Commentary

They love me, they love me not ...

Matthew Berry lists the players he loves and hates for Week 3 of the NFL season

Updated: September 25, 2009, 1:50 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

The Talented Mr. Roto

Before we start, a shameless plug to tell you that our Sunday morning show, "Fantasy Football Now," will be on ESPN2 on Sunday, starting at 11:30 a.m. ET and going until kickoff. Hosted by Erik Kuselias and featuring Tim Hasselbeck, Stephania Bell, Molly Qerim, all of our NFL reporters and Insiders (Adam Schefter, Ed Werder, Michael Smith, Rachel Nichols and others reporting from game sites), plus little ol' me, it'll bring you all the last-minute injury updates and advice you need to win. It's always available online on ESPN.com, but this week we are also on TV. Check us out.

OK, now onto our regularly scheduled circuitous route to today's football content. From my mailbag, the ESPN Conversation pages and the vast expanse of the Internet, here's a bunch of quotes I've recently come across.

"Berry your articles are like Family Circus - I know they will suck and be really cheesy, but I read them anyway and I don't know why. You're welcome."

"Berry is the Kim Kardashian of fantasy football. Only famous because he screwed ESPN into buying his lame website. Ignore him and you will win big. He should do a show with Jim Cramer, they could call it 'Over-Promoted Losers suggest ways for you to lose your #### too'. Not the catchiest title, but certainly accurate."

"I read a lot … but this was one of the worst."

"The best thing I've read in forever. Absolutely amazing … God Bless this hilarious man!"

"(You are) very entertaining, brave, and just freakin' awesome."

"Someone tell me how Matt Berry has a job. Talented Mr. Roto? Uh, no I don't think so."

"The man (boy is probably more appropriate) who wrote this … must secretly be very, very, very sad."

"TMR, love the podcast. I'm a new fan, but since I've discovered this podcast I haven't missed a day. You're hilarious."

flamethrower
AP Photo/Eric Gay"The very existence of flamethrowers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, "You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done." - George Carlin (about the internet?)

"Mr. Berry. I just have to tell you that you are very creative and it always makes your articles fun. You and I think alike, it's weird. I always know who to pick up or who to play and when I read your article you say the same thing. Just telling you, keep up the good work and keep having fun!"

"Insight and thoughtfulness, not to mention a talent for writing, are nonexistent."

"Damn it Berry! I want to hate you … oh yeah I already do hate you. Stop being a good writer so I can stop reading your rhetoric."

Like with most things in life, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

I like to think I'm a reasonably entertaining writer and analyst on a subject that people care passionately about. I have lots of thought, reason and analysis for what I do, say and project. But I can't predict the future; I am a very flawed individual, both professionally and personally; and sometimes, I have weeks like last one, when some of my calls in this article turned out to be downright horrific.

The subject of being either passionately loved or hated is something I have in common with a few folks, including Tucker Max, the author.

Not all of the quotes above are about me, incidentally. The ones that reference me are taken from my mailbag or ESPN Conversation. The ones that don't specifically mention my name are taken from Barnesandnoble.com in the review section for Tucker's book "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell."

The book has sold over a million copies and has been on The New York Times best-seller list for something like three years, and people seem to think the book is either the best thing they have ever read or Exhibit A as to why there is no longer hope for mankind.

I first met Tucker when he invited me to a screening of the movie they made based on the book. I was a fan of his book, so I went and I was not disappointed. I thought it was hilarious. Really, really funny and if you enjoyed "American Pie," you will like this movie. It opens this weekend, expanding to more and more theaters over the coming weeks.

Tucker and I are very different people with very, very different worldviews. I don't endorse, agree or even like everything he stands for. I completely understand why the people who don't like him feel the way they do.

But he makes me laugh -- a lot -- and what I like about him is that he is not scared to say "Here's exactly who I am, here's what I stand for, here's all my flaws, I don't care what you think."

I like to think there's a bit of that attitude in my columns as well. Much has been written about him and not all of it true. I've seen things happen firsthand and then seen written accounts of the same events later and they are not even close to being accurate. Incidentally, a lot of stories I see written about me are not true either, so I can relate.

I am a huge Howard Stern fan. I love Eminem. And I'm a fan of Tucker Max. And for those who are not, and tell me why, I get it. They are not for everyone. Not that I am comparing myself to them, because they are in different stratosphere, but I'm not for everyone either.

But before you decide you hate them, I always say, give it a chance. Keep an open mind, see the movie or read the book and then make an informed decision that is yours and yours alone, not someone else's.

Which brings us to Week 3 of Love/Hate, where I encourage you to use this information as one piece of your fantasy arsenal before you make your own lineup decisions. Don't follow me or anyone else blindly. No team exists in a vacuum, which means no lineup decision can be made in one. And I think, if you don't follow me (or any other analyst) blindly, you'll feel better about your lineup choices. You'll have less anger when they don't work out and feel better about yourself when they do. Believe in yourself, my friend. And for the love of all that is pure and good, just because I tell you I like JaMarcus Russell more than usual some week, don't go benching a proven starter for him! That's why we have rankings from Christopher Harris, Eric Karabell, Erik Kuselias and me, and they're updated every Friday. If you wonder whom I'd play over whom, specifically, that's the place to go, and if you play with us on ESPN.com, you'll also find these rankings as one of the available research tabs in your lineup-setting page.

Now, here are some guys who I think will perform above and below general expectations for the week.

Week 3 players I love

Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis, Redskins: Here's the sad part. They are playing Detroit and yet, I still can't endorse Jason Campbell or Santana Moss with any strong belief.

