The Super-Early Top 25
Matthew Berry lists the players he loves and hates for Week 15
In every single industry, we compete to be first. To come up with a cure, to invent a new product, to discover a new Tiger mistress. We want to be the first to tell you about the great new movie we just saw, the awesome new band we just heard, the funny person we just found on Twitter. People even get a thrill out of posting "first" on the message board after an article's posted. That one always befuddles me.
It's as if you are announcing to the world: "Hey, I have no life. I was sitting online, clicking refresh over and over and then as soon as this story showed up, I rushed to the message board to post first. I now expect much cheering and adulation toward my made-up screen name that identifies me not at all. Revere me."
I don't get it but it just underscores the need we have to be first. Fantasy is driven by this. We love to say, "I was the first guy who saw Jamaal Charles coming," and "I knew all Mike Sims-Walker needed was a chance. And someone to make sure he made curfew." "Back when Cedric Benson was arrested in Austin and released by the Bears, I grabbed him in my keeper league because I knew he'd get another chance a year later and make the most of it."
There's always a guy in your league that takes the rookies or hot sleepers way too early. He wants to be the first guy. It gets ridiculous.
I'm a big believer in never making a decision until I have to. Fantasy value changes all the time. I write this article on Wednesday night and Thursday morning and stuff changes the minute I hit submit. Like last week, I had Mike Sims-Walker in my "love" list. Then he was downgraded on the injury report as "doubtful." Arghh. Obviously, his value changes with that news and sure enough, he did not play well on Sunday.
So I like to take my time when I can. Keeper decisions should be made an hour before they are due. Not before.
That said, I wanted to have something for everyone in this column, even for those who were eliminated from the fantasy playoffs in their custom leagues last week (thanks for nothing, Kurt Warner and Randy Moss). I remember last year, I saw a Fantasy Football mock draft in February. The week after the Super Bowl. Now that's early.
Until now. Because I'm about to be first. That's right. Here, now, before Week 15 has even played, here's my Way-Too-Early-To-Be-Useful-To-Anyone Top 25 for 2010 in Fantasy Football.
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
4. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
5. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
6. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
7. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
8. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
9. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
10. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
11. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
12. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers
13. Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals
14. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
15. Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos
16. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots
17. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
18. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
19. Ryan Grant, RB, Packers
20. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
21. Thomas Jones, RB, Jets
22. Miles Austin , WR, Cowboys
23. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos
24. Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers
25. Justin Forsett. RB, Seahawks. You heard me.
There you go. Debate away as we head to this week's Love/Hate. As always, if you are curious as to where I think a certain player compares to another, be sure to check out our rankings, updated Friday afternoon. And the players I feel exceed or fall below their general expectations for this week are ...
Week 15 Players I Love
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts: Jaguars give up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and I have Garcon ahead of Reggie Wayne in my rankings. He's healthier, he will see fewer double-teams, he's been the better fantasy wide receiver the past six weeks, he has a French first name, he's nice to children and pets, there are only two games all year where Jacksonville has not given up at least one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver, even with his poor game last week, Garcon still leads the Colts in targets, Rashean Mathis probably isn't going to play and I play softball with a guy who played college football with Garcon and says he's a really nice guy. At least some of these reasons are relevant.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints: Even without scoring last week, Meachem still has seven touchdowns in his past six games. Cowboys are 21st against the pass and Drew Brees looks for Meachem often; he's second on the Saints in targets over the past six weeks.
Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Pierre has four scores in his past three home games, Bush will be a good outlet for Brees when the Cowboys try to blitz, and I don't think Mike Bell plays. If he does, I'm not as excited about Bush.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: A podcast listener came up with the term "Fantasy Zombie." As in ... a guy left for dead who has somehow risen from the grave to actually have real, legit fantasy value. And backing up Cedric Benson in the backfield for the Fightin' Fantasy Zombies is Laurence Maroney. With Brady banged up, I expect the Patriots to rely on the run even more, especially considering how bad the Bills' rush defense is. In fact, I even like Sammy Morris to get four or five points in this game, useful if you are in a deep league.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bills: Speaking of Zombies, Owens makes my flesh crawl. But the Patriots have given up 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past five games and Owens has scores in three of his past four games (the one exception being the game he was out on Revis Island).
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals: Wells has gotten at least 13 touches in five of his past six games. Against the Lions, 13 touches might be enough.
Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals: Especially if Larry Fitzgerald doesn't play for some reason, this is a gut call more than anything. But he's been involved more recently and I could see him getting four or five points for those in super-deep leagues.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Scores in three of his past four, in each of his past two home games and in five of his past six games in December.
Chris Jennings, RB, Browns: I can't believe I am recommending a Browns running back. Again. Hey Lucy, hold the football. I want to try and kick it. Good grief.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: First! I was, too.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Welcome back. We missed you. OK, "we" does not include Chris Chambers. He's sulking a bit. But the rest of us? Very excited.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Like the upside, the matchup against the Rams and that Gary Kubiak has said they are going to give him a long look. Just realize you are playing with fire. This coach pulled Steve Slaton after one play (albeit a fumble) and let Ryan Moats play all game in Week 8, a juicy, tender matchup against the Bills.
Houston Texans D/ST: This is what I wrote in my pickups column earlier this week ... "A week after scoring 15 fantasy points against Seattle, Houston, a team that is still in the hunt and desperately needs a win, visits St. Louis. That would be for a matchup with a Rams' team featuring a banged-up Steven Jackson and a third-string quarterback. It's a squad that just gave up 21 points to the Titans' defense. In fact, no team gives up more fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Rams. The defense facing them has scored at least nine fantasy points in five straight weeks."
Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: Falcons have given up at least 17 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers each of the past five weeks. I have decided I like that fact more than I hate Kellen Clemens. Wow. This is one ugly week.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: A score in four straight games, Eagles give up the most points to opposing tight ends and clearly, Davis is the starting tight end on our fantasy zombie team.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: Without Correll Buckhalter in the lineup, Moreno will touch the ball plenty enough against the Raiders to have perhaps his best week yet.
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: More of a gut call than anything here, but the Packers do give up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Hines Ward is still a bit banged up and I expect Charles Woodson to be all up in Santonio Holmes' business.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks: I also like Julius Jones in this matchup against the Bucs, but I'm putting Forsett here because he is a part of the pass game, Seattle wants (needs) to get him even more involved to see what they have. Obviously, from my ranking of Forsett above, I believe he will be the starting running back next year and I am a huge fan of his skills. And by the way, he has five scores in his past five games. Regardless, the Bucs give up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and have allowed five scores to them in their past four road games. This is a bad team on a long trip and both Seahawks running backs will have nice games.
Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks: Nate Burleson won't play and it's not like the Bucs' pass defense is all that. Branch actually showed signs of life on Sunday with five receptions on seven targets. The targets were second-most on the team. I ranked him 42nd, incidentally, and will move him up on Friday following the official news that Burleson is out.
Seattle Seahawks D/ST: What? Really? They are bottom 10 in total points allowed. Yes, but they are at home to Tampa Bay. Bucs allow the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. The defense facing them has scored at least 15 points in three of the past four. They average more than 12 points a game at home and they are available in more than 80 percent of leagues. I'm not saying it'll be pretty but if you're stuck, it will do in a pinch. It's kind of like the Perkins waitress in the Tiger story. You're surprised to see her there but some days, there's just not a lot else around. If Laurence Maroney is a fantasy zombie, the Seahawks' defense is a fantasy Perkins waitress.
Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins: Has outscored Tom Brady each of the past three weeks. Just saying. The Giants, by the way, have given up at least 17 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in five of their past six.
Quinton Ganther, RB, Redskins: Giants have given up 17 rushing touchdowns this year, third most in the NFL.
Fred Davis, TE, Redskins: I admit to being a Redskins homer but I like teams at home on "Monday Night Football." National audience under the lights and all that. Plus, Davis has four scores in his past three games and New York gives up the second most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Week 15 Players I Hate:
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: It will not surprise me in the least to wake up Friday morning to see that Wayne has gone off (just like he did in Week 1 against the Jags). He certainly has the skill and Jacksonville is terrible against the pass. But as I wrote to Tristan Cockcroft for his "Called Out!" column, Wayne has single-digit fantasy points in five of his past six games and last week, Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai ALL had more targets than him. He's banged up and there's no motivation to play Wayne the whole game. I have him outside my top 20 and feel he's a flex play at best.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars: Same thing here as with Wayne. Could he explode? Sure. But something's not right and frankly, I just don't trust him. Single-digit fantasy points in three straight games, including a total of 18 yards receiving in his past two home games.
Randy Moss, WR, Patriots: He was in this list last week and I'm by far the lowest on him (I have him 19) this week. My reasoning is this: He had less than 70 yards for four straight weeks, the Bills are fifth best against the pass, allow the second fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and Brady ain't right. I bet they do everything in their power to get Moss a score after all the media attention this past week, but his yardage total won't be high and counting on TDs is like chasing wins in baseball.
Maurice Morris, RB, Detroit: There's Perkins waitresses and then there's "Come on, man, what are you doing? Seriously. Go home."
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: Don't get cute because you see the Browns on the schedule and Dwayne Bowe is back. He has zero fantasy points for two straight weeks and while I think Bowe has a good game, it won't be enough to lift Cassel. The Browns have held opposing quarterbacks to 10 points or fewer in four of their past six.
Any Falcons Running Back: I don't know if Michael Turner is playing as of this writing, but it's a muddled mess that I don't trust regardless of who is or is not playing.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Don't trust any Philly running back, especially him.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears: As someone who owns Forte in a league, I'd like to request Forte also post a message to his Web site apologizing for his transgressions.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: New mystery book racing up the best seller charts: The Cutler Did It!
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Single-digit fantasy points in four of his past five games, the Chargers are top 10 in the NFL in both passing yards allowed per game and fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. In fact, they've been even better at home; opposing quarterbacks are averaging just 11 fantasy points a game at San Diego this year. Plus, the Bengals are running a lot more than passing these days.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers: Chances are, if you have him, you're in a deep hole in the playoffs this week, thanks to last week's brutal performance against Cleveland. But if you managed to survive, I got sour news for you, Jack. Packers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 3. They've given up just four rushing touchdowns all season, they give up the second fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and I expect Green Bay to score a lot of points against a reeling Steelers defense, meaning Pittsburgh will be playing from behind.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Four points or less in his past three games with DeAngelo Williams ... maybe he gets a score, but I don't trust him against the Vikings.
Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Redskins allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
That's all I got. Good luck this week and as always, tune into Fantasy Football Now, on both ESPN.com and ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET this Sunday for last-minute news, analysis and advice.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- had DeSean Jackson at 26. 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
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