The answer will surprise you.
Hold that thought.
The problem, frankly, is everyone else.
Hold that one, too. We'll be back.
I stared at my friend. "You're kidding."
"Nope. I swear."
"I was there. I saw it. He speaks the truth."
It was a number of years ago, back when I was a writer in Hollywood. I was sitting with two buddies of mine and one of them was telling me a story. Now, my friend is hilarious. Truly one of the funniest people I've ever met and very successful. But a good-looking guy he isn't.
So you can imagine my disbelief when he told me the story of him picking up a very beautiful and insanely famous movie star and bringing her back to his place.
"Same night. She wants to fly me to Paris this weekend. She's there doing press for [her most recent movie]."
The other friend nods. "Crazy."
My jaw was on the floor. I mean, this woman was at the height of her fame, having won an Oscar the year before. And while my friend actually did fairly well with women, I mean, come on. This was a totally different level. She had been named one of People's 50 most beautiful people that year, she was at least 10 years younger than my friend, she was followed by paparazzi wherever she went.
I told him I was impressed and amazed with his game. That I had no idea how he managed to hook up with this woman.
What he said next surprised me. But since you're already busy holding two thoughts, go ahead and put a pin in that one while I open up my mailbag from years past.
Brett (San Diego, Calif.): Have you ever actually seen Frank Gore play??? From the comments you made … it shows you haven't.
Matt (Houston, Texas): I don't know what Frank Gore has done to you personally, but it seems like it's clouding your professional judgment.
T.J. (Detroit, Mich.): Why do you hate Frank Gore?
There is a perception out there that I am anti-Frank Gore, and the truth is … I'm not. At all. Every year, every week even, my opinion on someone can change based on circumstance.
In 2006, the first "big break" I got with ESPN was when the network cast me as the "fantasy guy" to Ron Jaworski's "football guy" for a show called "The Fantasy Show," which also notably featured "Survivor" winner and Kansas City sports radio host Danni Boatwright.
That preseason was leading into Gore's rookie year and also Norv Turner's first year running the San Francisco 49ers' offense and I talked at length about how Norv likes to use his running backs. Gore was a major sleeper for me that year and one who obviously worked out well, for both Frank and I.
ESPN and I then made a much longer, more formal agreement after the show was done and my life was changed forever. So actually, I have a special place in my heart for ol' Frank. But over the years, based on who was coaching, where he was going in drafts and what I expected of him, he's been on both my love and hate lists.
But still, the perception that I hate this man remains, which is why it might shock you to learn I love Frank Gore this year. I have him at No. 4 overall, which is higher than I've seen him anywhere else. (He's currently going eighth overall according to our live draft results.)
In fact, I love all the 49ers. Love them so much this year that (devoted 49ers fan) Stephania Bell is embarrassed for me.
Here's part of our player profile on Gore, written by the terrific Christopher Harris: "Take away three rushing touchdowns of at least 64 yards (two of which occurred in the same game), and Gore winds up with 897 rush yards and less than 4 yards per carry." (You can click here to read the whole profile.)
Here's my counter: Including the Week 3 Minnesota game in which he had one carry for 4 yards before being injured, Gore missed three games last year. The offensive line play was poor, especially when tackle Joe Staley missed seven games. As a result of that and other factors, only two teams in the NFL attempted fewer rushes than the 49ers.
And yet Gore was still the sixth-best fantasy running back last season.
Try to remember what offense the 49ers ran last year. And then tell me which week you chose, because the offense changed week to week. Remember, this is an offense that started the season with Shaun Hill at quarterback and didn't start Alex Smith until Week 8. That had Michael Crabtree hold out. That was without Gore for a few weeks. That didn't have Vernon Davis really emerge as a consistent weekly threat until Week 7 against Houston.
It was constantly in flux. Now, this year, they go out and draft offensive linemen in the first round that are both 6-foot-5 and more than 300 pounds. Bruisers. Smith, Crabtree, Davis and Gore are all firmly entrenched in their roles. They finally get to have a full offseason and training camp to all play together. They will have much more of a balanced attack.
