AFC West - San Diego; The Chargers pretty much take this division by default. Kansas City has fired their offensive coordinator just two weeks before the start of the season, Oakland's Head Coach is under investigation for allegedly punching an assistant, and the off-season drama in Denver negates any chance they may have had this year. Opponents' problems aside, the San Diego Chargers are one of the most talent-laden teams in the NFL. LaDainian Tomlinson has reached NFL running back senior citizen status as he turned 30 years old this summer, but splitting some carries with little man Darren Sproles should help him stay healthy and effective. LT will rebound from his "down" year (1500 total yards and 12 TDs). An elite O-line and a defense that specializes in takeaways and rushing the passer will make you a contender every year. Philip Rivers stepped up his game last season, vaulting himself into the upper echelon of NFL QBs. Vincent Jackson took a huge step up last season as well, becoming not only a deep threat, but also a legitimate #1 receiving option. San Diego should run away with this division, but then again they should have last year as well. Since taking over for Marty Schottenheimer in 2006, Head Coach Norv Turner has seen his team's win total drop by three games each year, down to just 8-8 a year ago. Turner bailed himself out last season with an overtime win over the Colts in the playoffs, but if the Chargers do not make a serious run this season he could find himself looking for a job in 2010.
Stud - LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego: Rivers was the stud for San Diego last season, but I think a returned focus to LT is far more likely than a repeat performance from Rivers.
Sleeper - Vincent Jackson, San Diego: His current ADP has him as a #2 receiver in most leagues, but by the end of the season he will be among the top ten fantasy receivers.
Bust - Darren McFadden, Oakland:You have to love Run DMc's talent, but the Raiders will be awful this year. No quarterback and no receivers means their talented group of runners will be given no breathing room.
The best QB-WR Combo in the NFL
AFC South - Indianapolis; The NFC East is still the best division in the NFL, but the AFC South is closing the margin quickly. Tennessee was a big suprise last year and Houston looks like a team on the verge. Do not underestimate Jacksonville either, as injuries derailed what many thought would be a very successful 2008 season. With an improved offensive line and the experience of Torry Holt, David Garrard will rebound this season. But of course, when Peyton Manning is in the division with a full, healthy off-season the Colts have to be the favorites. The coaching change from Tony Dungy to Jim Caldwell has to have some effect from a leadership standpoint, but with a QB like Manning this team has plenty of leadership to spare. First-round draft pick Donald Brown will pair with Joseph Addai to help shoulder the load in the running game. Anthony Gonzalez enters his all-important third year in the league and he has the heavy burden of replacing Marvin Harrison in the starting lineup. Run defense will continue to be a problem for the Colts' under-sized defensive line, but second-round pick Fili Moala provides some added beef in the trenches. Even with their struggles against the run, only 6 teams gave up fewer points than the Colts in 2008. It is very likely a wildcard team will come out of the South, with my pick being the Texans. Yes, their hopes are pinned to the unstable health of their QB Matt Schaub, but if he can actually make it through an entire season Houston's offense will be elite. Mario Williams has emerged as one of the best all-around defensive ends in the league, justifying himself as the #1 pick over Reggie Bush and Vince Young back in 2006. Clearly Tennessee also has the talent to compete as well, but I refuse to put any faith in Kerry Collins to be the difference-making quarterback he would have to be for the Titans to make any noise in the loaded AFC South.
Stud - Peyton Manning, Indianapolis:Maybe the surest thing in all fantasyland, we just know Manning will pass for close to 4,000 yards and 27 TDs every year. That kind of confidence is a rarity. Although there are QBs whose upside is higher than Mannings, none can match his consistency.
Sleeper - David Garrard, Jacksonville: Few people realize Garrard was a top ten QB in most scoring formats last season, and his O-line and receiving corps should both be better this year. Garrard's ability to run adds to his value, he should add around 300 yards and 2-3 TDs with his feet.
Bust - Owen Daniels, Houston: I love Daniels in reality, but in fantasy he is not targeted in the red zone enough with the presence of Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, and Steve Slaton.