- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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All the time.
I get asked questions all the time. Part of it's the job, of course. My job, as an analyst for ESPN, is to give opinions and answer questions. Maybe I have one of those faces, I guess, that makes people always just talk to me, because it would happen way before I started working for ESPN.
True story: I'm at Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Angels and Yankees. I'm in the bathroom between innings. I'm waiting in line for a urinal. In the line next to me, also waiting for a urinal, is a guy who is looking me over.
Him: Hey, are you that guy on "Fantasy Football Now" (our Sunday morning fantasy show on ESPN.com and ESPN2)?
Him: Oh man, I love that show. Thanks for Miles Austin a few weeks ago! That was huge! Nice to meet you. (Sticks out his hand.)
Now, we're in line for a urinal in a bathroom. This takes me aback, but I never know how to handle these things. So I shake his hand.
TMR: Welcome. Glad it worked out.
We now are at the urinals. I unzip and start doing what I came there to do. The other guy is now at his urinal. And the questions still come.
Him: What are you doing in this section? Thought you'd be in the Legends (really good) seats. How about Matt Forte? He ever gonna get going? You think Miles Austin is legit, or is this a fluke?
I'm always, always happy to talk to folks if they want to talk to me. Just not there. It was like ... really, dude? We're going to the bathroom. I'm not comfortable talking to my friends when I'm doing this, let alone discussing the trade value of Carson Palmer.
It wasn't the first time someone has struck up a conversation with me in a bathroom, but I'll do my best to make it the last. Therefore, in an attempt to answer as many questions as possible between now and the next time nature calls in a public place, I asked folks who follow me on Twitter for the questions they most want me to answer. These were the ones I got most often. Go figure, not all of them are about football. So here, now, is the first installment of ...
The TMR FAQ
BurnzTreez @MatthewBerryTMR: Why would u ever root for the redskins? Dumbest thing Ii've heard in a while
TMR: I lived mostly in Virginia from age 5 until I was 12. I knew nothing of girls, or work, or anything other than football cards and my beloved Redskins helmet. Never got into hoops or baseball as a young kid, so the Redskins were my boyhood team. It's not easy these days, but I will be a Skins fan until I die. I lived in Los Angeles right after college and for a long time until moving to Connecticut to work for ESPN, hence the Lakers and Angels, in that order, also have my devotion.
bcstagg @MatthewBerryTMR: Would you chose Megan Joy Corkery or Olivia Wilde?
TMR: Olivia, because there is still hope. I have actually met Megan Joy and ... yeah, that's not happening.
WalpolePorkers @MatthewBerryTMR: Is living in CT killing your dating life? Seems like all your female friends are in L.A. and so are their cute friends.
TMR: Yeah, Connecticut is not helping. In L.A., people of all ages are single. I'm in my late 30s, and in Connecticut, there are many, many more families and married folks. So you go out to a bar or something, and everyone who is single is 25 or younger. And I have, on occasion, dated that young, but it's not ideal for any kind of real relationship.
DanSherman_1027 @MatthewBerryTMR: What was your favorite TV/Movie you worked on?
TMR: My favorite experience was on a show called "Abby," which aired on UPN and starred Sidney Poitier's daughter, also named Sydney. Everyone who worked on the show was great, and I consider all of them friends to this day. Creatively, my favorite was a pilot for "The Muppet Show" that was very well received but got caught up in internal network politics.
Joe_Justice @MatthewBerryTMR: Most famous person to which you've ever given fantasy advice?
TMR: Well, I've talked to a lot of baseball players who play fantasy, such as Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia. I once helped Kid Rock draft a fantasy basketball team. Those are the three who come to mind immediately, but lotsa folks play -- famous or not.
BriGuyAsher @MatthewBerryTMR: While writing "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles," did you ever think that a Razzie nom might be coming your way?
TMR: Well, we weren't surprised, how about that? We agreed to do that job when they correctly answered the question, "You want to pay us how much?" If you're gonna sell out, kids, sell out big.
kcs316 @MatthewBerryTMR: Do you ever regret starting off as a writer? Instead of going gung ho into fantasy sports?
TMR: Not at all. If it wasn't for my "Hollywood" background, I wouldn't be here at ESPN. Many of the skills, relationships and knowledge that allowed me to do what I do came from my days in Hollywood.
jimcartwright @MatthewBerryTMR: Why are you so full of yourself?
TMR: To get on national TV and predict the future, you have to be, don't you think? It's such an arrogant thing to say, "This is what will happen," that it's not for the weak of heart or ego. I fully admit to being a total narcissist. I think anyone who does something that is for public consumption is, whether he admits it or not. It's also the secret to my success, such as it is. Whether it is because they love me or love to hate me, I have found that fans have great interest in my life for whatever reason.
jkulwin @matthewberryTMR:What one thing do you think fans would be the most surprised to know about you?
