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Postcards from Camp: Ludke's Merry Men

Bobby Sansone

By: Bobby Sansone, YFFL.com Senior Writer

Posted: Aug 16, 2006

Fantasy RB Supremacist?
Madden 07
Uh oh...look out this season, Shaun Alexander

YARMOUTH, ME - With the draft just weeks away, Merry Men owner Steve Dugas is losing sleep over the highly coveted No. 4 draft pick. Tossing and turning, the RB-happy owner is in disbelief that he might have to actually pass up on a RB. Long been criticized for his open hatred of non-RBs, Dugas may be finally regretting not bringing in a proven back-up to Daunte Culpepper last season. It was a move that ultimately cost the Merry Men their second consecutive title and thus, only one banner hangs from the infamous garage pictured on t-shirts all over New England. If Dugas can balance his roster and somehow keep his army of RBs, they could be the team to beat in the AFC.

Critical Question Facing Owner Steve Dugas

Can Dugas count solely on Daunte Culpepper at QB? What a difference a year makes. Dugas did an incredible job getting the Merry Men to the playoffs last year after Culpepper compiled perhaps the most disappointing season in fantasy history. But did Dugas get too cocky? Week after week Brad Johnson scored barely enough and Shaun Alexander scored more than enough to make Dugas think about acquiring an alternative at QB. But Alexander met his match in the AFC Championship game in Larry Johnson. Brad Johnson went scoreless and the Buddies rolled to the Super Bowl. With Culpepper back and with the new-look Dolphins, does Steve have to draft a QB that could be ready if Culpepper can't regain his Randy Moss-aided form?

Player to Watch

Nate Burleson, WR - A quick glance at the Merry Men's roster and it's hard not to notice they are incredibly thin at WR. Gone is Joey Galloway. Jerry Porter's season and fantasy value remain a serious questions mark. T.J. Houshmandzadeh proved to be a reliable fantasy WR and Dugas will count on him heavily in 2006. Nate Burleson was lost in the mix of Vikings WR last year and is on to Seattle to resurrect his once promising career. If Burelson can regain his 2004 form, the Merry Men might be able to put up a fight against the WR-studded Buddies. If not, it could be a long season for the Merry Men.

Projected Starting Lineup

Culpepper, Alexander, Johnson, Houshmandzadeh, Burleson, Clark, Vanderjagt, 4th overall Draft Pick

Outlook

Any team featuring Culpepper, Alexander and Rudi Johnson is destined to compete. But with Culpepper coming off major knee surgery, Alexander on the cover of Madden '07 and Chris Perry stealing touches from Johnson, 2006 could be a reality check for Dugas. Still, Dugas has the depth at RB and the balls to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade before the start of the season. But has the trade market cooled down too much since last season? Regardless, there will be no second chances in the 2006 AFC West, the most superior fantasy football division God ever created. Dugas has had the Week 4 match-up with the Buddies circled on his calendar since last December. Expect the Merry Men to struggle during the NFL bye week season and come up just shy of a playoff berth in Week 13 when their old rival the Thugs play spoiler "Brock N' Roll" style.

Prediction

7-6, 585 points; 3rd AFC West