I didn't think about fantasy football once during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 55-40 win over the Los Angeles Rams at the L.A. Coliseum on Sunday*. That's what happens when you're treated to an insanely entertaining three hours and 39 minutes of real football right in front of you, in a historic venue, with a nine-point underdog ambushing the defending conference champions.
(* Some may challenge veracity of this statement, sure, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
It probably also helped that I don't have Chris Godwin on my team in the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge, so I wasn't thinking about the sweet bounty he was providing me after every one of his 12 catches. I also don't have Mike Evans or Ronald Jones or Peyton Barber or O.J. Howard or Cam Brate or even the Buccaneers' defense, which had four takeaways, two sacks and a touchdown. Now that I think about it, how did that happen, anyway? Any of those Buccaneer studs would be welcome on my team.
I also don't have any Rams, so as long as I kept my eyes on the action on the field in front of me, the fantasy implications were minimal where I was on Sunday..
I didn't even check the league's scores until the Buccaneers arrived back in Tampa at 3:00 a.m. on Monday morning. There was no Wi-Fi on the plane. When I did check, I noticed that my opponent, Campbell Sears and the "Schianos Sombrero" squad, had started Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, which was good for 11 points. Campbell also had the Bucs' 15-point defense on his bench but that didn't hurt him because he started the Bears instead and got 17. As of Monday morning, I was 21 points down, with Pittsburgh RB James Conner still to go on Monday Night Football. I was projected to lose, but barely. It was hard to feel too bad about, because the glow of that glorious win over the Rams was still all around me.
As it turned out, Conner did in fact lead me to victory with a fine 26.50-point performance on Monday night. This one I did watch with my mind unabashedly on the fantasy football implications. I mean, what do I care if the 0-3 Steelers or 0-3 Bengals win or lose? It was all about Conner, and it was another very enjoyable evening. Two of those in a row. Admittedly, I was a bit concerned when he limped off the field while still needing to get me two more points, but he came back and it all turned out well in the end. Right, Campbell.
The thing is, there were probably a lot of people around the country watching the Bucs and Rams do battle who cared as much about the actual outcome of that game as I did about Steelers-Bengals. There was a metric megaton of fantasy points scored in that game, with three different 100-yard receivers, a total of SEVENTY-THREE completed passes to be divvied up in PPR leagues, two kickers making long-range shots and lots of extra points, three different running backs scoring touchdowns, two quarterbacks piling up points and even a pick-six for each defense. Wow!
So how did that affect the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge league, in which nine contest-winning Bucs fans are trying to overthrow our three in-house pros in order to win a pirate's chest worth of treasures (plus sweet, sweet bragging rights)? Weirdly, not as much as you might expect.
First of all, the day's biggest star, Chris Godwin, was resting comfortably on the bench for the wildly average and probably overconfident Risky Biscuits squad, helmed by fan Christopher Dombrowksi. Was this a problem for Christopher. Well, we'll get to that in a moment but, spoiler alert, that moment is going to be when I get to the "Lineup Blunder of the Week."
Neither of the two quarterbacks in this game – this game with 95 combined points, I should remind you – was in a starting lineup in our league this week, either. The Rams' Jared Goff would have been a better play than Deshaun Watson for the steamrolling Water Walkers team, led by fan Christopher Hatton, but it didn't matter much to that outcome. I'll chalk this one up to Christopher's Buccaneer fandom; surely, he believed Goff would struggle against the Bucs rising defense. (He did and he didn't, with 517 passing yards but three crucial interceptions.) Jameis Winston, meanwhile, was on the pine on pro Carmen Vitale's Bowles-room Blitz crew, but he was only a slightly better play than Lamar Jackson and the Blitz-ers won anyway.
Speaking of the Water Walkers, they were up against Todd Gurley and his two touchdowns, but those 26.00 points didn't matter as the double Ws won handily over Justin Morris' Deckerhoff the Halls team, 148.30. Christopher Hatton remains undefeated and in first place, though he has been just slightly outscored by me and The Great Marpet Capers team, run by Jason Swinford. In this case, Christopher's team got a gigantic 39.30-point game from Nick Chubb not to mention 29.20 from Austin Ekeler and a surprising 22.00 from tight end Austin Hooper. Bucs running back Ronald Jones' 15.20 points would have helped Justin Morris' team a little more than Derrick Henry, but not enough to make a difference.
