Beast Mode is a state of being that Bills running back Marshawn Lynch takes on when he steps between the lines on Sundays. One of his biggest fans also took that approach when it came to playing the Buffalo Bills Season Ticket Holder Fantasy Challenge this season.
Tony Ricotta, a Bills season ticket holder, from Williamsville with the team name of 'Beast Mode' finished first among all Bills fans with 1,824 points in the 17 week season. He also finished 16th in the world as the Home Team Challenge fantasy game is played throughout the NFL.
For his efforts and expertise, Ricotta was awarded a pair of complimentary Bills season tickets for the 2009 season. Already a holder of four season tickets, Ricotta will be getting two of those seats for free.
"To have four season tickets and to be paying for just two is awesome," Ricotta said. "That was a motivating factor all season long for sure."
The second place overall finisher will be receiving a Bills autographed jersey with the third place finisher to receive a $200 gift card to the Bills merchandise store. Weekly point winners earned a $50 gift card.
Ricotta joked that his wife may now actually believe the time and effort put into fantasy football is worth it.
"Reading the books and fantasy magazines which we had all over the family room a few nights, she loved that," said Ricotta sarcastically. "But now I can tell her, 'Look at all this money we saved.' So she likes it this year. I don't know about next year though."
Ricotta's team got out to a big lead through the first half of the season among other Bills fans, but things tightened up considerably in the last quarter of the season.
"It got very close there for a while," he said. "It seemed I was doing pretty well there where I had about a 30 or 40 point lead, but the second place finisher was really closing the gap. In fact I think we were tied going into the last few weeks and it was really, really close. So I was really studying matchups to see what I could do to win the thing. I'm in a couple of other fantasy leagues, but this was really fun because it was so close down the stretch. It was really exciting."
The Home Team Challenge has fans submit a weekly fantasy football lineup throughout the regular season by clicking on the Fantasy football icon of Buffalobills.com. A typical positional lineup is required and is limited to a 300-point budget with some of the league's better and hotter players costing a greater number of points in a given week.
"In a regular league you've got your players and that's it, and this league was really nice because you could look at the matchups and decide who you wanted to take," Ricotta said.
The game also kept him in close contact with his son John, a senior at SUNY Cortland, who helped him with lineup decisions each week.
"There were a lot of conversations in forming the lineup," said Ricotta. "I had Peyton Manning in another league and wanted to play him in this one as well, but John convinced me to play Drew Brees and Philip Rivers a lot and it paid off."
Aside from those two quarterbacks Ricotta didn't have many other players that he consistently leaned on in his lineup.
"At running back I played DeAngelo Williams a lot, but it changed week to week, it really did. I got lucky too where I'd play a guy one week and I'd get a big week. With kickers I really changed kickers a lot. Very rarely did we play the same kicker and again it was matchups and also where they were kicking in terms of outside, cold weather or a dome. It was a hodge podge of different guys almost every week."
As the season wound down Ricotta said even his co-workers began checking in on 'Beast Mode's' success with each passing week.
"I'd tell the guys at work how I was in first place and they got into the points race as the season went on," Ricotta said. "It was really fun and very, very enjoyable."