- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
I forget who said that, but I'm guessing it was a sinner or an optimist with rocks to sell. I could be wrong. But it probably wasn't Brett Favre, even though I'm guessing he agrees with the sentiment.
I've never met the Vikings quarterback, and I have absolutely no idea whether the things he's been accused of are true. OK, that's not accurate. The whole "overrated in clutch time and guaranteed to throw a pick" accusation? I'll support that one. Oh, and the wishy-washy media hog thing? I'm on board with that. And sign me up for selfish while you're at it.
But I'm talking about the texting thing. I have no idea whether it's true.
But for the sake of a guy on deadline who needs a topical premise, let's project that it is. So although I don't condone the actions Favre has been accused of in any way and I think texting unsolicited private pictures is borderline insane, I will say this: Everyone has sent texts he or she regrets. If you don't, you're not doing it right.
How do I know this? Because Lauren Leto has made a small fortune off it. Leto and partner Ben Bator founded a website called TextsFromLastNight.com. It's exactly what you think it is: People send in the embarrassing, awkward, funny, sad, brilliant and what-the-hell-was-that texts they've received. Each text is anonymous, with only the area code it was sent from, and the site receives more than 15,000 submissions every day.
Texts From Last Night is so funny and successful that Leto and Bator turned it into a book, which is seriously hilarious and features tons of unpublished texts.
When I spoke to Leto (was gonna text her, but thought that was a bit too obvious), I asked her whether she could compile a list of texts that the website has received from fantasy owners in the past few months.
I've edited a few of them to make them ESPN-friendly, with my changes in brackets, but you'll get the idea. Make fun of Favre's tear-filled news conferences or that the Vikings paid $12 million dollars for five touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 1-3 record all you want, but recognize that Favre is not alone in his text regret.
Fantasy texting follies
(757): Dude, my wife [paid special attention to me] throughout my fantasy draft!
(703): So that explains why you drafted Matt Leinart.
Matty's Pigskin Pick 'em picks
I always enjoy playing Pigskin Pick 'em, our football pick 'em game. I play both straight up and against the spread. Last season, I was in the 95.7th percentile on ESPN.com against the spread.
This season, I decided to publish my picks. You can find them every week on my TMR page, where there's an uncomfortable amount of me but also links to various articles, videos and podcasts and now, every week, my picks against the spread. Check it out here: Matthew Berry's home page.
(325): No more vodka for you until you can go a night without sobbing over your fantasy baseball team.
(813): She just told me she was pregnant. Will you look after my fantasy football team? There's $40 on the line.
(207): Dude, it took me less time to lose my virginity than it does for you to make a pick.
(954): Last night my boyfriend wasn't able to [play "Madden"] with me because he couldn't stop thinking about his fantasy football team.
(954): Is his team good?
(954): You're a [jerk].
(201): So I've been checking my fantasy football team more than Facebook. I think I just turned into a guy.
(336): Well, we thought you were passed out, but every time the announcer said the name of a guy on your fantasy team, you gave a thumbs-up
(716): So my girlfriend decided to [pay special attention to me] during my fantasy draft last night I ended up with three kickers and no quarterbacks. Totally worth it, though.
(740): I gave him [a similar present] because he was upset about his draft. If that doesn't lock it down, I don't know what does.
(913): In a meeting downtown with the department of transportation. Hung over. Pretending to take notes on my laptop, but I'm really in the middle of my fantasy baseball draft. Yes, this is a mass text.
(716): I want to [be with] you more now that you have C.J. Spiller on your fantasy team.
TMR note: A regrettable text on so many levels.
(615): 27 points from your tight end at the half the fantasy football gods have officially [had their way with me]. Pretty sure they're using the [appliance] I gave your sister.
(252): What's fantasy baseball?
(910): You use real players to get points for a fantasy team. Why?
(252): Because my last-night hookup stopped in the middle to check the time for his draft
And your winner
(978): I'm sitting in an abortion clinic with a girl I met 2 weeks ago, and I'm checking my fantasy football team. How's that for dedication?
