We get lots of e-mail here at YFFL.com and while we can't answer everyone, senior writer Bobby Sansone took some time out to answer a few of the league's biggest fans...
How do you see the MVP Race shaping up?
Is this a trick question? If Tomlinson and the Chickens don't make the playoffs then how could you not vote for Steve Smith? Besides Terrell Owens, he is the only WR ranked in the Top 25 in the league in scoring and is on pace to have the greatest season in YFFL history for a WR. You also have to consider how bad the Brothers were last year without him. Some owners forget how miserable the Brothers were a year ago - ask Brian Davidson, he'll gladly refresh your memory about his 2004 fantasy season.
Tomlinson has been equally impressive but if the Chickens don't make the playoffs, owners will be skeptical to vote for him. I know, I know the owners voted Manning MVP last year despite the Dragons missing the playoffs but Manning had a truly once-in-a-lifetime year. And for the record, I stand by my vote for T.O.
Carson Palmer has been amazingly consistent and could steal some votes from his teammate Steve Smith. I still think Smith is more valuable to the Brothers because if they didn't have Palmer, the Brothers would still have been in good shape with the recently-traded Ben Roethlisberger. There is however no replacement for Steve Smith on the Brothers roster.
Can you explain the Manning Theory?
Yes, the [Peyton] Manning Theory is simple. When you have a player as great as Peyton Manning and then a bunch of average players making up your starting lineup, the average players will cancel each other out and Peyton Manning will win half the games on his own and lose half the games on his own. Any team suffering from the Manning theory will always finish around .500. If you don't believe me, look at the Dragons from 2002-2004 and what the Huskers are on pace for this season.
The worst part about the Manning Theory is that the only known cure is to trade Peyton Manning for a trio of above-average players.
Who will win the YFFL Championship this season?
Whatever team lands that game-breaker before the trade deadline. Before the season I think it was unanimous that the Merry Men and Chickens were clearly the class of the YFFL. Injuries, suspensions, and Fred Smoot have taken their toll on those teams respectively and now the YFFL Championship is truly up for grabs. No team is overpowering right now which leads me to believe that whoever can land that Keyshawn Johnson, Joey Galloway, Curtis Martin or Mike Anderson might have the edge to win it all.
Assuming that the Chickens don't make the playoffs now that they are without T.O. and that nobody makes any significant deals before the trade deadline, I think the Buddies will beat the Brothers in the Super Bowl.
What happened to the Chickens? How can a team this talented be in danger of missing the playoffs?
I'm still in disbelief about the Chickens. A year ago, shortly after the T.O. – Ricky trade, they looked like they would dominate the YFFL for years to come. When Philip Rivers fell to him in the draft, things looked even worse for the rest of the league. Now, just 14 months later, the Chickens 'almost-dynasty' appears to be on its death bed.
It's hard for me to blame Mike, but at the same time I have to wonder why he never invested in any T.O. "insurance". Owens has been a suspension-waiting-to-happen since training camp and with an already thin WR corps and the ill-effects of last years' Super Bowl loss in his mind, Mike elected not to make a move and hope his Chicken coop could whether the storm.
No one could have seen the demise of Jamal Lewis coming. Kevan Barlow has never quite fit in out in San Francisco and Joe Horn is starting to look more and more like a 33-year-old WR. Brandon Lloyd has been slowed by the 49ers revolving QB door over the last two years while Jason Witten has surprisingly been non-existent this season.
The Chickens strength still lies in the depth they have at QB. With QB undoubtedly being the most sought-after position in the YFFL currently, it makes sense for Mike to trade at least two of them for WRs. If Ben Roethlisberger got Brian the No. 3 pick in this year's draft in Cedric Benson, what could Donovan McNabb possibly get Mike?
For now, the Chickens will turn to their Chargers Brees, Gates and L.T. to salvage their season. While they are arguably the best trio of players in the YFFL, it is worth noting that no YFFL team has won a Super Bowl while starting three players from the same NFL team.
Taking age, talent and upside into consideration, can you list the top 10 players you would want to build a franchise around?
Las Cruces, NM
Drum roll please...
10. Edgerrin James
9. Chad Johnson
8. Steven Jackson
7. Steve Smith
6. Willis McGahee
5. Peyton Manning
4. Shaun Alexander
3. Eli Manning
2. Carson Palmer
1. LaDainian Tomlinson
With Rivalry Weekend upon us, what's your favorite YFFL Rivalry?
