- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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It's a good name.
An even better song.
"Jaron and the Long Road to Love" is a band with a new song that is getting a lot of radio play these days. Love the name of the band (though may I suggest "Jaron and the Long Road to Love/Hate?") but I like the song even more. If you want to hear it for free, you can do so at www.myspace.com/jaronandthelongroadtolove.
But here's some of the lyrics:
"Haven't been in church since I don't remember when
Things were going great 'til they fell apart again
So I listened to the preacher as he told me what to do
He said you can't go hating others who done wrong to you
Sometimes we get angry, but we must not condemn
Let the good Lord do his job and you just pray for them
I pray your brakes go out running down a hill
I pray a flower pot falls from a window sill
And knocks you in the head like I'd like to
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls
I pray you're flying high when your engine stalls
I pray all your dreams never come true
Just know wherever you are honey, I pray for you."
I like where Jaron is going here. Getting in touch with his religious side, especially with the
fantasy playoffsholidays around the corner.
When I get ready to sleep tonight, I will kneel down in front of my bed, hands clasped and pray ...
I pray Matt Forte's heat goes out in his house and then the repairman doesn't show up until it's much too late, just like he's done for his owners.
I pray Sean Payton has somewhere to go in a real hurry and only one of his three cars has enough gas to get him there. But he doesn't know which one, so he just has to guess and hope he doesn't wind up stranded.
I pray DeAngelo Williams is in surgery and just when the crucial incision is needed, the doctor has to step out at the last second. And the guy in the next operating room over gets that important last cut to put him over the top to total health.
I pray someone invents a time machine to go back and tell a 5-year-old me that being a Redskins fan will cause a lot of heartache and pain and maybe I should look elsewhere. I was 5. I'd have changed loyalty for a cookie. But now I'm stuck for the rest of my life. Been a tough year. Yeah. Tough year.
I pray Perkins puts out a calendar of its waitresses. Because that would make me laugh.
I pray Willis McGahee spends a backbreaking week digging a ditch and just before he scoops the last clump of dirt, someone else comes along to do that and gets a big check for a job well done.
I pray this kid gets a better sense of timing before he graduates.
Hi Matthew. I'm in a feature writing class at the University of XXXX and I'm doing a feature on Fantasy Football. I was hoping that I could ask you a few questions for my story. This is not for a newspaper or anything, just a college course. [TMR note: He sent this on an NFL Sunday, my busiest day of the week, and what followed was 16 fairly complex questions.] My deadline is 5:30 p.m. Monday.
I pray Bill Belichick gets what he deserves. Actually, you know what? I think he already is.
I pray Mike Sims-Walker has a big party and, when he needs them to, no one shows up because they were out late the night before.
I pray Chris Johnson gets every single thing he ever wants. He's earned it.
I pray someone finds Matt in Fresno, Calif., and gives him a hug. I think he needs it.
Matt (Fresno, Calif.): Dear Matthew, this morning you looked me in the eye and said that Jason Avant would have a huge day. You also said that you "guarantee it." Well I started him over the injury-plagued Roddy White and it turned out to be a 13 point swing. I've been listening to your horrible advice all season. You never seem to get anything right, (Nate Burleson week in and week out, John Carlson, I can go on and on with horrible decisions I've made based on your picks). You are a moron. I hate you so much. Wipe that stupid smile off your face because you wrecked my boat you goon.
I pray Eagles guard Max Jean-Gilles, whose illegal use of the hands penalty last week cost Jason Avant a 15-yard touchdown, meets a very pretty girl and is on his way out of the club, but just then her girlfriends grab her and drag her away.
I pray that Lander Allen in Santa Rosa, Calif.; Ed Tally in Warwick, R.I.; Erica Latker in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; David in Canton, Mich.; the sons of Steve Scotto in Long Island, N.Y.; Alexander E. in Petaluma, Calif.; Drew Lucas of Sanford, N.C.; Mike in Tampa, Fla; Aaron Chin in Davis, Calif.; and especially Ryan in Afghanistan, all the folks who reached out to me on Twitter and anyone else who has a late December / early January birthday get kick-ass gifts this year.
I pray every reader of mine who takes the time to post an angry message filled with personal attacks, or sends me a hateful, insulting e-mail ... has a safe and happy holiday. Every time you click, an angel gets more page views. Or something like that.
With the fantasy playoffs this week, my basic advice is to understand what kind of team you have. If you've been rolling along, don't get cute. Go with what got you here. If you just squeaked in and the team you are playing looks stacked, roll the dice. What the hell, you're lucky to be here anyway, go for it. Start Quinton Ganther and Jerome Harrison. What the hell.
Let's get to it. Guys I love or hate are players I feel will perform higher or lower than their normal expected production. For where I feel about players in comparison to other players (i.e. -- do I start this guy or that guy?), read my rankings. And read them on Friday afternoon, after we do our update. Things change all the time. Like, Quinton Ganther wasn't the starter in Washington when we submitted them the first time. We didn't know about Hines Ward (though he'll be stripped out of Friday's update since the Steelers play tonight) or Steve Slaton at the time. And so forth.
Week 14 Players I Love
Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns: It would take a lot of guts to play him in a playoff week, but I'm calling my shot and saying at least eight fantasy points tonight for him. He is averaging 78 rushing yards as a starter at home this year, but to me, it's because he's such a big part of the passing game. He had 11 targets last week and finished with seven receptions for 62 yards and two scores. The Steelers have been giving up passing yards like crazy the past three weeks (Bruce Gradkowski anyone?) and you know Cleveland will be down in this game. Talking with our internal scouting department here, our experts feel the Steelers are really struggling in the pass rush, which is killing a mediocre secondary that no longer has Troy Polamalu to swoop in and make up for some of the mistakes.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns: A score in two of his past three, I can see him having a decent game here as well, due to the same things that make Harrison interesting. I'll say five or six points for Massaquoi, with some upside. In a deep league, that may well be startable.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers: Holmes now has at least 86 yards in six of his past seven games. Hines Ward is banged up and, the last time he faced Cleveland, Holmes had five receptions for 104 yards. Plus, the Browns are 26th versus the pass.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints: I know, a bit obvious considering how red-hot he's been. But I'm putting him here because I have him in my top 10. As in, he's basically a must-start no matter who else you have. Seven scores in his past five games, he's been targeted only one fewer time than Marques Colston in the last five games. And Atlanta is 29th against the pass.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons: When will they start serving a drink at the Georgia Dome called a "Hot Roddy"? Not soon enough for me. Anyway, Atlanta's gonna get crushed here. The Falcons will be down and throwing. And by the way, White now has a score in four of his past five against the Saints.
Greg Olsen, TE, Bears: I know. I know. He killed me last week, too. But Chicago has to throw to someone, the Packers are top 10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends and only the Lions have given up more touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Plus, it's a short week for Green Bay and the Packers are on the road.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars: With MSW, I'm like a guy in high school dating the prude. I'm keeping the faith.
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins: Another play only for super deep leagues, but he does have a touchdown in two straight games and Jacksonville is top 10 in touchdown passes allowed. Davone Bess gets a lot more looks, so Hartline is a bit feast-or-famine, but call it a gut call. I say he gets in for a third straight week.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Guess who is rooting for Ed Reed to miss another game? I got two thumbs pointing at every Megatron owner.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Yeah, listen Joe. Been on you for a while. Been tough to carry the torch here recently, you know? This is Detroit. You gotta do it here or I'm out. Last chance saloon here kid. Now or never.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans: Weird fact for you. Walter now has three straight games with a reception of 20-plus yards. And only four teams in the NFL have given up more touchdown passes of 20-plus yards than the Seattle Seahawks. Expect five to six points here, with some upside.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: The past two weeks, Knowshon Moreno has gotten 21 touches, and the past two weeks what has happened? Denver has won. The Broncos need to commit to the run to have a chance and, considering Moreno has three touchdowns in his past two games, at least 86 yards in four straight and that the Colts are 18th against the run, I like him here.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: Five scores in his past four games and no team gives up more rushing yards per game than Buffalo.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: It's not like the Chiefs are all that against the run, either.
Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots: Another deep league play, but if you're scrambling at running back, he got 11 touches last week and against Carolina, that might be enough. I expect six to seven points here as well.
Quinton Ganther, RB, Redskins: He's increased his touches for three straight weeks and has been solid enough that Jim Zorn has declared him the starter. "See?" you can imagine him saying. "I can still make coaching moves, too," as Sherm Lewis just shook his head. Anyway, if you suddenly get to be a starting running back in the NFL, having your first game be against Oakland is the icing on the cake. Ganther's gonna save a lot of Steve Slaton owners this week.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers: See Sims-Walker, Mike.
Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Had 70 yards and a score the last time they played. And Eagles give up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: Torched by Tony Romo last week, the Giants have given up at least 17 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in their last three home games and in four of the last five. See my ranks for where I have DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek specifically, but I expect a lot of fantasy goodness from Philly.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals: He's been terrific at blitz pickup and keeping Kurt Warner upright is a big priority of Arizona. Which means Tim is on the field a lot and getting a bunch of dump-offs, too.
Week 14 Players I Hate
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: I also pray Cutler one day has to own himself in fantasy.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Packers allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Chris Brown, RB, Texans: If I have to choose one Texan, I'd rather have Ryan Moats but neither guy excites me. They will split carries and Seattle is actually 13th against the run. In fact, the Seahawks held Frank Gore to just 25 yards rushing last week.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: Yes, it's Buffalo, but the Bills have a good secondary. Don't get cute.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Single-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games. Not surprising. In the past four weeks, only three quarterbacks in the NFL have been sacked more. Palmer is not doing well under pressure. And now he gets Jared Allen and the Vikings. In their past three home games, Minnesota has allowed opposing quarterbacks an average of just nine fantasy points.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: I'm assuming DeAngelo Williams plays here. And if he does, Stewart will not get enough work to do damage against a Patriots run defense that plays fairly well at home. The Pats have given up only two rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs at home all season.
Randy Moss, WR, Patriots: Look, you have to start him. I have him currently ranked as the fourth receiver, and that will drop a little on Friday, but not significantly. But here's why he is here. Three straight games with less than 70 yards. He's scored in two of them and he may very well score here. But teams are seeing how bad the New England defense is and they are basically saying: We're not gonna let you beat us with the quick play to Randy. If you want to nickel-and-dime us to death with Wes Welker, fine. But we don't think you can put together enough 10-play drives in a game to beat us because we can score on your defense. The Panthers are actually sixth best against the pass. Randy's probably a good bet to score, but I bet he doesn't get 100 yards unless it's on some broken play. If you play Gridiron Challenge, don't buy him. And lower expectations for him in your starting lineup.
Vince Young, QB, Titans: Everyone sees the Rams and gets all excited, but look at the fantasy points of quarterbacks that have faced them the past five games: 9, 6, 16, 12, 12. Drew Brees, Matt Hasselbeck, Kurt Warner and Jay Cutler are responsible for four of those numbers. Do I think Vince gets 10 to 12 points? Yes. But I don't think he goes nuts, even against the Rams.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Eagles are top 10 in passing yards allowed, in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks and they have the fourth-most interceptions. Last time Eli played Philly he had a bad fantasy day and in fact, in his last three games at home against the Eagles, Eli has just three touchdown passes total.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: I say last week was a fluke play and a goal-line carry and that's not going to happen again.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Three straight weeks under 100 total yards, he was held to just 30 yards rushing the last time he faced Arizona. Touchdowns have saved Gore this year but you can never count on them. And Arizona is playing great run defense, having just held Adrian Peterson to only 65 total yards. Gore will be OK, I expect 10 to 12 points or so, but not crazy production, so you may very well have better options.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- prays that Cedric Benson can do it against the Vikings as well. Looking for a stocking stuffer? Check out 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
12hPat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler