Like a bad 80s pop group the Stat Blats just keep coming back, regardless of whether they’re merely a shadow of their former selves. This week I take a look at how the 10 Dynabowl teams have started out the season and which units are propping their teams up and which deserve to be put gently to sleep.
East Flanders Dungeoneers
Forging Ahead: Running Backs, Secondary
Stuck in the Mud: Quarterbacks, Receivers
Spearheaded by new draft pick Leonard Fournette and suprisingly-currently-healthy Carlos Hyde the Dungeoneers have the third highest average scoring running back unit in the Dynabowl at the moment. Both of the aforementioned chuggers are in the top 10 at the position through 4 weeks but Pete Conaghan will be hoping that nothing happens to either of them as the likes of Terrance West and Chris Ivory don’t offer much backup. As the season develops his reserve strength may improve if Alex Collins and Samaje Perine can make inroads into the starting jobs on their teams but if not those bye weeks are going to hit the Dungeoneers hard at this position.
Another area of strength for the Dungeoneers is their secondary as, again, they are third highest scorers at the position. Given that the team only has 1 CB (Chris Harris) in the top 50 scorers at the position it will not surprise you to learn that most of this success has come from the tandem safety pairing of Karl Joseph (Oakland) and Kevin Byard (Tennessee) with Ha-Ha Clinton Dix providing able cover for injuries and bye weeks. Really Pete should be looking to draft in another cornerback or two as with some improvement at this position he could have the best secondary in the Dbowl.
On the frowny-face side, we have the fact that the Flanders Quarterbacks are the lowest scoring unit, on average, in the league garnering a measly 13.32 points per game, nearly 4 points below the average. Given that both Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson are in the top 10 at the position however this really has to come down to head coaching decision as Pete put his faith in Cam Newton for the first two weeks, missing Wentz’ big games, and then went to Wentz for weeks 3 and 4, missing Newton and Watson’s big games. This is a selection headache that Pete Conaghan will have every week going forward but the law of averages says he’s going to start guessing right at some point and that score should creep up.
Really, it’s no wonder that the Dungeoneers’ QBs are struggling with this shower to throw to though. With only three WRs in the top 60 at the position (and one of those has been riding the pine) the Dungeoneers are the second worst team at this position a whopping 9 points below the average. Amari Cooper has to answer for some of these problems as the much-vaunted Raiders’ receiver isn’t even in the top 60 wide receivers after four weeks. With second year pro Josh Doctson failing to spark early on a lot is riding on the shoulders of Keenan Allen and Davante Adams and I’m sad to say that I can’t see this unit improving much in the coming weeks.
Offence Average: 94.24 points (7th)
Defence Average: 78.53 points (4th)
Overall Average: 172.76 points (7th)
Record: 3-1 (1st in Peter)
Here Comes The Brees
Forging Ahead: Defensive Line, Secondary
Stuck in the Mud: Receivers, Linebackers
The Brees’ production line of defensive tackle talent continues apace. Unperturbed by the departure of Aaron Donald, Ben Archer has continued to dominate at the position with the only thing stopping him having the top two scoring tackles being an injury to Fletcher Cox that has limited his scoring to only 5th at the position. The tandem of Cox and DeForest Buckner will, injury permitting, continue to rack up points for the rest of the year. The DE position is the poor country cousin in this unit by comparison but Cameron Jordan is steady as ever, putting up DE1 numbers through 4 weeks, and Michael Bennett is sitting comfortably in the top 20 too.
A top pass defence is made up of a powerful rush and good players in the secondary and the Brees have the latter part of that locked down too having scored the second most points there so far this season, only just behind the Sadness in 1st. Much like the Dungeoneers, however, this unit is severely unbalanced in favour of the safeties. The Brees only have one cornerback in the top 30, Justin Bethel. Given that over half of Bethel’s points came in week 1 when he wasn’t even on the roster this is not great performance. Thank the Lord for their safeties then. With 4 players in the top 21 the Brees have top production and strength in-depth enough here to cover bye weeks and injuries. With Ronald Darby coming back in a few weeks the Brees should be set to keep producing at a high level in the secondary. Looking at these pieces it’s small wonder the Brees have the best defence in the Dbowl at the moment.
Maybe they should look at converting some of those secondary players to receivers as it’s unlikely they could be much worse than the reprobates currently filling their roster out at the wide receiver position. Until this week the injury to Allen Robinson and under-performance of Martavis Bryant meant that JJ Nelson was the only receiver in the top 40. Ben Archer has not sat idly by through this crisis however and this week saw a move made to bring in an elite option in the shape of JJ’s big white brother, Jordy. The steady WR1 production he will bring to the Brees can anchor them and if Bryant can work into the form they may yet turn out to be ok. Particularly given the strong showing from their TEs so far this year where, even with Tyler Eifert’s injury problems, they have two guys in the top 10 as both Zach Ertz and Charles Clay have been target hogs for their teams.
