Commentary

Love and Hate for the Holidays

Updated: December 24, 2009, 10:20 AM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

With Hanukkah just behind us and Christmas just around the corner, I'm in a gift-giving mood. I feel blessed to be able to do this job, and all of you make it possible. Without your continued clicks, podcast downloads and TV watching there would be no interest or need for me to be here. So, I thank you for your support of myself and ESPN Fantasy, and wish you a happy and safe holiday season.

The Talented Mr. Roto

My gift to you is that I am here for you. Holidays and fantasy football playoffs are stressful times and I am here for you, no matter what you need.

Maybe you need someone to blame for your season. ...

Ryan Williams (Nashville, Tenn.): Thank you, Mr. Berry, for single-handedly ruining my season with your brilliant call on Arian Foster. Great call on your "Start 'em" pick.

Or you need something that will bring you closer to a young child in your life. ...

Joe Hajj (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.): Matthew Berry, you are ridiculous. I absolutely hate you. I could have picked anyone, anyone I had on my team other than the one person, Chris Jennings, you and all your little buddies were raving about, and I would have flippin' won my game. No, you had to say this guy was going to have a monster week, but he put up one point. ... Whatever your job is, you're obviously horrible at it, and I'm never taking any advice from you or any of your buddies at ESPN. I'd rather take advice from an infant that can't speak than listen to all you idiots.

Maybe you feel like you've been wronged. ...

Devin (Milwaukee, Wisc.): Can you please explain to me how A. Boldin's TD against the Lions was ruled a receiving TD? Warner clearly threw it two yards backward. This cost me a win in my fantasy playoffs.

TMR: Devin, today is your lucky day, kid. Go buy a lottery ticket and cross busy intersections without looking. See the note about the stats change to the right.

Maybe you need to feel better about your job. ...

Jared Diegmueller (Memphis, Tenn.): I understand nobody is perfect at their job, but I wish I could be as bad at my job as you are at yours. Chris Jennings was a nice recommendation last week. Only cost me my league. His one-point performance was miserable.

Whatever it is, I am here for you my friends. Perhaps it's because I have wasted your entire year. ...

Dave Holtzman (San Jose, CA): I just want to let you know that your work this year has been really poor, and I actually think you're aware of that. I started reading your articles last year and loved them. I would constantly check the site Tuesday/Thursday to see if your article was up, because they were clever, funny and always had good fantasy advice. This year, however, the level of your writing has really fallen off. I don't think I've laughed at one of your stories all year, and your fantasy advice has been really obvious this year. (Don't think I've read anything from you that I didn't already know.) Your articles are also the last to be posted every week and ... I hope you know that all season your work has lacked originality and really feels like it has been half-[posteriored]. Happy holidays to you and yours.

Gary Kubiak
AP Photo/Stephen MortonGary Kubiak has an intense disklike for running backs who fumble. Fantasy owners have an intense dislike for coaches who bench starters in the first quarter. Why can't we all just get along?

Or you just want me to pass along a message. ...

Brandon (Long Island, N.Y.): Will you please tell me who the hell Gary Kubiak thinks he is? Not only is he a horrible head coach, but he's a liar as well. He said something last week about "showcasing" and "giving a long look" to Arian Foster against an awful Rams team. It made complete sense, get a look at a young player against a bad team, and the two RB's in front of him (who have fumbling issues themselves, mind you) are ineffective as well. It made so much sense that I started Foster as my flex. And who the hell could blame me? However, that lying [bad word] Kubiak cost me a shot in the finals because he benched Foster after one fumble. That's what he calls giving a guy a long look? Matt, help me out here, please. If you can get me Kubiak's direct contact information (either his e-mail address or home address) so I can send him the hate mail he deserves for being a terrible head coach and a liar, it would be very much appreciated. E-mail me back as soon as you see this.

Or you just want to feel better about your own life, because at least you've got more going for you than me. ...

Jared (NYU): Just so I understand your situation correctly, you're a single, overweight bald guy who thinks he's funny and is completely abysmal at his chosen profession of sports analysis. What detail am I missing that allows you to deem yourself worthwhile of continuing to draw oxygen?

