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The FFL Today presents its kickoff to the 2002 season with this preview by four members from its panel of experts Bob Dayton, Niofred Koskelo, Jessie Hester and Jackie Zieger. 


FFL East


Boston Thunder (2001 record: 10-4). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Jeff Garcia

RB: Ahman Green, Stephen Davis

WR: Terry Glenn, Tim Brown

TE: Eric Johnson

K: Ryan Longwell

ST/D: Green Bay


Top reserves: Shannon Sharpe, Lamar Smith


Dayton: Much like last year, the standard for this team's performance will be set by QB Jeff Garcia.  If he produces another season of MVP-type numbers, they can be a contender.  I like the duo of Ahman Green and Stephen Davis.  I think Davis will have a better season than he did in 01.  Like the Z-Force, the team lacks depth, so injuries could knock them down a notch.  Terry Glenn was a risky draft pick, but it is those risks that can make the difference in the FFL.  Pencil them in for a playoff spot, but only if they can get adequate support from their receivers.


Hester: Nobody has ever won back-to-back titles in the history of the FFL.  I see this year as no exception.  However, that is not to say that the Thunder will not have a good team in 02.  They bring back FFL MVP Jeff Garcia, as well as their two core running backs Ahman Green and Stephen Davis.  The key to their season is the new receiving corps (or old, if you consider that they are both ex-Thunder players): Tim Brown and Terry Glenn.  I still see the Thunder as a playoff team, primarily because their big three are effective scorers, and Eamonn Wisneski knows how to manage a lineup.


Koskelo: Boston made some shrewd deals in trading away David Boston and Joe Horn, but it may not help them much this season.  Jeff Garcia is coming off an MVP season, and may find it hard to repeat the performance with everyone gunning for Boston.  Ahman Green and Stephen Davis should provide for a solid running game.  Receiver may be a question mark, however.  Tim Brown is one of the oldest receivers in the FFL and Terry Glenn hasnt been healthy or off the herb in a long time.  Last years free agent steal Dominic Rhodes tore his ACL in the preseason and may be sorely missed if Davis cant bounce back.  Eamonn Wisneskis team wont be as good as last year, but theyre still contenders in a quest to be the first to repeat.


Zieger: Arf, arf.  Bark ruff arf bark.



New York Z-Force (2001 record: 9-5). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Peyton Manning

RB: Marshall Faulk

WR: Terrell Owens, Jimmy Smith, Derrick Mason

TE: David Sloan

K: Joe Nedney

ST/D: Tampa Bay


Top reserves: Zack Crockett, Jonathan Wells


Dayton: Always a competitive team, as their nine playoff appearances in ten seasons can attest. The only question is whether they are going to have the depth necessary to supplement their bye weeks or overcome potential injuries.  That concern aside, the trio of Manning, Faulk and Owens is one of the best in league history, and I think it will show.  Now well have to see if they can become the first team to win using the run-and-shoot offense, a system that few teams have been able to effectively utilize because receivers dont tend to score in bunches. The injury to Terrell Davis is a disappointment, but he wasnt really expected to do much more than be a key runner of the bench.       


Hester: The Z-Force can win it all. Why? Because having Marshall Faulk is one of the most unfair advantages in the league. He alone is like having two All-Pro running backs in the lineup.  Ill be looking to see if they can become consistent winners with the Z3 offense.  If it falls through, they could still get some production from Zack Crockett in the second RB slot.  If either Derrick Mason or Jimmy Smith come through with 9-10 TDs, youll see the Z-Force still playing in late December. Zieger is a vulture on the free agent market, so dont be surprised to see the NYZF supplement their depth during the season.


Koskelo: The core players may all be a year older, and there are question marks regarding depth and the kicking game, but New York still has enough marquis talent to win this division.  Payton Manning will be an even bigger star this year.  New York is light on running backs and will run Jason Ziegers new Z3 offense, featuring Terrell Owens, Jimmy Smith and Derrick Mason.  Zieger is cocky as ever, and with good reason, as the Z-Force will win the East.  The biggest questions:  What happens if Jimmy Smith makes good on his threat to hold out all season, or, God forbid, if Marshall Faulk gets hurt?


Zieger: Ruff bark bark.



Charleston Challengers (2001 record: 7-7). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Rich Gannon

RB: Jerome Bettis, Garrison Hearst

WR: Joe Horn, Plaxico Burress

TE: Byron Chamberlain

K: Jason Elam

ST/D: New Orleans


Top reserves: Tiki Barber, Joey Galloway


Dayton: Chris Bransfield is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  After an interminable number of years trapped in rebuilding limbo, I think that Charleston has finally put together a pretty decent group of players.  However, theyll probably fall just short of making the playoffs.  Rich Gannon should be solid at QB, and Horn and Burress make for good targets.  The injury histories of Bettis and Hearst are a concern.


Hester: Last year, they snuck into the playoffs mostly by lucky breaks and late-season overachievements by their weakest links.  However, dont be surprised if this years team makes a more convincing case for becoming a playoff team.  They have their best QB in years (Gannon), two good if not great WRs (Horn and Burress) and they finally have RBs who should see the end zone more than once a month (Bettis and Hearst).  Hearst and Bettis are the two biggest keys. They both need more than 7 TDs apiece for this team to play their way into a wild-card position.


Koskelo: They may have overpaid for Joe Horn, but bringing in Rich Gannon and Plaxico Burress gives them a young receiver to build around and a veteran to keep them in the mix this year.  Still, Jerome Bettis and Garrison Hearst are getting to the point of their career in which they should probably think about part-time duty.  Tiki Barber should see a fair share of action.  The team seems to have pretty good depth, but in a division featuring perennial winners in Boston and New York, Chris Bransfields crew will likely come up short this year.


Zieger: Bark bark Burress!



Middletown Twins (2001 record: 5-8-1). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Michael Vick

RB: Travis Henry, Michael Bennett

WR: Randy Moss, Torry Holt

TE: Jeremy Shockey

K: Sebastian Janikowski

ST/D: Dallas


Top reserves: Michael Pittman, Jerry Rice


Dayton: There is potential for inconsistency, but if Ben Fleming can get this group to play to their potential, this could be the sleeper team of the year.  One of their big assets is their depth.  They have a lot of quality reserves: Pittman, Rice, Laveranues Coles and T.J. Duckett.  Torry Holt and Randy Moss will perhaps be the scariest 1-2 punch at WR in the league.  A lot of pressure falls on RB Travis Henry. Can he be a consistent end zone force week in and week out?  The jury is also still out on Michael Vick.  If he can get the ball to his deep guns, the Syndromes could make a power play in the FFLs toughest division.


Hester: This is an exciting team. But, realistically, they are more likely to be contenders in 2003 or 2004.  I like Vick, Henry and Moss as the building blocks for the franchises future, but I dont know if they have the mettle to immediately compete for the division title.  Well get a better read on this in the first several weeks.  I could see this team having a couple of high-scoring shootouts sandwiched between some other more uneven performances, but that is the price of the teams youth movement.  Torry Holt is a quality addition, but there is no proven #2 RB.  Shockey could be a pleasant surprise at TE.


Koskelo: No one has as many young players as Ben Fleming in Middletown.  This sleepy little burg will probably witness some of the largest offensive explosions and some of the most shockingly shoddy play this year.  Just imagine starting a lineup in which Randy Moss was the most experienced player!  Middletown will likely do just that.  Expect boom-or-bust-type years from Michael Vick, T.J. Duckett, and Jeremy Shockey.  Middletown is laying the future for either an explosive dynasty or a disappointing Ryan Leaf-like failure.


Zieger: Grruff, ruff. Bark ruff grrruff!


FFL Central



Miami Miracles (2001 record: 7-7). 


Projected Lineup:


QB: Kordell Stewart

RB: Shaun Alexander, Corey Dillon, Curtis Martin

WR: Chris Chambers

TE: Chad Lewis

K: Jeff Wilkins

ST/D: St. Louis


Dayton: Miami may have lost their best window of opportunity when their team took a nosedive last year.  I dont project Curtis Martin or Corey Dillon as having the same kinds of years they had last year.  Still, with another strong year from Shaun Alexander they should contend for the South Central title.  Some have griped that Kordell Stewart wont gel with the offense in the same way that Brett Favre did last year that.  I dont see that though; hell be fine.  Chris Chambers and Kevin Johnson were quality draft selections.  If the wishbone game plan falters, they will always have insurance.


Hester: Theyre now 10 years removed from their last Fantasy Bowl appearance.  Talk about having a chip on their shoulder.  Will this year be the one?  My sources say no.  Yes, they have the leagues deepest talent at running back, they have good reserve players and they have a pretty good QB.  However, Im not picking them to win the division because The team was firing on all cylinders last year and still finished a disappointing 7-7, barely making the playoffs.  What will happen this year if the production isnt quite where it was then?


Koskelo: At times last year they were unstoppable.  Then they stopped.  This year Jeff Zieger looks for more consistency from his punishing ground attack.  Shaun Alexander, Curtis Martin and Corey Dillon all return from last years squad.  Miami will look to Kordell Stewart to replace Brett Favre and hope that Chris Chambers and Kevin Johnson can prevent teams from using the eight-man fronts that wore down Martin and LaDainian Tomlinson last year.  If their quarterback situation works out, the vast improvement at the tight end, kicker and defense should put them into the playoffs for a second consecutive season.


