- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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The end of the year brings lists. Best of, worst of, top this, bottom that. Maybe it's because folks are out of things to write. Maybe they want to just be done with everything and get to a beach before they are locked in a room with a dozen other fantasy analysts trying to rank 250 baseball players while a January blizzard wails outside, or maybe, just maybe, it's because for whatever reason the people, they love the lists.
So here's another edition of "Ten Lists of 10," combining everything I normally do to help you get game-ready for Sunday and some bonus fun ones, too.
Free-agent running backs, in the order I would pick them up for Week 17.
1. Jerome Harrison, Browns (61 percent): Duh.
2. Donald Brown, Colts (58 percent): He had 38 yards and a score Sunday and with a loss already on the Colts' record now, my guess is Joseph Addai will get one series. Two at the most. Which means a lot of work for Brown against the terrible Bills run defense.
3. Arian Foster, RB, Texans (9 percent): Look at last week's combo column. The very last line. I called Foster going off just to torture me, and what do you know? I was one week early on my love of him as he had almost 100 yards and a score. Now, you understand, as always, that you are playing with fire when you start a Texan, but it's against a New England Patriots team that will be without some starters on the defensive line and there's the potential for others to rest in a fairly meaningless game for New England. No matter what Bill Belichick says.
4. Jason Snelling, Falcons (67 percent): I know. Great matchup Sunday and he didn't do a lot with it. But despite Jerious Norwood's getting almost the same amount of touches, Snelling has been the more productive fantasy back of the two this season, and I expect that to continue against Tampa Bay. Note: I am assuming Michael Turner doesn't play. He hasn't been ruled out, however, so watch this closely. If Turner is active, Snelling probably would not be startable. But he's worth grabbing just in case.
5. Sammy Morris, Patriots (33 percent): Speaking of those Patriots As Michael Smith and I discussed on Monday's podcast, he expects Morris to get the majority of carries (resting Laurence Maroney, etc.), and I agree with him. Morris had 98 total yards and a score Sunday, and although I bet Fred Taylor will get some run, Morris is the Patriot I want.
6. Shonn Greene, Jets (17 percent): Props to Adam Schefter, who talked about the Jets' plans to use a lot of Greene this past week on Fantasy Football Now on Sunday. (11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN.com. Just saying). Greene got 16 carries for 95 yards, and he'll get the rock a lot again this week. It's not a good matchup, but depending on what happens in the earlier games, there's a chance the Bengals will be all set by the time they play Sunday night. Which means maybe some defensive starters will sit for a decent amount of the game. Thomas Jones will still get his, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Jets run the ball close to 40 times in this game.
8. Lynell Hamilton, RB, Saints (0.1 percent): Saints have nothing to play for, and with Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush all being nicked up, it would not surprise me to see Hamilton get the majority of work against a Carolina squad that is 25th against the run.
9. Brandon Jackson, Packers (1 percent): Sensing a theme, are you? Backup running backs on good teams that will be resting starters? Meet Jackson, who had a crazy day against the Seahawks with three touchdowns and 39 total yards on eight touches. He'll get a lot more work against a Cardinals team that might have nothing to play for by game time (if the Vikings win earlier in the day, the Cards cannot earn a first-round bye) and hasn't been great against the run recently anyway.
10. Lex Hilliard, Dolphins (0.9 percent): He's this far down because it's a bad matchup (Steelers) and we don't know whether Ricky Williams is out. But, in Week 17, when you're coming off 86 total yards and a TD (and 74 of those yards came through the air), you get noticed. Especially given that Pittsburgh has been poor against the pass recently.
Free agents for Week 17, other positions
1. Vince Young, QB, Titans (30 percent): I know, he was terrible last week. But the Seahawks, even at home, are a lot better matchup than red-hot San Diego was. VY wants to prove he's the guy for next year and atone for this past week. He'll be solid here.
3. Chad Henne, QB, Dolphins (6 percent): You'd have to be pretty desperate, but it's worth noting that Henne has at least 300 yards passing in three of his past four games and that the Steelers have given up eight TDs in their past three games (I'm not counting the Cleveland game).
4. Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears (0.4 percent): Probably should be the No. 1 pickup this week. He has two scores in his past three weeks, had 150 yards on Monday night, is one of the few Bears wideouts who is actually healthy -- oh, and the Bears play the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
5. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles (35 percent): He's back. Healthy, targeted 10 times Sunday, he had 92 yards and has at least six fantasy points in the past five games he has played. Philly's playing for the division, too.
6. Laveranues Coles, WR, Bengals (54 percent): Hey, I hear you. Only four targets Sunday, hasn't had 50 yards receiving since Week 11 and the Bengals may very well rest everyone if New England wins. But, in Week 17, sometimes you're scraping. So I'll just say he has scored in two straight weeks, he's facing his former team and Chad Ochocinco will draw Darrelle Revis. As gambles go, it's not a great one, but it's not terrible, either.
7. Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns (12 percent): It gets ugly quick. True feast or famine, you gotta be super desperate and have huge amounts of guts. But he's had five big games this year, and three of them have come with Derek Anderson at quarterback. With Jacksonville continuing to give up fantasy points to opposing wide receivers faster than my hairline is receding, Chainsaw (as one of our fantasy editors insists I refer to him) could be OK.
8. Todd Heap, TE, Ravens (39 percent): Four touchdowns in his past two games, and it's a solid matchup with Oakland.
9. San Francisco 49ers D/ST (63 percent): The third-best fantasy defense this year is available in almost 40 percent of leagues. And faces the Rams, the team that allows the most fantasy points to opposing defenses.
10. Atlanta Falcons D/ST (27 percent): Racked up 35 fantasy points the past two weeks, and Josh Freeman is, shall we say, turnover prone? He's been better recently, but the Bucs are top-10 in fantasy points to opposing defenses, including at least seven points in three of the past four games.
Ten Guys I Love this week. As always, these are guys I feel will do better than they normally do.
1. Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: It's not a no-brainer. Cutler has single-digit fantasy points in his past four road games, and the Lions have allowed only one touchdown pass in four straight games. But Cutler is off a crazy "Monday Night Football" performance and had 19 points against the Lions last time, which is why I feel Cutler will do better than he normally does, fantasywise. (Which is sit on bench, not even getting considered.)
2. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Not counting the Browns game Sunday, the opposing quarterback facing Oakland has had single-digit fantasy points only once all year. Once. In 14 games. (Cleveland was that 15th game, but in all fairness, it didn't start a legitimate NFL quarterback. Oh, snap!).
3. Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Ends the year strong in a game that should be a bit of a shootout. The Vikings have given up at least 23 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in three of the past four. All those games were on the road, but still, I like Eli here.
4. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: Had 86 yards and two scores the last time these two faced off, I expect Denver to understand that when it has won this year, it's been by running the ball.
6. Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers: With double-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games, he's a solid flex consideration in a week when there are so many question marks at running back.
7. Kenny Britt, WR, Titans: He's gonna be the death of me. But even with Justin Gage back, he's still gotten the most targets on the Titans. I know he has killed you the past few weeks, but against a Seattle defense that is 30th against the pass and has been phoning it in for a while now, I say Britt will get at least six points.
8. Austin Collie, WR, Colts: In this space last week, he had 94 yards. Now he gets a Bills team that has lost a lot of its secondary to injury and he will have Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Dallas Clark cheering him on from the sideline.
9. Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings: He'd been quiet for a few weeks before scoring Monday night. But he's always a red zone threat and the Giants give up the most points to opposing tight ends.
10. Fred Davis, TE, Redskins: Tight ends against the Chargers are always a solid play, even more so when San Diego has nothing to play for.
Ten Guys I Hate this week. As always, these are guys I feel will do worse than they normally do.
1. Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: Even if you're desperate, he had two picks and only 84 yards against the Broncos in Week 13. That's not a misprint. Denver is at home and trying to get into the playoffs. Don't get cute here.
2. Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, QB: Don't think any of them will play more than a series or two, hence their low ranking this week. Same goes for their big-name teammates. Add Kurt Warner to the list if the Vikings win in the early game.
3. Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins: Normally a top-10 back, he's banged up and facing the Steelers. I have him outside my top 20, basically as a flex play.
4. Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: Any Philly running back, actually. Eagles have attempted seventh-fewest rushes this year; there are lots of guys there to split the carries; and the Cowboys are a top-5 run defense.
5. Cedric Benson and Larry Johnson, RB, Bengals: Nothing to play for, I am guessing, and hate the matchup regardless. Anything is possible, of course, but if you start Larry Johnson in Week 17, on the road at the Jets who are in a "win and you're in" scenario, you get what you deserve.
6. Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets: I expect the Jets to run the ball approximately 700 times.
7. All Saints running backs: Except for Lynell Hamilton, as discussed in List 1.
8. Hines Ward, WR, Steelers: My guess is he guts it out and plays, but I think he's less than 100 percent and is used more as a decoy than anything else.
9. Zach Miller, TE, Raiders: A big game last week, yes. But not this Sunday against a Ravens team that has allowed three or fewer points to the opposing tight end in four of the past five games.
10. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: Feeling he won't play and, if he does, won't be 100 percent. He had a good game against the Bucs last time, but Tampa Bay is at home and on a two-game win streak. Don't trust him as a top-10 guy this week.
Ten Guys who probably will get zero points but, if you are in a real bind, are Hail Mary long-shot types with at least some upside.
1. Mark Brunell, QB, Saints: Guessing he will get at least three quarters.
2. Mike Tolbert, Chargers (0.2 percent): With the Chargers having locked their slot up, I would be shocked if Tomlinson plays more than a series. I could also see limited time for Sproles, who is so important to the team, as well. Enter Tolbert, who very quietly has three touchdowns on the year and got 12 touches for 71 yards Friday. And with my phoning-it-in Redskins, on the long trip to San Diego, unable to stop anyone well, Tolbert is a long shot that might be worth taking if you are desperate.
3. Ahman Green, RB, Packers: Assuming Grant rests, there'll be enough carries there for both Green and Jackson.
5. Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals: Sensing a theme here?
6. Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers: How about now?
7. Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Panthers: Yes, he still alive. And has two healthy arms!
9. Josh Morgan, WR, 49ers: Touchdowns in two of past four. At St. Louis.
10. Tom Santi, TE, Colts: Colts will still run their offense, even if the stars are on the bench.
My 10 best calls of the season, mostly from the preseason because I'm too lazy to look up every week.
1. The morning of Week 5, on Fantasy Football Now, I said grab Miles Austin and start him. Many times. Austin went on that day to get 250 yards and two scores against the Chiefs. He finished the year as a top-10 receiver.
2. An ESPN search of "Matthew Berry Jamaal Charles" returns 79 results, including my Week 4 pickup column. When LJ still had the gig.
4. In my "You Heard Me" bold prediction piece, I said Jonathan Stewart would finish with more fantasy points than DeAngelo Williams. Stewart is just six points behind.
5. Preseason Love/Hate: Had Joe Flacco on the Love list.
6. Same with Ryan Grant.
7. Plus Visanthe Shiancoe.
8. On preseason Hate list, did not buy into Jay Cutler. Was way down on him.
9. Hated Larry Johnson, even in the sixth round.
10. Also hated Terrell Owens, not buying all the "first year with a new team" hype that many seemed to believe.
Ten "Bold Predictions" that, um, I'd like to have back. Ugh.
1. Peyton Hillis will finish the year with the most fantasy points of any Broncos running back.
2. Ten touchdowns for Anthony Fasano.
3. Eight hundred yards and seven touchdowns for Joey Galloway.
4. Brandon Jacobs scores 20 touchdowns.
5. Dustin Keller is a top-eight fantasy tight end (with 800 yards and eight scores).
6. Brian Westbrook plays all 16 games.
8. Shaun Hill wins the starting QB job, throws for 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. Well, he won the job. Got that part right.