Now look at the schedule: at Seattle, New Orleans, at Kansas City, at Atlanta, Philadelphia, Oakland, at Carolina, Denver, Bye, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, at Arizona, at Green Bay, Seattle, at San Diego, at St. Louis, Arizona.
How many defenses on that list scare you? Only two of their opponents (Green Bay and Carolina) were top-10 in limiting points allowed last year. Green Bay, Atlanta and Philly are the only top-10 rush defenses. I love this schedule, especially for the fantasy playoffs.
Gore, Crabtree, Davis, Josh Morgan and Smith are all on my love list this year. I think Davis might regress a little bit, but he'll still be an elite tight end.
Which brings us back to perception and my friend who had hooked up with the beautiful movie star. How, I asked, did you manage to hit on her successfully?
And he said, very simply: "I actually don't think it's that hard to hook up with her. I think the tough part is getting near her. I just happened to be at the right small party."
Told you the answer would surprise you.
I remember his story when I think about fantasy sports. (I also think of it every time I see her in a movie. Especially because, um, he wasn't shy about details.) Just like my buddy's night, an athlete's fantasy sports value is often more about opportunity than actual skill. It's also about perception.
The perception of this actress by most was one of glamour and being unattainable. The reality, according to my friend, was that she was kind of lonely and fairly open to his advances.
Back to the second thought you've been holding on to: the problem is everyone else. You see, as you approach your drafts, it's not really about how good players are but how good you perceive them to be. That's a key difference.
And it's not just how you value every player, but what perception the rest of the guys in your league have of all the players. Doing mock drafts and, if possible, studying drafting trends of your league's previous drafts can help you do this. And if nothing else, look at those live draft results to have a general idea of where guys are going, so you can make sure to jump a bit early to get the players you want.
And that's what "Love/Hate" is all about. Many of you are familiar with the "Love/Hate" concept, but for those who are new to it, it's basically this: I go off of our current ESPN live draft positions, which are based on ESPN standard, 10-team leagues. Players I "love" are guys I would reach a round or two earlier to get. Guys I "hate" are players I feel are being overvalued and I wouldn't want them unless they dropped at least a round or two from where they were going.
It's that simple. If you have a question about how I feel about a specific player versus another,
consult my rankings. I'll be keeping them updated throughout the preseason.
A few final pieces of advice about this article. First, use your head. Just because I "love" Michael Bush and "hate" LeSean McCoy doesn't mean I think you should take "Reggae Bush" over LeSean. It's all relative to where they are being drafted, meaning I would go a round or two early on Bush (currently going in the 11th, I have him ranked as a ninth-rounder) and wouldn't draft McCoy until the fifth, even though his current draft position has him going in the fourth. Don't be a moron. Or, if you choose to be a moron, don't blame me for it. Remember, only a poor craftsman blames his tool. That's all I am, your tool. Wait, that came out wrong. Which is odd, since I used that joke last year. Huh. You'd think I'd have fixed that by now.
Second, sometimes I give analysis about why a player is on one list or the other, other times I'll just try to make a joke, because a column of nothing but stats is boring. But trust that I've done the research. Or don't. I survived ninth grade, I'll survive your doubt.
Third, one complaint that comes up is that there are too many love players and not enough hate. That's just the nature of the beast. It doesn't do you any good to say I hate Jake Delhomme. His value and rank already reflect that he is not highly thought of. So you're really only choosing "hate" from the guys that are considered at a high enough level to be drafted with big expectations, which pretty much eliminates anyone in the lower rounds. The guys I "love" can come from anywhere, from the first round to the last. I try to balance it between wanting to be comprehensive and hitting a number of the guys I have ranked higher and lower while not going totally nuts on every single player. And it's long, as you've already figured out. But so what? It's the preseason. You've got nothing better to do anyway.
Fourth, the players are listed in no real particular order other than what I thought was the most readable version between stat-heavy stuff and jokes. There's nothing to take from the order as far as loving one.
Which brings us, finally, to this year's football edition of "Guys I Love, Guys I Hate."
2010 Players I Love:
Da Bears: In Mike Martz I trust. OK, that's not actually true. I mean, if I did that thing where you're supposed to close your eyes, fall backwards and have someone catch you, Martz wouldn't be the guy I'd choose, you know? And now that I think of it, I wouldn't ask him to watch my dog. Or loan him money. Or let him near my girlfriend because clearly, any woman with me has a thing for egotistical guys.
