YFFL.com senior writer Bobby Sansone (Jr.) continues his 2007 YFFL preseason coverage with a preview of the ultra competitive NFC West. Once dominated by the Chunky Chickens, age and lack of depth may be bringing the storied franchise back to earth. Do the Brothers have enough firepower to take the division?
In what will likely be the most challenging and most unpredictable division, the Brothers might have the edge based on starting lineups alone. On paper, the Brothers might have the best lineup in the YFFL. Palmer, Benson, McAllister, Steve Smith, Stallworth, Wilkins and Cadillac Williams all are in much better fantasy position than they were a year ago. Palmer and McAllister were coming off serious knee injuries. Benson was stuck behind Thomas Jones while Smith and Williams had to deal with horrendous offenses. Stallworth moves to New England where he should excel. The Brothers have done well in odd number years in recent memory. In 2003, they made a run to the NFC Championship and in 2005 they went from worst to first and finished with a 10-3 record. The bench is weak with no proven back-up to Palmer and inexperience at TE. If they stay healthy, the Brothers could edge out stiff competition in the NFC West.
Projected Record: 8-5
Perhaps the league's greatest team this decade amazingly STILL does not have a championship to its name in 11 years. Mike was more active this off-season which could be a sign that he knows his window of opportunity is closing. The Brees trade allows him to get RBs and WRs with his 3 picks in the first round but will these rookies develop quick enough to help McNabb, LT and TO? Jamal Lewis and Joe Horn could be Week 1 starters but Mike could upgrade at least one by drafting Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson. Will he stick to his word and draft Brady Quinn? Mike is the most unorthodox owner and so far it's worked so don't be surprised if he takes Quinn. The loss of Ryan Moats leaves the Chickens with just two RBs so Lynch and Peterson will be hard to pass up. Ahman Green could be a Chicken on draft day as well. Mike has the depth at QB and TE to make up for his lack of depth at RB and WR. In the end, LT will single-handily win 2 or 3 games for the Chickens this year.
Projected Record: 8-5
Mexican Humping Beans
Last year was a truly "A Season on the Brink" for the embattled Sansone and the Beans. He traded away draft picks, Trent Green and Donald Driver for players that could get the Beans back to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. It worked but what will the long-term ramifications be? The Beans get a reborn Travis Henry and 2nd year Jay Cutler who both figure to have quality fantasy campaigns. But what about the other players? Lamont Jordan is back after one of the biggest bust seasons ever while Burress and Portis have lingering injury problems. The bench is relatively thin and with no first round draft picks, help isn't coming soon. With no true fantasy studs it's hard to predict how the Beans will fare but they do have enough talent to compete with their NFC West counterparts.
Projected Record: 7-6
"Priest Holmes isn't walking through that door people!" Kevin Sansone has had to remind the Huskers faithful plenty of times since the magical 2002 Championship team. In the five years since then, the Huskers haven't had much to cheer about. The Peyton Manning trade was supposed to catapult the Huskers back into the league's elite but so far not much as trade as the younger Sansone has watched his original team go 10-15-1 since acquiring Manning. A new season brings new hope and hope may have come in the form of Edgerrin James who after 8 seasons with the Thugs is looking to rejuvenate his career. James will be joined in the starting lineup by Jerious Norwood, Brandon Jacobs, Tony Gonzalez, Bernard Berrian and the ageless Issac Bruce. The Huskers can't really improve their roster with no high draft picks and no bench players available to trade so their roster is a close to complete as any team in the YFFL. Rumors are swirling that Kevin, fearing the "Manning Theory", is desperately trying to trade the beloved QB for multiple players and draft picks. This will be a hard sell to a league that has watched Manning teams underachieve for a decade now. The Huskers will win games this year but I don't see them getting over the hump in this crowded division.
Projected Record: 6-7
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chickens
Tomlinson beats out Manning and Palmer. Last year's numbers will be hard to top but he'll get close. If the Chickens don't draft a RB, Tomlinson will have to carry this team on his back, which is something he has done in the past. It still boggles my mind how this Chickens team hasn't cashed in on at least one championship team yet. It boggles my mind even more how they are able to draft studs like Vince Young every year and just reload.
Deuce McAllister, Brothers
Deuce takes this by a wide margin. In the TD over yards favoring YFFL, McAllister is a gem. Even after knee surgery and the emergence of Reggie Bush, McAllister still managed to score an astonishing 68 points last season. Look for Deuce to top 80 points this year and earn the league's top "vulture" recognition.
Cadillac Williams, Brothers
After breaking through for 26 points in his first 3 YFFL games, Williams has just scored 30 points in his last 21 games for an average of a whopping 1.4 ppg! Williams has been the beneficiary of a woeful Buccaneers offense and hasn't been able to turn the team around. After scoring 1 measly TD last season, it's interesting that various fantasy draft publications have him ranked so high. It will be interesting to see if Williams can live up to the lofty expectations both in the NFL and YFFL.
Jay Cutler, Beans
Cutler edges out Cedric Benson on the basis that I didn't want to give three of the four superlatives to Brothers...Memphis Brothers that is! Cutler has already shown flashes of greatness and while the debate over which QB Sansone should have taken in the 2006 Draft rages on, it's clear that Cutler and Vince Young will both live up to the hype. The Beans have long been in the market for a franchise QB ever since they let Mark Brunell go some seven years ago. After years of futility, the Beans are ready to make the leap behind Jay Cutler.