Zieger: (Jackie was taking a nap in the corner of the room when asked for comment.)



Atlanta Predators (2001 record: 6-8). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Kurt Warner

RB: Fred Taylor, Duce Staley, Anthony Thomas

WR: Keenan McCardell

TE: Ernie Conwell

K: Paul Edinger

ST/D: Chicago


Top reserves: David Terrell, Thomas Jones


Dayton: Injuries have set back Fred deBoers squad for two consecutive years.  Look for this year to be a little more stable in that department, but the teams performance on the field may still be a little inconsistent.  Warner, Taylor and Thomas are teams superstars, but after them the depth chart gets a little thin.  Still, the team found ways to win when Warner was the only one trying, so I think that it is a safe bet to assume that the Predators can eke their way into the playoffs (particularly since their division has no clear team to beat.


Hester: A unique set of circumstances must exist in order for Atlanta to rebound from two straight disappointing FFL campaigns.  Fred Taylor must stay healthy.  Anthony Thomas must come into his own as a franchise back.  Kurt Warner must continue to dominate opposing defenses.  And a couple of supporting players, like Duce Staley, Keenan McCardell, and Ernie Conwell, must do well.  Im willing to bet that Atlanta will defy the odds and meet all these criteria.  In fact, they are my bold pick to be 2002 FFL champions.


Koskelo: True, Fred Taylor hasnt held up for an entire season in a long time, but I think this year will be different.  With moves as sweet as piparkakku, Taylor will be the key figure in propelling Atlanta to the playoffs.  Anthony Thomas and Kurt Warner both look to post huge years if Taylor can carry some of the load.  The big question is whether the team will go to a 3-back offense with Keenan McCardell as the lone receiver and Thomas Jones as the third back.  Fred deBoer will have some tough choices to make, as David Terrell looks like the odd man out of the starting lineup.



Kansas City Blockers (2001 record: 8-5-1). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Aaron Brooks

RB: Warrick Dunn

WR: James Thrash, Rod Smith, Isaac Bruce

TE: Anthony Becht

K: Martin Gramatica

ST/D: Philadelphia


Top reserves: Mike Alstott, Quadry Ismail


Dayton: Kansas City always finds a way to win, and always do so despite my predictions to the contrary.  So Im reversing course.  I dont think it is going too far out on a limb to pick them as a playoff team again.  They are not a team of big stars, but are instead a scrappy team that puts together points out of nowhere.  It looks like they may spend the year switching back and forth between a pro-set and run-and-shoot offense.  Coach Leinwand has never been one to stick with a single set of starters, so it will be interesting to see what lineup combinations he produces for this team.


Hester: The Blockers shook off any reputation for being just an expansion team when, in their very first year, they made it to the Fantasy Bowl.  Now, they have non-expansion talent on their roster to boot.  Brooks is a solid signal-caller, and the receiving corps has adequate TD potential.  Im not sure who will start in their backfield, but expect 5-7 TD numbers from whoever it is.  The teams best strength is its depth at RB and WR.  Jason Leinwand will have a lot of weapons at his disposal none of them superstars, mind you, but all reasonable scoring threats.  How well he chooses his starting lineups will probably be the deciding factor in whether Kansas City can qualify for the playoffs.


Koskelo: Jason Leinwand may have an even better team than last year, but duplicating the magic of a year ago will be a tough task.  Aaron Brooks and Mike Alstott had solid years in 2001, and may be poised to do even better now.  Not to be overlooked, however, is the injury-prone receiving core.  Isaac Bruce usually misses a couple of games every year with his hamstrings.  Rod Smith has been hobbled since last year with various sprains.  James Thrash may have to take it easy on his aching knees.  Seems like too many questions to pencil this team into a playoff bracket.


Zieger: Sneeze.gruff ruff ruff bark.



Chicago Black Sox (2001 record: 4-9-1). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Daunte Culpepper

RB: Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson

WR: Johnny Morton, Peerless Price

TE: Wesley Walls

K: David Akers

ST/D: Pittsburgh


Top reserves: Az-Zahir Hakim, Santana Moss


Dayton: The Black Sox have their work cut out for them.  They lack depth, they are playing in an improving division, and they are very dependent on Culpepper, James and Tomlinson to produce their scoring.  They are an injury away from a 4-10 season.  Yetif their marquee players do well (and stay in the lineup) they could challenge for a wild card.  Keep your fingers crossed, Chicago fans.  This team could use a trade to bolster their receiving corps, but doing so would probably involve dealing away future draft picks.


