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Coach's End of the Year Thoughts

by Niofred Koskelo, FFL draft analyst

Well, Montana finally got that championship they've been looking for.  And in a lot of ways, we all saw it coming.  Most of the experts thought Montana had the best shot coming into the season, and Montana proved that even without its star, Priest Holmes, it was still a force to be reckoned with.  But hey, there was a lot more to this season than just the final game.  So without further ado, Ol' Coach here is going to give out his end-of-season awards, check up on how teams fared over the course of 2002, and look ahead to another off-season where owners will put on their fancy GM-wizard hats and try to work some magic in the trade market.


This one looked like it was going to be a no-brainer, but when Priest Holmes got hurt and missed the playoffs, it suddenly called his lock on the award into question.  Some people started making the case for LaDainian Tomlinson, or Michael Vick, or Rich Gannon, or Travis Henry or even Holmes' teammate Drew Bledsoe.  Still, give the franchise back his due.  No one came close to putting up the numbers Holmes did, and the impact he had on his team was emphasized by those games he missed, with the Blazers losing to Miami in the regular season and then gutting out two close playoff victories.  Holmes' injury cost him his claim to the greatest FFL season ever, but his claim to MVP is secure.

FFL Coach of the Year

Here's another award that was dramatically affected by the playoffs.  First, you have Chris Bransfield down in Charleston.  Everything this guy touched turned to gold.  He brings in Plaxico Burress, Rich Gannon and Joe Horn in trades, then goes out and gets Garrison Hearst in the draft and makes another deal to land Ricky Williams.  Oh, did I mention this team started out 7-0 and went 11-3 on the season?  But then you have the coach who beat Bransfield three times this year, including the playoffs.  Ben Fleming showed some balls by building his offense around youngsters Mike Vick, Travis Henry and Randy Moss, but the Syndromes were the hottest team in the league down the stretch, going from the bottom of the East to the Fantasy Bowl.  Fleming now has a core of stars that will be around for years, and managed to get wins out of them this year.  And then of course you have the coach of the team that won the Fantasy Bowl.  They quietly posted the second best record in the league, cruising to the playoffs.  When they needed to win late in the season to wrap up that bye, they did it.  When they needed to win without Priest Holmes, they did it.  When they were down at halftime in the Fantasy Bowl, they played like champions.  Nick Surowiecki kept his team focused on taking that next step, and they made it look easy.  When you look at what they've done, I think the nod has to go to Ben Fleming for going out and proving everyone wrong.  This team beat the best when it counted to win their way into the playoffs.  They may not have won, but the Syndromes did more with less proven guys than these other fine coaches.  I take Ben in a close race.

Now that the gold has been handed out, let's see how everyone did.

The Draft

The big player in this draft was Phoenix.  The Conquistadors managed to deal for about 20 first round picks.  The results?  Not good.  I won't beat Brick Haley's dead horse, but Phoenix didn't get much out of this draft this year.  Sure, William Green might be an intriguing back next year, Koren Robinson had some moments and Deuce McAllister was as good as advertised, but other than providing trade bait to snag Tom Brady (who shouldn't be starting over Brett Favre anyway), ho hum.  Phoenix's gamble on this season never panned out, and now Adam Fleming will have to scramble to get ready for 2004, the next time they actually get to draft players.

After Phoenix' first three selections, Dallas got a crack at picking.  And they took Brian Griese.?  With Favre on the board, this might not have been the best direction to go.  The remainder of the draft continued Tyler Fleming's coked up gambling ways.  DeShaun Foster looked good until he got hurt and never got back on the field.  James Stewart was worthless.  Rod Gardner and Donte' Stallworth provided some young prospects at wide receiver and even Troy Hambrick may have a spot on next year's team, but Dallas had too far to climb to be a real contender this year.

With the fifth pick, Middletown selected Torry Holt.  Holt wasn't spectacular, but he provided a threat to complement Moss and prevent teams from shadowing Vick or putting 8 men in the box against Henry.  Middletown put together one of the strongest drafts this year, snagging productive contributors like Michael Bennett, Jerry Rice, Laveranues Coles, Jeremy Shockey and The Polish Cannon, Sebastian Janikowski.  If not for the strength of the East, this team might not have been so overlooked for most of the year.

After yet another Phoenix selection, with the 7th pick in the draft, Charleston chose Jerome Bettis.  Chris Bransfield, long known for such early round busts as Mark Rypien and Jay Novacek, bombed again this year.  Bettis couldn't stay healthy, providing the one real blemish on an otherwise sparkling yearly personnel record for Bransfield.  Among the bargain picks were Garrison Hearst, Tiki Barber and Joey Galloway.

Looking back on Miami's draft, it's hard to figure out how this crew made the playoffs.  Chris Chambers?  Kordell Stewart?  Kevin Johnson and Ed McCaffrey?  Of the players Miami selected in the draft, only 4th rounder Chad Lewis got significant time and managed to stay on the roster all season.  Guess that'll teach you to make it to the draft next year, Zieger.

Kansas City took a step back from the success they had seen the previous two years.  With the level of play in the division improved, KC didn't manage to get much out of draftees Isaac Bruce, Mike Alstott or Warrick Dunn.  While Martin Gramatica and Anthony Becht were nice mid-round pickups, the team just didn't have the usual Cockblocker luck this year.

New York, New York.  Land of the best keepers, year after year.  Well, this year New York needed more than just their keepers, as Marshall was out for much of the season and Peyton and Terrell had off years.  Unfortunately, Jimmy Smith wasn't the answer, Derrick Mason was traded, and Terrell Davis retired during camp.  Stacey Mack was a decent fill-in for Faulk, but the team needed a star to emerge from this crew.  At least Marshall, Peyton and Terrell will be around next year.

Montana got exactly what it needed out of this draft.  They needed a wideout to complement Marvin Harrison.  They got Eric Moulds.  They needed a QB.  They got Drew Bledsoe.  After that, nothing special really emerged for them, but when you're building on Priest Holmes, Eddie George and Marvin Harrison, two more stars is enough.  Montana started carving out their place in history two rounds into the draft.

Boston was trying to become the first team to repeat as champs.  The final position in the draft order has always seemed to be a little unkind, and it got to Boston as well this year.  Terry Glenn was a total bust.  Tim Brown was solid, if unspectacular.  Travis Taylor and Eric Johnson both bombed, one due to ineptitude, the other to injury.  Perhaps Boston should have known it wasn't their year when they selected Dominic Rhodes, their free agent find from last year, only to see him go down for the season with a busted knee.

Waikiki was at the mercy of the league office, who selected Clinton Portis with their first choice in the second round.  In the end, maybe the league office did Mike Linnemann a big favor.  Portis emerged as a potent back who will take pressure off Steve McNair next year.  Waikiki was less fortunate with other picks such as J. J. Stokes, Ike Hilliard, Freddie Jones, Jake Plummer, and Ron Dayne.  Still, with a slew of high picks next year, Portis and McNair should finally see some help come their way.

Also selecting for the first time in the 2nd round was Atlanta.  Thomas Jones was another first selection failure.  Duce Staley and Keenan McCardell were capable starters for this team, but when Kurt Warner went down for much of the season, there wasn't enough talent left to put up a fight against the rest of the league.  A disappointing season for a team whose prospects were looking up.

After a long, long wait, Chicago finally had the privilege of selecting Johnny Morton, a draft day bust for Hendrik DeBoer.  On the plus side, Peerless Price was a bargain, coming to Chi-town in the 4th round.  Not much else came to Chicago directly through the draft, though they were able to trade Tom Brady, Todd Heap and Lamont Jordan and bring in David Akers and Bubba Franks, both of whom got some key scores for the team.  All in all, DeBoer did a decent job with few picks to waste.

Draft performance (based on talent acquired and partially on draft picks available)
1. Montana
2. Middletown
3. Charleston
4. Chicago
5. Phoenix
6. Dallas
7. Waikiki
8. Kansas City
9. Atlanta
10. New York
11. Boston
12. Miami

Essentially, a wide gap separates the first four teams from the rest of the league, none of whom had very profitable drafts.  In terms of final season records, the main difference makers among the bottom 8 franchises were luck in avoiding injuries, savvy free agent acquisitions, and quality keepers.  One of the really interesting things was that of the first round selections, only two (Deuce McAllister and Eric Moulds) turned out to be solid impact players for their teams.  The rest were either total busts or mediocre at best.

Best Waiver Wire Moves

This year's real champ of the waiver wire was Jeff Zieger.  After failing to get anything out of the draft, Zieger struck fear into his players by routinely dumping underachievers.  In return, Zieger's cold-hearted personnel policies were rewarded with the acquisitions of Hines Ward, Jerry Porter and Tommy Maddox.

Also finding significant parts on the free agent market were Jason Zieger (grabbing Donald Driver) and Hendrik DeBoer (Moe Williams).

Looking Ahead

Well, there's nothing to do now but look forward to next season.  And of course, the big concerns now become those of keepers and draft picks.  Let's check out what teams have squirreled away for next season.

Atlanta Predators

Atlanta goes into next year with the first pick in the draft.  Before the Fiesta Bowl, I would have thought Willis Magahee might have been an early favorite.  When healthy, that guy is like LaDainian Tomlinson with an extra gear.  Now the choice probably falls to a proven FFL vet.  Atlanta's problem won't be the picks it has, but the players it may not have.  Who would have thought that the most successful holdover from 2001's team would be Fred Taylor?  Anthony Thomas had a disappointing year ultimately end in injury, and
Kurt Warner's arm seemed to be paining him even when he was playing.  Thus the problem here is that there aren't any reliable keepers.  If Taylor stays healthy again, and Thomas bounces back, and Warner finally gets his arm taken care of, this is a competitive team next year.  But that's a lot of ifs.

Waikiki Tsunamis

The Tsunamis had the 2nd pick, until they overpaid for David Boston.  Still, how can this team go wrong?  It gets to bring back Steve McNair, Clinton Portis, and either the disappointing Boston or the now-healthy Jamal Lewis and it'll be finished drafting in the 8th round.  Look for Waikiki to write off the Boston mistake, keep it's two star runners and stock up on talent.  Mike Linnemann has been biding his time and holds a lot of chips to play with between now and the beginning of FFL Campaign 2003.

Phoenix Conquistadors

Regretting that decision to trade away your entire draft board yet?  Phoenix was easily the biggest disappointment of 2002.  Now it faces the grim realities of its gamble.  2003 will mean a lot of supplemental picks.  On the plus side, Phoenix has some intriguing keeper possibilities and perhaps even some trade bait.  Tom Brady looks like the QB of the future, which means Brett Favre may be a trade possibility.  William Green crawled out from under his "draft-day bust" label and had a strong finish to the season.  Deuce McAllister was phenomenal, Kevan Barlow developed, and even Koren Robinson made some big plays.  Still, no combination of these 5 players can offset the fact that Phoenix will be looking at a weak receiving corps and an anemic kicking game next year in a conference that will be much improved.

Boston Thunder

Second place in our "Disappointments of 2002" contest, Boston just couldn't keep its running backs healthy or its wide receivers productive.  Jeff Garcia was constantly frustrated and so were the fans.  On the plus side for Boston, trading away all that excess talent from their championship team brought in a wealth of draft picks.  As a result, Boston has 9 picks in the first 5 rounds.  The problem is that there might not be enough sure-fire keepers around.  Garcia is still a good bet to hang around, but Ahman Green is fragile, Tim Brown is old, and Stephen Davis isn't even a sure bet to play next year.  Chad Pennington may get a look, or perhaps be traded cheap to Atlanta or Dallas.  This team may rise up next year, or it may drive Eamonn Wisneski to drink like an Irish Puerto Rican.

New York Z-Force

Like Boston, New York was counting on a lot of experienced veterans, and they ended up disappointing-our 3rd biggest disappointment.  Still, you have to like this team going into next year.  Peyton Manning had a down year, Marshall Faulk got hurt and Terrell Owens didn't hit his stride until late in the season.  That combination of factors shouldn't repeat itself.  While that Week 14 loss to Boston will be a sore spot for a while, it should provide motivation for next season.  New York added some modest draft picks in a trade with Chicago.  Jason Zieger has gone back to the drawing board after the Z-Gun met with mixed results.  And remember, this was the second highest scoring offense in the league.

