Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto: Love/Hate for Week 4

Updated: September 25, 2008, 9:32 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Not alone.

If my mailbag is any indication, my friend is not alone in having made poor texting choices. I've published the best ones (that are appropriate for a family-friendly Web site) at the end of this column, so if you don't care about that particular nonsense, you can stop reading after the football goodies.

First, though, a couple of house-cleaning type items.

• Due to my schedule and other factors, I'm no longer doing my Friday Flex rankings. Consider this column my opinions on guys in the "flex" area each week. Eric Karabell will debut a new column detailing flex options tomorrow.

• For those that care, the episodes of "One Life to Live" that I appear on will air Nov. 5 and 6. I'm guessing I might bring it up a lot more as it gets closer.

• My texting friend from Tuesday's column would like everyone to know that she didn't care that she never heard from the guy. She wasn't that into him, she just thought the story was funny. I told her no one cares. But she'd like you to know anyway. Her story, I am obliging.

• I am no longer doing the grading at the end of this column. It's frankly a pain, I find no one really cares about the results (the haters will always hate, the fans understand that no one can truly predict the future and there's no clean way to objectively grade) and it takes time that I don't have to score, write and edit.

Let's rock and roll. As always, I try to avoid the obvious guys you are starting no matter what, like Tony Romo or LaDainian Tomlinson, unless I have something of particular interest to say about them.

Week 4 players I love

Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns: This is me, pushing all my chips in the middle on Braylon. He busts out for a big game this week. And then? Sell. Look at the Browns schedule coming up: bye, Giants, at Washington, at Jacksonville, Baltimore, Denver, at Buffalo, Houston, Indianapolis (and then in week 14, for the playoffs), at Tennessee, at Philadelphia, Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh. The jury is still out on the Redskins defense a bit, Houston is easy and the second Cincy matchup should be as well. That's it. Colts should be in good shape by Week 13 (and certainly against the pass) and the Bengals game in Week 16 will be at the mercy of the weather (remember last year?).

Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns: In 13 career meetings against Bengals, Jamal averages 119.3 yards rushing per game. Just sayin'.

All Your Bengals: Carson Palmer, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Chris Perry and even Chad Johnson (in that order) should all have big days against the Browns. And then all the Bengals will celebrate afterward. Which will lead to at least three arrests and Marvin Lewis declaring, once again, that he is getting dangerously close to changing his facial expression.

Steve Slaton, RB, Texans: Either you believe or you do not believe. I believe.

Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: You know what else I believe? That the Texans' run defense is, well, charitably named so.

Matt Jones, WR, Jaguars: Only two teams in the NFL have given up more points than the Texans. I can see Jones getting 60-70 yards here and have a good chance at a score. Incidentally, he had eight receptions for 138 and a score last time he faced Houston. In a bye week with so many star receivers unavailable, he could be useful.

Selvin Young and Michael Pittman, RB, Broncos: The Chiefs have given up almost 500 yards rushing in the past two weeks combined. Young breaks the century mark this week -- as he did twice against the Chiefs last season -- and Pittman gets in the end zone.

Jay Cutler, Eddie Royal, Brandon Marshall, Tony Sheffler, Broncos: This game is a blowout. And no love lost between the teams. Cutler and Marshall are obvious, of course, but I mention them for those of you who play the Gridiron Challenge.

Dwayne Bowe
Dale Zanine/US PresswireDwayne Bowe is poised to have a good game against a bad Broncos secondary.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: For the first time in recent history, the phrase "Damon Huard is starting" is actually good news.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, RBs, Panthers: Week to week, you don't know who to start. This week, you start both of them. The Falcons are giving up five yards a carry and already have allowed four rushing touchdowns this season.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers: Of course, when the running game is rocking, it makes the passing game smooth like buttah. Pretty sure I heard that from Amos Alonzo Stagg.

Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Panthers: I know, I burned you on him last week. And obviously, you're starting Steve Smith. But it's worth noting that Muhammad has 100-yard games in two of his past three versus Atlanta.

Jeff King, TE, Panthers: Speaking of random trends, for those of you desperate due to the bye week or just lost Jeremy Shockey, King has two touchdowns in three games versus the Falcons.

Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: Arizona is a team that gives a lot of unique looks on defense, and is unorthodox in its formations and style of play. Which means sometimes the offense gets caught and turns the ball over, and sometimes guys are wide open. Cotchery's 10 receptions last week led the Jets. Favre has chemistry with him and this is the week that Cotchery gets in the end zone.

All your 49ers: J.T. O'Sullivan, Frank Gore, Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson all have big games in a game that defines "Fantasy Goodness." In fact, O'Sullivan has more than 500 yards and three touchdowns in his past two games, and only three teams in the NFL have allowed more passing yards this year than the New Orleans Saints.

Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, David Patten, Pierre Thomas and Billy Miller, Saints: I guess what I am saying here is, bet the over.

Donald Driver
Domenic Centofanti/Getty ImagesDonald Driver's ability to catch the slant pass is why he is my No. 4-ranked wide receiver this week.

Donald Driver and Donald Lee, Packers: Tampa Bay's Cover 2 defense is as good a version of that as there is in the league. The Bucs can get pressure with their front four, meaning seven guys will be back in coverage. Considering this game is on the road, it'll be fairly low scoring for the Packers. That said, the one way you attack a Cover 2 is in the middle of the field. One of the most effective plays is the slant, which Driver runs as well as anyone in the league. Expect a lot of short passes to Driver and Lee in this game in the middle of the field, especially with Grant finding no room.

Brian Griese and Ike Hilliard, Buccaneers: With Charles Woodson and Al Harris banged up, expect Jon Gruden to attack. He's not throwing 67 times again but, clearly, Gruden isn't shy about letting him sling it.

Kerry Collins, QB, Titans: Looking at some tape and discussing matchups with the guys from Scouts Inc., they tell me Darren Sharper has lost a step. And by that, they mean he is slower, not that he forgot his step somewhere and wandering through the parking lot, trying to find where he left it. The Vikings have really struggled so far this season on deep routes and teams are attacking them at safety. Considering how good the run defense is, expect Collins to take a few shots downfield. And connect on one or two. Consider this only if you're stuck in a bye week, but I say he has at least 200 yards and two scores.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: Obvious? Of course. But he's worth the 6.6 you have to pay for him in Gridiron Challenge this week.

Trent Edwards, Lee Evans, Josh Reed, Bills: No team in the NFL gives up more points per game than the St. Louis Rams.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: You think the Rams saw the Miami game and said "Hmmm. Maybe we should just hike it to Steven." ... "What? When we've got Trent Green? That's crazy talk." ... "Still, we should give him the ball, like, on every play." ... "Yes, let's do that." ... "Brilliant!" ... "Brilliant!" ... "Why are we talking like a beer commercial?" ... "I don't know. Because so far this season we've needed a lot of liquid courage to watch this team?" ... "Yes, that's it. Brilliant!" ... "Brilliant!"

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: Going back to last year, Moss now has a touchdown in each of his past five games. And in his past five games against Dallas specifically? Santana is averaging more than 100 yards a game and has four scores, including at least 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his past two.

Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson, Eagles: When John Gruden, who is known for conservative play calling, chucks it 67 times against a team, you gotta figure he saw something on the tape. I bet Andy Reid can figure out whatever it was, too. I do believe the Bears' defense is back, but I also think you can throw on them.

Eagles Defense / Special Teams: Eagles are second in the NFC in takeaways, tied for the league lead in sacks and they are facing Kyle Orton.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: As good as the Eagles' defense is, you don't bench him. Ever.

Steelers and Ravens Defenses: This is one ugly, low-scoring game.

Week 4 players I hate:

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: I'm currently working on a screenplay about a quarterback who has skills and a great wide receiver, but he can't get protection and it's driving him mental so he stalks his therapist. I'm calling it "What About Schaub?"

Larry Johnson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesLarry Johnson will spend more time blocking than rushing on Sunday.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: Before you leap out of your chair to fire off an angry e-mail about what a moron I am and how awesome LJ is, stop me when I say something crazy: The Broncos are one of the hottest offenses in the NFL right now. In fact, they are second in the NFL (to the Cowboys) in total yards per game. They are going to get a big lead and get it early on the Chiefs. Which means the Chiefs will have to abandon the run. In Johnson's one home game this year against an AFC West team that supposedly is easy to run on, he had just 22 yards against the Raiders. No. Thanks.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: On the road and on the grass is different than at home and on the turf. Just sayin'.

