For many of you out there that are not familiar with NEXFL, the NEXFL is the National Experts Fantasy League. It is a 32-team league that includes Offense and Individual Defensive Players (IDP) and only has one “copy” of a player. There are a few other 32-team leagues out there, but many have two “copies” of a player (i.e. two teams can own Adrian Peterson, etc.). That is not the case in NEXFL. This is not a league for the unseasoned or casual fantasy fan. The draft is 23 rounds and amounts to over 730 picks that are selected through an online draft over the span of approximately a month. The purpose of NEXFL is to establish a league that is unlike any other. The concept was originally developed by Ryan "The Warden" Houston and later enhanced by George "SpiGuy" Kerwood and now Tom "Tomdiggs" Digliani in the hopes of providing fantasy football enthusiasts with a much more difficult and challenging task: Represent an NFL team and create the ultimate Fantasy Football team with precious resources. Do you have what it takes to compete?
To take a look at the teams and rosters for this season, check out the league site:
Now, here is my personal analysis of this year’s teams and projections. These are my opinions and mine alone as the commissioner and avid NEXFL enthusiast.
For those that want to take part next year, start studying up on your IDP and deep sleepers. Then follow the league from afar throughout the league and let me know your interest so I can place you on a waiting list for the 2012 season. The league usually has 6-8 vacancies that open up per year.
Without further ado, here’s the league as I see it through my crystal ball.
1. Bills - The reigning AFC Champs return with another solid squad. Vlad looks to be forming the basis for being an annual contender now after breaking through to the playoffs for the first time last season. While Alex Smith will hurt him in a division filled with exceptional QBs, the Bills’ depth and strength at WR and LB will carry them. If Dez Bryant does not pan out or if Austin Collie gets hurt then they could be in trouble. I expect big things from both, however. D’Qwell Jackson and Jonathan Vilma will carry the D and will be helped a lot by Trent Cole and Morgan Burnett. The real player to watch for the Bills is Lance Kendricks. If he stands out during the year like he has this preseason then this team could be dangerous. If one of many risks goes awry they could fall out of the playoff picture. I want to predict a better record, but with all the risks and with Alex Smith I need to temper expectations. Prediction: 8-5
2. Dolphins - Jerm has once again put together a tough squad. Joe Flacco, Mike Thomas, and Wes Welker will help carry the offense. The D has some good players in Robert Mathis, Jon Beason and Kevin Burnett. Beason’s early season injury is one to watch. If he misses time it could doom the Dolphins’ chances out of the gate in the early divisional games. I see them being slightly off of the Bills in running for the division crown. Prediction: 7-6
3. Patriots - The Pats may have a new NEXFL owner this year, but they drafted well. Michael Vick will be the first piece that will help carry this offense. However, there is some serious offensive talent here in addition to Vick with Rashard Mendenhall, Pierre Garcon and Greg Olsen. Olsen could be a gem in this league. The defense has some nice balance with AJ Hawk, Daryl Smith and Devin McCourty leading the way. Depth is an issue. There isn’t much at DL and Paris Lenon and Keith Brooking may not be starting for their NFL teams for very long. A good, but not great rookie year for the Pats. Prediction: 5-8
4. Jets - Just like the NFL Colts; this team’s status relies on Peyton Manning’s health. Manning will run this offense with Michael Turner, but a lack of talent at WR and LB could possibly hurt this team. James Jones and Plaxico Burress need to step up to help this team. Jason Witten should remain a stud. The DBs may all be cornerbacks, but having Charles Tillman, Richard Marshall and DeAngelo Hall will help offset the lack of talent at LB. Clay Matthews and Tamba Hali really need big years to help this D out. Prediction: 4-9
Summary: This division went from being one of the deepest last year to being a little thin this year in my opinion. I only see one team coming out of this division into the playoffs. Currently everyone is chasing the Bills in my opinion.
