Team: Dynablaster Bombermen – Benjamin Hendy/Dan Smith
2014 Record: 7-6, 6th pick, missed playoffs based on head to head.
Draft – Melvin Gordon (RB), David Johnson (RB), Chris Conley (WR), Justin Hardy (WR), Trae Waynes (CB), Shane Ray (LB)
Free Agency – Brandon Oliver (RB), Cameron Wake (DE), Joe Flacco (QB)
Trade – Jeremy Hill (RB), Andre Johnson (WR), Vontae Davis (CB), Connor Barwin (LB), Jurrell Casey (DE), Orlando Scandrick (CB)
Free Agency – Frank Gore (RB), Devin McCourty (S)
Trade – Rob Ninkovich (DE), Brandon Graham (LB), Charles Sims (RB), Danny Lansanah (LB), Andre Williams (RB), Carlos Hyde (RB), Michael Floyd (WR), Terrance Williams (WR), Ha-Ha Clinton Dix (S)
Missing out on the playoffs on the last day of the 2014 season was blow, but one the team deserved. This was the second most over-achieving team with an AWE of 6.11, nearly a full game below the actual number of wins achieved through the season. The team had only a 39% chance of winning at least 7 games and so can be considered a little lucky.
In addition, the team was closer to the bottom of the league than the top when it came to total points and potential points while team selection efficiency was pretty much bang on league average at 78.6%. All told, a lot of work was needed in the off-season to revamp this team and kick on in 2015.
The work is only partly done at QB. Matt Ryan is a fine starter and with a new coach and OC in Atlanta and a good supporting cast, he should be absolutely fine, with top 10 numbers being the minimum expectation. Johnny Fucking Football is gone, just when he looked like becoming the best QB in Cleveland. But then none of the GMs of this league are in Cleveland – if they went, the moment they touched down they’d be a strong second at the minimum. RG3 will be given a season to see if anything is salvageable, but otherwise Chatterbowl winner Joe Flacco should provide able backup.
A lot of change at RB, with steal of the century (calling Lacy a steal is a disservice to the art of thievery) Jeremy Hill coming in. The team have three teams’ backfield situations wrapped up in San Diego, Cincinnati and Arizona, and while only Cincinnati would be considered a top 10 group, there’s hope that this could be one of the stronger RB units in the DynaBowl in 2015.
Less turnover at receiver, where less work was needed. Andre Johnson has the best QB situation of his HoF-worthy career and will be looking to make hay while he can while AJ Green will be looking to bounce back from a terrible down-year. Fantasy Football is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world and Green’s value has fallen but Hendy & Smith will be looking for it to be back at the top table come December.
The team has its 2014 rookies returning… well, two out of three. The loss of Kelvin Benjamin is painful but one this roster should be able to withstand. Cooks looks to be the central figure in New Orleans while Jordan Matthews should be a high volume operator in Philadelphia. Anquan Boldin is a useful back-up, while Conley and Hardy represent developing players who are unlikely to contribute much in 2015.
While the loss of Benjamin undoubtedly hurt the WR options, it only offered a boost at TE where Greg Olsen should be the biggest beneficiary. Already a top 5 TE, he could be well placed to become the third man. ASJ, Jordan Cameron Jordan and Miychaele Rivieria all offer decent depth.
Positional changes mean there’s a bit of a lack of balance at DE and DT – too many of the former and too few of the latter could lead to a few problems in selection and if Jordan Hill gets injured there could be real issues on the line, but there’s good depth at all other positions. This was one of the best defences in 2014 and will be looking to keep a seat at the top table in 2015. It’s not going to be number 1 or 2, but has a good chance of being number 3 on that list. The only problem could be how to pick the right players each week.
This roster has been reshaped into one of the stronger options in the league. On paper. Given the underperformance of AJ Green last year, there’s surely no chickens being counted in the Bombermen head office. But even if players perform only at the lower end of expectations, this team should be competing for playoffs. If Hill, Green, and Ryan all fire like the stars they can be and if defensive selection goes well, they could be competing for top honours.
7-6, playoffs on head-to-head, anything more might be asking too much. They don’t have the strength and depth of the very best teams but they stand a chance of hitting the big time. Another season over .500 is the minimum expectation.