A long time ago in a draft room far, far away…from where most people can access, nine fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gathered to try to take down the evil empire of NFL pros Casey Phillips, Scott Smith and Carmen Vitali. They conducted a fantasy football draft in the actual room the Buccaneers use to conduct real NFL drafts, and they left knowing they could take home a raft of valuable prizes if they could just overcome the pros in the brand new Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge.
Well, Week One didn't go so well for these rebels as Scott and Carmen dispatched of their foes easily and Casey suffered a fluky loss that surely won't happen often. It was, as I said at the time, with all necessary humility, the experts who "laid down the law."
Well, Week Two was a bit different. Both Carmen and Casey suffered lopsided losses at the hands of their fan competitors, giving bragging rights for the week to the nine rebels. Of course, I must also point out – only in the service of being complete in my reporting – that my team won again, dispatching yet another overmatched fan, and that I am currently in first place with a 2-0 record and a league-high 288.06 points. Again, it gives me no joy to share these facts of my dominance in great detail, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I failed to do so.
To be specific, it was fan Campbell Sears and his team, Schianos Sombrero, who sent Casey to her second loss, 118.26 to 101.00. Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley essentially canceled each other out but Dak Prescott outperformed Matt Ryan and Sony Michel was more productive out of the flex than Courtland Sutton. All and all, though, a step forward for Casey, who will soon be adding some wins to the pros coffers.
And it was Justin Beetz and The Revolution who absolutely demolished Carmen, which you can read more about below. My win over Brandon Durfey and the Matt Gay 4 Trey squad was basically the work of receivers Keenan Allen and Kenny Golladay, who were far more productive than Adam Thielen and Jarvis Landry. As you can also read about below, this matchup appeared to be set up for some drama on Monday night but it never materialized.
So the rebels made some headway against the pros, but not enough to swing the war just yet. And all of this "striking back" talk got me to thinking about what many consider to be the best of the Star Wars movies. I thought, what if these fans trying to take us down were Empire Strikes Back characters? Which ones would they be?
(Disclaimer: I'm a Star Trek guy, not a Star Wars guy, so it's slightly possible I'll get some details wrong below. For instance, I'm pretty sure I reversed the sides on that "strike back" analogy above, but that's okay. From my experience, Star Wars fanboys aren't fanatical at all and surely won't mind.)
Jason Swinford, manager of the 0-2 Great Marpet Capers, is clearly Luke Skywalker, right about the time his father chops off his hand. Except in this case, Vader got a little more aggressive with his lasery sword thing and lopped off both limbs, representing the simultaneous injuries to Jason's two quarterbacks Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Who will Jason now choose as his new robotic hand? Case Keenum? Jimmy Garoppolo? Hey, for style points how about Gardner Minshew?!
(By the way, the Capers are the second-highest scoring team in the league to go with an 0-2 record. Fantasy football's just a blast sometimes, huh?)
Casey of the winless Brate Scott crew is Leia. Leia thought gallivanting about the galaxy and leading a rebel force alongside heartthrob Luke Skywalker would be a good time…then she found out Luke's her brother. Ugh. Casey perhaps thought fantasy football would be a good time, and then found out that Matt Ryan is handing out interceptions like sticks of gum this season and maybe this isn't so fun, either.
Christopher Dombrowski (Risky Biscuits) is Chewbacca. He makes a lot of unusual noises but nobody really knows what he's talking about.
Campbell Sears (Schianos Sombrero) is the mysterious Emperor. No one has actually seen him in person but he might just be more powerful than we all realize with his top lieutenants Darth Prescott and Admiral Barkley.
Christopher Hatton (Water Walkers) is Yoda. He seemed unassuming when we met him and nobody was all that impressed with his training den on Dagobah or his draft (Hopkins at #4, Ertz in the third round) but now we're discovering that he has surprising powers. The Walkers are off to a 2-0 start and have the third most points in the league.
Justin Beetz (The Revolution) is Boba Fett. He's a trader. He's already made one big trade with Carmen Vitali (more on that below) and he made a very reasonable offer to me on which I couldn't quite pull the trigger.
And I know this was obvious from the start, but I'm the dashing Han Solo. Everybody loves Han Solo and things tend to work out for him, even if he spends a little time frozen in carbonite, much as I was frozen with fear last night every time the football got near Jarvis Landry or Jamison Crowder (the latter of which really didn't happen much).
Um…that's about all I've got; again, not a Star Wars buff. So any team managers I didn't already name are faceless Stormtroopers, and Becky is that one Stormtrooper who famously bangs his head on the doorframe.
View some of the top photos from Buccaneers Week 3 practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
Now let's take a closer look at how Week Two went down in the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge.
Lineup Decision of the Week: Justin Beetz and the Revolution starting Emmanuel Sanders against the Bears.
