Back in 2009, a Fleaflicker staff member and myself conceived of a new league called the Cafe/Fleaflicker Challenge. Its purpose was to spark a little bit of a rivalry between two excellent sites, giving each a chance to claim superiority over the other in regards to our little game of fantasy football. It was an immediate hit, with the Cafe ultimately besting the Fleaflicker gentlemen by the time the playoffs rolled around. Fittingly, our own bungle613 won the 2009 Individual Championship as well by first beating mattb47 from the Cafe, then h2oski from Fleaflicker in the fantasy playoffs. We knew Fleaflicker would be hungry for revenge in Season 2, but were they able to even up the series?
First, a primer on the rules. We made our league a PPR league this year, as the player pool gets shallow quickly when you have to start one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one RB/WR, one TE, one K and one DF. The schedule was set so that no Fleaflicker team would play another Fleaflicker team during the regular season, and no Cafe team would play another Cafe team. Just 13 weeks of cross-site battle, and at the end we tally up the number of wins on each side and declare a winner. Sure, we throw a few individual teams into the playoffs for a little extracurricular battle, but make no mistake. The biggest prize (bragging rights) each year goes to the side that wins the regular season.
Let’s look at the highlights and lowlights of the 2010 draft.
Fleaflicker’s DrStu used his first-round pick (11th overall) on Ryan Grant. That had to hurt. Stu would rebound and go on to finish the league at 8-5. The Cafe’s WaCougMBS lost the Randy Moss sweepstakes this year, taking fantasy’s LVP with the 14th pick of the draft. WaCoug would persevere and finish 7-6.
Fleaflicker’s Coach Marty made the perplexing move of drafting two QBs (Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady) in the first two rounds. While both played great, we only allow trading between opposite sides of the Challenge (as, technically, teams on the same side aren’t really opponents), and no one on the Cafe side was willing to trade for one of Marty’s QBs this season. He would go on to finish 4-9.
With the last pick of the third round and the first pick of the fourth round, I used my swing picks on Tony Romo and Antonio Gates. While both were excellent for me early in the year, it made things a bit difficult when I ultimately lost both players. Still, I rode Jamaal Charles (first pick of the second round), a few good trades and a few good pickups to an 11-2 record, tops overall and a severe departure from 2009 when I finished 5-8, tied for last on the Cafe side.
Fleaflicker’s JPK and Cafe’s LS2Throwed scored big at the beginning of the fifth round, taking Dwayne Bowe and Arian Foster, respectively. Just to show how valuable those guys were, here’s a few more players selected in the fifth round: Donald Driver, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jerome Harrison, Kevin Kolb, Brent Celek. Cafe’s A Fleshner Fantasy also found a fifth-round gem when he took Mike Wallace in the middle of the round.
Great picks later in the draft include (owner listed in parenthesis): LaDainian Tomlinson at 7.01 (JPK, Fleaflicker), Darren McFadden at 7.10 (FFSCR_Doug, Fleaflicker), Kenny Britt at 8.08 (bungle613, Cafe), Tampa Mike Williams at 8.15 (LS2Throwed, Cafe), Matt Cassel at 9.02 (LS2Throwed, Cafe), Mario Manningham at 10.14 (Darkseid, Fleaflicker), BenJarvus Green-Ellis at 11.02 (LS2Throwed, Cafe), Austin Collie at 11.16 (daullaz, Cafe), Lance Moore at 12.14 (Darkseid, Fleaflicker), Mike Tolbert at 13.01 (JPK, Fleaflicker), Deion Branch at 13.06 (BGBootha, Cafe), Josh Freeman at 13.13 (playerpiano, Fleaflicker), Ryan Torain at 15.02 (LS2Throwed, Cafe), LeGarrette Blount at 15.11 (DrStu, Fleaflicker) and Chris Ivory at 16.15 with the penultimate pick of the draft (LS2Throwed, Cafe). LS2 clearly had an amazing draft, so kudos to him.
The two sides were able to work out several trades during the season. Here they are, with the Cafe team listed first in each case.
Week 2: WaCougMBS traded Chad Ochocinco and Laurence Maroney to h2oski for Pierre Thomas and Jordan Shipley.
Week 3: LS2Throwed traded Matt Cassel, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Dez Bryant to playerpiano for Josh Freeman, Mike Thomas and Roscoe Parrish.
