“You know, some guys would look at this glass and they would say, you know, ‘that glass is half empty.’ Other guys would say, ‘that glass is half full.’ I peg you as a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of guy. Am I right?” — Gus, Groundhog Day
When you take a look at a roster, do you think that it is halfway to a championship? Or is it halfway to the first pick in next year’s draft? It depends on what roster and whom you ask.
In today’s feature, we look at both the optimistic and pessimistic perspective for each team.
Australia Blue Heelers
Glass half-full: The Blue Heelers have a deep, young core of receivers that has the opportunity to be pretty good this year. DeVonta Smith and Amon-Ra St. Brown were WR1s last year. Chris Olave is a solid No. 2, and obviously a great No. 3 option. Drake London could take a big second year step. Jameson Williams could be a game breaker when he finally sets foot on the field. Dallas Goedert is a reliable tight end in an explosive offense. Jonathan Taylor might be back and have a redemptive season. If they improve the quarterback position and get a solid No. 2 running back, this team can make a Super Bowl run.
Glass half-empty: Jameson Williams could just be a bust. He might flash potential as, say, Marquise Brown has, but woefully underperform expectations. ARSB could thrive without Williams but maybe his WR1 season was a mirage. DeVonta Smith could lose targets in an offense loaded with weapons. Maybe the same goes with Goedert. Does Taylor rebound or will he be the victim of a rookie quarterback who runs a lot? Do they land a better quarterback or do they place their trust in Cousins only to have him let them down? This team makes a run at the playoffs and either falls short or goes one-and-done.
Glass half-full: Jalen Hurts continues to dominate in both the run game and pass game and helps carry Bolivia to success this season. Ken Walker allays the fears of ownership by maintaining his grasp on the lead role in the backfield and the Llamas add another solid running back in free agency to complement him. Stefon Diggs has yet another strong season and Diontae Johnson bounces back into form. A change in scenery does Darren Waller well and he gets back into Top 5 consideration. The Llamas win the South Division after just barely losing it in 2022 and they make some noise in the postseason.
Glass half-empty: Hurts, while still good, is figured out by defenses and finishes in the middle of the pack among QB1s. Walker, indeed, splits carries and finishes as a low-end RB2 or high-end RB3. Diggs starts to show regression and we find out Johnson really does need a Roethlisberger or somebody a lot better to throw to him to have any significant impact. Waller’s best days are behind him and he struggles to fill the team’s need at tight end. The Llamas sneak into the playoffs as a low seed but fail to advance.
Glass half-full: Saquon Barkley plays his butt off for a long-term contract and Tony Pollard steps up and fully embraces the workhorse role. The trio of Tyreek Hill, Tee Higgins, and Chris Godwin is lights out each week as they rack up targets and, in Hill’s case, big-time plays down the field. Christian Watson continues to showcase explosive playmaking ability while Elijah Moore rebounds to offer sporadic FLEX production. T.J. Hockenson proves last year was no fluke and the Capybaras roll to another double-digit win season with a championship run.
Glass half-empty: Whoops. Barkley holds out or otherwise plays disgruntled. The seemingly magical Giants run last year dries up as Brian Daboll becomes the latest flash-in-the-pan offensive coordinator who fizzles quickly as a head coach. Pollard either cannot or does not handle the full workload and remains a complementary player — albeit a good one. Tee Higgins doesn’t live up to his contract and remains a highly-paid No. 2. Godwin can’t survive horrendous quarterback play. Ditto for Christian Watson. And Hockenson’s brief glory in the Top 3 ends rather quickly as multiple mouths to feed temper his production. The Capybaras win the West but can’t repeat as champs.
Glass half-full: Lamar Jackson finds the right blend of his elite rushing ability with an increased emphasis on passing. Najee Harris has a rebound season and Christian McCaffrey stays healthy and repeats his performance from last year. D.K. Metcalf remains a focal point of the passing game while Marquise Brown surges with an influx of targets as the primary option. Dalton Schultz becomes a go-to target for a young quarterback and returns good value. The Trojans climb into the playoff picture and give someone a hard time.