Hester: They have the worst receiving corps in the league.  But, they have two of the best backs in James and Tomlinson.  Consider that an invitation to a 7-7 type season.  Or worse, because Chicago had to live and die by a small corps of talented players (surrounded by a feeble supporting cast) in 2001, too.  Nonetheless, having a couple of superstars is sometimes all that is needed, so if the right breaks fall for them, Chicago could back their way into the playoffs.


Koskelo: Even with its eyes generally on the future, the reports on Edgerrin James have given Chicagoans reason to hope.  James may form a potent backfield combo with LaDainian Tomlinson, stolen from Miami in an offseason deal.  Still, the receivers look pretty ho-hum, with Johnny Morton and Peerless Price at wideout and Todd Heap at tight end.  Chicagos headed in the right direction, but they need another year before theyll make a serious run at the playoffs.  Once again Hendrik finishes behind Fred in the battle of the deBoers.


Zieger: Ruff ruff ruff bark growf.


FFL West



Montana Blazers (2001 record: 11-3). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Drew Bledsoe

RB: Priest Holmes, Eddie George

WR: Marvin Harrison, Eric Moulds

TE: Marcus Pollard

K: Mike Vanderjagt

ST/D: Cleveland


Top reserves: Emmitt Smith, Marty Booker



Dayton: Many people underrated the Blazers last year because they didnt score the most points and won a lot of their games because of a weak division.  Do the math, though: they will be a better team in 2002, and last year they finished 11-3.  It is hard not to pick them as the team to beat.  Bledsoe could be more consistent than Griese was in 01, and hes more of a team player. The talk of the offseason was the moves and shakeups in Phoenix, but Montana has quietly assembled a team with many threats. 


Hester: A very talented and balanced team that is gunning for a championship.  I am curious to see if Priest Holmes had a fluke season last year.  We shall see if the Blazers get him the goal-line carries he deserves.  The Bledsoe-Moulds connection could do for the Blazers what the Warner-Bruce connection did for the 1999 Predators make them unstoppable on certain weeks.  Moulds supplants Rod Smith as the teams #2 wideout, which could be a marked improvement, as he can go for the deep touchdown.  As always, Marvin Harrison should create headaches for opposing defensive coordinators.


Koskelo: Last year they ended their string of seasons without a Fantasy Bowl appearance.  This year theres only one goalthe championship trophy.  Montana looks like the favorite in the West, as Nick Surowiecki and Shaun Wyman replaced the inconsistent Brian Griese with veteran Drew Bledsoe.  Eddie George and Priest Holmes should provide an effective running game, and the combination of Marvin Harrison and Eric Moulds at wide receiver is the most impressive group west of New York.  Phoenix is the most improved team in the league, but Montana is the class of this division.


Zieger: (Desperate to convey her report on the Montana Blazers to her human colleagues, Jackie engaged in a game of charades.  However, her wild gestures and pawing were unable to reflect her insightful understanding of the ramifications of adding Drew Bledsoe and Eric Moulds to Montanas 2001 personnel.)



Phoenix Conquistadors (2001 record: 4-10). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Donovan McNabb

RB: Ricky Williams, Kevan Barlow, Deuce McAllister

WR: Darrell Jackson

TE: Bubba Franks

K: Olindo Mare

ST/D: Washington


Top reserves: William Green, Javon Walker


Dayton: Before the draft, folks were saying that the Conquistadors would steamroll the rest of the league.  Now, strangely (since the Conquistadors spent their draft picks fairly wisely) the team is being labeled as overrated and destined for a failure of epic proportions.  Im more for the happy medium Phoenix wont be dominating, but theyll be pretty darn good, and they will make the playoffs.  At QB, McNabb will keep them alive in many close games.  He did as much in his playing days at Middletown.  But here hell have a better supporting cast.  Ricky Williams and Kevan Barlow could be in for some very good seasons.


Hester: Their wishbone will be pretty tough, if not overpowering.  However, I fear that a couple bad breaks could derail this teams playoff run.  This team is a gamble they have the potential to clean up with their youthful stars, but they could also be plagued by inconsistency. Some of their players may not even see sufficient playing time to make an impact. Adam Fleming likes to build his team with interchangeable parts, so I doubt well see much in the way of the same starting lineup each week.


Koskelo: Well, Phoenix managed to roll all of those first round picks into a third running back, a rookie backup runner, their starting wideout and a backup quarterback.  Thats not to say that they wasted any of those picks, just that having 4 first rounders is more intimidating in theory than in practice.  Still, theres plenty to be intimidated by here.  Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre give them a dream QB situation, and if Deuce McAllister, Kevan Barlow or William Green have big seasons alongside Ricky Williams, Adam Flemings detractors will be eating crow.  Darrell Jackson and Bubba Franks give them a couple of playmaking pass catchers.