But, and this is the key, Martz has the weapons to have the Bears putting up big fantasy numbers across the board. If you read me last year, you know how much I hated Jay Cutler (and by the end of the year, all of his owners joined me), but under Martz, Cutler will put up numbers. He'll also throw tons of picks, because he's gonna get pressured, but I actually like him much more than last year.
Devin Aromashodu, WR: Things I don't have in common with Jay Cutler … a contract worth $49 million, a Twitter account (http://twitter.com/JayCutler6) that follows country singer Miranda Lambert and a rumored romance with Julia Allison, who apparently is famous for things like rumored romances.
Things I do have in common with Jay Cutler: I love me some Devin Aromashodu. One of my guys I am planting the proverbial flag on, I'm not caught up on whether he's gonna start or be the third WR to start the year. They'll be throwing enough for everyone. He's a bigger target than either Hester or Knox, he's fast and -- this is the key -- has a good connection with Cutler. In the final four games of 2009, Devin A. had 22 receptions for 282 yards and four scores. More importantly, in that time frame, he was tied for fifth in the NFL in targets with 39, same as Miles Austin. And the next highest guy on the Bears was Greg Olsen, with 24. Injuries to others played some part in that, but Cutler clearly likes to look for Devin and so do I. Uh, in my drafts.
Matt Forte, RB: The hate from former owners is so strong after last year that I believe he could be a bargain this year. ESPN researcher Gregory Found looked at every running back under Mike Martz and while we all know the crazy numbers the Rams and Marshall Faulk put up, it's worth noting that the past four runners under Martz (Gore, Kevin Jones twice and Steven Jackson in '05) have all had at least eight touchdowns every year. And that's with Jones missing games both seasons.
By the way, interesting to note that according to Elias, in the past 10 years as a head coach and offensive coordinator, Martz has called for passing plays in the red zone 687 times. And running plays 645 times. Just saying, Forte is a good fit for him.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles: An Andy Reid offense has been among the top 10 in pass attempts and passing yardage each of the past six seasons. The Eagles are fielding the most talented group of receivers they've ever had in Philly, and like the Packers did with Aaron Rodgers the year after Brett Favre left Green Bay, there's a desire to do everything possible to make it look like the right move to run Donovan McNabb out of town. Big year for Kolb. Big year.
Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons: Trust me when I tell you no one was more aware of Michael Turner's injury last year than me (ahem). But I'm guessing the Falcons were a close second and they saw Snelling fill in decently for Turner over the second half of the season. The plans are to limit Turner's workload this year, but they are still gonna run the ball, which means he'll get a little more work than the average backup and he's a key handcuff, whether you own Turner or simply want to screw over the guy who does.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: Yep, still wacko for Flacco. Attention people who enjoy writing angry e-mails: I am aware I didn't create that phrase. I am also aware that where I rank Flacco and where he is being drafted is basically identical. But while I never claimed to invent the phrase, I believe that Flacco, fully healthy in his third year, with Derrick Mason back, another year of Ray Rice and the addition of Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth, has by far the most upside of any quarterback who isn't one of the top guys and I enjoy angering those who write angry e-mails by not giving them something to write angrily about. Now you'll just have to write your angry e-mail about one of the other 66 players I mention.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens: No one at your draft is going to write (or type) "Ooooh, good pick!" when you select Mason. He's been around forever, he's not sexy, he's old, blah, snooze, blah. But he's had three straight 1,000-yard seasons, he was top-15 in the NFL in targets last year, he was the 17th-best fantasy wideout in 2009 and yet is being drafted as the No. 41 wideout this season. What? Yes, they now have Anquan Boldin there. But, um, we've seen other wide receivers do OK when playing opposite Boldin, haven't we? They will continue to let Flacco do more and more with the offense and while Boldin adjusts, Flacco has good old Mason out there, someone he knows and trusts. Mason's targets will go down, but so will the defensive attention to him.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: Currently going two rounds later than C.J. Spiller, I said it on our podcast and I will say it here: Fred Jackson will be the best fantasy running back in Buffalo this year. Did you know he was actually the 16th best fantasy running back last year? He'll get the majority of touches compared to Spiller (who is more of a home run threat). ESPN researcher Gregory Found, of Matt Forte entry fame, also looked at running backs under new Bills coach Chan Gailey for me.