The Rams two big receivers, Robert Woods (29.40 points) and Cooper Kupp (26.90)
were in starting lineups, but they essentially canceled each other out in the battle between Justin Beetz's The Revolution and the aforementioned Biscuits of a risky nature. Again, more on that in a second, but the beat just goes on for Justin and his undefeated squad.
Mike Evans had a nice 18.90-point day and he was in a starting lineup, but that lineup belonged to the still winless team of Ladies and Edelman, run by fan Becky Hartman. So, yeah, enough said there. Matt Gay was also a starter in that losing effort. The other kicker in Sunday's L.A. game, Greg Zuerlein, contributed 11 points to the Schianos Sombrero team, which is nice, but you already heard how that went. Bucs running back Peyton Barber was on the other side of that Ladies and Edelman game, but on the bench for the low-scoring and (this week) quite lucky Matt Gay 4 Trey squad, led by fan Brandon Durfey.
I every much enjoyed watching Chris Godwin and company put up a team-record 55 points on Sunday, not once thinking about what it meant from a fantasy football standpoint. Surely, Godwin and his pals were making many other fantasy players around the country very happy. As it turned out, their impact on the Buccaneers FANtasy Challenge league was far less than it was on the Los Angeles Rams.
View some of the best Buccaneer fan-submitted photos, presented by Geico.
Now let's take a closer look at how the rest of Week Four unfolded in our league.
Lineup Decision of the Week: Plunder and Lightning starts Aaron Rodgers over Carson Wentz.
I've now given this award to myself two times in four weeks, which is really just an egregious abuse of my power as the sole writer of this weekly wrap-up. I considered lauding Brandon and Matt Gay 4 Trey for starting Chiefs RB Darrel Williams in his flex spot, as Williams' 20.60 points was the difference in their narrow win over Ladies and Edelman, but I scoured the Matt Gay bench and didn't find any obvious alternative. This isn't an MVP award, it's the best decision of the week.
One of the toughest things to manage in fantasy football is when you have two players at the same position who are roughly equal, and you can only start one of them. It feels like a toss-up every week, and it's difficult to decide which one to start. I probably shouldn't have spent a 10th-round pick on Carson Wentz after I selected Aaron Rodgers in the sixth round, but I admittedly was kind of low on ideas at that point in the draft. So here I am.
And in this case, I had to make a decision fast because Rodgers and Wentz were playing against each other on Thursday night. Ultimately, I went with Rodgers because he was at home, because the Eagles have a great run defense which I hoped would lead to more passing and because Green Bay's defense overall is off to a great start.
I got lucky. Rodgers had a very nice 27.48-point outing, even if it was frustrating watching the Packers fail on six straight plays from around the five-yard line. Another touchdown there would have put me in much better shape, but more importantly, starting Rodgers over Wentz made the difference in my bottom line. Wentz had more touchdown passes but a lot fewer years, and had I had his 19.70 points in the lineup instead of Rodgers, I would have lost.
Lineup Blunder of the Week: Christopher Dombrowski and Risky Biscuits leaving Chris Godwin on the bench.
I teased this one above, but surely one lineup decision couldn't be the difference in a game lost by 28.30 points, right? Right?!
Now, listen, Christopher started Odell Beckham and Cooper Kupp in his two receiver slots, and it's hard to argue with those decisions. Kupp proved to be great with 26.90 points. Beckham was a flop with 4.00 points, but I don't think you draft Odell 13th overall and stash him on your bench. The issue is the flex position, where Christopher started Arizona wide receiver Christian Kirk because…reasons? Kirk had been decent and consistent in the first three weeks, with point totals of 10.40, 17.40 and 15.90, but Godwin outscored him in two of those three weeks. Perhaps the good numbers for the Rams' defense scared the Biscuits off. I don't know, but those 41.20 points on the bench were 32.90 points more than Kirk got. What did I say the final score of the Biscuits-Revolution game was? Oh, right.
