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Bucs FANtasy Challenge Week 11: Drama at the Top

Fans now control the top four spots in the standings, but with the playoffs looming the two first-week byes are suddenly up for grabs.


As you will see below, I may have permanently forfeited my right to offer any critical review of a fantasy football league following a Week 11 performance that can only be described as ghastly. Well, maybe that's not the only possible description; putrid, shameful, calamitous and grievous would probably work as well.

So let's just do the nuts-and-bolts this week, because the developments in the standings are the most important bit of news anyway. With two regular-season weeks to go in the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge, there are now very tight races at the top and bottom of the six-team playoff field right now.

As a reminder, the inaugural FANtasy Challenge is pitting nine contest-winning Bucs fans against three team insiders – known by the increasingly-misleading title of the "Pros" – in a fantasy football league. If a fan wins (and currently fans own the top four spots in the standings) he or she will take home game tickets and a treasure chest of prizes, not all of which have been announced yet, not to mention bragging rights. The league kicked off with a unique live draft held in the very room at the AdventHealth Training Center in which Jason Licht and company conduct the team's actual NFL drafts.

As for the standings, perhaps the most significant development, is the recent erosion of the season-long dominance of the Water Walkers team. Fan Christopher Hatton guided that squad to an impressive 8-0 start but in the last three weeks has absorbed two losses while barely getting past one of the worst teams in the league. Now, with the finish line in sight, the Water Walkers could actually lose their grip on the first-round bye that until recently seemed like a lock.

That's because both Jason Swinford's The Great Marpet Capers and Brandon Durfey's Matt Gay 4 Trey teams are peaking at the right time. With Week 11 wins over Team Kareem and Kung Suh Panda, respectively, both are now within a game of first place. Jason's team, which I personally consider the favorite to win it all, has won five in a row while Brandon is on a three-game run.

Meanwhile, the high-scoring but inconsistent Risky Biscuits team run by Christopher Dombrowski got back in the winning column and in the process leaped over both my team and Justin Beetz's The Revolution squad into fourth place. Fortunately for Justin and I, both of the teams that started the week at 5-5 also lost, so we're still barely clinging to playoff spots.

Now, normally I might be highlighting Justin Beetz's horrendous 68.72-point performance this week, but that's hard to do when your own team scores 63.56 points. I'm not exactly confident in my Plunder and Lightning squad right now, but I didn't expect a collapse this bad. I could probably sum it up in one sentence: My first two draft picks were David Johnson and James Conner.

Yeah, not good. Kenyan Drake has moved into Johnson's house and while things seemed all chummy at first all of a sudden Drake is getting the big piece of chicken at dinner and Johnson is sleeping on the couch. Johnson logged a zero in Week 11…and I'm not even talking about fantasy points, though that is also true. He didn't even get a single carry or target. Thanks, Kliff! And this was after my week started off with James Conner exiting the Thursday game after just 13 snaps and 2.6 fantasy points. Aaron Rodgers was on a bye, and he took his buddy Jamaal Williams with him; George Kittle was hurt; Week One Sammy Watkins no longer exists; Kenny Golladay is suddenly catching passes from, I don't know, Jeff Driskel, I guess?

So it was an easy week for my Pro pal Casey Phillips, whose Brate Scott team underwhelmed as usual but really didn't even need to whelm to beat me. Ezekiel Elliott was good, Joe Mixon continues to have a better second half of the season and Courtland Sutton has easily been Casey's best find. For those of you scoring at home, since I beat the then-undefeated Water Walkers in Week Nine I have now lost to the last-place team in the league in two consecutive weeks. Nice.

Now let's take a closer look at how the rest of Week 11 unfolded in our league.

Lineup Decision of the Week: Becky Hartman's Ladies and Edelman team drafts RB Kenyan Drake with the fifth overall pick.

Yeah, I said it.

Okay, no, that was not a good pick, for obvious reasons. Even if one has a sports almanac from the future that lets you know Kenyan Drake is going to be a good fantasy player, there's no need to take him in the first round. Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas and Dalvin Cook, to name a few, were all still available – take one of them and impress us with your fourth-round selection of Drake.

All of that said, the pick is paying off now in a weird way, and this week it was absolutely critical. Since being traded from the Titanic to the desert, Drake has become a useful player, and this week he ruthlessly jacked all 14.00 points that should have belonged to David Johnson. That's not a great haul for a running back, but when your team wins by exactly 1.50 points, every bit of that production was necessary. If Becky had gone with Rex Burkhead or J.D. McKissic instead, she would have lost.

As it was, Tom Brady had a terrible week but Stefon Diggs came through with 23.10 points, Greg Olsen continued to be useful if unspectacular, and kicker Will Lutz made it into double digits. That was enough to slip by the nondescript Kung Suh Panda team run by Nick Russin, which wasted a huge day by QB Josh Allen (33.84 points) thanks to the listless RB duo of Raheem Mostert and Brian Hill. Hurting for running back depth, Nick? I feel ya, man. I mean, I was disappointed you beat me to Hill on the waiver wire. Julio and the Raves D were okay but nobody else on the team scored more than 6.70 points.

Lineup Blunder of the Week: Justin Morris and the Deckerhoff the Halls team starts Tyler Boyd over Chris Conley.

