Commentary

Opening up the ol' Hatebag

Updated: September 29, 2011, 4:57 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Chris, from Ocean Springs, Miss., writes in:

The Talented Mr. Roto

"What's up Roto? I made one of the worst calls in fantasy history this week and started Fred Davis over Jermichael Finley. For some stupid reason I thought Davis had a better matchup and I would win either way. Well, that's what I get for being overconfident. I lost by 9 points and am now 1-2. If this happens again, I don't know if I can handle it. I am a personal trainer, so I motivate and encourage people every day. But now I find myself as the one in need of encouragement, because I could barely even get out of bed this morning. Any words, kind or harsh, would be appreciated."

TMR: Need to feel better about a bad call, do you? Say no more.

Buck (Mich.): Sweet advice in your Draft Day Manifesto!!! Gates and Vick have been total pieces of [bad word]!!! I knew your Vick prediction would be garbage, but I thought you might actually have something with your stance on drafting Gates early because he outscores all TE's by far. What a dumb [bad word] you are, as am I for listening to your nerd-[sorta bad word], who doesn't know [bad word] about Fantasy. I hope you took your own advice because your season in all your leagues are in the [variation of bad word] now. Don't quit your day job, [bad word] Bag!!!

TMR: Oh boy. This is sort of awkward. This is my day job. Now what?

Max Miller (Springfield, Mo.): You ****** suck at every ****** thing you ****** do. Every ****** time I've taken your lousy ****** advice I have ****** lost and looked like a ****** ****** doing it.

TMR: Suck at everything I do? I beg to differ. By your own admission, I don't suck at sucking, now do I? In fact, I am fantastic at sucking. Ha! Told you.

Casey S. (Kansas City, Mo.): You are an idiot. Your "Get Vick & Gates" manifesto has started 0-3. The only thing you have going for you is a hot [woman]. If you drafted her fantasy team, she is now planning to leave you.

TMR: She reads Karabell. We're good. Whew.

Matthew Roznowski (Minneapolis): I fall for your fantasy football "advice" just once every season. Yesterday, I benched Joe Flacco, based on your "expertise." Naturally, Joe Flacco had a monster game. Luckily for you, Matthew, I will still win my game, despite benching Flacco. In addition, there's still time to salvage my season, as I won't read or watch your commentary again this season.

TMR: See you next year!

Michelle H. (Vancouver, Wash.): Dear Mr. Berry, HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THAT I BENCH ELI MANNING THIS WEEK! I DID AS YOU SUGGESTED AND AS A RESULT OF THAT STUPID MOVE I WON MY FANTASY FOOTBALL GAME BY A MERE FOUR POINTS INSTEAD OF THE 25 POINTS I SHOULD HAVE WON BY! My fantasy football team may be the only undefeated team in my league right now, but it's no thanks to you!

TMR: So Michelle, you're into sports and you're all sorts of insane. Did we date?

Tom Brady
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaIf anything, an injury to Tom Brady would probably take the focus off the world's most talked-about haircut since Metallica went short 15 years ago.

Alex Duprel (Livermore, Calif.): Hi Matthew, quirky ACL injury question: I lost Nate Kaeding on his first kick in Week 1, Charles on his 2nd carry in Week 2, and Britt on his 3rd catch in Week 3, all to ACL tears. Brady is my quarterback, for the sake of the game do I bench him this week?

TMR: No, that's crazy talk, you are not benching Tom Brady this week. But are you single? I'd like to introduce you to my new friend Michelle. Got a feeling you two wacky kids would hit it off.

Dan H. (Shirley, N.Y.): great call with flacco thanks 4 the lost played colt never listen to u again your the worst i hope espn dont pay u good.

TMR: Actually, I ranked Flacco ahead of Colt last week, but totally my bad on not predicting the three TDs to Torrey Smith. And I resent you calling me the worst, since I'm obviously the best at sucking. Ask Max. He's back.

Max M. (Springfield, Mo.); Stop ****** writing right now. Quit the business altogether. You are better suited to clean bed pans at an old folks home than give anybody any advice about football.

TMR: But, in order to get a job at an old folks home, I'd have to quit my day job, and Buck from Michigan said not to. Now I'm really confused.

Matthew S. (New York, N.Y.): Nice call on Joe Flacco today. hahahahahahhaa. I would like to know why you are an ESPN expert? Have you ever played a down of organized football in your life? I could care less about your picks, I just think they are funny, as how wrong they are.

TMR: So I make you laugh?

Max Miller (Springfield, Mo.): I will be launching a website, blog, facebook page and even a myspace page dedicated to telling people how much you ****** suck.

TMR: What, no Friendster?

Alternate response: Or you could spend that time doing your own research. Just an idea. Ah ... back again, I see.

Max M. (Springfield, Mo.): Don't ever open your filthy worthless sewer of a mouth to talk about football ever again. I think ESPN is the stupidest organization in the world keeping you employed. You don't deserve the job you have. You're the most fortunate and worthless sack of human organs ever to luck into a job in sports. In fact, you'd be contributing more to society if you would just donate your organs now. Aaaaaaargh, I wish you were within arms reach. I'd shove this laptop so far up your [bodily cavity] you could [he forgot a verb here, but we can take a guess] your worthless advice with your uvula. If you've not heard anything else, hear this. YOU SUCK!!!!!

TMR: You know who needs a hug? Max needs a hug. Come here, big guy.

Ipakkumar Patel (Knoxville, Tenn.): Matt, your love/hate this week was more than a fantasy analysis, much more. At its core these little games are really a condensed, abridged version of our lives in disguise. Although faith is blind, it lives strong and with the good company of inspiration - as you've reminded us. Just wanted to say thank you for your column.

TMR: How'd you get in here? Are you in the right place? You took a left at Page 2, didn't you? Common mistake. Go back down the way you came, right at Commentary, past Podcenter and you're there.

Pauly P. (Shelton, Conn.): THE TMR MEANINGLESS 250?!?....forget your roots and spending too much time at fancy boy celebrity parties and on your TV Shows?? Everyone knows, what is most valuable NOW is an UPDATED ranking of players for the rest of the year, which can be referenced for critical drop/adds and trade purposes. Do you think maybe you could spend all of about 20 minutes while on an airplane to do that for us? THANK YOU.

TMR: Wait, now I suck because I'm not giving advice? Pauly, gonna need you to get with Max and figure this one out. Or just do what the Current Mrs. Roto does and read Karabell's updated year-to-end rankings every Tuesday.

Colin (Washington, D.C.): Matthew, I take your advice a lot in both fantasy football and baseball. I enjoy both sports, and am an active owner, but don't have a ton of time, so a lot of times your stuff is the only stuff I read. As much as I like, and rely on, your analysis, I have always thought you came up pretty short as a writer. I consistently skip past your opening paragraphs and go directly to your advice. For some reason I read the opening bit on this week's love/hate about keeping the faith, and, not that you need my validation, you really impressed me. Your story is a good one. Not many people could keep going like you did, even though we'd all be better off if more could. Congratulations … (but) you're still a ***** writer.

TMR: Don't worry. I won't let your words go to my head. We now get to the part of the column that Colin skips to. Usual caveats here and before you wonder why I put it in here every week, it's because of emails like this:

Buba M. (Philly): (Not good) call on Tony Scheffler!! I sat Owen Daniels cause you loved him so much!

TMR: Last week, I had Scheffler in my "love" column (in part because I thought Brandon Pettigrew would miss the game.), but in my ranks last week, I had Daniels at 8 and Scheffler at 14. Read the ranks. This is not a pure start/sit. It's about giving you some thoughts behind the rankings.

Week 4 Players I Love

Philip Rivers
Jason O. Watson/US PresswirePhilip Rivers probably didn't get the memo that he was our consensus No. 2 quarterback last week.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (My rank: 5, Other rankers: 5). : I know. I know. Look, I said I know, OK? Six interceptions, I get it. Lotta questions on the Twitter and in the mailbag about Rivers, so I put him here just to remind you not to get cute. The Dolphins have allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants (9, 9): I hate that I have Eli in my love section this week, as I think he's looked terrible this year. Except, you know, when he's throwing four touchdowns on the road against the Eagles' "Dream Team" secondary. He'll have Mario Manningham back and Arizona's secondary is only a "Dream Team" as far as Manning owners are concerned.

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles (6, 6): Let's go back to the mailbag.

Phillip D. (Pasadena, Calif.): Maybe you should take all your mailbag messages about Vick this week and make it a "guess how many jelly beans are in the jar" contest, and whoever wins gets a shout out from you on ESPN. (My guess: 3,542. If you seriously get that many messages you deserve a pay bump). But seriously, time to sell Vick for whatever I can get? Or do I hold out and hope he turns all that frustration into motivation when he gets back on the field? Vick is looking more like a 100 million reasons to regret my first round fantasy draft selection than a 100 million dollar QB (and I know his line doesn't help, but if anything that makes me want to sell even more).

