The 2018 fantasy football season is in the books. There were highs, there were lows. There were championship trophies hoisted, and rooms made in the trash bins (like me in most of my leagues).
It’s definitely fun to look ahead and get excited for what’s to come in the 2019 season. It’s equally as fun, however, to look back at 2018 — to reminisce on what transpired during a wild fantasy season, regardless of what placing you ended up in.
Who knows — you might look back and remember something that proves fruitful next year.
Alright, enough babbling. Let’s get into the best moments of the 2018 fantasy football season!
Patrick Mahomes becomes immortal
We didn’t exactly know what Mahomes would bring to fantasy football. Sure, he lit up the scoreboard at Texas Tech with consistency, but we all know college isn’t the same as the NFL. Sure, he would join an Andy Reid-crafted offense with a plethora of weapons, but would he be a drastic change from Alex Smith?
Mahomes played one game in 2017. There wasn’t much for fantasy players to go by in order to invest a mid-round draft pick on him. He had an 11th round ADP in standard Yahoo leagues in 2018.
But if you did draft him, congratulations. You got a gift that kept on giving and giving and giving …
Was there any player as exciting as Patrick Mahomes this season? (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Mahomes was what every fantasy owner hopes to get in their drafts: a destroyer of worlds, a points vacuum, an asset that strikes fear in opponents. The second-year passer scored a whopping total of 417 fantasy points — good for best all-time among fantasy QBs.
Nine games with 3+ touchdowns; 10 games with 300+ passing yards. Oh, and if fantasy isn’t enough, he also threw for 50 touchdowns and over 5000 passing yards. I mean, what else is there to say but #ThankYouPatrick. Speaking of which …
The Kansas City Chiefs vs the Los Angeles Rams (Week 11)
It’s easy to say that fantasy is all about the players. That fantasy managers don’t care about context; all that matters is that final stat line. Yet, one can argue that this game brought fantasy and reality together in a beautiful way.
What can you say about this game? Where do you even start? Inarguably the game of the year — maybe even the greatest regular season game ever — this one had it all.
The Rams won, 54-51 — a score rarely seen in professional football. Don’t let it fool you, however — the spectacle featured some dazzling defensive plays as well.
Mahomes threw SIX touchdown passes. Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce all went over 100 yards receiving (Hill actually went over 200).
Jared Goff threw for a sterling 413 yards and four touchdowns. Brandin Cooks went over 100 yards while Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett all caught touchdowns.
In fact, the one fantasy asset who didn’t particularly “wow” was the one everyone expected to do so: Todd Gurley. But hey, he still went over 90 total yards, so it could’ve been worse (and considering what he did in the season as a whole, he’s allowed a couple of “subpar” games).
Gurley’s surprisingly quiet outing aside, this game produced a magical experience that will remain in the minds of fantasy players and football fans — both casual and diehard — for years to come.
The rise (return?) of the running QB
Passing has become the hallmark of NFL offenses in recent years. Quarterbacks have become so prolific at airing it out that many began to question the viability of the workhorse back and the validity of college-style option plays in today’s NFL. It’s all about the passing yards, the passing touchdowns.
Well, don’t tell that to a couple of rookie signal callers.
Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen emerged around midseason; Jackson due to an injury to Joe Flacco, and Allen returning from his own injury. They instantly set the fantasy world on fire with their wheels and big-play ability. In fact, since Jackson took over in Week 10, both rookies were top-15 fantasy QB options for the rest of the season — ahead of the likes of Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton and Tom Brady.
The emergence of Phillip Lindsay
Let’s face it: Lindsay was the waiver wire pickup of the year for many fantasy leagues. If you were savvy enough to actually draft him, good on you.
By the time many of us reached our draft days, however, it was Royce Freeman, not Lindsay, who many people had on their radar as the back to have in Denver.
Then came Week 1, and the rest was history. The undrafted rookie delivered a magical season, out-performing the talented Freeman over and over. Unfortunately, his season would end prematurely thanks to a wrist injury, but he still finished as a top-15 fantasy back and will undoubtedly earn a high ADP come 2019.
James Conner takes advantage
We all know by now the incredibly inspiring story behind James Conner, so there’s no need to repeat it. What we’d rather talk about is how he stepped in a Le’Veon Bell-sized hole and instantly repaid fantasy managers who took a flier on him late in their drafts. Conner was a top-10 fantasy running back through the first 14 weeks of the season, scoring an average of 20.1 half-PPR points a game. He ended up as the sixth-best fantasy RB.
Even though Conner’s owners mourned his end to the season (the talented runner got hurt in Week 13 and missed the fantasy playoffs), you can’t deny that he was incredible in both fantasy and reality.
Christian McCaffrey shocks the world
Run-CMC was drafted in the early-to-mid second round in the majority of Yahoo leagues.
And then he finished as the third-best fantasy running back of 2018. He also delivered one of the top fantasy performances of the year in Week 12, scoring 41.2 half-PPR fantasy points by way of a combined 237 yards and two touchdowns.
In fact, if not for an early exit in Week 17, he had an outside shot at finishing as fantasy’s No. 1 back. That doesn’t happen often.
McCaffrey — held back by an ailing Cam Newton who couldn’t throw the football and a Panthers team with holes on both sides of the ball — just kept on producing. The runner produced a season for the ages, catching over 100 balls and rushing for over 1000 yards.
McCaffrey was a league-winner in 2018, point-blank. Yeah, he’s not going to last until the second round in 2019.
Andrew Luck’s stunning streak
Andrew Luck finished 2016 as the fourth-best fantasy quarterback. Then he missed the entire 2017 season due to injury. What were we to expect when he returned in 2018?
Luck is one of those players who is hard to root against. So when he — behind an offensive line led by human-bulldozer, Quenton Nelson, and with a full assortment of weapons including the resurgent Eric Ebron — decided to go on an eight-game, three-passing-touchdown streak, it was amazing to witness.
Andrew Luck came back with a vengeance in 2018. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Well, if you weren’t facing a fantasy team led by Luck during those eight weeks, that is. Speaking of streaks …
Adam Thielen catches everything
The secret was out on Adam Thielen in 2017. He finished as the 11th-best fantasy wide receiver, securing an early-round ADP in 2018. Man, did he deliver on his value.
Thielen produced over 100 yards receiving in eight straight games the moment the NFL season kicked off. Talk of him being the first wide receiver off the board in 2019 ramped up immensely.
He ended up not being able to sustain that level of production, what with the Vikings faltering and the firing of their offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo. Yet, the ride was incredibly fun while it lasted.
The moment Julio Jones finally scored
Julio Jones is a once-in-a-lifetime wide receiver. A generational talent. A pass-catcher who can take over a game in the same vein as Megatron or Randy Moss.
SO WHY THE HELL DID IT TAKE HIM SO LONG TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN?!
Julio Jones finally broke his TD drought in 2018. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
It will forever be one of the great mysteries of life. Perhaps he was being schemed out of the red zone. Perhaps defenses “figured him out” (yeah, right). Or perhaps Jones himself had a personal vendetta against scoring.
Whatever the reason, the stud WR finally broke his over-a-yearlong drought in Week 12, when he literally dragged his way for six, and how sweet it was. He ended 2018 as the fifth-best fantasy wideout.
George Kittle shines in a wasteland
Going into the 2018 fantasy draft, most of us figured we knew who the top tight ends to target were. Kelce, Ertz, Gronk, Olsen, Graham — the usual suspects. Engram and Rudolph were probable options too.
And then the season started, and if you didn’t have Kelce or Ertz, well, you probably suffered more than a couple of headaches. Suffice it say, the tight end landscape of the 2018 fantasy season left much to be desired.
But, in the face of so much mediocrity, a hero emerged.
Let’s keep it simple: Kittle went on to finish as the second-best fantasy tight end in 2018, obliterating his 12th round ADP. He also nearly broke the single game receiving yards record by a tight end in Week 14 — in one HALF. Oh, and he finished with the most receiving yards (1377) by a tight end in a single season — about an hour after the record was set.
So, what do you think he’ll do with Jimmy G back in 2019?
Derrick Henry lives up to the phrase, “Better late than never.”
Few running backs earned more fantasy owner-ire than Derrick Henry (well, other than Le’Veon Bell, but we’re talking about good moments, remember?). It all seemed so clear-cut pre-draft. Henry, with a fifth round ADP, would be the hammer in a revamped Titans offense.
And then the Titans offense crapped out. And Mariota got hurt. And nobody lived up to expectations. Henry himself looked slow, sluggish, and downright lazy on most of his few opportunities. In fact, he only got 20+ touches AFTER Week 14!
But what a Week 14 it was. As if a lightbulb came on in his head, Henry seemingly remembered that he is nine feet tall and 400 pounds of solid muscle (OK, so those are slight exaggerations, but that’s what it seemed like in Week 14) and decided to play. Or rather, the Titans let him play.
Derrick Henry transformed into a league-winner the final three weeks of the fantasy season. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
He went on to embarrass the once-fierce Jacksonville defense to the tune of 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Oh, and then he went off for 170 yards and another two TDs in Week 15. Then he scored again in Week 16.
Unfortunately, Henry produced those games on many waiver wires, but it could get no sweeter for owners who decided to trust in him late in the season — and for those who took a flier on him in daily fantasy. Is this the start of a Henry resurgence for 2019?
Honorable Mentions: Todd Gurley’s domination, Saquon Barkley’s rookie season, The Bears defense averages double-digit points, DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t drop a single pass.
Did we miss any? Let us know your greatest fantasy moments in the comments below!