That is dedication, my friend in the 978, dedication, indeed.
It's time for the part that you skip over every week but that I urge you to read, as I've changed it up a little this week and made it shorter. As you know, this is based mostly on our rankings. Players I "love" are players I have ranked significantly higher than my colleagues. Players I "hate" are players I have ranked significantly lower than everyone else.
Here's something new, though: In some cases, my ranks are similar to everyone else's but I still "love" or "hate" them because this week their rank is higher or lower than it normally is during the season.
For my thoughts on where specific players rank in comparison to one another (i.e.: Do I play this guy or that guy?), look at my rankings. And do it Friday afternoon! I start writing this column late on Wednesday after the rankings come out midday. Sometimes, as more research, info or injury news comes to light, I adjust my rankings.
We publish updated rankings Friday morning.
Of course, I continue to tweak my rankings, give spins on news and dispense nuggets on Twitter (@MatthewBerryTMR) up until kickoff. The numbers in parentheses are my ranking (as of Wednesday morning) and the average rank from the three other rankers.
Week 6 players I love
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys (3, 7): You know who is playing in the Vikings' secondary? No, seriously, I'm asking. Because with all the injuries, I think it's just Antoine Winfield and a bunch of hobos. I'm pretty sure hobos don't actually exist anymore, which, conveniently, gives them something in common with Minnesota's pass defense.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings (13, 12): I'll be higher on him in the Friday rankings update after looking at some Cowboys video. Dallas' secondary is slow to react and not making any plays. And, as Tim McMahon points out on ESPNDallas.com, the Cowboys are dead last in getting turnovers on defense. Favre will play with Moss in his first game back in Minnesota and Percy Harvin in the slot, two things you know I like a lot if you listened to last week's podcast. And, I'll say this, if the pictures that allegedly were texted are truly of him, you can't say the man lacks confidence. That blind belief leads to a guy chucking it a lot and a nice fantasy day.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets (12, 16): I bet Sanchez doesn't have to text the ladies. Especially after a game against a Broncos defense that is decimated by injury and has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Vince Young, QB, Titans (18, 20): Three things I don't like: vegetables, people who try to force me to eat vegetables and going against a team at home in a nationally televised game in which defenses tend to get up for the occasion. But there are exceptions to every rule, such as lettuce on my burger, my mom and the Jaguars, who give up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. With defenses trying to put eight in the box to stop Chris Johnson, VY is seeing lots of single coverage. The Titans are doing more and more plays to get VY in space so that he can either run it himself, pitch it to CJ or throw. All are good options against Jacksonville.
Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins (18, 23): Only three teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Indianapolis Colts. In the past two weeks, Torain has had 34 rush attempts. Here are some other running backs and their rush totals of the past two weeks: Frank Gore, 39; Chris Johnson, 38; Michael Turner, 35; Ray Rice, 35; LeSean McCoy, 34; Arian Foster, 28. Only a handful of runners don't share carries, and when one of them gets a start against a team that ranks 29th against the run and has an offense the opposing coach wants to keep off the field, you start that runner.
Pick a Colt, any Colt: I didn't rank Joseph Addai on Wednesday, and I did rank Donald Brown. Then, on Wednesday's injury report, Addai was limited in practice and Brown didn't practice. Follow this closely, but whoever gets the start against the Redskins should be a solid flex play against a Washington run defense that made Brandon Jackson look unlike Brandon Jackson.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants (31, 35): He has scored in back-to-back games and is at home against the Lions, who have given up seven touchdowns to opposing running backs this season.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots (8, 14): I have him as a top-10 guy this week because although Moss is gone, you know who is still there? Exactly.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings (21, 22): I thought I was high on him until I saw Chris Harris has him at No. 10 overall. No question, as I've been saying since the trade (and said in the Favre item), Harvin is a great fit for the slot, and if the Dallas secondary were a text, it's one you'd really regret.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs (29, 25): Allow me to save you some time. Just copy and paste this into the ESPN Conversation pages (no longer beta!) below: "What?!? Berry, you moron. First he's in Dumpsville on Tuesday, and now you "love" him? Ha! Fence-sit much, Berry? You suck. Hey, ESPN, hire me. This clown can't even make up his mind! How can you love him after all his dropped passes? Oh, you finally realized he's playing Houston, so now you love him? Berry, you're the worst. I listen to your podcast, I read every column, I watch every video you do, I follow you on Twitter and I have no idea how ESPN hasn't fired you yet."
All fair points, and truth be told, I was hired by ESPN after I posted angry rants on Conversation pages, so you're on the right track. Look, I thought last week was brutal, and, as I say at the start of Dumpsville every week, I'm not saying you should drop Bowe. But if you need to, I'd be OK with it. Still am. Matt Cassel is not a good quarterback, and the Chiefs will continue to have trouble consistently getting Bowe the ball (even if he could catch) and will feature more and more of the run game. I'm more down on him than my other rankers. But I included him here because if ever there was a week to start him, this is the one. I could see him doing well as a No. 3 wideout this week against Houston's 32nd-ranked pass defense.
Johnny Knox, WR, Bears (17, 32): Averaging 20.9 yards per catch, best in the NFC, Knox gets Jay Cutler back and a Seattle defense that is 31st in the NFL against the pass and 11th in the NFL in allowing yards after catch. Only seven teams in the NFL have given up more pass plays of 25 or more yards.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans (31, 30): After he scores again, there are so many things you can text your buddy. "Dude, he's the Britt!" "The Brittish are coming! The Brittish are coming!" And, of course, "Hahahahahahaha!"
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets (34, 24): This will change after Friday, when I will swap Holmes' and Braylon Edwards' ranks. I spoke to a few folks, and trust me on this one: A nice day coming up for Holmes.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints (33, 43): Ever since Tanard Jackson was suspended, at least one wide receiver facing the Bucs has gone off. They've given up 32 and 21 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in the two weeks since Jackson was taken out, and you're already starting Colston, so I assume you don't need me to tell you I love him, too.
Danny Amendola, WR, Rams (30, 44): "Dude, he's the Amendola!" "The Amendola are coming!" Hmmm. I think you might have to write new texts for this one. But "hahahahahahaha" will still work.
Kellen Winslow, TE, Buccaneers (8, 17): Despite playing teams that can't pass the ball, such as the Cardinals and Panthers the past two weeks, the Saints still give up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and Winslow is second on the Bucs in targets, yards and receptions.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots (14, 9): After I talk with some folks who are close to the Patriots, this is another guy who will be significantly higher when I do my Friday rankings update.
Andrew Quarless, TE, Packers (19, 23): Sometimes you don't need to be good, you just need to be in the right place. Also known as the "standing by the bar exit at 1:55 a.m. strategy," Quarless is the guy who might be getting checkdowns from a backup quarterback (we'll know more about Aaron Rodgers' status in time for Friday's ranking update) and definitely is getting the start against Miami's defense, which gives up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
New York Giants' D/ST (3, 7): Still available in 60 percent of leagues, this defense has scored 34 points the past two weeks. It recently has done a good job of moving its pass-rushers around to get the best possible matchups. The Giants look inspired and will play at home against a team with a banged-up Jahvid Best and possibly no Calvin Johnson, which means more fantasy goodness.
Week 6 players I hate
Eli Manning, QB, Giants (11, 7): You see the Lions and get excited. I see the Lions and see a defense that is getting better. One that has allowed fewer than 220 yards passing in three straight games, that has six picks in its past three games, is sixth in the NFL in sacks and faces a Giants team that is struggling in pass protection. (Manning is top-10 in the NFL in getting sacked on passing plays.) Plus, the Lions are bad against the run. I expect New York to run a lot and not pass as much, so I put Manning just outside the top 10 this week.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans (14, 11): What happened, Matt? It was all so promising, what with your having tied for the NFL lead for 300-yard passing games last season and having all those great receivers to throw to, not to mention Andre Johnson? Where did it go wrong? Is it me? Is it us? Have we just grown apart? Single-digit fantasy points in three of five games, and even worse, those three were all at home, just like this week.
Being second to only Jay Cutler in getting sacked this season can't help, nor can Andre Johnson's injury and the fact that you guys actually can run the ball. Damn you, Arian Foster! Damn you to hell! But I'm worried, Matt. The Chiefs rushed only three against the Colts, playing eight back in coverage and saying, 'Hey, Peyton, we're gonna give you all day to throw, but we bet you can't find someone open.' And it worked. Manning helped by missing, but still. It worked. And you're not Peyton. I'm worried, Matt. I think K.C. is for real, and you might be looking at another home game with single digits. Hold me, Matt. Stroke my hair and tell me it'll be OK. Just hold me.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (20, 13): Text me if you've heard this one before. Ryan is bad on the road. He has had two good weeks but also three games in which he has thrown one or no touchdown passes. This just isn't an explosive offense built for big fantasy days from its quarterback. Philly is a tough place to play. Aaron Rodgers and Donovan McNabb combined for just 21 points in two starts there. With Asante Samuel back, I'm looking elsewhere this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (11, 6): If you have him, you start him, but I wouldn't use him in a salary-cap challenge game like Gridiron Challenge or anything, as I don't think he's a top-10 guy this week. The Titans have the best red zone defense in the league, allow the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and have allowed just one rushing touchdown in five games. Still a bit nicked-up, MJD has single-digit fantasy points in three of his past four games, and two of those were against the Colts and the Bills.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns (22, 23): Apparently, my fellow rankers agree with me. On the road at Pittsburgh is not the ideal place to start your banged-up running back who plays with a rookie quarterback making his first start.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs (33, 24): Eight carries was all he got last week in a close game against a bad run defense. It's hard to do good work when you don't get enough touches. Can't tell you how many times I said that to the ex-Mrs. Roto.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks (37, 33): First, I'm kidding about my ex in the paragraph above. We're good friends still, and I like it that way. Just a funny little joke, just like anyone who thinks Marshawn Lynch isn't gonna get all the love now for whatever the Seattle run game is these days. On the road at Chicago, I don't love it to begin with, but certainly not with Lynch in town.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos (28, 25): He missed practice again Wednesday, but suffice it to say that I hate all of the Broncos' run game this week. If Moreno can't play, I hate Laurence Maroney. More than usual.
Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys (34, 32): Here are a few texts Lauren Leto sent along that I couldn't figure out how to work in earlier:
(609): This girl must've been watching a lotta ESPN recently because in the middle of [it] she kept yelling "Lebron, come to New York."
(440): New game: Step 1) Turn on ESPN. Step 2) Drink every time someone says "LeBron."
(316): Getting out of bed this morning after last night could have made ESPN top plays.
Those have nothing to do with anything, just like Barber won't have anything to do with your team's winning this week.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers (22, 19): When I was talking to Leto, one keyword I asked her to search was for texts on "Jermichael Finley," thinking there might be some funny, angry ones with the loss of the tight end for the year. There were none, but maybe I should have asked her to search for Jennings. Lord knows fantasy owners have been looking for him. Well, he's right there, still in double coverage that isn't going away with Finley out.
Austin Collie, WR, Colts (36, 24): Still a bit banged-up, Collie wasn't on the field last week in two-receiver sets, and with everyone on Indy healthy, there's not enough of a guarantee he'll get the ball consistently enough to be anything more than a flex option or WR3 in 12-team leagues this week.
Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins (12, 7): You know I love Cooley, but the Colts allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and, with Trent Williams and Jammal Brown banged-up on the offensive line, I could see Cooley staying in to block more this game.
That's all I got this week. You know, my friend and colleague Jon Anik always says, Don't text and drive. I say, Don't drink and text.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is sort of glad but also sort of bummed that, when he asked Lauren Leto to run a search for texts mentioning "Matthew Berry," nothing turned up. Welcome to his therapist's world. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend
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