Commentary

Love, Hate and Michael Vick

Updated: November 18, 2010, 9:53 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

"Son, no one gives a $#*! about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that." -- from the Twitter feed of "$#*!mydadsays"

The Talented Mr. Roto

"Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." Barry Switzer, to the Chicago Tribune

Charles Hurth (St. Louis, Mo.): Dear TMR, I would like to tell you about my incredible fantasy comeback in Week 10. Before the Monday night game I was down 119.68 to 54.2. I only had two players left, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson. Little did I know, Vick would have the best game of his career and I won the matchup. Just call me the comeback kid.

TMR: You're the Comeback Kid, Charles. Amazing.

Scott (Raleigh, N.C.): This morning the conversation at the office was about how I had no chance to win this week. I was down 155.66 to 99.06 with only Vick left to play against S. Moss and Akers. There was no way it was gonna happen. Now I'm reading angry comments from my opponent because I won the matchup 166.71 to 165.26. This has to be on a relatively short list of best comebacks ever.

TMR: Yep. Very short list. Just you and "The Comeback Kid." Oops, spoke too soon.

Greg Seemann (Leavenworth, Kan.): I am an avid football fan and play Fantasy Football on (many sites, including ESPN.com). ... Fast forward to tonight and I am down by 68 points in my (non-ESPN) league going into the Eagles/Redskins game, with Vick and Maclin starting, and 40 points in my ESPN league with just Vick going. I won both. I am still in shock and am just wondering how badly I should be trash talking both leagues after these amazing comebacks.

TMR: Talk it up. You are THE MAN. Tell them how you did it, Comeback Kid! Wait, that one's taken.

Michael Vick
AP Photo/Gail BurtonWhether you were Vick-torious or Vick-timized on Monday, it was a shared experience for everyone.

Chris Allerton (Tampa, Fla.): First off, big fan of your show and articles. This Week 10 proved to be one of the most amazing fantasy weeks of my short "football career." After the 4:15 games wrapped up the score was my team 63, my girlfriend's team 118. The gloating began as I am in first place and she is in second. Then, as I refer to it, the "Monday Night Miracle" happened. Final score: 129-118 victory for me.

TMR: What does your girlfriend refer to it as?

Taylor Pennington (Orlando, Fla.): Matthew, I feel like the Houston Oilers. I was hoping you could dig deep into your fantasy annals and tell me if I may have made history this weekend. I was trailing by 70 points heading into Monday night with only Michael Vick left to play. I won by 12. Has any person or team in the history of fantasy overcome that big a deficit with only one person left to play?

TMR: Nope. You're the only one, Taylor. High-five!

Let's get to it. Numbers in parentheses are my Wednesday rank and the consensus rank of the other three rankers. Follow me on Twitter, read the Friday ranks updates and watch Fantasy Football Now at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2 for my up-to-date thoughts on specific players versus players start/sit questions.

These are done in order of position and by highest rank, not the order that I "love" or "hate" someone. And away we go:

Week 11 players I love

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles (1, 4): Did you hear the one about the guy who was way down and had only Vick left to play? Yeah. Please refer to the 4th commandment: Thou shalt not talk about your team. Considering Vick has yet to score fewer than 20 points in any game he's finished this year, I don't really need to argue for him, but what I disagree with is that he isn't No. 1 across the board. How am I the only one to rank him first? The Giants just got torched by Jon Kitna and, if you throw out the Charlie Whitehurst Disaster (as it's officially known in NFL record books), the Giants have given up at least 18 points to opposing quarterbacks in three straight.

Shaun Hill, QB, Lions (8, 16): Not the Broncos. Not the Saints. And not the Chargers, Colts or Patriots. No team in the NFL has attempted more passes this season than the Detroit Lions. And now Hill is taking all those throws to Dallas, where the Cowboys have allowed 13 touchdown passes in four home games this year. Now, Dallas played a lot more zone last week under defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni's new-look system, trying to give some safety help to the corners, but the Cowboys still gave up 19 fantasy points to Eli Manning. I expect a high-scoring game and Hill, who has at least 43 pass attempts in four of the five games he played from start to finish, should put up very good fantasy numbers.

