"One-hit wonders" are a common concept in the music industry, where certain artists capture glory for a single hit song but are incapable of repeating it.
Anyone remember the "Macarena," "Tainted Love" or "99 Luftballons"? Of course you do. Now, does anyone remember any of those artists' other songs, either before or after these big hits? Of course you don't. That's what earns them the label.
But this phenomenon isn't exclusive to music and, in fact, also happens in fantasy football, where the least likely performers put forth the least likely big years. For whatever reason -- injuries, coaching changes, contract squabbles, roster shake-ups or other circumstances -- some players are unable to repeat their lone seasons of glory.
Listed below are 13 of the greatest one-hit fantasy wonders of the 21st century, none of whom was drafted in a standard ESPN league during the season in question. Each is listed with his final PPR fantasy point total, finish at his position and his ADP (average draft position) in the season following his unexpected breakthrough.
Many thanks to ESPN's NFL Nation reporters for their help researching these stories, including Michael DiRocco, Jamison Hensley, John Keim, Jeff Legwold, Patrick McManamon and Michael Rothstein.
Peyton Hillis' 2010
Fantasy points and positional finish: 294.92 (RB3).
Follow-up ADP: 24th overall, RB13.
Say hello to your "Madden 12" cover boy, elected in the first year of NCAA tournament-style-bracket fan balloting (thanks in large part to aggressive online campaigns by the Cleveland Browns), following what was a career year for Hillis.
Acquired along with a pair of draft picks from the Denver Broncos in exchange for 2007 first-round pick Brady Quinn and subsequently placed low on the Browns' depth charts at both running back and tight end, Hillis dashed for 144 yards and a touchdown against a stingy Baltimore Ravens defense in Week 3, filling in for an injured and absent Jerome Harrison (thigh), and never looked back. By Week 7, Harrison, who had rushed for 286 yards and three touchdowns in 2009 Week 15 in one of fantasy football's 25 best single-game scores (49.8 PPR points) by a running back since the merger, had been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for Mike Bell, paving the way for Hillis to amass the league's sixth-most yards from scrimmage (1,654), third-most touchdowns (13) and the most PPR fantasy points (294.92) by any Browns running back in 42 years.
While Hillis was an ideal fit for Eric Mangini's run-oriented, ball-control offense, he didn't click in Pat Shurmur's West Coast offense in 2011. The 2011 lockout also contributed to difficulties in Hillis' securing a new contract, a distraction that lingered into the season. He missed Week 3 due to strep throat, suffered a hamstring injury shortly thereafter and saw his fantasy point total cut by more than half come season's end. Hillis signed with the Kansas City Chiefs the following March but never recaptured his 2010 magic, scoring just 363.8 PPR fantasy points in his six other NFL seasons.
Drew Bennett's 2004
FPTS and positional finish: 276.94 (WR8).
Follow-up ADP: 71st overall, WR21.
His season was most memorable for its finish, as Bennett's production during the fantasy playoffs was amongst the greatest in the game's history, his 111.9 PPR points during Weeks 14-17 combined the second-most by any wide receiver during the 21st century behind only Odell Beckham Jr. (144.5, 2014). Bennett's late-season outburst might've been largely the product of outstanding chemistry with strong-armed quarterback Billy Volek, who was called into starting duty after Steve McNair suffered a sternum injury, but he emerged as one of the team's go-to receivers earlier in the year after Tyrone Calico had his sophomore season ruined by a knee injury suffered by a Roy Williams horse-collar tackle late in the preseason.
At the time of Calico's injury, Bennett had been only the third most-desirable Tennessee Titans wide receiver in fantasy terms, with Derrick Mason the team's clear standout, but he wound up outscoring Mason (254.5) by 22.44 fantasy points.
Bennett would subsequently have two decent fantasy seasons in 2005-06, but his total was still only 293.8 in them, or only 16.86 more than he had during his magical 2004. By 2006, Volek, Bennett's quarterback during his three career games of 30-plus fantasy points, would wind up traded to the San Diego Chargers, where he would serve as their backup for six seasons.
