Listen: The greatest fantasy games, seasons and careers in Broncos history
Clinton Portis, Peyton Manning and Jason Elam, oh my!
With most NFL fans’ fantasy football seasons commencing in championship playoff rounds this weekend, we decided to dive into the data, crunch the numbers and banter back and forth about the history of Denver Broncos fantasy football.
When we refer to the history of Denver Broncos fantasy football, we’re not just referring to Broncos of the modern era, when fantasy football has exploded in popularity all over the world. Thanks to Pro Football Reference’s online database, we can compare and contrast the hypothetical fantasy football numbers going all the way back to when the Broncos were a charter member of the American Football League in 1960.
Remember Broncos wide receiver Lionel Taylor? In the franchise’s maiden season in 1960, Taylor posted the strongest singular fantasy game of the AFL season with a nine-reception, 199-yard, three-touchdown performance in a Broncos 38-38 tie versus the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 27. According to modern fantasy football scoring, that would have equated to 37.90 points in a standard fantasy league and a staggering 46.9 points in points per reception leagues.
Broncos running back Floyd Little was the best fantasy football player in the franchise’s early years, amassing 1,171.8 fantasy points during his time with the Broncos from 1967-1975 — equal to 10.02 points per game in a standard scoring league in his 117 career games with Denver. That ranks seventh best in terms of overall fantasy points in franchise history.
The franchise ushered in a new era in fantasy history after the trade with the Baltimore Colts for top 1983 NFL draft pick John Elway, a future Hall of Famer, two-time Broncos Super Bowl champion and current general manager. Elway goes down as the most prolific fantasy scorer in Broncos history, with 3,274.6 total points over his 234 career games. That averages to 13.99 points per game, which ranks Elway sixth in Broncos history per game. But the overall total points are still 76% higher the second most prolific Bronco in fantasy history: kicker Jason Elam (1,860.2), who played with Elway during his career from 1993-2007.
Other elite Bronco fantasy players from that Super Bowl era include Rod Smith (1,599.2), Terrell Davis (1,284.7), Shannon Sharpe (1,177.8) and Ed McCaffery (904.1). Davis’ average of 16.47 points per game is especially impressive considering those stats from a less explosive offensive era in the ’90s compare favorably to the top running backs today.
And then there’s Peyton Manning. During his time with the Broncos from 2012-2015, he averaged 19.43 points per game, including his epic 412-point season in 2013 — the greatest season in Broncos history.
That said, it’s not Manning, Davis or Elway who had both the greatest singular fantasy game in franchise history and the highest per game average in Bronco history. In a small sample size of 29 games in a Broncos jersey, running back Clinton Portis averaged 19.51 fantasy points per game. That includes his fantasy magnum opus 55.40 point performance in standard leagues against the Chiefs on Dec. 7, 2003. It came on the strength of five rushing touchdowns that surely helped some Broncos fans out there get into their fantasy league playoffs 16 seasons ago.
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