Commentary

You heard me!

Bold predictions for the 2009 fantasy football season

Updated: August 19, 2009, 2:19 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

The Talented Mr. Roto
Swift.

The reaction to last year's "You Heard Me" column was swift.

JPPhoenix331 (from ESPN Conversation pages): This dude is on crack!!!!!! Adrian Peterson not in the top five in fantasy points? Your mother should be slapped for raising such a narcissistic, idiotic child. You obviously know nothing about football. Cornball!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Injure yourself, Berry!

Cybahr (from ESPN Conversation pages): I used to like your comments most of the time Mr. Roto, but the Adrian Peterson comment is asinine and I now have to discredit you with your knowledge. You know nothing. Why don't you go back to what you do best, write bad sitcoms. I will say after your Peterson prediction that I will no longer take you seriously. What you say is a joke and may ESPN realize you are unworthy of any type of opinion involving fantasy football.

TMR: While I appreciate the respectful nature of your discourse, I should point out that Adrian Peterson finished ninth among all fantasy scorers last year, just two points ahead of Donovan McNabb. For the record, while I am, in fact, phenomenal at writing bad sitcoms, what I do best cannot be printed here.

Puddy4lyf2 (from ESPN Conversation pages): Troy Smith 24 total touchdowns, and Willis McGahee a top-10 RB? ... What a horribly-written article.

TMR: Hey! In fairness, I was only 23 touchdowns off on Troy Smith.

As I sit down to write my annual "bold prediction" column I already know the complaints that will quickly follow. They will either be similar to the above (the "you're nuts" variety) or like this one below.

Santonio Holmes
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesTurns out, Santonio Holmes failed to live up to my lofty expectations of him. The nerve.
Waterwolves (from ESPN Conversation pages): Holmes a top-12 WR at year's end! Go out on a limb why don't ya? What a joke, half of these are easily achievable. Grow a set would ya!

TMR: Before his postseason heroics, Santonio Holmes finished the year 32nd among fantasy wideouts. I was dead wrong on this "easily achievable" prediction.

Mrhattrick4 (from ESPN Conversation pages): The only outrageous one is about the most overrated player in the NFL, Donovan McNabb, playing all 16 games.

TMR: I whiffed on many, but the "outrageous one" came true, as McNabb not only played all 16 games but finished the year as the seventh-best fantasy QB, just 14 points behind Peyton Manning (or fewer than one point per game).

It's funny. I went back and reread all 500-plus comments on last year's article. Few people had any problem with the predictions that I ended up missing royally on (down on Michael Turner and Steve Smith, high on Ted Ginn Jr. and Kolby Smith, among them) and many argued with the ones I ended up being correct on (Thomas Jones, Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, Calvin Johnson and Chris Johnson, etc).

I bring this up for a few reasons. One, I've got a word count to meet and I'm fresh out of wacky dating stories. Two, the idea of "bold predictions" is not so much the bold part (clearly, we all have different ideas of what "bold" means) but rather what they represent.

The point of this is not that I nail every prediction. In fact, I'm going to tell you that the only prediction that I guarantee here is that I'm not going to get all of these correct. Especially since we still have three weeks of preseason to go.

But, if you use this correctly, the idea is simply that it helps you draft. For example, in last year's article, I said eight other tight ends will have a better fantasy season than Antonio Gates. Technically, that was wrong, as Gates finished fourth in fantasy scoring among tight ends.

But, if you took that to mean, in essence, that I felt Gates was overvalued (he was generally the first tight end off the board last year) and ended up passing on him and waiting two rounds later for someone like Dallas Clark (I predicted he would be the No. 1 tight end, also wrong, but he did finish two points out of second and ahead of Gates), then this article worked for you last year. And you still get to give me crap for getting it wrong. See? Everyone's a winner.

This doesn't mean you make stupid moves, OK? You need to play smart, and I make a lot suggestions on how to prepare yourself to do that in my 2009 Draft-Day Manifesto. But playing smart doesn't always mean playing conservative. Go safe in the first four rounds. Then bring it. Loud, proud and unapologetic. As I've written before, if you lead a fantasy sports life of quiet desperation, this is not the article for you (and frankly, I'm not the analyst for you). But I have some fantasy cojones. Do you?

For those new to this rodeo, the article is called "You Heard Me."

As in, pretend you and I were having a conversation. In a bar, after we'd scared all the girls away with our fantasy football talk, you asked me what I thought about trendy so-down-he's-up preseason sleeper Chad Ochocinco. And I respond...

Me: I say Domenik Hixon has better fantasy numbers this year than Ochocinco.
You: What?!
Me: You heard me. Now ladies, where were we? Ladies? Hello? Where'd they go? Anyone? (sigh) OK, sure, let's talk about our PPR keepers.

But before we start, I just have to put this in ... so, in going back over all the comments on last football preseason's "You Heard Me," I came across this one. Here it is, completely unaltered except for style and spelling, written on Aug. 25, 2008 at 2:32 p.m.

