All-time Top 5 Fantasy Football Performances Thru' Three Weeks
As we head towards the quarter-way mark of the 2020 NFL season, we enter a fantasy football week that is very much up-in-the-air due to COVID-19 related issues. So, for now, let us take you on a brief hiatus from any impossible start/sit decisions with a look back to the five most historically significant opening 3-week individual fantasy performances and introduce you to our new NFL writer and analyst; Max Saito.
Max grew up in London and currently resides in Essex. He has been a Packers fan since 2013 and still can't bring himself to watch clips from the 2014 NFC Championship game.
Unprecedented pace to start 2020
NFL offences have been off to a record-setting start in 2020, with 281 touchdowns and 2,446 total points scored through three weeks; both figures that are all-time records. It should come as no surprise, then, that this season has also seen some blistering openings from a fantasy perspective. But where do these starts rank among some of the best ever seasons, and how do they shape up against the pace of the all time best fantasy seasons?
According to fantasypros.com, since 2012 there have only been 5 players to tally more than 90 points in the first 3 weeks of a season - all of them quarterbacks. The all-time high-water mark for a fantasy season was recorded by Ladainian Tomlinson in 2006, with the back posting a frankly mental 427.3 fantasy points (non-PPR) and scoring 31 total touchdowns on his way to an MVP award on the 14-2 San Diego Chargers. However, even in such a marquee year, LT had only racked up 55.6 points through the first three weeks, which pales in comparison to some of the following three-game starts:
#5 Peyton Manning, 2013 - 91.1 points
Manning’s 55 touchdown passes in 2013 still holds the record for most in a season, and the Broncos averaged an eye-watering 42.9 points per game in the first 8 weeks of 2013. Denver began the season with a comprehensive 49-27 spanking of the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in a game that saw The Sheriff go 27-42 for 462 yards with SEVEN touchdowns and 46.28 fantasy points (third-most in a single game ever). The Broncos, led by head coach John Fox (yes, that John Fox) and offensive coordinator Adam Gase (yes, that Adam Gase) finished the season 13-3, and progressed to the Super Bowl, where they scored a grand total of 8 points against Seattle in one of the most one-sided title games in history.
#4 Patrick Mahomes, 2018 - 92.4 points
Ketchup-enthusiast-turned-football-god and eternal face of the league Patrick Mahomes exploded onto the scene in his first full season in 2018, throwing for a total of 13 touchdowns and no picks in the first three games of 2018. “Showtime” Mahomes (remember when the Monday Night Football crew were really trying to push that nickname?) immediately shot to the pinnacle of signal-calling, and has consistently set a new standard of quarterbacking ever since. The Chiefs would go 12-4 in 2018 and lost in an AFC Championship Game overtime shootout to Tom Brady and the Patriots, although Mahomes would right this wrong a year later in Super Bowl LIV, and you would be hard-pressed to say that this doesn’t look like the first of several to come.
#3 Josh Allen, 2020 - 94.9 points
Josh Allen has done it all in 2020, and by ‘all’, I mean all. 10 touchdown passes, 2 rushing scores, 3 lost fumbles, a pick, two personal fouls, a blown 28-3 lead, and a late comeback against the Rams after blowing a 28-3 lead. The third year QB has always shown great athleticism in his young career, but a completion rate north of 70% and over 1000 yards through the air has temporarily silenced the base of doubters accrued over the last two years of inconsistent play. Whether Allen can continue to deal as the season goes on remains to be seen, but as of early October, he has the Bills firmly in playoff contention, with OC Brian Daboll among the frontrunners for assistant coach of the year.
It should be noted that it brings me great personal joy to be able to talk about Josh Allen on this list, as I was torn to shreds in my fantasy league (including by Gridiron Xtra’s own fantasy writer Matthew Brosnan) for taking Allen as QB5. (Apologies, I just needed to get this boast in before Allen inevitably melts down against the Raiders in Week 4).
#2 Ryan Fitzpatrick, 2018 - 97.4 points
The fact that Patrick Mahomes, in a season where he threw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, was not the leading scorer in fantasy by Week 4 of the 2018 season is surprising. The fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick, in his 13th year and on his 7th team, was ahead of Mahomes after three weeks, is mind-blowing. Fitzpatrick was pushed into the national spotlight in Week 1, putting up 417 passing yards, 4 passing TDs and a score on the ground in a 48-40 thriller over the Saints in the Superdome, with Jameis Winston serving a suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The image of Fitzpatrick, baring his chest in Desean Jackson’s jacket, chain and aviators in the following press conference has forever cemented the legacy of Fitzmagic.
The Harvard grad tossed 11 TDs to 4 picks through 3 weeks in 2018, with three straight games over 400 yards and two NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards. Fitzpatrick then proceeded to go 9-18 for 126 yards and a pick against the Bears in Week 4, posting a putrid 3.04 fantasy points in a 48-10 loss which saw him benched for the returning Winston. The Bucs eventually went 2-6 in games that Fitzpatrick played in in 2018, and he finished with a TD-INT ratio of 17-12 before moving to Miami in the offseason.
#1 Russell Wilson, 2020 - 103.0 points
Russell Wilson has not just been cooking this season - so far he has assembled a medieval-type three-week-long feast for 12s across the world. Mr Unlimited has 14 touchdown passes (with one dropped by DK Metcalf in an all-league blooper) to one interception (off a drop by Greg Olsen). Wilson is the only player to EVER score over 100 points in the first 3 weeks of the fantasy season, and is on pace to throw for 75 whole touchdowns (the record is Manning’s 55 in 2013), and score almost 549 points in fantasy (the record is Tomlinson’s 427.3)! If Russ could somehow find a way to continue this pace for 13 more games, the record books will resemble a nuclear bomb crater by season’s end.