Best Game of the Week: Plunder and Lightning 135.48, Schianos Sombrero 130.02
It was the closest game of the week, and unlike the Matt Gay 4 Trey-Ladies and Edelman barnburner it featured two teams that actually did well this week. It's a tough loss for Campbell, who would have beaten seven other teams this week with his point total.
I've already covered this game above so there's no need to go much deeper into it. Just two quick notes about the Sombrero lineup, one good and one bad: 1. Campbell won the Wayne Gallman waiver-wire sweepstakes when Saquon Barkley went down, which is extremely fair since his was the team that had Barkley. It worked out quite well, as Gallman put up 29.80 points in his FANtasy Challenge debut. In fact, that might have been the winning edge had, 2. Dak Prescott not laid an egg. Oof. No touchdowns and 7.62 total points. That was a 20-point advantage at quarterback for my team, which is tough to overcome.
Standings Update: This is a new addition to the weekly wrap-up now that the league is starting to separate into clear front-runners and those who are falling behind.
Christopher Hatton's Water Walkers and Justin Beetz's The Revolution are the lone remaining unbeaten teams, but Christopher has scored about 60 more point so he's in first place. This week, the Revolution has a tough matchup in The Great Marpet Capers, who are the league's highest-scoring team despite a 2-2 record.
Brandon Durfey's Matt Gay 4 Trey team joins me at 3-1, right behind the leaders, but I get third place for the moment thanks to a better point total. Becky Hartman's Ladies and Edelman squad has gotten very close two weeks in a row but remains the only winless team. The two other Pros in the competition are sitting at 2-2 (Carmen Vitali's Bowles-room Blitz) and 1-3 (Casey Phillips' Brate Scott), respectively. Looks like I'm going to have to do the heavy lifting for the Pros.
Additional Week Four Results: I've already covered the wins by my team, the Water Walkers and the Revolution. Here's the rest of the action:
- The Great Marpet Capers 137.50, Kung Suh Panda 95.82
Very little drama here, as an interception by the Patriots' defense put Jason Swinford's team up early and they never fell behind. The QB-RB-RB trios were a mismatch with the Brissett-McCaffrey-Jacobs group outscoring the Allen-McCoy-Johnson party by about 27 points. The Capers also got a lot more out of their tight end and flex than Panda did.
- Matt Gay 4 Trey 95.90, Ladies and Edelman 89.40
Brandon got a little lucky here, as his only real standout was the aforementioned Darrel Williams. Even the great Alvin Kamara was limited to 11.90 points, though it was a run by Kamara late in the afternoon that finally put the Trey team ahead of the Ladies. Becky's team had Mike Evans and somehow got 17.80 points out of Stefon Diggs despite a complete meltdown by the Vikings' offense. It wasn't enough.
- Bowles-room Blitz 120.08, Brate Scott 104.30
This was our first bit of Pro-on-Pro violence this season, as that's Carmen Vitali's squad slipping by Casey Phillips' team. Carmen's biggest edge was at quarterback, where Lamar Jackson was about 10 points better than Russell Wilson, and the second receiver spot, where Michael Thomas was about 10 points better than Amari Cooper. Casey has that problem I noted above, with two roughly equal quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan, and she tends to pick the wrong one each week. In this case, though, Wilson was only a little worse than Ryan and it wouldn't have matted to the bottom line.
Tales from the Message Board: Here are some random thoughts, complaints and self-flagellations from the league message board this past week.
Matt Gay 4 Trey: Most fun game since week 2 of last season. So awesome to see them put together a complete game. And happy to see my man Matt Gay go out and have a nice game. Go Bucs!
Editor's note: See, I wasn't the only one who appreciated that game for completely non-fantasy reasons!
The Great Marpet Capers: Looks like I'm about to have a running back decide to play this year. If anybody is in need of one I'm in the market for a wide receiver and heavy on RBs at the moment.
Editor's note: /raises hand and shakes it wildly.
Risky Biscuits: 4. Plunder and Lightning- Huge comeback on Monday Night that we will all surely hear about in his write up tomorrow. I can't wait to read about it…seriously, spend the whole article talking about yourself and your team's great win and absolutely nothing about other team's possible missteps this week. You deserve it!
Editor's note: Well, if you insist!