Team: DynaForOne Firebirds – Neil Hawke
2014 Record: 7-6, 10th pick, Superb Owl Champions
Draft – Diral Green-Beckham (WR), Eric Kendricks (LB), Javoris Allen (RB)
Free Agency – Jonas Gray (RB),
Trade – Rob Ninkovich (DE), Brandon Graham (LB), Frank Gore (RB), Charles Clay (TE), DeAndre Levy (LB), Martellus Bennett (TE), Julian Edleman (WR), Alec Ogletree (LB), Ron Parker (S), Da’Norris Searcy (S)
Retirement – Troy Polamalu (S)
Trade – Jeremy Hill (RB), Ryan Tannehill, QB), TY Hilton (WR)
First of all, congratulations should be given to the Firebirds who were ridicuously dominant in the second half of the fantasy season, culminating in a massive score in the two-week Superb Owl contest. After the first four weeks of the season, DFO was the most consistent team and only scored below 190 points once.
In the regular season, AWE rated DFO has being worth 7.33 wins, just slightly over the 7 wins achieved, the smallest difference in the league. They had a 72% chance of reaching 7 wins, behind only the Losers and Kelkowski. They snuck into the playoffs despite losing on the last day of the regular season due to the Bombermen’s capitulation to Kelkowski, and while the Bombermen top-scored in week 14, no one can deny DFO’s playoff performance in which they ranked 2nd, 1st and 1st in scoring across the 3 weeks.
All that success was built on the offense – the defence only scored more points than the Dungeoneers and the Sadness – and so it was no surprise when Hawke moved to address this in the off-season. The question is did they give up too much in the quest for that extra defensive strength. With crazy people Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers on the roster, losing Ryan Tannehill was a good move – he was probably worth with Frank Gore or the 2.05 pick in the draft, the fact that both were received along with a couple of other pieces is exceptional business.
TY Hilton for, effectively, Alec Ogletree and a small bump up the draft is another matter. Ogletree is a very good option but the lack of consistency in defensive players scoring but it still raised some eyebrows. Now, if the drop from Hilton to Edelman is less than the gap between Ogletree and the replacement level player who would have made the roster then this has been well calculated but it’s a big risk.
Perhaps the most eyebrow raising move was the dispatching of Hill, a player who could make the leap into elite RB status in 2015, for a couple of older defensive pieces. Still the net gain across all the trades is probably fair if not an outright win.
All that said, Lynch, Anderson and Gore are an excellent running back triumvirate, while Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas are possibly the best WR combo in the league. Sanu, Royal and Edelman should all contribute and, at tight end, they have perhaps the best combination of 4 players in the league. Unfortunately they can only play two at once.
On paper the defence certainly looks stronger than last year but as mentioned in prior previews, defensive depth can be a double edged sword with variable scoring not necessarily working well with difficult starting decisions. Equally, they’ve probably just jumped up to league average.
More depth on defence and less on offense. For me, I’ll take the depth at the more reliable positions, but with good management this could reap some big rewards. This is a team that can beat anyone on its day but in a stronger Tim Division they will be hard pushed to repeat. Another winning record is definitely achievable but how much more is in question.
7-6 and missing the playoffs on head-to-head. When teams are level it’s really difficult to know who will go through. My suspicion is that this team isn’t in the top 4 teams of the year, but with the way schedules and scoring go, that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t make the playoffs. I doubt they’ll be as dominant as they were in the second half of the season but will still be a strong competitor nonetheless.