by Jaunty Coving
Welcome to a new season of fantasy football and the first ever edition of Around the Grounds, the weekly recap column highlighting the movers and shakers in the world’s premier fantasy football league, the Dynabowl. Each week this reporter will be taking you through the different matchups of the week looking for big plays, important calls and missed opportunities.
The Drew Brees Memorial Stadium: Flahutes @ Brees
We start off at the Drew Brees Memorial Stadium with its iconic onyx and jade statue on the external concourse, depicting the legend himself in seductive repose. There are times in the pre-season where Brees boss Dan Saycher seemed a little overwhelmed by his new position. That, combined with the sour taste felt by fans at seeing Drew Brees in the colours of the Flahutes, led to an apprehensive air around the stadium pre kick-off. This was nothing compared to the storm of controversy when Flahutes manager Phil Malcolm didn’t even turn up to the match though. His team and backroom staff appeared in panicked disarray when they realised their GM wasn’t in attendance and this reporter merely shook his head in weary resignation to see the glorious game brought low.
In the early game, the Breeses stuttered on offence with Bernard Pierce and Brian Hartline, in particular, looking out of their depth at this level. Respectable showings from Zach Ertz (a star in the making) and Miami Dolphins forgotten man Lamar Miller masked some of the pain. Unfortunately it was a weak late effort from the Breeses too as Doug Martin and Keenan Allen fluffed their lines and Victor Cruz could only watch in bafflement as Eli Manning gave the ball away to the Lions’ defence rather than pass it to him. The lone bright spot on offence, a position this player is used to, was Andrew Luck whose trademark black magic nearly brought the Colts back into a game where they should have been dead and buried.
Things weren’t much better for the Breeses on the defensive side of the ball either where the DEs and LBs looked disinterested, failing to make plays. Rookie DT Aaron Donald had a promising debut with a pair of tackles for loss and Harrison Smith, the week’s top scorer, tried to make up for the unit’s deficiencies with a monumental 80 yard pick 6. From the bench Michael Bennett, Kendall Wright and Christian Kirksey could only watch as their teammates floundered.
The Breeses were there for the taking but with the confusion on the bench, it remained to be seen if the Flahutes could take advantage. In the absence of the GM, team affairs and play calling was handled by Goodwill Childress, Phil Malcolm’s 15-year-old Namibian adopted son. Probably the biggest decision to be made was the call on TE with the Flahutes being particularly stacked at that position. Childress opted for Charles Clay and Jason Witten and the decision looked like that of an adolescent as the two combined for a paltry 4.1 points as the 14.9 points of Kyle Rudolph and Dennis Pitta fumed on the side-line. Seemingly unhappy at playing against his home club, Drew Brees put in a lacklustre showing too and this matchup really started to look like it would come down to who could be the least incompetent. The Flahutes’ defence wasn’t having any of it though and, led by San’Derrick Marks, Chicago’s Willie Young and Flacco-nut-crusher Vontaze Burfict they racked up good points in a ferocious 3-4 formation. In the secondary Jairus Byrd forced a fumble to score some big points too and, fortunately for Childress, the Flahutes claimed the win despite leaving big points on the bench in the form of Raiders’ LB Sio Moore (31.0) and Seahawks’ CB Byron Maxwell (18.35). What the future holds for the GM-less Flahutes is less certain but, for now, they are 1-0 and able to reflect on a win, if a shaky one.
East Flanders Flahutes 165 – 147 Here Comes the Brees
Through the Looking Glass: Two @ Sadness
Thunderheads glowered over the dilapidated shell of the Looking Glass as the 4th Dynmension of Sadness fans prepared for another season of disappointment under long-suffering GM Geoffrey Manboob. The history of this franchise is a storied one of failure and heartbreak with any meagre success being only a precursor to a greater downfall. The Tamworth Two, meanwhile, came off a fine pre-season raring to go and their boisterous fans (or Hogs as they call themselves) filled the stadium with their oinking.
The tone of the game was set early on when Sadness quarterback Cam Newton briefly appeared from the locker room door, sniffed the air, shook his head and went back in, curling into a foetal position and refusing to play. Young whippersnapper Jake Locker scampered around the GM’s feet asking to play but the man they call MANGBOOB decided instead to run a strange wildcat formation for the game. Freed of the need to even consider pass-blocking, the Sadness O-line made a decent fist of run-blocking, allowing Montee Ball, Joique Bell and Shane Vereen to amass a good total, combining for 3 TDs and 154 rushing yards. For one of the cheaper RB attacks in the league it bodes well for the season ahead.
Unsurprisingly, however, the pass attack fared less well with none of the Sadness receivers cracking double figure points off trick plays and passes from punter Brandon Fields. On the other side of the ball, the Sadness LBs put up a good show with 37 total tackles but the expensively assembled secondary largely moped around uselessly and DE Calais Campbell walked off the field after one snap, muttering something about leaving the iron on at home. He did not return. The Sadness can look forward to having Linval Joseph back next week at least after he fully recovered from his accidental nightclub shooting in the off-season.
Without wishing to be unkind, Mames Goodsard could have sent out his practice squad and come away with a win against the shambolic Dynmension of Sadness this week. It is a testament to the man’s professionalism that his team played and played hard. Offence was a mixed bag with Adam Rodgers struggling against the Seahawks D, Alshon Jeffery struggling with injury and Michael Crabtree struggling under the weight of his combined ego and sense of entitlement. Vernon Davis had a big game though with 2 TDs and Mike Wallace showed that maybe last season was a blip, coming up with 12.1 points despite his dinghy being moored at Revis Island for the whole game.
A modest Tamworth Two attack was completely shown up by a dominant defensive display. Potential DPOY candidate Gerald McCoy led the charge with 8 tackles and a sack but outgoing DPOY Luke Kuechly wasn’t willing to be outshone, coming away with a sack of his own, a forced fumble and 9 tackles. Overall the Two’s LB corps was the strongest on the day. A strong secondary showing and good scores across the board left the result in no doubt as the Tamworth defence easily put the misfiring Sadness offence to bed. The Tamworth Two look strong for the season to come with a good first team showing backed by the best scoring bench in the league this week. For the Dynmension of Sadness, the season could be a long one unless MANGBOOB can persuade his star players to start playing up to their salaries.
Tamworth Two 187 – 127 4th Dynmension of Sadness
Jurassic Park: Firebirds @ Losers
It was a glorious, sunny day on Isla Nublar as Neil Hawke brought his Firebirds to Jurassic Park to face-up against pantomime villain David Slater’s DynaSore Losers. Hawke’s team had already put up 44 points from Seattle’s whipping of Green Bay on Thursday, setting the Losers onto the back foot immediately. Slater was said to be in confident mood though, trusting in, among others, his elite running-back group to get him through.
Matt Forte duly obliged with 169 yards from scrimmage, although he did miss the end zone. Adrian Peterson and Reggie Bush struggled somewhat, the former putting up decent yards but no scores and the latter suffering from shared time with Joique Bell. With 19.4 point-scoring Knowshon Moreno on the bench Slater may wonder if he made the right call, though it would have been a brave move to put Moreno in for the first week given his uncertain situation in Miami. The fans will surely be clamouring for him next week now though.
The rest of the Losers’ offence put up fairly solid numbers but only Peter Manning really lived up to expectations with a 22.46 point performance. The Losers will surely look for more luck in the end zone from the likes of Jordy Nelson and Jimmy Graham in future weeks.
The Firebirds’ offence, meanwhile, were in buoyant mood, spurred by a huge haul from Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. The rest of the offence duly obliged with Chris Johnson scoring 15.1 points on his Jets debut and Rob Gronkowski finding the end zone. Hawke may wonder what could have been for Julio Jones though as the receiver racked up 116 yards but fumbled at the goal-line once and was stopped on it a second time.
