Replacement Level is (potentially) a weekly column where reigning Chatterbowl Champion, sitting on the outside of the Dynabowl looking in, chooses a lineup from the Free Agents to compete against the Dynabowl superstars. Can a rag-tag bunch of aged and infirm veterans hold their own against the deep rosters of the league? The answer is a cast-iron No, but maybe we’ll have a bit of fun along the way trying to beat the projections.
I’m very tempted to give Chad Henne the nod over the other QBs here because he doesn’t have to face a serious pass rush from the Eagles. He’s looked comfortable in pre-season, and will be hoping for an unpressured first game. However Geno Smith (vs 32nd-ranked OAK) just beats him out for the starting position, leaving McCown (vs CAR) and Hoyer (vs PIT) looking in.
The Running Back scene resembles an icy tundra with a herd of caribou stampeding off into the distance. Left behind are the sickly and lame – Dexter McCluster (TEN) and Jonathan Dwyer (ARI) are the starters here. McCluster makes it in on gadget potential, while Dwyer should get carries once Ellington is exhausted trampling through the porous SD run defense. Not selected, Mike Tolbert circles the two, hunger in his eyes.
That means four Wide Receivers start. Malcom Floyd (SD) and Miles Austin are the wideouts, with David Nelson (NYJ) in the slot. Andre Caldwell becomes the fourth starter and may benefit from Wes Welker’s suspension.
Two Tight Ends try and make up for the lack of production at running back. Marcedes Lewis (JAX) makes the team as the Jacksonville safety blanket in 2014. Anthony Fasano (KC) is big enough and ugly enough to pick up some receptions in Dwayne Bowe’s absence.
Kicker – Ryan Succoup (TEN). Punter – Mike Scifres (SD).
The Replacements have gone for a 3-4 defense, with Philly DT Bennie Logan getting the nod against Jacksonville in the hope that he will pick up a few tackles on Toby Gerhart. Derek Wolfe (DEN) and Jason Hatcher (WAS) fill in at Defensive End, with the outside chance that their supporting pass rushers will open lanes for them against the Colts and Texans respectively. This is likely a forlorn hope but they will at least be solid against the run.
The Linebacker corps has been built on the expectations of tackles rather than sacks, as the sack masters have been scooped up already. They are Coples (NYJ), Foote (ARI), Brooks Reed (HOU), and Melvin Ingram (SD). Coples makes the group entirely because of last year’s Madden stats (Madden and the real NFL are often confused in the mind of the writer – cf Santonio Holmes), while Foote is present to absorb San Diego’s running game. Reed should be on cleanup detail behind Watt and Clowney, while Ingram was sadly overlooked in the Dynabowl draft after an ACL tear last year. However, he needs to translate hurries into sacks, and it is not clear that he will.
Defensive Backs were chosen based on the quality of offense they are facing this weekend, on the off chance that aggressive play may snag them an interception or two. Carlos Rogers (vs NYJ) and Johnathon Joseph (vs WAS) are the corners, while Michael Griffin (vs KC) and DJ Swearinger (vs WAS) are the safeties and should get tackles against two good running games.
Summary (with projected points)
QB Geno Smith (11.86)
RB Dexter McCluster, Jon Dwyer (7.2)
WR Andre Caldwell, Malcom Floyd, Miles Austin, David Nelson (24.075)
TE Marcedes Lewis, Anthony Fasano (5.3)
PK Ryan Succoup (7.4)
PN Mike Scifres (0)
DT Bennie Logan (1.0)
DE Derek Wolfe, Jason Hatcher (7.5)
LB Quinton Coples, Larry Foote, Melvin Ingram, Brooks Reed (12)
CB Carlos Rogers , Johnathon Joseph (4.55)
S Michael Griffin, DJ Swearinger (8.5)
Total Projected Points: 89.385
Find out how The Replacements would have done early next week, when the results are in…