The picture is not so rosy at linebacker where, even allowing for the fact that they have only started three players at the position in two of the weeks, the output has been poor. This is really a story of a lack of elite options as the Brees have 3 guys in the top 40 and Shaq Thompson just outside that. The dudes they have are doing ok but to pick up performance somebody needs to step up to the table and hit at least high LB2 levels. With that a unit that is already at the top end of what the Dbowl has to offer could become a true runaway leader on that side of the ball.
Offence Average: 93.54 points (8th)
Defence Average: 85.06 points (1st)
Overall Average: 178.60 points (6th)
Record: 3-1 (2nd in Peter)
Forging Ahead: Quarterbacks
Stuck in the Mud: Running Backs, Secondary
Slim pickings for T2 in what has been a disappointing start to the season for them. With most of their units hovering around average the only thing to really pick out for comment in good terms is the Quarterbacks where they score 3.5 points more than average and are 3rd strongest amongst all Dbowlers. Not much analysis to be done though, that’s just what happens when Aaron Rodgers is your QB. Kirk Cousins provides strong backup at the position for bye week cover but T2 better hope Rodgers stays healthy or one of the few things that’s been going right for them this year may disappear.
To say that T2 have been struggling at the RB position seems odd. On paper their attack of LeSean McCoy, Bilal Powell, Mike Gilislee and Duke Johnson looks strong but those players have just not performed consistently with none of them cracking the top 15 backs so far this year. As a consequence T2 are actually 2nd lowest scoring at the position, 7 points per week behind the average and over 21 points per week behind the top unit. This feels like a blip though, I fully expect this unit to have returned to the top half by the end of the year as NFL offences warm up, the Patriots stop getting into shootouts every week and the Jets realise that Bilal Powell is more or less their only weapon on offence.
Their problems at secondary may not correct themselves as automatically however. Through 4 weeks the returning ability of Adoree Jackson makes him their only succesful option at CB and Landon Collins, a monster last season, has disappointed so far this year putting in only low S2 numbers. The good news for T2 is that with scores of 11.5, 15.25, 22 and 28.18 the performance of their secondary is trending up as Goodson and Ward start to get their selections right and work that blind bidding for better options. T2 are consistently amongst the best in the Dbowl at building defences and spotting strong performers early so I am confident this can be turned around.
Offence Average: 95.36 points (6th)
Defence Average: 77.03 points (6th)
Overall Average: 172.39 points (8th)
Record: 1-3 (4th in Peter)
The People’s Republic of the 4th Dynmension: Dynasty of Sadness
Forging Ahead: Running Backs, Receivers (also Secondary but I’m fed up of writing about secondaries already)
Stuck in the Mud: Er… Special Teams?
My prediction for Dbowl champions ahead of the season, the Sadness have had a funny old start to the year. They’ve scored very well being, on average, the 2nd highest points scorer in the competition yet they are 2-2 after 4 weeks. Scoring of that kind of calibre should pay off over the course of 13 weeks though and I would be surprised if they didn’t make the playoffs. Their running backs are really leading the charge for Mangboob’s team as they are the top scoring unit of their type in the league, a frankly silly 7 points better per week than anyone else and 14 points above the average. Kareem Hunt’s superhuman breakout is a large part of this but with Ezekiel Elliott and Ameer Abdullah on the books too, the Sadness are not just a one-trick pony. Assuming that Jacquizz Rodgers loses his starting job to Doug Martin the bye weeks could present a problem for Mangboob, however, as he only has Theo Riddick and Shane Vereen backing up his starters. Having said that, there aren’t many teams in the league for whom bye weeks aren’t a problem though as the RB position is thin for a league playing three starters each week.
The Sadness actually have a complete offence though with their receivers lagging only slightly behind the backs, being the 2nd highest scoring unit so far this year, 8.5 points per week above the average. This position is only really likely to improve too as Odell Beckham is currently outside the top 20 WRs due to injury and Eli (admittedly, only one of those is going to go away). Stefon Diggs and Michael Thomas lead the line for the Sadness with the former being the #1 receiver so far this season (how’s that Dez Bryant trade looking, Chris?). There is strength in-depth here too with Allen Hurns, Pierre Garcon and Ted Ginn all sitting behind the front 3 ready to contribute solid WR4 numbers. At TE they appear comfortable too as, even with Jordan Reed’s disappointing start to the season, Delanie Walker is still a mid-tier TE1 able to happily cover the position off and put up good numbers.
