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That's the gig

12/3/2009

Another long detour, even for me, on the way to today's fantasy content. Click here to just get to the Love/Hates. Otherwise, I would like to release a statement.

I have never met Tiger Woods. I have never texted with him, never spoken with him, never had any kind of romantic relationship with him.

Make no mistake. I thought about doctoring some photos, hiring Gloria Allred or making something up to get myself into the Tiger story. I mean, this one time, I did make out with my girlfriend while the final round of the Masters was on in the background, so maybe I can claim I'm involved in a love triangle with Tiger? The girl did say she thought Tiger was cute. Hmmm. Tiger tried to steal my girlfriend. ... Let me work on that one. I might be onto something here.

Look, I gotta figure something out. It's clearly the quickest way to fame at the minute. The more famous I get, the more awareness I bring to ESPN.com and our fantasy sports games. More famous means my page views and podcast downloads go up, which means more money from ESPN, more money from endorsements, in fact, I might actually get endorsements and, of course, all the other perks.

Insider access to pretty much anywhere I want to go, people catering to my every whim, money, girls and nonstop adoration wherever I go.

"Thank you so much for sending your private jet to bring me to your hot tub party here in Staad with the entire Maxim Hot 100," is the kind of thing I will say. "Have you met my date, the way-too-young-for-me-but-its-OK-since-I- am-now-world-famous AnnaLynne McCord?"

My picture will be taken and when AnnaLynne storms off in a huff because I am paying attention to Nos. 16-20, the blogs and paparazzi will all write about how I'm a bad boy and a player and why can't AnnaLynne find love and who was the dark-haired man she was canoodling with at the end of the night as I searched frantically for her? They will interview exes of mine who will discuss the kind of boyfriend I am with all sorts of intimate details about me. "He cuts his toenails while sitting on the toilet!" is the kind of fact I will cringe about upon reading about myself. [Editor's note: To be fair, Matthew, we all cringed a little at that one.]

And that's fine. Because I made that deal. I chose to be famous and that's part of the gig. I'm not gonna speculate on what Tiger has or has not done. Not what it means for his future or why he transgressed in whatever fashion he has. I don't know what went on behind closed doors, I have no authority or expertise to offer there and, speaking as someone who has gone through a divorce, I can tell you that no one knows the real story of a marriage except the two people in it.

But, there's one part of the story I am qualified to write about. Here's part of Tiger's statement that appeared on TigerWoods.com.

"But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy."

No. No, no, no, no, no, no. I can't tell you how angry this statement made me. And the fact there are so many others who seem to agree with it. Leave him alone! Well, guess what, Eldrick and the defenders of privacy? That's the gig.

No one gets it both ways. Tiger is not the first celebrity or athlete to have their private life written about by tabloids, blogs and mainstream press. Been going on forever. You knew that when you joined the PGA Tour, you knew it when you hired IMG to represent you at the very start of your career, you know it every single time you cash one of those oversized checks. (By the way, I demand that when Jaimee Grubbs and Rachel Uchitel sign to be in Playboy -- and trust me, it's coming -- they get paid with one of those oversized checks.)

Back on my high horse. The reason, Tiger, you get so much money for golf tournaments? Because of public interest. TV and sponsors pay a lot of money to tournaments, who in turn pay a lot of money to golfers, because of public interest.

You don't think the "Tiger Woods" of Archery (Im Dong-Hyun of South Korea, incidentally) wishes as many people loved archery as they do golf? He's among the top people in the universe at his solitary sport, just like Tiger, but has anyone heard of him? Exactly.

Tiger is not a spokesman for many fine products because he is a good golfer. He is a spokesman because he is famous for being a good golfer and that's an important distinction. Because he keeps winning tournaments that people are very interested in, he's paid a small fortune. According to Forbes, Tiger's current net worth is around $500 million.

I begrudge him none of it. He's earned every penny. But Tiger, don't you dare complain that all of the sudden magazines want to put you on the cover between a sad-looking Elin and a trashy-looking waitress or two instead of wearing a green jacket, smile on your face and putter in your hand.

