You don't have to be an NFL insider to know that Mike Evans is a fantasy football stud. It might help you avoid wasting his greatest fantasy performance yet, though.
One such insider, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Reporter Casey Phillips, nearly got a painful reminder of Evans' greatness in Week Three of the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge. Casey was playing the team in that league which employs Mr. Evans and thus had to fend off the 45.0 points he put up for Becky Hartman's "Ladies and Edelman" squad. It didn't look like it was going to happen heading into Monday Night Football, but when Adrian Peterson laid a 4.40-point egg, Casey had her first win of the season.
There's no truth to the rumor that Casey snuck into the locker room at the AdventHealth Training Center on Monday and put Icy Hot in all of Evans' socks in retaliation, though I just might have seen her hustling back down there Tuesday morning to get rid of the evidence.
Poor Becky. She did not get her first win of the season, which is a shame because when she does I'm contractually obligated to stop bringing up the fact that she chose Kenyan Drake fifth overall. Her much more astute second-round pick was Evans, who showed up in person on draft night to thank her, and eventually the Buccaneer star will get her into the win column, but it was not meant to be in Week Three. Phillips finally got the production she expected from the likes of Joe Mixon, Brandon Cooks and Amari Cooper and scored the second-most points of the week to win one for the Pros.
Casey's come-from-ahead victory stopped what had become a disturbing trend in our nascent fantasy league. The Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge was created this season to give nine lucky fans a chance to go up against three Buccaneers insiders – Casey, Carmen Vitali and yours truly – with a chance to win bragging rights and some very tasty prizes. The league kicked off with a live draft in the very room at Buccaneer headquarters where Jason Licht conducts real NFL drafts.
And it started off great for the Pros! Two of the three of us won in Week One, and by the end of last weekend I was in first place with a 2-0 record and the league's highest point total. Sammy Watkins was widely being hailed as the greatest fantasy draft pick ever. No one was the least concerned about my team's potentially fatal lack of running back depth. The air was sweet, the birds were chirping merrily and life was good.
Then in Week Two, my fellow Pros Carmen and Casey each lost, taking us down to a collective .500 record. Okay, no big deal. Deep breath. The Pros would reassert their dominance in Week Three. Casey was pitted against the last-place team and I was playing the 10th-place squad. Carmen was up against the second-place team but due for a rebound. Order would soon be restored.
Yeah, not so much.
Thankfully, Casey overcame the Evans explosion, plus a great performance by Panthers' TE Greg Olsen, one of Becky's best value picks in the draft. We need that because I lost a tight one to a Tyler Lockett rocket launch and Carmen followed a Week Two cratering with only a slight rebound in Week Three. The winner of this fantasy challenge is going to get a totally wicked championship belt, and after two weeks I was feeling sure that belt was going to be mine. I do know where it is stored, though, and it's close to my office. At some point, I'm going to have to decide if I can really win it or if I have to resort to a little thievery before the season is over.
Anyway, Casey and Carmen are playing each other next week, the first Pro vs. Pro matchup, so I know the good guys will get at least one next week. As the second-highest scoring team in the league, who has lost only to the highest-scoring team in the league (Jason Swinford's "The Great Marpet Capers"), I feel confident as well. Maybe my next game will come against an average-scoring team like Christopher Dombrowski's "Risky Biscuits" squad, but either way it's time for the Pros to take control once again.
Otherwise, I'm sneaking into that belt room.
Now let's take a closer look at how the rest of Week Three unfolded in the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge.
View some of the best photos from the Buccaneers' Week 3 matchup against the New York Giants.
Lineup Decision of the Week: Becky Hartman and Ladies and Edelman starting tight end Greg Olsen.
I wouldn't normally pick a starting decision to highlight from a losing team, since it wasn't a move that led to a victory, but there wasn't really one that stood out among the six winners. I mean, Brandon Durfey and Matt Gay 4 Trey starting Oakland tight end Darren Waller (27.10 points) at Minnesota over Eric Ebron (7.70 points) at home against Atlanta was a notably good decision but it's not like it really mattered in a 77-point victory.
So I'll break tradition and go with Becky's starting of Olsen, who she drafted in the 13th round, over Jimmy Graham, who she drafted in the seventh round. Olsen had his second straight impressive showing, and this time he found the end zone. Twice. Jimmy Graham did not score and was bothered by a groin injury. Perhaps Becky knew about Graham's injury, in which case good job keeping up with the news. With Mike Evans blasting into the ionosphere, Matt Gay and the Bills defense providing above-average production and Tom Brady just being good ol' Tom Brady, the 25.50 points provided by Olsen was almost enough to push Becky to her first victory. Not quite, but it was a very competent showing overall and Becky would have won against eight of the other 11 teams with her 148.04 points. Just not against the Mighty Casey, who definitely did not strike out.
By the way, Matt Gay is Becky's fourth kicker of the season, and I'm starting to wonder if she is only aware of kickers if they have been mentioned on Buccaneers.com at some point. Maybe she does all her kicker scouting in person at Bucs games. Becky dropped Cairo Santos to add Gay, and before that she dropped Matt Bryant to get Santos.
Lineup Blunder of the Week: Justin Morris and Deckerhoff the Halls starting Jimmy GQ over Philip Rivers.
So far the Chargers have more Ls than Rivers has in his first name, but Rivers is still a pretty good fantasy bet most weeks, and this week he was facing Houston's 21st-ranked passing defense. Now, it's true that San Francisco and Jimmy Garoppolo were up against a crumbling Pittsburgh squad that might be taken out back and shot if it was a horse, so this wasn't an indefensible decision. It just proved to be a bad one.
Rivers went for 21.62 points, which is a good day for a quarterback in this league. Garoppolo's team managed to beat the Steelers but it was a low-scoring affair and he had just 11.38 fantasy points. That's a difference of 10.24 points. I wonder if that made a difference in the outcome. I mean was it relevant in our…
Best Game of the Week: The Revolution 107.94, Deckerhoff the Halls 106.68
It's a battle of the Justins, Beetz's Revolution against Morris' Deckerhoff the Halls, and the league really needed Morris to take advantage of a week when the Revolution was squashed by the state. Instead, that team remains undefeated despite the fact that it has scored even fewer points than the very average Risky Biscuits squad.
The Revolution had a pyrrhic Week Two, beating Carmen badly but also losing both of his quarterbacks – Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger – to long-term injuries. The pickup of Matt Stafford didn't light up the world (12.14 points) but Dalvin Cook (24.30) continues his strong season and Marlon Mack was good, too. The receiver tandem of Emmanuel Sanders and Davante Adams badly underperformed, which is why The Revolution did take the lead in this game until Sunday evening. As noted, Garoppolo let Morris down, as did Todd Gurley, badly, but Julian Edelman (19.20) and Will Dissly (18.20) almost got him the win.
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 3 matchup against New York.
Additional Week Three Results: I've already covered the wins by The Revolution and Brate Scott. Here's a little more on the other four games.
- The Great Marpet Capers 144.10, Plunder and Lightning 133.26
I noted above that Lockett went off for Jason's team, but that wasn't really the difference because Keenan Allen countered with 43.60 points for me. The difference was really…Matt Stafford? Stafford apparently decided to direct all his attention to Marvin Jones (22.10) points instead of the clearly superior Kenny Golladay (3.70 points). Maybe it was the Eagles' fault. Maybe they double-teamed the clearly superior Golladay alla the day. So, guess which one of us started Jones and which one started Golladay.
- Matt Gay 4 Trey 177.96, Schianos Sombrero
This was a scoring effort reminiscent of what the popular Plunder and Lightning team did in Week One. Listen, if your two running backs (in this case former teammates Kamara and Ingram) combine for 72.60 points, you're probably going to win. Heck, if you're playing Ladies and Edelman, you might win with the rest of your team benched. This was a full team effort, though, because Patrick Mahomes put up another ho-hum 27.86 points and Adam Thielen (20.60) and the aforementioned Waller (27.10) were outstanding as well. I could tell you what the Sombrero squad did in detail, but would it really matter?
- Risky Biscuits 133.12, Kung Suh Panda
Nick Russin's Panda squad was…okay. Josh Allen was okay. Devonta Freeman and Kerryon Johnson were almost okay. JuJu Smith-Schuster was okay. But other than Julio (26.80), nobody really went off. That made for an easy win for the Biscuits, who I've been downplaying this entire article in the hopes of thinking it into reality. Cooper Kupp (33.20) more than canceled out Julio, Travis Kelce was a lot better than Vance McDonald and darnit if the Packers' defense isn't all of a sudden really good. When did that happen?
- Water Walkers 123.04, Bowles-room Blitz 103.78
Christopher Hatton's team joins The Revolution in the suddenly exclusive club of unbeatens, sending Carmen to her second straight loss despite a better scoring performance this week. Relatively speaking. Deshaun Watson started slow but turned it on to finish with 27.84 points and otherwise it was just a lot of guys – Ekeler, Chubb, Gordon, Hopkins, Ertz, Cowboys D – in the 10-17 range. That was enough to beat a Bowles-room Blitz squad that got a great day from Phillip Lindsay (29.00) and good ones from Lamar Jackson and Michael Thomas but little else of note.
Tales from the Message Board: Here are some random thoughts, complaints and self-flagellations from the league message board this past week.
- Ladies and Edelman: Lesson learned don't listen to your spouse! I said I'm going to play burkhead he says he doesn't start!! :(
Editor's note: Were you listening to him during the draft?
- The Revolution: When Tyreek Hill went down, I honestly didn't see myself starting 3-0 but here we are and it only gets better from here 😎
Editor's note: It gets better than undefeated? I'm intrigued. Do you have a newsletter to which I can subscribe.
- Risky Biscuits: Colts' Marlon Mack: Calf issue heading into Week 3....uh huh, surely this had no impact on you trying to unload him 😂😂😂
Editor's note: Marlon Mack, 16.80 points in Week 3, in a one-point team victory.