Kansas City Cockblockers

After a couple of years of ball-busting games and improbable playoff runs, the Blockers fell to earth this season.  Aaron Brooks couldn't make the offense work this year.  Mike Alstott was ok and Charlie Garner should have played more, while the combination of James Thrash, Rod Smith and Isaac Bruce provided KC with three unspectacular receivers.  Still, Jason Leinwand has always produced a competitive team through the draft, so Kansas City should improve next year and challenge for the playoffs.  Perhaps this team can work a deal to send two players to keeper-thin Atlanta for a player with explosive potential like Anthony Thomas or Fred Taylor.

Dallas Knights

You have to think that Dallas made a mistake when they chose Brian Griese over Brett Favre at quarterback.  True, Griese is younger, but if you're going to go with a QB, don't pick a head case.  Other than that, Dallas made some moves to stock up on young talent.  They also picked up a couple of minor draft picks from Miami for Brad Johnson and Lamar Gordon.  The trouble will be choosing players to keep.  The likely suspects are Donte Stallworth, Rod Gardner and Tony Gonzalez, though everyone from Troy Hambrick to Antowain Smith to DeShaun Foster to Ladell Betts to Tai Streets to Keyshawn Johnson will get consideration.  It also wouldn't be a surprise if you saw Tyler Fleming try to work some sort of deal with Phoenix, Middletown, Boston or Montana to bring in a QB for Dallas' spare players or picks.

Miami Miracles

Jeff Zieger's struck gold in the 2001 draft with LaDainian Tomlinson, Brett Favre and Shaun Alexander.  This year he got almost nothing.  Even if Miami's draft next year is just middle-of-the-pack, there's a good chance this team will return to the playoffs.  There are a few question marks here, such as Donovan McNabb's health, Shaun Alexander's reduced workload, and Corey Dillon's uncanny inability to score this season.  Given the quality acquisitions of Jerry Porter and Hines Ward, however, I'd bet you a kettle of herring that this team can come up with 3 quality keepers and perhaps a little trade bait.  The 5th and 10th round picks lost in the Brad Johnson deal shouldn't have a huge impact here.

Chicago Black Sox

Well, Edgerrin James was a big disappointment, but Chicago has to be generally pleased with 2002 and is looking forward to having a relatively full complement of draft picks this year.  New York owns its 3rd and 6th rounders, but Hendrik DeBoer will have to reason to stay awake a lot more often than at the last draft.  As in Miami there are some minor questions to be answered, but bringing back Daunte Culpepper, LaDainian Tomlinson and most likely, Peerless Price means Chicago is likely the front-runner for Central champ.

Middletown Syndromes

The Middletonians are the toast of the Northeast.  And what's even more impressive is their array of keepers for next year.  Michael Vick, Travis Henry and Randy Moss will compete for the title of best keeper threesome in the league.  After years of getting pushed around by Boston and New York in this conference, Middletown may very well run to the top next season.  They still have all their picks and might even find interested trading partners for Jeremy Shockey, Laveranues Coles, or Torry Holt.

Charleston Challengers

Some experts picked Charleston to sneak into the playoffs, envisioning a down year for Boston or New York.  No one expected Charleston to threaten the mark of best record in a season or earn a playoff bye.  While losing in the playoffs put a disappointing spin on the season, Charleston returns with Rich Gannon, Ricky Williams, Plaxico Burress, Joe Horn, Garrison Hearst and Tiki Barber.  3 of these guys will be back next season, and at least one should bring in a wealth of value in a trade.  The only question mark comes if Gannon decides to retire.  Still, Williams, Burress, and Barber sound like a good core of players to me.  Horn looks like a good possibility to be shipped in a trade to compensate for trading away their 2nd and 5th rounders.

Montana Blazers

Well, the champs have had their chance to celebrate.  Now it's time to see whether they can bring it again next year and become the first team to repeat.  Odds are they probably won't.  No one did as well as Montana in the first two rounds last year, bringing in Eric Moulds and Drew Bledsoe.  That good fortune is unlikely to repeat again next year, though Montana has done a good job with scouting and drafting the last couple of seasons.  Still, Eddie George doesn't have much left, either on the field or in the trade market.  Priest Holmes probably won't repeat this performance anytime soon, and might even have a lengthy rehab from his hip injury.  Marvin Harrison will return, as will either Bledsoe or Moulds.  All in all, Montana was the best team in the league, but they still had to overachieve to get there.  Champions have a funny way of falling back to the pack the next year, and Montana won't be much different.

