We made it (somehow): A look back at one of the weirdest fantasy football seasons ever

Mo Castillo
·9-min read

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the 2020 fantasy football season is over.

I know, that sounds weird coming from someone who is literally writing for Yahoo Fantasy about fantasy football, but bear with me for a sec.

This has been the most stressful, most frustrating, most anxiety-driven season I’ve ever experienced (and not because my teams ended up in the crapper). Something as simple as choosing which player to start felt like picking the red or blue pill — and I am 100% certain I wasn’t the only fantasy manager to feel this way this year.

A triviality like that — setting your fantasy lineup — in a year like 2020 transformed into something else entirely. Setting a fantasy lineup was a practice in patience, willpower, and hope — kind of like going to work in whatever form that took, stepping out of your house, or even getting out of bed was in 2020.

Yeah, I’m glad the season is over, but not because it was a nightmare. I’m glad it’s over because I’m here and able to look back at it, to see how we got here. And for much of the year, it looked like being able to do that wasn’t a given — we weren’t even sure Week 1 was going to happen, much less 17 of them.

So now that the fantasy champions have been crowned, now that the punishments have been handed out, join me in looking back at how we got here, at looking at the ups, the downs, and the complete upside-downs.

We made it. This year, more than ever, those three words mean a lot.

Remember when ... they let Russell Wilson “cook”

I’ve long considered Russell Wilson one of the most — if not THE most — underrated superstar in the NFL. It just seems like he’s not mentioned that enough when discussing the best quarterbacks in football. He’s been a staple at the top of fantasy leaderboards for years though, with five top-five quarterback finishes since 2013. But didn’t it always feel like the Seahawks — due to their infatuation with establishing the run — were leaving something to be desired?

Well, this season, we got a taste of what could be if the Seahawks would just leave Russell Wilson alone in the kitchen. Wilson had a whopping 14 passing touchdowns through the first three weeks of the season, as he was just slinging it up and down the field seemingly at will.

But just like that, the #LetRussCook movement came to a screeching halt sometime around Week 7-8. The Seahawks reverted to their roots of strong defense and running, and Wilson struggled to deliver some of the gaudy numbers he was churning out earlier in the year (in his defense, he did have a 4-TD performance in Week 14, but there was more disappointment after that).

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.

Remember when ... we lost Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, and Dak Prescott in the span of three weeks

What an absolute nightmare. Not only did we lose Saquon Barkley to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 2, but we lost Christian McCaffrey after two weeks and Dak Prescott — the same Dak Prescott who was on a historic passing pace — to a season-ending fracture in Week 5. McCaffrey would come back over a month later only to get hurt again, and this time he would not play another game in 2020.

So, that’s the No. 1 and No. 2 overall fantasy draft picks gone, along with a quarterback who was heading straight towards an MVP-level season. Brutal.

Remember when ... Alex Smith came back

In a year when we had to use a magnifying glass to find good news, Alex Smith’s successful comeback was up there in the feel-good department.

We don’t need to get into details of how horrible Smith’s leg injury was in 2018. What matters is he came back in 2020 and was on the field playing quarterback.

What a moment:

Remember when ... teams lost entire positional groups to COVID-19 absences

Talk about a microcosm of the season as a whole.

The Broncos literally had no choice but to start a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback after losing their quarterback room (some sneaky Superflex players picked up Kendall Hinton and started him at wide receiver to have three quarterbacks — that didn’t exactly work out). The Raiders lost like, half their defensive starters (twice). The Browns lost all their starting wide receivers in a game they needed to win. And now they’ll be without their head coach, Kevin Stefanski, for their first playoff appearance in over a decade.

And that’s not even mentioning the countless times this season when players and coaching staff personnel were ruled out. Fantasy managers had to navigate all of this multiple times all season.

It was a wild year.

Remember when ... the NFC East

Lololol.

A combined four-team record of 23-40-1 resulted in the Washington Football team “winning” the division at 7-9.

It was a season of mediocrity, a plethora of turnovers, odd quarterback changes — and with, admittedly, a few moments of defensive brilliance — for the teams of the NFC East.

Fantasy managers are just hoping that the likes of Terry McLaurin, Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, and all three Cowboys receivers return in 2021 to better versions of their teams because no one wants a repeat of 2020.

Remember when ... the Steelers-Ravens game was rescheduled 1,000 times

Okay, so it was only rescheduled three times, not 1,000, but c’mon. This was a war of attrition for fantasy managers; trying to stay patient to see if the game was even going to be played, deciding whether to bench your Ravens and Steelers for players in other games, picking up backups for your starters. This was not a fun week.

Ultimately, the game was indeed played, and it ended 19-14, so not exactly the fantasy wonderland one would’ve hoped.

Remember when ... the Cardinals hit the “Hail Murray”

There were a mere 11 seconds left in the game.

The Cardinals, down 30-26, had no timeouts left. It was their last chance.

Murray took the snap, rolled to the left, avoided a sack, and launched a desperation pass towards the end zone.

DeAndre Hopkins — the All-World receiver who made headlines in the offseason after the Texans inexplicably traded him to Arizona — somehow hauled in the catch surrounded by defenders for the game-winning 43-yard touchdown.

What makes this play even more incredible is that it wasn’t even a designed Hail Mary play!

There are some moments that transcend just fantasy stats. Alex Smith’s return was one. This play was another. Put this in every museum:

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals
Three against one in a jump-ball situation with the game on the line. All in a day's work for DeAndre Hopkins. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Remember when ... Taysomsanity started

Drew Brees was placed on IR in November after suffering cracked ribs and a punctured lung.

Most fantasy players and experts alike believed Saints backup quarterback and NFC South stalwart Jameis Winston would start in Brees’ stead. Liz Loza, Matt Harmon, and Dalton Del Don all wrote quality analysis and advice for those starting Winston. I even picked him up in my Superflex league.

And then Sean Payton decided to troll us all. Waiting until midday Friday, news dropped that do-it-all Saints QB Taysom Hill, not Winston, would be starting.

Cue me (the editor), Liz, Dalton, and Matt making the necessary tweaks to their pieces. Cue riled-up fantasy players wanting Hill to get multi-position eligibility (and ohhh, there were a lot). Cue pundits giving countless predictions and projections.

In the end, outside of that Broncos game mentioned above, Hill was not only a substantial quarterback for fantasy purposes (buoyed of course by his rushing prowess), but he also led the Saints to a 3-1 record during his stint as starter.

If the rumors are true and Brees does retire after the end of this season, will Hill be named starter — and if so, how high will you draft him?

Remember when ... Alvin Kamara won fantasy trophies

Speaking of Saints, there were times this season when Alvin Kamara’s fantasy managers were a bit worried about their first-round draft pick.

Some oddly quiet outings (by his standards). The aforementioned Taysom Hill taking over at QB. The odd Latavius Murray usage. The loss of Drew Brees didn’t do Kamara any favors either.

And so all these things combined to make Kamara a bit of an afterthought at points this fantasy season, especially when guys like Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, and James Robinson were hogging all the headlines.

All that nonsense ended in one week. And not just any week: Christmas week — Week 16 — the fantasy football championships for the majority of leagues.

And in Week 16, Alvin Kamara single-handedly gave his fantasy managers a trophy even before the full Sunday slate had begun.

The Saints absolutely destroyed the Vikings on Saturday night, 52-33, with Kamara scoring SIX touchdowns. He touched the ball 25 times for a total of 172 yards.

There are league-winners, and then there’s what Kamara did. In fact, a whopping 90.2 percent of fantasy teams who started Alvin Kamara won in Week 16!

Remember when ... Week 17 was unexpectedly fun

All the important playoff implications. Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor putting up historic numbers. The highest-scoring NFL Red Zone Sunday of all time.

In past years, Week 17 has been the week of backups, as teams who have locked up a playoff spot choose to rest many of their starters. Not so in 2020, as the games were not only action-packed but filled with intrigue about the future.

Maybe this great Week 17 was a sign of hope for a better year ahead? So with that ...

On to 2021

Yeah, it was definitely a wild year. Here’s to hoping for something a bit more normal next fantasy season (although, I wouldn’t be upset if a player I draft in the first round gives me six touchdowns in the championship round). And here’s to hoping everyone stays safe and healthy in the new year.

What moments from this weird fantasy season stuck with you the most? Hit us up and let us know @YahooFantasy!