The 2004 Thugs won't look much like the World Champion Thugs that surprised everyone a year ago. While the RBs remain the same, nearly everyone else has changed in one facet or another. 2001 YFFL MVP Jeff Garcia is back to quarterback the team he has led to division titles in 4 of the last 5 seasons. MVP candidate from a year ago, Ahman Green along with Edgerrin James, figure to be the biggest scoring-producers. Despite the injuries and the trading off of veterans, Sansone isn't ready to write-off the season nor call it the end of the Thugs dynasty that has gone 40-22-3 over the last five seasons.
2004 Draft Will Be Key To Thugs Success
The Thugs go into next week's draft with 4 of the top 33 picks. Sansone, who has a knack for drafting sleepers as well as talking about himself in the third person, will have to find a few diamonds in the rough at the WR position if the Thugs want to compete in the AFC West this season.
Express Lane: 5 Wins or Less?
The Thugs will rely heavily on Garcia, Green, James and Akers to carry the scoring load, something they did all last season. But the absence of WRs means that Thugs will have no retaliation for fellow AFC West receivers Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt and Jerry Porter. Garcia's fantasy value has been questioned in Cleveland and with no back-up, Sansone is taking a huge risk by assuming Garcia still has what it takes to win games.
Charlie Garner and Moe Williams figure to split time at the UT position. Both are reliable scoring options when they get touches. Derrius Thompson and Brian Finneran are the starting WRs as of now. No joke. Boldin couldn't return fast enough to save this team. Crumpler is an above-average TE and plays better when Vick is throwing to him. Akers is one of the best kickers in the YFFL today. The AFC West might be the toughest division this season with the emergence of the Eaters and Buddies, both of whom finished under .500 last season. The Thugs will be competitive, especially late in the season, but won't have enough talent across the board to repeat as World Champions.
4-8-1 4th AFC West