Hard though it is to believe, another fantasy football season is upon us. And so, without further ado, here are the projected standings for the Lost Souls league.
1. Death Mutants - 11-1, 1557 pts., 97.3 ppg.
2. United Loonies, Inc. - 8-4, 1402 pts., 87.6 ppg.
3. Puking Buzzards - 8-4, 1396 pts., 87.3 ppg.
4. Wraiths - 7-5, 1350 pts., 84.4 ppg.
5. Savage Iguanas - 7-5, 1336 pts., 83.5 ppg.
6. Spaz Corps - 6-6, 1319 pts., 82.4 ppg.
7. Howling Huns - 5-7, 1306 pts., 81.6 ppg.
8. Screaming Babies - 5-7, 1279 pts., 80.0 ppg.
9. Rapid Molasses - 4-8, 1262 pts., 78.9 ppg.
10. Custom Critters - 4-8, 1261 pts., 78.8 ppg.
11. Spandex Stallions - 4-8, 1260 pts., 78.8 ppg.
12. Sirenian Sisters - 3-9, 1225 pts., 76.6 ppg.
(All point projections courtesy of Footballguys.com.)
This season shapes up as the story of Snow Mutant and the Eleven Dwarfs. Bryan has once again put together a powerhouse, while the eleven other teams look more closely matched in talent than ever before. Usually there's a vast pre-season disparity between the contenders and the pretenders, but it looks to me as if everybody has cause for hope this year.
Honestly, you could take my projected 2nd-through-12th place teams, put them in a hat, draw them out randomly, and you'd probably do about as well as this forecast. I know many of you think I do that already, but I assure you that this preview is conducted with the sort of statistical rigor that's usually reserved for rocket science, nuclear physics, and the running count of Lindsey Lohan parole violations.
Let's take a look at the team-by-team outlook:
1. Death Mutants - 11-1, 1557 pts., 97.3 ppg. - Stud City 2010: Bryan brought back QB Peyton Manning, RB Adrian Peterson, RB Steven Jackson, WR Andre Johnson, WR Larry Fitzgerald, and TE Antonio Gates. Yet he somehow managed to weasel his way once again to the #1 overall pick, which he used to add stud rookie RB Ryan Matthews. The Mutants also have some potent protection against the injury bug at their other key positions with QB Joe Flacco and WR Anquan Boldin. Frankly, picking up future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez as his backup tight end was just rubbing salt into the wounds.
We've all got our work cut out for us if we're going to catch him this year.
2. United Loonies, Inc. - 8-4, 1402 pts., 87.6 ppg. - The perennially overrated Loonies are probably overrated once again. Some pieces are in place for a potentially good team with QB Jay Cutler, RB Frank Gore, RB DeAngelo Williams, WR Reggie Wayne, and TE Vernon Davis. But the Loonies' WR2 Dwayne Bowe doesn't look like he'll be able to keep pace with his counterpart on the Mutants. And the depth on this roster looks dubious at best with an assortment of bad New England RBs, WRs who aren't even top WRs on their own team, a pre-broken Oakland Raider RB, and QB2 Matthew Stafford coming off an erratic rookie season. The Loonies usually break down early and often, and if The Curse of the Loonies strikes again this year they might fall far and fast.
The Loonies could make a run if Cutler, Bowe, and Miller all post surprising seasons. But it's more likely that backup TE Todd Heap leads a charge to the DL as the Loonies fade back into the pack after a couple of seasons in the top three.
3. Puking Buzzards - 8-4, 1396 pts., 87.3 ppg. - The Puking Buzzards are another squad that looks ready to make a run, thanks to QB Philip Rogers, WRs Roddy White and Marques Colston, and TE Jason Witten. But the running game could come up short with second-tier RBs Pierre Thomas, Matt Forte, C.J. Spiller, and Darren McFadden.
The Buzzards could challenge for the top spot if two of those young RBs break out. However, the outlook at the start is that the inconsistent running game will keep the Buzzards from soaring.
4. Wraiths - 7-5, 1350 pts., 84.4 ppg. - While a dubious running game may keep the Buzzards on the ground, the Wraiths might not have enough receiving talent to break out of the pack. There's a nice, studly base with QB Drew Brees, RB Ray Rice, and RB Rashard Mendenhall. But the WR corps of "The Wrong" Steve Smith (NYG), Mike "Hey, I'm a rookie who was a fourth-round pick" Williams, Dez "Hey, I was a first-round pick rookie who was already injured for all of training camp", and Vincent "Pshht ... rookies. I'm just going to take the whole season off" Jackson could be a real problem. Add in a likely statistical dropoff from TE Greg "What do you mean Mike Martz doesn't believe in throwing to the tight end?" Olsen and a general lack of pass-catching might haunt the Wraiths.
5. Savage Iguanas - 7-5, 1336 pts., 83.5 ppg. - I hope you're all sitting down when you read this: Ron's team could be good again this year. There's a lot of talent with QB Tony Romo, WR Calvin Johnson, WR Randy Moss, and TE Brent Celek. With that start bounce-back seasons from RB Cedric Benson and RB Brandon Jacobs could easily push the Iguanas back into the top three again.
6. Spaz Corps - 6-6, 1319 pts., 82.4 ppg. - The Good: QB Aaron Rogers; RBs Chris Johnson, Beanie Wells, and Justin Forsett; and ace K Nate Kaeding. The Bad: WR1 Mike Sims-Walker, WR2 Wes Welker; TE1 Heath Miller. The Spaz-tic: The Oakland Raiders defense somehow ended up on this team.
Jared may need to fire the interim GM who finished off his draft after he had to leave early. Oh, wait. That was all of us. Good job, folks!
7. Howling Huns - 5-7, 1306 pts., 81.6 ppg. - The Huns aren't really bad, but they don't look particularly good, either. The RB and WR corps looks strong with RBs Michael Turner, Shonn Greene, and Knowshon Moreno, and WRs "The Right" Steve Smith (CAR), Chad Ochocinqo, and Michael Crabtree. But to make it out of the pack they'll need to get unexpectedly good years out of QBs Carson Palmer and Chad Henne; TE Kellen Winslow, Ks Billy Cundiff and John Kasay; and the aging Baltimore defense.
Put it all together and it looks as if the Huns will probably be mumbling this year instead of howling.
8. Screaming Babies - 5-7, 1279 pts., 80.0 ppg. - Chris continues to confound the fantasy football geek-a-razzi by investing in boom or bust players who could lead his team to the top of the rankings or to the depths of the basement. Guys like QB Matt Schaub; RBs Arian Foster, Felix Jones, and Ricky Williams; WRs Brandon Marshall, Percy Harvin, Johnny Knox, and Robert Meachem; and TE Jermichael Finley could all finish anywhere from first to worst at their position. The most perplexing selection of all? The Cleveland Brown defense. What does Chris see that the rest of us don't? Brown fans want to know!
If Chris hits on his picks to click, the Babies might scream up the standings, but this analyst thinks they're more likely to end up with a diaper full of doo-doo.
9. Rapid Molasses - 4-8, 1262 pts., 78.9 ppg. - There's just not enough top-end talent here to project the Molasses any higher. The starting lineup looks like this: QB Matt Ryan or QB Eli Manning; RBs Jamal Charles, Jerome Harrison, or Cadillac Williams; WRs Miles Austin and Greg Jennings; TE Visanthe Shiancoe; K Rob Bironas; and the New Orleans Saints defense. Other than the WRs, this looks like one of the weaker starting lineups in the league.
The slow decline of the Molasses leads us to conclude that Eric has been doing the drafting lately. Stacy, where are you? Your front office needs you!
10. Custom Critters - 4-8, 1261 pts., 78.8 ppg. - The Critters are a second-division team that could surprise us all before the season is over. There's a lot of upside on the roster with QB Tom Brady; RBs Ahmad Bradshaw, Joseph Addai, Ronnie Brown, and Reggie Bush; WRs Santana Moss, Mike Wallace, Terrell Owens, Hines Ward, and Jeremy Maclin; and TEs Owen Daniels and John Carlson. Footballguys doesn't project any of those guys other than Brady for a big season, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see any of those names near the top of the list at their individual positions at the end of the year.
The statistical projections say the Critters will be consigned to the second division, but there's too much talent on this team to really expect a 10th-place finish.
11. Spandex Stallions - 4-8, 1260 pts., 78.8 ppg. - Welcome to the league, Susan. The previous owner of this franchise liked the Raiders. Unfortunately for you, he was the last person in America to still believe in Al Davis's drafting acumen. Oh, so many high draft picks spent on Raider projects. So very, very many high draft picks. Since Paul lives in Detroit, the only other general manager that he had a chance to emulate was Matt Millen. When you think about it that way, following Al Davis's lead seems like a good idea.
There are some genuinely talented players on the newly named Stallions this year: QBs Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb; RB Ryan Grant; WR DeSean Jackson; and TE Dallas Clark. It's probably not enough to get them into the top half of the league this year, but at least Darrius Heyward-Bey has been consigned to the bench, and that's a good start.
12. Sirenian Sisters - 3-9, 1225 pts., 76.6 ppg. - Monique continues her rebuilding scheme, now in Year Two of her 10-year plan. Honestly, this was one of the most perplexing drafts I've seen in a while. Her selection of Kenny Britt in the second round wasn't as bad as if she had stuck with her initial impulse of "Ol' One Hip" Sidney Rice, but it was almost as if she just chose Britt because he was 31st on a list of available WRs and she likes the number thirty-one. But that would be ridiculous.
However, her youngster-laden draft did accomplish her main goal of sweeping out the remnants of an aging team some of us had taken to calling the Sirenian Grannies. Now they're more like the Sirenian Justin-Bieber Fan Club. The Sisters may struggle early in the season -- especially with the suspensions of QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Santonio Holmes, and the PUP stay of injured WR Rice -- but young players like QB Mark Sanchez, RBs Maurice Jones-Drew, Jahvid Best, and LeSean McCoy; WRs Hakeem Nicks, Dexter McCluster, Britt, Holmes, and Rice; and TE Zach Miller might make the Sirenian Sisters the team that none of the top seeds want to face in the playoffs.
... and that's the preview, folks. Don't like what I wrote about your team? You have sixteen weeks to prove me wrong!