There are two factors that make a great rivalry. One is off-the-field verbal exchanges and we've had many this year. Those of you at the draft at Steve's house won't ever forget the exchange between Dugas and Mike. Then of course there was Steve and Kevin bashing each other about the YFFL.com poll questions of all things followed by Aceto and Mike getting heated in the forum. I jumped in the mix when Steve started Chris Simms and several owners followed suit and ganged up on Steve. Then after I bashed the Brett Favre "Giveaway" (as I still like to call it), Chris Davidson jumped into the circus and attacked me. Only Brian and Jon have managed to avoid any verbal disagreements this season or at least done the best at covering them up.
The second factor is clearly a rivalry on the field. I hesitate to call the Refugees-Buddies a rivalry because it seems like the Buddies always come out on top whenever there is a 30-bomb on the line.
With that said here are my Top 5 YFFL Rivalries:
6. Big Boys (Chris) vs Asian Orangutangs (Jon)
The Nostalgia-lovers always have a place in their heart for this rivalry which dates back to the early 1990s. Jon and Chris battle once a year for "Legendary Owner" bragging rights. With both teams fighting for the playoffs for the first time in years, this game actually carries some importance for a change.
5. Merry Men (Steve) vs UCornn Huskers (Kevin)
The last two owners to join the league also happen to be the two most studious. No tidbit gets by either one of these guys. Chances are "Rain Man" can tell you Jeb Putzier's stats from Week 5 of 2003 while Steve is practically a walking "Whispers from around the NFL" column in his own right. This rivalry took on a whole new meaning in early 2003 when the Huskers beat the Merry Men to capture their first Super Bowl. The Huskers would like nothing more than to spoil the Merry Men's season yet again this year.
4. Apple Eaters (Chris) vs. Mexican Humping Beans (Bobby)
I am honestly still fuming over the Beans loss to the Eaters in the 1998 Conference championship game that ended the Beans magical season. Gary Anderson scored 20 points in that game and worst of all his elf-looking face was plastered on yffl.hypermart.net the entire off-season. This rivalry has so many compelling plotlines: The soft-spoken Chris vs. the out-spoken Bobby. The legendary owner Chris vs. the legend-killer Bobby. The trade-embargo Chris vs. the trade-happy Bobby. The rivalry has escalated over recent years as I call Chris "Kellen" every time I see him, casually reminding him of the draft pick that set his franchise back two years. The Eaters lead the All-Time series 7-6 and won the Week 1 meeting earlier this year 46-29.
3. Merry Men (Steve) vs. Chunky Chickens (Mike)
Clearly the most recognizable rivalry in the league. It's a battle of egos when these two fantasy geniuses get together. Neither shies away from confrontation and neither likes to lose. Last season, the YFFL enjoyed arguably its greatest Championship game ever between these two teams with the Merry Men narrowly defeating 84-66. Many would argue that there should be an asterisk next to the Merry Men's title because T.O. didn't play though. The owners already have had a few incidents this season and the YFFL draft was a treat for any owner in attendance. While Mike tends to win the battle off the field Steve has had the upper-hand on the field including a 34-33 win to open the season this year.
2. White Guys (Anthony) vs. Burger Buddies (Mike)
One visit to the YFFL forum and one can discover the war of words between the long-time friends. In a gentlemen's league, the two owners don't hesitate to raise the stakes once in a while and aren't too shy in the forum either. If the FCC ever got a look in there, yffl.com might not exist tomorrow. The Buddies and White Guys do not meet in 2005.
1. Merry Men (Steve) vs. Market Thugs (Bobby)
I'm a little bias to this rivalry for obvious reasons but it clearly belongs on this list. For two owners who spend countless hours on the phone each week discussing the ins and outs of the league together, the two times we play each year are even more important. Throw in Brock Forsey and the Thugs improbable run to their first Championship only to be followed up by the Merry Men winning their first and the rivalry is now played with much bigger stakes. You can throw out the records when these teams meet, as Steve learned in Week 5 when the 0-4 Thugs beat the Merry Men 58-48. The two teams have combined to win every AFC West title but have only met in the playoffs once. The Thugs hold a 7-5-1 series advantage while the Merry Men won their only playoff meeting back in 2003. The teams traditionally meet in Week 13, the last week of the regular season.