With less than two weeks before the NFL regular season finally gets underway, millions of us are spending countless hours ranking hundreds of players to see who we deem worthy of a slot on our fantasy rosters.
I have been an NFL addict for as long as I can remember, and in my lifetime there have been two creations that have helped elevate this addiction to almost uncomfortable levels. One is fantasy, and the other is Tecmo Super Bowl, a game that owned my childhood and would likely still own my young adulthood if I were lucky enough to get my hands on a Nintendo (the Facebook NES application simply doesn't cut it).
So knowing the countless hours I have burned on both games, a thought occurred to me: Why not combine the two offshoots of my passion and bring them together to create the nerdiest, but also the most fun piece I have ever compiled?
Below are my top five TSB players at each major fantasy position. By all means, if anyone disagrees with these picks, feel free to suggest alternate ones you (falsely) feel are better.
1. Bo Jackson
Tecmo Bo is, quite honestly, the single most beastly creation the sports video game industry has ever created. His speed and cutback ability are second to none, and even if your defense selects the right Jackson run nine times out of 10, you can bet your ass he will make you pay by busting a massive run that 10th time.
Don't be scared off by the sizable carry chunk he shares with Marcus Allen. Bo is the undisputed top pick in any draft format.
2. Christian Okoye
"The Nigerian Nightmare" more than lives up to this moniker. While Jackson kills you with speed, Okoye does it with power, bouncing defenders off his shoulder pads as if they are equipped with land mines. A sure-fire No. 2 overall pick.
3. Thurman Thomas
People were so blown away by the Miami Dolphins' wildcat offense last year, but those of us who worship Tecmo saw it for what it was: a jazzed-up knockoff of Buffalo's Right+A direct snap to Thomas.
On his worst days Thomas is capable of duplicating Ronnie Brown's five-touchdown performance against New England. On his best, he makes it look like a student film.
4. Barry Sanders
Though he's stuck on a team with a subpar passing attack, Sanders is much too explosive not to come off the board in the first round. If Rodney Peete can keep defenses honest, Sanders can make a killing for your team.
5. Bobby Humphrey
There were as many as five players I considered at this spot, but I think Humphrey is the best option. He hits his holes very well and is one of the game's most consistent pass catching backs.
He is also stuck with perennial fantasy by being Denver's only consistent offensive threat.
1. Jerry Rice
Normally receivers aren't supposed to come off the board in the top five, but after Bo and Okoye, there's no one I want on my team more than Rice.
The G.O.A.T. at wide receiver is so good, he actually causes players to scream "bullsh**" and angrily chuck their controls on rare occasions where he fails to make a catch in triple coverage.
Hit him in stride on a slant route (down+B), and you've got yourself a license to print money. He almost makes receivers two through five obsolete.
2. Haywood Jeffries
Now the Oilers are loaded at wide receiver, and some may claim Pro Bowlers Ernest Givens and Drew Hill are better options. But for my money, Jeffries (or "Jeffires" as the receiver spells it in real life) is the most complete target on one of the game's most prolific passing attacks.
He can make catches in traffic, get the ball in the air, and is lethal in the YAC department. A No. 1 wideout in all formats.
3. Andre Reed
With a great back like Thurman Thomas, teams may be tempted to stay on the ground exclusively with Buffalo. But eventually that strategy backfires, and when it does, players will be lucky to discover that this team also has a very prolific passing attack. When it gets going, no one is more dangerous than Andre Reed.
4. Mark Clayton
It's really a coin flip whether Clayton or Mark Duper is the top receiving threat for the Dolphins. I personally have just always found Clayton more reliable. Either one is a good option really, as Miami's prolific passing game creates various solid fantasy options.
5. Ernest Givens
Givens in the best home run ball player on arguably the game's most dynamic passing offense. With one swift 80-yard catch-and-run, he makes even a one-reception performance turn into fantasy gold. If he gets a second catch, feel free to take the rest of the week off.
1. Warren Moon
Moon edges out Joe Montana for the simple reason that Montana has a better running game. The San Fran duo of Roger Craig and Tom Rathman possesses enough of a threat to give the 49ers a balanced offense.
While Houston running back Lorenzo White isn't bottom tier, you won't much be interested in using him for six-yard chunks at a time when Moon and his four excellent receivers are capable of striking from anywhere on the field at any time.
That and his added mobility make Warren Moon my No. 1 fantasy QB.
2. Joe Montana
Though I have him second, it's hard to make specific arguments against Montana, as he is clearly one of the best QBs on the game. With the best receiver in Jerry Rice, as well as a good tight end in Brent Jones and a quality burner in John Taylor, Montana is a dream fantasy prospect.
3. QB Eagles
While not one of the game's premier passing threats, Eagles (who holds a striking resemblance to Randall Cunningham) is a more explosive runner than half the running backs you will find on the game.
In fact, he's a hell of a lot more explosive than the anemic Keith Byers-Heath Sherman duo his club possesses.
Mix in a great tight end in Keith Jackson, and you've got just enough air power to balance nicely with the unparalleled speed he brings to the position.
4. Dan Marino
Marino is the poster boy for fantasy consistency. With three solid threats in Clayton, Duper and Ferrell Edmunds mixed in with an average at best running game, you can count on him for big numbers every week.
5. QB Bills
Like with Reed, you may want to pass on Bills (who I can't confirm, but can strongly suggest is supposed to be Jim Kelly) because Thurman Thomas is so good. But doing so could be a mistake, as he is more than just someone who manages the game so as not to screw up his great RB's work.
He is a dynamite starter who can make tough throws at any time and deserves a shot as your starter.
1. Keith Jackson
Here are the primary defensive options one faces when playing the Eagles. You either cover Jackson and have QB Eagles scramble for 80 yards, or play up towards the line of scrimmage and watch him dump the ball to Jackson 20 yards at a time.
Since most defenders will choose the latter option, Jackson is a sure-fire top TE.
2. Brent Jones
A great option for the simultaneous occurrences when constantly firing to Jerry Rice gets boring and John Taylor is covered on a streak route.
3. Ferrell Edmunds
Another great option in the great Miami passing attack, Edmunds is a Pro Bowl talent who often elevates his play to deserve such recognition.
4. Ozzie Newsome
Though "The Wizard Of Oz" actually retired prior to the beginning of the 1991 season Tecmo is depicting, that small fact doesn't prevent the Hall of Famer from being the best passing option on a pretty average Cleveland team.
5. Ron Hall
I can see a lot of people groaning about this pick, but it's well worth it. Tampa Bay is one of the game's most truly awful teams, so I'm never excited when I have to play with them.
However, on the unfortunate situations when I am forced to, I have noticed Hall gets open on nearly every play and is pretty good after the catch. Make this pick and laugh about it all the way to the bank—and when you're there, be sure to pick me up a fair percentage of your winnings for leading you to this hidden treasure.
1. New York Giants
Lawrence Taylor is the Bo Jackson of defensive players. He's so good that in IDP leagues he may be worthy of being taken as high as the second round.
He's such a monster that he could make for a dominant defense if he played by himself. The fact that he's surrounded by 10 other players is a great added bonus.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
If LT is the defensive Jackson, Derrick Thomas is the Christian Okoye. Like Taylor, he is capable of singlehandedly taking over a game by himself, and the sheer number of sacks he accumulates makes the Chiefs D a dynamite fantasy force.
3. Buffalo Bills
It figures that the most complete team on the game would have arguably the most complete defense. A good secondary, great linebackers, and a dominant pass rush led by Bruce Smith make it so the Bills' scary offense is countered with an equally frightening defense.
4. San Francisco 49ers
While this is a talented unit with the likes of Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, and Bill Romanowski, the 49ers' great offense is actually the greatest asset for their defense.
San Francisco is unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball, which means teams have to take desperate measures to keep up—and desperation leads to turnovers, and plenty of them. They're not a perfect unit, but their opportunistic ways make for several high-scoring affairs.
5. Chicago Bears
This was a few years past the heyday of "The Monsters of the Midway," but the Tecmo Bears still bring a pretty good defense to the table. For one, they have a very good secondary.
The biggest selling point for this unit, however, is linebacker Mike Singletary, who was definitely past his real life prime in 1991. Luckily, no one at Tecmo got the memo, as he is as dominant a player at his position as anyone on the game.
1. Mike Cofer
No one can stop San Francisco. It's not even a remote possibility. That alone clearly gives them the game's most enticing fantasy kicker.
2. Scott Norwood
Fact: I once won a Super Bowl in season mode thanks to a 47-yard field goal by Norwood at the gun. Clearly this game isn't anyone's idea of a realistic football simulator.
3. Tony Zendejas
Loses ground to Norwood due to the fact Buffalo has a more balanced offense than Houston. Also detrimental to his cause—being a rapist.
4. Jeff Jaeger
Just let Bo Jackson do his thing, and watch Jaeger clean up with extra point scores.
5. Nick Lowery
Aside from certain situations (end of the game, end of half) there is only one word to describe people who kick field goals on Tecmo Super Bowl, and that word is pussy.
However, if you do fall into this category, no kicker on the game has better credentials than Lowery, as he is more than capable of making any kick within reason (on Tecmo, "reason" stops at about 68 yards).
Top Five Overall
1. Bo Jackson
2. Christian Okoye
3. Jerry Rice
4. Thurman Thomas
5. Warren Moon