TMR: I am leaving this blank to allow my editor, Pierre Becquey, who ran my old TMR site and knows me very well, to answer.
P.B.: It's a hard question to answer considering how much of Matthew's personal life ends up in his column, meaning I can't make fun of his girlie dog, his atrocious taste in music and television, his obsession with social-networking sites or the fact that he is, in fact, a moderate narcissist who's never met a famous person he didn't want to hobnob with. So I guess the most surprising thing about Matthew is that the clown act is, in fact, just an act, and he's a lot smarter about this business than he lets on. If it all truly depended on predicting whether Adrian Peterson was gonna go off on any given week, he wouldn't be in this job. There's a lot of people who can do fantasy analysis. There aren't a lot who could actually do everything Matthew does, including being willing to work essentially 7 days a week during the football season.
That, and I've never seen him eat a tomato. Like, ever. Not on a sandwich or burger, in pasta or a salad. ... Who am I kidding? I've never seen him eat a salad, period.
bradkirby @MatthewBerryTMR: My girlfriend finds you to be cute. What can I say to get her off that bus and focus on my fantasy advice?
TMR: Tell her to talk to Dave in Philly's wife.
Dave (Philadelphia): Hey Matthew, I enjoy reading your columns about your dating troubles. And to help you out, I thought you may want to refine your image on ESPN a bit. My wife just came into the room and watched for about 5 minutes and then asked if you were gay. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
TMR: That's weird, because I don't think I dress nearly well enough to be gay.
Of course, the most common question I get is Whom do I start, and whom do I pick up? Answers to the first question come tomorrow with the rankings, but I'll answer the second question right now.
Don't look back in anger
"Feel my way through a bevy of solutions. There I realize the answer is in me. Gettin' off of this boomerang love "
Here are some guys I previously suggested you pick up. Somehow, you managed to avoid my genius, or you ran into my idiocy and picked up the wrong guys. Either way, they remarkably are still available in some leagues. Consider this a combo of obvious names and a listing of guys previously discussed. They should be picked up before any of the guys listed below them. I've listed them in the order I would claim them. As always, ownership percentages are for ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys (85 percent); Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings (78 percent); Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers (78 percent); Mike Bell, RB, Saints (55 percent); Austin Collie, WR, Colts (52 percent); Lance Moore, WR, Saints (52 percent); Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants (38 percent); Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers (35 percent); Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders (8 percent); Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings (55 percent); Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots (80 percent); CIN D/ST (25 percent); Johnny Knox, WR, Bears (73 percent).
By the way, if Lee Evans, WR, Bills (79 percent) was dropped in your league, he seems to like Ryan Fitzpatrick. Or at least not hate him as much as Trent Edwards. And with Houston next up, he makes an interesting Week 8 play.
And of course, if LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles (73 percent) is somehow still available in your league, he deserves strong consideration as your No. 1 pick this week. Early indications are he will start Sunday against the Giants.
Pickups of the week
"Say baby, can I take your picture? Because I want Santa to know exactly what I want for Christmas."
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (49 percent): Yes, dammit, he was in last week's Dumpsville. But he had a note next to him. ("Even though I still really like him.") My concern wasn't that I didn't like him. It was that the Cardinals didn't. Seventeen touches for 77 yards and a score at Giants Stadium later and, well, maybe Arizona has figured this out somewhat. Beanie averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and because of opportunity, I like him more than the other big pickup this week, Shonn Greene. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt told the team's official Web site that Tim Hightower was still the guy. I don't totally buy it, clearly. Wells has a shot to be the feature guy, something Greene won't have unless something happens to Thomas Jones. (Rubs hands together, cackles evilly.) Look at Arizona's next four games: Panthers, at a Bears team that just got run all over by Club Ced, Seattle and at St. Louis. That, my friends, is tasty.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets (3 percent): It was, as the kids call it, a good day at the office. Coming in for the injured Leon Washington, the rookie rushed for 144 yards and two scores. Now, it was against Oakland, and it was a blowout. He'll play Miami this week, and the story will be somewhat different, especially because he'll play second fiddle to Thomas Jones. That said, the Panthers, Bills and Buccaneers await in Weeks 12-14, when you are making the push for and starting the fantasy playoffs. He'll be a nice flex play in some weeks. Remember, the Jets lead the NFL in rushing attempts, and Greene will get a lot of them going forward.
