Last year’s Supreme Chatterbowl Champion, and cruel snub in the Coach of the Year voting, Pete Conaghan steps forward to rate the 2014 rosters of the Dynabowl hopefuls after the inaugural auction… Without further ado, and in reverse order, we present the pre-season power rankings…
East Flanders Flahutes
Can a team have too many Tight Ends? Not if you are Norv Turner or the Flahutes, who have five current starters in that roster spot. While the Flahutes are strong (but not deep) at QB and RB, with Drew Brees expecting to play until he is 45, and have a solid but unspectacular receiving corps, it will be defense that lets them down, with a mixture of the aged and infirm putting them bottom of the big-play index. It is disturbing that after two weeks of intensive roster building, the Flahutes still only have 44 players.
One to watch: Kyle Rudolph, fresh off a new deal, could star in Minnesota’s new Air-Norvan offense.
Like the car that shares their name, the Firebirds are all muscle up front, but does that mask a worrying fragility? Beast Mode provides the bulk , while Chris Johnson provides the indecision. The WRs are a fragile bunch, while Rivers and Russell Wilson are indestructible at QB. The Tight Ends include Finley, Gates and Gronkowski, but also Garrett Graham who can step in if all the others are injured at once. The Firebirds may not have enough firepower at RB.
Defense leans heavily on grizzled veterans Julius Peppers and Justin Tuck – can they reach the sack heights of previous years? Suh and Atkins provide the interior muscle, while the linebackers will rely strongly on tackle numbers. The team as a whole has a lot of questions to answer.
One to watch: Chris Johnson joins the circus. Look out, it will be entertaining.
The 4th Dynmension: Dynasty of Sadness
If I had to describe the Dynasty of Sadness in one word it would be: middle of the road. An unspectacular collection of established players on offense is backed up by a solid defensive unit. A group of dirt-dogs rather than stars, the Dynasty has put its faith in the gradual accumulation of points rather than Hollywood play, and has married this to the expectation of breakout performances by the likes of Montee Ball and Ladarius Green. Cam ‘Hello Kitty’ Newton stands out on offense, ably backed up by the small-handed Minnesota QB, while Eric Berry and Lavonte David are the stars of the defense. A dark horse.
One to watch: Adam Vinateri provides some much-needed youth on offense. Will he be a star?
Kelkowski Don’t Play By No Dyna Rules
Kelkowski also have the dubious honour of five starting Tight Ends, and have two of the marquee players in Thomas and Jordan. This is counteracted by having two QBs who have faced questions as to their heart, commitment, and accuracy under pressure. While the Firebirds have Rivers and Wilson, Kelkowski have Romo and Kaepernick. While there is only one winner there, their meeting in week 4 should be interesting.
Kelkowski will be hoping for a big year from Arian Foster, but he is ably backed up by DeMarco Murray and Zac Stacy. The WR group looks fragile, though Megatron makes up for many ills.
An aging defensive line looks misleadingly lightweight in terms of points, due to several major injuries last year. While Fairley was a beast, Knighton underperformed last year compared to his on-field value, and the team will be hoping Demarcus Ware has a new lease of life across from Von Miller. If Dansby can maintain his form with Cleveland, and Cushing comes back strong, then this group is well backed up by a strong secondary.
One to watch: Cordarelle Patterson will thrive, if they can get him the ball.
If Tamworth like running backs so much, why don’t they just marry them? A wide mix of player types mean the Hogs can pick and choose their strategy on any given week. More of a concern though, is whether Carson Palmer can stay upright with the level of pass rush he will face this season. Tamworth need another QB to provide depth at that position. Much is expected of an underperforming WR group, though the twin towers of Jeffrey and Jackson will alleviate concern there.
Defense is a strength for Tamworth, with a mixture of sacks and tackles being the order of the day.
One to watch: Eric Ebron should dislodge Ole Stone Hands Brandon Pettigrew in short order in Detroit.
Literally anchored by Mark Ingram at RB, the Bombermen will hope for great things from the SF duo of Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, now that Kendall Hunter is out for the season. Giovanni and Ellington provide the spark for what is a great group of RBs. QBs and WRs are likewise young and exciting, with Johnny Football providing the glamour and a sprinkle of pixie dust.
Cooks, Floyd, Green and Williams lend the WR corps their explosiveness, which will be needed with the defense big on star power, but pretty pedestrian points-wise. The Williamses – the Buffalo Williamses – are the best bet for boosting the big-play index here.
The team is a pleasing blend of youngsters and vets, and should compete for the foreseeable future.
One to watch: Will Cooks make an impact for the Saints straight away?
Champions of the Sun
The Champions have an interesting selection dilemma each week, neatly represented by their split personality QB corps. Should they go for gunslinger Jay Cutler, or mild-mannered accountant Alex Smith? Should they go for plodding Bell and Jones-Drew, or dual threat Spiller and Tate? Will they go with the big-play potential of Maclin and Jackson, or the red-zone chops of ‘fading’ stars Nicks and White? A nicely balanced group makes selection on offense difficult.
Defense is bolstered by the spectacular Robert Quinn, who is targeting 20 sacks this year, and is well backed up by a group of excellent, if mostly injured linebackers. Tackle numbers should be high with this group.
One to watch: Can Khalil Mack be a pass rush threat, or will he have his hands full against a rush-heavy schedule?
Dyna Hard are well stocked at running back, with marquee names Charles and Morris leading the charge, but a dependency on Matthew Stafford could be worrying if he was to get hurt. At least he should have three quality receivers to throw to this year, allaying concerns about his decision making. The jury is still out on backup Sam Bradford, who may only see time on the bye week and in case of emergency.
Antonio Brown is the star among a motley WR crew. Tavon Austin and Julian Edelman need to produce, but Dynahard may be hoping for an immediate impact from Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins.
Greg Hardy’s upcoming hearing with the NFL will be of concern on D, but JJ Watt and Osi U should be able to fill in adequately. Miller, Clowney, Worrilds and Ogletree should be a source of sacks galore, making this front seven a potential difference-maker on any given week.
One to watch: Can you say YAC? Manuel to Watkins is one to watch.
Drafting established stars seems to have been the MO for the Losers, with solid depth all through the team. Win Now is the mantra on Offense: there are a lot of miles on the RB and QB clocks, and that group may need to be totally rebuilt in the coming years. A lot will be expected of Emmanuel Sanders in Denver, and the difficulty again may be selecting the right starters among the WRs.
The opposite seems true of the defense, which has a nice mix of rookies and second- and third-year studs on the defensive line. Tamba Hali and Ryan Kerrigan provide the pass rush to complement Wilkerson and Dunlap.
One to watch: Will Derek Carr be the future of this team? Tune into Oakland games round about week 6 to find out.
Here Come the Brees
Balance. That’s the watchword of Here Come the Brees, who have assembled a team that pleases on most fronts. Youth and experience at QB is backed up by a (potentially) high quality stable of running backs. Likewise the WRs are a mixture of possession guys and big-time burners, with a lot of potential for big plays.
Defense consists of a collection of sack machines, who will ensure competitiveness on the defensive side of the ball. The toughest decision on both offense and defense could be who to play on any given week.
One to watch: Will Ray Rice be a distraction to the team? Can he rediscover his form of two years ago?