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Fantasy NFL Mini-Camp

Get in the weight room, squirt&ldots;it's YOUR MVP's Fantasy NFL Mini-Camp! Just like real NFL mini-camps that have been taking place over the past few weeks - learning new schemes and getting new play books - fantasy leaguers need to have a mini-camp to get ready for some of the changes since last season. 

YOUR MVP's Fantasy NFL Mini-Camp Syllabus
2001 Schedule  & Realignment Review
Major Free Agent Moves
- Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents
- AFC Free Agent Signings List
- NFC Free Agent Signings List
2001 Franchise and Transition Player Designations

2001 Schedule  & Realignment

The 2001 regular season NFL schedule begins Week #1 on Sunday, Sept. 9th and ends Week #17 on Sunday, Dec. 30th.  While there are no big surprises in the schedule or any huge unnerving quirks, there are a few points to cover.  There will not be a Monday Nighter in Week #17 so that the season doesn't end on New Year's Eve. Also, we must endure a Bye week for 1 team-minimum per week, with three teams scheduled for Byes in each of Weeks 3 through 9. Thankfully this will be alleviated with next year's addition of the Houston Texans.

Which brings me to the realignment to 8 4-team divisions. First, it is important to note that realignment will not take effect until the 2002 season when the 32nd team (Houston) begins play.   Second, while I hate the thought of realignment breaking up long-running rivalries, the logistics of scheduling forced this move. It would be kooky to have two 15 team leagues or unbalanced leagues (i.e. a 14-team league and a 16-team league).




Dallas, NY Giants, Philadelphia, Washington

Buffalo, Miami, 
New England, NY Jets


Atlanta, Carolina, 
New Orleans, Tampa Bay

Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee


Chicago, Detroit, 
Green Bay, Minnesota

Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh


Arizona, St. Louis, 
San Francisco, Seattle

Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego

Moreover, I personally like the current prior year performance-based scheduling format (which has not been officially decided yet).  For example, based on the 2000 performance, league doormats like the Browns' 2001 schedule will only include two 2000-playoff teams, divisional foes Tennessee and Baltimore. Additionally, the Brownies also get a chance to win a few games considering that they play fellow AFC doormats New England, San Diego and Seattle.  This scheduling format really contributes to the overall league parity. It is also responsible for at least part of Baltimore's easy walk to the 2000 crown in which they only faced 1 eventual non-divisional playoff team.   However, it will not be so easy this year as they face 4 non-divisional 2000 playoff teams.

As far as the actual movement, Seattle was the only team that was forced to change leagues.  Most of the geographically illogical situations, like Indianapolis in the AFC East, have been corrected. However, Dallas remained in the NFC East and Kansas City was not shifted into the AFC West. This could have been addressed but it would have taken a major realignment and great deal of seemingly unnecessary league flip-flopping.

Many of the so-called natural rivalries were maintained such as the B&O railroad division with Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati or the old black-and-blue NFC Central with Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota. Still, the new AFC South teams (Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee) have little or nothing in common.  All in all, realignment seems to have been achieved in the least painful format out of all of the possible scenarios.


Major Free Agent Moves

Before getting into the Free Agent moves, there are a few terms that you will hear/read that you should understand. The important concepts are the difference between restricted and unrestricted free agents as well as what are Franchise and Transition Player Designations. Again, you will hear/read those terms bandied about when studying free agents, so you should understand them. However, it is NOT critical info - i.e. if you are a casual fan, skip it.

For a restricted free agent, basically, the old club simply has a right of first refusal AND may or may not be entitled to any compensatory draft picks. They are younger players with three accrued seasons and their contract has expired. An unrestricted free agent means that there are no rights of any type held by the old club. They are veteran players that have completed four or more accrued seasons with an expired contract. An accrued season is defined as six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved-injured or physically unable to perform (PUP) lists.

Here's are the AFC/NFC lists of the MAJOR free agent signings only for players that changed teams.

AFC Free Agent Signings
(Pos-Name-Old Team-New Team)
QB-Steve Beuerlein-Carolina-Denver
RB-Charlie Garner-San Francisco-Oakland
QB-Elvis Grbac-Kansas City-Baltimore
RB-Priest Holmes-Baltimore-Kanas City
QB-Damon Huard-Miami-New England
WR-Eddie Kennison-Chicago-Denver
WR-Keith Poole-New Orleans-Denver
WR-Jerry Rice-San Francisco-Oakland
K-Wade Richey-San Francisco-San Diego
OT-Leon Searcy-Jacksonville-Baltimore
WR-Torrance Small-Philadelphia-New England
RB-Antowain Smith-Buffalo-New England

NFC Free Agent Signings
(Pos-Name-Old Team-New Team)
QB-Tony Banks-Baltimore-Dallas
QB-Jim Harbaugh-San Diego-Detroit
RB-Richard Huntley-Carolina-Pittsburgh
WR-Jake Reed-New Orleans-Minnesota
DE-Joel Smeenge-Jacksonville-Chicago
DT-Dana Stubblefield-Washington-San Francisco
QB-Billy Joe Tolliver-New Orleans-Chicago

2001 Franchise and Transition Player Designations

Since there is no significant number of players or high impact players (the exception is RB Cory Dillon) tapped with either designation, you can skip learning all the twists of these contract technicalities.  Basically, their old team has first right of refusal on these players and WHOEVER signs them will pay them a boatload of money.  For example, the club must offer a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of 2000 at the player's position, or a 20 percent salary increase, whichever is greater.   In any case, you can go to
to find out all about the various specifics if you feel so inclined.

Franchise player (Team)
Aeneas Williams (Arizona)
Marcus Pollard (Indianapolis)
Jason Taylor (Miami)
Kevin Carter (St. Louis)

Transition Player (Team)
Bryan Robinson (Chicago)
Corey Dillon (Cincinnati) - signed 5 yr deal w/ Cincinnati

This concludes YOUR MVP's Fantasy NFL Mini-Camp.  Don't forget to continue to watch for more significant player moves.  If you have the Deuce (ESPN2), watch "NFL 2NIGHT" for a concise wrap-up of recent moves.  Sure, it's the off season, but you still need to stay in fantasy shape!

Locker Room is written by Michael Skordeles

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