Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto: Love/Hate for Week 2

Updated: September 11, 2008, 5:36 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Let's start this week's Love/Hate with a quick glance at the mailbag … which in itself is a different version of love/hate.

Joe Cudia (Blacksburg): I just wanted to thank you for being so high on Chris Johnson. I had e-mailed both [another prominent Web site] and [someone else at ESPN], and both sources said to start Chris Perry over Johnson. But I stuck with Johnson and got the win. Now if you had just told me to start Eddie Royal over Santonio Holmes, I would have won top-score money!

TMR: Thanks for the kind note, but you won by yourself. You looked at information from different sources, you made the choice, you got the win.

Matthew Berry
Sean Hintz/ESPN.comOne reader doesn't like what Matthew says, but he still tunes in every week. Hmm, must be TMR's charming looks.
Dave (NYC): That's it, Berry! I am officially never listening to your "Start 'em/Sit 'em" segment again. You have always let me down. Always! Lee Evans went for more than a 100 yards [in Week 1], but I ignorantly sat him based on your advice. Funny how you didn't mention that in your Week 1 musings. … Also, I did one draft based entirely on your latest Top 250. I'll report back later with my findings.

TMR: Yeah, missed on Evans, but I was 4-for-6 on my "Sunday Countdown" predictions. I said start Jon Kitna, Chris Johnson and Darren McFadden and sit Derek Anderson, Larry Johnson and Lee Evans. Run-DMC and Evans were wrong calls, although you could argue McFadden that was productive in split time (more than 5 yards per carry) before leaving with a shoulder injury. I actually thought that was a pretty good ratio because none of those guys were obvious starts or sits. But here's the thing I don't understand -- and I'm being serious here -- if you feel I kept letting you down, why did you keep coming back? We have tons of great analysts here. How about Christopher Harris? Or Eric Karabell? Or Tristan Cockcroft? Or Brendan Roberts? And so on. There are tons of talented analysts here; just pick one who suits you better. And this might shock you, but we're not the only Web site that writes about fantasy football. I feel we do it best, obviously, but there are other guys out there whom I respect as well. You're gonna give yourself a conniption fit.

Matt (Miami): I said it last year, and I'll say it again this year. If I ever need fantasy advice, you are the best person to take the opposite side of. You are the worst fantasy football analyst that has ever graced the game. Who lets you keep your job at ESPN, and what kind of drugs are they taking?

TMR: See? There is value to this column. Just do the opposite of what I am about to write. How easy is that? You should love me. Speaking of love …

John (NYC): Matthew, I think I know why you have poor luck with women. You throw around that "Love" term a little too loosely. Love LenDale and Johnson? Love Selvin and Hall? To borrow a line from a fantastic movie, do you really love the lamp, Matthew, or are you just looking at things around the league and saying you love them? I think you should make a Like-Dislike qualifier. Don't hate me, though. I just went off on a tangent here. I do like your column. But I'm serious about the Like-Dislike thing. Your choice if you want to use it.

TMR: I'm sticking with "Love/Hate," John, but I appreciate the sentiment. People do tend to throw those words around too much, and who am I to go against the grain? And yes, I do love that lamp. It graces my dreams, in fact. I want to take it on a romantic vacation and snuggle with it while we watch "90210."

All righty then. The below guys are the ones I feel will do better (love) or worse (hate) than in typical games. I try not to include "obvious" names, but after a Week 1 in which Steven Jackson did nothing and Le'Ron McClain went nuts, a week in which Tarvaris Jackson outscored Tony Romo and Peyton Manning, and in which Jerious Norwood had more fantasy points than LaDainian Tomlinson, is there such a thing as an obvious name?

That said, I try to focus on flex players. And my Flex rankings come out on Friday to confirm my selections. By the way, I was correct on 60 percent of my Love/Hate picks in Week 1, pretty good for the first week of the season. I'll list the results at the bottom for those who care.

Week 2 players I love

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: You knew he'd make this list, right? In his Week 2 rankings reaction column, Tristan Cockcroft asked me about my ranking of Johnson at No. 12 among running backs this week, and this is what I wrote him: "There's no question he's the go-to guy in Tennessee. Consider these facts: Both Johnson and LenDale White had 15 carries last week. Johnson had 93 yards, White had 40. Johnson also had three receptions -- White had none -- for 34 yards, giving him 127 yards on the day. And that was against one of the better run defenses in the NFL in Jacksonville. Now they get to go against the Bengals, who gave up 229 rushing yards to Baltimore. Um, that's a lot. Kerry Collins actually helps the run game here for the Titans because he stretches the field with his arm; the Bengals now must give some respect to the Titans' passing game."