Glass half-empty: Jackson confirms himself to be just an athlete trying to play quarterback, and finishes as a highly-paid, mid-to-low QB1. McCaffrey fails to finish the season healthy, or splits work with another back and doesn’t finish as a Top 6 running back. Najee continues to struggle in an offense led by a bad quarterback. Metcalf loses targets in a loaded offense. Brown and JuJu… continue doing Brown and JuJu things to perennially underwhelm their ownerships. And Schultz really misses the Dallas offense. The Trojans fail to make the playoffs, or they sneak in but go one-and-done.
Glass half-full: Ireland has a ready-made team to compete for the title. Joe Burrow continues leading a high-octane offense that scores a lot of points. Dalvin Cook lands with a good offense and churns out high-end production. Rhamondre Stevenson picks up where he left off last year and is a No. 1 running back. The trio of Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin and Keenan Allen puts up top-notch production. Travis Kelce returns and terrorizes opposing defenses. The Shamrocks head right back to the championship game, this time closing it out in victory.
Glass half-empty: Burrow puts up good numbers, but his lack of rushing hurts his output and his expensive contract doesn’t have good ROI. Cook lands a complementary role as part of a committee and doesn’t bring back good value for his contract. Stevenson returns to a committee and fails to match last year’s output. McLaurin continues to fail to crack into that WR1 territory and Allen and Waddle are victims of crowded offenses. Dare we say Kelce finally meets Father Time? The Shamrocks win the North and make the playoffs but can’t get over that final hurdle again.
Glass half-full: The Emperors draft Bijan Robinson and put the weight of the entire offense on him. Breece Hall returns from his injury healthy and picks up where he left off last year, averaging RB1 numbers on a per-game basis. Courtland Sutton rebounds from a disastrous 2022 and puts up Michael Thomas-esque numbers in a Sean Payton offense. Kyle Pitts jumps back into the TE1 picture and helps win some ballgames. Whoever the Emperors sign at quarterback goes on to have a strong season. The Emperors fight for a playoff spot.
Glass half-empty: Nothing changes from last year and the rebuild continues. Bijan is not the stud everyone envisions him to be. Hall doesn’t return right away from his injury. Sutton continues to get lost amongst a crowded receiver room and Pitts continues to flounder in a run-first offense with bad quarterback play. The Emperors earn a Top 4 pick again in the 2024 draft.
Kazakhstan’s Very Nice Team
Glass half-full: Austin Ekeler remains a focal point of the passing game and puts forth another RB1 season. A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel resemble the players they have been in recent seasons and help fuel the offense each week. D.J. Moore finds renewed life with the best quarterback he’s ever played with. Calvin Ridley and Odell Beckham find success returning to football after long absences. The Very Nice Team puts up big numbers and defends its division title while competing hard in the postseason.
Glass half-empty: The team continues to struggle to find a starting quarterback and Derek Carr continues to prove he’s just a backup. Austin Ekeler sees a significant drop in production under a new coordinator. Samuel proves his 2021 season was an anomaly. Brown cedes production to DeVonta Smith. Moore remains a middling WR2 in a run-heavy offense. Ridley and Beckham never regain their old form. The Very Nice Team sneaks into the playoffs but can’t win a game.
Papua New Guinea
Glass half-full: Josh Allen re-signs with the team, picks up where he leaves off each year and puts up monstrous scoring weeks. J.K. Dobbins actually stays healthy for a full season and finally shows what he can do. James Conner, by virtue of a lack of talent around him, succeeds through volume. Miles Sanders is a focal point of his new offense. Davante Adams proves he can succeed with any quarterback. Garrett Wilson takes that big step everyone is expecting and puts up WR1 numbers. Amari Cooper and Brandin Cooks show they still have the stuff. The Pigs win the East Division and make a run in the playoffs.
