When superstars have down years it can be the beginning of the end. This is especially true if that down year (or injury) happens later in their career, but it's important to remember that it doesn't always mean that. Careers don't work in perfect arcs because there are ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Sometimes it means you've got a fantastic buy opportunity on a truly elite talent because they're going to follow the worst stretch of their career with one of their best.
That's exactly what happened with our top three vote-getters for the biggest bounce-backs from 1997-2009. We'll see if Todd Gurley, David Johnson, A.J. Green, Rob Gronkowski and others can follow in their footsteps in 2020.
Randy Moss 2007 (6 votes)
Only one person left Moss's remarkable 2007 off their list. I'm just going to assume that was an oversight, because this wasn't the easiest thing to search. Moss was 30 years old and coming off a disastrous year in Oakland where he caught a career-low 42 passes for 553 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots traded a fourth-round pick for him and Moss repaid them with the best year of his career; 98 catches, 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was the No. 1 receiver in Fantasy, and it was the best season for any receiver since 1997.
Peyton Manning 2012 (3 votes)
Like Moss, Manning may have already been a Hall of Famer before his bounce-back, but that did make his resurgence in Denver any less remarkable. If you'll remember, Manning missed the 2011 season with a neck injury and some speculated his career could be over. He was cut by the Colts and signed a five-year deal with the Broncos 13 days later. In his first year back from injury all Manning did was throw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns. One year later he'd produce the best season in Fantasy history.
Ricky Williams 2009 (2 votes)
Entire documentaries have been written about the ups and downs of Ricky Williams' career. The happy ending, if there was one, came in the 2009 season. But first, a quick recap. In 2002 and 2003 he produced a combined 3,839 total yards and 27 touchdowns in Miami. In 2004, he retired. A lot happened in the next five years, but the short story is he played just 29 games, served multiple suspensions and produced zero top 25 Fantasy seasons from 2004 through 2008. Then, at age 32, William's totaled 1,385 yards, scored 13 touchdowns and finished as the No. 7 running back in Fantasy.
Others receiving votes:
- Terrell Owens 2000 -- Owens was the No. 2 receiver in football a year after mustering just 754 receiving yards.
- Tiki Barber 2002 - Barber wrestled a feature role away from Ron Dayne and posted his first top 10 running back season at age 27.
- Adrian Peterson 2012 -- Peterson's speedy recovery from an ACL injury was one thing. Leading the NFL in carries, yards and touchdowns was quite another.
- Larry Fitzgerald 2015 -- Fitzgerald returned from his exile in the land of terrible quarterback play to finish as a top-10 receiver for the first time in four seasons.
- Doug Martin 2015 -- If ever there was a two-year wonder. Martin topped 1,600 total yards in 2012 and 2016. He didn't have more than 800 in any other season.
- Todd Gurley 2017 -- In his first year with Sean McVay, Gurley had more than 2,000 total yards and 19 total touchdowns. This, after being one of the biggest busts in Fantasy in 2016.
- DeAndre Hopkins 2017 -- It's amazing what getting loose from Brock Osweiler can do for you. Hopkins' 13 touchdowns from his year are still a career-high.