SHELTON, CT – As YFFL.com senior writer Bobby Sansone said last year, "With 75% of the scoring expected to come from two players, an injury to either Manning or Holmes could cause the team to self-implode." It's a year later and while Manning continues to enjoy his status as a top quarterback, Priest Holmes sits on the sidelines and is pondering retirement from the game altogether. What looked like the most dynamic pairing ever in the YFFL has been lost to prophecy.
After Manning, the Huskers are a collection of unproven youngsters and aging veterans. While Brandon Jacobs and Antonio Bryant look forward to expanded roles, injury concerns plague the rest of the lineup. With the Huskers drafting late in the first round, immediate help isn't on the way either. If Peyton Manning can toss another 40+ touchdowns, if Mewelde Moore can take over at running back for the Vikings, if Derrick Mason can connect with Steve McNair, if the Panthers offense can stall enough times for John Kasay to have a career year, and if Priest Holmes can find the right faith healer, the Huskers might have a chance. But that's alot of if's.
Critical Question Facing Owner Kevin Sansone
Should Peyton Manning be traded? After the surprise run of the Snapdragons to the Super Bowl, the entire league is questioning Peyton Manning's value to a mediocre team. Like the Dragons of two years ago, the Huskers could win 5 or 6 games on Manning's prowess alone, which would vault the Huskers into a YFFL purgatory that no team relishes. Look for Kevin to aggressively try to move Manning before the beginning of the season in hopes of kick-starting the rebuilding process.
Player to Watch
Antonio Bryant, WR. Bryant heads to San Francisco, where QB Alex Smith enters his second season hoping to improve on a rookie season where he failed to post any fantasy points. The 49ers have surrounded him with weapons and Bryant could benefit as a #1 receiver for the first time in his career. Look for Bryant to post career highs as defenses target Vernon Davis and Eric Johnson in the middle of the field.
Projected Starting Lineup
Manning, Moore, Jacobs, Mason, Bryant, Putzier, Kasay, Bruce
Bob Sansone Sr. may not like to hear it, but the rebuilding process starts this year for the Huskers. While Kevin has earned a reputation for getting the most out of veteran players tossed to the scrap heap, look for the Huskers to start the youth movement in 2006. This season's success will be measured on whether the Huskers can trade Peyton Manning, and not necessarily in their number of wins.
3-10; 430 points; 4th NFC West