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Top fantasy performances since 2000

11/6/2013

What is it about the Philadelphia Eagles and big quarterback days?

Consider: In the 81-year history of their franchise, the Eagles possess a share of the all-time, single-game record for passing touchdowns (7, by Adrian Burk, on Oct. 17, 1954), as well as sole ownership of the single-game record for fantasy points at the position (49, by Michael Vick, on Nov. 15, 2010).

Now they have two quarterbacks who own a piece of the seven-man share of the single-game passing touchdown record …

… oh, and this time, it wasn't Vick accomplishing the feat.

Nick Foles, fresh off a concussion suffered in Week 7, returned to the lineup as a fill-in for the injured Vick -- he sat with a hamstring issue -- and tallied 45 fantasy points, the second-highest score by any player in 2013 and the sixth-most by any quarterback since 1960. What's more, he did it despite sitting the final 9:23 for backup Matt Barkley -- the Eagles possessed a 36-point lead at the time -- and he had actually reached the 45-point threshold with more than 19 minutes remaining in the game.

Foles completed three of the scores to Riley Cooper, who can now boast that six of his 10 career scores have been thrown by Foles, and 22 of 28 passes overall for 406 yards and no interceptions. By doing so, he became only the third player in NFL history to throw for seven scores without being intercepted; Peyton Manning (Week 1 of this season) and Y.A. Tittle (1962) are the others. Foles is also only the third quarterback to throw for seven touchdowns in a road game; Burk and Sid Luckman (1943) are the others.

As we've traditionally done for historic fantasy performances in recent seasons -- Manning's aforementioned 46-pointer during the opening week of this season is the most recent one to crack this list -- let's update the list of greatest fantasy days since 2000. Here is the updated top 15:

1. Clinton Portis, 2003 Week 14, 54 fantasy points: This one meant about as much to his Denver Broncos as it did to his fantasy owners; without this win versus the eventual division-winning Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos probably wouldn't have reached the playoffs in 2003. It was his fifth 100-yard rushing effort in a streak of six to conclude the season, and in the process he upstaged an even bigger (at the time) fantasy stud, the Chiefs' Priest Holmes (44 rushing yards, two touchdowns).

2. Shaun Alexander, 2002 Week 4, 52: Ah, a Sunday night football classic. Surely you remember this one? In only the second game at CenturyLink Field (then Seahawks Stadium), Alexander set an NFL record with five touchdowns in the first half, establishing his reputation as a premier prime-time performer. He played 14 night games in his career, totaling 13 touchdowns.

3. Doug Martin, 2012 Week 9, 51: Though he had placed himself firmly in the class of fantasy studs with a 32-point breakout outing a week earlier against the stingy Minnesota Vikings defense, the "Muscle Hamster" affirmed himself as 2012's top rookie rusher thanks primarily to this game, during which he became the first player in NFL history to score three rushing touchdowns of 45 yards or longer (per ESPN Stats & Information). And if you're looking to toss cold water on the effort due to an "easy matchup," know this: There were actually four defenses that allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs than the Oakland Raiders in 2012.

4. (tie) Mike Anderson, 2000 Week 14, 49: Huh? Who? You might remember this name as another product of the Mike Shanahan running back juggernaut; each season, it seemed the theme was "new back, same stats." Anderson snuck in there with one monster season sandwiched between the best from Terrell Davis and the aforementioned Portis, and on this day, Anderson was a record setter -- a rookie rushing record with 251 yards versus the New Orleans Saints.

4. (tie) Michael Vick, 2010 Week 10, 49: On the day that then-Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb celebrated signing a five-year contract extension, it was the opposing quarterback, Vick, who lit up the fantasy scoreboard. Vick had three passing and two rushing touchdowns in the first half, becoming the first player to do that, routinely lighting up the Redskins' secondary en route to the NFL's first-ever performance of at least 300 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, four passing and two rushing scores. Vick would finish the 2010 season as fantasy's leading scorer.

6. (tie) Priest Holmes, 2002 Week 12, 48: Holmes went for more than 100 yards both rushing (197) and receiving (110), making him one of only eight players in the past 20 years to do that. Sadly, Holmes' Chiefs lost 39-32 to Seattle as Matt Hasselbeck starred for the Seahawks (362 passing yards, three touchdowns).

