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FANTASY COACH: The 200 Club

What is the ‘200 Club,’ you ask? It’s a club in which a player has played 200 or more games in his career. That’s close to 10 years or more in the NFL. Surprisingly, there a handful of players still in the league who have hit the 200 mark and are still going strong. There will be a couple of players hitting that mark this season, but for now, let’s look at the players (through the 2016 season) who have played an amazing 200 games in the NFL.

What’s interesting is that no current running back appeared on this list. I’ve written about this before in that young running backs are better to go after rather than seasoned players. Of course, multiple kickers were on the list as well, but for now, we’ll focus on quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends.

QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (237 games)

You either hate him, or hate him. You either hate how good he is, or hate him because he’s not on your team. In any event, you can’t deny his staying power. In 237 games, Brady has thrown an average of 260 yards and close to two touchdowns per game. Even more impressive, his average of 0.64 interceptions per game. It’s easy to see why this five-time Super Bowl champ consistently ranks among the best quarterbacks in the league. Barring injury, we may see him reach 300 games. Consistency is key in fantasy football and there’s no one more consistent than Brady.

QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (233 games)

While some remember his time with San Diego, Brees became a household name when he won the Super Bowl with New Orleans. He’s always a Top 5 quarterback (even when he doesn’t have top receivers). Brees spreads the ball around more than anyone and can do so with any position. In his 233 games, Brees has thrown an average of 284 passing yards and two touchdowns per game. His interception average is just below 1 (0.94), but his completion percentage (66.6 percent) is top-notch. Expect nothing different this year with a top wide receiver in Michael Thomas and a great supporting cast in Willie Snead and Ted Ginn Jr.

TE Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (223 games)

I was a little surprised by Witten being on this list. I hadn’t realized he’d been playing for so long. Maybe because of his fairly mediocre career? In 223 games, Witten averaged 4.88 receptions for 53 receiving yards and 0.28 touchdowns. Nothing spectacular. Certainly he’s had competition with Terrell Owens, Dez Bryant, and even recently with Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. He’s had a few decent quarterbacks and now with Dak Prescott, there could be a little more help his way. For the 2017 season, though, he’ll probably remain as he has been for the past 14 years: a big body used for pass protection with not a lot of upside.

TE Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers (204 games)

Gates has played his entire career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. That’s 204 games, 14 seasons with the same team. He’s always been a Top-10 tight end pick and has had four seasons with 10-plus touchdowns. His career hasn’t been as productive as I had thought, but still, he’s been quite the security blanket for most fantasy teams. On average, Gates has 4.4 receptions for 55 receiving yards per game with 0.54 touchdowns. Not at all different Jason Witten (yet Gates is likelier to score). Except for this year, as Gates is now taking a backseat to Hunter Henry. The young tight end impressed in his rookie year, scoring eight touchdowns in 2016. Will Gates play the mentor to the new tight end, or will Gates still compete for his spot as the seasoned veteran? Henry will certainly get the looks, but if anything were to happen, Gates will certainly return to his consistent form.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (202 games)

Fitzgerald is another player who has spent his entire career with the same team. In 202 games, Fitzgerald has averaged 5.57 receptions for 71.23 receiving yards and 0.51 touchdowns per game. Not bad for someone who has played with his fair share of rotating quarterbacks. Fitzgerald has received numerous accolades for his abilities on and off the field. He even had a Super Bowl appearance in 2009. Fitzgerald is the top receiver in Arizona and even though he’s up there in age, don’t think for one second he’ll slow down.

QB Eli Manning, New York Giants (201 games)

The only quarterback to beat Brady in two Super Bowls is another ‘200 Club’ quarterback. Manning may not be the definition of consistency, but his ability cannot be denied. Of course, being the brother of Peyton Manning and son of Archie Manning may have something to do with it, but Eli Manning has made a name for himself. Manning has averaged 240 passing yards and 1.59 touchdowns per game in his 201 appearances. Unfortunately, he’s averaged 1.07 interceptions per game as well. Still, with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall now on his team, Manning should have an easier time throwing bombs for touchdowns.

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