The Retargeting Group

By Frank Reynolds

In an alternate universe, people’s lives are dominated by popularity even more than they are here on earth in 2017. They are shaped by it, molded by it, transformed by it. Their status in the world is the very definition of who they are. There’s a system in place – a system that ranks each and every person’s popularity, allure, and worth in the world.

Some aren’t meant to be admired, while others are revered from the very day they are born. For everyone else, there’s the hope of being selected as a candidate for The Retargeting Group.


I woke to the sound of my mother. Her screams shook the house with such force that I was all but certain we were in the midst of another earthquake.

Nope. It was just her. Screaming bloody murder like I’d killed someone.

“Cookie! Cookie!”

The rap at my door was what brought me to life, and I ushered her in. I looked at the clock and saw that school wouldn’t start for another two hours, so what in the world was she doing? Only a few more weeks until graduation, I thought bitterly. Just a few more weeks until the real world kicked in, when sleep wouldn’t come so easily – not with my popularity levels so low, at least.

She pushed her overly-excited self into my room and held out a letter. I saw that she’d already opened it; her going through my mail always irritated me, but after I’d read what she’d read my sour mood was vanquished. Before I’d fully comprehended what was happening, what was going to happen, we were jumping on my bed, absolutely elated.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH!” I was crying I was so excited, and who could blame me? My life was going to change. I’d been selected as part of The Retargeting Group’s next batch of recruits for that quarter’s program. They wanted me. Me. They saw something in me, despite my lower popularity levels.

“You are to report to The Retargeting Group at 8 a.m. for orientation, effective immediately,” the letter read. I was out the door in less five minutes.


The Retargeting Group was unlike anything I’d ever seen. “Flawless” would be an unjust way to describe it. In short, acquiring a job through them would be a dream come true for anyone in my position – literally – and, if everything went according to plan, it was a real possibility for me. Their being the Gods of the world was important, but changing the lives of those who didn’t quite fit society’s definition of perfect meant everything. It was what people like me lived for.

After check in, I sat in the auditorium with all of the other recruits and waited. It was quiet, but that was to be expected, for these people weren’t particularly outgoing. I wasn’t either. After all, we were there because we hadn’t gotten popular on our own. And yet they’re still interested in what we have to offer.

The CEO made her way out on stage shortly after and greeted us with a fondness I hadn’t felt from anyone in quite some time. She got right to the point: we’d been summoned there as part of the company’s next project. Every quarter a new group of prospects was selected with one goal in mind – to bring those with unseen talent out into the world to make it a better place.

“People like likable people,” she said frankly, “so that makes our popularity scale essential in the delegation of jobs upon graduation. With that being said, likable people aren’t always the most qualified to run multi-million dollar businesses, or to teach our children, or even to work for us here at The Retargeting Group.

“Now, you all have scores lower than a five on your Status Scale.” I assumed she wasn’t wrong – I’d racked up a paltry 4.2/10 after 17 long years of existence. It wasn’t like I received a lot of bad grades from my peers, I just didn’t receive many good ones. I wasn’t the most social person out there; more of an introvert than anything.

She continued: “Obviously, these scores wouldn’t make for lavish jobs if you were all just ordinary people. Fortunately for you, you’re not ordinary.” She drew a folder from a bag sitting beside her. “As you all know, we here at The Retargeting Group keep tabs on you from the moment you’re brought into this world. Our records are reviewed every quarter of every year for all your lives to see if we find you suitable for the program. You may not be the most popular, but you indeed have the potential to be assets in this world.”

The woman smiled and went on to explain how the program worked. The average candidate was sent out 15-20 times a month to various locations – locations carefully picked by The Retargeting Group in an effort to concentrate exposure. They found that 15-20 times every four weeks or so was enough to draw attention without being seen as too suffocating.

“Think of yourselves as little bits of code. ‘Pixels,’ if you will, that are being dropped into other people’s lives with hopes of intriguing them.”

The goal sounded simple enough – learn your trade and get people to like you. “This is the chance of a lifetime,” she said, “an opportunity other people don’t get. You’re getting a chance to do something you love regardless of your prior scores, to boost those numbers while surrounded by people just like you.” She went on to say that, to our collective relief, our scores were being wiped clean. “A fresh start” is what she called it. Bonding with people who liked the same things we did should have been much easier to do than continuing to fail at what was considered the norm for others.

It was all very exciting. Too exciting to be true, in all honesty, and, as if on cue, she told us all the catch: the company was investing a lot of resources in us, so if we were unsuccessful in our endeavors, there would be consequences. She didn’t elaborate on what those consequences were; instead, she concluded by reassuring them that their program had a success rate of nearly 90 percent, so there was hardly anything to worry about.

We were sent home shortly after the presentation ended and told to get a good night’s sleep, seeing how we were to be sent out into the field the following morning after a brief meeting at The Retargeting Group. I was nervous – excited, but nervous – and when I told my parents, they didn’t seem too worried about the alleged consequences of failure.

“You’re going to be great,” Mom said. “I’m so proud of you.”


The next morning, my fellow recruits came with plenty of questions that extended our “brief” meeting to over an hour. I only had one: the CEO had mentioned that our locations were selected “carefully,” but what did that mean?

The person in charge of that morning’s seminar, a tall, kindly man, smiled. “Good question, Cookie,” he started. “You’ve all been reminded of how we’ve been keeping track of you for a long, long time now, but just to be diligent we’re going to have you all take a series of tests before heading out this morning. That way we ensure you’re given the best possible chance to connect and succeed.” He told us that the program worked best when recruits were matched with others who were actively looking to spend time with people like us.

After the tests, which were more detailed than I’d anticipated (though I suppose that was for the best) we were gathered and given one last bit of advice: Seventy-four percent of people find The Retargeting Group’s “programs” to be creepy, and 65 percent find that being forced to spend time with recruits from the program is an invasion of their privacy.

“You’re looking to strike gold with the other 26 and 35 percent,” their instructor said. “Remember, each program is different. You’ll all be part of different ‘campaigns’ for different amounts of time, targeting a different number of people.”

We were given one more parting gift upon departure: as an added bonus, no negative scores would count against us for the duration of our programs. “You’ll not only be starting with a clean slate, but any score you receive at less than a 5 will be discredited, seeing how you are part of a program and these decisions are not entirely being made on your behalf. So again, your goal is to get the highest score possible. A lot of people will be annoyed with you, this much is true, so don’t pay any mind to them. Try to find a few real connections and run with them.” I was given my “campaign” – a two-week program with six locations.

Two weeks. Six chances. It was shorter than I would have liked, but it would have to do.


My first assigned location was at a theater class. It looked a bit rundown, having been built over 100 years ago. Some may have found this to be a bit off-putting, given the pristine appearance of The Retargeting Group. I, however, found it somewhat endearing. History interested me, especially when it pertained to the theater. Being an actress would mean the world to me, which is why it was so hard to cope with my score on the Status Scale. Actresses had to be respected and well-liked. They were polarizing figures. I clearly wasn’t. It was just… when I got on stage, everything was different. I felt free. I felt like no one was judging despite my understanding that they were. Everyone was judging when watching actresses act, but the difference was that there was nothing they could do about it. I was going to be heard, regardless of what they thought.

My fine arts instructor in school had told me to “pretend life is a movie or play. Pretend you’re acting all of the time.” That way I wouldn’t be such a recluse. I could see what he meant, but when I tried I was seen as standoff-ish, and that lowered my score even more. I was hoping that being sent to a location with more people like me would ease my ability to express myself to a more receptive audience.

The results were… mixed.

For starters, the group knew I was part of the program from the moment I opened the door, and so a great number of them were turned off before I even had the chance to speak. Those who were willing to talk only gave me a few seconds of facetime before I felt clouds of judgment sweep over me like a dense fog. More often than not, the clouds were too dark for comfort.

The few who gave me a chance were nice, I guess. They listened to me ramble about my love for the theater and the movie industry alike. They answered my questions regarding their own aspirations and dreams. Still, I never felt a true connection. I never felt like someone really wanted to be there with me. When I told my parents about my first day, my dad reminded me that it was only the first of six chances, and he promised that things would get better. “No one ever lands a 10 on their first day,” he said, claiming to have spoken with someone who’d been chosen by The Retargeting Group some 20 years ago. He never said whether or not that person passed.


The next three locations resulted in more of the same – an overwhelming disregard for my presence. There was a decent amount of overlap; so much so, in fact, that I was pretty amazed. How was The Retargeting Group able to predict where these people would be and when they would be there? They weren’t kidding when they said this was creepy. Nevertheless, I went on doing as the managers of my program suggested. They told me to focus on those who seemed like they could be interested in getting to know me rather than forcing a connection that wasn’t there.

Regardless of who I tried to reach, it wasn’t working. It just wasn’t… well, for the most part. There was this one guy. He’d come up to me at my second location and listened to me ramble, but that hadn’t turned him away. Instead, he kept coming back. Little by little, inch by inch, he sank deeper and deeper into the pool that was our budding relationship. I didn’t feel like he was totally in, but progress was certainly being made.

The problem was that I only had two sessions left to get a score of some kind. Any score. After four locations, I was sporting a solid 0/10, and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: no one had given me a score up until that point (or not a score above a five, at least).

The managers told me that this was relatively common. A lot of people saved their scores for after they’d made a final decision on the person. Sometimes this happened immediately, but it usually took more than four sessions. In all honesty, it usually takes more than six. I was disappointed, sure, but determined. I didn’t want to blow this, my chance of being an actress. I didn’t want to find out what the “consequence” for failure was, either.


My fifth day was the best of the bunch because my guy came up to me for a change. He’s interested – It was all I could think to think. We talked, had a pleasant conversation, and left it at that. He didn’t know when the program would end – no one outside of the recruits and The Retargeting Group were made aware of that – but he ended our conversation in a way that suggested he knew we’d meet again.

The thought gave me butterflies. I hadn’t had many real friends before, and never a boyfriend, but there was a spark in his mannerisms when he was around me. I smiled, knowing that I had a chance to close a passable score on my last day.


Before receiving my sixth and final location of the program, my manager told me that the CEO wanted to see me in her office. I gulped at this, and I felt a bead of sweat trickle down from the fringe of my forehead and into the brow above my right eye.

“Sorry?” I asked, breath catching in my throat.

“Boss’ orders. Follow the hall to its end – you’ll know where to go.”

I did as I was bid, but not without a noticeable hesitation in my step. What did the CEO want with me? Did it have to do with my numbers – or lack thereof – or was it something else? This couldn’t have been common; she was the CEO of the largest and most important corporation in the world.

My manager had been right; her office was as obvious as anything I’d ever seen. It was a heavily guarded room the size of a small house. When she waved me in, I sat in a chair that was more comfortable than my bed but couldn’t bring myself to relax. The anxiety I felt was suffocating.

After some short formalities, the CEO got down to the point. “You’re a talented young woman, Cookie. You know this as well as I.”

I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. Did I know that? I’d been told I was a good actress in school, yes, but there was a difference between hearing something your teacher said and actually believing in it.

“We want you to succeed,” she continued, “which is why you have to close someone. Anyone. Today. You must record a number, preferably above an eight, to set a popularity score worthy of becoming an actress.”

“I met a boy.” The words came out in such a quiet rush that I was surprised the CEO heard me.



“That’s good, Cookie, that’s good.” She smiled faintly. “You’ve a talent we haven’t seen in a young actress in some time, but you know how actresses are. They’re in the spotlight 24/7, and we can’t rely on someone with a 4.2 to take the movie industry to the next level. You understand that, right?” I nodded. “So, that makes this boy all the more important to you. Remember – most people are too scared to talk outright to strangers. Roughly two percent have the courage to say something to someone they don’t know. The other 98 percent are what we call ‘window shoppers.’ Are you catching my drift?”

I wasn’t, but I bowed my head all the same. My reaction must not have been convincing enough, seeing how she went on. “Our goal here at The Retargeting Group is very simple – we want to convert those window shoppers into actual buyers. This boy? He’s a window shopper. You reached out to him, remember, but now it seems like he’s still interested and browsing. Go on and close him.” With a pat on the back she sent me off, and I was standing at location six before I knew it. Sure enough, he was there, and sure enough, he browsed his way over to me.

I felt myself shaking. This was it. This was my last chance to prove my worth to The Retargeting Group. It was all or nothing now.

“Hi,” he said, too calm for how big the moment was.


There was a brief and somewhat awkward pause that followed, but as time went on and more words were said, I found that he was the one who was engaging me. My reserved and tense behavior didn’t seem to deter him. He’d gotten to know me over those last few days, and he was legitimately interested. The more he talked, the easier it was to talk back. So easy, in fact, that he even gave me his number before I left. It was the most meaningful thing anyone had ever done in my life, though he didn’t know that. It was a gesture that filled me with so much joy my heart could have burst. A number was as good as a solid rating – a great one, even.

It wasn’t long before I was called back into the CEO’s office, this time under entirely different circumstances, and she issued me heart-felt congratulations for ringing in a perfect 10/10.

“How did you do it?” She asked me, genuinely curious.

“I just… I just did.” I didn’t really know how it happened, I couldn’t explain it. The only thing I knew was that the program worked. I’d been targeted and then retargeted, deployed and then accepted. I wasn’t a hopeless case after all.

“Well, whatever you did, you came through, and that’s what counts. You remember we told you recruits that all programs are different, right?”

I said yes, and she stood, holding a manila folder in one hand and her glasses in the other. “Your program was designed specifically for you as a sort of test. A trial. Actresses need to be able to work under stress. Both the theater and the movie industry work on tight deadlines, and so we needed to make sure you’d be able to meet those kinds of demands, hence the short-lived nature of your trial.” She grinned and handed me the folder. “Congratulations on passing, but we have bigger plans for you. What if I were to tell you that the folder you hold contains our plans for your future as an actress?”

I almost jumped out of my seat and hugged her so aggressively she almost fell. I half expected her to call for her guards, but instead, I heard her laughing. “I’m assuming that’s a yes?”

“Thank you. Thank you so much.” I wiped the tears forming in the corners of my eyes. Because of The Retargeting Group, my dreams were now no longer dreams. They were my new reality.

The CEO told me that they would be in touch after graduation and that I should try to enjoy my last few days as a kid. As I stepped from her office, I turned on my phone and saw that I had a text message from the boy who’d made it all possible.

His name was Roi.


Outside sources:




The Top 16 Characters in the Star Wars Universe

By Frankie Reynolds

Happy Star Wars day, everyone!

In case you live under an actual rock, today is May 4, 2017, which can only mean one thing: it’s Star Wars day! Seeing how the trailer for Episode VIII, “The Last Jedi,” was already released a few weeks back, there’s really not much to look forward to today save for some sales. So instead, we have to make our own fun, and who doesn’t love a good old-fashion ranking?

The Star Wars universe is huge – I repeat, HUGE. The casual fan may find a top five or 10 easy to construe, but us die-hards really struggle when naming our absolute favorites in the series. There are eight movies to choose from – which span nearly 60 years – and that’s not even including two animated television shows, which have run for a combined nine seasons to date. Couple those with a large number of books and comics, you can see how it’d be easy to turn a top 10 into a top 50 without even so much as blinking.

So, before we get down to it, I guess the first thing to address is why I decided to make my list a top 16. Such an odd number, right? Well, I figure there are eight movies, giving me the opportunity to choose two from each if necessary.

Without further ado, let’s get to the rankings, and let the debating begin!

Please note: There will obviously be spoilers for all things “Star Wars” from this point on. 


Notable omissions:

Boba Fett: The first name on this list which will surely send fans into a frenzy. Look, I’m just not a big Boba Fett guy. He’s in the series for a total of 15 minutes and doesn’t do much more than stand around with his arms crossed over his junk. He dies (assumedly) a really lame death five minutes into his first real action of the entire series. He’s not even the coolest Mandalorian in the galaxy (you want cool action from those guys? Watch “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.”) Call me crazy, but I just don’t get the hype. Never have, never will.

Kylo Ren: As many already know, I was in absolute awe over “The Force Awakens.” Despite it’s similarities to “A New Hope,” I found it to be the Star Wars movie we not only deserved, but the one we needed after years away from the franchise cinema-wise. With that being said, I found Kylo Ren to be something of a disappointment. I’m sure he’s going to be much more of a menace in future installments, but in Episode VII he comes off as a whiney brat who throws temper tantrums at the slightest inconveniences. He may have aspirations to be like Darth Vader, but he acts more like Anakin Skywalker. And dude – you killed Han Solo. F*** you… for now, at least.

Finn: Don’t get me wrong, I loved Finn’s character, and he’d be in my top 16 if not for one thing: I’m of a firm belief that he should have died at Kylo Ren’s hands during their lightsaber battle. His purpose was served. He got Rey to where she needed to be and drove her emotionally to become the warrior she was meant to become. On top of that, killing him and Han back to back would have been a huge statement from Disney; it would have shown us they aren’t messing around, and that people we’ve grown to love are now expendable.

Now, my opinion could change with “The Last Jedi,” but right now I can’t put him on my list while harboring such anger over how his character was handled. I mean, his friggin spine looked like it was severed. Aggressively, at that.

Jyn Erso: She’s the star of the newest Star Wars film “Rogue One,” but I just didn’t feel like her character was as developed as it needed to be to become a true favorite/heroine in the Star Wars universe. Felicity Jones did well in the role, but there just wasn’t… wasn’t enough for me to feel blown away. I loved “Rogue One” just as much, if not more, than most other “Star Wars” films, but I’ll remember it for reasons other than her. Honestly, I’d probably put Saw Gerrera or Churrit on this list before her simply because those dudes are straight up awesome and, quite honestly, more interesting.

Padme Amidala: There’s no real reason for Padme not landing on my list, she’s just not quite as fascinating as other characters. She was the prequel girl, after all. The twist with her being the real queen in Episode I was kind of cool, and she was definitely a bright spot (especially acting-wise) in the prequel trilogy, but she’s still not quite top 16 worthy. So if Natalie Portman isn’t, who is?


Honorable Mention:

Poe Dameron: God, Poe is the man. He has arguably the single most badass scene in the entire movie “The Force Awakens” (taking out the entire Starkiller base by himself is impressive, to say the least), but he wasn’t quite the “lead” we were expecting given the actor who plays him (Oscar Issac is a pretty big name). I have a feeling he’ll make the jump after Episode VIII, but for now he stays here until we’ve seen him a bit more.

Ashoka Tano: Those of you who have only seen the movies have no idea who this is. A main character of the television show “The Clone Wars,” Ashoka was Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” before being banished by the Jedi order for a crime she didn’t commit. She’s truly an awesome character who brings out the good in Anakin (and also the bad, at times), and she is very important to the extended canon. The only reason she’s not on the list is because she’s neither featured nor mentioned in the movies (well, the live-action ones, at least).

Lando Calrissian: The sailor with the most swag in the original trilogy, Lando lands just outside this list simply because he’s not as relevant. He’s only been in two movies – with no plans to re-appear, I might add – and in one of them he comes off as something of a coward. Still, Lando is as cool as the other side of the pillow, so count me among those who want to see Billy Dee return to the role in some way, shape, or form going forward. His delightful cameo in “Rebels” was a reminder of just how chill this guy is.

C-3P0: Threepio is arguably the most notable source of comic relief throughout the “Star Wars” series, and Anthony Daniels, the man inside the suit, is the only actor to have appeared in every single movie. Still, I think we can all agree that he can be a bit much sometimes, can’t we? He’s fantastic at times, but there are others where we, like Han Solo, just want to tell him that we aren’t “really interested in your opinion.”


Top 16 Characters in the Star Wars Universe

16. Mace Windu


Come on now. Did you really not expect this man, Samuel L. FREAKING Jackson, not to make the list? His purple lightsaber alone is enough to warrant him a spot. Mace Windu is the only person (that we know of, at least) to ever defeat Darth Sideous in combat – a feat even Yoda can’t say he accomplished. Here’s hoping that Samuel L is right, and that we’ll see him again in some capacity down the line.

15. Qui-Gon Jinn


Obi-Wan’s master was a shoe-in here. Look, people have their problems with the prequels, specifically “The Phantom Menace,” but Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon was an awesome character. Sure, he’s pretty much the sole reason for the Empire’s conception, but his heart was in the right place. He also trained Obi-Wan to be one of the greatest Jedi we’ve ever seen, so that has to count for something, right?

14. BB-8


Probably the cutest character to enter the “Star Wars” universe up to this point, BB-8 won our hearts in “The Force Awakens” for it’s adorable stature, it’s clever wit, and it’s helpful nature. BB-8 looks to play a huge part in films to come, and more iconic moments – such as the lighter scene, which sent audiences everywhere into fits of laughter – will surely move BB-8 up this list in the future.

13. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin


When you think of “Star Wars,” one villain comes to mind, and we all know who it is. However, a second viewing of the first “Star Wars” movie to ever be released will make you realize that he wasn’t the main villain in the beginning. That man was Gran Moff Tarkin, and wow, he’s a great character. If you get the chance, do yourself a favor and read “Tarkin,” one of the first books to be released in the new canon. It really is a shame that he was killed off so early in the series, because he was such an intimidating man. Hell, he even had our great Lord of the Sith on a leash in “A New Hope,” and that doesn’t just happen willy-nilly. Only men of true power have the ability to control a Darth. Though many will disagree, I’m of the opinion that Garth Edwards was wise in brining back the Grand Moff for “Rogue One.” It was controversial, yes, but he’s such a great addition to the universe. Besides, you can’t make a movie about the Death Star without him. That’d be like opening a shoe store without any shoes. It just doesn’t make any sense.

12. Chewbacca


Some may find our beloved “Chewie” to be a bit low on this list, and my counter is that the characters above on this list are either, in my opinion, better or way more important to the overall “Star Wars” story. Still, you can’t make a list of “Star Wars” favorites and not have Chewie on it. He’s too loveable, too funny. Honestly, him and Han have a relationship that everyone wants to have with their best friend. Simply put, that’s what he is – the best friend in the “Star Wars” universe, because every time he’s on screen, you just want to smile and either pat him on the back or give him a hug.

11. Emperor Palpatine


There are few characters in this series who are truly evil. Like evil, evil, all the way down to the core. Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine is one of them. He is the very definition of bad. And on top of that, he’s powerful. Too powerful. So powerful that he rules the entire galaxy out of fear. He’s the ultimate villian, so why isn’t he higher on this list? In truth, he can be a bit cheesy at times, particularly in the prequel trilogy. No, not cheesy like The Master in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” or anything like that, but he just doesn’t act as evil as he truly is at times. It feels slightly off, weird. Still, The Emperor is a looming presence in episodes four and five, and by the time he makes his way on screen for a large role in “Return of the Jedi,” we see why he’s so feared. I mean, once Luke defeats Vader, the Emperor makes short work of bringing him to the brink of death. It is because of his great power that part of me feels like the Emperor’s entire story is yet to be told, whether that be in future novels or even films…

10. K-2SO


The newest member of the “Star Wars” family, K-2S0 became an instant fan-favorite from the droid’s first seconds of screen time in “Rogue One.” The droid is basically the anti-Jar Jar Binks. It’s actually funny. It has a personality and is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dark film – the darkest “Star Wars” to date. And his character’s final moments… I mean, the way K2 sacrifices itself for its master and the overall cause is heartbreaking. In short, K-2SO is one of the most fun characters in the new canon. Here’s hoping we see him again, possibly in “Rebels?”

9. R2-D2


BB-8 is great, but that circular ball of fun’s inspiration came from the first droid to grace our screens. R2-D2 will always be the best. Its humor is unparalleled. Seriously, this droid can do it all. Yeah, R2 inexplicably forgets how to fly between episodes three and four, but hey, that’s forgivable. More to the point, the droid deals with C-3PO’s sh*t on a day-to-day basis. That alone snags him a spot in the top 10.

8. Rey


She’s got a chance to absolutely skyrocket up this list with another standout performance in “The Last Jedi,” but for now a slot at eight feels about right. There are lots of questions surrounding her character. Who is she? Who were her parents? Will she become a gray Jedi, or even shift to the dark side? Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself, so lets keep it in the present. First off, Daisy Ridley is too beautiful to not have listed high up on here. There, I said it. Still, the same could be said for Natalie Portman, so how about the fact that, uh, she beats Kylo Ren’s ass when first using a lightsaber (which still doesn’t make much sense, but whatever)?! She’s awesome. And her accent… damn, maybe I did place her too low…

7. Princess/General Leia


Before Jyn, before Rey, and even before Padme, there was Leia Organa of Alderaan. Talk about setting the tone for the women of the twenty-first century, am I right? Wow. What a character. Carrie Fisher (R.I.P.) brought the perfect blend of sass, love, humor and compassion to a role that has been revered for forty years now. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in her encore performance, the final time we’ll see her on the big screen. From the hair buns to the legendary bikini outfit, Princess Leia was and is a one of a kind type of gal. I think I speak for both women and men everywhere when I say thank you Carrie Fisher! What a ride it was.

6. Yoda


The man (sort of?), the myth, the legend. The original OG. Yoda was a badass even before they gave him a lightsaber. Most famous for giving us dyslexic quotes, Yoda became a symbol for good in the early 80’s and that has never changed. It never will. Yoda, arguably the most powerful Jedi of all time, has been the polar opposite of the sith since, well, forever. He’s a prime example of why the Jedi way can work – no, no, why it did work for over a thousand generations. Will we see him again? If so, great, and if not, he paved the way for the Jedi of the future.

5. Darth Maul


We’re into the highly coveted top five spots, so let’s kick it off with arguably the most interesting character in the entire world of “Star Wars.” In fact, the only reason he isn’t higher – or perhaps even number one – is because he’s hardly present in the movies. Even in “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” he’s not used to his full potential (for those of you who have only seen the movies – yes, he does come back, which alone makes watching those shoes worth it). Still, wow. Darth Maul is the sole reason “The Phanton Menace” can hold its own with the other “Star Wars” films. Every scene with him is an absolute delight, especially the “Duel of Fates” lightsaber battle, which is still the greatest battle/song combo to ever present itself in a “Star Wars” movie. Everything from his look to his style to his menacing scowl is just overwhelmingly awesome; it really is too bad they “killed him” off so early. He alone could have made the prequels far superior to what we got.

4. Luke Skywalker


The greatest hero in the “Star Wars” saga finds himself locked into the four spot. Some will argue he should be lower, some will say higher, but I feel that four is a great place for him because, despite some poor acting and whiney bits of dialogue, Mark Hamill gave us a character that will be talked about for all of history. Luke is the true hero the galaxy deserved (or, at least it seemed that way until the latest trailer for “The Last Jedi,” huh?), and one we’ll never forget. The original trilogy is, in a sense, his story, and seeing how he is arguably the main character of the series, I’d be remiss not to place him here.

3. Obi-Wan Kenobi


The one thing the prequels did better than the originals (no offense to Sir Alec Guiness, of course): Obi-Wan. Again, that’s no a slight on old Ben, that’s a compliment to Ewan McGregor. He’s that incredible, and James Arnold Taylor – Obi-Wan’s voice in the animated television shows – is pretty great, too. Obi-Wan is such a great character that fans have been clamoring for a spin-off movie featuring McGregor for years, and it looks our dreams might come true (this is Disney we’re talking about, after all). He’s a tragic character with a chance at redemption, and I’m almost positive we’re going to learn more about him in future movies. He’s too important a character to fall to the wayside, but his tale so far has been by far the most interesting in the “Star Wars” universe.