Steve Slaton's 2008
FPTS and positional finish: 271.9 (RB7).
Follow-up ADP: 19th overall, RB11.
Selected in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft, Slaton joined a Houston Texans backfield that had struggled to perform in two seasons following Domanick Williams' season-ending knee surgery in 2005. Emerging from a competition that included Ahman Green, Chris Brown, Chris Taylor, Darius Walker and Marcel Shipp, Slaton tore off a 50-yard run and added a 6-yard touchdown, his first in the NFL, in Week 3 in his first career start to nail down the gig for each of the Texans' final 15 games. Despite his smallish, 5-foot-10, 198-pound frame, Slaton managed to convert four goal-line carries for scores while averaging 4.8 yards per carry, good for seventh-best in the league.
Unfortunately, despite his bulking up to 215 pounds heading into his sophomore season, Slaton began to lose goal-line carries to both Brown and Ryan Moats, and after he fumbled for the seventh time in his first eight games of the 2009 season, Slaton was benched for Moats. A shoulder injury would end Slaton's season after Week 13, and by year's end, Arian Foster had taken over as the Texans' new starter, scoring 45.2 PPR fantasy points in Weeks 16-17 to set up what would be four Pro Bowl appearances for him in the subsequent five seasons.
Nick Foles' 2013
FPTS and positional finish: 259.74 (QB11).
Follow-up ADP: 53rd overall, QB8.
Perhaps you've heard of him? Maybe from some sort of recent, nationally televised, championship-game victory? Foles' second stint as a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback resulted in a ring, but his first stint, as Michael Vick's backup who emerged as the Eagles' starter when Vick suffered concussion and hamstring injuries in consecutive years, produced his one (and perhaps only) miraculous campaign in fantasy football in 2013. Foles, a 2012 third-rounder, was pressed into starting duty for six games late that year while Vick was recovering from a concussion, putting forth a handful of encouraging performances. But it was Vick's hamstring injury in 2013 Week 5 that presented Foles his true opportunity to shine.
Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a Week 9 victory at the Oakland Raiders, his 45.24 fantasy points still the eighth-best by any quarterback since at least 1950, and went on an inexplicable run of seven wins in the Eagles' final eight games to lead his position with 202.06 fantasy points during that nine-week span. Foles' 27-to-2 touchdown to interception ratio set a single-season record, an astonishing, seemingly unsustainable rate ... which inevitably regressed when he was handed the team's starting gig to begin 2014.
Foles threw 10 interceptions in his first eight games, suffered a broken collarbone in Week 9 and was traded to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford the following March. Foles couldn't muster any better fortune there, subsequently slipping into backup duty for the 2016 Kansas City Chiefs and 2017 Eagles ... but even in his clear No. 2 role behind Carson Wentz for the former, things seemed to work out OK for him.
Derek Anderson's 2007
FPTS and positional finish: 252.48 (QB6).
Follow-up ADP: 45th overall, QB7.
A 2005 sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens, Anderson was scooped off waivers by Browns general manager Phil Savage, a former Ravens director of player personnel, that September to serve as the team's No. 3 quarterback. Anderson turned out to be depth the team would need, as starter Charlie Frye, who had endured a miserable conclusion to 2006, was lifted from the 2007 season opener following five sacks and an interception and traded to the Seattle Seahawks two days later, and 2007 No. 22 overall pick Brady Quinn, who had agreed to terms with the team only 33 days earlier, wasn't ready to start. Anderson got the Week 2 nod and threw for 328 yards and five touchdowns on his way to a career-best 31.02 fantasy points and a 33-20 Browns victory, then went on a remarkable stretch of nine wins in 13 games to put the team into playoff contention while finishing sixth at his position for the season in fantasy points.