I would kill myself, Jared, I really would, but Seth likes me. I helped him to a championship. ...

Seth Cohen (Oklahoma City, Okla.): I just wanted to thank you for your latest picks. Thanks to your questionable picks of Arian Foster and Chris Jennings (started by my opponent last week). I am moving on to the finals, yeah! Although your articles are very entertaining, I hope that my opponent for the finals follows your advice this week, too. I am riding your "anti-advice" to a championship. Thanks!!!

So happy holidays to all of you from your friendly neighborhood TMR. Whether you win or lose, I hope you had fun.

Pickups of the week

"Baby, you're so hot, I'd change my Facebook status for you."

Doing a combo column this week because of the holiday. Chances are, if you are playing in a championship game this week, you're going with the guys that got you there. I am also assuming that most of the obvious guys are gone. But if you are desperate, here are some quick pickups, in the order I would grab them, for just this week. As always, ownership percentages are in parentheses and are for standard ESPN 10-team leagues.

If you need a quarterback

Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans (27 percent): He's never had fewer than 12 fantasy points as a starter this season. In fact, he now has 12 points or more in eight straight weeks. And he faces the San Diego Chargers at home. Chargers have given up at least 17 fantasy points to the opposing quarterback for three straight weeks.

Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers (37 percent): Been a little cold, but it was understandable against the Philadelphia Eagles. But that should change. Next two weeks? Home against the Detroit Lions and at St. Louis Rams. Just saying.

Jason Campbell, QB, Washington Redskins (30 percent): As bad as all the Redskins were on Monday Night, he did mange to finish with double-digit fantasy points for the fourth straight games and seventh time in the past eight. Of course, the one game he scored single digits in was against the Dallas Cowboys, but if you're down this low, beggars can't be choosers.

If you need a running back

Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta Falcons (51 percent): I don't expect Michael Turner to play and no team in the NFL gives up more points to opposing running backs than the Buffalo Bills.

Quinton Ganther, RB, Redskins (47 percent): Three scores in his past two games, Dallas has a solid run defense, but they have given up four scores to opposing running backs in the past three.

Eric Mangini
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelEric Mangini, contemplating whether or not he can continue to mess with fantasy players by sitting both Chris Jennings and Jerome Harrison and giving Joshua Cribbs 30 carries, just to see what would happen.

Jerome Harrison, RB, Cleveland Browns (12 percent): Obviously a crazy monster game but here's why he's third on this list, despite the Oakland Raiders match-up. Last week was the fourth game in a row that the Browns had a different running back get the majority of touches. In fact, if you go look at a transcript of Eric Mangini's news conference from Friday before the Kansas City Chiefs game you'll see he was asked specifically (twice!) about who is going to carry the ball for the most for the Browns, which he dodges both. He never says anything about Harrison getting the start. And you assume, since Jennings looked solid in a win against the Steelers, that'd he'd be the favorite to get the lion's share. Obviously didn't work out that way, as some of you have kindly informed me. So if Jennings didn't get run after his strong Steeler game, there's no guarantee Harrison does after last week. Plus, Oakland held Knowshon Moreno in check last week, so while you have to obviously like Harrison, I feel there are safer options on the waiver wire.

Maurice Morris, RB, Lions (3 percent): The good thing about Morris is that he will get the majority of the carries against the 49ers. And San Fran has given up a score to the opposing running back in three straight weeks. The bad side, of course, is that he is Maurice Morris.

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders (15 percent): The problem with Bush is the same as with Harrison. After Bush's big Week 10 game against Kansas City, he got a total of eight touches the next four games. Eight. In four games. If we know for a fact that Justin Fargas will miss the game, he moves ahead of Morris on this list.

If you need a wide receiver

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans (37 percent): Justin Gage definitely cut into his looks last week, but he's still the guy I want the most on the Titans and you saw the stat I used in the Vince Young part.

Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts (31 percent): A touchdown in three straight weeks, at least seven fantasy points for four straight and I expect the Colts to rest some starters, but not him.

Josh Morgan, WR, 49ers (39 percent): Scored in two of his past three games and Detroit is in town.

