings: 52.32 Points
FanDuel: 49.32 Points