I'll admit that Conley would be a tough start, in part because he's been really up-and-down this year, with two games over 20 points and four under 5, and also in part because I thought Chris Conley was an NBA point guard. (Apparently I'm thinking of Mike Conley.) Anyway, Conley got 11.80 points in a pretty productive day in Nick Foles's return – and maybe that quarterback change would have been enough for Justin to give him a try this week. Instead, he went with Boyd, who got 2.00 points in a game that Justin lost by about 12 points.

Okay, doing the math here…and that change wouldn't have quite gotten the Deckerhoff team the win. Sorry, the pickings here were slim. Really the best answer here was Nick benching Shady McCoy (15.70 points) for that Mostert-Hill duo, but I've already covered that game. We'd also accept, "every lineup decision made by Plunder and Lightning."

Anyway, Risky Biscuits got the much-needed win here thanks to 29.66 points from Jimmy Garoppolo (though Kyler Murray had 26.70 points in the same game and would have served just fine, too) and 22.20 from TE Travis Kelce. Chris Godwin's 30-yard touchdown also helped, as did the smart play of D.J. Moore in the FLEX. Todd Gurley (22.30), Julian Edelman (14.90) and Hunter Henry (14.90) were all good for Justin but Philip Rivers failed to come through with enough points on Monday night. That's the Chargers' season in a nutshell for you.

Best Game of the Week: Ladies and Edelman 95.64, Kung Suh Panda 94.14.

This was our second-closest score of the entire season, following a Week Three win by the Revolution over Deckerhoff the Halls by a 1.16 margin. I already broke this one down above but for added spice I'll tell you that Becky's team didn't take her final lead until late in the late-afternoon game between Philly and New England, presumably when Tom Brady got the last of his measly 8.54 points. That must have been a real nail-chewing experience, considering that Brady could have coughed the lead up at any point in the fourth quarter with an interception. I have it on good authority that Brady does occasionally throw an interception.

Standings Update: I already covered much of this in the introduction, but to be specific, both The Great Marpet Capers and Matt Gay 4 Trey are now sitting at 8-3, one back of the 9-2 Water Walkers. The bad news for the two trailing teams is that the WW squad finishes its season with games against the ninth and 10th-place teams in the standings.

Occupying the last three spots in the playoffs at the moment are, in order, Risky Biscuits, Plunder and Lightning and The Revolution, all with 6-5 records. The Biscuits have the best points total of that bunch, but all three of us are ahead of the two 5-6 teams (Bowles-room Blitz and Kung Suh Panda) in that regard.

The NFL fantasy site does not mark teams that clinch spots, apparently, but it seems clear that the top three teams in the standings are already in. Given the points differential, the three 6-5 teams have to be considered favorites to finish out the field, but I know one squad in particular that is really limping in.

View some of the best photos from the Buccaneers' Week 11 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

Additional Week 11 Results: I've already covered the wins by Brate Scott, Ladies and Edelman and Risky Biscuits. Here's the rest of the action:

- The Great Marpet Capers (Jason Swinford) 169.32, Bowles-room Blitz (Carmen Vitali) 115.08

Jason's team is doing nothing to disabuse me of my belief that I'll be handing him the custom-made league championship belt in about a month. There just aren't any weaknesses here. Check out this squad on the week:

QB Drew Brees (21.2)

RB Christian McCaffrey (20.10)

RB Josh Jacobs (15.40)

WR Michael Gallup (23.80)

WR D.J. Chark (30.40)

TE Mark Andrew (17.50)

FLEX Melvin Gordon (12.00)

K Zane Gonzalez (8.00)

DEF New England (11.00)

I mean, those are relatively down weeks for Jacobs and the Pats, but it didn't matter. That's more than I would expect out of Gallup, but he's got 57.90 points over the last three weeks, and he probably won't even be in the lineup if Tyler Lockett is healthy and ready to go after the Seahawks bye. Oh, and there's David Montgomery and Devin Singletary on the bench, two guys that would probably be MVPs on my RB-needy team.

Meanwhile, Carmen's team has turned into a two-man show of Lamar Jackson and Michael Thomas. Those two were great again, with 58.88 combined points, but nobody else did anything noteworthy. I'd say it's a big missed opportunity for Carmen to get into the playoff picture, but it wasn't much of an opportunity with the Capers on the other side.

- Matt Gay 4 Trey (Brandon Durfey) 146.88, Water Walkers (125.66)

Brandon's team has taken some heat for getting some lucky matchups along the way, but this is through-and-through a quality win. Christopher's team didn't perform badly, with John Brown (34.70) and Austin Ekeler (21.20) in particular going off, but Brandon's team got quality contributions from everybody except kicker Harrison Butker. It wasn't a huge Monday night haul for Patrick Mahomes, but Mark Ingram (23.50), Alvin Kamara (22.20) and DeVante Parker(!) (20.50) all going off.

- Team Kareem 132.66, The Revolution 68.72

The most anonymous team in the league gets a probably meaningless win thanks to the Dak-Cobb duo, which was good for 53.06 points. Calvin Ridley, who I really didn't like in the draft but also I'm dumb, also pitched in with 28.30 points for the annoyingly-resurgent Falcons. As for Justin's team, it's hard to win when your starting receiver duo gets zero total points. That's Robert Woods, who is apparently dealing with a personal issue, and Tyreek Hill, who got hurt. Justin should have started Phillip Dorsett, I guess, but it wouldn't really have mattered.

Tales from the Message Board: Some of this week's discussions within the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge league:

The only thing of note on the message board was Brandon once again getting snippy about being told how fantasy football works, which is just as exciting as it sounds. So no Tales from the Message Board this week.

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