TMR: I am hanging tough. No doubt he has disappointed this year. But so has Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Michael Turner (at least last week), Roddy White, Frank Gore and other high-end draft picks. We are just three games in. At this point last year, we were asking the same thing about Maurice Jones-Drew and top-15 fantasy running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis hadn't even gotten on the field yet. I get the frustration and anger. I'm with you. But while I may not know much, I do know Andy Reid knows more about football than I do and there's a reason he spent $100 million on Vick. Getting Winston Justice back on the line this week (he practiced Wednesday) can only help and the 49ers actually have a decent run defense, so they will have to attack through the air. If he does nothing this week, then we can start to panic.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions (4, 4): An obvious name by this point, of course, but I wanted an excuse to publish this email:

Stephen (Palo Alto, Calif.): I'm just as in love with Matt Stafford as you, possibly more so. Admittedly, I've become "That Guy" when talking about him with guys in my league to the point where I'm running out of names to call him. I'm currently stuck on Motor City Maestro. Help me out.

TMR: I'm partial to "My life partner, Matthew Stafford," or when I'm in a hurry, "Honey."

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers (11, 15): While I don't think he has a 400-yard day, I also think he does better than in last week's monsoon-fest. Considering all he does is look for Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey to begin with, Newton will exploit the Bears' Cover 2 with a lot of underneath stuff to both tight ends while taking a shot or two deep with Steve Smith when the Bars go man. Considering Chicago won't have a problem scoring on Carolina and that the Panthers can't run the ball, it won't be pretty, but by the end of the day, he'll wind up with solid, upper-tier numbers.

Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals (15, 20): In seven of his 10 games as a starter, Kolb has at least 250 yards passing. With Beanie Wells still banged up, the Cardinals will need a high-octane passing game to keep up with the Giants, and the fact that it is a home game for the Cardinals gives me hope if you are looking for a second-tier quarterback. If Arizona can keep Justin Tuck off Kolb long enough to let a play develop, Kolb's yards per average of 8.46 is eighth in the NFL and the Giants are 31st in the NFL in yards allowed on passes of 15-plus yards. I'm thinking the Cards let Kolb go deep to exploit New York's secondary.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers (9, 13): Hi! How's everyone doing? What are all you guys doing here? Am I late? Really? I thought the party was just starting. How long have you guys been here? Honestly? Huh.

Frank Gore (or Kendall Hunter if Gore can't go for some reason), RB, 49ers (12, 13): No team has allowed more points to opposing running backs than the Philadelphia Eagles so far. Also, no team in the NFL is faced with the decision of either running the ball, or letting Alex Smith throw it.

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals (21, 23): You know how dudes go wild during their bachelor party because it's their last shot at "freedom"? Well, this weekend is Cedric Benson's bachelor party and the Bills' 22nd-ranked run defense is the stripper.

Darren Sproles
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireAt least Darren knows how much I love him.

Darren Sproles, RB, Saints (25, 29): The Saints have been inconsistent running the ball this year and losing two offensive linemen for this game won't help. Averaging seven receptions a game, the dump pass will become their run game in this one, making Sproles a nice flex play. I keep ranking him the first of the Saints running backs and he keeps making me look smart, as, um, exactly none of you have emailed me about. Hmm.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles (8, 14): Had 140 yards and a score the last time he faced the 49ers at home (thanks Eagles PR!), he's a big-play guy (duh) and only the Panthers have allowed more touchdown passes of 20-plus yards this season. And San Fran has faced Seattle and Cincy in two of three games.

Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers (17, 24): The Colts have given up 533 yards to opposing wide receivers, and that includes a game against Cleveland. I'm expecting the Bucs to pound the rock with LeGarrette Blount in this one, setting up some nice play-action. Despite everything, Williams is still tied for 14th among wide receivers in red zone targets and, well, I guess I just don't think much of the Colts' defense. There. I said it.

David Nelson, WR, Bills (25, 38): Still available in tons of leagues and I have no idea why. Same number of receptions as Stevie Johnson, he has only three fewer targets and only 23 fewer yards. He's a big part of one of the best offenses in football (yes, I just wrote that) and, as we go ESPN Next Level, the Bills have scored on 50 percent of their drives this year, most in the NFL. So why wouldn't you want one of the guys who is a big part of that offense?

Eric Decker, WR, Broncos (27, 35): The Packers will score a lot of points. The Broncos will need to throw. Charles Woodson will be on Brandon Lloyd. Green Bay is vulnerable in the middle of the field on short and medium stuff (not having safety Nick Collins doesn't help) and Decker, who had 13 targets last week to Lloyd's seven, should excel in that situation.

Michael Jenkins, WR, Vikings (45, NR): He doesn't show up because no one else ranked him, but if you are in a super-deep league and kind of desperate, I sort of like him in this matchup. Percy Harvin has just one more target than him and McNabb seems to trust him. Two decent weeks out of three.

Greg Olsen (7, 11) and Jeremy Shockey (14, 25), TE, Panthers: See Newton, Cam. Cover 2, underneath stuff, already looks for them a lot plus keep in mind this is against Olsen's former team. They'll want to get him a score if they can.

