Christopher Hatton, Brandon Durfey, Jason Swinford or Justin Beetz – one of those four will be the very first Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge champion, and none are the Buccaneers insiders we perhaps euphemistically referred to as Pros.
All three of those Pros have now been eliminated, staff writer Carmen Vitali and team reporter Casey Phillips by virtue of missing the playoffs and now me, slain at the hand of Swinford's The Great Marpet Capers team. With Beetz's The Revolution squad taking down Christopher Dombrowski's Risky Biscuits in the other first-round game we lose our best-named team but have a Final Four set.
That means in two weeks our league will have a champion, and since it is one of the nine people who won a Buccaneers.com contest to play against the, um, "Pros," someone is taking home a treasure chest of prizes, including Buccaneers game tickets. There's also a rather sick championship belt at stake, which will know my office as its home for just two more weeks.
Swinford's rather easy 138.96-100.50 victory over me was fitting in that it has been my opinion – repeated in this space several times – that he has the team to beat. Very much not to my surprise, the onslaught of Drew Brees, Christian McCaffrey, Melvin Gordon, D.J. Chark and a lineup pretty much without weakness was far too much for my hobbled squad to overcome. It would have been closer if not for one massive lineup blunder on my part (more on that below), but the final outcome would have been the same.
So Swinford makes it to the semifinals a week after coughing up his first-round bye with a rare power outage in the final week of the regular season. That surprising development plus the single closest win of the league's entire season – a 125.20 to 125.02 victory over me, sadly – allowed Durfey's Matt Gay 4 Trey team to hurdle Swinford's crew into that bye. Which sure was…uh…fortunate. Now Swinford and Durfey will battle it out head-to-head in the semifinals. I've mentioned Swinford's stud players; Durfey has a very formidable crew led by Patrick Mahomes, Alvin Kamara, Jarvis Landry and more. But not, strangely, Andrew Luck.
The other semifinals pits Hatton's Water Walkers team against The Revolution. The Water Walkers essentially went wire-to-wire in first place but did stumble a bit down the stretch. Beetz's team was extremely volatile down the stretch, vacillating between scores of 150 and 70 from week to week. We'll see which team calms its playoff nerves and moves on to the championship. The Water Walkers will need the good Texans team to show up since they have that Deshaun Watson-DeAndre Hopkins combo (not to mention Nick Chubb). The Revolution has lived through a QB carousel this season but has found life lately in Ryan Tannehill to go with the dangerous WR combo of Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams. Also, getting Marlon Mack back helps.
So it's on to the semis. First, let's look at a few more of the details from the first round of eliminations.
Lineup Decision of the Week: Justin Beetz and The Revolution spin the QB roulette wheel one more time and win big.
I really needed to find a lineup move from the Beetz-Dombrowski game because it was far closer than Jason's win over me. In fact, The Revolution won by less than a touchdown, 136.24 to 130.90. The seeds of that victory may have been sown on Wednesday, Nov. 27. It was on that day that Beetz dropped Jared Goff and picked up Ryan Tannehill, who has been the savior of the Titans' 2019 season. Now the Revolution can say the same because Tannehill got the starting nod over Baker Mayfield and dropped a cool 27.54 points on the Biscuits. That team was choosing between Sam Darnold and Kyler Murray at QB, and while Dombrowski chose correctly, Darnold's 17.10 points weren't enough.
The Biscuits exit knowing they did all they could, essentially maximizing their lineup this week. There were three running backs on their bench who would have outscored Miles Sanders, but none by more than two points. Christian Kirk would have had about four more than D.J. Moore, who underperformed his projection by five points. Maybe one could cobble together the perfect lineup that comes close to making up those six points, but there was no real blunder here. Unfortunately, Aaron Jones' monster game (31.20) will be his swan song, while Travis Kelce goes out with a 20-point performance.
Helping Tannehill most was Robert Woods, who put up 25.70 points in the Rams' win over Seattle. Cook and Hill had good days, too, if not overwhelming. It was enough.
Lineup Blunder of the Week: Plunder and Lightning picks up Raheem Mostert, forgets he exists.
It's a good thing for Beetz that his team won or he'd be in this space for leaving Emmanuel Sanders and his 34.10 points on his bench. Instead, let's discuss my move of grabbing 49ers back Raheem Mostert off waivers last week and then letting him rot on the bench while Jamaal Williams and Bennie Snell exploded for a combined 6.50 points. Williams had been a sneakily-decent play in recent weeks and Snell appeared to be the main man with James Conner (also on my squad) out again with a shoulder injury, but neither of them was anything close to a safe play. Aaron Jones can always take over in Green Bay, which he did, and Snell is no Conner.
I suppose the projections must have told me that they would get more than Mostert and I blindly believed the system because I honestly can't recall why I didn't put Mostert in my lineup. All he did was rack up 24.90 points, most of it within a few-minute span in the 49ers game. In fact, had I started Mostert and David Johnson, who must have been awaken from his fantasy coma last week as he got 13.90 points, I would have made a game of it against The Great Marpet Capers. Alas.
Not that it would have been easy against Brees (40.06), McCaffrey (24.50), Chark (16.50), Melvin Gordon (19.40) and Devin Singletary (17.80). But a blunder is a blunder and I'm owning mine.
Additional Week 14 Results: I've already covered the two playoff games. There were also consolation games, but since I think fantasy league consolation games are dumb, I'm not going to acknowledge their existence.
Tales from the Message Board: Dear reader, I am going to spare you the annoying details from the message board this week. You're welcome.