9. Bernard Berrian gets 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns.
10. T.J. Duckett scores double-digit touchdowns this year.
The 10 best Muppets, in reverse order. Regular listeners of the Fantasy Focus Podcast understand why this list is here.
9. Lew Zealand. The boomerang fish guy. Boomerang fish are always funny. Always.
8. Fozzie Bear.
7. Statler and Waldorf. In fairness, they often bring up a lot of good points.
5. Dr. Teeth.
4. Sam the Eagle. Righteous indignation is almost as funny as boomerang fish.
3. Rowlf. The Muppet I would most like to have a beer with.
2. Pepe the Prawn.
1. Kermit the Frog. Still money.
Top 10 guys who totally killed your team this year, one way or the other.
1. Peyton Manning: Really? Seven points? In Week 16?
2. Mike Sims-Walker: When you went off, you were on the bench. When you started? You were getting suspended.
3. Gary Kubiak: When you tell everyone you're going to give someone a long leash and a hard look, that doesn't mean you pull a kid after he has one fumble.
4. Bill Belichick: Stop handing it off when you get close. You have Tom Brady, not Brady Quinn. Let that horse roam free, Billy! Especially, you know, when we are trying to get to the fantasy playoffs.
5. Matt Forte.
6. Brandon Jacobs.
7. Jay Cutler.
8. David Garrard.
9. Gary Kubiak. Again. What, thought we forgot about pulling Steve Slaton against Buffalo and letting Ryan Moats go nuts? You're on here twice.
10. Eric Mangini. So you have Jerome Harrison on your team this whole time and you don't give him a shot until you have no other choice? And then you pull him again for Chris Jennings?
Ten nice e-mails. I tend to print a lot of hate mail. I do it because I find it funny and being "controversial" has certainly helped my profile. But it's an act that is getting a bit old. So, 2010 will be a year when I will not regularly print any more hate mail. (Unless, you know, I'm really desperate for a column open.) I get the sense that some folks write it just to get in the column. So for the end of the year, to start off 2010 in a positive light here are 10 recent e-mails.
1. Norm Wallace (Buena Park, Calif.): I just wanted to thank Matthew Berry for guiding me to my first Super Bowl win in 10 years. I followed his advice starting with his cheat sheet in the draft and was able to land Shaub; Randy Moss/Vincent Jackson; Tomlison/Benson; Owen Daniels; Matt Prater; and the Jets defense. Every week I would check out his love/hate and suggested pickups. When Daniels went down I picked up Jermichael Finley, Kevin Boss, and Fred Davis, and then played the best matchup. Mr. Roto did have some misjudgments along the way, (I wasted a fourth-round pick on Pierre Thomas), but with 100s of players to watch I thought he did a pretty good job. It just proves you need to use your good judgment to make that final decision. Thanks again Talented Mr. Roto, see you again next season.
2. Tom Long (Rockford, Ill.): TMR, Thank you again for my championship season. My team, The Large Slow Targets have won for a third time. Twice in three years. I owe it all to Fantasy Focus Football podcast that I listen at night at the USPS. I always try to pick who I start before listening to the podcast and ESPN's Web site. After all, I am a company man! A couple games ago, I played Reggie Wayne and we know the result. So I sat him for my last two games and won. Why did I win? Because I listened to you about other players. These players I picked up from listening to your podcast and we know the result. These are midseason picks: Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Miles Austin before his big game!! Thanks again. I plan on never owning Matt Forte again!!!
3. Bruce Little (Chattanooga, Tenn.): Just a quick thank you note, Matthew. I won my league's championship game, in large part thanks to you (and your associates there). I didn't always take your advice, but it always seemed that, at the really crucial points in my season, you came through in a big way (Fred Jackson and Mike Sims-Walker at the beginning, and Jamaal-Freakin'-Charles and Robert Meachem at the end stick out in my mind). I always read your columns and see you are good about printing the less-than-sterling opinions of your advice from some of your more agitated readers. I am one who would like to say Thank you, very much. Your insights were, in no small measure, part of my success. In fact, they were golden. This was only my second year in my league. Now I'll be returning as the Defending Champion for the 2010-2011 season. I realize you can't be right every time, but you sure were right enough for me. Again, many thanks.
4. Charlie Aquilina (Westland, Mich.): I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday and say thanks for the great fantasy advice this year. I won my keeper league this year. I would like to think that I'm your favorite type of fan. I'm not the owner who bases all of my decisions on what you say, thus insuring you get angry hate mail every time you lose. Instead, I read and enjoy your columns and podcasts, give your advice some thought (as well as the other ESPN analysts - I am a company man) and do what I think is best. Wish I could offer you more on your birthday, the best I can do is a sincere "I love your work."
5. Brad C. (Cincinnati): Hello Matthew. I just want you to know that I read your columns each week and follow some but not all of your advice. You say time and again that people should use your advice as more of a sounding board for their own thoughts and lineup choices rather than a complete guide to setting their lineup. I try to think out my own lineup ahead of time and then see what you think of it, and you are one of many sources that I use. Your columns are funny and your advice is good Looking forward to next year, Brad. P.S. I have now won my league two of the last three years after spending the early part of the decade clueless and in last place. Shows what a little attention, research, and thought can do for you.
6. Edward Kim (Las Vegas) Mr. Berry, I won both my baseball and football leagues this year, and I wanted to thank you for your opinions and insights. While I often disagreed with your loves/hates and waiver suggestions, I always enjoyed reading your columns. You consistently provided me with good information with which to make my decisions. Thank you again, and I look forward to the next baseball season. Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous 2010.
7. Miles Pocowatchit (Lawton, Okla.): I just wanted to say that I have been reading your fantasy advice since 2006, and have much respect for your perspective on fantasy football, (and sometimes, life hehe) and thanks for some awesome advice on Miles Austin, as I picked him up on his bye week just after his huge week against K.C. I sold out to get him as I started scrubs because the bye week killed me, but it paid off. P.S. I also wanna thank you for the advice on Ron Dayne in '06 he was a beast over the last couple weeks of the season!!! Epic!
8. Nish (Seattle): Just wanted to say, I enjoy reading your articles and advice (and I think that anyone who just takes your advice without thinking about their fantasy moves on their own is an idiot). People, these articles are meant as a guideline, so take responsibility for your own actions, good or bad. Keep it up TMR.
9. Alma Marinez (Los Angeles): Dear Mr. Berry, I started my own FF league with my sisters five years ago. You're thinking, "Wow, she has a lot of sisters." No, I mean religious sisters, like nuns. We get a little obsessed; I walk into chapel and am greeted with a finger in my face scolding me for being 30 points up. Good morning, Sister! They accuse me of cheating. I take offense, not because they think me dishonest but they must also think me stupid, because I've yet to win the league (I'm one win away from that prize!). I'm writing for the first time because I just want to say thank you! I enjoy your manner of speaking, your writing is very funny, I still laugh at the "Lincoln freed the slaves" story. The podcasts are great too. I can see that you are a decent guy who has integrity, is likable, open and kind. And you've taught me a lot about fantasy football.
Anyway Matthew thanks for the last 5 years. Fantasy football has made football season fun again. I'm looking forward to many more fantasy football seasons together. By the way, you were in a dream of mine recently (a rated G dream, after all I am a nun, but it was in a bar so that might be PG). We were just talking about, what else, fantasy football. You had 5 O'clock shadow and it really suited you. Just saying Know that you touch many people with your gifts. May God bless you with all that you need and some fantasy championships too!
10. Marty Harbeck (South Carolina): Matthew. Thanks for the great advice this season. I ran with your picks each week, picked up guys based on love/hate and won my league. Let's do it again next season!
TMR: Sounds like a plan, Marty. Sounds like a plan.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is done. 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
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