Postcards From Camp: Ludke's Merry Men

Jon Kinsman, YFFL Commissioner

September 01, 2005

A Viking Loss is a Merry Men Gain
Randy Moss & Nate Burleson
The loss of Randy Moss (left) could pay huge dividends for Nate Burleson (right) and the Merry Men

YARMOUTH, ME - Playing in the shadow of the Chunky Chickens all year long, the Merry Men and Steve Dugas had the last laugh in 2004, bringing home their first YFFL championship. While some will say that the victory was tainted by the loss of Terrell Owens, few can argue with the talent that has been assembled by Dugas. Through shrewd drafting, the Merry Men have established the best trio of running backs in the league with Shaun Alexander, Deuce McAllister and Rudi Johnson while franchise quarterback Daunte Culpepper remains one of the most hated (and most effective) players in the league. It also guarantees that Vikings, Saints, Seahawks and Raiders games will have a permanent stranglehold on Steve's football package.

In a funny way, the Randy Moss trade may have affected the Merry Men more than the team he is actually on (the Burger Buddies). Moss' move to Oakland not only sets Nate Burleson up as the #1 receiver in Minnesota, but also moves Jerry Porter back to a #2, a position that saw him put up his best career numbers. Meanwhile, Daunte Culpepper loses his top target, but the Merry Men gain the advantage of having Culpepper and Burleson on the same squad by default.

Biggest Question Facing Owner Steve Dugas

Can Nate Burleson be a #1 receiver? Many experts say that Randy Moss' departure from the Minnesota Vikings was Daunte Culpepper's loss, but it was certainly Nate Burleson's gain. As mentioned before, if anything, the loss of Moss only enhances the Merry Men's prospects as it teams Culpepper with his new top target in Burleson. Very productive down the stretch and when Moss was sidelined, Burleson could finally give the Merry Men that top WR they've been looking for since drafting Jerry Porter.

Draft Outlook

With the last pick in the first round and a Super Bowl title under his belt, Dugas can afford to take a gamble - possibly even targeting a young QB to groom as a back-up and eventual replacement for Culpepper. There is also a dearth of young receivers to choose from that grade out to late 1st round, early 2nd round picks for the Men to choose from as they look to further develop their base of wide outs. Whichever way the team goes, the player will have the luxury of developing in the Merry Men system without the pressure of playing right away.

Probable Starters

Culpepper, Alexander, McAllister, Porter, Burleson, Clark, Vanderjagt, Johnson

Final Observations

With more concealed weaponry than Scott Foss, the defending champion Merry Men are still the team to beat again in 2005. Dugas has been winning without consistent scoring from the WR positions for several seasons now, so legitimate scoring threats only enhance this team's scariness. With the loss of Marcus Pollard, Dallas Clark could also become one of the top tight ends in the league, only strengthening the Merry Men's grip on the AFC. Despite playing in one of the league's tougher divisions, the Merry Men should have no problem winning the West, grabbing an elusive bye and challenging for another Super Bowl title, possibly in a rematch with the Chunky Chickens.

Projected Record

9-4; 1st AFC West