In one sense, this wasn't some galaxy brain maneuver by Justin. Sanders was the fourth receiver he drafted and one of the first three, Tyreek Hill, is currently out with an injury. Sanders would be the logical next one in if you're going to start a receiver in your flex spot.
On the other hand, he could have gone with Davante Adams and Robert Woods – also drafted before Sanders – and used one of his many running back options in the flex spot. Those included Chris Thompson (with Derrius Guice out), Tarik Cohen, Alexander Mattison and Darwin Thompson. None are anywhere close to a sure thing and, sure enough, none were outstanding in Week Two. Thompson had the most points of the bunch with 10.10. And Sanders did have 86 yards and a touchdown in Week One. However, that was against Oakland and Week Two brought a matchup with the mighty Bears defense.
Well, all Sanders did was catch 11 passes – 11! – for 98 yards and another score. That's 28.80 points and the aforementioned 50-point win over Bowles-Room Blitz. Speaking of which…
Lineup Blunder of the Week: Pro Carmen Vitali (Bowles-Room Blitz) trading Dalvin Cook for Lamar Jackson…but not in time to start him
As Carmen accurately pointed out to me, this sequence of events did not lose her the game against The Revolution…you know, cuz she lost by 50. Still, the optics are bad.
The trade seems more than fair. Justin gets Cook and it's really hard to add running back depth after the draft. Carmen gets a potential breakout fantasy star plus two useful players in the Williams brothers, KC running back Damien and Oakland wideout Tyrell. This could work out for both of them, but it's a huge win for Justin in Week Two.
Cook went off (against his former team, lol) and scored 28.10 points, which was about 20 more than Williams, who presumably would have been in his lineup otherwise. Look at it one way, and that's a 40-point swing in this matchup. Ouch. Meanwhile, the trade did not officially go through until Friday morning, so Carmen felt compelled to start Jameis Winston on Thursday night. That's not a bad play, of course, and Winston played very well against the Panthers, but it wasn't a huge fantasy output (which neither Winston nor Bruce Arians cares about). If you're trading for Jackson, it's because you think he has the potential to have a huge fantasy output in any given week…which he did. This week. On Carmen's bench. What Carmen could have done is left the quarterback slot empty on Thursday night and then slide Jackson in there before Sunday. Oh well, live and learn.
Best Game of the Week: Risky Biscuits 154.16. The Great Marpet Capers 132.72
Technically, my game with Brandon Durfey and Matt Gay 4 Trey was the closest finish, with a margin of 13 points. It lacked drama, however. I went into Monday night with a 27-point lead, needing to hold off Cleveland's Jarvis Landry and the Jets' Jamison Crowder. It was projected to go right down the wire but the ball rarely found either of those two and I was breathing easy by the third quarter.
The Biscuits beat the Capers by 22 points, meanwhile, but they didn't take lead until about 10:30 ET on Monday night. Christopher's crew needed about 20 combined points from Odell Beckham and the Cleveland defense and it got 41, but it was a lot closer until the Jets decided not to cover Beckham late in the third quarter and he went 89 yards for a score. That was a 15-point play. Tough luck all around for the Capers, who scored enough points to beat nine other teams this week, even with his injured quarterback contributing negative 0.48 points.
Additional Week Two Results: I've already gone over all but two of this week's matchups. Those two were:
- Water Walkers 115.26, Ladies and Edelman 94.66
Despite a better showing in Week Two, Ladies and Edelman has sunk to the bottom of the standings, an outcome that wasn't necessarily unexpected after a draft that had some head scratching moments. For instance, here's Miami running back Kenyan Drake when he heard someone drafted him fifth overall (not fifth ROUND, fifth OVERALL):
And here's Drake when he found out that he, a first-round pick, wasn't even in his team's starting lineup in the second week of the season:
It wouldn't have made much of a difference, as Rex Burkhead, who started in his place, had 8.80 points to Drake's 9.80. Becky's team actually won the quarterback battle between Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson, and handily, and she got a great week out of Greg Olsen, as Olsen was about the only Panther the Bucs didn't shut down on Thursday night. But Christopher Hatton has a solid enough squad to overcome a down week from his Texans duo of Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, in this case getting big contributions from Austin Ekeler, Nick Chubb, Zach Ertz and Justin Tucker.
- Kung Suh Panda 140.42, Deckerhoff the Halls 115.12
These two teams are both now 1-1 after a good game in which Nick Russin's Panda crew got good showings from such value picks as QB Josh Allen (22.22 points) and tight end Vance McDonald (22.80). That helped overcome a slight disadvantage between the two teams trio of RBs (both started an RB in the flex), with Deckerhoff's group of Todd Gurley, Derrick Henry and Le'Veon Bell outdoing Panda's Devonta Freeman, Kerryon Johnson and Matt Breida.
Tales from the Message Board: Sorry. Slow week.