We are at the midway point of the season and there have been a number of surprises and drastic disappointments. Young stars have begun to emerge, older stars have begun to look old, and there are a number of new faces atop the standings. In the latest edition of Thoughts from the GM, I'll cover the three teams I believe are fit for a title run and the three who should be fit for a straight jacket.
Fit for a Title Run: Thugs (5-1-1)
Kurt Warner, enough said. This late round draft pick has been the catalyst for a ball club that has improved each week. The fact that Ryan Grant is starting to return to his end of 2007 form is what could keep this team going. The performance from their top wide receivers may continue to diminish due to the fact they are part of two of worst passing teams in the NFL.
Question Marks: Will Housh and Bowe produce with their teams falling apart at the QB position?
Something to Smile About: Fairly easy schedule remaining
Trade Thoughts: A WR on a decent NFL team may be very helpful. Reggie Wayne, Jerricho Cotchery, or Randy Moss would be a dream to have here. If the dream receiver does not come, Donald Driver may be a good addition to this lineup.
End of Season Record: 9-3-1
Playoff Bound? YES
Fit for a Straight Jacket: Mallards (3-4)
The win over the Huskers was nice and they may manage to pull even at .500 this weekend with a win over Brothers, but beyond that, it's a tough road ahead. The likelihood of at least one loss in games versus the Thugs, Dragons and White Guys makes it very difficult to secure the Wild Card over the White Guys or Chickens.
Question Marks: Will Colston return to form? Is Sammy Morris' knee injury from the Monday night game serious? Will Calvin Johnson's production decline with no real QB throwing him the ball or other big WR to take away the pressure?
Something to Smile About: Steven Jackson and Michael Turner
Trade Thoughts: Michael Pittman, Jamal Lewis, or Thomas Jones would be great additions. Perhaps taking a gamble with Burress might secure the WR position.
End of Season Record: 7-6
Playoff Bound? NO
Fit for a Title Run: Dragons (6-1)
After winning the Yarmouth Fantasy Baseball League, Jon clearly has his sights set on the Dragon's third YFFL Super Bowl title this decade. It really goes to show that a solid draft, a couple free agent pick ups and a little luck can put you in the title hunt. A very tough schedule remains though.
Question Marks: Will they be hurt by the lack of depth at the RB position? Will Rodgers be the starter from here on out? Will Kinsman deal Favre?
Something to Smile About: Their record. It allows them to slip up a couple of times down the stretch and still be alright.
Trade Thoughts: After Rodgers' bye, get what you can out of Favre. The Refugees could use him and have a few RBs to spare. Michael Pittman, Dunn, Deuce McAllister or Jamal Lewis could also help this lineup out with their lack of RB depth.
End of Season Record: 9-4
Playoff Bound? YES
Fit for a Straight Jacket: Chunky Chickens (3-3-1)
Disappointing is the only word you can use to describe this team. Coming into the season with seemingly no holes in their battleship of a lineup, it is clear to everyone in the league that this ship is taking on water and FAST. Robert Sansone (Jr.) was first to point out that this team lives and dies by the Cowboys and Chargers, and if both of those teams continue to struggle, don't expect anything different from the Chickens.
Question Marks: Are LT2 and T.O. just shells of their former greatness?
Something to Smile About: The possibility of the Cowboys and Chargers turning things around is pretty good.
Trade Thoughts: Find a buyer for Gates and it might be time to find a future replacement for T.O. Reggie Wayne, Cotchery, or Donald Driver would look great in a Chickens jersey.
End of Season Record: 8-4-1
Playoff Bound? YES - the tie just might be what gets them in
Fit for a Title Run: Llamas (4-2-1)
This team has two losses and a tie, but any team with Drew Brees and MBIII on it is in position to beat anyone on any given weekend. The Llamas have a relatively easy schedule remaining, with only two of their final six against teams NOT hoping for a good draft position.
Question Marks: What is the health of Joseph Addai? Will starting 3 WRs the majority of the time work? Will Mewelde Moore remain the starter for the Steelers?
Something to Smile About: The upcoming schedule and the possibility he could now have three starting running backs in his lineup if Willie Parker does not recover.
Trade Thoughts: A legit TE would be helpful. Gates' name has been mentioned more than a few times and Shockey could be a good fit here at a much cheaper price.
End of Regular Season Record: 9-3-1
Playoff Bound? YES
Fit for a Straight Jacket: Eaters (4-3)
This team has been snake bitten with injuries, but when they all show up, they put up the points. Tony Romo is out with a broken pinkie, Westbrook has been out with broken ribs and a bum ankle, Bobby Engram did not start the season because of an injury, Kellen Winslow missed time due to a staph infection, backup Brodie Croyle is lost for the season, and now Reggie Bush is expected to miss considerable time with a torn meniscus. Who's next?
Question Marks: Injuries, injuries, injuries... Will Westbrook return to form?
Something to Smile About: His favorite player, Marvin Harrison, has yet to get injured. With how things have gone for this team of late, let's stress YET.
Trade Thoughts: We all know Chris has not made a trade that does not involve a kicker since the Brett Favre debacle of 2005. IF he did trade, he should pick up another running back to fill in for Bush's absence. Jamal Lewis, McAllister, Pittman, Fargas, or even taking a chance on Larry Johnson not going to prison might surprise a few people.
End of Season Record: 7-6
Playoff Bound? – NO - unless Romo, Bush and Westbrook come back earlier than everyone expects.
No one can argue that the remainder of the season will be very entertaining. Many more questions remain: Will the Huskers collapse, like many are predicting them to? Will either of Aceto's teams make a push for the playoffs? Will a blockbuster trade occur before the Week 10 deadline?