Fantasy Football One-Hit Wonders: Part I – Quarterback Edition

They say nothing lasts forever. For some, it’s a gradual decline after a long period of greatness. For others, that reality comes fast and unexpected. In sports especially, careers and greatness can be very short-lived. Today we take a look at the all-time fantasy football one-hit wonders at the quarterback position, the quarterback equivalents of Sisqó if you will. Like him, their flames burned bright, but the wick was short. Before getting into the list, let’s take a look at some guys who barely missed the cut.

Quarterback Fantasy Football One-Hit Wonders

Honorable Mentions

  • Alex Smith
    • 2017 Stats: 341/505 (67.5%) – 4,042 yds – 26 TD – 5 INT – 355 rush yds – 1 rush TD
    • 2017 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 4 / Overall: 29
  • Kordell Stewart
    • 1997 Stats: 236/440 (53.6%) – 3,020 yds – 21 TD – 17 INT – 476 rush yds – 11 rush TD
    • 1997 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 2 / Overall: 7
  • Nick Foles
    • 2013 Stats: 203/317 (64.0%) – 2,891 yds – 27 TD – 2 INT – 221 rush yds – 3 rush TD
    • 2013 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 9 / Overall: 68
  • Derek Anderson
    • 2007 Stats: 298/527 (56.5%) – 3,787 yds – 29 TD – 19 INT – 70 rush yds – 3 rush TD
    • 2007 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 7 / Overall: 39

The Top Five

5) Blake Bortles

  • Starting this list off, we have the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft out of UCF, Blake Bortles. Bortles’ career to this point is akin to Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster; fast and quick with one big hill. Heading into his rookie year, Bortles drew a lot of “next Andrew Luck” comparisons due to his combination of size and athletic ability, but as we saw, Bortles never lived up to that hype. There was a time, however, in 2015 when it looked like he may be on that trajectory as a franchise quarterback after an awesome sophomore season in which he scored 316.1 fantasy points, which is currently the 46th-best fantasy season by a quarterback since the 1970 merger. After a rough rookie year that saw him throw more interceptions than touchdowns, Bortles improved dramatically in that 2015 sophomore year by more than tripling his touchdown passes while keeping his turnover rate about the same. He was able to make the jump up to QB4 overall and was the 34th-best player in the NFL for fantasy purposes. That all came crashing down the following year when regression hit and only a few years later, the Jaguars had moved on from the idea of him being their franchise signal-caller, leaving him to take a backup gig for the Los Angeles Rams. Bortles’ 2016 season is the only other year of his career finishing as a top ten quarterback (QB10 on the dot), and as an overall player above the baseline for replacement level. Bortles’ career isn’t over as he’s only 28 and we’ve seen guys have late-career surges before, but it’s not looking promising that he’ll ever have another year as he did in 2015. No matter how the rest of his career turns out, Bortles will always have that magical 2015 season go down in fantasy lore.
    • 2015 Stats: 355/606 (58.6%) – 4,428 yds – 35 TD – 18 INT – 310 rush yds – 2 rush TD
    • 2015 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 4 / Overall: 34

4) Scott Mitchell

  • After being drafted 93rd overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, Scott Mitchell spent most of his first few years riding the pine behind Dan Marino, only seeing action when Marino was injured. In 1994 he decided to spread his wings a bit and sign with the Detroit Lions for a chance to finally become a starting quarterback in the NFL. 1994 was extremely rough as he completed less than half his passes and threw more interceptions than touchdowns before getting injured. The next year, out of nowhere, Mitchell. Went. OFF! He set single-season records for the Lions in both touchdowns (32) and yards (4,338) and finished the year as the second-best quarterback in fantasy and the 11th-best player in fantasy overall with 314 points. Mitchell never had another year in his career with more than 19 touchdowns, 3,500 yards, and 204 fantasy points. He did finish QB9 and QB11 in the next two seasons, but he dropped off by more than 100 points from his career year. Those two seasons were the only other seasons of his entire career that he finished better than QB22 and as an overall player above the baseline for replacement level. To illustrate how truly incredible that year was for him, his 314 fantasy points still stand as the 48th-most by any quarterback since the 1970 merger. That also made up nearly one-third of his 966 points throughout his 11-year career and his 32:12 TD:INT ratio in ’95 was a far cry from the 63:69 TD:INT ratio he compiled in the other ten years combined.
    • 1995 Stats: 346/583 (59.3%) – 4,338 yds – 32 TD – 12 INT – 104 rush yds – 4 rush TD
    • 1995 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 2 / Overall: 11

3) Steve Beuerlein

  • From one fourth-round pick to another, Beuerlein may have definitely had the most improbable path to fantasy greatness of anyone on this list. Drafted 110th overall by the Raiders in the 1987 draft, it wouldn’t be until more than a decade later before he finally made his mark in the fantasy history books. His tenure with the Raiders was short and ended with a contract dispute that ultimately got him traded to the Dallas Cowboys before the 1991 season. He spent the next two seasons as Troy Aikman’s backup, only playing when Aikman was injured. Having played well in his limited time with the Cowboys, he was able to sign a deal with the Cardinals to become their starting quarterback in 1993. After some rocky play, the Cardinals brought in a new coach in 1994 in Buddy Ryan who benched Beuerlein after two games in 1994 and stated that he was “one of the worst quarterbacks he had ever seen” and “a cancer that needed to be cut out.” Sure enough, that was the end of his time with the Cardinals who put him available for the upcoming 1995 Expansion Draft, in which he was taken first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars to become their starting quarterback. He was replaced by Mark Brunell after getting hurt early on and that, combined with another rocky relationship with his coach, spelled the end of his time in Jacksonville and he signed a deal with the Carolina Panthers in 1996 to back up Kerry Collins. He then spent the next two and a half seasons as the backup before finally getting the starting job in the middle of 1998 season when Kerry Collins was released. Along comes 1999, and that’s when the magic happens. At 34 years old, on his fifth team, and having spent most of his career to that point either hurt or as a backup, Beuerlein made his first Pro Bowl and led the league in passing yards and completions and was second to only Kurt Warner in touchdowns and passer rating. He was the second-best quarterback in fantasy that year and the sixth-best player overall with 316 points, which still stands as the 47th-best fantasy season ever by a quarterback since the merger. He never finished as a top ten quarterback in fantasy outside of this year, never topped 208 fantasy points, and only had two other years where he finished above the baseline as a replacement-level player, despite playing from 1987-2003. Looking back, Beuerlein has one of the more fascinating careers and one of the most improbable late-career breakouts you’ll ever see.
    • 1999 Stats: 343/571 (60.1%) – 4,436 yds – 36 TD – 15 INT – 124 rush yds – 2 rush TD
    • 1999 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 2 / Overall: 6

2) Robert Griffin III

  • RG3 took the league by storm as a rookie in 2012. The problem, however, was that he took the old March proverb “in like a lion, out like a lamb” a bit too seriously and was never able to duplicate that rookie season success. To be fair, major injuries are very much to blame for derailing his career. Fresh off a Heisman Trophy in 2011, Griffin had boosted his NFL stock enormously and the Washington Redskins decided to trade up to take him second overall behind Andrew Luck. In his NFL debut, he lit up the Saints in a big win and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. From that point, he continued an incredible rookie year in which he was named to the Pro Bowl and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Since RG3 was such a dual-threat, inherent injury risks come with taking more hits. He was able to dodge major injuries for most of the year but it all came crashing down in the playoffs when he tore both his ACL and LCL. This was the second ACL tear he had endured and when he returned the following season, it was clear that he had lost a step and wasn’t as dynamic anymore. After struggling during his sophomore season, and the team with a 3-10 record, RG3 was benched for the final three games of the year. The following year, the downward spiral continued as he suffered another injury as he dislocated his ankle in Week 2 and his play continued to get worse. Like Bortles, RG3 is still active today as a backup for the Baltimore Ravens, although with more major injuries to his credit and on the wrong side of 30, his chances for fantasy relevance may be even slimmer. His rookie year was truly amazing and was the best season of anyone on this list. His 317.5 points still rank as the 44th-best fantasy season since the 1970 merger by any quarterback and he did it in one less game than anyone on this list as well. To illustrate how much of an outlier that season was for RG3, his fantasy points, passing TD, and rushing yards from that year are almost equal to the fantasy output from the rest of his career… COMBINED. His 20:5 TD:INT ratio that season was a far cry from the 23:23 TD:INT ratio for the rest of his career combined. Despite finishing as the QB5 and as the 22nd-best player overall in fantasy that year, RG3 never again finished higher than QB18 or even as a player above the replacement level baseline ever again, marking one of the saddest “what if” careers we’ve ever seen.
    • 2012 Stats: 258/393 (65.6%) – 3,200 yds – 20 TD – 5 INT – 815 rush yds – 7 rush TD
    • 2012 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 5 / Overall: 22

1) Don Majkowski

  • The “Magic Man” absolutely lived up to his nickname when in 1989 he had an incredible year, and then POOF, just like that, his fantasy value completely disappeared. After being drafted in the 10th round of the 1987 NFL Draft, Majkowski spent the first two years as a part-time player. In 1989, he was handed the keys to the car and proceeded to take Packers fans on a magical ride. Out of nowhere, he made the Pro Bowl and led the NFL in passing yards (4,318) while leading Green Bay to a 10-6 record. The magic fairy dust ran out quickly though as he struggled mightily in the follow-up season in 1990 before it was ultimately cut short by a torn rotator cuff midway through the year. The following year, he was truly “Wally Pipped” early in the 1991 season when he tore a ligament in his ankle and was replaced by some guy named Brett Favre, and the rest is history. Majkowski signed as a backup with the Indianapolis Colts the next year and spent two seasons there and then signed with the Lions in 1995 to back-up another guy on this list, Scott Mitchell, who I’m pretty sure stole the remaining fairy dust from the Magic Man and used it up in that ’95 season. Following the 1996 season, Majkowski retired from the NFL. To put in perspective how polar opposite his 1989 season was from the rest of his career, despite going 10-6 that year, Majkowski finished his career with a losing record (26-30-1) and never had a single winning year outside of ’89. Despite a 27:20 TD:INT ratio that year, he finished his career with more interceptions (66) than touchdowns (66) and never even had more than 10 touchdowns in a single season for the rest of his career. That season was also the only Pro Bowl year of his career and the only season he even passed for more than 2,200 yards! He finished as the best quarterback in fantasy in 1989 and the sixth-best player overall but never finished better than QB20 in any other year of his career and was never above the replacement level baseline. When it comes to QB fantasy one-hit wonders, the “Magic Man” takes down the crown.
    • 1989 Stats: 353/599 (58.9%) – 4,318 yds – 27 TD – 20 INT – 358 rush yds – 5 rush TD
    • 1989 Fantasy Ranks: QB: 1 / Overall: 6

In my opinion, these are the top five biggest fantasy one-hit wonders at the quarterback position. Who do you think is too high and who is too low? Is there someone deserving that was left off the list? I want to hear your thoughts in the comments or on social media! Stay tuned for part two of this series when I look at the biggest fantasy one-hit wonders at the running back position.

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