Brett Favre, QB, Jets: He doesn't seem to know the offense at all and the Cardinals will throw a lot of weird looks at him. Given that the Jets are having trouble adjusting their pass protection, Arizona's schemes won't help matters. Brett is safer in leagues that don't count turnovers, but still, he's also banged up and this is not his week.

Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals: If Kris Jenkins can't play, then life should be a lot easier for Edge. But as of now, I am assuming Jenkins will play. Which means James sits on the fantasy bench and grinds his gold teeth.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: The road to get healthy and back to being a fantasy force does not go through Tampa Bay.

Adrian Peterson, LenDale White, Chris Johnson: You almost definitely have to start them if you have them. Let's just be clear there. But not in a salary-cap league. And realize that none of these running backs will top 100 yards rushing.

Gus Frerotte and Bernard Berrian, Vikings: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Minnesota Vikings!

Kyle Orton, QB, Bears: Not even in a bye week.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Bears: I like him long term, just not here. Hard to catch passes when your QB has to throw them while laying on his back, you know?

Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain, Ray Rice: Even if McGahee is out with the eye injury and it's only two guys splitting carries, I don't like either against the Steelers. They've given up just one rushing touchdown all year. Opponents are averaging just 2.8 yards per carry against them, second-best in the NFL.

Joe Flacco and Derrick Mason, Ravens: Yeah, this is not a pretty game.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: See Flacco, Joe.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers: Ravens actually have a better run defense than the Steelers.

Best of the Text Stories:

Kevin (Laramie, Wyo.): So there I was, talking with one of the Abbies (can you pluralize people with "ies"?) I was dating and out of nowhere she says, "Kevin, am I your girlfriend?" Thanks to the good timing of a drunker-than-me friend splashing his beer on me, I avoided the question. Later that night, I was drunk, so what do college kids do when they are drunk? They drunk text! "Abby, out of all the girls I am dating I consider you to be most like my girlfriend" Can you overcome something like that?

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Jeff (unknown): The night before last year's Super Bowl I was lucky enough to leave the bar with a girl. The next morning, no less than 10 seconds after I dropped her off I wanted to text a friend about it. I texted my friend "I finally took home Laura last night".... only I texted her by accident.

Jay (New York): Tell your lady friend that I don't mind random "tipsy" texts at 4 a.m. In fact, I love them. I've been known to send out the random text while watching TV, most notably to a girl I had just met: "I'm tired of these *expletive deleted* snakes on this *expletive deleted* plane!" Of course that didn't go over well and I never got a response, but hey, I had to let her know how I felt, and I was really tired of those snakes on the plane. Long live the podcast and random free happy hours in NYC paid for by ESPN.

Jim (Chicago): God, I hope this gets to you Berry, or else someone is going to think I'm a huge weirdo. But whatever. I'm writing about the bad texts. We have known our neighbors for about 15 years. Our 21-year-old neighbor worked a summer for my dad, and therefore had my dad's number saved in his phone. My dad called me one Friday morning and asked me what a text message was and that he got one. I talked him through the steps of how to check it and it turns out, our neighbor had sent him one at 2:45 a.m. I told him to hit the button and read it out loud. Imagine the awkwardness Monday at work after this one: "I want to be with you."

B-dawg (Norton): Wow, Berry, no combination of writers on the Internet makes me "LMAO" out loud like you do. Once I texted a girl and asked her if she liked me enough to pop the pimples on my back. I was drunk. I had just fallen out of a long relationship. Six years, high school sweetheart, whole shabang. I was vulnerable. Whatever. I wish I had said "Lincoln freed the slaves."

John (New York): I got a text from my girlfriend while I was at college and she was at home. It said something to the extent of "He kissed me, right? I didn't do anything wrong, did I?"

Bryan (Brooklyn): I had been seeing a girl for a couple of weeks and was planning on taking her out to dinner in the city, but I couldn't think of a place. Remembering my roommate had brought home some delicious BBQ from somewhere the night before, I texted him, "Yo where u get those fat ribs??" except I accidentally sent it to her instead. And as you can imagine, that didn't go very well at all.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- can be texted at 4-ESPN. He can also be seen on "Sunday Countdown" on ESPN. He is a four-time 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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