2010 AFC West Preview

Steve Dugas, Draft Guru

September 09, 2010

The AFC West has gone from the preeminent division in the YFFL to quite possibly its worst in just a few short years. Gone are the early 2000's when the Thugs, Merry Men and Buddies ripped off three straight titles. Sure, the Thugs have had back-to-back double digit win seasons, but when YFFL front office personnel look at their schedules, the teams from the AFC West haven't exactly been striking fear into them. Perhaps that begins to change in 2010. The Thugs are still looking good, the Buddies and Merry Men are capable of competing for the Wild Card, and the Eaters...well, things aren't looking so good for them.

Team Capsules

Market Thugs

Matt Schaub

The Thugs are in a class of their own when it comes to the AFC West. In fact, they should run away with the division title for a third straight year. Matt Schaub scored 114 points (of 158 possible points) last season and is an elite fantasy quarterback (you might not want to count on him to win an NFL game, but you would in the YFFL). Bob will also not have the headache of having to pick between Warner and Schaub this season, which at times had Marcy worried sick. She would often come home from the night shift at the hospital only to find Bob sitting in a corner mumbling, "Warner vs Detroit, Schaub vs Cleveland... Who do I start? Who do I start?" Max Hall was a great stash during the draft and could prove to be Schaub's backup as soon as the second half of this season. The Thugs have the best running game in the division with Grant, Bradshaw and Williams. Bob made a bold move during the draft in dealing Steve Smith (NYG) for the #8 pick and he picked up impact rookie WR Mike Williams. I expect the move to pay off since I think Steve Smith probably reached his ceiling as a player last season and Mike Williams has the potential to be a double digit TD guy for the next eight years. The rest of the receiving corps on this team is solid with Dwayne Bowe and Austin Collie to go along with impact tight ends Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez. No team has ever won 10+ games three years in a row - could this be the year that it happens?

Projected Record: 9-4

Burger Buddies

Peyton Manning

How far can Peyton Manning, Randy Moss and Pierre Garcon take this team? That is the big question facing Mike and the Buddies in 2010. Peyton Manning automatically gives the Buddies 5 wins on his own and now it is just a matter of whether or not the other players on the roster step up and deliver on the weeks when Manning isn't throwing for 4 TDs. When Manning does have those 4 TDs weeks, the Buddies will really blow the top off things due to the fact that some of those TDs will be going to Pierre Garcon, who emerged as a very good player last year. Randy Moss is still as solid as ever and is in a contract year, so look for him to score 12-15 TDs this season. However, the Buddies are littered with question marks after these three players. Roy Williams? A rookie is overtaking him. Steve Breaston? Terrible QB situation. Beanie Wells? Can't seem to overtake Tim Hightower. Kevin Smith? Passed by a rookie. Greg Olsen? Martz hates TEs. It will be interesting to see how all these questions are answered. Nick did a good job drafting for Mike by landing two potentially good players in Anthony Dixon who has looked good in preseason work and Mike Hoomanawanui who has been Bradford's security blanket. The Buddies are in for an up and down season and will hang around in the Wild Card hunt until the season's end.

Projected Record: 6-7

Ludke's Merry Men

Ray Rice

The Merry Men head into the 2010 season with their rebuilding project about 85% complete. They have their franchise quarterback in place, two up-and-coming running backs, and a group of wide receivers who have flashed some talent. The one glaring hole that the Merry Men still have is a player to man the UT spot in the lineup. After completing the Maclin trade, the Merry Men were very optimistic that a playoff spot may be in reach only to find out two days later that 2009 break-out player Sidney Rice would be sidelined for 8 weeks (if not the entire season). This dealt a double blow to the Merry Men as they lost their best WR and Brett Favre would no longer be the easy call to start at QB as Matt Stafford got another year of seasoning. The Merry Men landed some talented players in the 2010 draft, but they have no idea what type of impact they will make on the 2010 season. Much like the Buddies, the Merry Men will have an up and down season. To make the playoffs, they will need Matt Stafford to have his coming-out party a year early, Ray Rice and Pierre Thomas will need to get the goal line carries for their respective teams, and Maclin needs to have the kind of season that Sidney Rice had last year. That's probably one too many things that need to go right this year. The Merry Men's best bet is to hang around and get to Week 10 with a record of 5-5, hope that Demaryius Thomas starts to put up some points and Sidney Rice comes back healthy, and then make a run over the last 3 weeks. The Merry Men are likely still one more draft away from making some serious noise but they will be vacating the basement in the AFC West this season.

Projected Record: 6-7

Apple Eaters

Tony Romo

The Apple Eaters have fallen on hard times. They possess the least talented roster in the league and they did nothing to restock the cupboard during last week's draft. Sure, Chris can't help that Montario Hardesty tore his ACL a little less than an hour after learning he would be an Eater, but the other picks were downright head scratchers. If the Eaters really wanted Ben Tate and Mike Vick, they could have been had in Rounds 5 and 6. Instead, they should have been taking players who have chance of contributing this season. The Eaters have a lot of work to do and they should probably start by cutting the players on their roster that NFL teams don't even want on theirs. The Eaters do have one lone bright spot, Tony Romo, who scored 150+ for the third straight season. If he was older, I would suggest trading him to expedite the rebuilding process, but he is too young and too good to deal. One thing not helping the Eaters in 2010 is the suspension and hold-out of Vincent Jackson, who scored 68 points for them last year and will not likely even suit up for the Eaters this season. The only other player of consequence is Reggie Bush, and he is never going to turn into a 80-100 point a season guy. He would actually be a good player to trade to a contender later in the season that could use him as a bye week fill-in or start him at UT. The Eaters are in for a long season filled with verbal abuse from Bobby Sansone. They will probably only win 2 or 3 games, but will likely avoid becoming the lowest scoring team in YFFL history since they do have Tony Romo.

Projected Record: 2-11

Preseason Superlatives

Division MVP

DeAngelo Williams, Thugs

I think Williams will bounce back after getting nicked up at the end of last season and post another 100 point season. Williams is a free agent in 2011, so he will be performing for a new contract and if the Panthers aren't planning on resigning him, they may give him a larger share of the carries to keep Jonathan Stewart healthy and fresh.

Most Underrated

Pierre Thomas, Merry Men

Thomas is one of the top 5 beneficiaries of the new rule change to combine rushing and receiving yardage. This rule change and a lack of competition around the goal line could vault Thomas into the 80-90 point range for the 2010 season. Thomas is a very talented RB but always seems to be held back by his coach. This is the year the training wheels come off and Thomas has a Pro Bowl caliber season.

Most Overrated

Brodie Croyle, Eaters

I could have gone with numerous Eaters here and even thought about listing every player that I think should be cut, but Croyle has to be one of the more head scratching ones on the roster. I can understand keeping a QB on the roster that doesn't start if he is your starter's back up or has a promising future, but Croyle qualifies for neither of these reasons.

Breakthrough Player

Mike Williams (TB), Thugs

I love this player and was very upset when he was taken one pick ahead of me. The guy is a playmaker (and not in the Teydin Erkinnen sense). He could score 60+ points for the Thugs in his rookie season.

All-Division Team

QBPeyton ManningBuddies
RBDeAngelo WilliamsThugs
RBPierre ThomasMerry Men
WRRandy MossBuddies
WRMike Williams (TB)Thugs
TEJason WittenThugs
KGarrett HartleyThugs
UTRay RiceMerry Men