Anderson's season ended on a sour note -- both in the real and fantasy games -- as his four-interception Week 16 at Cincinnati torpedoed the team's playoff chances. Savage nevertheless re-signed Anderson, a free agent after the year, amid rumors that the Dallas Cowboys might sign the quarterback and trade him to the Ravens, a division rival for the Browns. Things didn't go nearly as smoothly in 2008, as the team was swept in the preseason and top receiver Braylon Edwards wasn't as effective in the season's early weeks after suffering a heel injury when he was spiked by teammate Donte' Stallworth in a preseason drill, and by Week 10 Anderson had ceded the starting job to Quinn. Anderson has made only 21 starts in 9 ½ seasons since, primarily spending his career as a backup with the Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers, and in no other season in his career has he scored as many as 100 fantasy points.
Justin Forsett's 2014
FPTS and positional finish: 246.9 (RB8).
Follow-up ADP: 35th overall, RB14.
The 2014 campaign was a near-perfect storm for Forsett: The Baltimore Ravens didn't sign a big-name backup because they believed Ray Rice was going to be their starting running back following his serving a two-game suspension for his February 2014 domestic violence arrest, instead inking Forsett to a one-year deal for backup depth, but after video surfaced of the incident in early September, Rice was released by the team and suspended indefinitely by the league.
Forsett, having played under then-head coach Gary Kubiak with the 2012 Houston Texans, had the most experience of the remaining Ravens running backs in offensive coordinator Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme. Forsett thrived in his first full season as an NFL starter, his seventh overall in the league, finishing third in the NFL in yards per carry (5.4), fifth in total rushing yards (1,266) and 10th in yards from scrimmage (1,529).
Both Forsett's and the Ravens' success helped earn Kubiak the Denver Broncos' head-coaching job in 2015, and Kubiak's replacement, Marc Trestman, brought a more pass-oriented approach. Trestman's offense didn't click, leading to the team playing a larger portion of its games from behind on the scoreboard, which favored 2015 draftee and passing-down back Javorius Allen. Forsett also broke his arm in Week 11, ending his season, returning to make only three more starts before being released in 2016. He would make three additional starts for Kubiak's Broncos in 2016, filling in for an injured C.J. Anderson, before finally calling it a career in March 2017.
Michael Clayton's 2004
FPTS and positional finish: 244.3 (WR14).
Follow-up ADP: 39th overall, WR10.
The No. 15 overall pick (but fifth wide receiver taken) in the 2004 NFL draft, Clayton wasn't expected to contribute much to what was a receiver-rich Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster on paper, failing to garner much attention in fantasy in the early stages of the preseason. Keenan McCardell's holdout that summer changed things, and Clayton emerged from a group that included Bill Schroeder, Tim Brown and Charles Lee to capture the starting job by Week 4. He flashed impeccable chemistry with quarterback Brian Griese on his way to what was then the fourth-best (now seventh) PPR fantasy point total by any rookie wide receiver in NFL history, resulting in McCardell's eventual trade to the San Diego Chargers in Week 7.
Injuries, unfortunately, derailed Clayton's sophomore campaign, including knee and wrist issues, and the loss of Griese in Week 6 to a season-ending knee injury compounded matters. Clayton would score 41.9 PPR fantasy points fewer from 2005-07 combined than he did in his rookie year, despite playing 40 games in that time. He'd show a glimmer of hope in a 2008 Week 3 start again paired with Griese, scoring 10.4 fantasy points, but couldn't fully recapture his 2004 success and was out of the league by 2012.
Mike Furrey's 2006
FPTS and positional finish: 240.6 (WR13).
Follow-up ADP: 115th overall, WR38.
A Division I-AA star for Northern Iowa, Furrey failed to latch on with the 2000 Colts as an undrafted free agent, spending time in both the XFL and Arena Football Leagues before again catching the eye of St. Louis Rams scouts. After catching an AFL-record-tying 46 touchdowns in 2003, he made the Rams' roster as a wide receiver and special-teamer, even spending the 2005 season as a free safety for the team's starved secondary. The Detroit Lions took a chance on Furrey after his release in March 2006, reuniting him with Mike Martz, the head coach who converted Furrey to safety the year before but now needed him for wide receiver depth in his new gig as the Lions' offensive coordinator.
Furrey enjoyed a productive Week 1, which was enough to propel him into the starting lineup ahead of free-agent signees Corey Bradford and Az-Zahir Hakim and 2005 first-rounder Mike Williams, and fully broke through with an eight-catch, 82-yard, two-touchdown Week 4 at St. Louis against his former team. Come season's end, Furrey had set a new NFL record for catches by a non-rookie who had zero catches the year before; he finished with 98, most in the NFC.
The Lions re-signed him to a three-year deal following the season, but he was unable to repeat the effort, in part because 2007 No. 2 overall pick Calvin Johnson began to become the focal point of the offense. By 2009, Furrey had moved onto the Browns, who shifted him back to free safety for the final seven games of his career.
Gary Barnidge's 2015
FPTS and positional finish: 237.3 (TE4).
Follow-up ADP: 86th overall, TE7.
A blocking rather than pass-catching tight end during his four healthy seasons with the Carolina Panthers and first two with the Cleveland Browns, Barnidge did have a knack for making clutch catches for the 2013-14 Browns, such as his 40-yard touchdown reception against the Patriots in 2013's Week 14 or his fourth-quarter, fourth-down reception that set up the game-winning field goal in 2014's Week 2. After Jordan Cameron, whose 2014 was ruined by a concussion, was allowed to depart via free agency, Barnidge was pressed into starting duty, where he instantly clicked with quarterback Josh McCown. One of the few positives in a 3-13 season for the Browns, Barnidge signed a three-year extension that December on the heels of a 10-game span during which he caught 56 passes for 762 yards and seven touchdowns.
He couldn't repeat the magic in what was another lost season for the Browns in 2014, failing to exhibit similar chemistry with Robert Griffin III or Cody Kessler, who made 13 of the team's 16 starts. The team would draft David Njoku 29th overall the following April, then cut Barnidge a day later.
Ladell Betts' 2006
FPTS and positional finish: 236.9 (RB10).
Follow-up ADP: 163rd overall, RB56.
Largely a third-down back throughout the first four seasons of his NFL career, Betts saw a small increase in early-down carries in 2004-05, Clinton Portis' first two seasons with the Washington Redskins. A good fit for Joe Gibbs' power-running game and helped by a stout offensive line including Pro Bowler Chris Samuels, Jon Jansen, Casey Rabach and Randy Thomas, Betts capitalized upon an injury-plagued season by Portis to carry the football 245 times, the only time in his career he had even 100. Portis suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder in the preseason opener that never fully healed, cost him a Week 2 appearance and resulted in season-ending surgery in November, a decision made only after the team determined he'd require at least a three- to four-week absence while recovering from surgery to repair a fracture to the fourth metacarpal in his right hand, a separate injury suffered during Week 10.
From Week 11 forward, Betts ranked third among running backs in carries (163), fourth in rushing yards (788) and eighth in PPR fantasy points (141.2), putting himself in line for a big, free-agent payday.
But Betts, despite the knowledge that Portis would return healthy as the Redskins' 2007 starter, re-signed with the team, where he would see neither another start nor a game of at least 12 carries until 2009, when Portis was lost to a concussion in Week 9. As had often been the case throughout his career -- he missed 25 total games during his eight years with the Redskins -- Betts couldn't stay healthy either, lost for the season due to a knee injury suffered in his second start as Portis' replacement. Betts would make eight appearances for the 2010 New Orleans Saints before calling it a career.
Brandon Stokley's 2004
FPTS and positional finish: 233.7 (WR17).
Follow-up ADP: 104th overall, WR33.