Mark Sanchez
Andrew Weber/US PresswireMark Sanchez is looking to add to the number of points the Texans have allowed to opposing quarterbacks; 189, which would be the top scorer in fantasy if you could stitch all those QBs together, Frankenstein-style.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets (13, 15): The only thing prettier than Mark's face is seeing the Texans and that 32nd-ranked pass defense on the schedule. The fewest fantasy points the Texans have allowed this year was in Week 14, when Bruce Gradkowski scored 14 points against them. Of course, he also had three turnovers, so it easily could have been yet another 20-point day.

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars (12, 16): You can't run against the Browns, but you can pass on them. In three career meetings against Cleveland, Garrard has over 600 yards passing with six touchdowns. In his past two games, he has more than 600 yards and six touchdowns. Clearly, he is due for a 600-yard, six-touchdown game.

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs (14, 22): True story. Talking with my buddy Conor the other day, he was lamenting the Chiefs' loss last week and saying, while he was upset, as a life-long Chiefs fan, he had forgotten until recently what it was like to be upset on a Sunday. I said to him, "I'd rather be a Chiefs fan these days than a Redskins fan." He immediately nodded and put his hand on my shoulder. Sympathy from a Chiefs fan. That's what it's come to for me. Anyway, Cassel should have no problem exploiting a Cardinals secondary that is allowing 269 yards a game.

Troy Smith, QB, 49ers (18, 25): OK, podcast fans. Don't tell Pod Vader. But I'm a believer. Games of 17 and 19 points, he's got a lot of weapons and a very nice matchup with Tampa Bay. No team has fewer sacks this year (only eight on the seasons) than the Buccs. Already completing better than 61 percent of his passes, Smith will have all day to throw. Joe Staley is banged up, which means a bit more scrambling for Smith, so you might get two or three points from Smith's legs and while I don't expect huge numbers here (lotta Frank Gore), I do think he'll turn in a solid double-digit fantasy day.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants (6, 11): What does this guy have to do to be considered a top-10 guy? It can't be just to score like he's in the top 10, because he's already there, with the ninth-most fantasy points among running backs. He has a rushing touchdown in his past two games against the Eagles and I say Sunday he goes three-for-three.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys (19, 25): My friend Scott Pianowski had a good line on Twitter last Sunday as Jones was on his way to 136 total yards and a touchdown: "I guess Felix Jones becomes a lot faster when you take Wade Phillips off his back." I think there's some truth to that. Jason Garrett wants this gig full-time and you don't get that by keeping the owner's favorite running back on the bench. Jones is Dallas' most dynamic runner and it's not close. With the Lions giving up the most points to opposing running backs, this should be a nice week for my favorite football player named Felix. Oh, hell. My favorite athlete. You know what? My favorite Felix, period. Sorry, nerdy guy from "Odd Couple" re-runs, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Pie, Mariners stud pitcher and the cat. He's the one.

Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers (17, 27): Real simple: I don't think Ryan Mathews plays, Denver is terrible against the run (13 scores allowed to opposing running backs in the last five games) and Tolbert has a touchdown in five of his past six.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens (32, 41): When I was in grade school, I always loved postulates. Used in geometry, a postulate is, as defined by dictionary.com, "something taken as self-evident or assumed without proof as a basis for reasoning." The idea (if I remember correctly) is that you used them instead of having to go through this long explanation to prove something. So instead of showing all the math behind the fact that a circle is 360 degrees, you just say "postulate 2." I want postulates for fantasy. Maybe I'll do a whole column about what they should be. But one is definitely the fact that Ray Rice doesn't score. In his past 16 regular-season games, Rice has scored a touchdown in two of them. Two of 16. Meanwhile, McGahee has scored in nine of those 16. The Panthers have allowed nine scores to opposing running backs this year. So ... Carolina gives it up to opposing running backs, McGahee is the one who scores, therefore I believe McGahee will score in this game. Not much else, but he will get you six or so points. But in the future, wouldn't it be easier, instead of all that, to just write "Postulate 6?"

