- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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You know what the people like? The people, they like the lists.
Rankings, sleepers, best-dressed, whatever. If it's a list, people want to see it. And apparently, if it has to take you tons of clicks to flip through one list, people like that even more. Sigh. I can't help you there, as this is all on one page and there are no cheerleader pictures here to prompt you to get all the way through the column. But lists? Lists I got. Ten of them, in fact.
List One: 10 additional facts that I couldn't fit in my "100 Facts You Need To Know Before You Draft
1. According to FootballOutsiders.com, in 32 career games, Ryan Mathews has been on the injury report 15 times, or almost half his games.
2. That includes two games when he was listed as "questionable" and didn't play, and one game (Week 13, 2010) where he was actually listed as "probable," was active for the game but didn't get on the field.
3. This season, the Chargers have just four games that start at 1 p.m. ET.
4. As my colleague AJ Mass points out, over the past three years, no rookie running back has averaged at least 80 yards in a minimum of 10 games.
5. Trent Richardson has had two surgeries on his left knee since the start of the year.
6. The Browns are scheduled to play seven games against teams that were top 10 in rushing defense last season, including two each against the Ravens, the Steelers and the Bengals. They also have games against the Chargers (top 12 in fewest points allowed to opposing backs) and what should be a vastly improved Buffalo defense.
7. Last season, Darren Sproles tied for seventh in red zone targets. Among all players.
8. Last season, when DeMarco Murray got 20-plus carries, the Cowboys were 5-0. When he got fewer or didn't play? They were 3-8.
9. Calvin Johnson had 16 touchdowns last season. As Peter Newmann of ESPN Stats & Information points out, in the history of the NFL there have been only four other wideouts who have scored 16 touchdowns in a season. None of them scored more than 13 the following season.
10. More from Newmann: Last season, Megatron had over 1,600 receiving yards. In the history of the NFL, there have been only five other wide receivers to catch over 1,600 yards' worth of passes in a season, and none of them got to 1,600 the next year, and only Marvin Harrison (in 2000) had more than 1,400.
List Two: 10 "what if?" scenarios to consider, or, as I like to call it, 'playing fast and loose with simple math'
1. Last season, only Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees attempted more passes to tight ends than Cam Newton. So what if Greg Olsen (89 targets, 45 receptions, 540 yards, five TDs) inherits the bulk of targets from Jeremy Shockey (62 targets, 37 receptions, 455 yards, four scores last season)?
2. Ron Rivera and Rob Chudzinski were with the Chargers in 2009 and 2010. As J.B. Kritz of ESPN Stats & Information points out, in those two years combined Mike Tolbert had 12 red zone rushing touchdowns, which tied him for 13th in the NFL. And in just 2010, Tolbert tied for the fifth-most red zone touchdowns. Rivera and Chudzinski are now in Carolina, as is Tolbert and the recently paid Jonathan Stewart. What if Newton doesn't get all those goal-line rushing plays they called for him last year?
3. More Cam. What if Cam's passing is more like the second half (when he had more than 212 yards passing in a game only twice in his final eight games) than the first eight (seven such games)?
4. And just to bring everything full circle, what if Le'Ron McClain gets Tolbert's goal-line carries in San Diego?
5. Last year, Mario Manningham had 12 red zone targets. And Jake Ballard had 13 red zone targets, tied for the team lead with Hakeem Nicks. What if a majority of those red zone targets go to Martellus Bennett?
6. Over the past four years with Brady (not counting 2008), Wes Welker has averaged 150 targets. What if, instead of the 173 he got last year, Welker gets only 150, his career average with Brady? So what if we take the leftover 23 targets and add them to the 122 targets that Deion Branch and Chad Johnson got last year, and what if all 145 targets went to Brandon Lloyd, Josh McDaniels' favorite wide receiver?
8. In 2010, with Peyton Manning calling the plays, there were only seven teams in the NFL that ran the ball more inside an opponent's 9-yard line than the Indianapolis Colts. They had 38 such carries split among many players. Among individual players in 2010, Michael Turner led the NFL with 41 such carries and Arian Foster was second with 39. What if Willis McGahee gets almost 38 of them?
9. What if Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who got 16 games out of Peyton Hillis in 2010 and got 15 games out of Reggie Bush in 2011, manages to get 16 games out of both Jamaal Charles and Hillis this season?
List Three: 10 highest-upside running backs that are going later than the 12th round on ESPN.com
2. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins (13th): Sorry, Reggie, but one season does not an iron man make. Post-hype sleeper?
4. Mike Goodson, Raiders (16th round): As of this writing, the guy I feel gets the first shot if something happens to McFadden. Which is not a bad gamble in Round 16.
7. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons (16th round): Not like I'm real fond of Michael Turner, either.
8. Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers (16th round): Mendenhall is out, Redman is banged up and the Steelers will still run some.
10. Evan Royster, Redskins (16th round): At some point this year, he will start. The questions is ... will you have the guts to start him, too? By the way, don't be shocked if Alfred Morris gets a start. It's Mike Shanahan.
List Four: Best fantasy football team names as suggested to me on Twitter, Part I
Not surprisingly, many names involving Rams rookie Isaiah Pead, Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers and the Penn State scandal were suggested. And just like all the names involving "Vick" and "Johnson," I can't print them. Carly Rae Jepsen's huge hit song was a big theme this time around, among them; "Khalil Me Maybe," "Collie Me Maybe" "Here's my number, call me McGahee" and "Call me Brady." (If you want to see all entries, you can search #TMRTEAMNAME on Twitter.)
1. Brady Gaga (@andeeezy_)
2. The Book of Eli (@ben5trode)
3. Gronk if your horny (@chief_badarasz)
4. Weeden Start the Fire (@travis_B-evans)
5. Belicheck Yourself before you Rex Yourself (@beardaddy)
6. Wilfork for Food (@J_Breck)
7. The World is your Royster / A Mike Goodson Production (@panpipeninja)
8. Pete Caroll-ine (Bum Bum Bum) (@allennorth)
9. My wife doesn't know about this team so please don't tell her (@deltakoz)
10. Living on a Pryor (@_chris_barnes_)
List Five: My top 10
Now, I've already done my "Loves" and "100 Facts" (which is mostly just a sleeper/bust column in disguise), but to be honest, there's a lot of names. So, to try to narrow it down some, here are the 10 guys I feel the strongest about their performance exceeding their draft day value. The reasoning for each choice is covered in depth in Love/Hate and 100 Facts.
1. Aaron Rodgers and Brady as the top two overall picks, the idea of needing to take quarterbacks and elite tight ends early, as outlined in the Draft Day Manifesto. Rodgers is money in the bank, of course, but a crazy monster year coming for Brady, and Jimmy Graham surpasses Rob Gronkowski as the top-scoring tight end.
2. Matt Forte, a legit No. 1 fantasy running back this year.
3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis; nothing sexy, just solid production and double-digit touchdowns.
4. Brandon Marshall. No disrespect to Matt Moore or anything, but ...
5. Brandon Lloyd. Seriously, I can't write any more about him.
6. Peyton Hillis. Brian Daboll is magic.
7. Percy Harvin. Among my favorite stats from Love/Hate: Once Christian Ponder took over in Week 7, Harvin led all wide receivers in offensive touches with 100. Second-most was Wes Welker ... with 74!
9. Torrey Smith. He's getting the deep targets; just needs a few more of them to land near him.
List Six: 10 things I'm kinda buying
Preseason is always filled with lots of hype and chatter filling websites, cable networks, radio stations, podcasts, blogs, newspapers and magazines. Here are 10 things I'm willing to put at least some stock into:
4. That, with only Cedric Benson, James Starks and Brandon Saine ahead of him, Alex Green could be meaningful in fantasy as early as the second half of the season once he fully regains his health.
9. That new Buccaneers guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph will help Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount -- in that order -- to have really strong years running the ball.
List Seven: Best fantasy football team names as suggested to me on Twitter, Part II
1. Moons over my Tamme / FunkyColdFleener (codydow82)
2. McKayla's Not Impressed (@bballcoachd)
3. Luck be a Brady Tonight (@CVSE7EN)
4. Based on Push by Sapphire (@dontwikewotso)
5. You're in the 06010 (@roxybear17) -- so sue me, this one's for me.
6. Good is the new mediocre (@stan76hall) -- as is this one.
7. Reverse Cowgirl (@honda05)
8. Tebow scared me shirtless (@thetory)
9. In the Garden of Weeden (@kpkline1605)
10. Gronky Punch (@Alex_J_Page)
List Eight: 10 UBGTNOWBIWWYDTBWBTKOSPWGDDVTWHYWs (unsexy, boring guys that no one will be impressed with when you draft them, but will be the kind of solid producers with good draft-day value that will help you win)
1. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Going in the fourth, ho-hum, over 1,400 total yards for four straight seasons.
2. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: Last year, through Week 10, he was fourth in the NFL in offensive touches and first in total yards from scrimmage. Jackson missed basically seven games and was still the 13th-best fantasy running back, tied with Frank Gore. Even if he splits time with C.J. Spiller, there's still plenty of value for a guy going in the middle of the fourth.
3. Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos: See List Two, Item 8.
4. BenJarvis Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: How much more can I write about this guy?
5. Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills: Back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Going in the seventh round.
7. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Lotta Colts are undervalued this year.
8. Austin Collie, WR, Colts: Like this guy. The Colts are not gonna be great but they're not gonna be terrible, either. They are all being drafted like they've got bubonic plague or something.
9. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: Not a ton of upside anymore but also very little downside.
10. Matthew Berry, TMR, Worldwide Leader: Not every week, mind you, but occasionally helpful.
Ten things I've noticed as I've done more and more mock drafts
1. That if I don't get a tight end early (Graham, Gronk or Antonio Gates), I want to be one of the last ones to get a tight end.
2. That if you go quarterback and tight end in the first two rounds, there are a number of solid running backs in the third that I am more than fine with having, assuming I now have a clear-cut advantage at the two most consistent positions (in general). I've been getting guys like Jamaal Charles, Fred Jackson, occasionally Marshawn Lynch, Steven Jackson.
3. Sigmund Bloom is a guy I follow on Twitter and respect a lot. I noticed he said something to the effect recently that "I'd have a hard time drafting a wide receiver before Round 3" which, frankly, is a more helpful way to express what I've also been saying all summer, that wide receiver is crazy deep. As Sigmund wrote me in an email, "I definitely would not take a wide receiver in the 1st or 2nd. RB/QB/TE in the first and almost always RB in the 2nd, unless a top-2 QB or TE falls. WR value is too strong in the 4th-5th-6th to spend early picks at the position." Sigmund and I are on the exact same page here.
4. It's gonna have to be insanely, insanely late for me to draft a running back from the Redskins, Panthers, Patriots or Packers.
5. Average draft position is largely influenced by the default rankings of whatever site you are using for your draft. Personally, I think we are insanely low on Doug Martin, but it explains why he is going in the ninth, according to our current average draft results. Just be aware and spend some time with your personal rankings and compare them with the default ranks. Because when you are on the clock with only a minute and you're just scrolling through the next few listed running backs, there might be some guys you forget in the moment. Knowing where there are big gaps in your ranks and the default ranks/ADP will help you a great deal.
6. If I don't get a quarterback early, I want to wait and be the last guy to fill his quarterback slot. Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and, if you believe, Matt Ryan are all in same tier for me in terms of risk and reward.
7. The sixth and seventh rounds are money rounds. Among the guys I love in those rounds: Willis McGahee, Brandon Lloyd, Reggie Bush, Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Percy Harvin, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Stevie Johnson.
8. Safe early, upside later. There is no such thing as bad pick after Round 10. Unless you're taking a kicker or defense before the final two rounds. To mix sports metaphors, when it gets to that point, swing for the fences and don't worry about striking out. Much better to snag a guy like Kendall Wright, who might be amazing or might be nothing, than someone like Nate Burleson, who is what he is at this point.
9. I've managed to wind up with Randall Cobb in almost every draft I've done.
10. And successfully avoided Andre Johnson, who keeps going in the second. Ugh.
List 10: Best fantasy football team names as suggested to me on Twitter, Part III
1. Learning from my Vickstakes (@guytightpants) -- I may take this one for myself
2. Hakeema Matata (@TiffAPaino)
3. "RG3PO" and "ABC: Easy as RG3" (@HiggySmalls15)
4. Nancy Screw and the Party Boys (@MaizeCraze)
5. Henne Badger Don't Care (@markrounds5)
6. Teenage Newton Ninja Turtles (@Frankie_Soprano)
7. That's What She Bid (@rjmaxa)
8. Whoa Whoa Whoa, Stop the Gronk (@jasonandrewz) -- for us Stern fans.
9. Sprole'n with the homies (@mike_cohn)
10. Off in a Corner (@cranesofdale)
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- wishes he could print all the team names. 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.
1hMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne
10hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
18hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins