YFFL.com senior writer Bobby Sansone (Jr.) continues his 2007 YFFL preseason coverage with a preview of the lowly NFC East. After knocking on the door last season, is this the year the Mallards bring home a division crown? How will Eli's erratic play affect the Big Boys? Could the Dragons beat the Royal River Gamblers? These questions and more will be answered in 2007.
While most owners are ready to coronate the Mallards as 2007 NFC East Champions, Steve Dugas is taking nothing for granted. Dugas instead has been busy preparing for the draft and is not revealing his intentions with the No. 1 pick until draft night. Earlier in the summer Dugas had declared that Calvin Johnson would be his man but words around the league now have Dugas focusing on a RB or possibly trading down. After Steven Jackson the Mallards have huge question marks at RB. Mike Bell is behind Travis Henry in Denver, Leon Washington is the 3rd down back in New York and Michael Turner is stuck behind LT in San Diego. Dugas has also hinted that Deion Branch will play a big role alongside Marques Colston, leading to further speculation that the Mallards are considering Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson with the No. 1 pick. Ben Roethlisberger will lead a QB unit that also has huge holes and Dugas will have to address that in the draft as well. A strong draft could have the Mallards in the playoffs but a bad draft could set the franchise back a few years. Still, the NFC East is so weak that it will be hard for the Mallards to finish below .500.
Projected Record: 7-6
The Boys are by far the deepest team in the NFC East but with no true playmakers, Chris Davidson could be in for another early playoff exit. All eyes will be on Eli Manning and the franchise will certainly follow his path. After getting off to a hot start in 2006, Manning fizzled as the Boys stumbled to make the playoffs. Thomas Jones will finally get his chance to shine while Rueben Droughns' starting days appear to be over. Keep an eye on Vernand Morency who could start in Green Bay. Chris Cooley and Jeremy Shockey are both good enough to start and probably will. Davidson has turned down several trade offers for Cooley. The Boys will be one of many teams to address the backup QB situation after cuts are announced and in the draft however with at least four teams facing the same problem, there will be a shortage of QB to go around. Reggie Wayne leads a relatively deep and talented WR corps that could draw interest in trades. The Boys have the depth and the balance to compete but a lack of true star talent and Eli Manning's up-and-down play will be too much to overcome.
Projected Record: 6-7
High 5'n White Guys
The White Guys are finally shedding some of the veterans that underperformed in recent years and are looking to a future led by young studs Matt Leinart, Larry Fitzgerald and Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson. Still, Aceto has a long way to go to get this franchise back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. With a Overall Winning PCT of just .425, Aceto needs to shake the images of failure that have haunted the franchise. Look for mid-season trades involving Fred Taylor, David Carr, DeShaun Foster and Mushin Muhammad as Aceto attempts to accelerate the rebuilding process. The White Guys won't win much but amazingly they aren't the worst team in the league, let alone the division.
Projected Record: 4-9
The Snapdragons have officially come full-circle. This is not what Jon had in mind when he traded Peyton Manning for Tiki Barber, Chad Pennington and Hines Ward just two years ago. Barber is now retired, Ward appears to be on the decline and Pennington is a fantasy backup at best. It gets worse. Frank Gore and Greg Jones are the only players on the team that were drafted in the first round. Jones has battled injuries and is a question mark to make the team. Brett Favre is back to add on to his own YFFL scoring record but is a marginal fantasy starting QB at best. With a potpourri of WRs, washed up RBs and shaky QBs, the Dragons could match their 1-win season of 1995.
Projected Record: 2-11
Steven Jackson, Mallards
Jackson beats out Frank Gore because of his pass-catching ability. Expect Jackson to break the 100-yard rushing and 50-yeard receiving mark several times this season. If Dugas bypasses Peterson or Lynch in the draft he could be carrying the running game on his own for much of the season. Now that McGahee has found a new home in Baltimore, I wonder if Dugas is regretting that trade? Only time will tell.
Fred Taylor, White Guys
Overshadowed by the rookie sensation Maurice Jones-Drew last season, Taylor quietly put up 54 points last season, is approaching the 500 career point total and has been a Pro-Bowl caliber back when he stays healthy. Aceto could be getting some calls mid-season if Taylor is scoring and the White Guys are losing.
Jerramy Stevens, Mallards
Stevens was a second ever pick by the Fightin' Mallards way back in 2002 but has never scored more than 20 points in a season and has been a bust in the eyes of Dugas. Once heralded as a cornerstone of the Mallards, Stevens now could be the second-sting TE behind the emerging Leonard Pope. Of course, that's if he even survives cut-down day...
Thomas Jones, Boys
It's hard to believe he was the Boys 1st Round pick seven years ago and now I'm finally predicting him to "breakthrough". The Jets plan to use Jones all over the field and masses of TDs will be there for the taking. Look for Jones to double his point total of 52 from a year ago and become a top 5 RB by season's end.