1. Browns - Wow what a difference a year makes. Dave went from a 5-8 owner last year to maybe assembling the best team in the NEXFL this year! Colt McCoy, Maurice Jones-Drew, DeSean Jackson, Steve Smith (Car), Braylon Edwards and Fred Davis make for a damn scary offense. The defense has some great LBs for a 32-team league in Nick Barnett, Stewart Bradley and Rocky McIntosh. Even the DBs have potential with Glover Quinn and William Moore leading the way. The only real weakness on this team is along the D-Line. There is not much there. Not a bad spot to be weak. I am not looking to facing them in week 8. Prediction: 10-3
2. Ravens - Yergs is in the running every single year and this is why. He just builds a ridiculously balanced team. Shonne Greene, Andre Johnson, Julio Jones and Brandon Pettigrew will make for a great base for the offense. His defense could be scary. Carlos Dunlap and Justin Tuck make for a great pairing at DL and they are filled in the starting lineup with Geno Hayes, Clint Session and Brandon Spikes. As long as the LBs can stay healthy (no small task with Spikes and Session already missing time), then this team will be in playoff contention. Prediction: 8-5
3. Bengals - Mike may be a new owner here, but his team turned out pretty well for his first NEXFL draft. Kevin Kolb will form a lethal one-two punch with Ray Rice on offense. If Dallas Clark stays healthy, he could be the best offensive player on the team. The WRs will decide how good this team can be. Nate Burleson, Michael Jenkins and Andre Roberts will all be NFL starters, but may not offer much punch in the box score. If they step up on offense, there is definitely enough on defense (Gary Brackett, Donald Butler, Cliff Avril, Patrick Peterson, and Antrel Rolle) to help buoy this team to the edge of playoff contention. Might be a bit tough in this division, however. Prediction: 6-7
4. Steelers - George is a seasoned vet of this league. I seemingly never like his teams and half the time I am right and half the time I am dead wrong. This year I am not high again. I love Matt Schaub and Matt Forte leading the offense and I like Todd Heap with how much Kevin Kolb has historically used the TE. The WRs are suspect though. If Steve Smith (Phi) and Eddie Royal can become decent fantasy contributors, then this team will prove me wrong. If they don’t the offense could be hurting a bit. Paul Posluszny and DeMeco Ryans will help carry the defense along with Dawan Landry. However, a lack of a third starting LB could hurt the overall production. Prediction: 3-10
Summary: This division might be close and is very good at the top. I do not like the fact that my AFC South division crosses over with this division this season. I definitely see two playoff teams coming out of this division. The Browns are the team to beat here and maybe in the AFC and entire NEXFL.
1. Colts - Just as I said last year, some people do not rate their own teams. I say that is a cop-out! I have no problem addressing the likes and dislikes of my own team. I love my starting WRs, TEs and LBs. Last year I was 10-0 with Matt Hasselbeck as my QB. This was with him having less explosive options, less of an O-Line and less of a running game in Seattle then he will have in Tennessee this year. I think he could finish around the 20th rated QB and that should be just enough to help out. RB is a problem spot yet again. I lost my best one (Ryan Williams) for the year and will now have to rely on Reggie Bush yet again. Not good in a non-ppr RB league. Greg Jennings, Kenny Britt, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook and Rob Gronkowski should help cover me though. I may have picked the wrong NE tight end, but if so that is my biggest regret on offense. My DL was terrible last year so I tried to fix that this year. I love having Julius Peppers and Matt Roth to start the year while Derrick Morgan gets healthy. The DBs are not stellar, but they do consist of a few high tackle CBs. I clearly need Tanard Jackson to get reinstated or I am in trouble here. The LBs lack depth but are big at the top. Despite losing Travis Goethel to a season ending injury already (yes, another), I still have David Hawthorne, Daryl Washington and NaVorro Bowman. That is likely three-100 tackle LBs and two with the chance to be 120 tackle guys. I like my team but have a brutal schedule and will not touch last year’s 10-3 record. Prediction: 9-4
