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Fake Teams Fantasy Football Hall of Fame: Running Backs

Vote for the inaugural class of 2018

Peter Rogers Illustrations

Here at Fake Teams we like to not only focus on how we can help you build the best fantasy rosters possible, but we also like to celebrate the past and the players whose fantasy deeds are the stuff of legend. As a community of fantasy writers and fans, we want to give back to those players and start our own fantasy Hall of Fame with the casting vote coming from the most important people, you the readers. Like the real-life Hall of Fame, we’re only nominating retired players, though we’re waiving the typical five year waiting period.

The inaugural position we’re voting for is running backs, the building block of fantasy rosters for years before the rise of running back by committee teams and zero running back draft strategies. From the 10 listed below we will enshrine the three players with the most votes from the poll into the Fake Teams Fantasy Football Hall of Fame.

Note: All fantasy numbers quoted are derived by converting historical regular season data from NFL.com into fantasy points, using standard scoring measures.

Walter Payton

Chicago Bears 1975-1987

First up in our nominations we have Sweetness himself, who played at a time when fantasy football was very much in its infancy. Across his career Payton racked up the second most fantasy points all-time by a running back (2,969) at an impressive 14.9 points per game. Compared that to his contemporaries from the 1970’s where the top running backs were averaging around two points per game less.

Overall Payton lead the league in fantasy points twice in his career in 1977 and again in 1978 and in totality, he was a top-10 fantasy back nine times in eleven years between 1976 and 1986. In terms of quality starts (games with at least 12 fantasy points), Payton ranks just outside the top-10 all-time with 55.8% of games (111/199).

Marshall Faulk

Indianapolis Colts 1994-1998, St Louis Rams 1999-2005

Next up is the player with the third most all-time fantasy points by a running back with 2,933. Faulk is also the most productive receiving back in fantasy history, with over 950 total receiving points at an average of 5.1 points per game. No other player on this list averaged most than 3.3 points per game in their career.

As a big-game back, Faulk also ranked highly, with the second most all-time 40+ point games (4) and the second most 30+ point games (18). His quality start percentage is eighth all-time, with 109 of his 187 starts scoring 12 points or more.

Faulk totaled seven top-10 fantasy seasons in his twelve seasons, finishing top of the running back scoring charts in back-to-back seasons in 2000 and 2001.

LaDainian Tomlinson

San Diego Chargers 2001-2009, New York Jets 2010-2011

In terms of fantasy football as we know it today, LaDainian Tomlinson is the standard by which modern fantasy running backs are measured. Tomlinson holds the all-time record for fantasy points in a season by a running back as he scored 418 points in his MVP season of 2006 where he scored 31 total touchdowns. He remains the only non-quarterback to score over 400 points in a season.

Despite 2006 being the only year he lead the league in fantasy points, Tomlinson is fifth all-time in points by a running back, and had a record eight consecutive seasons where he finished as a top-10 fantasy back, including six straight seasons as a top-4 player from 2002 to 2007.

If that wasn’t enough to tip the voting for LT, he also holds the records for both the most fantasy performances of over 40 points (5) and over 30 points (21), and is fifth all-time in quality start percentage, with 59.4% of his performances earning 12 points or more.

Barry Sanders

Detroit Lions 1989-1998

Barry Sanders, who we all know left some meat on the bone in terms of his career, still manage to accrue the sixth most fantasy points by a running back in his ten seasons in the league with 2,564. He led the league in fantasy points three times, in 1990, 1991 and 1997 when he was named co-MVP with Brett Favre.

In his ten seasons, Sanders was a top-10 back 8 times and his quality start percentage of 63.1% ranks second all-time. Sanders also ranks fourth all-time in 40 point games (3) and fifth in 30 point games (11).

Emmitt Smith

Dallas Cowboys 1990-2002, Arizona Cardinals 2003-2004

The NFL’s all-time leading rusher is also the top scoring fantasy running back, as Emmitt Smith amassed a whopping 3,578 fantasy points over the course of his 15 seasons. Smith also holds the fantasy record for the most consecutive seasons with the most fantasy points by a running back, as he led the league for four straight years between 1992 and 1995 as the Cowboys won three Super Bowls. His 1995 season was at the time the highest ever fantasy season by a running back with 378 points, beating a (theoretical) record that had stood for 20 years (O.J. Simpson, 1975).

Over the course of his career, Smith was a top-10 fantasy back nine times, tied with Walter Payton for the most ever, and his 60.5% quality start percentage ranked as the fourth highest in league history.

Marcus Allen

Los Angeles Raiders 1982-1992, Kansas City Chiefs 1993-1997

Another player whose fantasy deeds are more theory than reality for most fantasy fans, Marcus Allen’s is placed fourth all-time in fantasy points by running backs with 2,925 points over 16 seasons. Allen led the league in fantasy points twice in both 1982 and his MVP season in 1985. Over the course of his career, Allen finished with six top-10 seasons as a fantasy running back, including a surprising season in 1993 at the age of 33 where he finished 5th in running back points, six years after he last finished in the top-10.

Thurman Thomas

Buffalo Bills 1988-1999, Miami Dolphins 2000

Thurman Thomas’s career will forever be linked with the four consecutive Super Bowl losses for the Bills in the early 90’s. His fantasy career mirrored his ‘real’ one, as between 1989 and 1993 he finished second in fantasy points in each of those five seasons. In all, Thomas is the seventh highest scoring fantasy running back of all-time with 2,559 points, and he finished in the top-10 in six of his thirteen seasons.

Eric Dickerson

LA Rams 1983-1987, Indianapolis Colts 1987-1991, LA Raiders 1992, Atlanta Falcons 1993

Eric Dickerson led the league in fantasy points four times in six years during his stints with the Rams and Colts, tying for the most in NFL history, including seven straight seasons as a top-10 running back from 1983-1989. His 650 points over his first two seasons, including his 1984 season where he broke the single-season rushing record, remains a record that still stands to this day.

Terrell Davis

Denver Broncos 1995-2001

Though Terrell Davis doesn’t have the fantasy resume of some of his fellow running backs above, like his career, his light burnt bright and hot before fading. Davis led the league in fantasy points in two of his seven seasons, in 1996 and his MVP season in 1998, and he had three seasons in total where he was a top-10 fantasy back.

Where Davis holds his own in the fantasy Hall of Fame standings is his record of being the holder of the all-time in points per game record with 17.6 ppg. He also ranks third in quality start percentage with 62.8%.

Like with his pro football hall of fame consideration, you as a voter have to consider Davis’ exceptional production over a short period compared to lower production over a longer time frame of his fellow nominees.

Arian Foster

Houston Texans 2009-2015, Miami Dolphins 2016

I thought I’d finish with a fantasy wild card. Arian Foster may not be in the consideration for being one of the best running backs of all time, but his fantasy numbers are up there with anyone. Second in all-time points per game with 17.3, Foster was an unbelievably productive running back when healthy. He led the league in running back points in 2010 and had four seasons where he was a top-10 running back, and all of those were top-5 season.

His most impressive stat? Foster holds the all-time record for quality start percentage, scoring 12 or more fantasy points in 70.4% of his starts, over 7% better than any other running back with over 50 starts. Wooft.

Over to you.

Poll

Who do you want in the class of 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Walter Payton
    (2 votes)
  • 27%
    Marshall Faulk
    (3 votes)
  • 36%
    LaDainian Tomlinson
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Barry Sanders
    (0 votes)
  • 9%
    Emmitt Smith
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Marcus Allen
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Thurman Thomas
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Eric Dickerson
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Terrell Davis
    (0 votes)
  • 9%
    Arian Foster
    (1 vote)
11 votes total Vote Now