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Broncos (49 percent): Forgot about him, didn't you? He was dropped in some leagues because he was hurt. He came back late for Week 6, and then the Broncos went on a bye. So he's out there in some leagues, and he's part of one of the better rushing offenses in the NFL. Don't love his Baltimore matchup this week, but I do like him a lot going forward.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers (6 percent): He's been mentioned in the Mendoza section for a few weeks, but I now recommend him for 10-team leagues if you can afford the roster space. He's scored in two of his past three games and has at least 50 yards receiving in four of his past five, and I like him a lot from a skills standpoint. He's on a bye this week and faces Denver the next week, so I'm looking at him more for Weeks 10-14 (Bengals, at Chiefs, at Ravens, Raiders, at Browns) and beyond.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs (4 percent): Bill Simmons created the phrase "fantasy kryptonite" for guys we love and keep drafting/picking up/whatever because we believe in them, but then keep burning us. Well, Charles is my current fantasy kryptonite, and I'm gonna keep recommending him, dammit. Larry Johnson is terrible, OK? When not otherwise occupied using gay slurs on Twitter, he's averaged just 2.7 yards per carry. That, kids, is not good. Even for a Kansas City Chief. Charles has by far looked like the more explosive back this year and has averaged 5 yards a carry (on just 23 attempts, but still). Kansas City is on a bye this week but will face Jacksonville and Oakland after the break, and hopefully, Johnson will be suspended. Either for his tweets or just being not very good. I'm good with either.
Fred Davis, TE, Redskins (0.3 percent): The Redskins will be on a bye next week (say it with me now: How can we tell?), but when they come back, Davis will be their starting tight end. My guess is Chris Cooley is done for the season (would you hustle back to play on that team?), and Davis will continue to be a part of the offense the way he was Monday night, when he caught eight passes for 78 yards and a score. I like him more the rest of the season than, say, Jermichael Finley, to give you a comparison.
Sam Aiken, WR, Patriots (0.3 percent): As seen in last week's Love/Hate, Aiken is the No. 3 wide receiver on a team that will be throwing and throwing some more. He had 66 yards and a score last week. Most of the yardage came on one big play, but still. As long as Bill Belichick is throwing on fourth down when he's up by 50 in the fourth quarter, everyone on this team has value. And that includes Aiken, who is on a bye this week, but if you can wait, he will pay some dividends in deeper leagues.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans (9 percent): Yes, I am recommending a guy who had zero catches for zero yards last week in a game when Matt Schaub was throwing all over the place. I'm doing it for a few reasons. First, Kevin Walter has been terrible this season. Second, it looks like this Andre Johnson injury might be a little more serious than we thought. (He may miss the game.) And third, he has big-play ability. Yes, he had a doughnut last week, but he actually ran one back that was waived off because of penalty. He already has scored four times in seven games this season. And with six teams on a bye each of the next two weeks, all names are legit.
Just below the Mendoza line
It's a baseball saying, but it's appropriate here as well. (As far as I'm concerned, OK?) Here are some guys who shouldn't be picked up in 10-team leagues, but for those in 12-team or deeper leagues, I like them, and you should keep an eye on them.
I'm not yet totally buying Alex Smith, QB, 49ers, but they'll have a very favorable schedule during the fantasy playoffs. ... David Clowney, WR, Jets will have some value next week against the Dolphins if the rest of the Jets' wide receivers continue to be banged up. ... I mentioned Devin Thomas, WR, Redskins last week, and he bingoed his way to 45 yards and a score in the first game with Sherm Lewis calling the plays. The Skins are on a bye this week and are an unmitigated disaster for the near future, but still. They like him and need to see what they have. With Donald Brown banged up, it looks as if Mike Hart, RB, Colts will get some run as a backup, and you have to like anyone on Indy, especially at home this week.
Jerious Norwood continues to be hurt, and I liked what I saw out of Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons in limited action. Bobby Wade, WR, Chiefs will never be huge, and I feel like I mention him every week, but he does have at least six fantasy points in four of his past six. Malcolm Floyd, WR, Chargers has at least five points in three of his past four and will face Oakland next week. James Jones, WR, Packers has scored in back-to-back weeks and, with Jermichael Finley banged up, will see even more action on passing downs. ... Second straight week with at least 60 yards receiving for Sammie Stroughter, WR, Buccaneers. His teammate Derrick Ward, RB, Buccaneers somehow got 56 yards on 14 carries last week. I still don't trust, but it's worth noting. And finally, Danny Amendola, WR, Rams has at least five receptions in two of his past three games, and he'll face Detroit this week.
Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You
As always, these are not guys I'm saying you should drop, and as always, some of you will ignore that caveat. But if you need roster space (especially in a six-team bye week), I have no issue with it. These are good players who will have productive weeks but I feel ultimately won't lead you to the promised land, based on schedule and who else is available in ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.
Eli Manning, Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Shaun Hill, Sammy Morris, Larry Johnson, Glen Coffee, Willis McGahee, Fred Jackson, Tashard Choice, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, LenDale White, Leon Washington (obviously), Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, Roy Williams, Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr., Devery Henderson, Chris Cooley, Zach Miller, Dustin Keller and Kellen Winslow.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is, as an Angels and Redskins fan, very excited that the NBA season tips off Tuesday night. He is also 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
Matthew Berry answers frequently asked questions about himself, his job and Week 8's best fantasy football pickups.