2. Jaguars - I am getting sick of the Jags putting together good drafts. They are clearly putting pressure on this division. I cringe at facing this offense. Matthew Stafford, Michael Bush/Daniel Thomas, Miles Austin, Danny Amendola, Jermichael Finley…are you kidding? Even the extras like Harry Douglas are serviceable. The only hope is that the LBs do not perform. Having four starting NFL LBs is a luxury in this league and the Jags have them. None are exceptional, but Sean Lee, Chris Gocong, Michael Boley and Moise Fokou are good enough to keep the D afloat. Their O is probably better than the Colts, but the D might be a tiny bit behind. Close call. Prediction: 8-5
3. Titans - This team has the potential to steal the division away from the Colts of the Jaguars. Brandon Marshall and Percy Harvin are a hell of a one-two punch in a WR ppr league. If Aaron Hernandez keeps up this tear he is on, this offense is going to kill. LeGarrette Blount will be a great non-ppr RB too. The Jacksonville QB is a bit scary. They will be a good point producer while David Garrard is in there. Once Blaine Gabbart gets in, however, the QB spot could become an issue for them. You may not get much better than Patrick Willis and Brian Cushing as a 1-2 punch. Ndamukong Suh is going to be huge too. The D does not have much beyond them, however. They could surprise, but seem a tiny bit behind the other two teams in their division above them. Prediction: 6-7
4. Texans - This team might lack some punch on offense but will be held up by a strong defense. The D is led by the aging but exceptional duo of Ray Lewis and London fletcher. If they both continue to defy father time, this LB group will be brutal to face. Quinten Mikell, Earl Thomas and Major Wright will be great DBs too. While Drew Brees and Peyton Hillis are scary, the receiving options are a bit limited. Jacoby Ford, Mohammed Massaquoi, and Denarius Moore need to step up for them to compete weekly. Brent Celek will help too. I see this team being great if their WRs pan out. If not they will not be. I don’t have much faith in the WRs so I have them lower. They could surprise if I am wrong. Prediction: 4-9
Summary: I see this division as being considerably stronger than it was last year. The Colts and Jags will likely fight at the top if they remain healthy all year. This division could easily produce two playoff teams and do not be surprised if the Titans surprise the Colts or Jags and steal the division.
1. Broncos - Many people might be sleeping on Kevin after last year. I will not. Kevin has been the historical competitor I compare myself to every year since I have been in this league starting in 2006. Kevin won the AFC West from 2006-2009 every year. He averaged 9 wins a year in those years and almost 166 points per game. Last year he finished with the worst record in the league somehow. Well guess what folks, he’s back! Mark Sanchez will not set the world on fire, but he will be a solid and stable NEXFL QB. Joseph Addai, Larry Fitzgerald, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore will fill out a very nice NEXFL offense. The D is even crazier. Curtis Lofton, DJ Williams, Chris Harris, Bernard Pollard, Aaron Kampman and Matt Shaughnessy give this team exceptional balance. The key for them is the early season injury to DJ Williams. If his loss costs them some key division games then there will be room to make up. Prediction: 9-4
2. Chargers - Tim has quickly become a force to be reckoned with in this league. This is his third division in as many years, but he keeps putting together exceptional teams. Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Lloyd are a great set of NEXFL WRs. Kyle Orton and Jahvid Best round out the offensive talent. I am a bit concerned with this team relying so much on Denver’s passing offense under John Fox. Orton, Lloyd and Julius Thomas are three starters that could struggle in Denver’s passing offense sputters or is underutilized. Defensively they are scary. Desmond Bishop, Mason Foster and Joe Mays form maybe the best starting LB group in NEXFL. How long Mays hangs on to the starting job is key. There is not much at DL, but the DBs are loaded with undervalued talent in Melvin Bullitt, Chris Hope and Jim Leonhard. I can see them fighting with the Broncos all year long trying to win this division. Prediction: 9-4
3. Raiders - Another year and another good Raiders team. Matt Ryan is in for a huge year and the duo of Ryan Grant and Beanie Wells will give two great RBs and a nice potential trade chip as well. The WRs and TEs are a bit lacking but have a little pop. Can Jerome Simpson and Mike Williams perform despite Andy Dalton and Tarvaris Jackson QBing their teams? If not the Raiders will struggle a bit. Rolando McClain, Tyvon Branch and Eric Berry will be great for the defense. The rest is filled with NFL starters that will be good role players but not likely to be NEXFL stars. Slow and steady wins the race, but this is a tough division. Prediction: 6-7
4. Chiefs - Boy do the NEXFL Chiefs have a lot of NFL Chiefs! If the NFL Chiefs are as good as last year then great! If not then it is not so great. I expect the NFL Chiefs to slip and thus I am a bit low on the NEXFL Chiefs. Matt Cassel could be in for a rude awakening with Charlie Weis and that NE passing offense. He was great in NE under it and great with Charlie Weis running the show. Weis is gone now though. Jamaal Charles will be a beast, but the receiving options need to get healthy to have a chance. Chris Cooley is hurt. Emmanuel Sanders has been hurt. Antonio Gates is ridiculously good when he plays, but he needs to remain healthy. Steve Breaston has been hurt. There is a lot of uncertainty with the receiving options here. If any falter then the Chiefs are hurt. If they all stay healthy and come through then my prediction is way too low. Terrell Suggs and John Abraham are an awesome starting DL pair and Michael Griffin is a great DB starter. Depth beyond them is limited. James Harrison and Ernie Sims have been hurt this preseason and if Sims doesn’t start to begin the year, then this team has Harrison and Anthony Spencer and a bunch of reserve NFL LBs. It could get ugly if that happens. Prediction: 3-10
Summary: I see two likely playoff teams her and the Raiders might make a little noise and prove me wrong and make it a 3-way race. The Chiefs have a ton of potential, but they need to get healthy and stay that way to have a chance in such a tough division.
1. Redskins - Chris is one of the league’s wily veterans and he has built another nice squad this year. This team has few weaknesses. It is solid at QB with Jay Cutler and is built heavily around some solid WRs and LBs. Reggie Wayne and Santonio Holmes will carry this offense and if Ryan Mathews steps up the offense could be deadly. When the team gets completely healthy and has Thomas Davis, Lance Briggs and Keith Rivers, look out. I would predict an even better record except this division will beat up on each other a good amount. Prediction: 8-5
2. Cowboys - I am happy to see Andrew gone from the AFC South and he will continue to compete annually in the NFC East now. Andrew’s team is built around stable commodities like Eli Manning and DeAngelo Williams and while his WRs are a bit thin, he has Calvin Johnson and two great TEs to start in Kellen Winslow and Vernon Davis. His LB depth is exceptional too with DeAndre Levy, Jonathan Goff and Kavell Conner to start the year. By the time Conner could get passed by Ernie Sims, he might have Nate Irving starting. Plus he has Mathias Kiwanuka for insurance. He will be fighting for the division title all year. Prediction: 8-5
3. Eagles - Jack’s team here might be just as good as or better than the two I have ranked above him. He has great talent to win on offense with LeSean McCoy, Mike Wallace, Mike Williams and Kevin Boss, but his defense is where he makes up ground. He has two great D-Linemen in Charles Johnson and Jason Babin and early in the year he will have four starting LBs in Karlos Dansby, Casey Matthews, Thomas Howard and Wesley Woodyard. He has a few weeks to sort things out before DJ Williams and Keith Rivers return. Their imminent returns and his bad QB situation are the only reason I list the Eagles behind the Skins and Cowboys here. Prediction: 7-6
4. Giants - Doug is another owner that always seems to prove me wrong. I normally expect his teams to struggle only to find them near the tops of the leader board in the NFC in points scored every year. Hopefully he proves me wrong again this year. Doug has a lot riding on the Giants as always and he needs Travis Beckum to step up for him. I love Hakeem Nicks and I like AJ Green’s talent, but if Green struggles due to poor WB play then the receivers here could be hurting. The LBs are also pretty rough with only Cameron Wake and Andra Davis to write home about. Doug does make up for it with arguably the best DBs in NEXFL with Yeremiah Bell, Roman Harper and Louis Delmas. I could see him being great if AJ Green and Ryan Fitzpatrick play out. I am not 100% sold on that, however. Prediction: 5-8
Summary: I see two likely playoff teams here. These teams are going to beat up on each other all year. The division is really strong top-to-bottom. The division is seemingly always tough and this year will be no different.
