FFL


Bob Dayton Previews the 2010 FFL Season

By  Last updated: 27th April 2011
Bob Dayton thinks that Black Sox coach Hendrik deBoer and Randy Moss will be hatching game plans until well into the December FFL postseason.

Bob Dayton thinks that Black Sox coach Hendrik deBoer and Randy Moss will be hatching game plans until well into the December FFL postseason.

We are now a week away from the 1,447th through 1,452nd games in FFL history, otherwise known as Week 1 of 2010. Here is my comprehensive preview of the nineteenth season of the Fantasy Football League…

Preseason Power Rankings

1) Chicago Black Sox
2) Phoenix Conquistadors
3) Connecticut Fancy Lads
4) New York Z-Force
5) Miami Miracles
6) Kansas City Blockers
7) Charleston Challengers
8) Dallas Knights
9) Montana Blazers
10) Boston Thunder
11) Atlanta Predators
12) Waikiki Tsunamis

Projected 2010 Standings

Using per-game statistical projections for the year, and taking bye week lineups and major player injury risks into consideration.

FFL East (NFFC)
Connecticut 8-5, NFFC bye
New York 8-5, wild card
Boston 5-8

FFL South (NFFC)
Miami 8-5, wild card
Charleston 6-7
Atlanta 4-9

FFL Central (AFFC)
Chicago 10-3, AFFC bye
Kansas City 7-6, wild card
Montana 5-8

FFL West (AFFC)
Phoenix 9-4, wild card
Dallas 5-8
Waikiki 3-10

Projected Playoff Results

Week 14: Phoenix def. Kansas City, New York def. Miami
Week 15: Phoenix def. Connecticut, Chicago def. New York
Fantasy Bowl XIX: Chicago def. Phoenix, netting HdeBoer his second FFL title.

Atlanta Predators

2009 record: 7-6, lost in wild card round
Projected 2010 record: 4-9
Avg. wins last three years: 7.17
Playoff appearance rate: 13.3% (18.2% under FdeBoer)
Championships: 1 (1999)
Franchise rock: Aaron Rodgers
Face of the future?: Vernon Davis
Home field advantage: Atlanta Predators cheerleaders rated FFL’s hottest, according to Maxim
Nice pick: Jerome Harrison, 7th rd
Questionable pick: Felix Jones, 2nd rd
Dark horse candidate: Montario Hardesty
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Reggie Wayne
Offensive scheme: some wishbone, some pro set
Roughest bye week: Week 10 vs. Montana (ARodgers and MCrosby out)
Could miss the playoffs if: the risky picks of Felix Jones, Montario Hardesty, and Pierre Garcon do not produce a breakout star, or if Aaron Rodgers and Vernon Davis can’t replicate their 2009 stat lines.
Can win it all if: they hit the jackpot on one of their young RBs, Aaron Rodgers turns in an MVP year, and Matt Forte finally becomes a 10-12 TD back.
In sum: After reappearing in the playoffs in 2009 for the first time in a decade, 2010 will probably be a setback year, as the team still needs to develop a RB/WR star to complement Rodgers’ upcoming prime years. They made more risky than safe picks in the draft, as the Atlanta front office has reasoned that they need another breakthrough draft pick or free agent signing on the order of Kurt Warner or Fred Taylor in the late 90s to finally break the cycle of mediocrity. A ppg in the low 30s range is likely.

Boston Thunder

2009 record: 5-7-1, missed playoffs
Projected 2010 record: 5-8
Avg. wins last three years: 7.17
Playoff appearance rate: 66.7%
Championships: 4 (1993, 2001, 2003, 2006)
Franchise rock: Steven Jackson
Face of the future?: Calvin Johnson
Home team advantage: Schaefer Stadium sing-a-long of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” before the fourth quarter
Nice pick: Reggie Bush, 2nd rd
Questionable pick: Michael Bush, 3rd rd
Dark horse candidate: Sidney Rice
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Joe Flacco
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 8 vs. Charleston (MRyan and TGonzalez out)
Could miss the playoffs if: neither Carson Palmer nor Matt Ryan is able to put up ~7 ppg or more, Steven Jackson blows out his knee
Can win it all if: Calvin Johnson takes the next step and becomes the FFL’s premier receiver, and Steven Jackson travels back in time to 2006.
In sum: We should see more of the same as last year. The team redrafted past Boston notables Matt Ryan, Reggie Bush, Sidney Rice, and Chris Chambers, so this team will look and possibly play similarly. The additions of Cedric Benson and Tony Gonzalez suggest possible improvements to the offense, but there isn’t tremendous upside here. This is a team still in the rebuilding process, and will score in the low 30s ppg range.

Charleston Challengers

2009 record: 5-8, missed playoffs
Projected 2010 record: 6-7
Avg. wins last three years: 6.00
Playoff appearance rate: 33.3%
Championships: 1 (2008)
Franchise rock: DeAngelo Williams
Face of the future?: Hakeem Nicks
Home team advantage: Mascot duo of Waffley the Waffle House Waffle, and Confederate re-enactor Johnny Reb
Nice pick: Donovan McNabb, 6th rd
Questionable pick: Ryan Longwell, 4th rd
Dark horse candidate: Wes Welker
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Brandon Jacobs
Offensive scheme: pro set
Roughest bye week: Week 8 vs. Boston (EManning, HNicks, BCelek out)
Could miss the playoffs if: Williams, Thomas, and/or Wayne have off years, or Eli recedes back to being a league-average scoring QB.
Can win it all if: the team pulls off a repeat of 2008 and Williams and Thomas catch on fire for an extended late-season playoff run, Reggie Wayne has a huge 10+ TD season, and Eli Manning turns in another career year.
In sum: The Challengers are never an easy team to project. They tend to follow up strong seasons with weak ones, and vice versa. That pattern would suggest that the 2010 squad is playoff bound, but I think they will come up a win short. They have several very good players but nobody that you can bank on for a sure-thing TD day. The Challengers should finish somewhere in the vicinity of 33-34 ppg, and their loyal fans and tailgaters will continue to fill Waffle House field.

Chicago Black Sox

2009 record: 4-8-1, missed playoffs
Projected 2010 record: 10-3, FFL champions
Avg. wins last three years: 6.50
Playoff appearance rate: 61.1% (66.7% under HdeBoer)
Championships: 2 (1996, 2007)
Franchise rock: Randy Moss
Face of the future?: Ryan Mathews
Home team advantage: Fans receive free Old Style beers at Welburn Stadium concession stands when the team scores a touchdown from over 50 yards.
Nice pick: Brett Favre, 3rd rd
Questionable pick: Jay Cutler, 4th rd
Dark horse candidate: Jahvid Best
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Carson Palmer
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 10 vs. New York (RMathews, JFinley out)
Could miss the playoffs if: they lose a franchise player like Chris Johnson or Randy Moss to season-ending injury, or if the Favre/Cutler duo implodes and the team can’t get adequate production from the QB position. Or the team could have another inexplicably losing season like 2009.
Can win it all if: the team simply plays to its projected talent level. This team has room to make errors and still at least be a title contender.
In sum: Where to start? Arguably the unluckiest team in FFL history, the ’09 Black Sox probably lost about three games and a playoff slot simply due to bad breaks of luck. They return the core of a squad that scored 38.8 ppg, and add the #1 pick of the draft in heralded rookie Ryan Mathews, a more consistent QB in Favre, and a WR looking to rebound in Steve Smith. Part of the problem in 2009 was a decided lack of depth, which hurt the team in the stretch of bye weeks. But this year’s team shouldn’t have that issue. Brett Favre finally has a chance to win an FFL ring (he doesn’t count the 2007 Black Sox title, in which he won while riding the bench). The 2010 Black Sox could push 40 ppg.

Connecticut Fancy Lads

2009 record: 9-4, FFL champions
Projected 2010 record: 8-5, loss in championship round
Avg. wins last three years: 7.67
Playoff appearance rate: 55.6%
Championships: 1 (2009)
Franchise rock: Michael Turner
Face of the future?: Adrian Peterson
Home team advantage: Halftime 100-yard race between The Racing Fancy Lads: Laddie, Baddie, Paddy, and Caddy.
Nice pick: Steve Smith (NYG), 6th rd
Questionable pick: Kevin Boss, 7th rd
Dark horse candidate: Donald Brown
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Ryan Grant
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 8 vs. Atlanta (JFlacco, MTurner, SSmith nyg out)
Could miss the playoffs if: Michael Turner or Adrian Peterson suffer a catastrophic injury, and if Joe Flacco turns in too many 1-TDP-a-game performances.
Can win it all if: the backs stay healthy and we see two 15-TD range seasons from Turner and Peterson. They might be able to carry an otherwise average team if this happens.
In sum: The defending champion Lads will play well, and a playoff berth seems all but certain. The hopeful return to full-time health by Michael Turner will be welcome, as he will have to replace some of the draft depth that the team has shed in order to pull off the Peterson deal last fall. A few questions remain; Joe Flacco has not yet proven himself an elite FFL quarterback, and the jury is still out on whether Jamaal Charles will be more than a slightly-above-average scoring back. The Lads should score somewhere in the 37 ppg range, which would be an improvement over last year.

Dallas Knights

2009 record: 6-6-1, missed playoffs
Projected 2010 record: 5-8
Avg. wins last three years: 5.83
Playoff appearance rate: 44.4%
Championships: 1 (1995)
Franchise rock: Frank Gore
Face of the future?: Shonn Greene
Home team advantage: The most garish uniforms in FFL history routinely blind the opposition.
Nice pick: Ben Roethlisberger, 5th rd
Questionable pick: Mike Wallace, 3rd rd
Dark horse candidate: Thomas Jones
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Andre Johnson
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 9 vs. Boston (FGore, CPortis, MPrater out)
Could miss the playoffs if: Frank Gore and/or Shonn Greene do not lead the offense. They can’t be a contender unless both perform like elite backs.
Can win it all if: Gore is healthy and 12+ TD productive, Greene develops into a 10+ TD back, Fitzgerald turns in 9-10 TD year, and the team gets better than average play from a Schaub/Roethlisberger QB platoon.
In sum: The Knights had an awful collapse at the end of 2009, shockingly knocking them out of the playoffs. It was yet another year among many in the 2000s where the team failed to meet expectations and play to its talent level. The 2010 squad has talent, but because Greene is still raw, and Gore and Fitzgerald can lose their scoring touch from time to time, a lot would have to finally go right for Dallas to contend for the title. Mark them down for 34 ppg, with some disappointing losses to division rival Phoenix and a few unexpected upsets against teams they should be beating.

Kansas City Blockers

2009 record: 5-8, missed playoffs
Projected 2010 record: 7-6, loss in wild card round
Avg. wins last three years: 7.00
Playoff appearance rate: 40.0%
Championships: 0
Franchise rock: Philip Rivers
Face of the future?: C.J. Spiller
Home team advantage: A “Block That Cock!” underground cockfighting arena is hidden behind the Kids’ Fanfest area in a dark and shadowy concourse of H&R Block Stadium.
Nice pick: Marques Colston, 1st rd
Questionable pick: Austin Collie, 5th rd
Dark horse candidate: Ahmad Bradshaw
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Ronnie Brown
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 10 vs. Boston (PRivers, RGrant, MColston out)
Could miss the playoffs if: any number of things go wrong and the team fails to yield a 10+TD scorer. Ryan Grant, Marques Colston, Roddy White, and Visanthe Shiancoe are all recognizably good players, but none are can’t-miss quantities.
Can win it all if: they can muster a historically exceptional (and lucky) month of football in December. They’d need to go the 2008 Challengers route, sneaking into the playoffs and pulling off upset after upset by way of double-scoring TDs and goal-line TD binges. But they probably lack the backfield to do that.
In sum: The Blockers’ trade for Ryan Grant and Roddy White could turn out to have been a great one, as it helped a team with a marginal keeper situation suddenly attain some relevancy in the FFL Central. This year they should be on the bubble, scoring in the vicinity of 34 ppg, while they assess who will make a good core of keepers for a 2011 run. They should be able to figure out if C.J. Spiller is the Blocker Back of the Future, too.

Miami Miracles

2009 record: 8-4-1, lost in championship round
Projected 2010 record: 8-5, loss in wild card round
Avg. wins last three years: 4.83
Playoff appearance rate: 55.6%
Championships: 0
Franchise rock: Jonathan Stewart
Face of the future?: Ray Rice
Home team advantage: Evangelical activists in Florida rabidly support the team at home games because they believe that the team name signifies “bringing Christ back to professional football.”
Nice pick: Dallas Clark, 2nd rd
Questionable pick: Jeremy Maclin, 5th rd
Dark horse candidate: Kevin Kolb
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Brett Favre
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 8 vs. Kansas City (KKolb, RRice, DeSJackson, Philadelphia ST/D out)
Could miss the playoffs if: the Kevin Kolb era is a rough transition. Brett Favre’s great 2009 helped propel this team deep into the playoffs, and he will be difficult to replace.
Can win it all if: the promising trio of Stewart, Rice, and Knowshon Moreno finally put it all together this year and emerge as the best wishbone running attack in the league.
In sum: 18 seasons, 0 championships. Now that fellow original FFL teams Charleston and Connecticut have won the Welburn Trophy in back-to-back seasons, Miami stands alone among the original eight to have never hoisted a championship banner. Could this be the year? While they do not have the talent of Chicago or Phoenix or Connecticut, Miami could best most teams in the league on any given Sunday, and a more extended playoff run is not out of the question. DeSean Jackson, perhaps the league’s top threat to score a 12-point touchdown, could be a difference maker in a few games this season.

Montana Blazers

2009 record: 7-6, lost in wild card round
Projected 2010 record: 5-8
Avg. wins last three years: 5.83
Playoff appearance rate: 72.2%
Championships: 1 (2002)
Franchise rock: Anquan Boldin
Face of the future?: Rashard Mendenhall
Home team advantage: Billings, Montana (pop. 105, 845) practically shuts down on gameday. Best tailgate atmosphere in the league, according to Greenberg and Golic. Team’s sellout streak dates back to 1992.
Nice pick: Laurence Maroney, 9th rd
Questionable pick: Kellen Winslow, 4th rd
Dark horse candidate: Michael Crabtree
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Ahmad Bradshaw
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 8 vs. Chicago (BJacobs, LMcCoy, GOlsen, DAkers, Baltimore out)
Could miss the playoffs if: nobody on the team emerges as a game-to-game scoring threat, particularly in their young backfield.
Can win it all if: Mendenhall, McCoy, and Jacobs all radically exceed expectations and post double-digit TD years. Of all the teams this year, they have the most underdog potential. But they could also go bust just as easily.
In sum: The Superfan may find this to be a long year. The FFL Central will be tough, and wins over Kansas City and especially Chicago will be hard-earned. The additions of Jacobs and McCoy could help revive a moribund running game, but none of their back options will necessarily pan out as franchise mainstays. While I have them slotted at 5-8, the Blazers have a history of simply finding ways to win. If a few scores go their way, they might be a 7-6 wild card team. Similar bubble statuses apply to the Knights, Blockers, and Challengers.

New York Z-Force

2009 record: 5-8, missed playoffs
Projected 2010 record: 8-5, loss in championship round
Avg. wins last three years: 7.50
Playoff appearance rate: 83.3%
Championships: 6
Franchise rock:
Peyton Manning
Face of the future?: Miles Austin
Home team advantage: The Z-Force and their fans at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Stadium are pure evil.
Nice pick: Joseph Addai, 1st rd
Questionable pick: Hines Ward, 4th rd
Dark horse candidate: LaDainian Tomlinson
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Terrell Owens
Offensive scheme: mostly wishbone, some pro-set
Roughest bye week: Week 7 vs. Kansas City (PManning, JAddai, LTomlinson out)
Could miss the playoffs if: the Z-Force Retirement Plan fails, and at least two of the veteran quartet of Joseph Addai, Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Hines Ward fail to pan out.
Can win it all if: Peyton Manning has another outstanding season, Joseph Addai stays in the lineup all year and proves to be the franchise back they have been lacking, and Miles Austin proves he is for real.
In sum: The oldest team in the league is looking to capitalize on experience and luck as they try to win another title before Manning’s decline sets in. While this game plan has worked before for the Z-Force, most teams have failed with the strategy of relying on fading stars. Still, New York had a solid offense in 2009 (and a horrendous defense, at 40.69 PA/g). And this team should be improved, good for 36-37 ppg.

Phoenix Conquistadors

2009 record: 8-5, lost in Fantasy Bowl
Projected 2010 record: 9-4, loss in Fantasy Bowl
Avg. wins last three years: 7.50
Playoff appearance rate: 53.3%
Championships: 1 (1998)
Franchise rock: Maurice Jones-Drew
Face of the future?: Arian Foster
Home team advantage: Franciscan ushers at Dunkin Donuts Stadium forceably baptize the Protestant and Jewish fans of opposing teams.
Nice pick: Ronnie Brown, 2nd rd
Questionable pick: Vincent Jackson, 3rd rd
Dark horse candidate: Dwayne Bowe
Worst loss from 2009 squad: Joseph Addai
Offensive scheme: wishbone
Roughest bye week: Week 7 vs. Miami (AFoster, AJohnson, ODaniels, AVinatieri out)
Could miss the playoffs if: they lose Drew Brees or Maurice Jones-Drew for a significant stretch of time. They don’t have an adequate backup solution at QB, and Ronnie Brown or Arian Foster would struggle to pick up the slack of one of the best backs in the league.
Can win it all if: they play to their potential not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs, where traditionally they have had trouble putting away opponents in big games. They will need big game performances out of Jones-Drew, Andre Johnson, and Brees in order to knock out a Chicago or Connecticut.
In sum: After an awful run in the first half of the 2000s, the Conquistadors have quietly rebuilt a consistently winning franchise in the last five seasons. They lack the depth of Chicago, and they don’t have a major dual scoring threat like Connecticut has in Peterson and Turner. However, they have the best quarterback among the major contenders, and the addition of Andre Johnson could solve the hole they had at the wide receiver position in 2009.

Waikiki Tsunamis

2009 record: 7-6, lost in championship round
Projected 2010 record: 3-10
Avg. wins last three years: 7.00
Playoff appearance rate: 30.0%
Championships: 0
Franchise rock: Tom Brady
Face of the future?: Golden Tate
Home team advantage: Section 105 behind the south goal post is one large wave pool seating section.
Nice pick: Chad Ochocinco, 3rd rd
Questionable pick: Chris Cooley (backup TE), 6th rd
Dark horse candidate: Marion Barber
Worst loss from 2009 squad: LaDainian Tomlinson
Offensive scheme: pro set
Roughest bye week: Week 5 vs. Dallas (TBrady, HMiller out)
Could miss the playoffs if: none of their players radically exceed my 2010 projections for player TD totals.
Can win it all if: a dimensional vortex swallows up their opponents at each game and they win the title by forfeit. Or, if Toby Gerhart lucks into a starting role and scores a dozen TDs, and he teams up with the dimensional vortex.
In sum: 3-10 is a harsh assessment, but they have lots of strikes against them. Braylon Edwards was the worst keeper retained in the league (Tomlinson would have been a risk too, but probably a more worthy one). Willis McGahee is an unreliable franchise back. Phoenix and Dallas are tough division opponents and could equal four losses. Tom Brady is angry about his contract and is beginning a slow decline. Chad Ochocinco might not mesh well with his new teammates. But hey, we could have lobbed some of the same criticisms at last year’s Tsunamis too, and they came within a game of the Fantasy Bowl while scoring just 33.3 ppg. Predictions are a fool’s errand.



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Comments (1)

  1. Will Zieger says:

    Are you my father?

     Reply




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