- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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I have a lot of opinions.
Frank Gore is not a first-round pick this year. Anne Hathaway's terrible taste in men only makes her more desirable. It's the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, and all other flavors are tied for second.
Opinions, you can argue with. And many of you do, occasionally even using correctly spelled words. That's what makes sports -- and specifically, fantasy sports -- so much fun. The opinions. On your team, on players, on trades that the moron in your stupid league makes every stupid year.
Facts, however, are a different story. You don't have to like them. You don't have to believe that what they say about the past means anything about the future. But you can't argue with them.
Some of these you might have heard or read before, but that doesn't change the fact that these are
50 Facts You Need To Know Before You Draft
(And some random nuggets that might be slightly interesting)
1. Last year, there were seven games -- almost half a season -- in which Peyton Manning threw only one or zero touchdowns.
2. Tom Brady has had more than 500 passing attempts each of the past three seasons. Even if you take out last year, Brady has a career completion percentage of 62 percent. Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Ben Watson all return for the New England Patriots.
3. In the final five weeks of last season, Carson Palmer had only five touchdown passes. Three of those five came in Week 17, when many leagues don't play. If you remove the Week 2 air assault on Cleveland, when Palmer threw six scores, he had only 20 touchdowns in 15 games. He also had 20 interceptions, tied for the most in the NFL.
4. David Garrard averaged 15.4 fantasy points a game last year. He played only 12 games. In a 16-game season, that equals 246 points, which would have been 10th-best in the NFL last year. If you take out the Colts game, in which he was injured early, Garrard averaged 16.6 points a game. Over a 16-game season, that's 265.6 points, which would have been as much as Matt Hasselbeck and more than Carson Palmer, tied for eighth-best among quarterbacks.
5. I'm fairly high on David Garrard this year.
6. There were only 10 games last season in which Jon Kitna had both Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson healthy and on the field at the same time. In those 10 games, Kitna had 2,741 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Spread out over a 16-game season, that translates to 4,386 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Those numbers equate to 237 fantasy points, which would have been the 11th most last year among quarterbacks. Yes, there is no Mike Martz, but there's also no established run game or strong defense.
7. Here's the first 11 weeks of matchups for Aaron Rodgers (I've bolded a few, I'll let you guess what they all have in common): Minnesota, at Detroit, Dallas, at Tampa Bay, Atlanta, at Seattle, Indianapolis, bye week, at Tennessee, at Minnesota, Chicago. And during the fantasy playoffs of Week 15 and 16, he plays at Jacksonville and at Chicago.
8. Over the final five weeks of the season, only three quarterbacks threw more touchdown passes than Chris Redman.
9. There were only five games last season in which Jay Cutler threw more than one touchdown pass.
10. In the final three years he was at Kansas City, Al Saunders, Marc Bulger's new offensive coordinator, never had a starting quarterback throw for fewer than 3,800 yards.
11. I have a total girly dog named Macy. I have no idea what breed she is. She's a rescue. The love I have for my small girly dog borders on the ridiculous.
12. Only three teams had more passing plays of 25-plus yards than the Arizona Cardinals.
13. In the final eight games of last season, Kurt Warner had more touchdown passes than anyone in the NFL. Including Tom Brady.
14. Last year, only Tom Brady had more red zone pass attempts than Drew Brees.
15. Since 2002, Drew Brees has the third most attempts, completions and yardage to tight ends among NFL quarterbacks.
16. Jeremy Shockey is now a member of the Saints.
17. No one had more total yards from scrimmage last season than Brian Westbrook. He had only one fumble all season. One. He had 14 (of 15 played) games last season with double-digit fantasy points. Adrian Peterson had only nine. In fact, speaking of "All Day "
18. Adrian Peterson had single-digit fantasy points in four of his final six games, and 2004 was the last year that Adrian Peterson played every game on his schedule. That was his freshman year in college.
19. Tarvaris Jackson is the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. In 12 games last year, he threw nine touchdown passes. To put it another way, last season, Tarvaris Jackson threw only nine more touchdown passes than Janet Jackson.
20. You might think I'm somewhat well-known, but if you're in the customer service game, my Dad, Leonard L. Berry, is a rock star. People are loving his new book. And I'm not only a company man, I'm a family man. I gotta repay his sending me to college somehow, right? Then there's that whole giving me life thing. If you are in management or know someone who is, then "Management Lessons from the Mayo Clinic" is the book for you!
21. Eli Manning has thrown fewer touchdowns in the second half of the season than he did in the first half for three straight seasons.
22. The three most obvious and lame insults people use about me are some variation of "Change your name to the 'Un-talented Mr. Roto,'" "They pay you for this crap?" and "I bet I would wipe the floor with you in a league." I am fine with the insults -- it comes with the job -- but seriously, if you're gonna do it, have some originality. Don't just phone in your hate with something hacky. Have some pride, my man. Come up with something clever.
23. Last year, Matt Schaub's completion percentage was 66.4 percent, fifth-best in the NFL. Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer are among the players with a lower completion percentage. Schaub's yards-per-attempt average was sixth-best. He played only 11 games.
24. Last year, only three teams attempted more rushing plays than the Oakland Raiders. Only five teams averaged more rushing yards per game. Justin Fargas has played all 16 games in a season just once in a five-year career.
25. Only one running back had more goal-line carries last year than Joseph Addai.
28. Fred Taylor has played at least 15 games in four of the past six seasons. And 14 or more in five of the past six. His yards per carry have gone up each of the past three years. He had double-digit fantasy points in six of his past seven games played.