If you need a tight end

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins (19 percent): Five scores in his past four games. What more does he need to do?

Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers (21 pecent): Three touchdowns in his past three games, Seahawks give up an average of 10 fantasy points a game to the opposing tight end over the past three.

If you need a defense:

San Francisco 49ers D/ST (50 percent): At home against Detroit. I may have mentioned this before.

Dallas Cowboys D/ST (38 percent): Had 10 points the last time they faced the Redskins, had 11 points last week against the New Orleans Saints and, um, did you see "Monday Night Football"? Or Saturday's game, for that matter?

Atlanta Falcons D/ST (22 percent): Scored 14 last week and now they are at home to Buffalo. The Bills give up the sixth most fantasy points to opposing defenses on the road.

Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You

Unless you are in a keeper league, your season is now one or two weeks long. Anyone that you wouldn't play in the next two weeks can be safely dumped. Look at the schedule, your team, who you will likely start and who you won't.

Week 16 Players I Love

Well, you can use the above pick-up column as a sort of version of love, as I like all those guys to do better than they would normally be expected to. So this will be a bit shorter than normal weeks. Just a dozen or so guys on each side.

As always, be sure to look at my rankings. Yes, I had Rashard Mendenhall in my Hate section last week. But I also ranked him in my top 20. I just didn't feel he would be the normal top-10 guy he has been all season against a tough Green Bay run defense. Which is why he was in the "hate" section. I had him at 19, he finished 11th overall.

And yes, I had Arian Foster ranked ahead of Mendenhall. Swung and missed on that one, though I did say in my Love / Hate that you were playing with fire. Stupid Gary Kubiak. At any rate, use Love/Hate to inform your understanding of my rankings. And then do what you want. It's your team.

Oh and by the way, I write these in the order of games played per the ESPN NFL schedule. Owens below is not my "No. 1 love." The Bills game just happens to be the first game on the schedule that I have a "love" player in.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bills: I know, I know. He stunk up the joint, both last week and on VH1. And he has a third-string quarterback throwing to him. So expectations are low. But against a Falcons teams that is 30th against the pass, has given up at least 17 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers the past six weeks and even got burned last week by Mark Sanchez and Braylon Edwards ... I expect at least seven points out of Owens, making him a good No. 3 wideout. Incidentally, Owens has 457 yards and five touchdowns in his past four games against the Falcons.

The running backs in the Bills-Falcons game: Mentioned Jason Snelling above and Fred Jackson has two straight weeks of 11 fantasy points.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: Along with Jamaal Charles, the poster child for having two first names. Oh, and being a crowd pleaser. Three scores in his past two games, the Packers are jockeying for playoff position, and if you wait in line at the Seattle post office at just the right time, you can catch the Seahawks mailing in the rest of the season.

Greg Camarillo, WR, Miami Dolphins: Only for super, super-deep leagues. But he's lead the Dolphins in targets the past two weeks and the Texans have given up six touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past five weeks.

Bill Belichik
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesSay what you will about Bill Belichik, you know he's not gonna be doing something silly like benching Tom Brady or giving Kevin Faulk 35 carries. And he's got no trouble stepping on your throat when you're down by 21.

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Seems weird to put him on here, but considering he has single-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games, he's killed you. But if you're still alive, he makes it up to you this week against a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that is bad against the pass and even worse on the road.

Drew Brees and Marques Colston, Saints: The concern is that they won't play the whole game but I don't think it's a legit fear. Saints need to win here to clinch the No. 1 seed. But either way, my take is that these two are big enough studs that even a half of them will be better than most other options. But as always, keep watching and reading to see if we get any more indication on this.

Pierre Thomas, RB. Saints: He has consistently gotten the most touches of any Saints running back this season (certainly recently) and he did have 103 total yards versus the Bucs the last time he played them.

David Thomas, TE, Saints: He had 66 yards and a score the last time he faced the Buccaneers, and that was with Jeremy Shockey playing. If Davis or Finley are gone and you need a tight end, I like Thomas here.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: Three scores in two weeks, the Carolina Panthers are 26th against the run.

Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore Ravens: The Steelers' secondary has been just torched lately, giving up 40 or more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers two of the past three games. (And the one game they didn't was the Browns game). Mason, meanwhile, has three scores in his past four and had seven for 62 and a touchdown when he faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12.

Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Clearly the best Cards running back, he now has five touchdowns in his past six games, scores in two straight and the Cardinals need to make sure they have a strong run game for any kind of postseason run. Oh, and the Rams are really terrible against the run. Pick a stat. Any stat. OK, I'll pick one. Rams have allowed 20 touchdowns to opposing running backs, most in the NFL.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: Prior to getting shut down against Philly last week (understandable), Crabtree had at least 50 yards in four straight and a touchdown in two of the four. This week's foe is the Lions.

Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: Sorry, Mr. Johnson, but Celek is now my favorite tight end named Brent. Ever.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Takes news of Carrie Underwood's engagement out on the Redskins.

Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago Bears: Feast or famine here, so don't yell if he puts up a goose egg. But I like him in deeper leagues. Touchdowns in two of his past four games, the Vikings have given up six touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the last four games.

Week 16 Players I Hate

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: He hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game all year and last week was his first game with more than 100 total yards all season. Which means you have to hope he scores. Which is possible, of course, but the Titans have allowed just five touchdowns from opposing running backs at home all season. I have LT at 22 this week, meaning I think he's a flex play.

Matt Hasselbeck, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Julius Jones, Justin Forsett, Seahawks: "My, this package certainly is big!" "Well, the Post Office just makes it so affordable to send it!"

David Garrard and Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars: Keep in mind, every time I put MSW here, he goes off. Every time I have him as a love, he does nothing. There may not be a more inconsistent player in the NFL. Drives me up the wall. But a week after burning me (and the Colts) with a nice performance, I still am keeping him here. I am aware the New England Patriots have had problems in the secondary, but MSW has been much worse on the road this season and I believe the Pats get up for this game and stop these two.

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Another guy that has made me look like an idiot before, the dude has been red hot. But you have to go back to Week 8 to find a game in which the Panthers gave up more than one touchdown pass. And Kurt Warner had five interceptions along with the two scores in that one. Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Tom Brady are among the quarterbacks that have been held to only one touchdown pass against the Panthers. So I don't expect a 20-something point game from Eli the way he's been doing lately.

Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: I'm guessing he doesn't play the whole game and New York Jets are 11th against the run.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Another guy who will sit early. And when he's out there, he'll be vacationing on Revis Island.

Kyle Orton and Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Been on the Eagles bandwagon for a while now and that doesn't change this week, especially at home.

Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings: The concern he doesn't play the whole game, his recent history in cold weather games (it's not good) and the fact that he has single-digit fantasy points in two straight games outweighs the fact that the Bears are terrible and that Favre torched them for 27 fantasy points in Week 12. I have Brett outside my top 10 this week.

That's all I have this week. I will say that I actually do get a lot of very nice, great e-mail. It just always strikes me as self-serving to print them. And much harder to be funny with them. But I'm gonna share one here just because I like the message a lot.

Tom Fuchs (San Diego, Calif.): Hi Matthew, been enjoying all your work during this football season. I wanted to pass along a cool "proud dad" story to you. My 11-year-old son, Kyle, and I are in three standard ESPN leagues and are headed into the championship round in all three leagues! Combined season record of 25-14. We did all the drafts together and set the lineups together each week. He really knows his stuff, can tell you stats on all sorts of players past and present. Anyway, it's been a fun father-son experience that I would highly recommend to other dads. Thanks again for your columns, I enjoy reading your work.

TMR: Congrats, Tom, and thanks for the note. Fantasy is a great way to spend time with family members. I've heard of family leagues, cousin leagues, dad and sons, mother and daughters, husband and wife teams or leagues ... and I encourage everybody to try it next year. Not just for fantasy football, but for any of our great fantasy games. See if you and a loved one can build a streak together in Streak for the Cash. Use fantasy as a way to learn about NASCAR. Much is available to you and I especially love anything that brings families together during the holidays. Fantasy sports is certainly one of them.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- bets that Arian Foster goes off this week, just to torture him. Berry 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

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"