They also have the best secondary. Same story as everyone else here really. Rubbish CBs and really good Safeties. It’s almost like the CB position is impossible to predict, eh?
So where do the Sadness fall down then? It’s difficult to pick out a problem area to be honest as, really, the issue is that too many of their other units (LB, D-line, QB) are just at or below average. The only place they fail to score well is on special teams where the Sadness’ haul of 10.16 points per game is the worst in the league. Despite both his kicker and punter being miles outside the top 20 at the position, Mangboob is keeping faith with both of them seemingly and this could be a problem as he’s currently giving away 4 points per week to the average team due to this oversight although at least he hasn’t lost any games by that margin so far this year.
Offence Average: 119.25 points (2nd)
Defence Average: 78.48 points (5th)
Overall Average: 197.72 points (2nd)
Record: 2-2 (3rd in Peter)
Forging Ahead: Running Backs, Quarterbacks
Stuck in the Mud: Everything Else
Look, there’s not much point in going into the stats here. David Slater’s Losers are in full rebuild mode here with their ageing or short contract players being traded away for picks so looking at the numbers tells us nothing. Let’s instead take a look at the players that the Dynasore Losers have to anchor that rebuild around.
First off, they look set at Quarterback. I don’t know what happened to Derek Carr in the last two weeks but, long-term, I think he’ll be a good fantasy Quarterback and Jameis Winston is no slouch either though Slater could probably do with Winston not cracking the top 7 this year to keep his renewal price down. At any rate, there’s no immediate need at this position.
Similarly at RB the building blocks are in place for a decent unit. Despite both being on the same team, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen have very different roles and there’s no reason why both can’t be top 25 at their position at least in a year if the offence is built right. Behind those two sit Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington who will, I think, in the next few weeks start to take more workload away from Marshawn Lynch who is starting to look his age after a bit of week 1 and 2 freshness. Add Christian McCaffrey on top of that and this part of the team should be fine.
Offence Average: 82.53 points (10th)
Defence Average: 54.61 points (10th)
Overall Average: 137.14 points (10th)
Record: 0-4 (5th in Peter)
Champions of the Sun
Forging Ahead: Receivers, Linebackers
Stuck in the Mud: Defensive Line, Secondary
Apart from an inexplicably terrible week 1 performance the former Dbowl champions have looked strong so far this year, led by their receivers and linebackers, both of whom are the top scoring units at their position so far this year. At WR, the Champions have 7 players in the top 40 and 4 in the top 20, showcasing impressive (and somewhat unexpected) strength in-depth that should see them able to cope with their bye weeks ok. It would be fair to question whether the performances of the likes of Chris Hogan (TD dependent so far) and Sterling Shepard (a lack of OBJ) can continue but even with a bit of regression from a couple of players they should remain strong to season’s end.
By contrast, the linebacker performance is all about top end with three guys in the top 5 (Clowney, Houston and Mack) and McKinney in the top 20 but then only one more player anywhere in the top 50. This performance is more likely to drop, both through injury and bye weeks and Clowney’s large number of big plays through 4 weeks. Max Cubberley will hope to see more from the likes of Anthony Barr, Kiko Alonso and Jamie Collins in the coming weeks to bolster his options at the position.
Really, it’s a good job the linebackers are doing well because the D-line and the secondary have been a disappointment. After signing Leonard Williams to a decent sized extension this off-season Cubberley will have been hoping the Jets DE could be an every week starter but he only has 6.5 points through 4 weeks. Combined with Khalil Mack’s off-season re-positioning to LB, the Champions have been left in the lurch and this shows with an average weekly score of only 16.88, good for 9th in the league. The bright spot for Cubberley is Dante Fowler’s emergence and he must now be an every week starter despite his comparatively low snap count. The Champions felt confident at DT going into the season with Marcell Dareus, Sheldon Rankins and Maliek Collins but so far only Collins has had any value and Dareus has recently been dropped. This unit should improve going forward with the addition of Danielle Hunter and the emergence of Dante Fowler and Cubberley will hope it does to take some pressure off his LBs.
The same will be needed from the Champions’ secondary who have scored 20.19 points per game so far this year, 8th in the league and 2.5 points below average. There are some mitigating factors here however with 3 of the Champions’ 8 starting CBs (PJ Williams, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Norman) so far this year unable to even complete the first half of their games. The players who have seen out the games haven’t been great either though with none of Reshad Jones, Jahleel Addae or TJ Ward able to put up points at safety. Cubberley will be hoping that the recently promoted Malik Hooker (#9 safety so far) and the added EJ Gaines and Jason McCourty can help the unit to kick on.