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys (13, 16): When I grow up, I wanna be Dez Bryant. That's a man, son. A man.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets (9, 23): He's the best deep threat on the Jets and he's going against the Texans. Postulate 8.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers (23, 34): Very quietly, he has scored in four of his past five. In nine games, the Bucs have given up 15 passing touchdowns. I don't think Aqib Talib is at the "Revis Island" level, so I'm starting Crabtree with confidence. Or confidently. Which is it? I really should have spent more time on grammar and less on geometry. Oddly, that's my only regret of grade school. No, seriously. Everything else about my childhood went swimmingly. Or is it "was swimming?"

Randy Moss
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireRandy Moss has a great schedule for the rest of the season, but he needs to start capitalizing on his opportunities, starting with the Redskins secondary.

Randy Moss (17, 26) and Nate Washington (29, 38), WRs, Titans: Seriously, what I wouldn't give to be a Chiefs fan right now. Or any team that didn't just give up 59 points in a Monday night game that, frankly, wasn't as close as the score indicated. And now Carlos Rodgers and LaRon Landry missed practice Wednesday. The second-most fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers this year, I think they can get to No.1. Come on Redskins! You can do it!

Mike Thomas, WR, Jaguars (35, 46): Wrote about him as a pickup this week and as a love last week, (postulate 8). Take the fluke play out last week and he was still having a good game. Scored in two straight and at least eight points in four of his last five. One more target than Mike Sims-Walker this year, and here's an odd fact: The most fantasy points that MSW has scored in a home game this year is three. You heard me. Three. He's bad at home, he's banged up, you know I like Garrard (Cle is much easier to pass against than run), which means a lot of Mike Thomas and Marcedes Lewis.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears (NR): Super-deep sleeper here, but it's worth noting that the Dolphins have given up over 1,000 yards in punt and kickoff returns and already are on their second special teams coach this year. Hester also scored last week as a receiver. Much, much better play for leagues that count return yards, but he could be interesting tonight.

Benjamin Watson, TE, Browns (11, 17): You can really attack the middle of the field against the Jaguars. The Jaguars' corners are really struggling and we've seen the Jags have problems with athletic tight ends who run seam routes. Watson, who leads the Browns in all receiving categories, stands to benefit. The Jaguars are tied for the sixth-most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, so starting Watson is elementary my dear. That should also be a postulate. Instead of a bad pun on his name, it's just "postulate 12: I can't think of anything funny here, so just assume a hacky pun on his name."

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (5, 11): With Shaun Hill as the quarterback, only Calvin Johnson gets more targets or receptions. The Cowboys have allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends in the past three games.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals (15, 14): Start your tight end versus the Bills. Postulate 16.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants (17, 24): A touchdown in two straight games, he's also had at least 70 yards and a touchdown in each of his past two games against the Eagles. Philly gives up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and, in a game that should see a lot of scoring, the boss will you send you to the Badlands. Wait, that makes no sense. In a game with a lot of scoring, the Boss will be Born to Run. Wait, that's terrible and obvious. In a game with a lot of scoring, the Boss will be on the Streets of Philadelphia. No. ... Thunder Road? ... Rosalita? Hmmm... The Boss will give you a reason to believe, will have you dancing in the dark, will make your opponent blinded by the light, will give you glory days, will make you raise your hand, will bring you to the promised land. ... ooh, got it.

In a game with a lot of scoring, the Boss will have you working on the highway. Perfect.

Miami Dolphins D/ST (6, 18): Averaging six fantasy points a game since the bye week, the Bears are, shall we say, turnover prone? Yes, they've been better since their bye, but they played Buffalo and Minnesota. At home, with the Bears traveling and on a short week, I think the Dolphins step up here.