1. Lions - I had to pick next to Chris last year and it was no picnic. He has a knack for putting together some great teams. I see him being the class of the NFC North this year again. Sidney Rice’s bust potential scares me a bit, but there is enough talent on offense to make up for that with Jason Campbell, Tim Hightower, Vincent Jackson, and Early Doucet there to help. The TE situation is not pretty, lacking a starter on the roster. Luckily the defense is there to save the day. Barrett Ruud, Rey Maualuga and Pat Angerer will team with Jason Pierre-Paul to lead the D. They have a look of a division winner and high ranking playoff team. Prediction: 8-5
2. Vikings - The Vikings are another NEXFL team that often has a lot of their home team’s players. This year is no exception. The difference is the value this year. Chad Ochocinco, Anquan Boldin and Bernard Berrian will help the offense. As long as Donovan McNabb stays healthy, the offense will be ok. If he falters and Christian Ponder enters then this team is hurting as Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe’s values would falter as well. The DBs and DLs on this team are nothing special, but the LBs are very nice, with David Harris, James Farrior and surprise preseason star Erin Henderson leading the way. If Kirk Morrison ends up starting in Buffalo at any point then this gets even better. All in all not a bad squad. Prediction: 7-6
3. Packers - I want to pick this team to basically win the division. They have a lot going for them. Aaron Rodgers is a stud and will carry them. Fred Jackson provides sneaky value at RB and Mario Manningham is set up to star this year. The problem I have is the lack of other weapons in the receiving game and the lack of oomph at LB. If Derrick Johnson and DeMarcus Ware can hold down the fort, then the Safeties with TJ Ward, Kerry Rhodes and Nick Collins can hopefully make up some ground. If there was a little bit more in the WR/TE department I could see them as a playoff team with a shot at the division. Prediction: 5-8
4. Bears - This is another team that is not barren and I hate predicting to finish this poorly. A team with Tom Brady, Cedric Benson, Mark Ingram, Brian Urlacher and Takeo Spikes is too good of a base to struggle mightily. However, there are just way too many question marks at WR and TE to stomach. When your top WRs and TEs are players that might not even start for their NFL teams (Roy Williams, Derrick Mason, Ben Obamanu, Tony Scheffler) then you know it could be a long year. Prediction: 5-8
Summary: This was a tough division for me to gauge. I don’t see the Packers or Bears being all that bad. They could flip-flop with the Vikings and all could be solid and competing to the bitter end just like last year. I just see the Lions above them for sure, that’s all. I only see one team making it out of this division into the playoffs this year. Maybe they will prove me wrong like they did last year.
1. Buccaneers - I really like what Ty has done with his team. He is stocked strongly at QB (Philip Rivers), RB (Knowshon Moreno and CJ Spiller) and at WR (Marques Colston, Malcolm Floyd). He has Tony Gonzalez at TE but no depth behind him. He also needs one of his 3 other WRs to step up and form a decent WR3. On defense I love Elvis Dumervil and he has EJ Henderson and Von Miller to help out as well. If the Denver D struggles to pressure the QB then his team will struggle on D. They have looked good so far, so it is so-far-so-good. Prediction: 8-5
2. Panthers - Something tells me I am significantly under-rating the returning Champs. Ben Roethlisberger and Arian Foster are beats and will carry the offense. My concern is the receiving options again. This team needs both TEs to excel. Owen Daniels and Zach Miller need to be great for them to have a great offense. I don’t see much at WR to help carry the load. The defense here is what has me all types of uncertain. The DBs are top notch. George Wilson, Eric Weddle and Brent Grimes are awesome. The DL has Justin Smith and not much else. The tough part are the LBs. I do not believe in James Anderson as much as others do. The numbers speak for themselves, but I just don’t believe it. If Jamar Chaney goes back to the middle, this team could shoot up the division. If not, they have some work to do. Prediction: 6-7