Offence Average: 121.68 points (1st)
Defence Average: 80.16 points (3rd)
Overall Average: 201.84 points (1st)
Record: 3-1 (3rd in Tim)
Forging Ahead: Quarterbacks, Defensive Line, Special Teams
Stuck in the Mud: Secondary
Looking through the Firebirds stats it is apparent how unlucky they are to be 1-3 and bottom of Tim. They have a number of units performing very well (as well as the ones I’ll cover their receivers are very good too) and even their lesser performing units are largely just below average rather than bad (with one exception).
The place to start here is at Quarterback where Neil Hawke has rolled out Russell Wilson every week except one and, despite the Seahawks’ struggles, done very well out of it. After a slow start (which saw Wilson dropped for Big Phil Rivers) the diminutive QB has racked up the points with over 60 in the last two weeks, good enough for #3 at the position behind Tom Brady and Alex(!) Smith(!!!!). With Rivers and Dak Prescott backing up Wilson, the Birds are set for a few years here.
Perhaps more surprising is the Firebirds’ performance at receiver where they rank 3rd behind only the Champions of the Sun and the Dynasty of Sadness. Sure, you would expect a unit led by Julio Jones and Rob Gronkowski to be good but, whilst Gronk’s been Gronking, Jones is only the #31 WR so far. The real star has been not-quite-dead-yet Larry Fitzgerald, who is lurking in the top 10 but beyond that Hawke’s receivers are doing fine but not spectacularly. It all goes to show the difference that Gronkowski makes as a TE with his superiority at the position helping to take the burden away from everyone else. A quick note here on Neil’s special teams unit who are the best in the league. With the #2 kicker and the #6 punter the points are going on the board every week at a steady rate. Take note Mangboob!
The real weakness in the Firebirds’ team is the secondary, the lowest scoring in the Dbowl and giving away 2 points to the secondary in 9th and 5.5 points to the average secondary. The worst part of this is the Hawke actually has good players at the position. Darius Slay and Desmond Trufant are the #3 and #16 CBs and Devin McCourty is the #16 safety. True, he has no good second option at safety but perhaps this a case of too much tinkering. If Hawke keeps it simple from now and plays his top-scoring guys every week there should be an improvement here.
Offence Average: 114.80 points (3rd)
Defence Average: 67.63 points (8th)
Overall Average: 182.43 points (5th)
Record: 1-3 (5th in Tim)
Kelkowski Don’t Play By No Dyna Rules
Forging Ahead: Sorry lads…
Stuck in the Mud: Running backs, receivers, linebackers
Ooof, talk about first to worst. Well, you can’t quite talk about that thanks to the Dynasore Losers epic deconstruction of what can be considered a “team” but the season is not going well for Kelkowski. As such I have nothing positive to say. Their D-line and Quarterbacks are both 4th in the league but every other unit is below average and, in the case of their running backs, worst in the league. Scoring an incredible 18.13 points per week, Kelkowski’s ball-movers are giving away an almost unbelievable 14.5 points per game to the average Dbowl running attack. Speaking as someone who owns both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the Cbowl I can see where a lot of this problem is coming from but Mark Ingram has not been doing the business either and behind those three is only the walking corpse of Chris Johnson and whatever a TJ Yeldon is. Boys, I know that trading is for suckers but it may be time to start dusting off the fax machine and finding some way to address this problem.
Although, maybe that would just be a waste of time. After all, Kelkowski’s receivers are only one place better, being 9th in the league and only .7 points per week ahead of the Dynasore Losers. At least they’re only giving away 6 points per week to the average team here though so that’s an improvement right? When your top four scoring receivers are Devin Funchess, Rishard Matthews, Travis Benjamin and Jaron Brown though you are going to have a problem. To be fair to them Kelkowski have hit a perfect storm of under performance so far this year. Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin and Terelle Pryor have all been major disappointments in one way or another and find themselves all outside the top 40 receivers. At this point though, would anyone like to bet that they will improve? I’m not sure I would.
This roast now concludes with a look at Kelkowski’s linebackers, traditionally a strong unit for them. Although bad (4th worst in the league and giving 6 points away to the average) this area is not as disastrous as the two above. Kwon Alexander and Dont’a Hightower has been missing most of the year and that’s two big names to be without. Behind them both Terrell Suggs and recently acquired Nick Vigil are performing at LB2 levels and there are a cadre of guys lower than that who have been ok but nothing more. Really the team is suffering from a lack of high impact players at the position and this should get better when Alexander and Hightower are back and now Nick Vigil’s apparent 10-tackle-floor can kick in.
Offence Average: 85.20 points (9th)
Defence Average: 65.66 points (9th)
Overall Average: 150.86 points (9th)
Record: 1-3 (4th in Tim)
Live Free or Dyna Hard
Forging Ahead: Running backs, Linebackers
Stuck in the Mud: Defensive Line
In many ways, DynaHard are the anti-Tamworth Two in that their success comes this year from being at or just above average in most things and not having any real weaknesses. One of their best units though has been their running backs who are the second highest scoring (albeit still 7 points a week behind Mangboob’s powerhouses). The resurgent Todd Gurley (#2) leads the way and Chris Braithwaite has a guy in every tier from there down with Ty Montgomery performing as an RB2, Frank Gore as an RB3 and Wendell Smallwood as an RB4. To cover his bye weeks Chris is going to have to hope that wily vets Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch still have something in the tank but, fitness allowing, Gurley and A. N. Other running back should really be enough to keep up a high level of performance.
Although not performing as well as his running backs, Braithwaite’s linebackers are 3rd in the league and best of the rest behind the elite performances of the Champions of the Sun and the Bombermen (see below). CJ Mosley, Ryan Kerrigan and Von Miller are all in the top 10 with TJ Watt and Demario Davis also in the top 21. Continuing to look down the list we find Jatavis Brown and Thomas Davis both putting up decent numbers for bye week cover and this unit should continue at this level, if not improve, to season’s end. If anything I would expect to see them close the gap on the top 2 rather than sink down into the pack.
As mentioned, there’s not much that DynaHard are bad at but Braithwaite will be disappointed in his defensive line so far this year. A lot of resources are tied up in JJ Watt and, for understandable reasons, he has not looked anything like his former self so far this year. That puts the DE production on the shoulders of Ziggy Ansah, Olivier Vernon and rookie Solomon Thomas. Vernon (in my experience) has always been a slow starter but the signs look good that Ansah is close to a return to form so I expect to see this unit improve from their current 3rd worst position towards the middle of the pack as we go through the year. There could be problems at DT however where Chris has all his eggs in a Timmy Jernigan-shaped basket, being literally his only player at the position. I’m sure DynaHard have plans to address this either through trade or free agency but with Jernigan questionable for this week’s game sooner would be better than later!
Offence Average: 112.27 points (4th)
Defence Average: 76.20 points (7th)
Overall Average: 188.47 points (3rd)
Record: 3-1 (1st in Tim)
Forging Ahead: Special Teams, Linebackers
Stuck in the Mud: Quarterbacks
On offence this season the Bombermen have been pulled through by their special teams performance as the rest of their unit has been patchy. Sam Koch is the #3 punter and Will Lutz is the #6 kicker. Apparently #6 isn’t good enough for The Commish though because Lutz finds himself on the scrapheap, shunted in favour of the mighty Legatron, the #1 kicker in all of football. Could the league’s 2nd best special teams unit just have made the move to push them ahead of the Sadness into first place?
On defence it’s the Bombermen’s linebackers who are carrying the team however. Similarly to the Champions of the Sun’s elite unit however there is a lot resting on Ryan Shazier and Chandler Jones here (the #3 and #4 linebackers). Outside those 2 only have two more LBs in the top 50 (Zach Brown at 33 and Sean Lee at 49. The Bombermen need to hope that Shazier and Jones can stay fit (something the former has not been able to do historically) and that rookies Reuben Foster and Carl Lawson can build on the promise they’ve shown so far to become solid contributors as the season goes forward.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the Bombermen are the anti-Tamworth Two because the secret of their success this year seems to be not being worse than 6th in the league at anything and then letting your elite special teams and linebackers carry you. I’m going to criticize their Quarterbacks a bit though because although they are only 7th in the league they are giving away 3.5 points on the average which is reasonably significant. It’s hard to be too critical though, you would have thought that going into the season with Matt Ryan as your #1 and Tyrod Taylor as your backup would’ve been fine but so far Matt Ryan is giving you a return more like his 2015 version than the Superbowl one. Hopefully for the Bombermen he’ll turn that around but in the short-term it may actually be worth looking to Tyrod Taylor’s running floor until he does.
Offence Average: 101.70 points (5th)
Defence Average: 82.36 points (2nd)
Overall Average: 184.06 points (4th)
Record: 3-1 (2nd in Tim)
Peter vs. Tim
The last thing to do before I leave you (probably for another year) is a quick look at how Peter and Tim are doing overall. Maybe this is the year the gap closes? The year that Peter can finally match or even surpass Tim?
Not likely, mate. TIM FOR LIFE!