A depth receiver with a checkered injury history during the first five seasons of his NFL career, four with the Ravens and the fifth with the Indianapolis Colts, Stokley had it all come together in Peyton Manning's then-record-setting, 49 passing-touchdown season of 2004. The team's slot receiver, Stokley joined teammates Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne with at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving, still the only time in league history that any team had three different receivers reach both of those thresholds. Stokley, in fact, caught Manning's record-setting score, the receiver's 10th of the season, which matched his total in his first five NFL seasons, as well as in any of his four that followed his 2004.
Injuries would again plague him thereafter, including an Achilles' injury that cost him 12 games in 2006 and led to his eventual release by the Colts the following March. Stokley would show a hint of that same magic in 2012, during his second stint with the Denver Broncos, as well as second stint working with Manning, but his production as a 36-year-old that year was still a far cry from his 2004.
Tim Tebow's 2011
FPTS and positional finish: 199.16 (QB18).
Follow-up ADP: 150th overall, QB25.
What one-hit wonders list would be complete without Tebow's brief stint of stardom with the Denver Broncos? A 2010 first-rounder selected by then-coach Josh McDaniels, Tebow was a fan favorite who earned a brief glimpse as the team's starter later that year, after interim coach Eric Studesville succumbed to the pressure to start Tebow for the final three games as the team rode out a miserable, 4-12 season.
With a new general manager in John Elway and new coach in John Fox brought in following the season, Kyle Orton, who had lost his job the year before, re-emerged as the Broncos' starter amidst more pressure for the team to start Tebow. After a 1-4 start and fresh off their bye, the Broncos promoted Tebow to the starting role and, following a miserable 45-10 defeat at home against the Detroit Lions, decided to tailor the offense to Tebow's strengths by switching to the option.
It took the league by surprise, and from Week 7 forward, Tebow scored the eighth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks (182.30), leading his team during a six-game winning streak, into a playoff spot and to a miraculous wild-card playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, the division round didn't go nearly as smoothly, as the hosting New England Patriots were prepared for Tebow and the Broncos, sacking him five times in a 45-10 defeat and leaving him with a rib injury that would've threatened his ability to play in the championship round had his team advanced.
It was clear the league would use that game tape to "crack the code" on Tebow and the option, and the Broncos decided to move on, ultimately trading for Peyton Manning later in the offseason and unloading Tebow on the New York Jets. Tebow would appear in 12 games for the 2012 Jets but attempt only eight passes, getting released the following April, and he fell short in his quests to make the Patriots' (2013) and Eagles' (2015) rosters in subsequent preseasons.
Marcedes Lewis' 2010
FPTS and positional finish: 184.0 (TE4).
Follow-up ADP: 84th overall, TE7.
Much more of a traditional blocking than pass-catching tight end, Lewis throughout his Jacksonville Jaguars career would receive an occasional screen pass or red zone look, which often put him in his coaches' good graces. In what was a contract year for Lewis, everything clicked in 2010, as he became a go-to red zone target for David Garrard, three times scoring multiple touchdowns and totaling 10 -- or three more than he scored in the first four seasons of his career combined.
Following the 2011 lockout, the performance earned Lewis a five-year, $35 million contract, but he never found the same chemistry with 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert and returned to his blocking role for the Mike Mularkey, Gus Bradley and Doug Marrone teams of 2012-16. Lewis did enjoy a three-touchdown game while working with Blake Bortles in 2017's Week 3, harkening memories of his magical 2010, but caught only 20 more passes and only two of them for touchdowns in his final 13 games.
Those who drafted him at or near his ADP in 2011 were badly burned by his sudden disappearance, as in what became the "Year of the Tight End," Lewis was drafted ahead of Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez and Tony Gonzalez, who wound up enjoying the best (330.9), third-best (294.0), 62nd-best (214.5) and 66th-best (209.5) single-season fantasy point totals, respectively, among tight ends in NFL history.