Week 11 players I hate

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (16, 12): At home, Ryan averages 18 points a game. On the road? 12.5. Start him at home, look elsewhere on the road. Postulate 13.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals (20, 12): I know, I know. It seems like I have a personal vendetta against him and I don't. I really don't. I had him ranked high last week! And hey, he's definitely made me look stupid before, putting up big numbers when I've had him as a hate. So you're forewarned. But here's my thinking: He averages only 11 points a game in four home games this year, his two biggest games (New England and Atlanta) were games where the Bengals got down big and he had to throw a lot, and I don't see the Bills coming into Cincy and blowing them out of the water. Thirteen points or fewer in three of his past five doesn't scream "automatic start" to me, there's lots of guys this week with good matchups I like more (see my "love" list for many of them) and frankly, I don't think the Bills are that terrible. Since the bye, quarterbacks are averaging just 15 points against them and while that's decent, it's not mind-blowing. I'll probably raise Palmer a bit Friday in my ranking updates, but not a lot.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans (22, 13): Single-digit fantasy points in five of nine games this year, I don't trust him on the road, at the Jets, with Andre Johnson on Revis Island and a need to establish the run game.

Joseph Addai, RB, Colts (34, 25): Even if he's back healthy, there's no guarantee he stays healthy. We don't know how much work load he'll get, so even though it's a decent matchup, I just can't see him as a definite top-25 play without knowing how healthy he is or how much work he'll get on a pass-first team.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers (NR, 32): Don't think he plays. And it's a Monday night game. Heed the lesson of Ryan Torain: Even if he's active, it doesn't mean Mathews gets onto the field or is productive once he gets there. When I do ranks, I build a safety level into it. You want to eliminate as much risk as possible in fantasy and my ranks reflect that, especially with the players that don't fall in the "always play your studs" category.

Beanie Wells
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireHating on Beanie Wells is a popular activity among ESPN fantasy analysts this week.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (38, 39): We're all down on Beanie this week (Harris is highest at 30 on him) and it's probably for the same reason. The Chiefs have allowed just one touchdown to an opposing running back at home this year and it was a receiving touchdown. Plus there's Beanie's health and this fun fact: No team in the NFL has attempted fewer running plays this year than the Arizona Cardinals.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins (33, 18): I hope I'm wrong. I hope I can be wiggy for Thiggy again. And I like him for the future. But not this week. The Bears give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. New quarterback and a short week plus criticism of a conservative offense means, to me, you'll see more trick plays and Wildcat plays with Ronnie Brown. Think this is a low-scoring game tonight.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals (34, 25): Remember when Chad tweeted at me that I called him a preseason bust and if you wanted to win you should draft him? Yeah, he'd probably like that tweet back, just like owners want their pick back. All the reasons I didn't like Palmer, plus the fact that Terrell Owens is the guy getting the targets, is a reason Mad Chad's not a top-30 guy this week.

Johnny Knox, WR, Bears (32, 34): I'm assuming the Dolphins are gonna put Vontae Davis on Knox to shut him down the way he did with Randy Moss last week.

Wes Welker, WR, Patriots (39, 27): Remember when 8 for 89 was considered a bland game for Welker, not his best game since Week 2?

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys (14, 5): I think the Cowboys need to keep Jon Kitna upright, especially against the capable Lions pass rush (tied with the Giants for the eighth-most sacks). Which means more of what we saw against New York. Two tight end sets, more of Witten staying in to block, more mass protection. Just one reception for seven yards last week in a game Dallas won and won big. The Lions give up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends to begin with, so I'm not sure what my fellow rankers are seeing on this one.

Aaron Hernandez (18, 14) and Rob Gronkowski (21, 16), TEs, Patriots: Remember when I talked about rankings involving risk aversion in the Mathews paragraph? No one knows what the Patriots are gonna do with their tight ends and anyone who says different is lying. OK, if Tom Brady or Bill Belichick tells you, fine, you can take that to the bank, but otherwise? Against a Colts team that gives up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends? I realize Brady's last five scores have gone to tight ends, but I don't care. I'm avoiding if I can, lest you get jammed like Hernandez owners did last week.

Seattle Seahawks D/ST (27, 15): West Coast team traveling east, already banged up and going against a Saints team off a bye? No way. Postulates 21, 22 and 25.

That's all we have this week, kids. Good luck in Week 11. Here's hoping you are not in need of a 50-point performance on Monday night to bail you out. And if you are and get it, that you humbly thank the fantasy gods and leave it at that.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is postulate 4. 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

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