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Bucs FANtasy Challenge Week Five: Fans Take Control

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I once struck out – looking – for the final out of a softball game in which my team blew an 18-point lead. As a Little League second basemen, I once loudly and confidently called off the first baseman on a pop up five feet from his bag, and then dropped it. In one flag football game in my adulthood, I snapped the ball over my quarterback's head and into the end zone. That's a safety. And I certainly wasn't prepared for my then-14-year-old son to completely skunk me in a game of horse two years ago.

And yet I don't think I've ever had a worse single-game performance in any sports-related competition than I did in Week Five of the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge. The nine Buccaneers fans who are competing in the league with a chance to beat three "pros" (like me, theoretically) and win a raft of prizes surely enjoyed my slow, all-day disintegration, which included but was not limited to:

·    QB Aaron Rodgers directing a 34-point offense and somehow not throwing any touchdown passes

·    WR Keenan Allen, the NFL's leading receiver through the first four weeks, getting all of 18 yards on his four receptions

·    WR Sammy Watkins injuring his hamstring on his second play of the game and taking the rest of the day off

·    FLEX Corey Davis…well, okay, he did what you would expect Corey Davis to do

·    K Robbie Gould missing three field goals…or the exact same number of misses he had 85 attempts over the previous three seasons

·    DEF Jacksonville scoring all of two points against an offense led by a clearly fictional quarterback named "Kyle Allen"

Only tight end George Kittle allowed me to save some face with his Monday night bump to my overall score, but I still came in at 79.82 points, and that only works if you're playing the Ladies and Edelman team (which I am next week). So I'm here to eat crow, which might not be my worst meal of the week since we're about to head to London. I even invited the rest of the league to trash me and my performance on the message board but nobody took me up on it. I mean, I think the closest thing I got to being trash-talked was this, if I'm reading the sarcasm right:

Campbell (Schianos Sombrero): "I think that you did the best that you could buddy."

Okay, yeah, definitely sarcastic. But overall I think our team managers would rather talk about what went right this week, and there was an awful lot of that. This was apparently an historic weekend of fantasy football performances, and you probably had a great shot of winning if you had any of the following players:

·    Houston QB Deshaun Watson

·    Houston WR Will Fuller

·    Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey

·    Green Bay RB Aaron Jones

·    New Orleans WR Michael Thomas

All five of those players had more than 40 points in our league, led by Fuller's 53.70. Jones and McCaffrey nearly hit 50, too. And there were another five players (including the Bucs own Chris Godwin) who topped 30 points.

Unfortunately, not all of those players noted above led their FANtasy Challenge teams to victory. Most notably, Aaron Jones (49.20 points) failed to get Christopher Dombrowski's Risky Biscuits squad over the top because their opponent, Christopher Hatton's Water Walkers. That's probably because the Walkers happen to have Watson as a counter not to mention a 35-point performance from the Philly defense. This Battle of the Christophers went to Hatton by the amazing score of 182.94-177.52, and even an extra Christopher (Godwin, that is) wasn't enough for the hard-luck Biscuits. A little more on this below because this was clearly the game of the week, and probably of the whole season so far…and because it also could have involved the aforementioned Will Fuller, fantasy player of the week.

The Great Marpet Capers, the team formed by fan Jason Swinford, did win on the back of McCaffrey's 47.70 points, giving Justin Beetz's The Revolution squad its first loss of the week. That puts the Water Walkers all alone in first place at 5-0, and fans now hold the top four spots in the standings. Meanwhile, our three Pros are in the fifth (me), eighth (Casey Phillips) and 10th (Carmen Vitali) slots. As for the Capers' win, they also got 36.40 points from Jacksonville WR D.J. Chark, who is looking like the waiver claim of the year so far. The Revolution found a good solution to their decimated QB situation in Teddy Bridgewater (27.26 points) but got a horrible showing from the WR trio of Emmanuel Sanders, Robert Woods and Geronimo Allison (16.50 points combined).

Thomas also did not help his team to victory because his team did not let him help it to victory. Carmen put Thomas on the bench, under the theory that the Bucs' defense would find a way to limit the opposition's top offensive performer, as it has done on several occasions this year. Betting against your number-one draft pick is a tough but bold call, and unfortunately it didn't work out. Thomas and his 41.20 points were on the bench for the Bowles-room Blitz squad, which lost by 10. You do the math. Matt Gay 4 Trey improved his record to 4-1 even though there are four teams (including yours truly) who have more points this season. There's quite obviously a big element of luck in fantasy sports, and in this case a big day by Adam Thielen and perfectly reasonable totals by the likes Ingram/Kamara/Landry/Barber were enough to make up for Patrick Mahomes' rare dud.

