The highest scoring player in all of fantasy football in 2015 was Cam Newton, but his 2016 campaign was knocked off track before it really even started. Newton suffered multiple illegal (and uncalled) hits to the head, which became a recurring theme and appeared to alter the rest of his season. After this game against Denver, Newton carried the ball more than 10 times just one more time and finished a disappointing fantasy season as just the 16th highest scoring QB.
Week 2: Small sample size theatre
It's always dangerous in fantasy to ignore small sample sizes, and Matt Forte proved to be a perfect example of why that is. Forte was fantasy's best back through the first two weeks of the season, averaging close to 30 touches a game and scoring three times in Week 2. Naturally, the 31-year-old running back couldn't sustain that kind of workload throughout the season and ended up barely playing down the stretch.
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Week 3: Russell Wilson's injuries
After injuring his knee in a Week 3 blowout against the 49ers, Russell Wilson's fantasy stock took a big dive. Although Wilson will end up throwing for over 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, his lack of rushing stats killed his chances to become the Top-5 QB many projected him to be. After this game in Week 3, Wilson went seven straight weeks where he didn't run for more than 20 yards in a game.
Week 4: Matt Ryan bounces back
As some of the higher drafted quarterbacks struggled out of the gate, Matt Ryan reminded the fantasy world why he's still a QB1. After three great performances to start the year, Ryan threw for a franchise-record 503 yards and four touchdowns in Week 4. The monster outing helped Ryan finish as the second-highest scoring QB in fantasy through 16 weeks. That's not too shabby for a guy who went undrafted in a lot of leagues this year.
Week 5: Return of Brady
Tom Brady's four-game suspension made him a great value pick in a lot of drafts, and in Week 5 he immediately started paying dividends. Brady fulfilled all the "Angry Brady" hype and threw for 406 yards and three scores against the hapless Browns. Brady ended up averaging nearly 300 passing yards per game for the rest of the season, carrying the owners who patiently waited for his return.
Week 6: Beckham is back
The first five weeks of Odell Beckham Jr's season seemed to revolve around just about everything but his play, but in Week 6, that all changed. After five relatively lackluster games, Beckham exploded with 222 yards and two touchdowns to jump-start his season. Despite the bumpy start and all the behavior issues, Beckham finished as the fourth highest scoring receiver in fantasy as his touchdown receptions regressed to the mean.
Week 7: Meet Jay Ajayi
Every single year, there's a running back who emerges from out of nowhere to turn the fantasy world upside down. Jay Ajayi wasn't even in active in Week 1, but in Week 7 with Arian Foster out of the picture, he rattled off his second straight 200+ yard rushing game and established himself as a clear workhorse back. Ajayi would naturally come back down to earth a bit, but his three games with over 200 rushing yards helped him finish as the 10th highest scoring RB in all of fantasy.
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Week 8: Carr-diac kids
Derek Carr was seemingly boom or bust all year long, but he was always at his best when the Raiders needed to come from behind. Carr led the Raiders to an incredible seven comebacks in the fourth-quarter this season, but his Week 8 comeback against the Bucs was undoubtedly his finest. Carr lit up the Bucs for 513 yards and four touchdowns, which ended up being the most single-game fantasy points for any quarterback this season.
Week 9: Stafford's heroics
Matthew Stafford engineered eight fourth-quarter comebacks this season, and NFL record. While you don't get bonus points for that in fantasy, Stafford's fourth quarter heroics salvaged his day in even the toughest matchups. Week 9's game-winning touchdown pass to Golden Tate in overtime against the Vikings was a perfect example of that. Stafford finished as the 10th highest scoring QB.
Week 10: Zeke for MVP?
Ezekiel Elliott had a lot of great performances throughout the season, but his Week 10 effort against the Steelers was his best yet. Elliott totaled 209 yards and three touchdowns, giving fuel to the fire that was not just the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but also the league MVP. Despite catching roughly 45 less passes than Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson, Elliott finished as the second-highest scoring back in all of fantasy thanks to his prowess as a runner.
Week 11: Dak's show
Early in the season, there was still talk about what would happen when Tony Romo got healthy. At about Week 11 of the season, that talk all but died. Against a tough run defense in Baltimore, Prescott stepped up and was nearly flawless, throwing for 301 yards and three scores. Rookie quarterbacks are almost always busts in terms of fantasy production, but Prescott's efficient, mistake-free brand of football made him the sixth highest-scoring QB this season.
Week 12: A.B. all day
Antonio Brown was close to the consensus No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts this season, and he certainly didn't disappoint. Through 16 weeks, Brown narrowly edged Jordy Nelson as fantasy's top receiver, once again showing an unreal connection with Ben Roethlisberger throughout the year. Even with Big Ben banged up, Le'Veon Bell suspended and the Steelers missing other talent at receiver throughout the year, Brown stayed steady as ever throughout another great campaign.
Week 13: DJ's quiet dominance
We are a long way removed from the "David Johnson or Todd Gurley?" debate, aren't we? Despite not having any truly incredible single-game performances like the ones we've detailed above, Johnson's consistency was remarkable throughout the year. A big part of that was Johnson's value as a receiver, as he had at least five receptions through seven games at one point. Johnson's all-around versatility is rivaled only by Le'Veon Bell, and given the lack of injury or character issues, there's a strong case to be made for Johnson being the top running back off the board next season. No skill position player outscored him through 16 weeks, after all.
Week 14: Ring the Bell
We can't forget about how good Bell was all year, either. Despite missing the first three games of the season, Bell still finished fourth in total fantasy points at the running back position. A record-setting performance in Week 14 certainly aided that, as Bell went off for 236 rushing yards, three rushing scores and 62 receiving yards to boot. Considering that this effort came in the fantasy playoffs for many teams, Bell's perfomance here was the best of the fantasy season for any player.
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Week 15: Rolling Rodgers
After a somewhat slow start to the season, Aaron Rodgers ended the year on fire and kept a lot of fantasy hopes afloat. In the last seven weeks, Rodgers has thrown for 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. On the season, his surprising rushing ability (327 yards, 4 TD) and red zone prowess with Jordy Nelson carried him back to the QB1 spot on the year. It looked like Rodgers was on the decline, but he put a lot of those thoughts to bed with his finish this year.
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Week 16: Browns win!
Every week in our rankings and fantasy advice podcast and columns, we'd tell you to pick on the Cleveland Browns and their league-worst defense. It took 16 weeks, but finally, that advice proved to be wrong. The Browns narrowly avoided becoming the new Detroit Lions, beating the San Diego Chargers to get their first win. In a year full of cruel injuries andfantasy busts across the board, it was kind of nice to see the Browns finally get one. Good luck next year, everyone.