Super Bowl XLII will be remembered as one of the greatest championship contests in NFL history, as the New York Giants shocked the world with a 17-14 win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots. This memorable performance will forever live in the annals of pro football lore, and it put a bow on what was another incredible NFL season.
Despite the loss to New York, Tom Brady's statistical success this past regular season won't soon be forgotten, either.
The veteran quarterback finished with over 4,800 passing yards and threw for an NFL record 50 touchdowns (he scored 52 total) to lead one of the most prolific offenses ever. His incredible numbers and impact on fantasy football inspired us to take a look back at some of the most impressive statistical seasons in the Super Bowl era.
All this week we'll rank the top 10 seasons, based on fantasy points, at the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions.
Players were rewarded six points for all touchdowns and one point for each 25 passing yards and 10 rushing or receiving yards. No points were penalized for turnovers.
In the first of our three-part series, here's our look at the best quarterback performances.
1. Tom Brady, New England (2007): One season after LaDainian Tomlinson produced monster totals in San Diego, Brady exploded for what became the greatest fantasy football season of all time. He threw for a career-best 4,806 yards and broke Peyton Manning's record for touchdown passes in a season with 50, as New England decided to throw the football a ton after the addition of wideouts Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Overall, Brady scored an incredible 513 fantasy points and led countless owners to their league's championship.
2. Dan Marino, Miami (1984): The most prolific quarterback to ever grace the gridiron, Marino produced the second greatest fantasy football season in the Super Bowl era. He threw for what is still an NFL record 5,084 yards -- no quarterback has come within 250 yards of that number -- and his 48 touchdown passes were also a record for 20 seasons. Marino, who completed a career-best 64.2 percent of his passes and led his Dolphins to an appearance in Super Bowl XIX against the San Francisco 49ers, totaled 491 fantasy points.
3. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (2004): One of the elite quarterbacks in the world of fantasy football, Manning led countless owners to a league championship in 2004 as he threw for an incredible 4,557 yards and what was an NFL record 49 touchdown passes. He set another NFL record with at least four touchdown passes in five consecutive contests (including six in less than three quarters in a win over the Detroit Lions) and finished the season with 480 points. He'll be a first- or second-round pick in all 2008 drafts.
4. Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota (2004): One of the most versatile quarterbacks to hit the NFL in the past decade, Culpepper recorded a total of 41 touchdowns and finished with what was the fifth-most passing yards (4,717) ever in 2004, but his accomplishments were overshadowed due to Peyton Manning's success. Culpepper, who would also rush for 406 yards, scored three or more touchdowns in eight of his 16 starts and had a total of 476 points. Unfortunately, an injured knee and the loss of Randy Moss ended his run of success.
5. Steve Young, San Francisco (1998): A two-time NFL MVP and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Young came out from behind the immense shadow of Joe Montana to become one of the league's most accurate and versatile quarterbacks. He would produce his best overall fantasy numbers in 1998, when he recorded 464 points on a career-best 4,170 passing yards, 454 rushing yards and a total of 42 touchdowns. Young's success culminated in Super Bowl XXIX, when he threw for 325 yards and a record six touchdown passes.
6. Dan Marino, Miami (1986): It's not a shock to see Marino listed twice in the top six at the quarterback position, as the explosive signal-caller out of Pittsburgh recorded 454 points on 4,746 passing yards (the fifth-highest total ever) and 44 touchdown passes in 1986. The 27th overall selection in the 1983 NFL Draft (behind Tony Eason and Todd Blackledge), Marino finished out his illustrious career with 4,967 completions, an NFL record 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns - those numbers equate to 4,974 fantasy points.
7. Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota (2000): Culpepper took over the reins of the Minnesota offense from Jeff George in his second pro season and made an immediate impact for fantasy owners with a solid 444 points on 3,937 passing yards, 470 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns. While his past statistical success is evident from his two appearances in our top seven all-time quarterback performances, Culpepper could be remembered more for his failures in Miami and Oakland in what could have been a Hall of Fame career.
8. Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia (1990): At a time when pocket passers such as Marino, Warren Moon and Joe Montana were the norm, Cunningham's rocket arm and immense skills as a runner revolutionized the quarterback position. Once known as the "Ultimate Weapon", Cunningham recorded 443 fantasy points on 3,466 passing yards, a career-best 942 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns in what was an MVP season in 1990. He also posted monster numbers for Minnesota in 1998, so his value in fantasy land was well evident.
9. Brett Favre, Green Bay (1995): A future member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Favre has been one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy football for much of his time in the NFL. His best season came in 1995, when he recorded 441 fantasy points on a career-best 4,413 passing yards and 41 total touchdowns. To prove that age doesn't affect the great quarterbacks, Favre threw for 4,155 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2007. He also overtook Marino for career passing yards (61,657) and passing touchdowns with an impressive 442.
10. Steve Young, San Francisco (1994): In a memorable season that saw San Francisco win their fifth league championship, Young posted an impressive 440 fantasy points on 3,969 passing yards, 293 rushing yards and a total of 42 touchdowns. He also recorded career bests in completion percentage (70.3) and rating (112.8). The venerable left-handed quarterback also had the best fantasy performance in a Super Bowl that season, as he threw for 325 yards and a record six touchdowns in a 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers.