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Alan Ameche League – 2006 Season Preview

August 30, 2006

 

 

Well, guys, here it is, almost time for another football season.  Since last year I never did the Dunce and Value teams, this year I will do something a bit different, and something that I haven’t done in any of these leagues (or, at least, not in a long time).  I will go through each team individually, recap last year, project this year and also throw out some random observations that may or may not have anything to do, directly or indirectly, with this league.

 

Why? 

 

Actually, part of the reason is so that I can study the league.  So that I can get an idea of what everyone has, what is out there, and what may happen.  With a child now, and with work demands, I am finding myself stretched pretty much to the legal limit, and it is becoming difficult to keep on top of these things, let alone factoring in trades and all that other good stuff.  I don’t see myself dropping out of any of these leagues anytime soon – frankly, the social connections with you guys are enough to make it worth my while to stay in - but I do think that I need to do a better job optimizing the time that I can and do spend on these leagues.  Really, I think I owe it to you all.

 

Anyway.  Going in the ‘traditional’ order of teams, here we go:

 

Benham Brawlers

Last year finish: 1318 points, dead freakin’ Last.

Closest real-life parallel: Houston.  Enough said.

Players most likely to return:  Rex Grossman, QB, $2; Alex Smith, QB, SF, $15, Chris Cooley, $2.

Players least likely to return: Carolina defense, $29; Jay Fielder, $6; Jeff Garcia, $1

 

Say this for Bruce and Walt: They may have tanked it last year, but they sure did come back with a middling crew this year.  Alex Smith has so far had a good training camp and pre-season, but realistically he’s about a year away.  Brad Johnson will be the starter for the new-look Vikings, but at $57 he won’t be kept.  This is not 1998, you know. 

 

One of the more underrated guys on Walt and Bruce’s team is Chris Cooley.  Here is a guy who, like Clint Didier on Joe Gibbs’s first team, has emerged as a go-to tight end.  In this league, tight ends are somewhat of an afterthought, but if you can get a guy even marginally productive for cheap, like Cooley, it is always a good thing.  Antonio Gates he ain’t, but he’s definitely a good guy to have around. There is definitely some good building blocks here, but not Grade A cornerstones.

 

As far as Brucie’s boys, the Vikes, they have a new look both on the field (with new coach Brad Childress) and new uniforms as well.  I like these new uniforms – they are sharp and trendy.  I like the unique number font, it is always cool when teams go off the board to create a new and unique number font (i.e., Patriots, Broncos, Cardinals).  But perhaps the highlight of these uniforms, is the return of purple pants.  Last seen in 1964, when Jim Marshall was running the wrong way with a fumble against the 49ers (in a game the Vikings eventually won, by the way) the Vikings are FINALLY bringing these back.  For some reason, they have been hesitant but I always thought they looked pretty sharp.  Well, anyway, they are back, and I suppose that if Sports Authority or Target starts carrying replica football pants, these may be a big seller.  Hey, why the hell not?

 

 

Bushwackers

Last year finish: 1834 points, a close 2nd

Closest real world parallel: Denver.  Played well all year, great talent, but in the end just not enough.

Most likely to come back: Larry Fitzgerald, Jeremy Shockey, Ronnie Brown

Least likely to come back: Ricky Williams, Jim Sorgi, the Jets defense

 

Greg actually has some excellent guys coming back – if he wants to tie up salary cap dollars for them out of the gate.  Chad Johnson at $34 is probably the best Wide Receiver out there.  He’s like a somewhat stable and more fun-loving Terrell Owens, alleged locker room outburst last year in the playoffs notwithstanding.  The bonus with Chad is that he’s a high-octane offensive piece playing in a cold-weather city – and those guys are golden to have.  Shockey had a great year last year, and is as productive as some decent receivers as a tight end.  Out of that position, you can’t ask for much more.

 

Ronnie Brown is unproven but he’s going to get the first shot to be the feature back in Miami.  That alone is worth $24.  Trent Green is also good, but probably on the downside of his career and not worth $71.  Corey Dillon at $51 may be high, but he still looks like New England’s best option there.

 

As far as the Pats and the Dolphins are concerned, I still think this division is going to the Pats.  True, Miami definitely stepped it up last year.  I think Nick Saban is a good NFL coach, and them getting Daunte in a trade definitely will help them.  Meanwhile, the Patriots did not have the best off-season, and for the first time in forever had a major off-field distraction in the Deion Branch holdout (which as I write this is still ongoing.)  Even Tom Brady, really for the first time, came out publicly and urged the Pats to sign his boy.  Meanwhile, the Patriots big off-season signing was Junior Seau, a guy who Miami didn’t want and who no one else wanted. 

 

Still, this is the Pats’ division.  Brady may not be happy, but at the end of the day he’s a pro’s pro.  As long as he is under center the Patriots have a chance.  The offensive line is still good, and Richard Seymour is approaching his peak productive years.  Their secondary is not in good shape but Belichick and his staff (and new D coordinator Dean Pees) have proven to be like MacGyver with the defense, getting by with a few street free agents, chewing gum, and twisty ties. 

 

Meanwhile, in Miami, Culpepper will be on a learning curve.  Anytime a QB or a receiver moves on to a new situation for the first time, it always takes them a year to get really comfortable.  Add that to the fact that Culpepper is coming off a major injury, and has always been injury prone, and the fact that the Dolphins may have been playing a wee bit over their heads (to say nothing of the teams they played wearing giant postage stamps on their helmets) and…well, if the Pats show up, they should be good enough to make it through the division.  What, you thought the Bills or Jets would bring them down?

 

3. Peteriot Nation

Last year finish: 1717 points, 6th place

Closest real-world parallel: Kansas City.  Right there all year, but in the end just not good enough.

Most likely to come back: Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Joey Galloway

Least likely to come back: Cedric Benson, Darrell Jackson, Mike Vanderjagt

 

None of this bullshit where I write about my team in the third person, as if I’m Len Pasquerelli or John Clayton.  This is MY team, I’ll write about it in the first person.

 

For me I think the best thing that happened this offseason was when Drew Brees left the Chargers as a free agent to go to the Saints.  Aside from the Katrina issues and the fact that the Saints have been the Bad Luck Schleprocks of the NFL since their arrival on the scene in 1967, my boy Drew has some real weapons here.  Few teams can match the weapons that Brees now has at his disposal here, and that includes specifically the Chargers.  Between Deuce McAllister’s return, and the emergence of Reggie Bush, New Orleans is as stacked at RB as anyone (even considering that it’s probably going to be a year before Deuce is back to where he was.)  Don’t forget there’s also Joe Horn, still a solid and steady receiver, although they gave away Donte Stallworth.  Not least of all, Brees’ departure made Phillip Rivers, my $1 ho, The Man in San Diego.  It doesn’t suck to have two starting QBs for $10.

 

There is, however, a downside.  Like Culpepper, this is Brees’s first new situation.  There will likely be the learning curve.  There is also no Antonio Gates out there, although one could emerge.  And the guy that does have Gates now – Rivers – is unproven and untested.  Granted, to get any starting NFL quarterback for a buck is a good get indeed.  But to win, you need that guy to do something.  Anything!

 

I also like having Lee Evans, Joey Galloway and Mushmouth.  This being Mushmouth’s second year in Chicago, maybe by now he’ll know the offense.  As far as Tight End, Tony Gonzalez KILLED me last year.  Half the time, I was afraid to not play him, and as such I missed some big weeks from Jerramy Stevens.  He may still be on my team next year, but not for $17. 

 

I don’t know if the guys I’m bringing back are the best.  I don’t think my team is as good as some of you guys.  But, I will have some cash, and maybe having the draft on my 40th anniversary on this planet will generate some good karma for me.  Probably not – the week Christina was born I only got 64 points that week – but what the hell.

 

4. Anthonyapolis Colts

Last year: 1633 points, 7th place

Closest real-world comparison: Minnesota.  A year that started with such promise ended in a heap of injuries, torn ACL’s and “what might have beens”

Most likely to come back: De’shaun Foster, Lamont Jordan, Keyshawn Johnson.

Least likely to come back: Antowain Smith, William Green, Chris “Jailbird” Henry

 

There are some intriguing guys on TONY and Phil’s team, but one guy makes them a team to watch: Lamont Jordan.  Whatever they gave up to get this guy, it wasn’t enough.  ANYTIME you can get a top-shelf starting running back in this league for $3 – especially when he plays for an offensive-oriented team like the Raiders – you have a shot.  As fantasy guys know, RBs are how you win these leagues.  You need quality at all the positions, but, like closers in baseball, the quality and depth of your running backs will tell the tale of how you do.

 

Phil and TONY also have De’shaun Foster, who while injury prone did do fairly well in limited time last year.  Combined with Rudi Johnson (now a FA) these guys had two excellent RBs and a third pretty good one for a mere TEN PERCENT of the draft-day cap.  Yet, they still finished well out of the money, primarily because their two big acquisitions, Daunte Culpepper and Ahman Green, both were huge disappointments, Ahman especially.  When we do the “Lost 2005 Value/Dunce Team” ten years from now on pay-per-view we’ll probably spend a whole segment on these two guys, who if they had done even medium shitty probably would have put TONY and Phil in the top 3.  At least.

 

If they don’t trade him, Jake Plummer is a good guy to have.  The Colts also have solid receivers.  Keyshawn historically has not been a great fantasy guy, but for $2 has done quite a lot.  Roy Williams also looks like he’ll be the only one of the Lions’ would-be Big Three receivers to actually achieve something of substance in the NFL.  Now, if only someone would throw to him.

 

I’ll end this segment by letting you all in on a secret to celebrate TONY’s 40th birthday, just past.  Surely you have noticed that as a matter of point I always capitalize TONY’s name.  Always.  Occasionally, (and by occasionally, I mean maybe 2 or 3 times, total, by everyone) some of you ask, Why do I do this.  Is it some kind of mystery, like the 33 on Rolling Rock bottles.  Or, is it just Pete Being Pete™.  Well, yeah, but not with numbers painted on beer bottles.  The reason is thusly:

 

Remember Craig Walker from our leagues?  The guy who came on the scene, joined our leagues and left us under somewhat murky circumstances?  Well, I met Craig through his roommate at the time, Chuck.  Now, Chuck the Piranha was (and still is) The Man.  Such a cool guy…he knew baseball, he knew music, he was a good dude.  (He even lived in these parts for a brief stretch).  Anyway, Chuck and I used to correspond through e-mail on Prodigy quite a bit.  Chuck, I noticed, had a habit of capitalizing certain words, JUST to make an effect, like I did there.  Needless to say, I picked up on it, and would talk to him about these leagues.  Since TONY is a big part of these leagues, I would frequently capitalize TONY’s name in the correspondence, in part to implicitly reflect TONY’s somewhat larger-than-life stature among us.  Or the fact that, whenever I went to Ed Ahlberg’s cottage in Chester for 4th of July parties, we could always hear TONY’s voice down the street.  It was like the Great Wall of China, but with friends.

 

Anyway, there’s the answer.

 

 

Tom’s Turkeys:

Last year finish: 1768 points, finished 4th behind PGia on tiebreaker.

Closest real-world parallel: Washington.  Great year, but came up a little short and you wonder what might have been if things were a little different.

Most likely to come back: Daniel Graham, Willie Parker, Edgerrin James.  Maybe Clinton Portis, and maybe Adam Vinatieri.

Least likely to come back: Pretty much everyone else.

 

Fact: Tom was also involved in the closest position finish before last year.  In 1996, Tom finished 2nd, ahead of Craig by a single point, 1803-1802.  The margin of victory, as it turned out, was Natrone Means gaining 110 yards in the final game.  It was the 110th and final yard, that gave Tom 2nd.  A yard less, and Craig would have won on reserve points. 

 

And so it is, cosmic payback comes 9 years later. 

 

I think that, of the 11 teams, Tom may be starting in the most compromised position.  Not because of the lack of talent – Edgerrin is always solid, and Clinton Portis is a great fit in that offense – but because he’s either going to go in with the fewest guys or the most money tied up.  Or, both.

 

Again here, one guy makes what might be a bad situation actually pretty good: Willie Parker.  I’m still pissed off I missed this guy in the draft.  I knew about him, and thought about bidding him, but, no, I wanted enough money at the end to go after Phillip Rivers.  (shaking head.)  Not horrible, but guys like Parker are guys that always seem to pop up on winning teams.

 

It should be noted though that, in football, you can get away with this.  Even if you completely dump your team, chances are that just by the way this league works you’ll have at least 4 or 5 guys to start out next year with.  And, no one can bring back more than 7 and no one can sign players anymore, which I think also works, and keeps guys interested for longer. 

 

I’ve said this before: I think seven is the perfect number of keepers, both for this league and baseball.  It allows guys who dump to get a really nice start on their next year, without putting too much space between them and the rest of the league, although it does create separation.  And, it reduces the downside risk of guys dumping, so more guys will be willing to play.  I’ve suggested this model a number of times for baseball, but it seems we like it the way it is, so I guess we’ll keep it. 

 

For that matter I also like the portion of starters to non-starters that we have.  You may remember that, when we started this league, the plan was only to start 9 guys a week out of 22.  Well, when we only started the league with six owners, we had to expand the rosters to 29, expanding starters proportionately to 13.  That worked so well, that when we added three owners the next year, we were able to reduce the roster size to 22 while keeping starters at 13.  And that seems to be ideal, as again it rewards depth and compensates for bye weeks while still putting a premium on getting top-level talent. 

 

 

PGia Panthers:

Last year finish: 1768 points, finished 3rd ahead of Tom on tiebreaker.  

Closest real-world parallel:  Cincinnati.  Welcome back to the first division, PGia.

Most likely to come back: Chris Simms, Frank Gore, Chris Chambers

Least likely to come back: Kyle Boller, Jamal Lewis, Laveranues Coles

 

Pete I think has one of the three best teams coming back this year.  He has a good mix of cheap and talented.  Simms is an excellent guy to have.  Frank Gore is unproven but, like Ronnie Brown in Miami is going to get every shot to prove he deserves to be the feature back in San Francisco.  Chris Chambers I always thought was solid, and now with Culpepper throwing to him he will continue the great tradition of Wisconsin wide receivers (i.e., Lee Evans, Al Toon).  It is also going to be hard to not have Mark Brunell and Marvin Harrison not come back.  Bottom line: if he has a good draft, Pete’s going to be dangerous.

 

Pete also used to have Carson Palmer, who is highly ranked on “Guys I’m Most Interested To See How Much They Go For.”  Every year, when we do these drafts, there are always a handful of guys I’m intrigued to see how the bidding goes.  Usually, they’re coming off an injury, or going to a new situation, or there is some other wild card factor.  This year, that list of guys includes the following:

 

  1. Palmer – How will people see him after the injury?
  2. Daunte C. – See above.  Plus he’s in a new situation
  3. Reggie Bush – All the talent in the world and a great situation, but how is having Deuce there going to affect his numbers?
  4. Peyton Manning – Will he be our first $100 guy?  Remember, with no Edge he’ll be throwing a lot more this year.
  5. Michael Vick – Second time he’s been on the open market.  How much is he worth?
  6. Shaun Alexander – Great back, but the cover boy on Madden 07, and we all know what happens to them.

 

You can probably add ex-PGia boy Jamal Anderson to that as well.  Though he was a Dunce last year, with a new look offense in Baltimore, and (presumably) an off-season where he was able to train normally (as opposed to being in jail) Lewis might be a good pickup.

 

Coin Tossers:

Last year finish: 1355 points, 10th place

Closest real-world parallel: Baltimore.  Consistently solid and although they lost their way a bit last year, look for them to bounce back this year big.

Players most likely to come back: Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Frye, Terry Glenn, Julius Jones

Players least likely to come back: Kerry Collins, Onterrio Smith, Bubba Franks

 

Here is the second of the three best teams going in.  How good is Craig’s team?  Even if Big Ben was in the “Players least likely to come back” column based on his wrapping his motorcycle around a rear fender, Craig’s team coming back would STILL be quite good. 

 

Again, it’s all about the running backs.  No one has done a better job accumulating cheap running backs than Craig and although a lot of his guys didn’t work out he should still go in with at least Julius Jones and Mike Alstott, who still has a little bit left in the tank.  Guys like Onterrio, Curtis Martin and Travis Henry were good attempts, but it doesn’t look like they’ll accomplish that much this year, especially Onterrio (what a disappointment he’s been.)  Then again, he’s also got TJ Duckett, who with Clinton Portis recovering from a separated shoulder, is possibly keepable, and who would have thought that?

 

Craig also knows how to go after the right quarterbacks.  He did it with Tom Brady in ’01, and he’s done it again with Big Ben and Charlie Frye.  Frye (insert Ben Stein “Frye…..Frye….” soundbite here) especially is in a good situation with a great coach (Crennel, there’s the NE connection again) and a great mentor backing him up (Trent Dilfer).  There’s also Terry Glenn at receiver and maybe also Ashley Lelie, another guy traded to Washington who might just pan out.

 

Craig didn’t have a good year last year, but he rebuilt the right way, he picked up good guys, took chances and should bounce back strongly this year.  See, when your entire fantasy league focus is this league, you can do this!

 

D&B Roadrunners:

Last year: 1533 points, 8th place

Most likely coming back: JP Losman, Eli Manning, Jason Witten. 

Closest real-world parallel: Jacksonville.  This could be their year.

 

Oh, yeah, and Larry Johnson.  Him too.

Least likely coming back: Joey Harrington, Justin Fargas, JJ Arrington

 

Real reach there with those non-keeper guys.  Yeah, like Dave and Brandon are going to keep Joey Harrington, a backup with Miami, and JJ Arrington, who the Cardinals had such confidence in they went out and signed Edgerrin James.  As far as Justin Fargas, I’m surprised that Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson didn’t tap him to be Snoop Dogg’s gopher/mailroom boy in the Starsky and Hutch movie.

 

Dave’s team is in the discussion with Craig’s and PGia’s for best going in, but he easily wins the argument for one reason: Larry Johnson.  Actually, six reasons.  Here is a guy Dave and Brandon picked up when it was all about Priest Holmes in Kansas City.  Then, Priest got hurt and Larry Johnson not only stepped in, but actually Pipped Priest out of his job.  If Priest were fully healthy, would he be starting ahead of Larry Johnson?  I didn’t think so.

 

On top of this Dave and Brandon have Eli Manning, who has two years experience and I think is ready to make another leap.  It doesn’t hurt he runs a high-powered offense in the swirling wind of the Meadowlands.  There’s some bonus guys here – Plaxico will almost certainly be back, and either Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle may be.  Dave and Brandon also got lucky with Kevan Barlow getting traded to the Jets, where presumably he will now be the go-to back. 

 

This could, very well, be the Year of Dave.  In the head-to-head league he’s been in first all year long.  Now, after three years of close calls and trades and just falling short, all the pieces are in play.  Could this be the year where Dave gets off the canvas and has a run for the ages, much like Phil and TONY did back in ’03 where they went wire-to-wire?  A lot rides on their draft (as it does for all of us), but it says here there’s no better place to start this year than right here.

 

Anyway, it better be this year, as Eli and Larry are both in their final years.  So is Plax 757, for that matter.  Safe to say that Eli and Larry will go for more than a combined 27 big ones in ’07.  Hell, LJ might go for quadruple that, by hisself.  Yes, I said “quadruple”.  That’s four times 27, if you’re scoring at home.

 

 

99 Yarders

Last year finish: 1451 points, 9th place

Closest parallel: Buffalo.  Yawn, snore.

Guys most likely coming back: Tiki Barber, Donald Driver, Keenan McCardell.

Guys least likely coming back: Sage Rosenfels, Ciatrick Fason, Maurice Clarett

 

 

Bob’s strengths are his receivers and Tiki Barber.  Barber alone makes what might have been a disaster into something not half bad.  Barber is a freak – he’s been in the league for almost 10 years but still puts up great numbers, and is in top physical shape.  Bob’s receivers are strong – Donald Driver leads the way, and Keenan McCardell and Antonio Bryant are not bad guys to have for the money.

 

The one thing Bob has in spades is wild cards.  Deion Branch would be a no-brainer keeper, if he were signed and happy.  Troy Williamson accomplished next to nothing last year, but he’s on a team that traditionally has had a strong passing game, a team without a solid go-to running back, and he is the primary chit the Vikings got back for Randy Moss.  That has to count for something.  Vernand Morency some people are saying could be the go-to back in Houston, if Dominack Davis gets put on IR or gets cut altogether (still glad you bypassed Reggie Bush, guys?) And Aaron Rodgers is the heir apparent in Green Bay….but, do you really keep him knowing that, best case scenario,  he’s essentially one and done for you IF Favre leaves?

As far as the Texans bypassing Reggie Bush for Mario Williams, I do not think it was a bad move.  At the very least, I see where the Texans are coming from.  True, Bush is a nonpareil talent and will do exceptionally well in this league.  His presence alone would make the Texans a hot ticket, much as super running backs have lifted teams on their shoulders to instant respectability (George Rogers, Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell, the list goes on.)

 

But.

 

While having a good running back is great, by itself it doesn’t assure you of success.  Teams like Houston that are downtrodden who spend a pick on a running back invariably do better, but only so much so.  How many Super Bowls did Barry Sanders lead the Lions to?  How many conference championships?  How about Earl Campbell with the Oilers?  Even now, how about LT with the Chargers?  He’s widely considered the best Running Back in the game.  But how many playoff games has he won for the Chargers?   

 

Now, consider teams that have recently won the Super Bowl.  Who were THEIR running backs?  Last year Pittsburgh went with Jerome Bettis (who was Clearly at the end of the line) and Willie Parker, an unsigned free agent.  Last year the Patriots went with Corey Dillon, a guy they traded for.  The year before that, the Pats literally had NO ONE at Running Back.  They basically used a combination of Antowain Smith, Kevin Faulk, and fillers.  By far, it was as barren, talent-wise as any Running Back situation in the league.  And yet, they won the Super Bowl.  Why? Because they had a ton of talent at other positions, including specifically Richard Seymour, a young and talented defensive end and perennial Pro Bowler.

 

The point I am trying to make is this: Running backs are a dime a dozen.  Like first basemen in baseball, it’s nice to have a good one, but you can get a halfway-decent one for a fraction of the cost and effort, maybe even one with a little bit of upside.  But defensive ends, are VERY hard to find.  They do NOT grow on trees.  Plus, teams that find good ones, tend to hold on to them.  This is why guys like Ken Sims and Aundray Bruce (as well as Bruce Smith) get drafted #1 overall – because teams are so desperate to find guys they can build around, and because they are so hard to find.


The best guess with Williams is that he will be a good pro.  He will probably not be Bruce Smith, but I expect he will be better than Ken Sims and Aundray Bruce.  He’ll make that defense better.  And the first step to improving the offense is making sure the defense doesn’t give up so many points that the offense cannot keep up.  Even if Williams doesn’t turn out to be the superstar that Bush will be, Houston taking Williams was still the right call.

 

Nippers

Last year finish: 1730 points, 5th place (by 13 points)

Closest real-world parallel: Tampa Bay.  They got in, didn’t they?

Most likely coming back: Steven Jackson, Hines Ward, Kurt Warner

Least likely coming back: Mike Anderson, Randy Moss, Steve Heiden

 

It says a lot about how close this league was last year by looking at positions 3-6.  Only 49 points separated third place from sixth.  Think about that.  That’s basically a boffo performance by a quarterback and a running back or a receiver.  One game by one player can make the difference between two positions, missing a key start can make the difference between finishing fourth or finishing out of the money entirely.  It is a testament to how competitive this league is and how talented the owners are. 

 

Another team that lost a lot of players via expiring contracts.  Jake Delhomme, Thomas Jones, and Drew Bennett all played out their contracts.  Mike Anderson was a good one-year solution also, but in Baltimore will probably not be more than a backup.

 

Like his son Bob’s secret weapon here is a running back – Steven Jackson.  Unlike Bob, he actually has some decent and solid guys here to surround Jackson.  The guys that have these cheap running backs – especially a stud like Jackson on an offensive circus like the Rams – are in great shape.  Even if they don’t have much other talent, having someone like this helps tremendously.  In the same way that Randall Cunningham gave the Eagles an offense when they had no offense, guys like Steven Jackson give owners good keeper rosters, when they don’t have any good keepers.  It makes complimentary guys, like Kurt Warner, like Thomas Jones (if he were still there) that much more valuable, and frees you up in the draft. 

 

This is one of the better teams going in, and in fact may be better than one of this year’s Big Three. 

 

 

D.A. Dolphins:

Last year finish: 1912 points and won the Championship

Closest real-world parallel: Pittsburgh, especially if Willie Parker didn’t fly out to the opening practice of the year.

Most likely coming back: Antonio Gates, Warrick Dunn, Anquan Boldin

Least likely coming back: Todd Bouman, Jarret Payton, Josh McCown

 

Yet another team that, despite winning the championship and despite losing the league’s best guy (Shaun Alexander) and another very good one (Torry Holt) has a lot of good guys flying back in coming back.  Leading the way is Antonio Gates, one of the best guys in this league (even though he plays tight end, he’s just so much more productive than anyone at the position.)  He’s also got TJ Houshmandzadeh and Reggie Wayne, two of the best #2 receivers in the NFL, although Wayne may be a bit pricey at 31 (though not as pricey as a ticket on JetBlue).  Warrick “Duck” Dunn is another stud, albeit a stud who can never stay healthy.  Derek also has Donte Stallworth, just traded to the Eagles where presumably he’ll fill the go-to role there.

 

Up until two weeks ago I would have said that Billy Volek was also a good get, even though he’s only a short-term solution in Tennessee (keeping the seat warm for Vince Young).  However the fact that the Titans signed Kerry Collins tells you two things: one, that Vince Young probably will not play this year, but just watch and two, Tennessee’s brass has no confidence in Volek.  When you bring in a starter like Kerry Collins who is somewhat proven (or at least as much as proven can be), you are not bringing him in merely to observe and look pretty.  This is not that much different than Oakland did back in 2004, when they brought in Kerry Collins as a backup/insurance for Rich Gannon.  And, again, that was also a no-confidence vote in Marques Tuiasosopo, who has been in Oakland forever but has hardly played.

 

Not too many wild cards here.  Ryan Moats is intriguing in that he’s got some of Brian Westbrook’s characteristics but he’s unproven.  Eric Parker is not bad but probably not someone you would keep.  Charles Rogers, it is safe to say, was a washout.

 

Although Derek clearly earned the championship last year, it bears mentioning that, in 2004, a score of 1912 (the winning score) would have only finished fifth.  That’s right, fifth.  Granted, the spots from 2-4 were pretty tight, as the spots for 3-6 were this year, but there were more points and the league was more top heavy.  To take it a step further, of the money finishers in ’05, only Derek would have finished in the money.  Greg would have been more than 60 points out of fifth and last year’s 5th place finisher (Bob SR) would have finished 8th.  The short answer is just that there were more points overall in the league in 2004.  Just one of those things.  But you win by doing the best given the rules in place and managing the circumstances.  Derek did the best at both and so he won.

 

 

 

Anyhow this ends the 2006 Ameche League preview.  Keep studying and I’ll see you all on Tuesday.