3. Falcons - Welcome back Tim! Tim won the title in 2009 and then was out of the league last year. Here he is back again. I am not so sure I love the team, though. The Redskins QB will likely provide some ups and downs. Chris Johnson will be really good, and Marshawn Lynch provides some nice depth. However, if Steve Johnson struggles this team is in trouble. Johnson and Mike Sims-Walker are being relied on to carry a weak group of WRs and TEs. Defensively the DBs are great but the LBs and DL have potential and very little proven talent. I just can’t see a return to the playoffs unless everything goes right. In NEXFL it rarely does. Prediction: 5-8
4. Saints - To put it simply, I love the defense on Mike’s team and I hate the offense. The offense does not have much beyond Adrian Peterson. Cam Newton will struggle early on, none of the WRs are starters for their NFL team, and some are not even the third option for their teams. There are two very good TEs in Jimmy Graham and Dustin Keller, but both those teams have many NFL receiving options and they will be up and down week to week. It is hard to count out a team with guys like Osi Umenyiora, Chad Greenway, Stephen Tulloch, LaRon Landry and Adrian Wilson on it. I feel the need to though. With Umenyiora, Wilson and Landry dinged up, this team strength could be derailed really quickly. Prediction: 4-9
Summary: This was exceptionally hard for me. For some reason, I just simply do not like the teams in this division this year and the way they are built. I am also not an idiot and know that this division has represented the NFC in the championship three years in a row and has won the last two NEXFL Championships. These guys know what they are doing. They are likely to prove me very, very wrong. But as of now I can’t see more than one team coming out of here and I really don’t see much certainty beyond the Bucs.
1. Rams - Dave jumped over to the NFC this year and then went on to build a great team. Sam Bradford was a nice snag when the QBs began flying off the board and Felix Jones should be good this year. He even grabbed DeMarco Murray as a handcuff, which could be big if he beats out Tashard Choice. The receiving options on this team and the LBs are great. Not only that, but they are deep. Jeremy Maclin, Lee Evans, Donald Driver, and Danario Alexander could all be starters for their NFL teams. Even Demaryius Thomas has late season upside. Ben Watson is a solid contributor and the LBs are built around James Laurinaitis, Sean Weatherspoon and Aldon Smith. Smith has looked good in his transition this preseason and the Rams can even ride Dan Conner early in the year if Jon Beason misses time. This team is primed for a run. Prediction: 9-4
2. Cardinals - For a newcomer to NEXFL, James has built a nice team. It would be even nicer if he had not lost his 23rd rounder due to his not being up to date yet on his league payment. As soon as he rectifies that and adds some depth he will be even more of a force to be reckoned with. What’s not to like about a team built around Josh Freeman, Darren McFadden, Roddy White, and solid defenders like Will Witherspoon and Bradie James. This team has the makings of one that can make some noise. Prediction: 8-5
3. 49ers - Todd’s team perplexes me. I can see them being 8-5 or 5-8. The core is solid. Jerod Mayo and Lawrence Timmons will be a nightmare to face. The question is on offense. Can Jordan Shipley be decent with Andy Dalton? Can Johnny Knox nab his starting spot back? Can Marcedes Lewis repeat last year? Can Steven Jackson stay healthy? Can the Miami QB produce? Too many questions for me to go high. But this team could easily reverse my predicted record. Prediction: 5-8
4. Seahawks - James is probably going to hate me for this. If I am not mistaken, I predicted him to be 6-7 last year and he was. Hopefully I am wrong this year. Tony Romo, Frank Gore, Santana Moss and Davone Bess will lead the offense. The season-ending injury to Tony Moeaki hurts a lot. There is not much depth on the Seahawks behind him and not much on the waiver wire. The DBs here are great but the LBs are not much to write about beyond Bart Scott….which isn’t saying much. I hope I am wrong but I see a finish similar to last year. Prediction: 5-8
Summary: This division went from last year’s joke to a strong one this year. I can easily see two teams coming into the playoffs out of here. The Rams look like they may even be the class of the NFC at this early juncture. All in all it could get wild in the NEXFL NFC West this year.