Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto: Love/Hate for Week 5

Updated: October 3, 2008, 4:33 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

Yes, really.

It was not a typo. It was not an accident. I really did say "Feel free to drop Trent Edwards" in my Tuesday column.

You know, I'm always amazed at what people will respond strongly to. In a preseason baseball column, as a throwaway line, I wrote that I thought Anne Hathaway was hotter than Megan Fox. It started a heated debate that continues to this day. Last year, I did a thing in which I said I wasn't excited about the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. And Rockies fans got really passionate and angry all the way until they had been completely swept by Boston. I get angry e-mails. Vicious, name-calling, personal-attack e-mails that talk about what I look like, that question my sexuality, that express passionately how much the author wishes I would be fired or, better yet, die. And it's fine. It comes with the gig.

But Tuesday's backlash was the last straw. Seriously. To accuse me of talking about Trent Green? That's cold, man. That just ain't right. You kiss your mom with that keyboard?

Let's have some fun. And by fun, of course, I mean let's look at football players' statistics, and not throwing a pizza party at local rodent-themed pizza-and-carnival-game place. Because that's not just fun, that's Super Fun.

Here are four different NFL game stats lines from this season …

Trent Edwards and Trent Green
Getty ImagesThey may both be named Trent, but I know my Edwards from my Green, thank you very much.

Player A: 215 yards, 1 touchdown.
Player B: 239 yards, 1 touchdown.
Player C: 279 yards, 1 touchdown.
Player D: 197 yards, 1 touchdown.

Less than 100 yards passing -- four points -- difference between any of them, right? Now, let's look at six more lines …

Player E: 268 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Player F: 199 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Player G: 185 yards, 1 touchdown.
Player H: 199 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Player I: 177 yards, 1 touchdown.
Player J: 184 yards, 1 touchdown.

Do you see any significant difference between any of these quarterbacks? I'd argue players E and F are above anyone else, but other than that, they are all the same guy.

OK, first, the big reveal. Players A, B, C and D are the same guy. That's Trent Edwards' stats in his first four games this year. Solid, nothing exciting, a little more than 200 yards and a score.

OK, now let's skip ahead and reveal players G and H, who have similar stats. That's also one guy. It's the last two starts for Kerry Collins, currently owned in 14 percent of leagues.

Players I and J? Also one guy, also his past two starts. Kids, meet Mr. Marc Bulger.

Finally, the studs of this group, players E and F? You guessed it. One guy, in his last two games. I'm not saying you should start or even own Kyle Orton, but the last two weeks he's been a lot better than Mr. Edwards.

Look, I'm not saying you should drop Trent Edwards. He's playing well in real life and I like him from a skill standpoint. But I said you can feel free to drop him. If you're looking at picking up someone else and trying to decide who you can let go of, Trent Edwards ain't on the undroppables list, you dig?

The Bills are a run-first team and there's just not a ton of upside there. If he couldn't bust out against St. Louis last week, I don't know when he does. I was high on him going into that game. But I watched that game and now? Look, there's nothing wrong with 200 yards and a score. But you can find it on the waiver wire in most leagues. You don't need to waste a roster spot on it if you're interested in some of the players I recommended you pick up. I assume most of you don't have Edwards as your only quarterback, right? I mean, he was undrafted in the preseason and he's not in the top 12 quarterbacks in points per game.

But what about this week, folks say? He's playing at Arizona! They gave up six touchdowns to Brett Favre! I don't know why I'm yelling! I just love Trent Edwards! Yes, in that way! This has become awkward! I'm going to stop now! Go Bills!

And maybe he does go off on the Cardinals. We don't know whether safety Adrian Wilson will play (he didn't practice Wednesday). And yeah, they sure didn't look good last week. But I'm not convinced there's a ton of upside there. Did you know that last year Trent Edwards threw exactly zero, count them, zero, touchdowns on the road? This year, he has two touchdowns in two road games.

Did you know that, going back to 2005 the Arizona Cardinals have given up more than two passing touchdowns at home only once? Once in 25 games.

Fantasy is about putting yourself in the best position to win. We can't predict the future. But what we can do is look at trends and matchups and discern the possible from the probable. It's all about putting our teams in the best position to win. Sometimes that means just getting solid, double-digit points out of our quarterbacks. Fine, Trent's (and many others) your guy. But more often than not, you win with upside. And Trent just doesn't have a ton of it from a fantasy perspective.

Guys who do have upside (and downside) are, of course, the basis for my weekly Love/Hate. But I rank more than 200 players every Tuesday night (and then update them Friday afternoon) for a reason. If I say I love Kerry Collins and hate Peyton Manning one week, it doesn't mean you start Collins over Manning. It means, for what you normally expect from him, I'm not crazy about Peyton this week. And for what you expect out of Collins, I feel he exceeds this week. If you are curious about any two players, check my rankings on Friday. And with that … After last week, I am excited to dive into Week 5. Nowhere to go but up, baby.

Week 5 Players I Love

Jonathan Stewart
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesOK, fine, here's an actual football fact about Jonathan Stewart: he's scored four touchdowns in his past three games.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: I wish I had a chance to watch more television. I watch very few shows these days due to my schedule. I mostly watch SportsCenter or ESPNEWS when I get home. That's not being a company shill, it's reality. (This is being a company shill: Play fantasy basketball and fantasy hockey for free on ESPN.com! Free live scoring! Auction draft and keeper capability! All for free! Sign up now!) I watch "90210" and I watch "Privileged" because the lead, Joanna Garcia, is awesome in every sense of the word. I'll watch a ton of movies and that's pretty much it except for "The Daily Show." I try to catch that and "The Colbert Report" every night. It's so hilarious and well done. They make it look easy but doing what they do, on a nightly basis, is amazing.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Only two teams in the NFL give up more rushing yards per game and only three teams give up more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs than the Chiefs. Plus, the Chiefs are on the road and have to respect the pass game. In case you wanted something other than a TV review for why I like these guys this week.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Damon Huard is a Bowe owner's best friend. That's right. If you own Bowe and are asked to choose between Damon Huard or your dog, you can survive without the dog. But with Tyler Thigpen?

Kyle Orton, QB, Bears: In his career as a starter, two of Orton's three highest passer ratings have come against the Lions. To put it another way, statistically speaking, the Lions suck.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: If Spike Lee played fantasy football and owned Forte, he'd change his company to Forte Acres and a Mule. If Jay-Z played fantasy football and owned Matt, he'd change his night club to Forte/Forte. And after Matt leads my teams to victory this week with a huge game, I intend to pop open a big ol' Forte. Sure, that's a long way to go for a mediocre joke, but it just goes to show that Forte's owners love him and there's lots of puns you can do with his name. Why, he's the Miracle on Forte Second street! See? Seriously, I could do this all day. Be glad I have other things to do.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears: Gut call.

Jon Kitna, Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, Lions: They'll be behind, the Bears are No. 28 in the NFL in pass defense and they're not gonna have Nathan Vasher. I'll buy me a ticket to that rodeo.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: Gets back to earning that red jacket this week.

Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins: Sure, there's always the chance Ronnie Brown throws it instead. But the Chargers are traveling across the country and no team in the NFL has given up more passing yards, more passing touchdowns or more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than the San Diego Chargers.

Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins: And David Martin too, if you need to go deeper. Chargers have given up a touchdown to an opposing tight end in four straight games.

Chris Chambers, WR, Chargers: His triumphant return. Well, he didn't really win anything. The hero returns! Hmm. Now that I think of it, they got rid of him for a reason. OK. He returns!

Amani Toomer and Dominik Hixon, WR, Giants: If choosing, I like Amani more. But both guys should be solid. Plaxico Burress is out and the Seahawks are on the road with the No. 25 pass defense.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: In two career games against Seattle, he has racked up more than 600 yards passing and five touchdowns.

Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins: In two games against Philly last year, Campbell had four touchdowns and only one interception. Meanwhile, there are only nine teams in the NFL that are giving up more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than the Philadelphia Eagles. And while they will blitz Campbell, the Eagles will focus on stopping …

Clinton Portis
AP Photo/Lawrence JacksonClinton Portis knows how to score against the Eagles.

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: I put him here because folks might be scared off based on the Eagles' tough run defense. But Portis has six rushing touchdowns in his past six meetings with these guys.

Donovan McNabb, Reggie Brown and DeSean Jackson, Eagles: Hoping I'm wrong on this one. Pretty sure I'm right, though.

Steve Slaton, RB, Texans: According to Amusingfacts.com, Americans did not commonly use forks until after the Civil War. Now, replace "forks" with "Steve Slaton" and "Civil War" was "Titans game," you'd have something. Big game for Steve this week.

Dallas Clark, TE, Colts: He has more scores against Houston than any other team.

Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers: I think we all saw last Sunday that even the worst offensive team in the league can run on Denver. Let's just move along.

Brian Griese, QB, Buccaneers: A Chambers-esque return! Only one team gives up more passing yards than the Broncos (you know which one if you've been paying attention), only two teams have given up more passing plays of more than 20 yards and Griese has attempted at least 30 passes in three straight games. In other words, he's gonna be throwing a lot against a defense that isn't very good. Expect at least 200 yards and two scores from Brian Griese this week. Which is more than I expect out out of the more-than-twice-as-owned Trent Edwards. Just sayin'.

Everyone in the Denver passing game: Duh.

Isaac Bruce, WR, 49ers: Touchdowns in two straight games, and Bruce is averaging 72 yards a game in his past three, and the Patriots might be starting two rookies in the secondary this week. Plus, when he scores, you can flick a lighter and yell "Bruuuuuce" at the screen. That's always fun.

Matt Cassel, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Sammy Morris: This is based on nothing more than a firm belief that the Patriots got a lot of stuff figured out during the bye week.

Fantasy Focus: Football

Matthew Berry sat down with Raiders rookie running back Darren McFadden to ask him about his current and future performance, his injury, his new coach and wether he ever splits carries with Justin Fargas when playing Madden.

Fantasy Focus Podcast

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: I know! He's on a bye this week. But how else am I gonna pimp the fact that I interviewed him on the "Fantasy Focus: Football" podcast today?

Chris Perry, RB, Bengals: Touchdowns in two of his last three and the Bengals need to establish the run on the road. In other news, welcome back to Texas, Cedric Benson! Who wants to party on the lake?

All Your Cowboys: Last week was an anomoly, especially with the run game. I'd feel OK with Felix Jones as a flex if you were hurting this week.

Mewelde Moore, RB, Steelers: With Willie Parker out for this game and Rashard Mendenhall done for the year, Moore will see the majority of touches on the road at Jacksonville, where Pittsburgh will want to establish the run. Only seven teams have given up more fantasy points to opposing running backs this season than the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: Including the postseason, Miller has a touchdown reception in three of his past four against the Jaguars.

Gus Frerotte, QB, Vikings: This is assuming he plays, but I like anyone against the Saints. Anyone.

Lance Moore and Robert Meachem, WR, Saints:Speaking of the Saints, they're not beating the Vikings with the run game. Just sayin'.

Week 5 Players I Hate

Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers: Chiefs have given up only three passing touchdowns all year, tied for sixth-best in the NFL. And only three teams give up fewer fantasy points per game than KC. I don't get it either, but I'm not about to bet on Jake Delhomme to buck that trend.

Kevin Smith and Rudi Johnson, RB, Lions: You know what's fun? Knowing you don't have to worry about how the carries go.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Not even with the crowd-pleasing two first names.

Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: If you have him, you almost definitely have to start him. I am not saying bench him here unless you have rock-solid options (hint: you don't sit him for Mewelde Moore, you dig?). What I am saying, however, is that I would lower expectations for him on the road and on the grass, where he has struggled a lot.

Matt Flynn, QB, Packers: If the Packers end up starting him, make sure you don't get cute and do the same. The Falcons are better than you think against the pass.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: I tend not to like teams traveling long distances, especially west coast to east coast. The Dolphins have allowed only seven touchdown passes in their past six home games. They held Brett Favre to fewer than 200 yards and Kurt Warner to less than 400. I think he'll be OK if you're stuck, but I'm not feeling a big game here.

Matt Hasselbeck and Julius Jones, Seahawks: Not on the road, not at the Giants. New York has at least six sacks in two straight games.

Albert Haynesworth
Paul Jasienski/Getty ImagesAlbert haynesworth is the cornerstone of the Titans defense. Get it? Cornerstone? Brick wall? You wouldn't know a good masonry joke if it hit you like a ton of bricks.

Any Ravens running back: Don't know who is getting the opportunity to run against the brick wall that masquerades as the Titans run defense, and I don't care.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: At Halloween, I Schaub for apples. (Later, at my press conference) "Yeah, I know. Wasn't my strongest joke. Thought I saw something in the film that wasn't there. Really looking forward to the bye, working some stuff out. Yes, you in the back. (muffled). Look, I believe I'm heading in the right direction. It's not gonna be turned around tomorrow but you keep working at it, you keep your head focused and eventually, you turn this thing around."

Selvin Young, Andre Hall, Michael Pittman, RBs, Broncos: I know he's crazy and all, but on the Shanahan-Al Davis feud, I kinda gotta side with Al here.

Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals: Only two teams have given up fewer rushing touchdowns than the Bills, but only eight teams have given up fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. And while we're trend-spotting, only five teams have fewer rushing yards than the Cards, and Marcus Stroud is the man. (If Stroud ends up not playing, however, James will be OK).

Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals: I'm calling his bluff.

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars: Jacksonville headline on Monday: Garrard finds it hard! (and then, at another hastily-called press conference, where ESPN's owner, Mickey Mouse, addresses. "This is not the Matthew I hired. He's full of lies. He will not be paid. I have a letter here that I wrote detailing all the bad puns and jokes he has told. He didn't want to draft his columns on a newer word processor. He just has to get over it. We're bringing in Chad "The Ocho" Cinco as our new lead analyst.. [Off mic] Can you give me his media bio? I don't know a lot about Cinco. Ah well, whatever. It's just one letter. They won't know.)

Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: He looked good last week. This week is not last week.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- just lost his Streak for the Cash at 8 because of his Angels. He's bitter. He appears on "Fantasy Football Now," airing Sundays at noon ET on ESPN.com. 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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