Dallas Clark, TE, Colts (9, 14): The Bucs have allowed a touchdown to the opposing tight end in both home games this year, and so help me, I thought Indy looked like it might have signs of life under Curtis Painter. Certainly, I think they will look more like "The Colts" under Painter in terms of the offense they run, which means lots of looks to Clark.

Houston Texans D/ST (6, 11): The Steelers are currently tied for first in the AFC in giveaways and are top-10 in sacks allowed. Said it preseason, saying it again. I'm a believer in the Texans' defense.

Jason Hanson, K, Lions (2, 5): We discussed Hanson on the podcast, but Barry from Salem, Ore., asks the same question: "Matt, why haven't more people been all over Jason Hanson? I looked at his matchups before the season and 11 of his 16 games are kicked in a dome, and the remaining 5 games (in Tampa, Denver, Chicago, Oakland and Green Bay). It seemed like this guy was set up for a stellar season with the hype of Detroit. Why haven't more fantasy analysts been kicking the tires on their Hansonmobile?

TMR: He's the second-highest-scoring kicker in the league and he's available in more than 60 percent of leagues. I'm with ya.

Week 4 Players I Hate:

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons (18, 13): On the road at Seattle is no picnic. That's not to say they won't prepare a lovely wine and cheese basket, but rather that Ryan struggles outdoors. The Seahawks, believe it or not, are third in the NFL in pass defense and Ryan is averaging just 10 points a game on the road.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers (22, 12): See the D/ST, Texans. No idea who is blocking for Ben in this game, but it's hard to throw from your back. Ben has four picks this year after giving up just five all of last season. Lots of Mendenhall running and offensive linemen auditions in this road game.

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers (21, 17): Going ESPN Next Level here as I tell you that, since the start of 2008, the Colts have rushed four or fewer on at least 80 percent of opponent dropbacks, most in the NFL. Against four or fewer rushers this season, Freeman has just one touchdown and three interceptions. His QBR is 55.3 (on a scale of 100) during these plays compared to 70.4 on all other plays.

Chris Johnson
Don McPeak/US PresswireIf CJ2K remains on his current 522-yard pace, do we get to change his name to CJ½K?

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans (14, 10): Until Johnson gets fullback Ahmard Hall back (suspended for the first four games this year), I have a hard time making him a top-10 play, even with a cushy matchup.

Jahvid Best, RB, Lions (22, 12): Back to the mailbag.

Dan (Chicago): Here we go again with Best. C'mon what did he do to you? I'll take the under of 22, as far as where he ends up ranked this week in running back points. Hell I'll even spot you a couple ranks and say he finishes in the top 20. Looking forward to another Love/Hate column of giving reasons why you should have him in the love section of the article rather than the hate. Is there some inverse logic involved in Fantasy football that I'm unaware of?

TMR: Very simply, I believe in the Cowboys' run defense, which is still second best in the NFL this year after having faced the Jets, Frank Gore and the 49ers, and the Redskins, who have run the ball well so far. They allow the seventh-fewest points to opposing running backs. And did you see the article in the Detroit Free Press a few days ago which included this quote from Jim Schawartz about Brandon Pettigrew? "Brandon was probably, the best way to put it is he was our run game. What we did starting [in the] second quarter was we were adjusting every series. We started spreading him out a little bit more and they were short, control passes. He had 11 receptions and one was down the seam for a big gain. Most of the other ones were ball-control plays. That was sort of our run game."

On one of the most explosive offenses in the league, Best is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. He'll help in the pass game, of course, but given the matchup, it's hard to have him inside the top 20.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers (39,37): I actually still believe in him long-term, but he hasn't even been the best running back on a team that can't run. I would have to be really desperate to consider starting him on the road at Chicago.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (30, 21): Giants' run D is good. Beanie's hammy isn't.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos (29, 22): See Decker, Eric.

Julio Jones, WR, Falcons (40, 28): See Ryan, Matt.

Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins (Not ranked, 42): See Dolphins' offense.

Dustin Keller, TE, Jets (11, 7): I actually think he'll be fine, but just not a top-10 guy the way my fellow rankers feel. The Ravens have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, although to be fair, they haven't faced anyone any good yet. I believe in Baltimore's linebacking corps, and with the pressure I expect the Ravens to bring, I could see Keller staying in to block more. Again, he'll be OK, just not top-10.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Flacons (13, 7): See Jones, Julio.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Buccaneers (17, 14): You saw the note on Freeman, and the Colts actually play the tight end fairly well (just seven points allowed per game).

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- wants you to know that, even though he prints mostly hate mail, he appreciates the many nice notes he gets, but simply doesn't know how to make them funny. Berry 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"