- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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His basement. His rules. His game show.
Ken Ober will always be the Quizmaster of 72 Whooping Cough Lane.
If those words mean nothing to you, you clearly did not spend time in front of a TV in the late '80s and early '90s. Or maybe you're Canadian. Either way, your loss. MTV's game show "Remote Control" was revolutionary in its time, turning game show conventions on their ear. Set in the basement of its pop-culture-obsessed host's mother's house ("TV mattered, nothing else did"), the show was loud, messy and no one wore a suit and tie. Contestants were not sent away with "nice parting gifts and better luck next time" but rather openly mocked and then violently ejected.
Food was thrown at contestants, the host was often interrupted by his mother's voice and the sidekick sang. Badly.
When the host of the show, Ken Ober, died earlier this week, it brought back a flood of memories for me and, I suspect, many others. Kyle Anderson put it pretty well on MTV.com. "In the age before the Internet, DVD and video on demand, it was sometimes difficult to find a place where lines from 'Jaws' could be mentioned alongside David Bowie lyrics. Ober brought the geeks and the cool kids together to hang out in his basement, and that melding of two worlds helped make MTV the definitive television destination for youth across the country."
"Remote Control" delighted in obscure trivia that mattered not at all. So it's probably appropriate that I tell you this little fact: I was actually a contestant on the show in its fourth season (Susan Ashley was the hostess, if you're keeping track that way).
I was in college at Syracuse at the time. I was in first place at the commercial break, but I got my butt kicked in the lightning round. If you ever see a tape of the show (and I'm hoping like hell that never happens), you'll notice me pushing the buzzer repeatedly and looking annoyed. I somehow was never able to buzz in quickly enough. I was the first one ejected. Little did I know it was merely the start of what would turn into a long career of me looking like an idiot on national television.
It was the fourth season of the show and, as you might imagine, a huge hit among my friends. Getting on it was a big coup and the try-out process was long and involved. Competition was intense to just get on the show and the producers wanted big energetic personalities, the more outrageous the better.
For some reason, 19-year-old me translated that to me bringing a Rocky (of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" fame) squirrel puppet and taunting Ken with it. Actually, I'm not sure what it says about me, but to this day I think the idea of an evil squirrel is hilarious. The producers had told me to go nuts if I got booted off, so I yelled at Ken as I went off the air. It was probably the first time I realized it didn't matter if I was loved or hated; the important thing was getting the laugh and making for an entertaining show.
If you are a fan of my work or a fan of hating my work, that piece of information should come as no surprise to you. I've always been willing to stick my neck out and look like an idiot doing so because it amused me and I thought it would amuse others.
And "Remote Control" was among the first things to give me the courage to do so. When you have to go on national TV every week and say "Here's what will happen" and do it about non-obvious stuff, well, you're gonna look like an idiot sometimes. Nature of the gig. "Remote Control" showed me that was OK.
I only met Ken Ober the one time, but he was just as nice off-air as he was on it. But it's a good excuse to reflect on the iconic show. And as anyone who listens to the podcast I do daily with Nate Ravitz can attest, the low-rent, goofy, anything-goes, make-fun-of-everything (starting with ourselves) attitude that Ken and "Remote Control" perfected is weaved through every podcast we do.
Ken and his sidekicks who hung out in the basement of 72 Whooping Cough Lane had a "Screw it, it's just a game, let's have fun and not take anything that seriously" attitude that is not only timeless, but also timely for all of us playing fantasy football. It's crunch time, and this week will go a long way toward determining whether you make the playoffs or not. With its violent ejection of losing contestants, "Remote Control" taught us to not go out like a punk. To not go down without a fight.
Which means it might be goofy to see a game show built with categories like "Brady Physics" and "Beat the Bishop," or a starting lineup with Jamal Lewis and Jason Snelling this week. But that doesn't mean it won't work.
As always, these are guys I think will do better or worse than their expected production. To find out how I feel about specific players versus others, be sure to read my ranking updates Friday. And by the way, this week I threw in a few bonus "loves" and "hates" in the video above.
Week 11 Players I Love
Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins: My colleague James Quintong pointed out the irony that Ken Ober has passed away while the chain-smoking Colin Quinn is healthy as a horse. In that same vein, what were the odds that Ricky "Smoke 'em if you got 'em" Williams would be the one who been rock-solid while Ronnie Brown suffers yet another season-ending injury?
Lex Hilliard, RB, Dolphins: If you are in a deep league and need five points from a running back, I bet he gets it for you against the Panthers' 25th-ranked run defense.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Including the playoffs, The Daily Show has 12 rushing TDs in 13 home games. After a strong start, the Dolphins' rush defense has given up five touchdowns to opposing running backs in the past five games. I like him as a flex play this week.
Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins: You heard me. Double-digit fantasy points in every game since Sherm put down the bingo balls. I'm saying he gets at least 13 points in this game (ESPN standard scoring) against a Cowboys team that has given up at least 17 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in four of their past six.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: 26 catches for 494 yards (123.5 per game) and three touchdowns in his past four games at Dallas. Just saying.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns: Jamal Lewis can be effective when given the ball against bad run defenses (31-for-117 versus Buffalo in Week 5, for example). The Lions have given up at least one touchdown to an opposing running back in every single game this season; 11 in 10 games to be exact. They give up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, including at least 22 points in three straight games. Jamal is the Browns' running backs. (Yes, all of them).
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns: You had me at "versus Detroit."
The Pittsburgh Steelers: Remember how they killed you last week against the Bengals? Well, this week they get Kansas City and they really want to make it up to you.
Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons: If I was a smack-talking Falcons fan with lots of attitude and very little creativity, I'd be all "Oh yeah? Well, after he bowls over your Giants, youse guys are gonna need Snelling Salts!" (Pause) By the way, in honor of "Remote Control," we're gonna try to do jokes that would be funny only in 1988.
Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: You're starting all the obvious guys here, but it's worth noting that the Bucs have given up a score to an opposing tight end in three of their past four.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts: In the past three games, only Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark have more targets from Peyton Manning than Garcon. And Clark is only ahead by four. Garcon has at least 50 yards receiving in three straight, he scored last week and, when they are not playing the Browns, the Ravens give up lots of points to opposing wide receivers.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: I've totally changed my mind on this one. Initially I was down on him this week, ranking him 19th. But the more I look at this, I feel this is a high-scoring game in which Flacco gets back to being Wacko. Joe will move up in the Friday update.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson and John Carlson, Seahawks: One of the categories on "Remote Control" was "Dead or Canadian." That always killed me. And Seattle is sort of near Canada, plus Nate Burleson seemed dead last week, so this struck me as a good place to mention it.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings: Every time I write it, a little piece of me dies inside.
Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals: If Cedric Benson doesn't play in this game, Scott is a top-15 running back this week. As always, tune in to Fantasy Football Now on ESPN.com and ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday for all the last-minute injury news and analysis.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: In the past three games, the Broncos have been as charitable to opposing running backs as Kari Wuhrer to David Silver in the back of a limo. You know, for someone who wasn't a very big star, let's give a warm round of applause to Kari Wuhrer for being on both "Remote Control" and "Beverly Hills, 90210." It's amazing she's not an ex-wife of mine.
Tony Scheffler, TE, Broncos: Last time he played the Chargers, he had over 100 yards and a touchdown. And of course, you always like your tight ends going up against the Chargers. San Diego gives up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, including touchdowns each of the past two weeks.
Greg Olsen, TE, Bears: The Eagles give up the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. By the way, whenever I quote stuff like this, it's all from our Points Against chart, which you can access from the fantasy football menu.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: No, I am sorry, he is not the real Slim Shady. But he is a good start this week against the Bears, who have held only the Browns running backs to less than 15 fantasy points in the past seven games.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans: Two first names. An old crowd-pleaser, just like "Remote Control."
Week 11 Players I Hate
Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys: One week does not a career excuse. Read that on a coffee mug.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: He has struggled against good run defenses, and the way to beat San Francisco is through the air. He'll get eight or 10 points, but that's it.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Two first names are no match for the Steelers.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Remember when he was Matt Ryan?
Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco, Bengals: Now, maybe it's because they're so bad teams get up big and they run, but the Raiders have given up more than 12 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks only twice all season. The Nnamdi Rule applies to Chad, which is why I am tempering expectations for both.
Mike Sims-Walker and Torry Holt, WR, Jaguars: Fair warning: MSW was on this list last week and he scored. But I expect the Bills to play with a bit more intensity this week, and they've allowed only two scores to opposing wide receivers all season. It'll be the MJD show for the Jags, so I don't love the matchup here for either receiver.
Austin Collie, WR, Colts: Remember when he was Matt Ryan? Wait, that's not right
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: Much like an iconic MTV game show, it was fun while it lasted.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: Single-digit fantasy points in five straight games, and he had only 43 total yards the last time they played San Diego. And with Kyle Orton banged up, I expect San Diego to concentrate on stopping the run even more.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: A week after throwing five picks, he gets the team with the third-most interceptions in the NFL. Oh, and if that's not enough, as Mike Mulligan noted in the Chicago Sun-Times, he's 0-3 with 11 interceptions in three prime-time night games. Which this game is.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears: See Cutler, Jay. And then Samuel, Asante. Who is very good.
Ryan Moats, RB, Texans: Don't trust him or Coach Kubiak.
That's all I got. Good luck this week. R.I.P., Ken Ober.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- never got a LeRun. 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 remembers Ken Ober before weighing in on dozens of players' predicted performances in the form of his weekly Love/Hate feature.