Kurt Warner
Jason Bridge/US PresswireKurt Warner, Super Bowl QB. Even I wouldn't have made such a ridiculously-bold prediction.
Drfc14 (From ESPN Conversation pages): Wait, can I get paid for making baseless predictions on professional sports? It's very easy to make bold statements like this when you have nothing to lose. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is on EVERY single one of those statements? Jesus ESPN, for real? I should have been a journalism major in college, I would be making bank telling people that Kurt Warner will lead the Cards to the Super Bowl and be league MVP.

TMR: So there you go. One dude's example of an outrageous, pull-it-out-of-your-posterior bold prediction ... actually came true (well, the Super Bowl, not MVP). I can't predict the future. But that's not stopping me from trying (again, word count, lack of wacky dating stories and so forth). Here are 39 things I believe. There's one for each team in the NFL and a few more for fun.

Chris "Beanie" Wells stays healthy enough to get at least 1,000 total yards and eight touchdowns.

Roddy White will lead the NFL in receiving yards.

Joe Flacco finishes the year as a top-12 fantasy quarterback.

Terrell Owens finishes the year outside the top 25 fantasy wide receivers. You heard me.

Jonathan Stewart finishes with more fantasy points than DeAngelo Williams.

Devin Hester and Greg Olsen combine for 1,800 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

Chris Henry has a better fantasy season than Laveranues Coles.

Jamal Lewis has 1,400 yards and eight touchdowns, or the equivalent fantasy points.

•Without T.O. in town, Tony Romo has the best fantasy season of his career.

Peyton Hillis will end the year with the most fantasy points of any Broncos running back. You heard me.

•At some point in the next 12 months, a blog will print a story about me and every "fact" will actually be, well, factual.

Brandon Pettigrew finishes the year as a top-15 fantasy tight end.

Ryan Grant goes for better than 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns.

•Eighty-five receptions and 1,000 yards for Owen Daniels.

•I'm seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert on Wednesday here in Connecticut. Love the Boss and it'll be the fifth time I've seen him, and if he didn't play "Born to Run," I'd be more than fine with it. "Born to Run" is not among Bruce Springsteen's top 20 songs. You heard me.

Anthony Gonzalez, whose career high in receiving yards is 664, doubles that this season.

David Garrard
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireDon't scoff at David Garrard. Last season, he scored 20-plus points four times, including in the all-important Weeks 15 and 16.

David Garrard will be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this year. Just like last season.

Matt Cassel will not be. In fact, he finishes outside the top 15.

Anthony Fasano, meet the end zone. You two will find each other 10 times this season.

•My dad's book about the inner workings of The Mayo Clinic is a must-read for anyone who works in management, for management or is studying. As you may guess, it's about managing.

Bernard Berrian gets more than 1,200 yards and nine scores.

•Eight hundred yards and seven touchdowns for Joey Galloway.

Pierre Thomas is a top-10 fantasy running back this year. And Saints fans start wearing berets to games. You heard me.

Brandon Jacobs scores 20 touchdowns.

Dustin Keller gets 800 yards, eight touchdowns and is one of the top eight fantasy tight ends this season.

•More than 1,500 total yards and eight scores (or the fantasy points equivalent) for Darren McFadden.

•An NFL head coach punches his assistant. Sorry. That's too nutty. Never mind.

Brian Westbrook plays all 16 games.

•Trendy preseason favorite Rashard Mendenhall finishes with fewer fantasy points than Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore and Heath Miller.

Philip Rivers ends up with 225 fantasy points or fewer, which last year would have put him ninth among quarterbacks. (To put that numerically, I think he throws for fewer than 3,400 yards and 25 touchdowns).

Shaun Hill wins the starting quarterback job, throws for 3,000-plus yards and has at least 26 total touchdowns.

•I manage to get through at least one of the fantasy football events in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas without someone asking me about Bill Simmons.

T.J. Duckett scores double-digit touchdowns. Julius Jones has more than 1,200 total yards. Both have solid fantasy value this year. You heard me.

Donnie Avery has more than 1,000 yards receiving. And yes, I know he's injured and most likely will miss the start of the season. That's how much I like him and the Rams' revamped offensive line.

Reggie Bush gets back together with Kim Kardashian. He gets injured within two weeks of this happening.

Antonio Bryant finishes outside the top 30 of fantasy wide receivers.

Nate Washington, on the other hand, finishes inside the top 30.

•More than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns for Chris Cooley.

•I occasionally manage to say something interesting on Twitter as TheRealTMR.

Dilorenzo44 (from ESPN Conversation pages): All of these "predictions" are really just guesses. It's amazing that you get paid at all.

TMR: Tell me something I don't know, brother. Tell me something I don't know.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- thinks the only thing in this world funnier than a monkey is two monkeys. You heard him. 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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