- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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Today's column is chock-full of fantasy goodness.
That's right, actual fantasy analysis (go figure!). So the "crazy chick" date story I referred to in my Tuesday column will have to wait 'til next week.
In the meantime, let's get to Love/Hate for Week 13. As always, players I love this week are guys I think exceed certain statistical benchmarks. Guys I hate I feel will fall short. It's that simple. Those benchmarks are 175 yards and two touchdowns for quarterbacks (or 15 fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring); 90 yards and/or 30 yards and a touchdown rushing and receiving (or nine fantasy points) for running backs and wide receivers; 60 yards or a touchdown for tight ends and eight points for kickers and defenses. I used to say no obvious names, but I don't think there is such a thing anymore.
Outside of picking Arizona's defense/special teams to do well (ugh), I had a real strong Week 12, including "loves" that included Kolby Smith, Justin Fargas, the Cardinals' offensive options, Reggie Williams and Bernard Berrian, and "hates" that included Torry Holt, LenDale White and Cedric Benson just a couple of truly terrible calls like starting the Cards D and Eli, and benching Gore didn't help.
But it is with unbridled optimism that I head toward Week 13. Remember the Packers and Cowboys play tonight, so get your lineups in.
Week 13 Players I Love
The Packers' passing game: Brett Favre, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Donald Lee should all be solid plays; the way you beat the Cowboys is through the air. Oh, and by scoring more points than them. I guess that's really how you beat them.
Most of your Cowboys: You're starting Tony Romo and Terrell Owens, of course, but Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten should have good games as well. Charles Woodson being banged up can only help, and I like Marion Barber here as well.
Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons: Apparently I'm like a chick I date. But crazy or not, I like Dunn here on the road. The Rams give up more than 100 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown per game.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons: When you wear a man's jersey on the air, you have a fondness for him.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Hopefully not too little, too late for his owners.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Truth time. I've been sitting here for a while trying to figure out a joke. You know how George Clinton had this cool old P-Funk band? And our favorite Washington back's last name starts with "P." There's something kind of funny there I just can't figure out what it is. Sigh. Anyway, he'll have a good game against Buffalo.
Jason Campbell, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Redskins: Campbell has two straight 300-yard games, and now he's at home against the Bills. Only three teams have given up more passing yards per game and only five teams have given up more passing touchdowns than Buffalo.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings: I could easily see him getting single coverage and getting deep for one with the Lions stacking the box to stop the run.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: In his career, MJD has averaged 107 total yards per game versus Indy.
Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, Colts: You have to start Joseph Addai, of course, but this game will be won through the air. I mean, the passing game, not that they'll all be in planes, dogfighting in the skies. Of course, that'd be pretty cool if they did that.
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets: What would be more frustrating: If he can't even go off on the Dolphins, or if he does have a huge game and you're stuck wondering what might have been? I'm choosing the latter.
Jesse Chatman, RB, Dolphins: I think he plays, and plays well. Tough to be a Dolphins fan these days.
Kolby Smith, RB, Chiefs: The Chargers are still without Luis Castillo. Plus, this game is at Arrowhead, and Norv's team gives up over 130 rushing yards per game away from San Diego, a much higher number than at home.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: If I were a Santa Claus in a Kansas City mall this weekend, I'd be ringing my bell and going "Bowe, Bowe, Bowe Merry Christmas! (Pause) You heard me, lady. I'm a shopping mall Santa Claus. What do you want from me?" (She walks away disgusted.) "Bowe, Bowe, Bowe Merry Christmas!"
Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks: The Eagles give up more than 21 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, and Branch is the guy I like the most here.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: Trivia question: Name the running back(s) who have more fantasy points this year than Brian Westbrook. And remember, he missed a game. Go ahead. I'll wait. OK, I lied. I'm not waiting. It's a trick question. There aren't any. You were going to start him anyway, but just wanted to point out how awesome he has been because no one really talks about it. More points than LT, Addai, any running back.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: An e-mail from a reader:
Vince (from San Francisco): Hey TMR, I know you are going to get 100 e-mails chastising you for calling out Frank Gore, but print this instead. You were right to call him out -- his fantasy production has been abysmal. All that matters is he is back, so recognize his gritty, '06-style performance and love him next week against Carolina.
TMR: Yes, I got a bunch of e-mails calling me an idiot (and worse) for not predicting Gore would score for the first time since Week 2 and have a huge week. They're all fairly redundant. I'm the "talentless mr. roto blah, blah, blah." Or that I "should be fired blah, blah, blah." Or "Mom still likes me more blah, blah, blah." Anyway, thanks for the note, and I agree, he'll be solid against the Panthers.
DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers: Nowhere to go but up!
Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers: I don't care who the quarterback is; he has nine receiving touchdowns in his last six games and five in his last three games against the Saints.