2. Han Solo


While Obi-Wan waits for his stand-alone film, this scruffy-looking nerfherder is already set to entertain us once again in his own origin tale next year. Even if we weren’t getting more Solo, what we’ve seen is enough to give him the second spot on this list. Han Solo is one of, if not the best characters to ever be written. He’s so quotable, so badass, and such a ladies man that every single boy wanted to be him growing up (and every single girl who watched the series clamored over him, as well). He may not be able to use the force, but he doesn’t need to, for this scoundrel is great enough as is.

  1. Darth Vader


Anyone with half a brain could have guessed this was coming. The GOAT of villains, Darth Vader was a shoe in to be my number one and should be in everyone’s top three. Actually, he should be in everyone’s top three movie characters OF ALL TIME. Darth Vader is, simply put, a legend amongst legends. Kudos to Garth Edwards for giving us another iconic Vader scene in “Rogue One,” by the way. That scene made the movie a whole point on my 1-10 scale better – and it was already really good!

I could go on and on about Darth Vader and the number of times he’s given me straight chills – the first time he walks into frame during “A New Hope,” his lightsaber’s ignition in Cloud City when facing off with Luke in “Empire,” and, of course, “I am your father.” I would love a solo Vader film, and though I don’t think it’ll ever happen, I will always cherish the scenes we got with him over the years in “Star Wars.” He’s become an inspiration for writers all around the world, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with my list? Feel free to leave a comment in the section below to let me know who YOUR favorite “Star Wars” characters are, and May the Fourth be with you!

The Fantasy Life 2016: Playoffs

By Frankie Reynolds

Well, gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. The fantasy playoffs have finally arrived, and honestly, the landscape hasn’t changed much since last year. Five of the six teams who made it last season made the dance once again (sorry Chad and good job Nate), and four have made it every single year. While the makeup of the teams who are in have changed, the consistency is still there.

Still, we can’t give too much credit where it isn’t due. Two teams with losing records got in, and the leader in points this season somehow missed out. In a way, that’s what makes divisions fun – it doesn’t matter how good you are; you’re going to need a little bit of luck to prevail. It’s also what makes them excruciatingly painful. I’m sure Chris knows a little bit about what you’re going through, Benny.

This is the last blog post of the year, which means this is also the final batch of power rankings. Seeing how this is the final post of the year, I’ll finally include myself for the first time since the pre-season.

  1. Jamie: Last year’s champ has as good a better chance than any to repeat. He finishes the season 11-2 and third in points overall. Not a bad way to follow-up a championship run. We’ve all basically known he was going to make the playoffs since week five or so, and now his real season begins. He gets the bye, but next week he’ll face either Kevin or Brandon, arguably the two hottest teams in the entire league. The road to a second ship in as many years won’t be necessarily easy, but hey, is it ever?
  2. Kevin: Kevin moves up to number two after scoring 134.9 and 164.4 in back-to-back weeks to round out the season. Wow, talk about momentum. His team is peaking at the right time, similar to Chad’s last year, and he’s now three wins away from the league’s first dynasty. The challenges that lie ahead? Brandon, Jamie, and – barring a major upset – Nate. Three of the four best teams stand in his way, but Kevin is also the luckiest person in our league. If anyone can do it, he can.
  3. Nate: Nate had a “bad” week to finish the regular season, “only” posting 101.7. It doesn’t matter; he still gets the bye, followed by a matchup against a team with a losing record in the regular season. There has never been an easier path to the championship, so for his first appearance in the playoffs, I’d say that’s a decent draw. Still, with a team like his, just making the championship isn’t the goal – winning it is. Is his team good enough? My answer is yes, but he’ll need to catch the winner of the Mexican division on an off-week. Not impossible, but not overly likely, either. A little luck could go a long way.
  4. Brandon: Brandon is in! He completes the comeback with a two-game sweep of his rival and his fourth straight playoff berth. But making the playoffs isn’t a tall task for this man – winning a game is. That’s right, Brandon has been one-and-done each and every year since this league started, and it’s not looking good this time around, either. His team may be hot, but Kevin’s is absolutely on fire, so it’s going to take a little something more to beat the two-time champ this week.
  5. Cordell: Cordell has definitely fizzled down the stretch, but he still has the talent to make a run. As it has been since the start of the season, he dons a boom-or-bust squad. Anything from 70 to 130 points is possible, so if he can string together three great weeks in a row he could very easily win this whole thing. If not, he could be facing a first round exit. There’s just no telling with this team, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
  6. Frankie: The worst of the playoff teams on paper, but a playoff team nonetheless. Honestly, after the year I’ve had, I’m just happy to have made it in. The team I’ve put together probably has a less than five percent chance at winning the whole thing – it will take a miracle just as great (if not greater) than what Chad accomplished last season, but at least I won’t be performing an embarrassing set of slam poetry this year!
  7. Benny: Benny, at least points-wise, is the best team in the league. A sweep by Jamie and two losses by a combined 0.3 points doomed him. If this was me, or Kevin, or Jamie, or Brandon, or Cordell, or even TL, no one would feel bad. But there’s something about watching a man who has never made the playoffs, who has lost the league and worn a dress to the bar before singing karaoke, miss out after being so close that makes your heart hurt. Ah, well, there’s always next year, Benjamin.
  8. TL: TL came close, but even with a win he wouldn’t have gotten in. This is the second year in a row where TL has missed the playoffs, and but the good news is that he shouldn’t have to fight for his life in the Fish Bowl this time around. His team would have been good enough to threaten at making a run in the postseason, so it should easily save him in the loser playoffs.
  9. Justin: This nightmare of a season is about to come to an end. Much like TL, he shouldn’t have to worry about losing the whole thing, but he, like Benny, is once more on the outside looking in. Better luck next year, Fudge.
  10. Chris: Chris and Noah are a coin flip for this tenth spot, but I’ll give it to Chris based on points. He actually scored more than me and TL this year and came very close to Justin and Cordell. But, just like every year, he was thoroughly outscored by significantly more than anyone else in the league. Still, this is as bad as it gets, Chris. Please don’t leave the league – we love ya bud, so just do us all a favor and stick it out for one more year to see if your luck turns around. The Fantasy Gods can be merciful.
  11. Noah: Side note, thank you for the past four years, Commish. You will be difficult to replace. And I know you’re contemplating leaving, too, but I beg you to reconsider. Give it another go. This league has to get shaken up eventually, right? As for your loser-playoff chances, I just don’t know. Chad has your number, and you’ll get him in the first round. After that, you’ll get the loser of Justin vs. Chris. Win that game and you’re safe. Lose, and you probably get Chad again… so just win and you’re good to go!
  12. Chad: The pre-season number one somehow finishes last, but will he lose the whole thing? Honestly, my prediction is no. He’s 2-0 in fish bowls and he has Noah’s number. Hmm…

MVP of the year: My MVP this year is David Johnson. Shocker, right? But not only was he one of – if not the – best backs in fantasy, he’s also the sole reason Brandon was able to slip in. It still hurts that I passed on him…

Bust of the year: This is a more difficult category, but I see three possibly candidates: Alshon, Gurley, and Gronk. The case for Alshon: He was injured in the beginning of the year, he’s suspended now, and he was mediocre in most of the weeks he played. For a second round pick, that is atrociously unreliable. The case for Gurley: He’s been a starter all year, so you’ve had to roll with him on a week-to-week basis. Whether you want to consider that a good thing or a bad thing us your call, but the fact is that he’s a low RB2 when he was drafted by many as the #1 overall back. Gurley owners roll with him every week hoping he’ll break out, but he’s yet to rush for over 85 yards. Believe me, I know better than most how much it sucks. The case for Gronk: He’s on IR now, he missed the first few weeks, and he was banged up in a few others. The Madden curse is real. If you drafted him (and it was probably with a high pick), you probably got four good games to show for it.

Manager of the year: There are a lot of good choices here. Really, every playoff team could be up for the award – Nate was 0-2 and made the playoffs, I started 0-3 and got in, and Brandon was 4-5 at one point before storming back. Kevin went from having an above-average team to a real championship contender with a few solid moves and Cordell made great managerial choices on a weekly basis while dealing with injuries and suspensions. But my choice is Jamie. After losing his second round pick in week one, he made some bold moves that paid off. His Zeke “reach” turned out being the best move of the draft, and his faith in guys like DeMarco Murray and Terelle Pryor paid off. Well done, James.

Jimbo of the year: It didn’t come back to bite him, but Brandon dropping Travis Benjamin after drafting him in the 10th round for a retired running back will forever live in infamy. We’ll probably never see any move so bold or brash made again.

It’s been a great year everyone. Good luck these next few weeks!

The Fantasy Life 2016: Week 13

The playoffs are set! Well, in one division, at least.

As you can see below, the Chinese division has locked in its three playoff teams after my victory over Cordell and Chad’s stunner over Noah. This year, one division will have Nate as the one seed, with Cordell and I facing off in the first round of the playoffs for the third time this season. Congratulations are in order, so I tip my hat to you two and will see you in week 14.