All in all, I'd have to think this'll be a pretty quiet offseason.  Last year there were a bunch of teams looking for talent to fill keeper slots.  Charleston was in the market, Kansas City picked up Rod Smith, Chicago was out spending, heck, even the mighty Z-Force were out shopping for some deals.  This year it seems like a lot of moves paid off for teams like Charleston and Middletown.  Part of the reason behind the parity in the league was that talent got redistributed last offseason.  The few great teams of 2001 sold off there spare guys to others, meaning a more even level of competition.  Now the talent is spread out, leaving fewer buyers chasing fewer spare players.  As I see it, only Boston, Atlanta, KC and perhaps Dallas will be real buyers this offseason.  At the same time, a lot more teams have players that may have keeper potential and could be trade bait.  The big names probably stay put, but perhaps Tiki Barber or Hines Ward or Chad Pennington will make a nice addition to some team's roster next year.

I'm Coach K, and I'm bettin' on it.



Poetic Justice for 
Manford Fowler
This Week 
by Niofred Koskelo, FFL Analyst
I tell ya,
                           as a former coach with the Chicago Black Sox, 
nothing was
                           more irritating than losing to Miami.  Especially 
                           when Fowler was with the team.  They'd march into 
                           with their movie star tans and their Playboy centerfold 
                           and the trash-talk about being the underclass of 
the WFC with a lazy shiftless owner would begin.

                           That's why it was so damn enjoyable watching this pathetic 
                           team get crushed by Chicago.  That and the fact 
                           I won a truckload picking Chicago to win this one.
                           3 pointsthat's all Miami could muster.  Tommy Maddox 
                           have played worse if he actually had been paralyzed.  
                           Dillon couldn't get it going.  Even Phil Dawson missed 
                           couple field goals.  Playoff bound?  This team looked 
like they were getting paid to roll over.
                           And while Chicago won, let's get one thing straight -- they 
                           like crap, too.  In a game in which Miami's punting 
                           justified future pay raise demands and Tommy Maddox 
                           turning the ball over, Chicago had no excuse for not 
                           up more points.  Edgerrin James and Derrick Mason 
                           virtual non-factors, Peerless Price was nowhere to be 
                           in the red zone, and even LaDainian Tomlinson 
                           to move the chains.
                           Seemed like neither of these teams really had that playoff 
                           going for them this week.  That's something they'll 
                           to regain, and quick.  For Miami, losing meant it has 
                           beat an explosive Middletown offense fresh off big wins 
                           Charleston and (guess who?) Miami.  Not only 
                           but it has to do it on the frosty plains of Middletown.
                           Chicago, meanwhile, may have played it's way into the 
                           round and a matchup with the Montana Blazers with 
this win. 
                           Not to belittle the Dallas Knights, but let's face it, 
                           guys snuck in the back door while the bouncer was in 
                           can, if ya get me.
                           My picks for next week?  Well, I'd have to think that the 
Black Sox will carry the momentum of their division title into 
the first round and take care of Dallas.  LaDainian Tomlinson 
won't have it as tough against that Dallas defense as he had 
against Miami.  Final score:  33-28.  
                           In the other game next week, well, just because I'm hoping to 
                           Manford soil himself as Miami gets back to the Fantasy 
                           I'm going to have to pick the Miracles to win, 42-39.
                           That's all from the Coach, still calling 'em like I see 'em.