Check out these stats:
Running backs under Chan Gailey
Two things jump out. First, there's no time-share here. At all. Obviously, you have an Emmitt Smith, he's your workhorse. But you can't tell me Lamar Smith is some amazing talent that had to have 300 touches. Gainey's MO has been that one guy carries the majority of the load. Spiller is not built to be that kind of guy.
Second, notice how many receptions the second guy gets in each case despite not being on the field nearly as much. Some of that is dictated by the skill level of both runners at catching passes, but still. Even though Jackson is a very good pass-catcher (further underscoring him as the guy in this offense), Spiller will see a good many balls. Both are talented, but Jackson will represent the far better fantasy value this year.
James Jones, WR, Packers: As required by fantasy analyst law.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: Interesting stat: There are only seven running backs who have had at least 1,100 total yards from scrimmage for the past three seasons: Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Thomas Jones, Marion Barber, and yes, Ryan Grant.
Better stat: Last season, there were only five teams with at least 20 rushing touchdowns: the Ravens, Dolphins, Saints, Jets and Packers. All of those teams had two runners rush the ball at least 100 times. All except Green Bay. Grant is another non-sexy name that won't make anyone go "ooooh" at your draft, but he's also got very limited downside, and that's what makes him a great value.
Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals: He's just a heartbeat away. Or a hip. Or a suspension. Or a crazy meltdown. Or a dreadlocks getting caught in a revolving door and buckling a guy's knee backward.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Did you know that Jonathan is the son of beloved actor and American icon Jimmy Stewart? You don't, but that's only because it's untrue. Just like the fact a "backup" running back isn't a viable fantasy starter. From Week 6 to Week 10, The Daily Show and DeAngelo Williams put up double-digit performances in the same week three times. Stewart went on to be the lead rusher in four of the final five Panthers games due to Williams' injury, and that contributed to Stewart's double-digit points in seven of his final 10 games. To give you a comparison, Adrian Peterson had only four in his final 10.
Now sure, 10 games is an arbitrary point to pick and DeAngelo Williams missing four of those games helps, fine. But if you're gonna nitpick, we'll be here all day. Look, I understand the doubters. In addition to Williams being around, Stewart has health issues. But frankly, every running back does, and as we note in our ESPN Fantasy Magazine, when the Panthers were inside an opponent's 10-yard line, they ran it 67 percent of the time, third most in the NFL. And who led the team in goal-line touches? Exactly. Stewart became the player we all thought he could be last year and the way the Panthers run the rock, there's more than enough fantasy goodness to go around.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns: Just wanted to prove I could spell his name. As bad as Delhomme is, he's better than what they had last year and I think you'll actually see sort of a poor man's Panthers this year in Cleveland. Heavy on the run between Jerome Harrison and Montario Hardesty (shades of Williams and Stewart) to help set up deep passes to Chainsaw (like the original Steve Smith). Dude averaged more than 18 yards a catch last year and, um, I think the Browns are gonna be behind some this year, ya know?
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys: Look, I have a special place in my heart for Miles Austin. He's a friend of the podcast and on the Sunday morning of Week 5 last year, I told the audience of "Fantasy Football Now" (on ESPN2 and ESPN.com) to go grab him off the wire right then -- he was starting for Roy Williams and would have a big day versus Kansas City -- easily my best game-day call of the year. (You'll notice Chris Jennings is nowhere to be found on that list. Ahem.)
Now, liking Austin this year is fairly obvious, but I have him as my third overall wide receiver and 10 slots ahead of where he's being drafted. Starting in Week 5 of last year, when he became a starter, through the rest of the year, Austin led the NFL in yardage and in plays of more than 25 yards, was third in yards after catch, was tied for third in touchdowns, was fifth in receptions and eighth in targets. The addition of Dez Bryant will force defenses to play Austin honest and I expect another monster year from him.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Apparently it's only me and petite blondes who like Romo. You know how good Drew Brees was last year, right? He averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game (not counting Week 17). Romo averaged 15.7 a game, or less than two points a week fewer than the multi-ESPY-award-winning Brees. He's going two rounds after where I ranked him and with Austin, Bryant, Jason Witten and Felix Jones, there are a lot, lot, lot of weapons.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: One of these years …
Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: Another guy who will come up in my next rankings update, I agree with the assessment my podcast co-host Nate Ravitz made in ESPN The Magazine: Less work might be a good thing for Barber. His 16 touchdowns in 2006 came when he averaged fewer than 10 carries a game. Remember my Ryan Grant stat? Well Barber is also one of only seven guys to have at least 1,100 total yards in three consecutive years.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Gets a new lease on Weis! What? That sort of rhymes with life. It does, too. And it's not a terrible pun. Just a bad one. Look, I'm not proud of this entry and you won't be proud when you take him. But both will get the job done better than you thought. Now, hand me that plate of Weis and beans. What?
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions: I ranked him way too low in my last rankings. That'll be changed in my next update, but while he needs to stay healthy (don't we all), word out of Detroit is that they will be a run-first team to set up the play-action and I believe they want Best to be the guy, regardless of Kevin Smith's health.
Nate Burleson, WR, Lions: He's playing in Scott Linehan's offense and across from a big-name wide receiver. Just like, you know, in 2004 in Minnesota, when he had more than 1,000 yards and 10 total touchdowns, his second year in the league. Now, Randy Moss missed five games that year and Nate scored in four of those, but still. He's a good player on a team that will be down and for what it will cost to get him, he is well worth the flier.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Calling my shot in early July. He's the Texans running back with the most fantasy points at the end of the year.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts: If you play fantasy baseball, you know the story of David Price, who had lots of hype two years ago, did nothing, went much later in drafts this season and finally lived up to the hype. Meet football's answer to David Price.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: Last season, despite missing two games, Pierre Thomas led the Saints in offensive touches with 186. No. 2, Mike Bell, now plays on the Eagles. Look, I know Thomas was frustratingly up and down last year, that Sean Payton will mix up his play calling and lots of people not named Kardashian love Reggie Bush this year. And I'll even say I bet Lynell Hamilton, a sleeper for me in deep leagues, gets in the mix. But Thomas is going almost two rounds lower than I rank him and for me, if you have a chance to get the guy who touches the ball the most on the most explosive offense in the league, you think strongly about it.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: See Jones, James.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets: First-round production you can get in the second.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: Look, there's lots of reasons to hate Mark Sanchez. The crazy hot girlfriends, the run-first offense, the poor judgment displayed in agreeing to the photo seen here. But after his strong playoffs and the addition of Santonio Holmes, plus a full year of Braylon Edwards, another year with Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller, Sanchez has some weapons and a great run game that will command most defenses' attention. Do I think he'll be awesome? No. But I do think, for a bye week/No. 2 guy, he has a lot of upside and is going very late.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: Will lead Jets WRs in fantasy points, lack of drops, lack of suspensions and third-grade giggles at his last name.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: See Brown, Donald.
Da Raiders: I'm as surprised as you, but turns out there's not just leather, spikes and a half-furnished Hammer's mansion in Oakland, but in fact, there's lots of fantasy value there, as well. Start with Michael Bush, who, as Keith Lipscomb noted in our magazine, has the following stat: In the five career games Bush has gotten more than 15 touches, he's averaged 134.8 yards from scrimmage. The Redskins had a lot of problems last year but Jason Campbell wasn't one of them. Now he's on an offense that plays to his strengths and as a result, he should be among the first "No. 2" quarterbacks taken.
Remember that Campbell likes his tight end. "His" is a very important word in that last sentence, incidentally. Much better than, say, "a." Anyways, he targeted Chris Cooley, Fred Davis and Todd Yoder a combined 21 times in the red zone last year, which, had it been one player, would have tied for third in the NFL among tight ends. Miller was sixth in the NFL in yards after the catch; if he can actually get the ball, he can do things with it. Campbell will get him the ball. And I think the Raiders' young receivers are interesting late-round picks, starting with Chaz Schilens and friend of the podcast Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers.: See Nicks, Hakeem.