As for the Mexican division… well, things aren’t as clear. Jamie locked up a bye week for the second year in a row, but that’s about the only thing set in stone. Justin is the only person who has been eliminated. The other four teams will battle it out in week 13 for those final two spots. Let’s take a quick look at each team’s path to the postseason:

Kevin: If Kevin wins, he’s all but in. He owns the same record as both Brandon and TL, but is outscoring TL by almost 140. It would be nearly impossible for him not to make it with a W on Sunday, and he’s currently projected to beat me by 22 points. Chances of getting in? 80%

Brandon: Same as Kevin – win and you’re almost certainly in. He has TL beat in points by nearly 170. Justin has some good matchups, however, so he’ll need a little luck to complete this late-season comeback. Chances of getting in? 70%

TL: TL needs to beat Jamie and then get a little help. If he wins, he will also need either Kevin or Brandon to lose to sneak into that three seed. Kevin plays me and Brandon plays Justin, so a loss by either one of them would constitute as an upset. Jamie has some critical bye weeks while TL has none, so he just might be able to do it. Chance of getting in? 50%

Benny: Okay, Benny’s path is the most difficult. While the other three teams currently sit at 7-5, Benny is 6-6 despite posting the second-most points in the league thus far. It sucks for him, but it is what it is. He’ll have to beat Cordell this week, for one. Then he’ll need two of the other three teams to lose, which would almost guarantee him a spot based on points. It’s not impossible, considering both Kevin and TL are playing playoff teams and Justin’s squad has flashed huge potential at times this year, but it is going to be a tall task. Chance of getting in? 20%

If all four teams lose, it will come down to points between Kevin, Brandon, and TL, and that means that TL is likely the odd man out. Let’s get to the power rankings now that the picture is as clear as it’s been all season long.

  1. Jamie: The #1 seed in the hardest division for the second year in a row. At this point, he’s certainly the favorite to win the whole thing. Again.
  2. Nate: The #1 seed in the other division and an astounding 9-1 since week three. Since week five, he’s only scored less than 107 once and is averaging well over 110 ppg. He’s got the best team in the Chinese division and, barring an upset, it looks like a championship appearance could be on the horizon.
  3. Kevin: I’m not going to fault him for scoring 135 in a loss. That has to hurt, especially with the playoffs on the line. Now all he has to do is win to get in for the fourth straight year. Let’s see if I can keep that from happening.
  4. Brandon: Brandon is finally back in the top four after another impressive week. He’s risen through the ranks, a winner of three straight, after a rough first nine weeks that saw him at 4-5. Now, to complete this comeback, all he has to do is beat Justin – his arch rival – for the second week in a row. If he does, he’ll be one of the few teams to have made the playoffs each and every year since this league was created, so you can bet this is as important a game as it gets to him.
  5. TL: TL is just on the cusp, so the question is simply this: can he do enough to get in? He’ll have to beat Jamie, who has only lost twice all year, and then hope either Justin or myself can pull off upsets of our own. People have given TL a lot of shit this year about his team and how he’s a “pretender,” but I don’t see it that way. In fact, there were three games that he easily could have won were it not for upsets on Sunday and Monday Night Football. So really, he’s just a few plays away from being 10-2 like Jamie. He deserves to be in this position, and this week we’ll find out if he really deserves to be in the playoffs.
  6. Cordell: Cordell might have backed into the playoffs, but let’s not forget that this was one of the best teams out there from weeks 1-6. He may have fallen off a bit recently, but this is still a team with the firepower to put up 130+ at any given time. He’s a real threat to everyone in the postseason.
  7. Benny: It’s hard to imagine that the team with the second-most points in the league is coming in at seventh in the power rankings, but that’s exactly what has happened. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong, but Jamie’s sweep and losses by 0.1 and 0.2 points didn’t help. It sucks that Benny is most likely going to be kept out of this year’s playoffs, especially after all he’s been through the past three years, but if he somehow gets in then you can bet it’s going to be the sweetest regular-season victory that anyone in this league has ever seen.
  8. Justin: Justin’s team underperformed this week, and with it came the definitive end to his playoff hopes. Four straight years without a postseason appearance is not something anyone wants on their resume, but the good news is that his team is good enough that he shouldn’t lose the league.
  9. Noah: Noah’s loss may have stung the most of anyone’s this week. All he needed to do was beat Chad twice – which quite honestly should have been cake – and he would have had a great shot at getting in. Instead, Chad put up 133.6. For whatever reason, he’s got Noah’s number, and it came back to bite him this year. The good news is that he will most likely either be placed in the middle bracket of the loser ladder this year, so all he’ll need to do is win one of the three loser-playoff games to ensure that he doesn’t lose the league again.
  10. Chris: Chris is in real danger here. Chad’s team has looked okay the last month (in three of the last four weeks, he’s scored, 96.4, 93.1 and 133.6), or at least about as good as Chris’s. It’s looking more and more like that might be the loser bowl this year – a game Chad is well-versed in (and 2-0, if I might add).
  11. Chad: Chad, Cordell and I owe you drinks for putting the final nail in Noah’s coffin this year. Thank you for that. In return, we are pulling hard for you not to make the Fish Bowl for the third time in four years. God speed.

Game of the week: They’re all big during rivalry week. Four have massive playoff implications.

Upset of the week: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Justin keeps Brandon out of the playoffs. I’m just seeing some of his matchups – Wilson vs. Carolina, Riddick @ the Saints, Julio vs. Kansas City, ect. – and I think he’s got a chance to put up 120. Not saying Brandon can’t do that, but this should be a great game where Justin has a good shot at the end.

MVP watch: David Johnson still, especially since he is the sole reason Brandon has a legit shot at the playoffs. Without him, Brandon is out of this thing weeks ago. M-V-P of our league for sure, and probably the M-V-P for all of fantasy, too.

Bust of the year: It’s between Gurley and Alshon now, and Alshon continues to have the edge after Gurley scored over 10 yet again while Alshon sat on the bench. Both are annoying, though.

Jimbo of the week: Kevin benching Jordan Howard against the Titans for Thomas Rawls against Tampa could cost him a playoff spot. Ouch.

The Fantasy Life 2016: Week 12

By Frankie Reynolds

Short post this week, seeing how it’s Thanksgiving and what not. Last week could have finalized the playoffs for good. Instead, the whole picture is now more of a mess than ever. Practically every team is still in play somehow (Practically – sorry, Chad).

Also, congrats to Jamie for locking up a playoff spot. We now have two in, meaning four spots remain available for the nine teams still in play. This is going to get interesting…

Power Rankings:

  1. Jamie: How can he not be? He may have scored under 100 points, and he may have gotten lucky with Crabtree’s poor performance Monday night, but he still owns the best record and has arguably the best roster in the league. He’s sitting pretty heading down the home stretch.
  2. Nate: Nate wins. Again. This man is now 8-1 since that 0-2 start, making him as dangerous as anyone. Now the only thing left to secure is a first-round bye. With that, I’d say his chances of winning the ‘ship are better than anyone elses.
  3. Kevin: Two losses in a row and he’s still in a great spot. He’s basically out of contention for the bye, but it’d be difficult for him to miss the playoffs entirely. The health of LeSean McCoy is huge going forward – especially once he reaches the post-season (assuming he does).
  4. Benny: Let’s make this clear: Benny was no easy choice for this spot. He’s now tied with both Brandon and TL for the 3 spot, seeing how they all boast 6-5 records. Still, you’ve got to feel for him. One loss by 0.1, another by 0.2. Is fate against him this year? Once again, if he makes it, he’ll surely be a threat to win the whole thing, but that is by no means a lock anymore.
  5. Brandon: After a huge win, he’s now put himself back in the (serious) running for that third playoff spot, and I kinda like his chances. Benny is definitely the favorite, no doubt, especially since he’s beating Brandon in points by close to 100 total. Still, he’s peaking at just the right time, kind of like Chad did last year…
  6. Cordell: Cordell lost, but now faces me this week with a chance to lock down a playoff spot for the fourth straight year. If he does, all is right and I’d say he’s one of the few teams from the Chinese division who can seriously give Nate a run for his money. If not – and especially if Noah wins – then week 13 becomes REAL interesting…
  7. TL: He’s tied with Benny and Brandon record-wise, yes, but he’s way behind in points. He’ll need to win out and then get some help if he’s to make the playoffs. Still, he’s got a chance, and that’s all you can ask for in that tough division.
  8. Noah: He got the big win he needed – as well as a solid RB in Robert Kelly. The problem? His other blossoming back, CJ, went down. While he still technically trails Cordell and I for a spot in the playoffs, he has a much easier schedule the last two weeks than us, giving him, in my opinion, a really great chance to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
  9. Justin: Justin with another heartbreaker. He needs a ton of help to get in – too much to realistically believe he has a chance – but he can still salvage this crappy year by ending his rival’s hopes at getting in.
  10. Chris: Chris got the win, so he’s technically alive, but he’ll basically need to win out while also having me lose and Noah drop one to Chad. Tough task, but it can be done. A.J. being out doesn’t help, though.
  11. Chad: Unfortunately for last year’s runner-up, this week was the official end of the road. Now he has to try and salvage what is left of his team to stay out of the fish bowl. Oh, and much like Justin, he has a chance to keep his rival out of the postseason.

Game of the week? Which game isn’t important at this point? I’m going to say TL vs. Benny. Whoever loses will find themselves hard-pressed to make the playoffs.

Upset of the week? Justin over Brandon. Just going with my gut on this one.

Bust watch? Gurley played well enough to sneak out of here (for the time being) while Alshon rested on Justin’s bench. Now with Jay Cutler likely done for the year, Alshon could find himself as the biggest bust of the two when it’s all said and done.

Jimbo of the week? Kevin benching Carr hurts badly. So does my spending $31 on Robert Woods.

The Fantasy Life 2016: Week 11

By Frankie Reynolds

Congrats to Nate! The curse is broken, and after four long years he’s finally made his way into the postseason. He is the first – and only – person from “The Fantasy Life” to mathematically assure themselves a spot in this year’s big dance, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other teams right there on the verge of getting in – and just one wrong play away from keeping themselves out.



As you can see, Jamie is all but in. The only way he won’t make it is if he loses out and either Brandon or TL win out while outscoring him in the process. Cordell is also almost a lock, for all he needs to do is not lose out or have Noah lose just one more game to get back in for the fourth straight year. Then there are teams like Kevin and myself who are on the cusp (though I would say Kevin’s overall chances are better than mine), but there are plenty of ways we could be kept out.

Unfortunately for Chad, Chris, and Justin, it looks like this is the end of the line. While not 100 percent out of it, they would need to win out and then get an enormous amount of help to sneak into the third seed of their respective divisions. Let’s get to the rankings:

  1. Jamie Price: He solely owns the best record in the league, so this is no surprise. What is surprising, however, is that he swept Benny. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who thought they would split the series, but instead Jamie beat him by over 40 points – and Benny put up a very respectable 114.6! Wow. Just wow. Again, Jamie’s team this year is not quite last year’s squad that will forever go down as one of the greats in this league’s history, but with each passing week it is becoming more and more apparent that he definitely has what it takes to win the trophy once again. In fact, I’d probably peg him as the favorite.
  2. Nate Brockmeyer: Nate jumps all the way up to number two after yet another solid week, this one good for 110.7. Since that dreaded 0-2 start, he’s gone 7-1 and emerged as a serious contender. He’s the first to officially make the playoffs, so now the question is whether or not he can win the whole thing. I think he’s got as good a shot as any to at least get into the championship and, as we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen on any given Sunday.
  3. Kevin Baldwin: Kevin drops one spot after dropping one to Brandon, but there is not reason to be concerned. He still put up 115.3 and will almost certainly make the postseason again. Once there, he’s going to have a shot to win his third title in four years. Need I say more?
  4. Benny Kenly: Damn, this season is just no breaking his way. Not in the way it should, at least. On paper, this is arguably the best team in the entire league. He’s scored the most points, but both a 0.1 loss in week one and the sweep by Jamie have been huge contributing factors to his above-average 6-4 record. We all know that Benny has the capability to do some serious damage in the postseason, but all of sudden it isn’t a question of when he’ll get there, it’s a question of if. He’s only one game up on both Brandon and TL and still has to play both of them in addition to Cordell. A spot in the top three of the Mexican division, which was certain not but two weeks ago, is now far from a lock.
  5. Zach Cordell: Cordell has won two games over the last three weeks by a combined 3.1 points. In one of those matchups he scored 132.6. The other? 73.3. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and let’s not forget that Cordell’s team definitely isn’t bad. His players are just boom-or-bust kind of guys. He’s 6-4, like Benny, but he only needs to win one game over his next three to get into the playoffs thanks to his division. Once there, it’s very possible that he strings together three great weeks and wins the whole thing. Seriously, with the way he’s pulling out these close wins regardless of the number of points he scores, it’s starting to look like fate might be on his side.
  6. Brandon Bayer: Brandon finally got back to his roots and nearly put up 130 on the two-time champ. Now the team that once looked dead is very much alive. He still has to play Benny once and Justin twice (who may be low in these rankings but is deadly on paper), so the road is definitely not easy. However, if he can get a little lucky there is no reason why he can’t make a late push at this thing for his fourth playoff berth in four years.
  7. Tyler Lenane: TL is 5-5, but two painful losses in weeks 9 and 10 have made his path to the playoffs much more difficult. He still has Kevin, Brandon and Jamie on tap – three of the better teams in this league – and for him to have any shot at this he’ll have to win at least two of those games. He’s had a pretty unlucky season – he could very easily be 8-2 if not for a few bad breaks on various Sunday night and Monday night football games – but he does still have an outside chance to get back to the postseason.
  8. Noah Dickerson: Noah may be 3-7, but he’s still very much alive in the playoff race. He needs to beat me this week without question, but if he does that then he gets to play Chad two weeks straight while I get Cordell and Kevin. One of those schedules sounds much harder than the other, so keep a close eye on Noah and a late run if he can get a win in week 11.
  9. Justin Hedrick: He’s only ninth in these rankings because his odds of getting in are so low. He would need to win out – which includes beating Brandon both times – and then watch Benny drop at least two games (while simultaneously scoring a low number of points). And I haven’t even mentioned how TL has to lose at least one, too. As you can see, there’s just a lot working against him. Can it be done? Yes, but I’m not holding my breath.
  10. Chris Hubbard: Chris had a shot to get himself back in the race against me, but he took the Blount of all the upsetting losses in week 11 by watching yet another person come from behind to beat him. Chris, unfortunately it just doesn’t seem to be your year, buddy, but don’t lose hope. Just look at Nate – things do get better eventually.
  11. Chad Short: Chad, you’re going to need a miracle to pull this thing out. If you can, it will be remembered as the greatest comeback in our league’s history. If not, this may be the year it finally catches up to you and you finally see youself on the losing end of the Fish Bowl. You’ve got a lot of history to write while the rest of this season unfolds – be on the right side of it.

Game of the week? Me vs. Noah. If I win, I’m in. If Noah wins, he’s all but in the driver’s seat for that three spot in the Chinese division. For all intents and purposes, this is our league’s first playoff game of the year.

Upset alert? There are a lot of good potential options here, but I’ll say Justin over Jamie is an upset to watch out for. Justin’s team has really been coming around lately and he has some fantastic matchups this week, coupled with the fact that Doug Martin is finally back in full.

Put up or shut up: No put up or shut up last week, so our record is still 5-4. Everyone has been talking this week though, not so much trash but more so about how good their teams are. I think Brandon has probably talked the most, so he gets the honor for week 11.

MVP watch? Still David JOHNson – he’s literally the only reason Brandon still has a chance – but Zeke is really just a few steps behind, especially after last week’s monster 40-point performance.

Bust watch? Unfortunately for me, Gurley. Will the QB change to Joared Goff affect his play in a good way? I can only hope.

Jimbo of the Week: Hubs benched Dez against the poopy Pittsburgh secondary… not sure what the thinking was on that one, but it cost him the game and potentially a shot at the playoffs.

The Fantasy Life 2016: Week 10

By Frankie Reynolds

Nine weeks down, four to go. Another week gone gives us a clearer picture of where things stand in the league. All 12 teams are still amazingly in the playoff hunt, but in reality this looks like an eight-to-nine team race, with Brandon and Chris still having shots if a lot of things go right. Unfortunately for Justin and Chad, it would take a miracle to sneak into the dance. While not impossible, it looks extremely unlikely. Here are our standings:



Divisional play has surely shaken things up, and so another week of it will undoubtably clear this picture up even more (or will it?). Here’s this week’s power rankings, and unlike last week, these are just mine, so I’ll exclude myself from them.

  1. Jamie: Last year’s champ stays in first after another 100-point week, this time good for 120.6. With two of the top 3-4 RB’s in the league, coupled with some really solid depth, Jamie has a formidible team built for games played in colder weather. Would it surprise anyone if we see him repeat?
  2. Kevin: Talk about eeking one out, but a big one at that. Were TL to have won, he would have been in great position to make a run – and possibly even at Kevin’s expense. Instead, Kevin is now in firm control of his fourth playoff berth in four years. Perhaps our most consistent player in the league, a yearly playoff game for Kevin seems to be one of the only things we can count on here.
  3. Benny: I’m still of the belief that Benny has the best team, and he backed up that argument with a monster 161.4 game this past week. He has the deepest RB core, a great WR group, and a solid TE. Tough to beat that. While he’s not a sure-fire lock for the playoffs just yet, he’ll definitely be expected to do some damage in the post-season if he gets there.
  4. Nate: Nate wins again, and we’re starting to see that he clearly has the best team in the Chinese division on a week-to-week basis. He’s 6-3, and it would take an epic collapse for him to miss out on the playoffs. There’s only one or two teams in that division with a real chance to upset whoever makes it to the ship from the other bracket, and this is one of them.
  5. Cordell: Much like Nate, Cordell got another win this week, further uping his odds at making the postseason. Cordell has sneakily also made the playoffs each year since we started the league, and while his team is very much a boom-or-bust squad, he could have a shot to take the whole thing if he can keep it up. We forget that he has some really, really good RB’s, arguably the best QB in football, and a suddenly resurgent Jimmy Graham at TE. That’s a team no one is going to want to face come week 14.
  6. TL: Despite the loss, I’m going to keep TL in the six spot this week. A win would have gone a long way, but he’s not out of it yet. He’s still 5-4, and while he’s lost three games in the unluckiest of ways he still has a chance. He has the leading MVP candidate, arguably the best offensive player in the NFL in Bell, and a sneaky WR core (Jordan Reed included). There are some troubling positions, like his RB2 and WR2, but overall this team is definitely good enough to make it in. Whether or not he could make some noise when there is something of a different story.
  7. Brandon: This is where the rankings get really tough. I guess I’ll go Brandon due to his record, not to mention his team is starting to get healthy (for whatever that’s worth). Will he make the playoffs? Probably not, but I don’t know who I would rank above him. Possibly the guy I have at #8?
  8. Noah: Noah is 3-6, yes, but he has arguably and easier path to the playoffs than both TL and Brandon. His RB’s kinda suck, but other than that this is a sneaky-good team. Will it be enough to make the playoffs? We’ll see, but it looks like he’ll be in the conversation for the three seed in the Chinese division until the very last week of the regular season.
  9. Justin: I wanted to rank him 10, seeing how Chris’s playoff chances are that much better than his, but I can’t bring myself to do that. Justin’s team has the talent to be ranked as high as five or six, but luck hasn’t been on his side lately. The truth is, this is the first time he hasn’t fucked himself out of the playoffs – something else did it for him. What that is exactly I’m not sure, if I’m being honest. The good news is that there’s no way he’s going to lose the whole thing this year… right?
  10. Chris: Chris still has a shot – and a relatively decent one at that – of making the playoffs, but after he lost to Chad this past week I just don’t see it happening. His team isn’t fantastic or anything, but that entire game was just too unlucky. I’m sorry Chris – fantasy just hates you I guess.
  11. Chad: Chad broke 100! He’s still in the race! Still in last place, of course, but the bottom is no longer as dark and lonely as it once was.

Game of the week? Benny vs. Jamie. How can it not be?

Upset alert? I’m putting myself on upset alert this week. Chris has some good matchups and no byes, while my best player is out and I have some terrible matchups beside. He’s got a good chance, and if he wins and Nate beats Noah, then suddenly things are really, really interesting in the Chinese division…

Put up or shut up: Jamie won, so we’re at 5-4, but I’ve got nothing this week. Unfortuantely everyone has been pretty tame over the last month.

MVP watch? Still David JOHNson, despite the bye, followed closely by Zeke.

Bust watch? Alshon once again, but I think we have to bring Gurley back into the conversation, too. Him and Alshon have strung both Justin and me along all year long, only to put up mediocre performances more often than not.

Jimbo of the Week: TL playing Derrick Henry over Rashad Jennings lost him the game. Now, I’m not saying I would have played the right one either, I’m just saying it lost him the game.

The Fantasy Life 2016: Week 9

By Frankie Reynolds

We’re halfway through the regular season (already?!?!?), which means we’re also halfway through another year in fantasy (playoffs included, of course). Yet, despite all that has happened, we’re still no closer to really figuring out who is truly the best team in our league. No one has separated themselves – just when you think someone is on top, they crumble. It’s almost like that top spot is cursed or something.



As you can see, Benny lost this week, dropping him from first all the way down to a two-way tie for third. Kevin and Nate continued to win while Cordell got back on the horse and both Justin and Brandon stumbled. Let’s talk a bit more about where all teams currently stand in this week’s rankings.

Thanks to Jamie and Noah, this is the first week we have an averaged set of power rankings (the rest of you still suck, though). As is the case, this will also be the first week I’ll be listed in there since before week 1. So, let’s see where everyone stands:

  1. Jamie: Last week I said that Benny vs. Jamie was the battle for first, and that still holds true even with the averaged rankings. Jamie is the only team in our league to have scored at least 100 points in every week – which is pretty remarkable considering he lost his second round pick so early in the season. The reigning champ is tied for first in his division, and will have a decent shot at repeating if he can continue his insane streak of scoring at least 100 per outing.
  2. Kevin: Kevin scored 110+, AGAIN, and now finds himself up a spot from last week. He’s also 6-2 like Jamie, and in his worst week still saw him score over 90 points. I obviously like his chances of making it to the dance for the fourth straight year, and am terrified that he could very well take home the trophy for the third time in four seasons, giving him a true dynasty.
  3. Benny: Benny drops from 1 to 3, but he could easily be back up in the one spot with a big win this week. I feel like the top teams in the rankings are just going to rotate between these three for the rest of the year. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Benny did have his worst week against Jamie, but he has nothing to worry about long-term. He has a lot of byes this week, and could potentially drop to 5-4 as a result, but after that he’ll almost certainly be in the clear.
  4. Nate: Nate stays in the four spot after another solid week. Is it the best roster in the league? No. Is it the best in his division? Probably, and it’s good enough to take down any team in the Mexican division on any given Sunday. That means that Nate doesn’t just have a chance at making the playoffs for the first time ever this year, but he’s actually got a shot at winning the whole thing.
  5. Cordell: Boom or bust, right? Last week he barely scored 100 against my team – and that’s not even close to his worst week. This week he goes off for 132, which wasn’t even his best yet. As I’ve said before, this team has such an insane range; he’ll score anywhere from 65-135 and there’s really no way of knowing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this team is good, but it does mean that it’s dangerous, and in our league someone with a high ceiling is just as potent as someone who is consistent – especially in the post-season.
  6. TL: I would probably have TL a bit higher considering he is 5-3, but he does jump up a spot from last week after yet another convincing performance. The craziest part is that if it weren’t for some fluky Sunday night games, TL could very easily be 7-1. Each season someone seems to get way too lucky on their way to a championship run – two years ago it was Kevin, last year it was Chad. Could this be TL’s year to get back to the playoffs and make some noise?
  7. Frankie: My team comes in at 7 after going 4-1 over the last five games. I wouldn’t necessarily consider this team to be a championship contender, but all of a sudden – if everything goes right – the playoffs look like they could maybe be within reach despite the terrible 2-4 start.
  8. Brandon (T-8): Brandon ties for 8, plummeting three spots after not only losing this past week but showing that his outlook isn’t too promising anymore. This week he’s starting two backup RB’s and is in real danger of falling to 4-5. Look, is he going to lose the league? I doubt it, but a chance at the playoffs – which just two weeks ago looked extremely realistic – is quickly slipping away.
  9. Justin (T-8): Justin ties with Brandon for 8 on this list after losing a big game this past week to Kevin. Had he won, he would have found himself surging up these rankings, but instead he crumbled in a matchup that looked like all but a sure thing. The problem is that Justin actually has a good team, but guess what? He started the wrong guys, and it’s not the first time that’s happened. I hate to say it, but Brandon did warn him about teh dangers of having depth like that, and it looks like he might have been right. In his divison, at 3-5, it’d take a miracle to save Justin from the curse that’s been following him ever since Chad smacked him in the face with a fish all those years ago…
  10. Noah: Noah drops to 10, but this is definitely not a bad team. He’s 3-5, yes, but a lot of his losses came early in the season. His schedule isn’t anything too daunting from here on out, so if either Nate, Cordell or myself start to stumble, I’d be willing to bet that Noah will have the chance to catch up real quick.
  11. Chris: Ah, Chris. Fantasy hates you, you hate fantasy, we know. It’s the same story every year. Your latest heartbreak is no different. I’m sorry, and that’s all I can really say.
  12. Chad: Chad, I really, honestly thought you were going to beat me this week. By double digits, in fact. I wasn’t confident at all. That was your week. I know this sounds like sarcastic trash talk, but it really, really isn’t. It wasn’t meant to be. With a playoff berth now being almost impossible and the trade deadline looming, all you can hope now is that things will turn around enough to save you from losing the whole thing. Seeing how you have a 2-0 record in the Fish Bowl, that is definitely something we all need to watch out for.

Game of the week? Kevin vs. TL. Both should be at full strength, and if TL can pull this one off I think it might be time to wonder if his team is a little more than just lucky…

Upset alert? I like Justin over Benny in a must-win game for him. He has better matchups and doesn’t have to stream a defense this week, which is a pretty big deal considering how crappy the ones that are avalible have been this season.

Put up or shut up: 4-4 now, thanks to Noah. Jamie Price, this week you’re up after some ruthless shit talking to Brandon earlier today (which, let’s be honest, he was kind of asking for).

MVP watch? He may have lost badly, but one bright spot on Brandon’s team was the obvious MVP David JOHNson. He put up 14.3 on a BAD week. However, one guy to watch out for is Zeke, who has already had his bye and yes still ranks #4 at the RB position…

Bust watch? Alshon once again, considering the 14 point effort week with Cutler back was mostly the result of his first TD catch of the season. Will a three-catch day be enough to keep owners starting him on a week-to-week basis, only to let them down when the TD’s don’t come, or can he actually turn it around late in the year to get out of this “bust” category?

Jimbo of the Week: Poor Chris can’t catch a break. He put up an astounding 131.7 in a 0.9 point loss, and that was with hardly any help from his defense of kicker. Actually, he had no help at all from his kicker, and his defense only got him one point. So basically playing anyone else at either position would have done him better. So sad.

The Fantasy Life 2016: Week 8

By Frankie Reynolds

Really busy today so this will be a shorter post, which is a shame because things really got interesting last week.

A handful of the teams we thought were fantastic crumbled, and a bunch of the teams that we thought sucked came out swinging. The first week of divisional play was a success and evened out the leaderboard in both divisions so much so that the next few weeks are going to me more than critical to each team’s success.