Laurent Robinson, WR, Rams: Five-plus catches in back-to-back games, and I have this weird feeling the Rams will be down and throwing against the Packers.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: This one is entirely based on talking to someone in our internal scouting department who feels Davis can find some success against the Vikings' Cover 2. Davis will be higher in my Friday rankings update.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White really open it up for him and I like both of them here as well, even on the road at the Patriots.

Tom Brady and Randy Moss, Patriots: Yeah, don't worry.

Mark Sanchez
AP Photo/Reed SaxonTake away the good looks, magnetic personality, athletic ability and millions of dollars, and there's really not much to this Mark Sanchez guy.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: True story. I recently heard an anchor here, off the air, describe Mark as "sex on a stick." And before you steal the idea, I'm using that for my epitaph. I'm not telling you who said it or even his or her gender. But I will tell you that no team in the NFL has given up more passing yards than the Tennessee Titans. And I think this home game is Mark's coming out party. He's fantasy goodness on a stick, I'll tell you that.

Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller, Jets: See above, aside from the whole, you know, stick part.

Kevin Kolb and Brent Celek, Eagles: Happiness is playing the Chiefs at home.

Bobby Wade, WR, Chiefs: I believe he gets eight fantasy points this week, which in deeper leagues is very useful.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Just above "hell freezing over" and right behind "pigs flying," another sign of the apocalypse is that I have, with clear mind and conscience, ranked Eli Manning in the top 10 this week. I like that Steve Smith and the running backs as well, but Eli should do well against a Bucs team that has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far.

Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens: The Browns are, um, stinky. The Ravens' run game is not. If I owned both backs, I'd actually start both of them.

Todd Heap, TE, Ravens: The Todd Heap Experience continues its comeback tour this week.

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars: They will be down and they will be throwing.

Steve Slaton, RB, Texans and Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Get back to not sucking this week.

Greg Olsen, TE, Bears: No Leroy Hill and probably no Lofa Tatupu for the Seahawks. Decent chance that the Seahawks decide to give me my long-awaited shot this week and let me suit up.

Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: I swear, Ronnie Brown, if you screw me over after I finally decided to give you some love this week …

Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphis: And the next tight end that gets to face the Chargers is …

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals: Entirely a gut call that he explodes for one this week.

Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys: I'm assuming at this writing that Marion Barber is not playing. I love Felix regardless, as I'm guessing most people are not aware that Dallas leads the NFL in rushing.

Week 3 players I hate

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings: Only three of 27 passes last week were beyond 10 yards. He is not throwing deep and the 49ers are a better defense than you realize.

Thomas Jones, RB, Jets: By all accounts, for this week, Thomas Jones is not anything on a sort of stick.

Chris Johnson
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesJust so we're clear, people. I'm not saying sit Chris Johnson. I'm just saying don't expect him to win you your matchup this week.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: Look, if you have him you are starting him, no questions asked. This is for those of you in salary-cap games like Gridiron Challenge. As I stated in "Called Out" this week, I'm a believer in Rex Ryan and the Jets defense. They shut down Steve Slaton and they shut down all the Patriots.

Coach Ditka said on our "Sunday Countdown" show last weekend that he knows the Ryan philosophy (Rex's dad, Buddy, coached for Da Coach, for those of you too young to remember) and he summed it up this way: You kill the snake by cutting off its head. Cut the head, the rest follows. In Week 2, the head of the snake was Brady. For the Titans, it's Johnson. I expect the Jets to focus on stopping Chris Johnson and making Kerry Collins beat them. Remember, Johnson had only 68 total yards on 16 touches in Week 1 against the Steelers, so it can be done. So while I think CJ will ultimately be solid, it will take a lot of touches and he won't be a top-10 back this week.

Justin Gage, WR, Titans: The Revis Effect.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Yes, if you are the Saints you can put up points on the road at Philly. Kansas City's team is not the Saints.

All the Browns: Duh.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: The Bengals are a better defense than you realize and have given up only two touchdown passes all year, one of which was that crazy fluke play to Brandon Stokley in Week 1. This is also why I am down on Hines Ward, as mentioned in "Called Out."

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: He will get going. Just not this week.

Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward, RB, Buccaneers: Think they will be behind and throwing, which doesn't leave a whole lot of time to hand off, let alone for two backs to get theirs.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos: Over his career, he has never had 100 yards or a touchdown against Oakland. That doesn't change this week.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: Did you know that the Broncos are actually top-10 in both rush and pass defense so far this season? Yes, quality of opposition matters, but we are talking about the Raiders here.

Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Dolphins: One week does not a star make. Just like a dropped pass does not a touchdown make.

Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: Not only is he splitting time with Donald Brown, the Colts are pulling Addai at the end of games in favor of the rookie. Add to that the fact that you have to go all the way back to Thanksgiving of last year (11 games) to find the last running back to get 100 yards rushing against the Cardinals. No thanks.

Matty's Mailbag

Sean (Boston, Mass.): Berry, I hope everything is OK. I was looking forward to your love/hate column today as I do every week. At least it's another thing to look for tomorrow. Another thing, what happened to your TRUM column? It's a staple and I'm sure that I am not the only one who misses it. Bring it back!

TMR: Hey Sean, thanks for the kind note. It's actually been a tough week for me in my personal life and I still haven't gotten total control of my schedule yet. It's a great thing, as ESPN is covering fantasy more than they ever have before. But it just means I need to be smarter about how I spend my time. I'm working on it.

As for the TRUM, thanks, I got this question a lot. I miss it, but it was my decision to not do it this year. Writing three pieces a week last year, along with all the other TV, Radio, podcast, online stuff I do … It just got to be too much and I felt my overall work really suffered as a result. Besides, we're now rolling out "Instant Replay" on Sunday nights, and it's written by the always excellent Tristan Cockcroft, so we got you covered for all your postgame fantasy needs. On a stick.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- also likes movies in which animals play sports. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"