It should be an absolute aerial assault in Super Bowl XLIV and a showcase of the rise of signal-callers around the league. But in the minds of fantasy leaguers, it will be the tale of two quarterbacks who didn't reach the big game that will be the most interesting in the weeks and months after the 2009 champion is decided.
Those two quarterbacks are Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.
At a combined 78 years old at season's end, this aging duo might be closer to getting their AARP cards than playing another season at the NFL level. Still, it's hard to argue with the sort of numbers these old gunslingers put up in 2009.
Favre, maybe the best draft value in fantasy football this past season, finished an amazing third in fantasy points on NFL.com in his first season in Minnesota. He threw for 4,202 yards with 33 touchdowns and a mere seven interceptions.
Not bad for a 40-year-old man.
Warner put up 3,753 passing yards and 26 touchdowns as he continued to lead the high-octane Cardinals offense.
At a time when more NFL teams are leaning on their passing games, Favre and Warner are two of the more valuable assets at their position.
If one or both of them decides to retire in the offseason, it would have a domino effect of monumental proportions and could alter the landscape of fantasy football. That statement might sound a little dramatic, but hear me out.
Let's start off with Favre, who took an absolute beating in a loss to the Saints during the NFC Championship Game. The punishment he endured in that contest alone might be enough to make him hang up the cleats. Of course, Favre could retire and return about five times before the opening of the 2010 season. But if Sunday's game was indeed his last, it would hurt the value of almost every member of the Vikings offense.
The proof is in the numbers. With defenses having to focus more on stopping the pass, Peterson finished with a career-best in rushing touchdowns (18) and fantasy points (265). He also put up career bests in receptions (43) and receiving yards (436) in an offense that was much more well rounded with Favre under center. His presence was also huge for the development of Sidney Rice into a legitimate fantasy option.
Rice, who had a combined 46 receptions for 537 yards with eight touchdowns in two seasons without Favre, suddenly went off for a career high 83 receptions, 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.
It was also a huge season for Visanthe Shiancoe, who put up the best numbers of his seven-year career. Favre also increased the value of the multi-talented Percy Harvin, who recorded an impressive 60 catches for 790 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season.
If Favre decides to retire, do you seriously think any one of these players will find the same level of statistical success with Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels under center?
If you do, I have a bridge I want to sell you.
To a lesser degree, I think the same will hold true in Arizona if Warner decides that the 2009 season was his last in the NFL.
While I wouldn't argue that Larry Fitzgerald's stock would decrease drastically without Warner, it's hard to envision a scenario where he won't lose at least a little of his luster.
After all, the downgrade from Warner to Matt Leinart appears to be enormous. One quarterback will have a bust in Canton, while the other might be best known for having been busted about photos with co-eds in a hot tub.
In fact, I would argue that the Cardinals will take a page from the Cincinnati Bengals' book and become more of a run-first offense if Leinart takes over the reins. That's a positive for the value of Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, but can Fitzgerald record 100 receptions, 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns in such an offense?
At the end of the offseason, the Cardinals could have a much different look on the offensive side of the football.
Finally, the loss of Favre and Warner to retirement would thin the list of reliable quarterbacks in drafts.
Owners would have two fewer No. 1 fantasy options at the position, one of which finished last season in the top three in points. In their place would be Leinart, Jackson and/or Rosenfels. None of that trio would be worth more than a middle-to-late round selection as a reserve or matchup-based starter.
That sort of scenario would make the elite quarterbacks in fantasy football, including the two you'll be watching on February 7, even more valuable in drafts.