Coach K: A Finn's-eye View of the Second
Well boys and girls, Coach K is finally off
                           the streets and living the life of 
                           the high-roller at the Mohegan Sun Casino in beautiful Uncasville, CT.  Sure my 
                           FFL picks havent come through, but the dice have been good to me lately and Im 
                           lettin' it ride.  We are down to the last 6 weeks of the regular season now, 
                           putting us over the midseason hump.  I don't think anyone expected some of the 
                           weird stuff we have seen this season.  A little bit of recap:
                           The Challengers are 7-1.  Just let that sink in.  The most consistently 
                           lackluster team in the FFL has shocked everyone with their play so far, as 
                           Jerome Bettis and Garrison Hearst have provided improbably superior seasons.
                           Only 4 teams have winning records.  Besides Charleston, it's just New York, 
                           Miami and Montana at 5-3.  That means the South probably only needs 3 wins in 
                           the last 6 to guarantee them a first-round bye.
                           Everyone is still in the race.  People will make the case that Atlanta can 
                           start getting their draft board together with that 2-6 record theyve got, but 
                           if they can start winning it might only take a 7-7 record to make the playoffs.
                           So with all of these teams bunched up and duking it out for playoff spots, 
                           something has to give, and it is quite possible that the playoff teams will be 
                           determined by the strength of each team's schedule down the home stretch.  
                           Here's a look at what each team faces in the coming weeks:
                           Charleston Challengers:
                           Week 9:  Black Sox
                           Week 10:  at Predators
                           Week 11:  at Thunder
                           Week 12:  Z-Force
                           Week 13:  Conquistadors
                           Week 14:  Syndromes
                           Strength of Schedule:  .458 (3rd easiest)
All the rowdy rednecks are starting to feel that this might
                           finally be the year 
                           Charleston wins it all.  And there is good reason for Chris Bransfield to get a 
                           little cocky.  His team has a cake schedule and plays its final three games at 
                           home, where they are unbeaten this season.  In addition, the Challengers two-
                           game lead over everyone else means they are almost assured of a first-round bye 
                           in the playoffs.  More good news:  Charleston just traded for power runner 
                           Ricky Williams.  The bad news:  Jerome Bettis and Garrison Hearst are both 
Coach K's call:  FFL East Champ, playoff bye week

                           New York Z-Force:
                           Week 9:  Blockers
                           Week 10:  at Blazers
                           Week 11:  Syndromes
                           Week 12:  at Challengers
                           Week 13:  Tsunamis
                           Week 14:  Thunder
                           Strength of Schedule:  .542 (tied for 2nd hardest)

                           If the playoffs started tomorrow, New York would have the second best record in 
                           the league by virtue of their recent win over Miami.  Still, the road ahead is 
                           a tough one.  The Z-Force will face tough road games in the freezing cold of 
                           Montana and the humidity of Charleston.  In addition, New York will be pushed 
                           by the young Syndromes and the improving Thunder in critical divisional match-
Coach K's call:  They're in, but they'll finish behind the Thunder.

                           Montana Blazers:
                           Week 9:  Miracles
                           Week 10:  Z-Force
                           Week 11:  at Tsunamis
                           Week 12:  Knights
                           Week 13:  at Black Sox
                           Week 14:  at Conquistadors
                           Strength of Schedule:  .479 (tied for 4th easiest)

                           The real test for Nick Surowiecki's team may come in the next two weeks, when 
                           Montana faces fellow 5-3 teams Miami and New York.  Priest Holmes will sit out 
                           the Miami game in the hopes of being fresh for the divisional rivalry games.  
                           If they can take one of those first two games the rest of the schedule looks 
                           fairly light.  
Coach K's call:  FFL West Champ, playoff bye week

                           Miami Miracles:
                           Week 9:  at Blazers
                           Week 10:  Tsunamis
                           Week 11:  at Blockers
                           Week 12:  Predators
                           Week 13:  at Syndromes
                           Week 14:  at Black Sox
                           Strength of Schedule:  .438 (2nd easiest)

                           The Miracles have been notorious for choking in the second half of the season.  
                           This year they might end up following the opposite pattern, if only because of 
                           a stretch of floundering opponents after their Week 9 match-up with Montana.  
                           Miami is 4-1 since a pathetic 10-2 loss to Charleston on Week 3.  
Coach Ks call:  FFL Central
                           Champ, top spot on wild card week

                           Boston Thunder:
                           Week 9:  at Tsunamis
                           Week 10:  at Conquistadors
                           Week 11:  Challengers
                           Week 12:  at Syndromes
                           Week 13:  Predators
                           Week 14:  at Z-Force
                           Strength of Schedule:  .500 (6th easiest)