Thanks to being on ESPN and the public interest in fantasy sports, I have achieved a very small modicum of notoriety. And I've gotten some benefits from it, too. From various parties I've attended, to people I've gotten to meet, to sporting events I've gotten to see, to free drinks, meals and even, occasionally, dates. And it's great. Love my job.

But, I'm also open to public scrutiny, written about on tons of Web sites and blogs and I have to live my life a certain way. I have to be very aware any time I am out in public. People ask for photos all the time, but I no longer allow myself to be photographed with only women. Guys have to be in the picture, because photos can be misinterpreted. And, more often than not when I am at a bar, I order Diet Coke.

Seriously. That's what I drink 80 percent of the time. Because I can't risk being even close to intoxicated in public.

I've had people take my picture while dancing with a girl, while in the bathroom and when I am doing something dumb, like scratching somewhere inappropriate. I wanna be like ... really? I can't just dance (badly, incidentally) with a girl without you shoving your cell phone at us? Bugs me. I don't go out nearly as much as a result because it's not as much fun. But you know what? Comes with the gig.

No one made me sign with ESPN. I knew what came with working for a high-profile sports company like this. And I gladly accepted that deal. I have no issue with blogs or tabloids in general and like to think I generally have a good relationship with them. Mostly because all I've ever asked is that if someone wants to write about me, they offer me a chance to say my side of the story before publishing. And if I say no comment, like Tiger has so far (save for his statements), then so be it. Write away. Being in the public eye means you are fair game. You don't have to like the rules, but you gotta live with them if you want to play the game.

No one forced Tiger to join the PGA. Wanna make a living at golf in obscurity? Be a golf pro at a club. Bet he'd have been a good one. But once you cash those checks from Buick and whoever else, that's on you. And considering that fame has allowed you to capitalize on your amazing talent to the tune of $500 million or so, stop complaining about it.

It's sort of similar to fantasy football, you know? Worried about Kurt Warner this weekend? Well, you know what, you knew when you drafted him he was an injury-prone quarterback pushing 40. That's the gig of owning him. Hoping Julius Jones won't start because you need another week out of Justin Forsett? That Vince Young is legit and won't choke on the road at Indy? That you don't believe in
the Revis factor
and are starting Terrell Owens tonight anyway?

There's risk and there's reward. And often, the two are related. Comes with the gig. As you look through this week's Love/Hate and everything else you read to prep for Week 13 you have to decide which way you want to go. You wanna play it safe? That's cool, but don't complain when your team fails to go off for huge points. You want fame and glory? Then start all the risky guys with high upside. You may be loving life. But don't start whining when the tabloids are on your doorstep asking why you just put up the lowest point total in league history, either.

Comes with the gig. Something else that comes with my gig is the "Engineered to Win" video, which I have to do every week. I threw in a few bonus love and hates in there not written about below, just to get you to watch. I'm the sneaky Mr. Roto.

Week 13 Players I Love

Dustin Keller, TE, Jets: Bills have given up at least seven fantasy points to opposing tight ends the past two weeks and I could see Keller doing close to that. I expect between five and seven points tonight.

Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, WR, Eagles: I go into more detail about my high ranking on these two in Tristan Cockcroft's "Called Out" column, but basically, consider this: Maclin has at least 60 yards in his past three games and Avant has been even better, with at least 90 yards or a touchdown in three straight. And that was all with DeSean Jackson in the game. Now Jackson's unlikely to play, which means even more love for these two guys on an offense that has attempted the 11th-most passes this season. Plus it's a ridiculous matchup. Falcons are 27th in the NFL against the pass. And starting in Week 7, when Atlanta lost cornerback Brian Williams, only one team in the NFL has given up more passing yards than the Falcons. Now, a few teams have played one fewer game than Atlanta due to byes, but the point remains: This is one bad pass defense. Big days for both guys.

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles: Atlanta ain't all that against the tight end, either, and Celek was back at practice this week.

Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: Guess who is throwing to all of them?

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: Not that you were ever going to bench him, but the one weakness of the Eagles' defense is against the tight end. They give up the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends and, with Chris Redman at quarterback, expect even more looks to Gonzo.

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: There's one blog that runs a photo taken of me in a bar without my knowledge. In it, I'm talking to a friend while her date is right next to me. But in the photo, you don't see him. The guy is cropped out and from the angle of the photo, it looks like I'm hitting on this girl. Make no mistake. After my divorce in 2005, I've hit on plenty of women in bars. That's what single guys do. You could very well see me doing it again at some point in the future. If you do, feel free to come up and lie to the woman how insanely famous I am. It never hurts, and I'll owe you a solid. But the point remains: In that often-run photo, I am not hitting on the woman. And it reminds me of Jay Cutler, who, despite the big contract and bad defense forcing him to play from behind, is not a good fantasy quarterback this year. Not even close. Said it before the season, been saying it for a long time. But this week, he actually will be. Rams cure a lot of ills. If Tiger's image could play the Rams, we'd be done with this mess in a week.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Forte is the Bears' running game, such as it is. Here are some numbers …

Before I can continue, I am surrounded by Paparazzi at my desk, firing questions at me. "Didn't you use that same joke before?" "You know, where you said that if the economy could face the Browns defense a few times, Obama's problems would be solved?" "You're plagiarizing yourself."

So I quickly issue a denial and leave my desk. Later, when the National Enquirer produces a link to the Week 5 Love/Hate column, where, in fact, I did just that, I post a statement on ESPN.com apologizing for my transgressions. I misrembered what I wrote and ask for privacy, as this issue is just between myself and my editors. I have my brother reach out to Gloria Allred (she's representing the blog that is calling me out for recycling jokes) and arrange a payoff in exchange for them keeping their mouths shut. Six months from now, I will grant an exclusive interview with soft lighting and no follow-up questions in which I talk about the pressures I have, having to predict fantasy performance, and even though I denied it vehemently before, I admit that, yes, after signing for huge money to write for that fantasy blog in Texas, I felt pressure to be super-funny. I will remind everyone that I am human and beg forgiveness. I will appear in public with my cute dog, since I have no kids, talking about the importance of family. Three months after that, I will make fun of myself in a sketch on SNL.

Anyway, back to Matt Forte. He is the Bears' running game, such as it is. And here are those numbers: 33,33, 26, 19, 27, 26, 24. Those are the numbers of fantasy points the Rams have given up to opposing running backs the past seven games. Now or never, Matt. Now or never.

Donnie Avery, WR, Rams: Ranked him 38th, but at second glance ... three scores in three games, he has two first names, he has Kyle Boller throwing to him, Kyle Boller has been linked romantically to Carrie Prejean, who is no stranger to blogs, and it seems like it's the week for that. Plus the Bears gives up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. At least two of those facts are relevant. Sorry to go all Rachel Uchitel on you and flip flop with my story here, but I'm going to raise him up in my Friday ranks update.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts: I keep putting him on this list, he keeps making me look smart. Dude has a touchdown or 100 yards in three straight games, at least 50 yards receiving in five straight and now he gets the Titans. Yes, they have played better defense recently, but they have given up 12 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in six road games this year. And if you don't trust me, how bout trusting Ken Daube? He'd tell you the same thing.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: After this game, call him Yesshon! Yeah, I got no idea what that means, either.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Since becoming a starter, he has days of 17, 17 and 18 fantasy points, and two of those were against the Steelers and the Chargers. The only running back Denver has stopped recently is Brandon Jacobs and that doesn't count. Everyone stops Brandon Jacobs.

Benjamin Watson, TE, Patriots: Think Brady bounces back and Watson could be one of the reasons why. A little bit of a gut call, but Miami does give up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and Watson did have four catches for 49 yards the last time they played.

Cedric Benson, Rashard Mendenhall, LaDainian Tomlinson, RBs: They play Detroit, Oakland and Cleveland, respectively. Don't pull a "Tiger" and get cute. Do what you are supposed to and move on.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans: Come on, sing it with me now. "He's a Britt ... House. Mighty mighty, just letting it all hang out. … He's a Britt … House!"

