Era-adjusted fantasy football player rankings: Terry Bradshaw, Le’Veon Bell among Pittsburgh Steelers’ greatest

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the creation of fantasy football, Athleticism reviews the best fantasy players and fantasy seasons in NFL history.

A detailed look at the system used to rate historical fantasy performance can be found in our Top Fantasy Players of All Time introduction page, but here is a brief summary.

Fantasy player performance is adjusted through the era so that players who dominated during low-scoring eras can compete against players who racked up huge point totals in higher-scoring eras.

Once these adjustments are made, players are then credited for having a starter-caliber season (one point), a quality season (one point), an impact campaign (1.5 points), or being an elite starter (two points). These points stack up and are measured in both non-PPR and PPR and serve as the basis for determining who the best fantasy players in NFL history are.

Now that we’re done with the preliminaries, let’s take a look at the best fantasy players in Pittsburgh Steelers team history!

(Note: The numbers listed below are for player performance on the Steelers.)

All-Time Fantastic Starting Lineup

QB: Terry Bradshaw

AR: Franco Harris

AR: Le’Veon Bell

WR: Elbie Nickel

WR: Antonio Brown

TE: Eric Green

SuperFLEX: John Stallworth/Hines Ward


Quarterback—Terry Bradshaw

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career Points
9 5 6 0 9 5 6 0 40

There’s a perception that Bradshaw struggled a lot early in his career, but that’s not the case from a fantasy football perspective, mainly because Bradshaw was one of the best quarterbacks of his era. This trait led the “Blond Bomber” to rank in the Top 5 in QB Fantasy Scores in two of his first three seasons. That rushing ability faded over the years, but Bradshaw’s passing skills took over and it led to his ranking in the Top 10 QB Fantasy Scores nine times. Add to his six impact season point totals in both non-PPR and PPR, which are both the highest among Pittsburgh players, and Bradshaw is the best fantasy player in Steelers history.

Running back – Franco Harris

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career points
11 3 0 0 ten 2 0 0 26

Consistency was Harris’ calling card, as only four running backs (Marcus Allen, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Frank Gore) have posted more non-PPR starting caliber seasons. Harris ranked as an RB1 in non-PPR leagues in seven of his first eight seasons and was a PPR RB1 in six of those campaigns. He never posted dominant numbers, as Harris did not rank above fourth in non-PPR or PPR scoring during those RB1 seasons, but his 244.7 PPR points in 1979 were a record for Pittsburgh running backs through 1992 and are still ranked as the eighth-highest PPR. total by a Steelers running back.

Running back — Le’Veon Bell

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career Points
4 3 3 0 4 3 3 2 22

Bell was a comet in the fantasy sky, as he ranked Top 4 in non-PPR RB scoring and Top 3 in PPR scoring in three of his first five seasons. Bell had three seasons with over 300 PPR points, a pace that only one other Steelers running back has ever displayed (Najee Harris with 300.7 in 2021). If Bell hadn’t left Pittsburgh after five seasons, he could have passed Franco Harris for that club’s No. 1 RB spot, but his dominant three seasons still lead to his second-highest ranking among Steelers fantasy running backs.

For those wondering, here is Jerome Bettis‘ career point totals:

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career Points
7 2 0 0 6 1 0 0 16

Wide Receiver — Elbie Nickel

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career points
8 3 1.5 2 8 2 3 4 31.5

Nickel was a star for the Steelers in the 1940s and 1950s and was one of the best fantasy receivers of his day. He was only rated WR1 in fantasy twice, but achieved mid-level WR2 status in six more seasons. Nickel’s 1952 campaign is a Pittsburgh wide receiver’s best, as his 196.4 PPR points stood out in a season where only four offensive ends posted more than 150 points and only 14 totaled more than 100 points. .

Wide Receiver – Antonio Brown

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career points
7 6 1.5 0 7 6 1.5 0 29

Brown was the most dominant fantasy receiver of his era, and he was a phenomenon in the PPR leagues. To put his performance in this area into perspective, consider this: Brown was the PPR leading scorer among wide receivers for four consecutive seasons from 2014-17. The only other receivers to match this feat are Jerry Rice (1993-96) and Marvin Harrison (1999-2002). Brown also ranked second and fifth, respectively, in PPR WR points in 2013 and 2018 and thus easily edged out Buddy Dial (24 career points) for the second-place WR on this list.

Tight end — Eric Green

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career Points
4 3 3 0 4 2 0 0 16

Green is the only Steelers tight end to post a quality or impact season in his career and the only one besides John Hilton to post a PPR quality season while in a Steelers uniform. Green ranked second to Heath Miller in non-PPR starter caliber seasons (Miller had five), but the years of quality and impact were more than enough to justify putting Green ahead of Miller on this list.

SuperFlex—John Stallworth/Hines Ward

This run was about as close as it gets, as evidenced by Stallworth and Ward’s career point totals:

Stallworth’s numbers:

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career points
7 5 0 0 7 3 0 0 22

Neighborhood numbers:

Entrance Quality Impact Elite PPR Street PPR qual PRP impact PPR Elite Career points
9 2 0 0 9 2 0 0 22

Ward leads all Pittsburgh wide receivers in number of rookie-caliber seasons in non-PPR and PPR formats, but Stallworth ranks second in number of quality-caliber seasons in non-PPR formats. That’s why Stallworth had more WR1-type campaigns, but Ward was a WR2 mainstay for almost as long and added a dominating 2002 season that saw him rank second in WR PPR points with 337.1.

Add it up and it’s just too close to call, so Ward and Stallworth get the proverbial push in this one and split the SuperFlex role for the Steelers.


Best era-adjusted fantasy seasons of all time

QB: Bobby Layne, 1959 (177.5 points)

RB: Le’Veon Bell, 2014 (288 non-PPR, 370.5 PPR)

WR: Elbie Nickel, 1952 (141.4 non-PPR, 196.4 PPR)

TE: Eric Green, 1993 (121 non-PPR, 184.2 PPR)

SUPERFLEX: Buddy Dial, 1960 (152 non-PPR, 192 PPR)

(Top photo: Sports Focus/Getty Images)

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