                           After winning three in a row, Boston had their streak snapped by the Z-Force.  
                           Boston will have its opportunity for revenge on the final week, and the game 
                           could decide which of the two opponents packs for a playoff game and which 
                           packs for Pebble Beach.  Boston will get some relief with some mediocre 
                           opponents from outside their division, but they'll need Ahman Green and Jeff 
                           Garcia to keep going strong against Charleston, Middletown, and New York if 
                           they plan on repeating.  Still, this team hasn't missed the playoffs in a 
                           longgg time.  
Coach K's call:  Boston's in the playoffs

                           Chicago Black Sox:
                           Week 9:  at Challengers
                           Week 10:  Knights
                           Week 11:  at Predators
                           Week 12:  Blockers
                           Week 13:  Blazers
                           Week 14:  Miracles
                           Strength of Schedule:  .521 (tied for 5th hardest)

                           Chicago now finds themselves in second place in the Central, though still in a 
                           position to make the playoffs.  They'll get a chance to play Dallas and Kansas 
                           City at home and another game in Atlanta.  Unfortunately, those games are 
                           sandwiched in between brutal tilts with Charleston, Montana and Miami.  Chicago 
                           will need to win one of these big games if they want to secure a playoff spot, 
                           and it won't be easy with Edgerrin James hobbling.  
Coach K's call:  The running game runs out of gas and Chicago
                           misses the playoffs

                           Middletown Syndromes:
                           Week 9:  Conquistadors
                           Week 10:  at Blockers
                           Week 11:  at Z-Force
                           Week 12:  Thunder
                           Week 13:  Miracles
                           Week 14:  at Challengers
                           Strength of Schedule:  .563 (Hardest)

                           No one has a tougher road to hoe than Middletown.  Their final four games have 
                           them in deep pipparkaku, so don't bet the talo on them making the playoffs.  
                           There are also going to be in dogfights against Phoenix and Kansas City.  If the 
                           playoffs started tomorrow, Middletown would be left out in the cold due to 
                           their head-up record with the 4-4 teams.  Mike Vick and Randy Moss are still 
                           young, so the future is bright, but it probably isn't going to be this year.  
Coach Ks call:  Just misses the playoffs

                           Here's where it gets really hairy.  Of the 3-5 teams, the best head-to-head 
                           record is in KC, at 2-0, followed by Dallas at 1-1 and a tie between Phoenix 
                           and Waikiki at 1-2.  Phoenix beats out Waikiki by virtue of scoring.  But 
                           remember, as new ties arise this scenario will be shot all to hell.

                           Kansas City Cockblockers:
                           Week 9:  at Z-Force
                           Week 10:  Syndromes
                           Week 11:  Miracles
                           Week 12:  at Black Sox
                           Week 13:  at Knights
                           Week 14:  Predators
                           Strength of Schedule:  .479 (tied for 4th easiest)

                           Kansas City may be 3-5, but they do have a schedule that works in their favor 
                           somewhat.  None of these games are beyond their reach.  Still, it seems like 
                           the old KC Magic Show has lost a bit of its luster this year.  Aaron Brooks is 
                           still a franchise quarterback, but the supporting cast has been spotty at 
                           times.  Coach Leinwand needs his boys to go at least 4-2 to have a realistic 
                           shot, and winning 2 out of the next four games might be too much to ask. 
Coach K's call:  Brooks
                           can't carry them in this year.

                           Dallas Knights:
                           Week 9:  at Predators
                           Week 10:  at Black Sox
                           Week 11:  Conquistadors
                           Week 12:  at Blazers
                           Week 13:  Blockers
                           Week 14:  at Tsunamis
                           Strength of Schedule:  .417 (Easiest)

                           Other than the Blazers game, the Knights have a chance of pulling out the 4 or 
                           even 5 wins needed to put them in the playoffs.  The key for them might be the 
                           Week 10 game against Chicago.  The Black Sox have looked vulnerable recently 
                           and Dallas would improve its position immensely with a victory.  Still, 
                           Keyshawn is hurting, and Brian Griese has been a nightmare of inconsistency, 
                           meaning the Knights may flirt with losses against teams they should beat.  
Coach K's call:  The schedule is there,
                           but they'll also need some help.  
                           Dallas manages to sneak in with a win versus the Tsunamis and a Chicago loss to 

                           Phoenix Conquistadors:
                           Week 9:  at Syndromes
                           Week 10:  Thunder
                           Week 11:  at Knights
                           Week 12:  Tsunamis
                           Week 13:  at Challengers
                           Week 14:  Blazers
                           Strength of Schedule:  .542 (tied for 2nd hardest)

                           Seems that Adam Fleming saw the writing on the wall and decided to start 
                           thinking about the future.  Trading Ricky Williams means Phoenix is probably 
                           done for the year, though Deuce McAllister and Kevan Barlow look like 
                           tremendous future franchise backs.  Chances for a big second half slim down in 
                           the face of a tough scheduleonly the Tsunamis game looks like a clear winner.  
Coach K's call:  In two years they'll
                           be back in the Fantasy Bowl.

                           Waikiki Tsunamis:
                           Week 9:  Thunder
                           Week 10:  at Miracles
                           Week 11:  Blazers
                           Week 12:  at Conquistadors
                           Week 13:  at Z-Force
                           Week 14:  Knights
                           Strength of Schedule:  .521 (tied for 5th hardest)

                           Waikiki has played better in recent weeks and Clint Portis deserves much of the 
                           credit.  He and Steve McNair are going to be surrounded by talent next year 
                           when Waikiki gets inundated with draft picks.  Waikiki may surprise one of the 
                           playoff hopefuls, but it doesn't look like they've got enough left to get there 
Coach K's call:  They'll be home for Christmas.

                           Atlanta Predators:
                           Week 9:  Knights
                           Week 10:  Challengers
                           Week 11:  Black Sox
                           Week 12:  at Miracles
                           Week 13:  at Thunder
                           Week 14:  at Blockers
                           Strength of Schedule:  .542 (tied for 2nd hardest)

                           Well, at least Atlanta's final three games are on the road so they don't have 
                           to show their faces in front of Predators fans until next season.  Atlanta's 
                           offense has ground to a halt in the last couple of weeks, and things arent 
                           likely to get much better against a schedule full of playoff contenders.  One 
                           more loss and Atlanta can safely be written off, even if Buddha himself suited 
                           up for the remaining games.  
Coach K's call:  Start thinking about who you might take with
                           that first pick in the draft, 
                           Week 9 picks:
                           Z-Force over the Blockers
                           Knights over Predators
                           Thunder over Tsunamis
                           Challengers over Black Sox
                           Miracles over Blazers
                           Syndromes over Conquistadors


Niofred Koskelo: Dispatches From a Homeless Fantasy Football Analyst

(Phoned in to the FFL Tonight Studio)

Well fans, Old Coach is hitting the streets for his preview this week, mostly because thats pretty much where I live now. That Bransfield can take his trailer and shove it up hiswell, you get the picture.

Anyway, all of this time away from the old homestead has given me a lot of time to think and hang out with my old pals Jack Daniels and the palace guard on the Beefeater's bottle. Anyway, I have to say I feel a lucky streak coming on, and the Coach K campaign to get my damn house back is in full swing, let me tell ya.

Predators at Conquistadors:

Well, the Predators hopes are fading faster than Bryan Lajoie's career. I wouldn't be surprised if Fred DeBoer was hittin' the sauce by now hisself. Meanwhile, Adam Fleming's musical quarterbacks have managed to do everything cept win games. HAHAhhaaa (Coach Ks laughter fades into tears for the next minute or two) Anyway, Ill take the Con-C-Conquistadors this week.

Black Sox at Thunder:

The Black Sox have it all over Eamonn Wisneski's crew this weekwhat kind of Puerto Rican name is Eamonn, anyway?

Z-Force at Miracles:

(After a severe episode of vomiting, Coach K managed to blurt out that the Z-Force always beat Miami)

Challengers at Knights:

(Coach K then phoned in the rest of his picks from the hospital, urging us to loan him a ten spot and put it on the Knights to finally end Chris Bransfield's hot streak.)

Blazers at Blockers:

Alright, I'm ok now. Those no good Blazers cost me my house last week, so I say screw 'em. I'm putting my money on Kansas City to throttle Montana and their lousy coach, too.

Syndromes at Tsunamis:

Syndromes should wrap this one up by halftime, and by then I should be counting up my winnings for the week.

Here's to a hot streak and the good folks at the YMCA. And Bob Dayton, you smell like a fjord full of crap.