Now let's take a closer look at how the rest of Week Five unfolded in our league.

Lineup Decision of the Week: Christopher Hatton's Water Walkers claim and start the Philadelphia Eagles defense against the Jets.

This good decision was made on Tuesday, when waiver claims were put in. I often stream defenses in fantasy football, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who waits for the waiver cycle to clear before picking up a new defense in order to keep my spot in the claim order. Christopher thought it was worth knocking down his spot to put in a claim for the Eagles, and he was right. He would have lost without this move.

The Walkers apparently didn't relish the idea of starting the defense they already had, Dallas, against Rodgers and the Packers. Good call. The Cowboys defense was worth one point. Meanwhile, the Eagles scored two TDs against a Jets offense alternately led by guys named Falk and Fales and were good for 35 points. Thirty-five! I think I've mentioned that this game was decided by about five points, right?

Lineup Blunder(s) of the Week: Tie – Christopher Dombrowski and Carmen Vitali leaving Will Fuller and Michael Thomas on their respective benches.

I've already covered this above so no point belaboring these points. But the high-scoring Risky Biscuits might find themselves scrapping for a playoff spot at the end thanks to some unfortunate decisions in the last couple weeks. To be fair, his two starting receivers – Godwin and Cooper Kupp – combined for 59.20 points. Fuller could have been in the flex but Christopher had Odell Beckham there, which is a very defensible position. I imagine I would have done the same, because Fuller hasn't exactly been a reliable fantasy option from week to week at any point in his NFL career.

So Christopher didn't really make a move, he just failed to have a crystal ball. Carmen's decision, in contrast, was an affirmative one so it's probably more accurately called a blunder. But even if its defensible it's still horrible to have a 50+ player on your bench in a game in which you lose by 10.

Best Game of the Week: Water Walkers 182.94, Risky Biscuits 177.52

There's not much more to say since I've already covered this game in the intro, the Lineup Decision of the week and the Lineup Blunder of the Week. Just know that not only would the Biscuits have beaten any other opponent this week, they would have beaten any other opponent all season except for the one they played and the Matt Gay 4 Trey squad that pulled 177.96 points in Week Three. Ouch.

Standings Update: As noted, the Walkers are the lone remaining unbeaten team and are in first with the highest overall point total, too. The Revolution dropped from the ranks of the undefeated and actually dropped to third because Matt Gay for Trey improved to 4-1 and has a slightly better point total.

The Great Marpet Capers and my team are tied for third in the standings but the Capers have more points; in fact, they have the second-most in the league so far. My fellow pros Casey and Carmen are not far behind at 2-3. Becky Hartman's Ladies and Edelman squad was coming off two close decisions but got smoked this week and remained winless.

Additional Week Five Results: I've already covered the wins by the Water Walkers, the Great Marpet Capers and Matt Gay 4 Trey. Here's the rest of the action:

- Kung Suh Panda (Nick Russin) 100.54, Plunder and Lightning (Scott Smith) 79.92

I noted my own failures above but didn't mention how Nick took advantage. It wasn't exactly a dominant performance by the Panda, which makes this loss even tougher for me, but JuJu Smith-Schuster and Devonta Freeman did enough to get him over the top in a game in which Julio and Shady barely contributed anything.

- Schianos Sombrero (Campbell Sears) 137.72, Ladies and Edelman 56.72

Geez, Campbell, you could have called off the dogs. The lead was already about 75 points by the end of the first round of games. Allen Robinson had a huge game for the Bears in London (28.70 points) and Dak Prescott and Leonard Fournette were top performers, too. That made up for Wayne Gallman's disappearance but Saquon Barkley will probably be back soon to make that point moot. Robinson, Prescott and Fournette were enough to beat the L&E team even if the rest of the starting spots were left empty.

- Brate Scott (Casey Phillips) 136.32, Deckerhoff the Halls (Justin Morris) 131.54

A rough season continues for Morris, whose had to deal with some injury issues. This was actually a pretty good performance led by Todd Gurley (20.70), Julian Edelman (25.00) and Tyler Boyd (28.30). The bad news for Justin and good news for the "Pros are hard to beat conceit" of this league is that Casey's team was just a little better. The Brate Scotts were led by Amari Cooper's 39.60-point outburst in a losing cause, with Russell Wilson also chipping in 29.92 points and Courtland Sutton becoming a surprisingly good play in the FLEX.

Tales from the Message Board: Unfortunately, the message board seemed to devolve this week into a referendum on who really knows more about fantasy football, and it was supremely boring. We'll hopefully be back with some more entertaining comments next week.

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