After two straight Llamas division titles, the AFC East looks like it might be totally up for grabs in 2009. In fact, Steve Dugas forecasts a three-way tie at the top of the standings. With Drew Brees coming off a MVP season, the return of Tom Brady, and the three-headed monster of Jones-Drew, Slaton and Johnson on the Refugees, it wouldn't surprise anyone if it was a tight race right up until the final week.
The Refugees enter the 2009 YFFL season with the best group of running backs in the league. Jones-Drew, Slaton and Johnson are all regularly going in the top 15 of redraft leagues. These three players are capable of putting up a combined 350 points this season (the 2008 Merry Men only scored 321). With that type of production, the Refugees would only need modest seasons from the rest of the team to be a contender for the division title. Aceto left the Sansone brothers fuming when he selected Hakeem Nicks in the recent draft and he looks like he might finally be the impact WR the team has long sought out. The biggest problem area for the Refugees is going to be quarterback. Collins is an old man on a run-oriented offense and Campbell is two bad games in a row from losing his starting job. If Aceto doesn't think these guys are getting the job done, he might have to go out and land an upgrade via trade or find waiver wire gold again like he did with Derek Anderson two years ago. I think the Refugees get just enough from their QBs and WRs to hold off the Bear and win the division with more points scored.
Projected Record: 7-6
The Bear will be an interesting team to watch this season. Tom Brady is back and Bri has a more complete team around him this time around. Ronnie Brown and Derrick Ward are potential 80 point running backs, Greg Jennings is a stud who could be the highest scoring receiver in the YFFL this year with the way the Packers offense has looked, and Chad Ocho Cinco seems primed to return to being a 70 point player. Bri also managed to land one of the more intriguing TE prospects in the draft in Jermichael Finley; he has been a monster all preseason and it wouldn't be shocking to see him score 50 points. The Bear should be better than they were last season when they went 5-8 and should be in the mix for the wild card and division title right up to the season's final week, but I think they will fall just short unless they can land one more player by dealing a spare QB.
Projected Record: 7-6
The Llamas will take a step back this season, although not a big one as the team drops from 9 wins to 7. Drew Brees, who was league MVP a year ago, is all set to make a run at a second one. A 200 point season would not be a surprise. The Llamas have a lot of good depth at WR led by Andre Johnson, Lee Evans and a cast of solid bye week fill-ins. The place the Llamas run into trouble is at running back; Addai is either going to bounce back this season and be a solid YFFL player again or he is going to be pushed right out the door by Donald Brown. Marion Barber is terrific but he's slated to lose some touches this season as the Cowboys move to more of a 3-headed monster. I really like the draft pick of Shiancoe; I think he is going to have another really good season. The Llamas will be a tough game every week but unless Brees has a Manning 2004 type season I just don't see them as having enough fire power to stay ahead of the Bear and Refugees.
Projected Record: 7-6
The Orangutangs have a big lack of star power. When you look at their roster, no one jumps out and strikes fear into you that a potential 20 point game could happen the coming weekend. Garrard and Edwards are average at quarterback and Henne has some talent, but needs to see the field before Jon knows whether or not he needs to keep up his search for a Franchise QB. The running backs all have question marks. Will White see as many goal line carries this season? Can Stewart stay healthy enough to make an impact again like he did the first half of last season? Can McGahee have any value in the mess of a backfield down in Baltimore? The 'Tangs have sneaky productive WRs in Coles and Walters; both are 50 point players. Then there is the cream of the crop for WR rookies this season, Percy Harvin. Harvin was the #1 overall player on the draft board of the Orangutangs and Mallards. If Favre can get him the ball in space Harvin is going to make a huge impact on the NFL and could be the offensive rookie of the year. Add it all up and this team is destined for another 5 win season.
Projected Record: 5-8
Drew Brees, Llamas
Brees is going to have another monster season and win his second straight YFFL MVP award.
LenDale White, Orangutangs
While White might face stiffer competition for the red zone work this season, he could still be in line for a solid workload and produce 70 points. White scored 92 points in 2008, which might be hard to believe when you first look at his player bio, and was held scoreless only twice all season, scoring at least one TD 8 out of 12 weeks.
Todd Heap, Refugees
Some people still consider Todd Heap to be a pretty good player, but I don't know why. I'm not even sure he belongs on a YFFL roster any longer - Heap has only scored in 4 of his past 25 YFFL games. Heap had a good run but Aceto should trade him the first chance he gets.
Hakeem Nicks, Refugees
While everyone expects Harvin to have a solid first season, I'm not sure the same level of production is expected of Nicks. As Nicks continued to put up big numbers in the preseason, he rocketed up the draft boards and if he can make the Giants' starting lineup in the first month of the season, he has a good chance of cracking the 50 point mark for the Refugees.