Those are some of my favorite things about the National Football League. I also love the historical aspect, as the nostalgic part of me likes to look back at some of the greatest players and performances on the league's biggest stage. In an effort to combine these football passions, I've put together a three-round mock draft based on the best Super Bowl stats of our gridiron heroes. Based on a PPR scoring system, this draft requires each "team" to draft one quarterback, one running back and one wide receiver. So, take this walk along memory lane with me ... trust me, some of the players in this mock might surprise you.
1. Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco 49ers/Oakland Raiders: The greatest wide receiver to grace the gridiron, Rice has scored more PPR points than any other player in Super Bowl history. That's an impressive stat, as he's played in four championships and averaged a ridiculous 8.2 catches, 147.3 yards, two touchdowns and 35.5 points. The fact that there are quarterbacks who have played in more Super Bowls and have still scored fewer fantasy points is also a real testament to how massive an impact he's made on the NFL's biggest stage. If Rice were active now, he'd be a surefire top-five selection in all PPR formats.
2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: This one should come as a surprise to no one, as Brady has played in more Super Bowls (seven) than any other quarterback in NFL history. That doesn't even count Super Bowl LII, which will be his eighth appearance. With just six fantasy points separating him and Rice, Brady is a virtual lock to be the highest-scoring fantasy player ever in Super Bowls. Right now, he's thrown for 2,071 yards with 15 touchdowns and has averaged 19.3 fantasy points. He'll no doubt go down as the greatest quarterback in the history of the National Football League ... and in the world of fantasy football.
3. Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco 49ers: If Brady is the best signal-caller to ever step onto an NFL field, Montana is a close second both in the stat sheets and in terms of championship hardware. In his four Super Bowl games, he threw for a combined 1,142 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Montana, who has also rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns, averaged an incredible 27.5 fantasy points a game. If this draft were based on point-per-game averages and not cumulative points, Montana would be ranked ahead of Brady. In this mock, however, Brady is the better of the two fantasy Super Bowl quarterbacks.
4. Roger Craig, RB, San Francisco 49ers: With all of the great running backs who have suited up for the biggest game of the season, you might be shocked to see that Craig is the highest-scoring PPR player who isn't a quarterback or isn't named Jerry Rice. The versatile runner totaled 20 receptions, over 400 scrimmage yards and scored four touchdowns in three Super Bowl appearances. Those total stats were good for an average of 28 points a game in PPR formats, or just 7.5 points fewer than Rice. Craig, who had 1,000 yards rushing and receiving during the 1985 season, would have been a serious fantasy football stud.
5. Thurman Thomas, RB, Buffalo Bills: Thomas appeared in four Super Bowls during his Hall-of-Fame career, so it's no surprise that the versatile runner is worth a first-round pick in our mock draft. While the Bills didn't win any of their four games against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys (2), Thomas still racked up a combined 20 catches, 348 scrimmage yards (fifth-most in the Super Bowl) and four rushing touchdowns. Those combined numbers added up to an impressive 18.9-point per game average in PPR formats, which made Thomas a major Super Bowl superstar and worth a first-round selection.
6. Emmitt Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys: The greatest running back in the history of the National Football League based on rushing yards, Smith was the centerpiece of a Dallas offense that won three different Super Bowls during a superior run in the 1990s. Smith, who won an MVP in Super Bowl XXVIII, posted 11 combined catches, over 300 scrimmage yards and five rushing touchdowns in his three appearances. He scored two touchdowns in two of those three games, and his 289 rushing yards ranks third all-time among Super Bowl runners. Overall, Smith's totals add up to an impressive 24.8-point-per-game average in PPR formats.
7. Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: A Hall of Fame inductee in 1990, Harris was a major part of four Super Bowl championships for the Steelers in the mid to late 1970s. The Penn State product had just five catches in those games, but he totaled 114 yards as a receiver to go along with his 354 rushing yards and four touchdowns. His biggest single-game fantasy performance came in Super Bowl IX, as Harris ran for 158 yards with one touchdown on 34 attempts. Overall, he has rushed for more yards than any other running back in the big game and averaged a solid 18.2 PPR points per game in his four Super Bowl contests.
8. Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Swann made four Super Bowl appearances as a member of the Steelers, but in SBIX he didn't catch a single pass and finished with minus-seven rushing yards. In his other three games, however, he totaled 16 catches for 364 yards with three touchdowns and averaged 23.5 PPR points. That includes two games where he went for over 120 yards and scored at least one touchdown in a pair of wins over the Cowboys (Super Bowls X, XIII). Swann, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, also ranks second among wide receivers in receiving yardage in the Super Bowl.
9. John Elway, QB, Denver Broncos: Elway appeared in five Super Bowls as a member of the Broncos, but he struggled as a passer in those contests with 1,128 yards, three touchdowns and eight interceptions. Where the Stanford product made his greatest impact based on fantasy points was as a runner, as he rushed for four touchdowns including one in four of his five championship games. Furthermore, almost 45 percent of his 74 fantasy points in the Super Bowl came as a runner. Elway, who ranks fourth in Super Bowl passing yards behind Brady, Kurt Warner and Montana, also caught a pass for 23 yards in Super Bowl XXII.
10. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: A four-time Super Bowl winner during the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s, Bradshaw has scored the 10th-most fantasy points overall and the fourth-most points at the quarterback position. He might have been ranked higher, but Bradshaw's first Super Bowl was a stinker in the stat sheets with 96 passing yards and one touchdown. In fact, that's the fewest passing yards by a quarterback who went on to win the big game. Overall, Bradshaw has thrown for the third-most touchdown passes (nine) and has averaged 16.9 fantasy points per contest in his four Super Bowl appearances.
11. Deion Branch, WR, New England Patriots: Branch made three Super Bowl appearances as a member of the Patriots, producing a combined 24 catches for 321 yards, one touchdown and 62.1 PPR points. He did most of his damage in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX, however, putting up 21 catches, 276 yards and one touchdown. Branch, who won the MVP award in Super Bowl XXXIX, averaged a solid 20.7 PPR points overall.
12. Andre Reed, WR, Buffalo Bills: Reed was part of four Super Bowl teams in Buffalo, finishing with 27 receptions in those contests. That's the second-most catches among wideouts in Super Bowl history. His biggest stat line came in Super Bowl XXVII, when he recorded eight catches for 152 yards in a loss to the Cowboys. In all, Reed averaged 14.6 PPR points despite not scoring a single touchdown in four games.
13. Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams/Arizona Cardinals: Warner made three Super Bowl appearances between St. Louis and Arizona and averaged 385.3 passing yards per game. That's the most of any quarterback who has made multiple starts in the big game. His 66.9 cumulative fantasy points ranks fifth at the position overall, but Warner has averaged more points (22.3 PPG) than all but Montana in Super Bowl history.
14. John Stallworth, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Stallworth is the second of two Steelers wide receivers who ranks in the top five in PPR points in the Super Bowl. In his four appearances, the Hall of Famer put up a combined 55.8 PPR points. Of course, 85 percent of those fantasy points came in his last two Super Bowls (XIII, XIV) when he totaled six receptions, 236 yards (39.3 YPC) and three touchdown catches.
15. Michael Irvin, WR, Dallas Cowboys: A three-time Super Bowl champion, Irvin totaled 16 catches, 256 yards and three touchdowns in wins over the Bills (2) and Steelers. Most of his 53.6 PPR points came in his first appearance, however, as Irvin totaled 29.4 points (or 54.8 percent of his points) in Super Bowl XXVII. Overall, the Hall of Famer ranks sixth in receiving yards among all Super Bowl wide receivers.
16. Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots/Denver Broncos: Welker's appearance in the second round might seem like a surprise, but he posted 26 receptions for 247 yards in three games for the Patriots and Broncos. Furthermore, he ranks third in catches among all Super Bowl wideouts. Welker's 8.6 catches-per-contest average in Super Bowl games is more than Rice (8.3), Branch (eight) and Reed (6.8) at the position.
17. Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Ward made three Super Bowl appearances in his career, two of which were monster performances in PPR formats. In Super Bowl XL, he won the MVP award for his five catches, 123 yards and one touchdown (23.3 points). In Super Bowl XLV, Ward went for seven catches, 78 yards a score and 20.8 PPR points. In all, he ranks eighth in points among wideouts in the big game.
18. Terrell Davis, RB, Denver Broncos: Davis recorded four catches, 317 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns in his two Super Bowl appearances, one of which resulted in an MVP award. He's the lone Super Bowl runner in the top five who has played in fewer than three games, and his 26.4 PPR-point average is second at the position behind Craig. His Super Bowl success helped him earn Hall of Famer honors in 2017.
19. Antonio Freeman, WR, Green Bay Packers: Freeman made just two appearances in the Super Bowl, but he put up solid totals in both contests with a pair of 100-yard performances. In all, he ranks ninth in PPR points (52.1) among wideouts in the big game. However, his three touchdown receptions is tied for second while his points per game average (26.1) ranks alone in second at the position behind Rice.
20. Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis Colts: A former fantasy star with the Colts, Addai is a top-six PPR Super Bowl running back because of his skills as a pass catcher. In fact, his 17 catches ranks tied for seventh overall and third among running backs who have played in the big game. However, Addai's average of 8.5 catches per game is better than both of the runners ahead of him (Craig - 6.7, Thomas - 5.0).
23. Cliff Branch, WR, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders: Branch scored just five PPR points in Super Bowl XI, but he exploded for a combined three touchdowns and 44.1 points in Super Bowls VX and XVIII.
25. Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers: Favre, who made two Super Bowl appearances (XXXI, XXXII), threw for a combined five touchdown passes and averaged an impressive 23.2 fantasy points a game.
27. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts/Denver Broncos: Manning is one of the best fantasy quarterbacks of all time, but he had just three touchdowns and five interceptions in his four Super Bowls.
28. Larry Csonka, RB, Miami Dolphins: Csonka scored a combined 45.4 PPR points during his three Super Bowl appearances, but 83 percent of those total points came in his final two contests (VII, VIII).
30. Chuck Foreman, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Foreman, who played in three Super Bowls, posted a combined 15 receptions for 139 yards as a receiver. As a runner, however, he totaled a meager 80 yards.