Time to run through the NFL and see what we can look forward to in the coming season. As usual I'm going to go division by division given predictions on the records and a little bit about each teams best/emerging fantasy player. My predictions have improved every year, so here's to keeping up the trend. ONWARD!
1. Indianapolis Colts 12-4 (Last Year: 12-4)
The Colts completed one of the most unexpected runs to the Super Bowl last year. After looking less than stellar all year, the Colts defense came together at the perfect time and they had some impressive wins on the way to Peyton's first Super Bowl title. I cannot imagine the Colts being able to repeat after the, frankly, "lucky" way the defense played plus their off-season losses on defense. They'll still dominate one of the worst divisions in the league though.
Best Fantasy Player: Peyton Manning - no matter what shape their D is in, the Colts will always make sure Peyton is happy offensively. As for Josephy Addai, I think he has potential, but is he better than Edgerrin James in his prime? I don't think so.
2. Houston Texans 9-7 (Last Year: 6-10)
The Texans could be much better this year if they drafted Reggie Bush or Vince Young like anybody with half a brain would have. Sadly, the front office in Houston overthought their pick by leaps and bounds leaving them in worse off, but shockingly not as bad shape as you'd think. After taking advantage of the Falcons stupidity and acquiring Matt Schaub along with free agent Ahman Green, and with the leadership of their best draft pick last year (Hint: His name isn't Mario Williams) the Texans certainly appear to be on the rebound.
Best Fantasy Player: Andre Johnson - managed to survive the David Carr years, and he can still put up decent numbers. While I'm one of the few people that do not wholly blame David Carr, he certainly did not help Johnson's cause. Schaub should be able to bring more stability to the position.
3. Tennessee Titans 7-9 (Last Year: 8-8)
Vince Young surprised a lot of people last year. After questions about his throwing form and failing the Wonderlic IQ Test Vince showed in the NFL what he showed in college, an ability to win. However, with a team that has gotten worse all around him and the Madden curse on his shoulders, it may be too much for VY to overcome. If anyone can, it's him though.
Best Fantasy Player: Vince Young - he is the entire team. No question about it. Every game they win will be because of him and how he performs.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-10 (Last Year: 8-8)
Jacksonville seems to be a mess. They just got rid of Byron Leftwich, their supposed franchise QB, and their defense has been weaker than previous years. The Jags are going to rely on their ability to stop the run and their run game on offense. It could be a rough year in Jacksonville.
Best Fantasy Player: Maurice Jones-Drew - some people still comment on his 5'7 height, but as long as Fred Taylor is still in the backfield with him, we know MJD is going to get receptions out of the backfield and split time with Taylor, plus taking goaline opportunities. He's an explosive player, and he does all you want out of a fantasy player...he scores touchdowns.
1. New Orleans Saints 11-5 (Last Year: 10-6)
The Saints were one of the best surprises in all of sport last year. They rebounded from Katrina and went on to the NFC Championship game. Rookies Reggie Bush and Marques Colston were key components to what was and will continue to be one of the most explosive offense's in the league. Drew Brees is in the perfect system for him, and Coach Sean Payton will just get better. The only area of concern is the secondary and the linebackers. The defense is what keeps them from being a great team.
Best Fantasy Player: Reggie Bush - he is the all-purpose back in the Big Easy. He improved in his running ability and should get more looks on the goal line. Although, I must admit, when I see things like this and this, I start to get a little worried about Reggie.
2. Carolina Panthers 9-7 (Last Year: 8-8)
The team in Carolina is near the end of the road. They have the same core players and I think they've really gotten all they can out of guys like DeShaun Foster, Jake Delhomme, and Dan Morgan. They're still a good team, but I just don't see them as a threat any longer. Their window has closed.
Best Fantasy Player: Steve Smith - still a dangerous weapon, and he has performed with Delhomme at QB. I also like DeAngelo Williams at RB. As I said, Foster has pretty much reached his peak, and I feel Williams can take over the starting role with some strong performances early in the year.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8 (Last Year: 4-12)
The Bucs have been in the same position that the Panthers are heading towards. Somwhere between young and old, proven and unproven, a limbo where the team cannot decide whether they should nurture young talent or push for the playoffs. This decision was made for them last year as they finished 4-12. Their ever againg defense has been what was holding them back, but now after releasing long time DE Simeon Rice, you can see they officially are looking to rebuild. Although signing Jeff Garcia may seem the opposite of what I said, I cannot blame them for wanting a proven QB that can lead the offense. I look for rebound years from Mark Clayton and Carnell Williams.
Best Fantasy Player: Carnell Williams - it is hard to find a true fantasy player in Tampa, but I think Cadillac could rebound and be productive in the fantasy world.
4. Atlanta Falcons 3-13 (Last Year: 7-9)
Things were rough for the Falcons even before this whole Mike Vick fiasco started. Now they're in terrible shape. The defense faltered last year, the new coach brought in specifically for Mike Vick is left with Joey Harrington at QB, and all the Falcons have had to deal with these distractions all year. The odds of them rebounding like the Saints are next to impossible. I am glad that the Falcons fell on their faces, I never liked them, and even more Michael Vick is finally knocked off his pedistal of being some kind of great football player. He was overrated for as long as he's been in the league.
Best Fantasy Player: Jerrious Norwood - With Warrick Dunn winding down in his career and struggles at QB will put a lot of pressure on Norwood to perform as a secondary back. He has the explosiveness to have a good year, but it is just a question as to whether he can put it all together to take Dunn's job.
Tomorrow: The North