Week 3: daullaz traded Austin Collie and Mike Bell to JPK for LaDainian Tomlinson.
Week 4: LS2Throwed traded Brandon Lloyd, Mike Thomas and Earnest Graham to FantasyGuru1965 for Michael Crabtree, Brandon LaFell and Ladell Betts.
Week 4: BGBootha traded Fred Jackson to DrStu for Devery Henderson.
Week 7: A Fleshner Fantasy traded Dustin Keller to playerpiano for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Demaryius Thomas.
Clearly, the Week 3 trade between LS2 and playerpiano would have a huge effect on the season, as playerpiano would go on to win top seed on the Fleaflicker side despite trading Green-Ellis back to the Cafe side a few weeks later.
So who won? The Cafe again jumped out to a lead, but the Fleaflicker guys kept it much tighter throughout the season. Heading into Week 13, the final week of regular season competition, the Cafe was up a couple games. If Fleaflicker went 6-2 against the Cafe in that final week, we would have a tie, which would have then meant the winner of the Challenge would be decided by the winner of the playoffs. If FF managed to go 7-1 or 8-0, they would win outright. Anything else, and the Cafe would repeat as champions. Ultimately, the Cafe took it home, as the two sides split the final week of competition. Final score: Cafe 54, Fleaflicker 50.
Here are the final regular-standings:
|x-Lone Star State||LS2throwed||9||4||0.692||1705.15||1439.05|
|x-mattb47’s maniacal muppet men||blevstone||8||5||0.615||1509.25||1458.80|
|x-Annexation of Puerto Rico||FFCSR_Doug||8||5||0.615||1411.55||1471.25|
|x-Now THIS IS Fantasy Football!||DrStu||8||5||0.615||1381.80||1334.95|
|North East Beast||DARKSEID||3||10||0.231||1360.45||1509.45|
FFCSR_Doug would defeat DrStu in the first round of the playoffs to move on and face playerpiano for the title of Fleaflicker champion. The No. 1 seed playerpiano won a pretty close game to advance to the individual championship. On the Cafe side, LS2Throwed took care of business with a win over mattb47, but LS2 couldn’t re-capture the magic when he faced my team in the Cafe championship. That set up an individual championship between playerpiano and daullaz, the two No. 1 seeds and regular season winners on each side of the Challenge.
With Romo out for the second half of the season, I was relying on David Garrard and Jon Kitna. I had Kevin Boss at tight end to replace Gates. The rest of my starters in the championship: Jamaal Charles, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong, Josh Brown and the Cowboys defense.
The scariest part of facing playerpiano all season was his 1-2 punch at running back, with Rashard Mendenhall and Peyton Hillis causing terror against every Cafe team they faced. The rest of playerpiano’s championship starters: Joe Flacco, Marshawn Lynch, Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, Owen Daniels, Dan Carpenter and the Raiders defense.
This was a tight battle all the way through. I jumped out to an early lead on the strength of Jamaal Charles’ two-TD day, and David Garrard also kicked in a two-TD performance. Josh Brown did a great job, racking up 12 points on the strength of three FGs. Playerpiano was able to overcome a dud by Hillis with 21.3 points from Owen Daniels. Heading into the Tuesday night game between Philadelphia and Minnesota, I was up about 14 points, but playerpiano had Harvin still to play.
As an aside, I benched Jeremy Maclin once I heard about the weather conditions in Philadelphia on Sunday. Unfortunately for me, I was in the middle of our Tailgate chat at FanHouse when the game was re-scheduled, and I didn’t have a chance to re-insert Maclin back into my lineup. He wound up scoring 13.4 points on my bench. His replacement, Armstrong, had just 3.5 points for my team.
Anyway, as you can probably guess by now, playerpiano got his points from Harvin, with the Minnesota receiver scoring 18.6 points with seven catches for 100 yards, six yards rushing, and a one-point bonus for reaching the 100-yard plateau. Final score: playerpiano 107.4, daullaz 102.75.
Congrats to playerpiano, the Challenge Individual Champion for his great season, and to the Fleaflicker crew for putting up an impressive fight. Big ups to the Cafe guys for again taking home the Challenge Championship for the second year running. I look forward to another competitive year next season, and I have the sneaking suspicion that Fleaflicker will break through for its first Challenge win.
R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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