Justin Gage, WR, Titans: Cincy's defense is bad, and in the three games last year in which Kerry Collins saw significant action, Gage had 16 receptions for 234 yards.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: The return of Jason Peters helps a line that ran pretty well without him last week.

Robert Royal, TE, Bills: Poor dude wasn't even the best guy named Royal last week. But if you need a tight end, I say he'll get around 50 yards. Trent Edwards was looking for him a lot Sunday, and the Jags will focus on Lee Evans.

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars: Banged-up offensive line means Garrard will have to run, and he's good on his feet. And passing on rollouts. And at Jenga! At least two of those are true. By the way, Garrard put up almost 300 yards passing and a score last season in a game at home versus the Bills.

Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders: Even in a blowout he averaged more than 5 yards per carry.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: If ever there was a week to have him on my Love list, this is it, against a Raiders team that can't stop anyone.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Four of his five touchdowns last year were thrown by Damon Huard.

Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, Colts: Before you say this is obvious, remember I had Manning on my "hate" list last week (and he didn't have a great game, either). That changes this week against the Vikes.

Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Vikings: You can run on the Colts, and Tarvaris can run. I also could see the Vikings being down in this game and having to air it out. It won't be pretty, but he'll get double-digit fantasy points before all is said and done.

Matt Forte
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMatt Forte looked mighty good against the Colts and should do just as well against the Panthers.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears: "Forte" rhymes with "Mor-tay," which, if I was a comic in the Catskills in the '50s, would totally be my name. (Don't ask how my mind works; I'm not sure myself.) Anyway, opponents averaged a rushing touchdown and more than 100 rushing yards per game against Carolina last season.

All your Packers: Seriously, this could get ugly. Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Ryan Grant should all have good games. And if you want a deep sleeper, how about Brandon Jackson? He had 10 touches to Grant's 12 last week, and if Green Bay gets up big, they'll want to rest Grant against a Lions defense that gave up more than 300 rushing yards last week.

Jon Kitna, Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, Lions: Junk time is Kitna time!

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Last year the Rams gave up 15 passing touchdowns in eight home games, they were among the bottom third in passing yards allowed, and we all saw what Donovan McNabb did to them last Sunday, right?

Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, WR, Giants: See Manning, Eli.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: The Rams? Ha! I call them the St. Louis Lambs. Get it? Clearly, in another life, I was a lame headline writer 20 years past his prime.

Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush, Saints: The beneficiaries of the Marques Colston injury both will step up this week. Deep league owners also should consider Pierre Thomas, who could get a lot of work.

Earnest Graham, RB, Buccaneers: The Bucs are back home, and coach Jon Gruden has promised to get Graham even more touches this week. Plus, the Falcons gave up an average of 143 rushing yards per game on the road last season, and Graham had 200 total yards and two touchdowns in two games versus Atlanta last season.

Brian Griese, QB, Buccaneers: If you're stuck … I could see him being decent against the Falcons.

Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks: It's not like the Seahawks have a lot of other options on offense, you know? Maurice Morris is out, and the 49ers gave up 136 rushing yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns in eight games on the road last season.

Courtney Taylor and John Carlson, Seahawks: Hey, someone's gotta catch it.

Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots: I believe. There, I said it. And, of course, Randy Moss still needs to be started.

Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots: I know, I've heard all the "But Kevin Faulk will be back" talk. Well, in the first five games last season -- Morris left with an injury in the sixth game -- Morris had 405 total yards and three scores, while Faulk had 152 yards and zero touchdowns. And in 2007, there were three games in which Laurence Maroney, Faulk and Morris all played the full game. Maroney had 25 fantasy points, Faulk had seven fantasy points, and Morris had 27 fantasy points.

Brett Favre and Jerricho Cotchery, Jets: The weakness of the Patriots' defense is the secondary. That's where you attack. Especially if you have a gunslinger as quarterback.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: In two career games at Invesco Field in Denver, Rivers has four touchdown passes and 492 passing yards.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: You'll be reminded this week why you drafted him first overall. You're obviously starting him either way, but if you're playing Gridiron Challenge or another salary-cap game, he's worth the added cost this week.

Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins: As Ken Moll of Scouts Inc. noted in his Miami-Arizona preview, the Cardinals' 4-3 defensive front gave up 5.4 yards per carry last week. And the Dolphins will want to control the clock, so I expect a lot of run plays.

Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins: Count me among the believers.

All your Cardinals: Warner, Boldin, Fitz, Edge and even Hightower in deeper leagues that play three running backs. Wanting to control the clock and actually accomplishing it are two different things.

All your Steelers: Seriously, I love all of them against Cleveland.

Derek Anderson, QB, Browns: I know! I'm surprised, too. I mean, we all saw the Steelers dominate Houston, and we saw Anderson struggle against Dallas. But consider this: Anderson had four touchdown passes against the Steelers last year in two games, one of which he didn't even start. And last year the Steelers gave up twice as many passing touchdowns on the road as they did at home. I'm not saying he'll go off, but I do think Anderson is a safe play this week.

Week 2 players I hate

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: The Titans allowed only 156 passing yards last week and were in the top 10 in passing yards allowed last season, and when they were on the road last season (like they are this week) they allowed only seven touchdown passes all season. Then you look at Palmer's Week 1 and consider that, dating back to last season, he has only five touchdowns in his past six games.

Chris Perry and Kenny Watson, RBs, Bengals: After struggling against the Ravens, it won't get any easier this week. Oh, except this week they'll look crappy at home in front of friends and family. So, yeah, it actually gets worse.

Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars: Those offensive-line losses worry me, and you know he's not getting the ball if they get close to the goal line.

Dallas Clark, TE, Colts: My guess is he won't play. And if he does, he won't play well.

JaMarcus Russell, QB, Raiders: Welcome to Arrowhead, JaMarcus.

Ronald Curry, WR, Raiders: It's gonna be all run game for Oakland this weekend.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers: The Bears are healthy, and they stopped the Colts last week on the road. The Panthers ain't the Colts.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, RBs, Panthers: Splitting carries against a good run defense? No thanks. A new bag of peanut brittle? Yes, please!

Marc Bulger, QB, Rams: It's hard to throw from your back.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Playing at Tampa Bay is not like playing the Lions at home. Don't get cute.

Vernon Davis
AP Photo/Paul SakumaReally now, what has Vernon Davis done to make people like him so much?
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: He's another guy I addressed with Tristan Cockcroft after ranking Davis low this week. And here's what I wrote: "Seattle is very tough at home, and what has Vernon Davis ever done? Since coming into the league, he has played 22 games, and he has double-digit fantasy point only five times. A 5-for-22 ratio is not very good. It's 23 percent of the time. Meanwhile, he has had 50 or fewer yards receiving in 16 of 22 games, or 73 percent of the time. Basically, you need him to score, and Seattle is strong against the pass at home. No dice."

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Anyone have Steve Largent's number?

Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets: Still banged up.

Thomas Jones, RB, Jets: Two last names. Never a crowd-pleaser.

Any Denver running back: Whomever you choose, it will be wrong.

Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos: Brandon Marshall is back, and Royal is not gonna sneak up on anyone again.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: Schaub was sacked five times last week and, as a result of the pressure, didn't make a throw longer than 24 yards.

Steve Slaton, RB, Texans: The good news for Slaton's owners is that Ahman Green likely is out this week. The bad news is that it doesn't matter.

Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns: No relation to Shari Lewis, but he does enjoy eating pork chops. Some of these are just for me, folks. Move along. Nothing to see here.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: On the road at Dallas is not like playing at home against St. Louis.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: If you have him, you have to start him because I can't imagine you have better options. But when Jinxica Simpson starts talking trash to the Eagles, I get worried. Just a gut call along with a blitzing defense … I'm a bit worried and figure you'll see a lot more of Marion Barber and Felix Jones this week.

That's all we have, kids. Good luck in Week 2!

The scorecard

And here are my Week 1 results. If they left because of an injury (a la Matt Hasselbeck) or did close to what you'd expect (not great or terrible), I called it a push. Oh, and I graded myself -- deal with it:

"Loves" I got right: Bengals' D, Thomas Jones, Brett Favre, Jerricho Cotchery, Randy Moss, Patriots' D, Willie Parker, Ben Roethlisberger, LenDale White, Chris Johnson, Jon Kitna, Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Earnest Graham, Donovan McNabb, Patrick Crayton, Kurt Warner, Edgerrin James, Cardinals' D, Matt Forte, Aaron Rodgers, Selvin Young.

"Hates" I got right: Eli Manning, Chris Perry, Kenny Watson, Derrick Mason, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Ronnie Brown, Larry Johnson, Matt Schaub, Steve Slaton, Ahman Green, David Garrard, Vince Young, Roddy White, Deuce McAllister, Derek Anderson, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Bernard Berrian.

"Loves" I got wrong: Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley, Laveranues Coles, Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., Wes Welker, Laurence Maroney, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, Lions' D, Courtney Taylor, Joey Galloway, Steven Jackson, Isaac Bruce, Donald Driver, Andre Hall, Darren McFadden.

"Hates" I got wrong: Joe Flacco, Ravens' D, Chad Pennington, Lee Evans, Drew Brees (yeesh), Reggie Bush, Jake Delhomme, Philip Rivers, Ryan Grant, Tarvaris Jackson, Jay Cutler, JaMarcus Russell.

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 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. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"

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