Zieger: Browf ruff bark bark bark bark. Bark draft picks bark bark?



Waikiki Tsunamis (2001 record: 6-7-1).  


Projected lineup:


QB: Steve McNair

RB: Jamal Lewis, Clinton Portis

WR: David Boston, Ike Hilliard

TE: Freddie Jones

K: Jay Feely

ST/D: New England


Top reserves: Tim Dwight, Ron Dayne


Dayton: At the end of 2002, Mike Linnemann may regret sending his subordinates to the 2002 draft to make the years personnel decisions.  Then again, maybe not.  Stock in Clinton Portis is rising fast, and he might soon be the best RB on the team.  David Boston is an excellent receiving threat, but I see no clear #2 target.  Perhaps one will emerge off the bench or from the free agent market.  Jamal Lewis can probably run for the Tsunamis well enough, but will he be able to score for them?


Hester: The price paid for David Boston was excessive, but at least Steve McNair now has someone to throw to.  Their lack of depth, however, is disturbing.  If either Jamal Lewis or David Boston goes down in injury, Waikiki could be in some real trouble.  Like Kansas City, this team has learned to play resourceful FFL football with scrappy playing and ensemble casts of runners and receivers.  Now in its third year, though, there can be no more expansion excuses.  We have to see if the Tsunamis can stand on their own and compete for the FFL West.  Will they?  With strong Phoenix and Montana teams around, it may not be this year. One more thing: how does J.J. Stokes keep ending up on this team??


Koskelo: Steve McNair shocked the Blazers twice last season, putting up some big numbers and almost single-handedly winning those games for the big kahunas.  This year McNair wont have to do it alone.  Jamal Lewis has been a little tentative in the preseason, but his knee looks fine and hell be ready to start.  Clint Portis may have fumbled away the starting job, so it seems likely that the smart money is on Ike Hilliard to start beside J.J. Stokes and offseason acquisition David Boston in Mike Linnemanns offense.  Things are looking up for a squad that will benefit from stockpiled draft picks next year.


Zieger: Snort.



Dallas Knights (2001 record: 5-9). 


Projected lineup:


QB: Brian Griese

RB: Antowain Smith, Olandis Gary

WR: Keyshawn Johnson, Rod Gardner

TE: Tony Gonzalez

K: John Carney

ST/D: Oakland


Top reserves: DeShaun Foster, Donte Stallworth


Dayton: I think that Dallas coach Tyler Fleming will take great satisfaction in trying to prove me wrong.  But to me, despite their improvements, this is a last-place team.  There are too many questions?  Will rookie DeShaun Foster make a difference?  Can Antowain Smith have another good season, or was he a wasted trade with Middletown.  Most importantly, can Brian Griese get his head together and be the first adequate QB for this team since Doug Flutie?  One thing I do love about this team is the potential in their receiving corps.  Johnson, Gardner and Stallworth could all be great players for Fleming to have on his roster.


Hester: Tyler Fleming has a plan.  Draft young players or other players with potential and hope for the best.  It may backfire much of the time, but he continues to lie in wait for the gem that will help send his team back to the Fantasy Bowl for the first time since 1995.  I think that this year, while he is lacking for an impact rookie, will be the year where some of those potentially good players produce.  Rod Gardner could be a force, and Keyshawn Johnson is poised for a comeback year.  Even James Stewart may find a second life.  Overall, I think that enough things will go right to send the Knights (r.i.p. Crips, Rockies) back to the playoffs.  Add to this the positive move to Dallas and you have a new era of good feeling for this franchise.


Koskelo: The only thing that might be uglier than their uniforms is their record over the last couple of seasons in Coloradoexcept perhaps for the way the team may play this year.  Brian Griese has a history of inconsistency, DeShaun Foster is hurt, Keyshawn was just plain ineffective in the red zone last year, and Tony Gonzalez will miss time if he doesnt sign in the next few days.  Could it get worse?  Well, they dont have a kicker or much of a defense in camp yet.  Theres some potential here if Antowain Smith doesnt turn out to be a one-season wonder, but it doesnt look like it will add up to better than a last-place finish for Tyler Flemings team.


Zieger: One must step back and consider that this team is embarking upon one of the most propitious moments in franchises history----bbbbbbbark! Bark! Bark!!