All your Browns: True story. I was asked today by the director of ESPN's "First Take" who I would rather have the rest of the way, Marion Barber or Jamal Lewis. I said Lewis. And shocked myself.
All your Cardinals: Not a low-scoring game, this one.
Selvin Young, RB, Broncos: So I was on "The Pulse" on ESPN Radio last night with Doug Gottlieb and was taking calls. Here's a semi-accurate transcript of one call:
Caller: I have Selvin Young and Andre Hall. Who is going to get the start?
TMR: Is this your first year playing fantasy football?
Caller: No, I've been playing five years.
TMR: And after five years you thought I could predict on a Wednesday night what Mike Shanahan will do with his running backs? Even Mike Shanahan doesn't know. Come on, man. You know better.
Caller: I know, I know
But if I had to bet on one Denver running back this week, I'd pick Selvin. I don't think Hall plays, I'll believe Travis Henry when I see it, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Cecil Sapp get in the mix. For those of you who didn't listen to me and drafted Travis Henry you play with fire, you get burned.
Justin Fargas, RB, OAK: Oakland is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game, and Fargas has more than 100 total yards in three of his past four games. Oh, and then there's that whole Denver-can't-stop-the-run thing.
Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns, RB, Giants: Looks as if both will play, and in a 12-team league with a flex position, I like both guys here. You can run on Chicago. Oh, and then there's that whole Eli-is-a-horrific-quarterback thing.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Bears: Has a touchdown in his last two games, and the Giants have given up almost 120 total yards per game to opposing running backs.
All your Steelers: What kind of person are you? Do you see the field as half muddy or half dry?
Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens: Yes, he's going against the Patriots, but touchdowns in six straight games outweigh that.
Week 11 Players I Hate
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: The Cowboys have given up only 82 rushing yards per game and have allowed only five rushing touchdowns all season. I think this will be the Brett Favre Show.
Cowboys defense/special teams: I think this is a shootout.
Packers defense/special teams: Follow the logic here
Trent Edwards and Lee Evans, Bills: The Redskins' defense either steps up big or not at all. I say it steps up big.
Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: For the record, I hated him against the Packers on Thanksgiving, too. And he has scored a touchdown in six of nine games. But the Vikings give up fewer than 75 rushing yards per game and have allowed only five rushing touchdowns this season. Something has to give, and I'm siding with the Vikes at home.
Ahman Green and Ron Dayne, RB, Texans: I originally had Green pretty high on my Wednesday rankings, but with news that it looks like Albert Haynesworth now will play and that Green isn't 100 percent but will still try to play some, I'm gonna avoid this like sane chicks avoid me.
Vince Young, QB, Titans: Welcome back, Vince. We knew you'd be back to this side of the column.
LenDale White, RB, Titans: Yes, it's a great matchup, but so were his last two games. He has only seven fantasy points combined over his past three games. Unless I'm in a fantasy competitive-eating league, he stays on my bench this weekend.
All your Eagles: Except Westbrook, of course. I'm not buying the game against the Patriots, and Seattle has a much better defense than you realize. The Seahawks have given up only 16 points per game, fourth best in the NFL.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: If anyone other than Vinny plays quarterback.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints: Actually plays worse at home than on the road. Plus, the Bucs allow only 13.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (second best in the league), they are fifth in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game, and they've given up only eight passing touchdowns, tied for second best in the NFL. I guess what I am saying here is, I really don't like Brees this week.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Reggie ain't right.
Arizona defense/special teams: They'll be a fine play, actually. I just wanted to grumble and moan about them again. If you were next to me right now, as I type this, you'd see me muttering a lot of things we couldn't print. Although, in fairness, that statement is true almost all of the time.
Mike Shanahan, coach, Broncos: Because no matter who you pick at running back, it'll be wrong!
Jay Cutler, QB, Broncos: The Raiders have allowed only 13.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, third best in the NFL. See the things you accidentally learn when you research Drew Brees?
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Pittsburgh has allowed only 150 passing yards per game, best in the NFL. And Palmer has only 13 touchdowns in his last nine games. Oh, and the first time he faced Pittsburgh this year, he threw for 205 yards and only one score. No thanks.
Ravens defense/special teams: Over the past four games, they have only four fantasy points total. They actually have had negative fantasy points in two of those last four and now are going against the best offense in the NFL. Never thought I'd say this, but start anyone but the Ravens' defense this week.
That's all I have, kids. You can be my cyber-friend and read my personal blog here: http://myespn.go.com/MatthewBerry
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's Senior Director of Fantasy, in charge of content. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a four-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner and the only writer in the industry with wins in multiple sports (NFL, MLB, NBA). Be sure to check him out every Sunday morning on "ESPNEWS Fantasy Insider" at 11 a.m. ET and then on Sunday Countdown on ESPN, usually around 12:05 p.m. ET.
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