Fantasy Athletes of the Decade
As the 2000s come to a close let’s look back at the fantasy players who made the biggest impact in their respective sports.
I lead off with the fantasy football player of the decade since it is the most popular fantasy sport. I had a tough time deciding between Peyton Manning and LaDainian Tomlinson. They both were so dominant for such a long time.
Peyton is on pace for his ninth 4,000+ passing season. Should he throw two more TDs this season, which is all but a given, his low water mark for passing TDs in a year will be 26. He has also never missed a game.
Meanwhile LT is approaching his ninth consecutive double-digit TD season. Prior to this year he had at least 1500 total yards in every year. He had six years with 1700+ total yards, three with 2100+. He had six straight years with 15+ combined TDs. He set the NFL record with 31 combined TDs in 2006. He had 50+ receptions from 2001-2008. The accolades can go on and on.
It truly could go either way, but considering the run of greatness LT had in a position that has a much shorter shelf life than Manning’s, I had to take LaDainian Tomlinson as the fantasy football player of the decade.
If you thought switching over to baseball would make it easier, you’d be mistaken. Here the choice is between Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. A-Rod had 1190 Runs, 433 HRs, 1243 RBIs, and 179 SBs. That’s an incredible 119 Runs, 43.3 HRs, 124.3 RBIs, and 17.9 SBs for a decade. His OPS was .914 or better for nine of the ten years. He had five seasons with an OPS greater than 1.000. He hit .304 for the decade. A-Rod won three MVPs, two Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, and was named to nine All-Star teams.
As good as A-Rod was, Pujols was even better. Like LT, Pujols started in 2001 with a bang. In nine years he had 1071 Runs, 366 HRS, 1112 RBIs, and 61 SBs. That’s good for averages of 119 Run, 40.7 HRs, 123.6 RBIs, and 6.8 SBs. I know those numbers are a shade below A-Rod, especially the SBs, but here’s where Pujols more than made up the ground. His batting average for the decade was .334. It never dipped below .314. A-Rod’s best BA of the 2000s was .321. Aside from his low water mark, all of Pujols’ BAs topped that. Albert’s OPS for the decade was 1.055. His lowest OPS was .955. Seven times he was 1.000 or better. Four times he was 1.100 or better. Pujols also won 3 MVPs to go with eight All-Star game appearances, a Gold Glove, and five Silver Sluggers.
The decision wasn’t easy by any means, but in the end Albert Pujols edged A-Rod out.
The fantasy basketball player of the decade also came down to a choice between two amazing players. LeBron didn’t play long enough and Shaq lost his steam so it came down to Tim Duncan vs. Kobe Bryant.
Duncan was such a quiet force, but year in and year out he put up incredible numbers. He has always been a solid scorer, never dipping below 18.5 ppg. He averaged a career best of 25.5 in 01-02. He was one of the leagues best rebounders for a decade, never grabbing less than 10.6 rpg. Not much is said about his passing, but he always had at least 2.7 apg. Last year was the only one in which he failed to reach 2.0 blocks per game. He almost always hit 50 percent of his shots or better. His one downfall has been his free throw shooting.
Kobe has been one of the best offensive players the game has ever seen. He averaged 27 or more ppg six times before this year. He wasn’t just a scorer though as he averaged 5.2+ rpg and 4.5+ apg every year. He was a force on the defensive end as well, with as least 1.3 spg. His field goal percentage was good, not great. It never dipped below .433, but he never had a .500 season either. He made with excellent free throw shooting. He even improved his three-point shooting over the course of the decade.
As much as I prefer Duncan’s personality, I have to choose Kobe Bryant in this debate.
Fantasy hockey was a little more difficult. Jaromir Jagr dominated the early part of the decade. Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have dominated the latter part of the decade. Joe Thornton was pretty solid throughout, but does he really have the star power to nail down this award?
In the end I decided to go with Martin Brodeur. He entered the decade as the game’s best goalie, and he has pretty much maintained that status. He led the league in Wins five or six times (depending on whether you count 99-00 or 09-10 as part of this decade). His Goals Against Average never was above 2.57. In fact, only three times was it above 2.30, including last year in which he was limited to 31 games.He had at least nine shutouts four times. Brodeur won four Vezina Trophies. From 1997-98 through 200708 he was either first or second in Wins. Simply put, Brodeur was the best Goalie in the game and the most dominating hockey player of the decade.
Agree with my choices? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts and state your case.
Images courtesy of Icon SMI.