Rock Cartwright, RB. Redskins: See Cockcroft, Tristan and his "Called Out" column for my explanation. Or just know that I love a guy named "Rock." And am hoping he gets on a roll. You heard me. Move along. Nothing to see here. Keep it moving. Here we go. Come on now.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Another feast-or-famine guy, you expect a feast against Tampa Bay. Better than 100 yards and a score last time he faced the Bucs, he'll also go up in my Friday update.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans: Seven for 73 last week, seven for 96 and a score last time he faced the Jaguars and only six teams have given up more touchdown passes this year than Jacksonville's 26th-ranked pass defense.

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings: You might think this is obvious. Hell, I think it's obvious. But he was started in only half of ESPN.com leagues last week. Do you realize he has scored in two straight games, three of his past four and in fact, he's scored a touchdown in seven of 11 games this year? Insane. Oh, by the way, Cardinals give up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: OK I don't "love" him per se. But I'm putting him here because I'm not scared off by the Ravens, who despite being one of the better fantasy run defenses, have given up at least 12 points to opposing running backs in eight of 11 games so far. The three games missing? One against the Chiefs, two against the Browns. I rest my case.

Week 13 Players I Hate

Terrell Owens, WR, Bills: Last time he faced Revis? Three receptions, 13 yards. Revis has shut down Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Randy Moss, Steve Smith of Carolina, Randy Moss again (mostly) and now Terrell Owens twice. That sentence will be true Friday morning.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets: Believe it or not, Buffalo actually allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. A struggling Mark Sanchez (eight points or fewer, three straight games) throwing to a struggling Braylon Edwards (five points or fewer in three straight and in five of his past six games) gives me a look like I'm guessing Tiger's agent has these days.

Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons: Don't think Michael Turner plays and if I have to choose a Falcons runner, it's Jerious Norwood, but I don't love any of them against Philly.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons: As I wrote Tristan, the thing that concerns me here is not just the inexperienced quarterback facing one of the most aggressive defenses in the league. But Philly has given up only three touchdown passes to opposing wide receivers on the road all year and check out this list of elite No. 1 wideouts they have shut down: Steve Smith (of Carolina), Antonio Bryant, Vincent Jackson and, for all but one play, Miles Austin. They give up the fourth-fewest points to opposing wide receivers and only Marques Colston has had a huge game against them. And that was all the way back in Week 2. I expect Asante Samuel to be all over Roddy White as Chris Redman is getting blitzed, suggesting a very average day for White.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions: Nine or fewer fantasy points in six of his past seven games. The one exception was against Cleveland. The Bengals are not the Browns.

Bo Scaife, TE, Titans: Just because I've seen some folks mention him as a sleeper, what with his 68 yards last week and VY's re-emergence. But Colts allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends and, ultimately, he's Bo Scaife. That's his gig.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: Washington actually gives up the fifth-fewest points to opposing tight ends and David Thomas is taking touches away.

Antonio Bryant, WR, Buccaneers: Panthers third-best against the pass and at home, they have allowed only one touchdown pass to an opposing wide receiver all season. And last time he faced the Panthers, Bryant had just 37 yards. In other words, don't get all excited about last week.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: Too many cooks in the kitchen, especially on the road.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Cowboys currently top 10 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs and in fact, haven't given up a rushing touchdown on the road to an opposing running back since Week 1. Jacobs, meanwhile, hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game all season, is averaging fewer than 4 yards a carry and has only three scores on the year. In short, Dallas has a good run defense and Brandon Jacobs is 10 kinds of unstartable.

Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals: If he plays, I actually think he'll play well. The concern is that this is the Sunday night game. If Warner is declared inactive, you're stuck. Make sure you have Matt Leinart on your team if Warner is the only option.

Joe Flacco and Derrick Mason, Ravens: For one week only, I am merely wack for Flacco, which sort of makes sense.

Thanks for reading, Tiger Woods. Not that Tiger read this, but putting his name in here one more time will help the search results. Tiger, Tiger, Tiger.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- speaks from experience when he says to not believe everything you read about someone. 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