Glass half-empty: Allen departs via free agency, or gets hurt, leaving the Pigs to start Trevor Lawrence, who does not make the big leap everyone is expecting. Dobbins can’t stay healthy, or can’t shoulder the load, and the team is left with low-end RB2s or RB3s. A drop off in quarterback play causes Adams to suffer a precipitous drop in production. Wilson plays well, but does not enter WR1 territory. Cooper and Cooks start to show their ages. The Pigs make the playoffs, but fail to make much of a run.
Glass half-full: Justin Fields’ passing takes a step toward his rushing and Deshaun Watson finds his old self, as the Gurus are left with a quarterback controversy. Travis Etienne puts it altogether and pushes for RB1 territory. A.J. Dillon nudges out Aaron Jones for primary touches and finally shows what he can do. Rachaad White has a strong sophomore season as the lead back. CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, Michael Pittman and Treylon Burks form a formidable quartet as all four creep into the Top 20. George Kittle finishes in the Top 3-4 at TE and offers a weekly advantage. The Gurus win the South and make a deep playoff run.
Glass half-empty: Fields can’t take the next step as a passer and only shows flashes of big weeks with his legs. Watson just never regains the form he once had. Etienne proves to be only a complementary back and can’t crack the Top 15. Dillon and White are only sporadic role players. Jeudy’s continual disappointment rears its ugly head again. Burks is unable to be the No. 1 in a pro offense. Kittle misses time or loses targets in a crowded offense with suspect quarterback play. The Gurus make the playoffs as a Wild Card but can’t advance far in the postseason.
Saint Kitts & Nevis Shockers
Glass half-full: Aaron Rodgers has a nice rebound season with a fresh start, or the Shockers get in the bidding on a top notch quarterback. They also land a stud running back or two capable starters who have a strong season. Justin Jefferson keeps playing like a Top 3 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins finds the fountain of youth and puts up another great season while Mark Andrews makes a push for the top tight end spot. The Shockers make the playoffs and put up a strong fight in the postseason.
Glass half-empty: Rodgers loses the battle with Father Time and just can’t replicate his recent MVP season. The Shockers mismanage their cap again and can’t find two reliable starters at running back. Jefferson slips a little and his high salary causes problems at other positions for the team. Hopkins has nothing left at his age and with his new team and Andrews can’t pick up the slack by himself. The Shockers miss the postseason and have to regroup next year.
Sint Maarten Savages
Glass half-full: Patrick Mahomes once again dominates and perhaps Trey Lance finally puts it all together. Elijah Mitchell gets a larger share of carries than expected and Dameon Pierce has an excellent sophomore season as the lead back. Khalil Herbert separates himself from his backfield mates and earns the lion’s share of production. Cooper Kupp stays healthy and nears his production from a few seasons ago. Brandon Aiyuk picks up where he left off last year while Cole Kmet continues to be a red zone threat. The Savages make the postseason and even challenge for a victory just as they did last playoffs.
Glass half-empty: The Savages overspend on Mahomes, which takes away money from other positions. Lance proves that he just can’t hack it at this level. None of the current running backs on the roster can step up and play consistently as starters, leaving the job to whichever starter the Savages attempt to sign via free agency. Cooper Kupp fails to get help from other receivers on the roster and can’t do it by himself. Kmet gets lost amongst a myriad of weapons that were added this offseason. The Savages miss the playoffs again and have to regroup next year.
South Africa Ballstrikers
Glass half-full: Russell Wilson rebounds after his down year and with a new head coach. Javonte Williams returns healthy from his knee injury and teams with Nick Chubb to form a formidable duo. Ja’Marr Chase dominates as a Top 3 receiver and Mike Williams stays healthy long enough to help him out. Christian Kirk has another solid season. The Ballstrikers compete for the South crown and make a playoff run.
Glass half-empty: Wilson has truly hit the veteran wall and can’t offer starter value. Williams is slow to return from his knee injury and Chubb can’t lead the running back room by himself. Chase is fine, but the Ballstrikers struggle to find a complementary receiver. The cap space proves to be a crunch on them and they don’t have enough cash to fill out a supporting cast. They struggle to make the playoffs, and even if they do make it in, they can’t sustain a long postseason run.