Team: East Flanders Dungeoneers – Pete Conaghan
2014 Record: 5-8, 3rd pick based on head to head.
Draft – Amari Cooper (WR), Kevin White (WR), Devin Smith, (WR)
Free Agency – Justin Forsett (RB), Coby Fleener (TE)
Trade – Cam Newton (QB), Ryan Tannehill (QB), Carlos Hyde (RB), Michael Floyd (WR), Terrance Williams (WR), Vernon Davis (TE), Stevie Johnson (WR)
Free Agency – Brandon Oliver (RB)
Trade –Eddie Lacy (RB), Drew Brees (QB), Andre Johnson (WR), Connor Barwin (LB), Vontae Davis (CB), Frank Gore (RB), Charles Clay (TE), Jason Witten (TE)
We’ll go through the motions with what happened last year but it almost has no bearing on 2015 given the wholesale changes that have occurred throughout this team. Very little remains in place for 2014 and given the miserable performance that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But let’s go back and look at that miserable performance first.
An Apollonean Win Expectation (AWE)* of 4.18 against 5 actual wins shows that the Dungeoneers overperformed while the schedule analysis showed they had a 41% chance of reach 5 wins. They scored the fewest points, had the second lowest potential points and the league worst selection efficiency, 3.9% worse than the Hard in 9th place. There was not much to smile about.
The team had money to spend but free agency was not packed with options. Instead, the Dungeoneers have shifted money forward for the traded contracts to ensure cap space in future years when more players should be available, and in the meantime have moved to revamp the roster as much as possible.
The move for the second pick in the draft from DoS meant losing Eddie Lacy, the undisputed star player on the team. The Dungeoneers had better hope that Amari Cooper develops into a suitable replacement because Kevin White, taken at 3, is already out for 2015 and the lack of opportunity to develop this year may severely limit his impact in 2016 and beyond.
Lacy aside, the running back corps are stronger than last year. Forsett is a strong grab, if only a short term option. Trading midseason to a team in contention for more picks or youth might be a sensible way to capitalise on him. Carlos Hyde is a better long term option, though the risk of the 49ers consistently playing from behind means he may not get the carries that would have been hoped for back before everyone good at 49ers decided they’d either rather do anything but play for Jim Tomsula or consoled themselves in vast quantities of alcohol.
At wide receiver Allen and Floyd could both put up good numbers, as could the aging Marshall, but there’s a strong young core here who, while they won’t be ready to truly compete in 2015, should offer some glimpses. As well as Cooper and White, there’s Davonte Adams, Kenny Stills and Devin Smith. All could contribute and the Dungeoneers will only need one of them to become a B level star to start smiling. Again, selling Marshall mid-season to a contender, if he’s doing well in New York, would seem to be the most sensible option to capitalise on him, because whatever he can do now will not help East Flanders into the playoffs and when they’re ready to make that leap, he will be on the verge of retiring.
The incoming Tannehill and Newton are two good signings, though Tannehill was far too expensive. Between them, the Dungeoneers should be able to pick and choose match-ups and put together a good season, though the Kelvin Benjamin injury reduces Newton’s maximum output. The Miami moves suggest that that Tannehill should be airing the ball out a bit more. That could mean more INTs but it also could bump both yards and TDs significantly.
The defence looks solid, if unspectacular, and with good management through the season could well rank in the top half.
2015 is a rebuilding year and some basic blocks are in place. Conaghan will be looking to see signs of development, particularly in his receiving corps, while also hoping to get to grips with selection and moving up to a league average selection efficiency. Success looks like a degree of competence, something which was a little lacking in 2014.
4-9 and first pick. Yes, this would look like a step back from 2014, but given the youth that’s been brought in to develop, this is no bad thing. Securing the first overall pick is a victory in and of itself and if aging players can be sold for further picks, this could lay the groundwork for a decent team in a couple of years time.
*Apollonean Win Expectation is similar to Pythagorean Win Expectation, except it’s kind of a bullshit made up version. The methodology is explained in this article, although I am coining the name Apollonean win expectation in this very piece here.