On offence, the two teams were almost perfectly poised, each scoring 98 points and change. Like other key matchups this week, this game would come down to the defences. The serious question marks hung over the Losers as David Slater had seemed to take a somewhat dismissive approach to defence on draft day and, looking across the field to the likes of Geno Atkins and Ndamukong Suh on the Firebirds’ line he may have harboured some doubts about this approach.
He needn’t have worried. Neil Hawke could be seen bouncing up and down the Firebirds’ touchline in frustration as his defence failed to create anything of significant value. Suh and Atkins both misfired and Derick Johnson succumbed to an ACL tear likely to keep him out for the season. Mason Foster pulled 9 tackles out of the bag but with such a poor performance from his line, Hawke needed his secondary to put up big numbers. Unfortunately they could not oblige. Despite putting up solid numbers, a lack of big plays left the Firebirds in a hole with by far the weakest defensive showing of the week.
With their opponents so ineffective, the Losers strolled him with the win, big plays from William Moore and Logan Ryan propping them up and DeAndre Levy nearly outscoring the Firebirds’ D on his own. Levy finished the day with 2 tackles for a loss, 10 total tackles, 1 pass defended and an expertly controlled interception for 21.05 points.
For the Firebirds, better days will be ahead. The talent on defence did not produce in the moment but should be fine over the season and with a slick looking Seattle offence leading the line they can rely on some big numbers. The Losers’ policy of older, big names on offence did not pay off handsomely in Jurassic Park today but, like the Firebirds’ defence, they will over the season and, even on an off day, they put up good numbers. The key for the Losers will be whether their unheralded defence can continue to put up solid, middle-of-the-pack numbers to season’s end to bolster them.
DynaForOne Firebirds 125 – 162 Dynasore Losers
Paddy’s Pub: Bombermen @ Champions
A mish-mash crowd of hobos and vaudevillian stage magicians gathered around the old recreational field behind Paddy’s Pub to watch as The Dayman’s pet project NFL team played host to the Dynablaster Bombermen and their half-Canadian, half-Commissioner GM Danjamin Hendith. Coming into the season, both teams could have been pegged as ones more for the future with their eyes firmly on youth in the draft so there was little expectation of immediate fireworks in this matchup (Editor’s note: no allegation or reference to ongoing criminal proceedings was intended by the previous statement).
The Champions came out of the gate hard on offence as a flurry of activity in the 2nd quarter saw big scores for Roddy White, CJ Spiller and DeAndre Hopkins. Jay Cutler waxed and waned across the game, at points jumping ahead through a TD pass, at other times leaving the Dayman with his head in his hands by throwing a pick to Bomberman DT Kyle Williams, causing a 12 point swing in one play. Le’veon Bell also scored well for the Champions, sprinting to 197 total yards and a score. The only black spots on the Champions’ day on offence were early injuries to Ben Tate and Jordan Reed, forcing both out of the game before they could make significant impact. The Dayman can, at least take solace in the fact that Tate’s likely replacement is already on the roster between Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell.
At half time in this fixture things were not looking good for the Bombermen who had yet to click on offence with AJ Green, in particular, uncharacteristically quiet. That would all change though as the Bengals WR exploded on a huge catch and run that left him on 19.6 points for the day. The Bombermen’s receiving corps as a whole performed excellently with big days for Kelvin Benjamin (15.2), Michael Floyd (12.1), Terrance Williams (11) and Greg Olsen (14.3). Although Hendith’s RBs were pedestrian by comparison, Matt Ryan led the team to 139 points on offence on the day, good for the 2nd highest scoring total.
With the Bombermen marginally ahead on offence both GMs turned to their defences to provide. Clay Matthews had already weighed in for the Bombermen on Thursday night with a forced fumble giving him a nice total to go alongside Kyle Williams’ pick of Cutler. The rest of the team could only muster a couple of sacks from Ahmad Brooks and Mario Williams though with the secondary, in particular, weak, able to come up with only 7.5 points between them. The field was open for the Champions to capitalise but could they?
The answer, simply, was yes. Cameron Wake led the way with 2 strip-sacks to propel him to 31.5 points, second highest point scorer on the week. Not wanting to be outdone, Jamie Collins’ forced fumble, Justin Houston’s 2 sacks and Wesley Woodyard’s sack and 5 tackles boosted the numbers, leaving the Champions with the 2nd best scoring LB unit for the week, behind only the Tamworth Two’s monster corps. A solid outing for the secondary, featuring a timely interception by Charles Woodson, sealed the deal and the Champions took the win with the highest score of the week. Despite that, the Dayman will have to manage his roster well to maintain the pace as the team lacks depth. The Bombermen can take solace in a good performance and the fact they were just unlucky to come up against a unit that just happened to hit it right on the day.
Dynablaster Bombermen 196 – 227 Champions of the Sun
Mahoney Memorial Stadium: Hard @ DynaRules
Kick-off was delayed at Mahoney Memorial stadium due to a highway chase en route in which maverick DynaRules GM Jan Kelkowski personally apprehended a pair of marijuana dealers at the cost of only several million dollars in infrastructure damage. Both teams arrived late as a result but the delay did not cause a dampening of the atmosphere, or the quality of football as both the DynaRules and Chris Braithwaite’s DynaHard put on a display of athletic ability.
Both offences ended up in the top 4 scoring units for the week (along with the Bombermen and the Champions of the Sun) with DynaRules, in particular, putting up almost unfeasible numbers. The receiving unit of Randall Cobb, Cor! Darelle Patterson, Jeremy Maclin, Calvin Johnson and Julius Thomas put up an incredible 600 all-purpose yards and 8 TDs and the number could have been even higher but for a shoulder injury to Jordan Cameron. With those kind of points on the board even underwhelming days from Arian Foster and Zac Stacy couldn’t stifle the exuberant Kelkowski who courted controversy by kicking a downed DynaHard cornerback left in Calvin Johnson’s dust on one particularly huge play.
Up against such terrifying numbers DynaHard rallied and began the fight back with Ryan Matthews (12), Antonio Brown (19.9) and Julian Edelman (12.35) adding plenty of yards on their own. Brown later added to the feisty atmosphere of the game by kung-fu kicking the DynaRules punter on a long return for which he may yet face a fine and a suspension, plus the unending ire of Kelkowski. Unfortunately for Braithwaite, the rest of his offence couldn’t put up his opponents’ numbers and, despite Matthew Stafford having one of his best ever career games, DynaRules outscored them by over 40 points on offence.
DynaHard were down but not out, however, and with superstar DE JJ Watt piling up 3 tackles (including 2 for a loss), a sack, a fumble recovery and pass defended and even a blocked extra point all was not lost. At the other end of the line, Greg Hardy put up similar numbers though Braithwaite will no doubt continue to face calls from the media and fans to drop Hardy as he waits for re-trial in his domestic abuse case. San Francisco safety Eric Reid and Oakland tackled Antonio Smith put up good numbers too ensuring that Kelkowski’s team couldn’t afford to slack if they wanted the win, even with that huge day on offence.
With DynaRules having targeted offence at the draft there was certainly reason for cautious optimism among the traveling fans and this was only heightened as stars Nick Fairley, Jason Pierre-Paul and Charles Tillman combined for only 3.75 points. It was a big day for Kelkowski’s players in new teams though as Karlos Dansby (new to the Browns) and DeMarcus Ware (new to the Broncos) combined for 1.5 sacks, 9 tackles and an interception to boost the numbers. With Navorro Bowman’s absence giving an opportunity hike to Patrick Willis’ IDP value too the DynaRules had enough steam to get over the line comfortably.
Going forward, like the Bomberman, DynaHard need not be discourage by defeat as they had strong numbers on both sides of the ball that should translate to wins in other weeks, particularly with a strong bench. The DynaRules, however, look like early front runners for the Owl with the highest potential points on the week and an absolutely devastating receiving corps. Kelkowski will need his undervalued defence to keep putting numbers up but if that happens they should be a very real threat.
Dyna Hard 196 – 214 Kelkowski Don’t Play By No Dyna Rules