6. (tie) Fred Taylor, 2000 Week 12, 48: Boy, he was lucky to manage that many fantasy points through all of last season. Still, flash back nearly a decade, before Taylor had truly earned the label "injury-prone player," and he was a productive running back. On this date, he carved up the Pittsburgh Steelers' run defense -- as you know, historically one of the game's best almost every season -- for 234 yards, the most that franchise has ever allowed to a single player in a single game.

8. (tie) Marshall Faulk, 2002 Week 7, 47: So many Seahawks games from 2002 on this list … this, Alexander's and Holmes' entries all involved the team from Seattle, and this was the second in which the damage was done to the Seahawks' bottom-ranked run defense. Faulk beat up on the Seahawks for 235 total yards and four scores in this one, serving as a fitting preview for the team that a week later would allow Emmitt Smith to break the all-time NFL rushing record.

8. (tie) Jerome Harrison, 2009 Week 15, 47: Hard to believe, right? In a late-season cameo as the featured running back for the Browns, Harrison carried 34 times for 286 yards and three touchdowns, plus two catches for 12 yards, against the helpless Chiefs. Apparently the Browns weren't too impressed; just a few games into the 2010 season, they dealt Harrison to Vick's Eagles.

8. (tie) Jimmy Smith, 2000 Week 2, 47: He caught 15 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, and his Jacksonville Jaguars raced to a 17-0 first-quarter lead over the Baltimore Ravens … a lead the Jaguars would promptly blow in the second half. It's the most receiving yards for any player in a game since 1989, and what's most amazing about the feat is that the Ravens in that season allowed the fewest points of any NFL team (165) en route to a Super Bowl championship.

11. (tie) Peyton Manning, 2013 Week 1, 46. What a way to begin the season. In the 2013 Kickoff Game, Manning tied the league's single-game record with seven passing touchdowns, resulting in the greatest opening-week fantasy performance by any player since at least 1960, and the fifth-best fantasy day by any quarterback in any week during the same time frame. At the time, he became only the second player to ever pass for seven touchdowns without an interception; Y.A. Tittle was the first, in 1962.

11. (tie) Adrian Peterson (the Viking), 2007 Week 9, 46: You might remember this one ... ADP's big performance from his rookie season might linger in your brain because in this game versus the San Diego Chargers, he set the NFL's single-game rushing record with 296 yards. He stole the headlines from fellow record setter and Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown, the longest play in NFL history, as time expired at the half. From that point forward, Peterson scampered for 253 yards and two of his three scores.

13. (tie) Nick Foles, 2013 Week 9, 45.

13. (tie) Chris Johnson, 2009 Week 2, 45: Johnson became the first player in NFL history to record a 90-plus-yard rushing touchdown (91 yards), 50-plus-yard rushing touchdown (57) and 60-plus-yard receiving touchdown (69) in a game. Johnson finished with 284 total yards and three touchdowns.

13. (tie) Aaron Rodgers, 2011 Week 4, 45: It was games like this one that earned Rodgers a place atop the all-time, single-season fantasy leaderboard; his 385 points in 2011 set a new standard for quarterbacks. In this contest, he became only the fifth quarterback since 1960 to throw for four or more touchdowns while rushing for two or more.

13. (tie) LaDainian Tomlinson, 2002 Week 13, 45: Hey, he had to be on this list somewhere, right? Overtime helped Tomlinson pad his stats in a division game versus the Denver Broncos, but to be fair, he did the bulk of his damage with three touchdowns in an 11-minute span in the second quarter. Most impressive about LT2's outing: He had totaled only 262 yards in his first three career games against the Broncos, but in this meeting alone he had 271.

Since you might be curious about some of the older standout outings in fantasy football (and NFL/AFL) history, the chart below highlights the 33 players since 1960 (who managed a total 34 instances) who have amassed at least as many as 45 fantasy points (ESPN standard scoring).

* Sayers also had a return touchdown.
# Blanda had seven extra points and missed one field goal.
@ Peterson and Rice each lost a fumble.