Power Rankings:

  1. Benny Kenly: He beat Kevin by nearly 26 points, and he finally claims the top spot in the rankings. He’s the clear favorite to win the whole thing in the league right now, but don’t pencil him in for a championship just yet. Why? There are too many other good teams in his division. Still, make no mistake that this team is built for the playoffs and it will be difficult to knock him off.
  2. Jamie Price: Jamie is the only other team besides Benny’s that has yet to score below 100 points in any given week. He’s quietly had a really nice season – not quite last year’s, but enough to get him to 5-2 with a good outlook. However, he and Benny still have to play twice, and it which will be huge if one of them can sweep.
  3. Kevin Baldwin: Really, really difficult to drop him from 1 to 3 after one mediocre week, but my reasoning was that Kevin has now scored below 100 twice while Jamie hasn’t at all. At the end of the day, we’re splitting hairs here – these are the three best teams in the league right now, and, if I had to guess, they will be the three to represent the Mexican division in the postseason.
  4. Nate Brockmeyer: This is when it gets really, really difficult. You could make an argument for any of the teams ranked between 4-7 to be placed higher, but I’m going to go with Nate here since he’s been absolutely killing it since the dreaded 0-2 start (4-1 since). He now sits solely in first in the Chinese division, has an easier schedule than anyone in the Mexican division, and holds the same record as TL and Brandon despite having a more difficult schedule. We’ll see if this holds, but as long as Nate keeps winning it’ll be hard to move him anywhere.
  5. Brandon Bayer: Losing to Justin hurts, and his RB situation is looking rough (outside of DJ, of course), but he’s still 4-3 with over 800 points scoring through 7 weeks. I don’t like his outlook going forward as much as I do some of the teams listed below him, but it’s hard to argue with what he’s done so far.
  6. Justin Hedrick: Justin jumps three spots this week after he was ranked 9 last week – a ranking I still stand by. Still, he beat Brandon pretty soundly and has a very solid outlook going forward. Some will say he belongs all the way up at 4, while some may say he should be at 7, so I’ll go with 6 considering he still has a losing record and resides in last in his division. But there is still hope. I know we’re all waiting for Justin to mess everything up for his team just like he’s done in each of the last three years, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen this time around. Actually, I’m not sure it’s possible unless he makes a big trade that backfires. His problem is that he fell so far behind so early – can he make it up? Another win this week is huge, and should he pull it off against Kevin he’ll continue his climb.
  7. TL: I know – how can you drop someone who was ranked 4 last week to 7 after he put up 118 points, even though the loss? It’s difficult, though in hindsight I should have ranked him at 5, not 4 (as I mentioned in the GroupMe). He’s had a few really God-awful weeks, and also a few fantastic ones. The way I see it, he’s not going to lose this league, but he’s probably not going to win it either simply because his roster is too boom-or-bust to win three playoff games in a row. If it were him vs. Justin in a best 2 our of 3, I’d probably take Justin. Still, TL is 4-3, and a win this week would only make his chances of pulling a seeding upset for the playoffs even better.
  8. Noah Dickerson: Noah may be 3-4, and his win/loss streaks may look inconsistent, but this team is starting to catch some serious fire. He may talk a bit too much shit for his own good, but after the way last year went I can’t blame him. He’s got as good a chance as any in the Chinese division of making the playoffs, and this roster has the potential to make some noise should he get there.
  9. Zach Cordell: Much like TL, this roster is very boom-or-bust. He’s 3-4, so he’s right there in the playoff race no doubt, but there are most certainly concerns. The good news it that Jay Ajayayayai looks like he has potential to be this year’s DJ, and we all saw how that worked out for Jamie last year.
  10. Chris Hubbard: Chris has to hate fantasy by now. Bad luck has been the death of him the last few years. And yet, somehow, he’s only one game back out of a playoff spot, so he’s not dead just yet.
  11. Chad Short: If it’s any consolation, I really, really don’t feel confident against Chad this week, so if he can beat me then he’s amazingly right back in the playoff race. Haha that really is amazing.

I will note that Justin also sent me his power rankings, but I’d like to have at least one or two more people do it if I’m going to use the average of them. I know no one will because you all are lazy when it comes to that stuff, but if you get them to me by Tuesday nights (it will literally take you 2 minutes) I’ll be happy to average them out for us.

Game of the week? Jamie vs. Benny. One vs. two with the winner taking first for next week’s rankings.

Upset alert? There’s a bunch – Chad over me, Justin over Kevin, Chris over Cordell, take your pick.

Put up or shut up: Justin did it! We’re back to 4-3. Noah gets the honor this week since he’s been running his mouth pretty good the last few weeks, and while he continues to back it up he plays Nate this week. Whoever wins will be in first in the Chinese division.

MVP watch? David JOHNson. Another 20+ point week. Ho-hum.

Bust watch? Still Alshon after another crappy week, this time scoring only 4.8 points. Jay Cutler is back now, though, which may not be good for the Bears but it’s good for Alshon owners. Or is it? We’ll see.

Jimbo of the Week: Not really sure there is a Jimbo this week. Maybe Chad, who sat three players who scored at least 14 points while Matt Jones and DeSean Jackson combined for a rough 6.7.

The Fantasy Life 2016: Week 7

By Frankie Reynolds

Things were about to be extremely shaken up, and then the Jets took the field. Their poor performance on Monday night cost two teams in the Chinese division wins. Wow. Here’s what the standings currently look like after that catastrophe:



The good news? No one really gained much ground in the final week of out-of-division play (until rivalry week, of course). But did the power rankings change?

  1. Kevin Baldwin: He may have taken his first loss of the season, but the fact the Benny dropped his second game keeps him in the top spot. He still posted 117 in defeat and has a great roster – especially since Spencer Ware isn’t dropping off with Jamal Charles return and Shady’s injury was minor.
  2. Benny Kenly: Benny had a chance to secure the top spot, but he played the wrong Chargers TE. Oh well. He still has the deepest team in the league and arguably the best starting roster. He’ll continue to be in the mix as the season progresses and we’d all be shocked if he missed the playoffs.
  3. Jamie Price: Somehow Jamie always finds a way to complain even when he wins. I personally don’t’ feel even slightly bad for him – he’s 4-2 with a great roster. It may not be as powerful as Kevin or Benny’s, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a favorite to make the playoffs.
  4. Tyler Lenane: TL misfortune from last week turned around this week when he won after putting up a measly 71 points. Some may find it surprising that he’s actually moving up in the rankings, but at the end of the day he’s 4-2 and in a great position. This week he plays Jamie, and if he can snag a win he’ll start to be seen as a legit contender, whether we like it or not.
  5. Brandon Bayer: Brandon moves up a spot after getting back on track last week, but going forward he does have some concerns. Eddy Lacy is expected to miss significant time and Arian Foster no longer looks like “the guy” in Miami. Can he really rely on David Johnson and James White to combine for 40+ points on a weekly basis? Going forward, this team will have it’s ups and downs, but we can’t deny that he’s also 4-2 and, with a win this week, he’d be in the same situation as TL – one step closer to the playoffs.
  6. Zach Cordell: Cordell, man. What happened? This isn’t the firs time Cordell’s put up terrible numbers and it won’t be the last. At the same time, we’ve seen him have the ability to explode for 130+ at any given time. This team probably has the most range of any team in our league. If he played in the Mexican division it probably wouldn’t be enough to make the playoffs, but in the Chinese division it’s the closest thing we have to a lock.
  7. Nate Brockmeyer: Nate’s star RB has his arm in a sling, but that’s one of his only worries right now. OBJ is back in a big way, he has one of the only semi-reliable TE’s in the game, a great QB, and a solid defense. In the Chinese division, he’s well on his way to exorcising his playoff demons and making it to the dance.
  8. Noah Dickerson: He beat Justin last week, so he gets the slight edge here. After a close victory last week, he was eeked out by David Johns… eer, I mean Brandon, this week. He’s only 2-4, but he’s still in a good spot. His WR’s a solid (so long as their QB’s play decently), he has the best TE in football, and JCharles will slowly ease back into the mix to become, at worst, a decent RB2. In his division, he’s got as good a chance as anyone.
  9. Justin Hedrick: He’s going to take this personally and think I’m “shitting on him” for putting him at 9, but I’m really not. Talent-wise, this team is top 5. But he’s already 2 games behind in the hard division with a tough remaining schedule. He’s literally in the worst position of any team (well, second worst). I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it will be tough. If he has any chance of making the playoffs he must beat Brandon this week.
  10. Chris Hubbard: Chris had a good week – a really good week – enough to get him the win and then some. His team is very similar to Cordell’s, some week’s he’ll score 120, others he’ll put up 70, but I see more of the latter in his future given the inconsistency of the players on his roster. Stil, that win last week put him in position to have a chance without a doubt.
  11. Chad Short: Poor Chad.

Game of the week? I could say Brandon vs. Justin, but that one won’t have as much of an impact as TL vs. Jamie. That one should be great.

Upset alert? Justin over Brandon. The matchups, coupled with injuries, all work in Justin’s favor.

Put up or shut up: 3-3 after Kevin failed to put up (and lost some money while he was at it). This week it’s Justin again, who continues to chirp at Brandon, even trying to bet him he woudl win similar to Kevin last week.

MVP watch? David JOHNson. Again.

Bust watch? So gronk is no longer on bust watch as he is back and in a big way. Maybe Alshon Jeffery now? A second round pick who ranks 26 amongst WR’s isn’t too great. What’s more, he’s not even going off on random weeks. He scores between like 6-10 points every game, just enough to keep him in the lineup but also enough to lose you games.

Jimbo of the Week: Unfortunately, I must give myself the Jimbo this week. I trusted the Steelers against Miami and it backfired horribly as Jesse James and their defense combined for negative points. In hindsight, why would I ever play the Steelers defense over the Seahawks? It’s not 2008 anymore.

Close runner ups would be Benny’s trusting of old ass Antonio Gates over the hot hand Hunter Henry and Cordell spending a blasphemous amount of money on Jay Ajayayayya ($51!!!!).