29. There is a Steven Jackson on the Kansas City roster. Here's why you care: See, we have this whiz-bang, cool new auction draft capability on the site, right? So apparently some folks have been in the online auction and thrown out the Chiefs' Steven Jackson before the one you'd actually want, and folks are bidding like crazy. Although I find this hilarious and very cleverly devious, you should know about it. Also, the games team has removed the "other" Steven Jackson from the player pool for just this reason. But if you are in other auctions, drafts or what-have-you heads up. Also, in case you didn't catch that plug, we have auction capability (along with keeper capability) for free on ESPN.com. (I'm a company man).
30. Remember, I'm also a family man. Congrats to my brother and his new fiancée.
31. LenDale White had single-digit fantasy points in five of his final eight games.
32. 2003 was the last time the Carolina Panthers had a 1,000-yard rusher.
33. Despite his missing eight games last season, only two running backs have more touches in the past two years than Larry Johnson. And despite missing those eight games, Johnson was stuffed 26 times, 13th most in the NFL. Johnson's yards per carry have gone down each of the past three years.
34. In a four-year career, Michael Turner has only 11 receptions.
35. Only four teams had more rushing touchdowns last year than the New England Patriots. Six players had rushing touchdowns for the Patriots, but none had more than six.
36. In the past two seasons, no wide receiver has more yards than Reggie Wayne.
37. If you ignore his rookie year, when he returned kicks, and 2004, when he was injured all year, Steve Smith's two worst statistical seasons were the two seasons that he played with Muhsin Muhammad.
38. Muhsin Muhammad is now back with the Carolina Panthers.
39. Steve Smith has played all 16 games only twice. This stat will be true next year, as well. His yards-per-catch average has gone down for three straight years. He has scored double-digit touchdowns only once.
40. After saying at the beginning of the baseball season that I would date at least one sane woman this year, it's worth noting that in the past six months I broke up with someone after four dates because she told me I was "not being emotionally supportive of her dog."
41. I did not make up the above quote.
43. Speaking of double-digit touchdowns, Chad Johnson has had double-digit touchdowns only once in his career, as well. And never with Carson Palmer.
44. The all-time worst episode of "Beverly Hills, 90210" is when Brenda finds an old diary in her room from a teenage girl who used to live there in the '60's. She starts reading and flashes back, with her and the rest of the cast in the roles of the diary girl's story. At the end of it, she utters the worst line in the history of 90210. She's crying; Brandon comes into her room to ask what's wrong. She turns to him, tears on her face, and wails, "I still love Dylan." Now, that might seem like an opinion, but trust me. I've seen every episode of that stupid show. Love that show. It's terrible, make no mistake, but I absolutely love it. Nate and I will do a special 90210-only podcast very soon. Seriously. I could talk about that show all day.
45. Torry Holt has missed only two games in nine years. He has double-digit touchdowns in three of the past five and 93 receptions each of the past two years.
46. Over the past four years, only four receivers have more receiving yards than Donald Driver. Driver has had at least 1,000 yards and 80 receptions for four straight years.
47. In Weeks 12 through 16 last season, Anthony Gonzalez was top 10 in receiving yards and had three touchdowns.
48. Amani Toomer was a top-12 wide receiver last year in red zone targets.
49. Sidney Rice had three touchdowns in his last six games.
51. In the final eight games of last season, only 14 wide receivers had more receiving yards than Justin Gage. Yes, Justin Gage.
52. I can't tell the future. I have been playing fantasy sports for almost 25 years; I've won more leagues than I can remember; I have a shelf-load of awards and nominations; and I've been getting paid to do this for almost a decade now. But I can't tell the future. I can make educated guesses based on trends, research and experience. But there will be times this year when I am wrong. You should not follow my advice -- or anyone else's -- blindly. Your team, you should manage it.
53. Sometimes I feel I have to write really obvious stuff because it's obvious that it's not obvious to everyone.
54. Antonio Gates had single-digit fantasy points in four of his final five games.
55. Only five players in the NFL were targeted more in the red zone last year than Dallas Clark. None of those five is a tight end. Or a Colt.
56. Starting in Week 12 of last season, only four tight ends had more yards than Tony Scheffler. Only two had more touchdowns.
57. The difference between the No. 1 fantasy defense last season (San Diego) and the No. 10 (Tennessee) was four points a game. The difference between the Patriots and Bears defense (the most commonly top-picked defenses last year) and the 10th defense was two points a game. Two. You want to grab San Diego after you have your starting lineup? Fine. But otherwise, you should not be taking a defense until the second-to-last round.
58. The reason you take a defense in the second-to-last round is because you take a kicker in the last round. The difference between the No. 1 fantasy kicker and the No. 10 fantasy kicker is fewer than two points a game. Seriously, throw a dart. The difference between kickers, year after year, is statistically insignificant.
59. I'm glad that I have a Wikipedia page, but it's fairly incomplete. I get tons of e-mails asking about "How I got here." There are two articles about me that don't tell the whole story either but do fill in a few more blanks. This one from the Sports Business Journal, and this bio page. I hate the picture of me in both of them.
60. Fantasy football is fun. It's a hobby. It's a hobby we all care very, very passionately about, but it's a hobby. For fun. When you find yourself firing off angry e-mails and freaking out about trades and a shady commish, it's time for a new league.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a Sports Emmy winner for his work on Fantasy Football Now and a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price.
7hThomas McKean, ESPN Stats & Information