2011 NFC East Preview

Steve Dugas, Draft Guru

September 12, 2011

Always a hotly contested division (all four teams have won at least one division title since 2006), the NFC East stands to keep the status quo in 2011. The Dragons are the defending division champs, but they'll be pressed by a Mallards team that disappointed in 2010 but have all the pieces to make a title run. Plus, don't forget about the White Guys, who feature a trio of the best players in the league, and the Big Boys, with one of the deepest backfields in the YFFL.

Team Capsules


Aaron Rodgers

The Dragons have been to the playoffs every year that Aaron Rodgers has been the QB and things won't be any different in 2011 as they hold off the Mallards and win a second straight division title. Rodgers is easily going to have a 200-point season and will likely have one of the top 3 seasons in YFFL history when it's all said and done. The Dragons have a solid pair of RBs in Frank Gore and Matt Forte, though Gore has had trouble staying healthy the last few years. I think Jon is going to regret not grabbing Kendall Hunter in the first round of the draft when he had the chance; it would have been a good insurance policy for Gore. Vernon Davis should continue to produce for the Dragons as Jim Harbaugh brings his TE friendly offense over from Stanford. The potential downfall of the Dragons could be their WR corps. Sure, the names standout when you take a quick glance at them, but then you dig deeper and realize that these are just a bunch of 40-point season guys. I'd be surprised if the Dragons got 100 total points from their WRs this season. Brandon Lloyd had a monster season a year ago, but that had to be a career year if there ever was one. Jon's best move of the offseason was probably keeping Matt Flynn. He is going to land a starting job somewhere next year and should Rodgers go down this year, he could step right in and produce top ten QB numbers in that Green Bay offense. While I think the Dragons will win the NFC East and earn the bye, they might be running on fumes come playoff time and will need a herculean effort from Rodgers in the playoffs to win a 4th title in franchise history.

Projected Record: 9-4

Fightin' Mallards

Calvin Johnson

The Mallards enter the season with sky high expectations yet again. Will this be the year they break through and win a playoff game? Can they make it to the end of a season healthy? Can they avoid another 1-4 start? The last two seasons have been nothing but heartbreak for everyone's favorite ducks over on East Elm Street. In 2009 they could barely fill out a lineup for their first playoff game after getting decimated by injuries. In 2010 a 1-4 start proved too much to overcome as they finished in 13th place in the league. 2011 finds the Mallards with some aging veterans and some exciting young players. If they can be mixed and matched in with the core of this team, this could be the year the Mallards break through and finally meet expectations. The Mallards will roll with Big Ben as their starting QB. Ben has the best group of receivers he has had since he got into the league and is poised to have a 150 point season. With Big Ben starting, that will leave preseason fantasy expert darling Matt Ryan on the bench. If you listen to the pundits, Ryan is on the cusp of being a top 5 QB. If that happens, this team could have a QB controversy brewing later in the season. The Mallards are hoping to squeeze one more season out of tiring veterans Steven Jackson and Michael Turner. The hope is they both have a 60-point season in them. The Mallards do have some young backs who are capable of breaking out and if two do, then owner Steve Dugas would be ecstatic. James Starks looked strong in last year's NFL playoffs and this year's season opener, C.J. Spiller is talented but being squandered on a terrible team, and Stevan Ridley could rise to the top of the New England depth chart by season's end. At wide receiver, the Mallards have Calvin Johnson, who will threaten the 100 point mark and Miles Austin, who would be a WR1 on several teams around the league. Backing these guys up are a solid Marques Colston (Editors Note: Colston is now out 4-6 weeks with a broken collar bone) and they debuted their latest weapon in the season opener, Randall Cobb. Rounding out this talented squad is Owen Daniels, now more than a year removed from tearing his ACL one game into his Mallards career. Daniels should rebound this year and contribute around 40 points with the potential for more. The Mallards are locked and loaded and ready to make some noise in 2011. There will be some ups and downs over the course of the season but this team should just stay ahead of the Chickens to win the Wild Card and then we'll see what happens in the playoffs.

Projected Record: 8-5

High 5'n White Guys

Larry Fitzgerald

The White Guys have one of the strangest rosters in the YFFL featuring 4 QBs and 3 TEs, but who are we to question an owner who has been racking up the titles the last few years. Sam Bradford will be the one QB who really matters as he takes the reins of a Josh McDaniels passing attack. Bradford was sensational as a rookie and will likely take another huge step forward in 2011. Adrian Peterson remains the best RB in the league. Aceto can just pencil him in for 110 points and move on to thinking about more important things, like how to get Armanti Edwards the ball in space. The White Guys still have two of the top 5 WR in the league in Larry Fitzgerald and Roddy White. Fitzgerald has an NFL caliber QB throwing him the ball again and White should finally see some single coverage now that Atlanta drafted Julio Jones. The White Guys have as good a core as any in the league with Bradford, AP, Fitzgerald and White. After that is where this team runs into problems though. Lack of depth is a huge problem and Aceto might have to unload a QB at some point to address this problem. Should any of his stud RB/WRs get hurt, this team will not have what it takes to get to 6 wins. Should an injury occur, expect to see Aceto fly up on his private jet to petition Commissioner Kinsman in person to allow 3 TE lineups. The White Guys will give everyone a game every week and can never be taken lightly, but this just won't be their year.

Projected Record: 6-7

Big Boys

Eli Manning

The Big Boys are one of the most boring and vanilla teams in the league. Maybe one player makes you nervous when you play them: Rashard Mendenhall. Sure Eli Manning had a great year last year and Steve Johnson had a break-out season, but there is just nothing sexy or exciting about them. The Big Boys hopes for an improved 2011 lie with the RBs. They have a pile of them since they have had a handful of top 3 picks the last few years. If Moreno and Mathews can finally show why they were drafted so highly, the outlook for the Big Boys could change quickly. The problem is, they have 3 tough teams to deal with in their division. A.J. Green is the newest member of the Boys; he is a very exciting and very talented player, but he couldn't have landed in a worse situation. Chris will have to hope that his career follows the same path as Calvin Johnson when we was drafted onto a terrible Lions team. Don't worry too much Chris, I'm sure the Boys will be better than people expect and you'll definitely have some big weeks and spring some upsets that will determine the fate of some franchise's playoff hopes.

Projected Record: 5-8

Preseason Superlatives

Division MVP

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers, Dragons

Pretty easy call here. Aaron Rodgers is going to set the league on fire this year, potentially threaten the league scoring record, and win his second straight league MVP.

Most Underrated

Roddy White

Roddy White, White Guys

Roddy White always flies under the radar. You never think much of it when you see him in the opposing lineup, but he always puts up 4-8 points and finishes every season with 70+ points.

Most Overrated

Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson, Mallards

Steven Jackson is still living high off of his big seasons back in 2005 and 2006 when he had 78 points both years. Since then, he has been in the 40s a couple times and been in the 60s the last couple seasons. He just never became the 100 point player that everyone expected. Part of the reason was that the Rams were a wasteland for Jackson's prime, but it still doesn't change the fact he was expected to produce more.

Breakthrough Player

Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford, White Guys

As usual, one of the best players in the draft dropped to Aceto in 2010 and he looks to have solved the White Guys' QB problems long term with Bradford. He had over 100 points as a rookie and could make the leap to 140+ in just his second season.

All-Division Team

QBAaron RodgersDragons
RBAdrian PetersonWhite Guys
WRRoddy WhiteWhite Guys
WRLarry FitzgeraldWhite Guys
WRCalvin JohnsonMallards
TEVernon DavisDragons
KMason CrosbyMallards
UTMiles AustinMallards