What If? Johnny Unitas' 1959 Season

Welcome to another entry of the What If? Fantasy Football edition. This is where I look back at a season long before fantasy football became prominent among us in our society as figure how the fantasy numbers would look if the fantasy game existed then. Today, we look back at the 1959 season for Pro Football Hall of Fame legend Johnny Unitas. I'm using the default scoring systems for Sporting News and Yahoo! to calculate the point totals.

Here's the point scale for SN(default configuration):
60 points for every touchdown
2 points for every rushing, receiving, and punt return yard gained
1 point for every kickoff return yard gained
2 points for every reception
1 point for every passing yard
-10 points for every kickoff return attempt
-45 points for lost fumble and interception
-1 point for incomplete pass

Here's the point scale for Yahoo!(default configuration):
6 points for every rushing, receiving, and return touchdown
4 points for passing touchdown
1 point for every 10 rushing and receiving yards
1 point for every 25 passing yards
2 points for every two-point conversion
-1 point for every interception
-2 points for every fumble
No points are given for receptions or return yardage in the default configuration.

Here are the stats for Johnny Unitas in 1959 and fantasy points for the SN games:
Passing yards: 2899 = 2899 points
Passing touchdowns: 32 = 1920
Incomplete passes: 174 = -174 points
Interceptions: 14 = -630
Rushing yards: 145 = 290 points
Rushing touchdowns: 2 = 120 points
Receptions: NA
Receiving yards: NA
Receiving touchdowns: NA
Fumbles Lost: 5 = -225 points
Total points: 4200 points
Total points per game: 350
Note: Teams only played 12 games in 1959.

Here are the stats for Johnny Unitas in 1959 and fantasy points for the Yahoo! game:
Passing yards: 2899 = 115 points
Passing touchdowns: 32 = 128 points
Interceptions: 14 = -14 points
Rushing yards: 145 = 14 points
Rushing touchdowns: 2 = 12 points
Receiving yards: NA
Receiving touchdowns: NA
Fumbles Lost: 5 = -10 points
Total points: 245
Total points per game: 20.42

Statistical source: pro-football reference

Seasons like this from a quarterback didn't get any better than this in this era of pro football which was his fourth in the NFL. Combine that with the fact that the Baltimore Colts won the NFL Title by beating the Giants by the score of 31-16. Even though his team lost to Cleveland in the regular season, Unitas threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns in that game. He also threw three touchdowns and ran for another against the 49ers in Week 11. The fantasy football playoffs edition would have been kind to Unitas as well as he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in the Colts win. Unitas averaged almost three touchdowns a game passing in 1959, and would have undoubtedly been the top quarterback chosen in fantasy drafts because he also had weapons like Lenny Moore, Alan Ameche, and Raymond Berry to help him on offense. Unitas is still one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, and he set the standard for play at that position when he came into the league. Unitas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

If anyone wants to suggest a past player, then you can do so in the comments section. The only thing I ask is that the player and year be before 1990 because fantasy football wasn't as prominent then.

Past What If? posts:
Walter Payton's 1977 season
Gale Sayers' 1965 season
Eric Dickerson's 1983 season
Jim Brown's 1963 season
Dan Marino's 1984 season
Jerry Rice's 1987 season
O.J. Simpson's 1975 season



Lester's Legends said...

Well done. Johnny Unitas is to football what Mickey Mantle was to baseball.

David Funk said...

Agreed. Thanks for coming by.

triv said...

Johnny was the best timing and rhythm QB. I'm more impressed with his 1970 season because he didn't have Raymond Berry to throw too and still won.

David Funk said...

triv- I don't disagree about the timing and rhythm. That was an impressive 1970 season without Berry knowing he was one of the best in the game in the 1960s. Having this kind of star power around in 1959 would have been a dream for fantasy owners in 1959. Thank you for taking the time to comment.