WASHINGTON (AP) -- The world's best fantasy football league, the SUFFL (that's Syracuse University Fantasy Football League for you uninitated out there) enters its sixth season this weekend with unprecendented enthusiasm.

Said Commissioner Matt Rumbaugh, "We're always working to increase our fan base and this off-season was no exception. So far, our best strategy has been marriage. In fact, we continued that very strongly this year with the addition of Kristy Rumbaugh. This year, we're emphasizing pregnancies a lot more. It's risky, but we like it because while you only get married once, there's no limit to many kids you can have. Why, in no time, we'll have a ready made market for SUFFL T-shirts!"

Despite some major off-season activity, the questions always seem to come down to just a few: Can the defending champs, in this case the McNastys, repeat? They won't have a supplemental draft this year to stack picks. Can Justin and Kevin do it for one more year?

What about John/Raj? They're always in the mix. Can their solid QB play offset their question marks at RB?

And most importantly, Brian Maderia has taken a one year hiatus. The big question on everyone's mind is, will anyone notice?

Let's go team by team and examine this year's squads.

The McNasty' named because all three of their QB's are of Irish heritage, this year's defending champs look strong to hold onto the plaque. They used their number two pick overall to secure stud RB Marshall Faulk. A star running back on a Super Bowl contender is usually a good bet to be a factor in January. But this year, there won't be any supplemental draft with which to stack picks. Can the champs repeat without this crucial piece of strategy?

Naptime...These past champs (Scotty O's participation unincluded) wisely used the first overall pick to take Edgerin James, likely securing their place near the top of the league standings for the next two years. But with a new baby on the way and buying a new house, does Andy have what it takes ride the SUFFL train to glory? He hopes Steve Beurlein is a good conductor.

Jokers Wild...SUFFL co-founder Ric Haupt makes his triumphant return to the league partnering with Dan Card. Dan started strong last season, but faded down the stretch. Can Ric's wisdom and experience make the difference this year? Will the changes of scenery lead to fresh results for these two? Picking up Kurt Warner in the first is a great way to start.

Lisa Holbrook...Gar and Anthony made a dynamic run toward the end of last season, but couldn't catch up with the Justin/Kevin blitzkrieg. After winning the first year, Gar's been shut out since, but he seems to always be in the mix. There's no doubt this squad will make some noise again, but how? Some creative draft day trading brought them Eddie George. Look for some similar action throughout the season. One thing's for sure, these guys won't go down silently.

John/Raj...No question that the SUFFL's historically strongest franchise will be in contention this year and next, what with young gun Peyton Manning in the fold. John's name is on the plaque twice and he'd love to get it on there a third time. But to do that, these guys are going to have to upgrade at RB. Says here they will and make a very strong showing this year, off-setting their pathetic lack of a nickname.

Barry Switzer's Pistol...Despite finishing last three out of the last five years, there are high hopes in Mt. Joy, PA this year. Picking up B. Johnson and Terrell Davis bodes well for Dave's team. Thomas Jones should be one the league's best rookies. League experts also commend the avoidance of players with season-ending injuries such as Rob Moore and Darnay Scott.

Ha Ha Raja...While his record notes a strong history of mediocrity, owner Jim Goodwin scores points for his blend of humor and enthusiasm. This year, he fields probably the strongest group of WRs with Moss, Harrison and Galloway. Will that be enough to win? One of those guys is probably going to end up somewhere else for a QB or RB. Keep an eye on this team.

Uphill/Downhill...Darryl and Chris have combined forces this year under the theory that two half-efforts make a whole! Here's hoping this new strategy works well for these guys. They were bold taking Fred Taylor and Brett Favre. If those guys can shake off injury, look for big things from this New England duo.

Daniel Snyder's Belt Buckle...Like his team's namesake, Matt went for the gusto in this year's draft. Starting Duante Culpepper at QB could be a disaster, but that's a risk the commissioner is willing to take. The league's co-founder has never won the Haupt trophy and is the sentimental choice of some, but for that to happen, some risks have to pay off. But like Matt often likes to say, "You've got to go out on a limb...that's where the fruit is!"

Complete coverage of this year's action on

-MR, 9/1/00