Playoff Picture


Bob Dayton:


FFL East: NY, Bos, Cha, Mid

FFL South Central: Mia, KC, Atl, Chi

FFL West: Mon, Pho, Wai, Dal


FFL East Champ:  New York

FFL Central Champ:  Miami

FFL West Champ:  Montana

Wild Card #1:  Boston

Wild Card #2:  Phoenix

Wild Card #3:  Kansas City


Wild Card Games:  Miami over Kansas City, Phoenix over Boston


Championships: New York beats Miami, Montana beats Phoenix


Fantasy Bowl XI: Montana beats New York


Jessie Hester


FFL East: NY, Bos, Mid, Cha

FFL South Central: Atl, Mia, Chi, KC

FFL West: Mon, Dal, Pho, Wai


FFL East Champ:  New York

FFL Central Champ:  Atlanta

FFL West Champ:  Montana

Wild Card #1:  Miami

Wild Card #2:  Boston

Wild Card #3:  Dallas


Wild Card Games:  Atlanta over Miami, Dallas over Boston


Championships: Atlanta beats New York, Montana beats Dallas


Fantasy Bowl XI: Atlanta beats Montana


Niofred Koskelo:


FFL East: NY, Bos, Cha, Mid

FFL South Central: Mia, Atl, KC, Chi

FFL West: Mon, Pho, Wai, Dal


FFL East Champ:  New York

FFL Central Champ:  Miami

FFL West Champ:  Montana

Wild Card #1:  Boston

Wild Card #2:  Phoenix

Wild Card #3:  Atlanta


Wild Card Games:  Miami over Atlanta, Phoenix over Boston


Championships: New York beats Phoenix, Montana beats Miami


Fantasy Bowl XI: Montana beats New York


Jackie Zieger:


FFL East Champ:  Alpo

FFL Central Champ:  Pedigree

FFL West Champ:  Gravy Train

Wild Card #1:  Science Diet

Wild Card #2:  Mighty Dog

Wild Card #3:  Kibbles & Bits & Bits


Wild Card Games:  Gravy Train over Kibbles, Mighty Dog over Science Diet


Championships: Alpo beats Gravy Train, Mighty Dog beats Pedigree


Fantasy Bowl XI: Alpo beats Mighty Dog


FFL analysts scoring in bookstores nationwide


FFL analysts, it seems, have been paying attention to both the upcoming draft and the New York Times best-seller lists. Several FFL personalities have capitalized upon their recent celebrity, and have spent their offseason finishing work on new book releases. 
Manford Fowler, known for his brash news column, "Personal Fowl," has fired the latest salvo in the fantasy football print wars with his "A Manford All Seasons." "Seasons" is an autobiographical account of Fowler's life, following his childhood in rural West Virginia, his high school playing days as an all-state tackle and defensive end, an All-American career as a towering offensive lineman, and his subsequent career playing for the Miami Miracles in the FFL. Weighing in at 349 pgs., Fowler litters his writing with amusing anecdotes, such as an occassion when he and college teammate Andy Hancock-Burtman were arrested in a barfight with then-pro running back Barry Foster. Manford also divulges the origins of his distinctive name, the identity of his childhood hero, and his real reasons for leaving pro football.  His irreverent style of writing plays throughout the work, and he pulls no punches. Neither does he shy away from poking fun at his ex-Miracles coach JeZieger, with whom he has had a longstanding and very public feud. Early sales and positive reviews indicate that "A Manford All Seasons" may even command a sequel.
Previously, Manford had a modest success with his tailgating cookbook, "Any Given Sandwich." However, with his newfound fame as an analyst for the pregame show FFL Tonight and the FFL Today print publications, a definitive story on Fowler's life has been in demand from the public for several months.  In order to beat out a rash of unauthorized autobiographies, including the planned "Manford Overboard!" by Tom Fleming, Fowler has been busy in the offseason putting the last touches on the book.
Other FFL analysts also have books soon to be published.  Senior FFL writer Bob Dayton will soon release his statistical tome "Total FFL," a historical abstract of the FFL featuring a Bill Jamesian approach to analyzing fantasy football. Meanwhile, Jessie Hester has been hard at work on his behind-the-scenes account of life in the FFL locker room, "The Receiver that Time Forgot." At the same time, a collection of Jackie Zieger's series of essays, "The Beauty Within," will soon be published by Elle Magazine.
Said the crusty dean of FFL analysis, Niofred Koskelo, "Ain't these guys got day jobs?"

Potential Sale of the Crips Clouds Franchise's Future

Reafsnyder (left) and Dominican (right).

Wire Reports
After several months of speculation regarding the relocation of one of the FFL's more troubled franchises, the Colorado Crips may be headed toward a completely new future -- the auction block.
An unnamed league source has confirmed that Texas oil tycoon J.B. Reafsnyder and internet executive Kip Dominican are heading up a group that intends to purchase the Crips and move them to the Dallas area.  Though no official bids have as yet been made public, industry analysts believe that a sale of Colorado, who have had only one winning season since their 1995 championship, is not out of the question. 
Texas remains one of the largest untapped markets in the FFL.  Only the Corpus Christi 46'ers maintain a pro sports team in the state, and the FFL following there (split between Kansas City and Phoenix fans) is significantly strong. 
For several years, Reafsnyder has been sending out feelers among FFL executives regarding possible franchise moves.  CEO of Rogue Oilco, one of the premier operators of refineries in eastern Texas, Reafsnyder has made numerous attempts to join the select fraternity of FFL owners and associates.  He was outbid by Charleston politicos hoping to lure away the New England Winners in 1995, and he later made an unsuccesful bid to bring the Montana Blazers from Billings, MT into the heart of Texas. Now teamed with Kip Dominican, the group alledgedly wishes to make a wholesale purchase of a franchise and completely take over the team's operations.
Dominican was a fortunate beneficiary of the dot-com boom, a self-styled internet "whiz kid" who made his millions providing consulting services to college admissions offices nationwide.  With the recent dip in the economy, Dominican became a dot-com survival hero; his foray into selling Finnish bakings and handicrafts via the Internet brought him distinctions for his resourcefulness and diversified business sense. 
A sale of an FFL team has no precedent, and therefore it is unclear if the ownership of the Colorado Crips can legitimately change hands. In fact, say reports, there are many questions afoot.  For instance, research has shown that the Pacific Coast remains the most attractive site for relocation of the Crips.  And no reports have stated that Crips owner TFleming has even lost interest in the team's day to day operations.  Yet, even with a team sale Fleming could still be retained as the general manager and head coach of the team.
Though details regarding a possible sale are still hazy, sources report that the Crips would likely adopt a new name -- the Dallas Renegades -- and adopt a dark, trenchcoated adolescent driving a farm vehicle as its mascot.  Another source claims that Dominican, whose irreverance in business would likely spill over into his ownerhip personality, has been quoted as saying that "for every game in which the Renegades score 40 points or more, we'll give every fan in the stadium a free cheddar roast beef sandwich from Arby's." But when informed of many of the legal obstacles of the sale, Dominican derisively countered "that Mr. Zieger isn't fit to manage a Carvel, never mind the FFL."

Boston Thunder Owner Ravaged by Crippling Disease


BOSTON --- Boston Thunder spokesman Shawn Wenzel announced in a press conference Monday that team owner and head coach EWisneski has been recently diagnosed with a mysterious crippling disease that has ravaged his body and left his capacity to coach the team in the 2002 season in doubt.

The disease, which doctors call Lyme disease, has left Wisneski a withered, crippled, bedridden mess. (See picture, left.) His joints, weak and disfigured, have left him a shell of the coach that led the Thunder to a win in Fantasy Bowl X. Additionally, the medication administered to Wisneski has limited his intake of both dairy products and alcohol. For reasons still unknown to doctors, these conditions have left Wisneski in a state of dementia and rage. At the close of the press conference, Wisneski answered more specific questions concerning his condition. "I'm covered with spiders!," said Wisneski.

Due to his condition, Thunder stockholders voted to invoke the franchise's Statute 2.1.5, or the "Owner Done Gone Crazy Rule." Under 2.1.5, Wisneski has been deemed temporarily unfit to perform his daily duties for the team and has been replaced by a group of team-appointed surrogates. For now, assistant coach Chili Wisneski and vice president-of-operations Artie Schiemann will assume Wisneski's duties with the team.

The rest of the league was left in shock by Monday's announcement. "This is hard to take," said Black Sox coach HdeBoer, who broke into tears. "He has been like a mentor to me. If not for Eamonn, I wouldn't have learned how to offer ridiculously lopsided trades."

"He's a real tough soldier of a coach," said Challengers special teams coach J. Loda. "It is really the camaraderie between the owners in this league that binds it together, as well as.....cookies!!!!!!!!"

However, not all owners have been too sympathetic. "He's faking it," said Blockers owner JLeinwand. "He wants people to feel sorry for him because a tick bit him? Screw that." Miracles coach JeZieger added that he "never liked having a Puerto Rican in the league anyway," a sentiment applauded by Predators coach FdeBoer, who came to the press conference donning a party hat and dancing for joy.

In fact, deBoer was agitated enough to interrupt the press conference to confront Wisneski. "You don't deserve this press, you tick-bitten son of a bitch!," said deBoer. Wisneski, his eyes glazed over, fired back with: "Get away from me, Glowing Neon Stalin!"

The uncertainty of the Thunder's ownership situation going into training camp has many in the organization questioning the appointments of Chili and Artie. Their capacity to maintain the daily operations of the FFL's championship team are, sources say, at best questionable. For instance, Conquistadors owner AFleming shrewdly offered a rutabaga and a glass of Kool-Aid in exchange for star running back Ahman Green, a trade that would have went through if not for interference from team accountant NRiloff, who has outlawed all rutabega-based transactions for the team. Additionally, some players have complained about Chili Wisneski's ability to effectively manage the summer practices. Her canine ferocity has gotten high marks from the Thunder veterans, but her inability to use reason, abstract thought, or spoken words has found her critics in the locker room.

Clearly, Wisneski's road to recovery will be a long one, leaving many questions swirling about his ability to help the Boston Thunder become the first repeat champions in FFL history.

Kraft Velveeta Named Official Sponsor of the 2002 FFL Draft


It is as ubiquitous to the FFL draft as appearances by Jackie Zieger or EWisneski's stalling tactics for making his draft picks. It has been known to incapacitate many an owner in the late rounds of the draft, resulting in draft picks like Itula Mili and Jessie Hester. And in the FFL subculture, it is known by one word: Dip.

In an unsurprising move by the FFL's office of promotions, Kraft Veleveeta processed cheese food was named Monday as the official snack food sponsor of the 2002 FFL Draft. For every draft since 1992, the globular, goopy cheese and salsa-based Dip has served as the centerpiece of the yearly spread. Only in 1995, when RZieger attempted to supplant Dip with a hearty backyard barbeque, has Dip's prominence in the FFL world met any significant challenges.

"We are proud to present Kraft's Velveeta processed cheese food as the snack of choice for the FFL's 2002 draft," said FFL spokesman Ed Wilson. "The sumptuous cheese and salsa Dip that FFL owners love would not be possible without the generous support of the Kraft corporation. It just tastes so right, right, right."

Rumor has it that an unprecedented quantity of Dip will be available at this year's draft -- to slather on hot dogs, complement hamburgers, and of course, in which to dip chips. It has also been rumored that Boston Thunder coach EWisneski intends to bring with him a funnel in which to ingest as much Dip as possible.

The possibility of such Dip consumption have put Madison, CT authorities on alert, and commissioner JaZieger has assured league health officials that paramedic crews will be on standby in the area.

The FFL-Velveeta marketing agreement is one in a long line of business promotions that the two companies have engaged in. Among the notable past promotions have been the FFL's Pro Bowl Dip Challenge, in which players compete for Dip-related prizes, and the humorous Fantasy Bowl X commercial in which Ahman Green and Priest Holmes run around the world to try to win a football-shaped block of Velveeta cheese.

Say Goodbye to Colorado: The Dallas Knights Become the FFL's Newest Team


   In an official press conference Thursday, FFL owner TFleming announced his intentions to move the Colorado Crips to Dallas for the 2002 season.  The new Dallas team will be nicknamed the Knights, after the same team featured in the championship game in the Oliver Stone-directed film, Any Given Sunday.  Fleming has also chosen to stay true to the spirit of the team depicted in the film, and has adopted the same team logo and colors sported by the film Knights.  Johnny Unitas, who played the team's head coach in the film, has also been rumored to be a possible candidate to join the new Knights coaching staff.
   The moving announcement came as no surprise, as Fleming has made his intentions to move the franchise public for several years.  However, many league insiders believed that the team might relocate to the pacific coast of the U.S., where no teams currently reside.  However, industry experts note that Fleming was offered a strong stadium deal in the Dallas market, and that he was wooed by the strong football fan base that exists in the state.
   The FFL offseason rumor mill was dominated by insinuations that Fleming would in fact sell off his team, which has struggled in the win column in recent seasons.  Billionaire entepreneurs J.B. Reafsnyder and Kip Dominican were cited as possible buyers, while famed environmental engineer AKoskelo received headlines for his public statement that he wished to become the first international businessman to own an FFL team, thus breaking the noticeable "Finnish barrier" that has led some pundits to critique the league's affirmative action policies.
   However, Fleming had "no such intentions," and states that he has high hopes for the Knights' 2002 campaign.  "This is day one for the Knights," said Fleming.  "We have some solid players to start with, and we're going to build a winner for the people of Dallas." 
   The Colorado Rockies were one of the FFL's founding members in 1992, and they won Fantasy Bowl IV in 1995.  In 1996 they changed their name to the Colorado Crips.  Current FFL bylaws dictate that a team must retain its team name and/or city location for a 6-year "lease."  Thus, the Dallas Knights will be here to stay in the FFL until at least 2008.