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: If you are in a deep league and you wait on tight end, it's worth noting that Heath was fifth in red zone targets at the position last season.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks: It's a mess in Seattle and if Leon Washington turns out healthy, as Pete Carroll talked about on our podcast it further muddies the picture. But ultimately talent wins out, he's the best guy they have there and he's going in the ninth round. I have him ranked in the fifth and will gladly take him in the seventh. (And that, kids, is how you use rankings and live draft results to your advantage).
Da Chargers: As I said when I told my buddy's story about the beautiful movie star, life and fantasy sports are often more about opportunity than actual skill. Which brings us to the San Diego Super Chargers.
Ryan Mathews, RB: He isn't the most talented running back among rookies, but he should be the first one drafted and could very easily wind up as a top-10 runner this year. Norv Turner told the San Diego Union Tribune that he wants Mathews to get around 290 touches this year. Kids, that's a lot. And even with all of the Bolts' problems running the ball last year, they still had 17 rushing touchdowns, 11th best in the NFL. When Norv gets close, he runs the ball and Mathews is the guy who is gonna get the rock.
Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee, WRs: Opportunity will also knock for this pair of wide receivers who will be a significant part of a high-flying passing offense that will be without Vincent Jackson for at least three games (and potentially more) while V Jax holds out. Floyd is a really interesting No. 3 and I'd take Naanee with a late-round flier in every draft I could. Oh, and try to get yourself invited to small parties where hot, famous actresses hang out.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans: He's a Britt. House. He's mighty mighty. Letting it all hang out.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: People are gonna say this is me being a Redskins homer for this pick, but seriously, he's been a first- or second-round pick every year of his career and these days he's going in the eighth. People are concerned about the Russian roulette Mike Shanahan is known for playing with running backs, but Portis had his most productive years playing under Shanny.
People are worried about his health, but prior to last year, he had two straight years of playing all 16 games and had missed just 12 games in the seven years prior to '09. People are worried about all the other running backs there, but I'm not sure Willie Parker makes the team and I actually think Larry Johnson being there helps, as it will save a little wear and tear on Portis during the year. In short, I disagree with the people. One last thing and, this will shock you … he's only 29. Oh, it's an old 29. But still. Just 29 and a better-than-average chance to be the lead back on a decent offense. Eighth round. Come on.
Player A: 62 receptions on 117 targets, 1,156 yards, 40 first downs, 9 receiving TDs, 9 red zone targets, 420 yards after catch, 14 receptions of 25 yards or more.
Player B: 70 receptions on 120 targets, 902 yards, 40 first downs, 3 receiving TDs, 15 red zone targets, 400 yards after catch, 8 receptions of 25 yards or more.
Player A averaged about 15 more yards a week last year than Player B, had six more plays of 25 yards or more and the touchdowns are a big discrepancy. But everything else? Pretty close.
Player A is DeSean Jackson. Player B? Santana Moss.
Now, I'm not saying Moss is Jackson. But touchdowns are hard to predict, especially since Jackson isn't a huge red zone target. And can't at least some of the big plays be chalked up to a better quarterback? (Campbell actually had a better completion percentage than McNabb last year, but he also rarely threw downfield. Philly had 22 more completions of 20 yards or more in '09.) Energized by a new offense and quarterback, Moss could be Jackson Light this year.
Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins: Will go late due to his injury last year but McNabb loves throwing to the tight end.
2010 Players I Hate
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: He's a big name and he has two first ones. And I know he was banged up last year, but that doesn't change the fact it's a run-first team and there's very little that's different this year than last, when Ryan underwhelmed from a fantasy perspective week after week after week. He had more than two touchdown passes in only two games last year; that's not a lot. He was 20th in terms of red zone pass attempts. Oh, and he was 23rd in terms of completions of 20-plus yards, too. So he's not throwing it in close or throwing it long … what are we excited about again?
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: In addition to tight end being very deep this year, he had his lowest target total in three years last season. Oh, and see above.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: Please see Jackson, Fred.
Greg Olsen, TE, Bears: In a Martz offense, the tight end is much more of a blocker. So, you know, if you get points for that, draft away!
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Cedric Benson up the middle for 4. Second down now and Benson is off left tackle, gain of 3. Palmer back to pass, Chad Ochocinco … is doing the foxtrot? In the middle of the route! Pass is off target, incomplete. Fourth down.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals: "Dancing With the Stars." A dating reality show. An iPhone app. These are things I should be doing during an offseason, not the accomplishments of a professional football wide receiver. With the exception of a huge game against Detroit, Ochocinco was fairly terrible over the second half of last year but was bailed out by four straight weeks of scoring, but you can't count on that. Double-digit touchdowns only once in his career and Antonio Bryant will steal enough catches off of this run-first offense to make Chad a No. 3 wideout who will get drafted as a No. 2.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions: On the plus side, he can't get hurt if he's on the bench.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: Let's play again:
Player A: 84 receptions, 1,483 yards, 17.7 yards per catch, 9 touchdowns.
Player B: 55 receptions, 790 yards, 14.4 yards per catch, 6 touchdowns.
Player A? Santana Moss in 2005. Player B? Santana Moss in 2006. My colleague Christopher Harris is fond of saying this, but it bears repeating: Speed guys who consistently need big plays for their fantasy value are a risky proposition. Ask anyone who owned Moss in 2006 but was forced to draft him based on 2005's production.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans: I'm a Jacoby Jones guy and even if Walter manages to hold him off, he's got Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and a bunch of running backs to fight for the ball. He'll be even lower in my next rankings update.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Single-digit fantasy points in seven of his past nine games. Folks will point out that we shouldn't count Weeks 16 and 17 in that because he didn't really play, but you know that'll happen again this year. There's lots and lots of other weapons in Indy and his 12.6 yards per catch last year was the lowest of his career since 2003. Fourth-round production you have to draft in the second.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me many times, shame on Ronnie Brown and your inexplicable reason to be continually drawn to him despite knowing he's bad for you. Like me and Nutter Butters. Anyways, as our player profile notes, dude has never topped 1,008 rushing yards in a season and has missed nine games the past three years.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins: New team, new quarterback, injury issues and has to go to Revis Island twice.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Remember that year he lived up to the hype? No, seriously, I'm asking. Because I can't.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets: On the plus side, it's hard to drop the ball when you're blocking. Or clapping for Santonio.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Let's have some fun with stats.
In each of the past three seasons, the Eagles have been in the top 10 in the NFL in pass attempts.
In each of the past three seasons, the Eagles have been in the bottom 10 in rush attempts.
Offensive touches for the 2009 Eagles inside an opponent's 10-yard line:
Look, I think he'll be good. What I don't think is he's the reincarnation of Brian Westbrook. He's not the run-blocker or pass-catcher that Westbrook was in this offense. They have a lot of guys, including newly acquired Mike Bell, Leonard Weaver and Mike Vick around the goal line not to mention Jackson, Maclin and Celek.
Da Seahawks: Except Justin Forsett, of course. The truth is … we don't know. Football, especially the fantasy version of it, is filled with unpredictability. And that's when we know what to expect. I honestly have no idea what to expect out of Seattle and Pete Carroll. I don't think his stint in New England is that informative and much depends on the health of Matt Hasselbeck, the offensive line and the development of Golden Tate. I think John Carlson could be interesting and certainly we've seen T.J. Houshmandzadeh be successful in this league, but honestly, other than Forsett or maybe Carlson in a deeper league, I'm avoiding this until we get more clarity. Which will be after the season starts.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins: As a Redskins fan, I love McNabb and am thrilled he's there. I've met him a few times and he's a great guy who will be a terrific influence in the clubhouse. And I feel he'll play well. I worry about his protection and while I think McNabb raises the value of everyone around him, I'm afraid from a fantasy perspective, everyone around him lowers the value of McNabb, who for me isn't a starter in a 10-team league, and is borderline in a 12-teamer.
There you have it, "Love/Hate" for 2010 is a wrap. Now, who wants to invite me to an intimate dinner party?
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- both loves and hates this column more each year. 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. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend