The end of the regular season is a time for playoff teams to be rewarded for their hard work and look towards making a run for a championship. However, it's also a time for those teams not lucky or good enough to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it for the future.
Kevin Sansone takes a trip around the league with a post mortem of the YFFL's 2009 also-rans:
What Happened: The lowest scoring team in the YFFL (404 pts) was mired in the toughest division and a lack of premier players made it difficult to compete. The emergence of Chris Johnson and the re-emergence of DeAngelo Williams set this team back a year or two by putting a ceiling on LenDale White and Jonathan Stewart. The 'Tangs will need to find a QB in 2010 either via the draft or trade.
Reason to be Hopeful: Percy Harvin is already a top 10 receiver. 2 first round picks, including a top 2 should give the 'Tangs a good chance of adding more pieces to the puzzle.
What Happened: The Boys' WR corps never quite recovered form the loss of Reggie Wayne. QB Eli Manning scored in every game but one, but not enough to lead the team to victory. After a solid start, rookie RB Donald Brown took a backseat in the Colts offense due to injuries and a crowded backfield.
Reason to be Hopeful: Knowshon Moreno showed signs of life towards the end of the season and may be ready to have a breakout year in 2010. A top 2 pick could net the Boys Dez Bryant to eventually fill the space left by Reggie Wayne.
Ludke's Merry Men
What Happened: Took a major step forward from an abysmal 2008 season, which many considered the "Worst Team in YFFL History". Mario Manningham's disappearance after Week 6 held back what looked like a promising group of receivers. Acquisition of Brett Farve was a great move, but the loss of Vernon Davis could come back to haunt Steve. I'm still not sure who Javon Ringer is, but I imagine he will be available in the 2010 draft.
Reason to be Hopeful: Ray Rice had a breakout year in what looked to be a crowded Baltimore backfield. The Merry Men QB corps is full of names and Steve should be able to trade one or more of them to build the rest of his team.
What Happened: Traded away Peyton Manning for Santonio Holmes and a first rounder. Holmes proceeded to not score a TD again until Week 12. RB Brandon Jacobs saw a major drop off from last year and 2008 Macor Misa co-winner Lance Moore fell off the face of the earth (and most likely the Huskers roster come 2010).
Reason to be Hopeful: No more Peyton Manning curse. Huskers are drafting in the top 5 for the first time since 2001. With 3 first round picks, the Huskers could make major rebuilding efforts. Maclin, Holmes and Marshall could grow into a top receiving corps in the future.
What Happened: Addition of Reggie Wayne came at the expense of Eddie Royal. Years of drafting Oakland Raiders at the top of the draft is slowly coming back to haunt Bri's team. First team in YFFL history to place a kicker on injured reserve.
Reason to be Hopeful: The Brothers and Jamaal Charles were the beneficiaries of the downfall of Larry Johnson. Former Dugas castoff Cedric Benson had a breakout season and should challenge Miles Austin and Visanthe Shiancoe for Macor Misa. Steve Smith could rebound next season with a new QB in Carolina. Don't be shocked to see the Brothers take control of the NFC West in 2010.
High 5'n White Guys
What Happened: The White Guys QBs are a who's-who of mediocrity. Mark Sanchez still may be the QB of the future, but he will need to show consistency. Derek Anderson is done, Jake Delhomme is done, Jeff Garcia never really had a chance. The White Guys also allowed a league high 621 points.
Reason to be Hopeful: Peterson, Fitzgerald and White (the other law firm). These three are still a solid core for Aceto to build around in this year's draft. Ricky Williams showed signs of life in the Miami offense. Louis Murphy benefited from the switch to Gradkowski in Oakland.
What Happened: The league's second-worst offense somehow won enough games to almost make the playoffs, but in the end have the seventh pick in the draft. Brian Westbrook's concussions kept him out much of the season and left the team with no anchor at RB. Outside of Vincent Jackson, the WR corps left much to be desired as Chris got next to nothing out of Holt, Jarrett, Engram and Hardy.
Reason to be Hopeful: Romo is still putting up points. Vincent Jackson is a top WR and Mohammed Massaquoi looks like he could make some waves in 2010 and beyond. Should be able to find a good WR or RB at the #7 pick.
Mexican Humping Beans
What Happened: Defied all expectations and won six games with a team of young players and Sammie Stroughter. Managed to stay in the playoff race until the last week of the season despite not having a true starting running back and Sammie Stroughter. Very thankful that interceptions are not counted in scoring. Why have I never heard of Sammie Stroughter?
Reason to be Hopeful: McCoy is set to take over for Westbrook as his career may be over. Acquiring Henderson and Meachem payed dividends for the Beans, and DeSean Jackson is a favorite target in Philly.
What Happened: The Peyton Manning Curse (6-7, no playoffs, no first round draft pick to rebuild).
Reason to be Hopeful: Peyton Manning. He is like that terrible college admissions essay, "How we both won and lost the game". Manning can win a game by himself and lose a game by himself. However, Mike is a great drafter and can always find steals in the late rounds of the draft. Moss and Wells will both be solid next season and Manning has been enjoying Pierre Garcon this season.
What Happened: The only team above .500 not to make the playoffs. Too many injuries in the RB group kept the team grounded, but the disappearance of Greg Jennings was the biggest factor on this team. Justin Forsett was a great pickup for Bri though and should be the starter in 2010.
Reason to be Hopeful: The aforementioned Justin Forsett and of course, Tom Brady. Chad Ochocinco seems to be back in top form and should be the leading Bear receiver next season. A good draft should have the Bear back in contention again next season.