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101 interesting fantasy facts from the 2016 season

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I grew up in the state of Connecticut, worked at Watertown Golf Club for 10 years and was at one point a five handicap. I've been pretty much obsessed with sports since I was about seven, and I've been a diehard fan of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees for more than 35 years. My favorite players growing up were Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly, Danny White and Tony Dorsett (to name a few). I love "Star Wars," WWE, "Rocky," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Cheers" and "Game of Thrones," and I sometimes go all Dick Vermeil during sentimental moments of TV shows and movies.

Those are a few facts about me.

Now for something a lot more interesting ... here are '101 Fantasy Football Facts' from the 2016 NFL season.

Special thanks to NFL Research extraordinaires Careen Falcone and Evan Lazar for their help with this column.

1. There were 25 quarterbacks who scored 200-plus fantasy points this season, which is the most in a single season in NFL history. There were 786 touchdowns thrown, however, which is the fewest since 2012 (757). The NFL's single-season high in touchdown passes came last season (842).

2. The 2016 season also saw 18 signal-callers reach the 250-fantasy point plateau. That total has more than doubled since 2010, when eight quarterbacks hit that mark. Collectively, quarterbacks scored 8,311 fantasy points, second-most in a single season in NFL history. The all-time record is 8,628, which was set in 2015.

3. A total of 20 quarterbacks finished in the top 25 in overall fantasy points in 2016, which is tied for most in NFL history. Of the top 15 fantasy quarterbacks, 10 were drafted in Round 8 or later. This included Matt Ryan, who finished with the second-most fantasy points (347.46) in the league.

4. Based on NFL.com's ADP (average draft position), Ryan was one of the best values in fantasy football among quarterbacks. Despite going undrafted in most leagues (ADP in 15th round), he threw 38 touchdown passes. That set a single-season Atlanta franchise record.

5. Five different quarterbacks threw for 30 or more touchdowns this season. That's less than half of the single-season record of 11 that was set in 2015, and comes despite the fact that NFL teams threw the football a record 59.3 percent of the time.

6. Only two quarterbacks scored 30-plus fantasy points in multiple games this season, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Nine quarterbacks had multiple 30-plus point contests in 2015.

7. Rodgers is the first quarterback in NFL history with 39-plus passing touchdowns, 350-plus rushing yards, and four-plus rushing touchdowns in a single season. The closest such seasons came from Cam Newton (2015) and Steve Young (1998).

8. Brees has been a top 10 fantasy quarterback in 13 straight seasons dating back to 2004. His 332.32 fantasy points in 2016 were the fourth-most in NFL history for a quarterback at age 37 or older (Peyton Manning - 2013, Young - 1998).

9. Brees threw for 5,000-plus yards for the fifth time in his career. All other quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League have combined to produce four such seasons, and none have reached that mark more than once.

10. Five quarterbacks have finished in the top 10 in fantasy points at the position in each of the last two seasons. Two of those signal-callers, not surprisingly, are Rodgers and Brees. The other three are Matthew Stafford, Blake Bortles and Kirk Cousins.

11. In his first two seasons as the full-time starter in Washington, Cousins has ranked eighth and fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks. Overall, he ranks sixth among quarterbacks in points in the last two seasons behind Rodgers, Newton, Brees, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady.

12. Cousins, who had an ADP of Round 14 on NFL.com, also set a new Washington franchise record for passing yards this season (4,917). That ranked third in the NFL behind Brees and Ryan.

13. Brady averaged 21.38 fantasy points per game at the age of 39, making him the oldest player ever to average more than 18 points per game in a single season.

14. Brady will turn 40 on August 3, 2017.

15. After finishing first in fantasy points among quarterbacks last season, Newton finished 19th at the position in 2016. He experienced a 134.8-point decline in production compared to his 2015 MVP season.

16. Newton is the first quarterback since Mike Vick (2010-2011) to finish first in fantasy points one season and drop out of the top 10 altogether the following campaign.

17. Newton's 90 rushing attempts were a career low and 42 fewer than he had in 2015. His 359 rushing yards also marked a career low, as was his 4.0-yards-per-attempt average.

18. Tyrod Taylor, Colin Kaepernick, Rodgers and Bortles had more rushing yards than Newton this season.

19. The quarterback who has led the position in rushing yards has finished as a top 10 fantasy quarterback every year since 2010 (seven straight seasons).

20. Taylor, who led the position in rushing yards in 2016, finished eighth among quarterbacks with 270.92 fantasy points.

21. Taylor rushed for six touchdowns, which was tied with Dak Prescott for the most in the league by a quarterback. There were 65 rushing scores by quarterbacks overall, which is the most in a season since 2012 (66).

22. Prescott's 286.88 fantasy points were the third-most in NFL history by a rookie quarterback, trailing only Newton (368.30) in 2011 and Robert Griffin III (317.50) in 2012. The top seven fantasy seasons from a rookie quarterback have all occurred since the 2011 season.

23. Prescott became the second player in NFL history to throw for 3,500-plus passing yards and fewer than five interceptions in a season. The other is Brady, who also accomplished that feat in 2010 and 2016.

24. Ben Roethlisberger averaged 24.6 fantasy points per game at Heinz Field. Projected over a full season, he would have scored 394.4 points in the impossible (but interesting) scenario where all of his starts came at home. That total would have made Big Ben the highest scoring player in fantasy football.

25. Roethlisberger was a far different quarterback on the road, averaging 13 fantasy points per game. Projected over a full season, he would have scored 208.5 points in the impossible (but interesting) scenario where all of his starts came on the road. That total would have ranked Big Ben 25th in points at the position.

26. Out of the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks based on ADP, a list that includes Roethlisberger, a mere three (Rodgers, Brees, Andrew Luck) went on to finish in the top 10 in points at the position.

27. The other seven quarterbacks (Newton, Russell Wilson, Brady, Carson Palmer, Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers) finished no higher than 11th, and four of them ranked outside of the top 15.

28. The running back revival of 2016 came to fruition, as nine runners finished with 200-plus fantasy points. That's seven more than hit that mark in 2015.

29. There were 12 running backs that eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season, which was almost double the amount of 2015 (seven). That came despite the fact that NFL teams ran the football an average of 26 times per game. That is the lowest mark in the Super Bowl era.

30. There were 443 rushing touchdowns scored this season. That is 78 more than in 2015, and it's the most in a single season since 2008.

31. In 2015, six of the top 10 fantasy flex players were wide receivers. All six of those wideouts scored 220-plus fantasy points. The top four running backs were Devonta Freeman, Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin and DeAngelo Williams.

32. In 2016, eight of the top 10 fantasy flex players were running backs. All eight of those runners scored 209-plus fantasy points. The lowest-scoring back was Melvin Gordon, who missed the last three weeks due to injuries. Freeman was the lone top-four fantasy back from 2015 to make the list.

33. This was the first season in 10 years where two running backs (David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott) eclipsed the 290-point fantasy mark. Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson all had 290-plus fantasy points in 2006.

34. Johnson finished with an impressive 327.80 fantasy points, which is the most for a running back since Chris Johnson scored 342.9 points in 2009. D.J. was also the first running back to break the 300-point mark since Jamaal Charles did it during the 2013 season.

35. Johnson is one of four running backs in NFL history to record 1,200-plus rushing yards and 800-plus receiving yards in a single season, joining Marshall Faulk (three times), Le'Veon Bell and Steven Jackson. His 879 receiving yards were the most by a running back since Charlie Garner (941) in 2002.

36. Johnson had more receiving yards than Allen Robinson, Alshon Jeffery, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and Sammy Watkins. All five of those players were drafted as high- to low-end No. 1 or No. 2 fantasy wideouts.

37. Not surprisingly, Johnson appeared on the most NFL.com fantasy championship rosters (29.8 percent) this season.

38. As great as Johnson was in the stat sheets, historical data indicates that he doesn't have much of a chance to finish first in fantasy points at his position in 2017. In fact, no running back has ranked in the top spot in back-to-back seasons since Tomlinson (2006-2007).

39. Elliott was the lone running back with 300-plus rushing attempts this season, which is tied for the fewest number of running backs to reach that mark since 1990.

40. Elliott was the first rookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards since Edgerrin James (1999). His 1,631 rushing yards were more than 10 different teams totaled this season. He was also the lone player in the NFL with either 100-plus scrimmage yards or a touchdown in every single game.

41. Elliott had the most total touchdowns (16) by a rookie running back since Maurice Jones-Drew (16) in his rookie campaign. His 293.40 fantasy points was the third-most among rookie backs in NFL history, behind Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James.

42. The Cowboys' top-scoring fantasy running back has finished no worse than 13th at the position in each of the last four seasons. DeMarco Murray ranked seventh (2013) and first (2014), Darren McFadden ranked 13th (2014) and Elliott finished second (2016). McFadden had just 37 rush attempts in the first five games of 2015, so he had top-10 potential.

43. Despite the fact that he missed the first three games of the season and was rested in Week 17, Le'Veon Bell still finished fourth in fantasy points among running backs. His 20.2-points per game average would have projected to 323.2 over a full 16 games, which would have been good enough to finish second in points behind Johnson at the position.

44. Bell's impressive 16.79 career fantasy points per game average trails only Hall of Famer Jim Brown (18.62) for the highest average in NFL history for a running back (minimum 16 games played).

45. Bell also averaged 157 scrimmage yards per contest, which is the third-most in a single season in the history of the NFL. Only O.J. Simpson (160.2 YPG) in 1975 and Priest Holmes (163.4 YPG) in 2002 have had a better average.

46. The Steelers have now had a top-four fantasy running back (Bell - 2014, 2016, DeAngelo Williams - 2015) in each of the last three seasons.

47. Despite the fact that he didn't start a game until Week 4, Jordan Howard still finished second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,313. He had seven 100-yard rushing games, which is a Chicago Bears rookie record.

48. Howard averaged 5.2 yards per rush this season. The only Bears running back to average more yards per carry in a single season is Hall of Famer Walter Payton (5.5 YPC) in 1977.

49. Howard appeared on the third-most championship rosters (21.9 percent) on NFL.com. He wasn't even drafted in most leagues.

50. Howard finished second in rushing yards behind Elliott. It's the first time in the Super Bowl era that the top two rushers were in their first NFL season.

51. LeGarrette Blount is the first running back to rush for 18 touchdowns in a single season since Adrian Peterson did it in 2009. His 18 touchdowns are a New England franchise record and destroyed his previous career high of seven, which was set in 2013.

52. Blount will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.

53. Jay Ajayi became the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to rush for 200-plus yards three times in the same season. Two of those three games were against the Buffalo Bills. The only other players to rush for 200-plus yards against the same team in the same season were Jamal Lewis (2003) and O.J. Simpson (1973).

54. Latavius Murray finished with 788 rushing yards this season, which was just five more yards than Ajayi had after contact (783).

55. In his first four career starts, Todd Gurley averaged 141.5 rushing yards and 20.2 fantasy points per game. He's averaged just 59 rushing yards and 10.8 fantasy points in his last 24 contests.

56. Gurley's 278 rush attempts were the most among running backs to score fewer than 160 fantasy points this season. Furthermore, Gurley and Jeremy Hill finished with nearly identical fantasy points (155.20 for Gurley, 155.30 for Hill) despite the fact that Gurley had 56 more carries.

57. Gurley's 3.18 rushing yards per attempt this season were the fewest in the NFL among players with at least 150 rush attempts (27 qualifiers).

58. Mark Ingram is the first Saints player to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season since Deuce McAllister accomplished that feat in 2006. Ingram also snapped the longest drought for an NFL team without a 1,000-yard rusher.

59. Entering this season, the second longest active streak for a team without a 1,000-yard rusher belonged to the Colts. However, Frank Gore (1,025 yards) snapped that streak. That means the Carolina Panthers are now the team with the longest active streak without a 1,000-yard rusher (since 2009).

60. The top of the fantasy wide receiver list was loaded with busts this season. Out of the top 10 wideouts based on points a season ago, six finished outside of the top 25 during the course of the 2016 campaign. That includes Robinson (28th), A.J. Green (34th), Hopkins (36th) and Marshall (52nd).

61. There were only three wide receivers (Mike Evans, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown) that scored 200-plus fantasy points this season, which is the fewest since 2012. Six wideouts hit that mark in 2015.

62. The top fantasy wide receiver, Evans, finished 33rd in fantasy points among all players this season. In 2015, the top six fantasy wide receivers all finished in the top 30 overall. Brown, Julio Jones and Marshall all finished in the top 25.

63. Four wide receivers recorded 1,000-plus receiving yards and scored 10-plus touchdowns this season (Nelson, Brown, Evans, Odell Beckham Jr.). This was the fewest in a season since 2011 when Calvin Johnson and Nelson were the lone wide receivers to reach those marks.

64. Evans led all NFL wide receivers with 173 targets this season. This was the first time since 2009 (Andre Johnson, 171) that no receivers hit the 175-target mark.

65. On a positive note, 49 wide receivers scored 100-plus fantasy points this season. That is the most in NFL history. There were also 41 wideouts with 100-plus targets, which is tied for the most in a single season since targets were tracked in 1992.

66. The top 12 fantasy wide receivers included three pairs of teammates: Nelson (WR2) and Davante Adams (WR7), Brandin Cooks (WR8) and Michael Thomas (WR9), and Michael Crabtree (WR11) and Amari Cooper (WR12).

67. Brown has finished no worse than sixth in fantasy points among wideouts in each of the last four seasons, including three campaigns in the top three. He also has the second-most receiving yards in that four-season span in NFL history (6,315), which is just shy of Marvin Harrison's record run from 1999-2002 (6,322).

68. Beckham Jr. has scored the fourth-most fantasy points (622.9) through a player's first three seasons in NFL history, trailing only Jamal Lewis (712), Randy Moss (683.6) and Jerry Rice (626).

69. OBJ's 14.5 career fantasy points per game average is the most by a wide receiver since the 1970 NFL merger (minimum five games).

70. In Week 4 against the Panthers, Julio Jones set a single-game Falcons franchise record with 300 receiving yards. That game accounted for 20 percent of his overall fantasy points this season.

71. Jones scored six or fewer fantasy points five different times, and he missed two games due to injuries. So, during the course of the fantasy season, he scored six or fewer points 50 percent of the time.

72. Jones scored just three touchdowns after Week 4, one of which came in the regular-season finale (when most fantasy leagues had ended).

73. Much like Jones, Cooper was horribly unreliable this season. In fact, he had as many games with fewer than six fantasy points as he did games with double-digit fantasy points (six), and he finished with 16-plus points just twice.

74. The longest receiving touchdown of the season belongs to Cooks, who scored on a 98-yard catch (15.8 fantasy points) against the Raiders in Week 1. That was more points than Demaryius Thomas scored in a single game the entire season.

75. T.Y. Hilton became the first Colts player since Reggie Wayne (2007) to lead the NFL in receiving yards (1,448). He also registered the most receptions of 20-plus yards in the NFL this season (28), and finished in the top 10 in fantasy points among wideouts for the first time in his career.

76. Terrelle Pryor Sr. is the second player in NFL history with 1,000-plus receiving yards in one season and 1,000-plus pass yards in another season. Marlin Briscoe is the one other player to reach those marks. Briscoe played for six different teams during his nine NFL seasons (1968-1976).

77. Larry Fitzgerald (age 33) is the third-oldest player in NFL history to lead the league in receptions (107), behind Jerry Rice and MacArthur Lane. Rice was 34 when he led the NFL in receptions (1996). Lane was also 34 at the time of his accomplishment (1976).

78. Sterling Shepard scored double-digit fantasy points eight different times this season. Only three rookie wide receivers in the last 18 seasons have had more (A.J. Green, Beckham Jr., Mike Williams).

79. Tyreek Hill, who finished 15th in fantasy points among wide receivers, accounted for 12 touchdowns this season. That's tied for the fifth-most in NFL history by a rookie wideout. Hill was undrafted in most fantasy leagues.

80. A total of 54 wide receivers, including Anquan Boldin, Ted Ginn, Will Fuller and Alshon Jeffery (who was suspended four games), finished with more targets at the position than Hill.

81. Golden Tate led the NFL with 619 yards after the catch this season. Nearly 50 percent of his fantasy points came from yards after the catch.

82. The fantasy tight end spot was brutal this season. For the first time since Shannon Sharpe in 1998, not a single player at the position eclipsed the 140-fantasy point mark.

83. There were 188 touchdown passes thrown to tight ends this season, the fewest in a single season since 2008.

84. Travis Kelce led all tight ends with 138 fantasy points. That total would have put him seventh in points at the position a season ago. Ironically, it was Kelce himself who finished seventh in 2015 ... and he scored 117.5 points.

85. Kelce averaged just four catches for 46 yards in his first six games of the season. He would go on to average six catches for 85 yards in his final 10 games, during which time he was targeted 82 times.

86. Rob Gronkowski scored 10-plus fantasy points in four of his six games. In all, he scored 72 fantasy points (12 PPG) despite missing more than 62 percent of the regular season. That's just 15.3 fewer points than Coby Fleener, who finished 12th in points at the position and didn't miss a game.

87. Hunter Henry and Cameron Brate led the position with eight touchdowns, which was the fewest for the league leader since 2002 when Bubba Franks, Christian Fauria and Tony Gonzalez all scored seven times.

88. San Diego teammates Henry and Antonio Gates combined to score 15 touchdowns this season. All of the New York Jets tight ends combined for 18 receptions.

89. The Jets haven't had a single tight end finish in the top five in fantasy points at the position since Johnny Mitchell ranked in fifth ... in 1994.

90. Zach Ertz averaged four catches for 41 yards and failed to score a touchdown in his first nine games of the season. Over his final five contests, he averaged eight catches for 89 yards and scored three times. This has become a trend ... Ertz averaged four catches for 39 yards with no touchdowns in his first 10 games of 2015, but averaged seven catches, 92 yards and two touchdowns in his final five games of that season.

91. The leader among tight ends in red-zone targets was Kyle Rudolph (24), which was second-most in the NFL behind Jordy Nelson. Rudolph converted those 24 targets into five touchdowns.

92. Matt Bryant finished the season with 170 fantasy points, which is third-most among kickers in the Super Bowl era. Bryant would have been the 14th-ranked running back, the eighth-ranked wide receiver and the top ranked tight end.

93. Bryant's 170 fantasy points were more than Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller, Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper, Jarvis Landry, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Allen Robinson scored this season.

94. The top four kickers (Bryant, Justin Tucker, Dustin Hopkins, Caleb Sturgis) all scored more fantasy points than Kelce, the highest-scoring tight end.

95. This was the first time in the last six seasons that Stephen Gostkowski (11th) did not finish in the top two in fantasy points at the position. Gostkowski's NFL.com ADP was Round 9, meaning he was selected ahead of players like Jay Ajayi, Melvin Gordon, LeGarrette Blount, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore.

96. San Diego's Casey Hayward (seven) and Kansas City's Marcus Peters (six) combined for 13 interceptions. That is equal to or is higher than the total number of interceptions that 18 teams finished with this season.

97. Atlanta's Vic Beasley (15.5) and Denver's Von Miller (13.5) combined for 29 sacks this season. That's more sacks than the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders had as individual teams.

98. Despite a serious lack of sack production, no defense scored more fantasy points this season than the Chiefs (166.0 points). Kansas City has now finished in the top two in fantasy points at the position in three of the last four seasons.

99. The Chiefs defense scored 35 fantasy points against the Jets in Week 3, which is the most scored by a defense since the Seattle Seahawks put up 41 points in Week 14, 2012.

100. The Seahawks have led the NFL in scoring defense in four of the last five seasons, but this unit hasn't finished first in fantasy points at their position once during that span.

101. The Patriots allowed a league-low 15.6 points per game this season, which is the fewest a team has allowed in a season since 2013 when both Seattle (14.4) and Carolina (15.1) beat that mark.


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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