- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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So on Sunday, I was sitting in what we call "The War Room." I think we call it that because it sounds a lot cooler than "The long conference room on the bottom floor with a bunch of televisions and no cell reception."
It's where all the folks who work on ESPN's Sunday NFL coverage go to watch all the games. From our big stars like Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and Coach Ditka to all the producers, researchers, directors, talent coordinators et al. And as resident fantasy monkey for the Worldwide Leader, I get to crash as well. I usually sit behind Berman, Ditka, Chris Mortensen (who is a big fantasy player), my Countdown partner in crime Merril Hoge, Trent Dilfer and John Saunders, among others. I sit off to the side and am almost always next to Michael Smith, he of NFL Live and E:60. And all he does is bug me about his fantasy teams.
Anyone that listened to our podcast last week when Michael guest-hosted with me knows that Michael Smith is a total closet fantasy freak. He owns six teams, including one in a 20-team league. So I just sit there and talk fantasy with him all day while watching the games. He said something to me last week that made me pause, think and then say, "Yeah, I think you're right."
Michael is right about a lot of things, but in this particular case he said to me, "Is there anyone more fun to own than Brandon Jacobs?"
Jacobs had just plowed through, I think, 15 Baltimore Ravens and Michael said, "Seriously. I'm not saying he's necessarily the best fantasy player, but is there anyone more fun to own? He's just a man."
And the way Jacobs is running these days, I had to agree with Michael. And it got me thinking. It did too! I occasionally think. Honest. Since I did a TRUM blog last week about all the things I hated, maybe I go the other way and share some love. Because Michael is right. There are some guys who are just fun to own.
Terrell Owens is the counterexample. He is a great fantasy player who produces more often than not, and every once in a while he puts up a game that wins you your week going away. But for me, it's never been fun to own him, you know? He's petulant, he's moody, he's insane. All "allegedly," of course, as far as the attorneys are concerned.
So here, now, in no particular order, are my 10 guys who are the most fun to own this year:
•Anquan Boldin -- You wanna talk being a real man? Because Anquan Boldin not only wrote the book on it; he can tear the hardcover in two with his bare hands.
•Chris Johnson -- The way he slashes, the way he runs with abandon, the way his dreads bounce in the air. We always love it when one of our preseason sleepers pans out, and Johnson was one of mine.
•Tyler Thigpen -- Come on, you knew he was making my list.
•Adrian Peterson -- You want to talk about watching a man
•Calvin Johnson -- Or a beast.
•Clinton Portis -- For me, it's the yards after contact. Contact with other football players, I mean. It's not like I've hugged him or anything.
•Kurt Warner -- If you have him, you probably got him late. And he lights it up every single week.
•Wes Welker -- He's like a little jitterbug and always seems to be around the ball. Just a fun, gutty little guy.
•Joe Flacco -- He's throwing passes. He's catching passes. He's running. Just a little bit of everything, and you can yell "I'm wacko for Flacco!" after every one of them. Much fun to watch.
•Troy Polamalu -- IDP leagues still are more for the hard-core, but if you are in one, is there a guy that's more fun than Polamalu? The one-handed interception Sunday night puts him on this list for eternity.
Who's on your list? It's not about who is best, but who is most fun to own. Who do you love?
And while you ponder that, I will tell you who I love in Week 12.
Week 12 players I love
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: Looks healthy to me. And against the Bengals you won't be able to tell even if he's not.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: He owns Ohio. No, seriously, I think he bought it a few years ago back when Ohio got hockey and it killed the state's value.
Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers: Ward has five scores in his past three versus Cincy, and Holmes is averaging 100 yards a game in his past three against the Bengals. I also think Nate Washington gets at least five points in this game. Short weeks favor the offense.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals: Four touchdowns in his past three games at Pittsburgh and he's had at least seven receptions in six straight games. No Ocho Cinco means the Steelers key in on Houshmandzadeh a bit more, but it's not like every team that plays Cincy doesn't know whom it is they have to try to stop.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns: They get back to running the rock.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns: Since Winslow is banged up, Edwards continues to get some Brady love. Take that however you want. If Winslow plays, however, I expect a big game from him.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: It's about time.
Tyler Thigpen, QB, Chiefs: I'm wiggy for Thiggy!
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Bradley and Gonzo both showing up on the injury report this week
Chiefs D/ST: They are at home, are tied for second in takeaways and play Buffalo. The Bills are top-five in giveaways, as they expertly demonstrated on Monday Night Football.
Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots: Double-digit fantasy points in four of his past five games and at least 15 points in three of them. He's thrown for more than 200 yards in four straight and yet people still don't believe. He's being started in only 16 percent of ESPN.com leagues. And that number needs to go up against a Dolphins team currently ranked 20th in the NFL against the pass.
Wes Welker and Randy Moss, WR, Patriots: You saw the Cassel stat, right? Moss gets back into the action this week.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Dolphins: At least 12 fantasy points in three of his past four and the Patriots secondary continues to be banged up.
Dustin Keller, TE, Jets: Very quietly has 14 receptions for 194 yards and a score in his past two games. He's getting red zone looks; Favre is trusting him more and more; and the way you attack the Titans is in the middle of the field. Tennessee is top-10 in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: I've been getting a lot of questions about whether guys should bench Steve Smith in this game, considering Jake Delhomme's struggles at quarterback the past few weeks, but I say absolutely not. You always start your studs and Smith is a stud. Besides, he had 96 yards and a score the last time they faced Atlanta, and the Falcons give up more than 226 passing yards a game. I even think Jake does well in this game.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: In fairness to Donovan, we both went to Syracuse. And trust me, there's tons of stuff I don't know, either. But I bet we can both tap a keg!
Shaun Hill, QB, 49ers: It won't be pretty, and downgrade him if your league penalizes for turnovers, but the Niners will be down in this game and will be throwing.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: And he's one of the guys the Niners will throw to. His past four scores have come from Hill, and Davis got a touchdown in back-to-back games.
All you Cowboys: The game they needed to get back on track.
Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers: Every time he's had at least 20 touches this year, he turned them into more than 100 total yards. And, oh yeah, he's playing Detroit.
Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith, Lions: Being at home helps.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings: Touchdowns in four of his past six games. Of course, that stat used to be touchdowns in four of his past four, but I think he turns it around this week.
David Garrard, QB, Jaguars: Double-digit fantasy points in five of his past seven and he's at home.
All your Bears: Speaking of fun to watch, it's fun to watch your guys against the Rams.
Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders: Averaging more than 121 rushing yards in his past two versus the Broncos.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Broncos: You know who I hate on "The Hillis"? Stupid Spencer and Heidi. They are soooo mean to LC! I mean, come on. It's just not fair.
All your Redskins: Big game for Washington, and if there is any team Jim Zorn should know how to attack, it's Seattle.
All your Colts: The Chargers may have to change more than the coordinator in the offseason.
All your Packers: Sorry for the three in a row "All yours" but come on -- three great matchups. Is there anyone you wouldn't play here?
Lance Moore, WR, Saints: Touchdowns in three straight weeks.
Week 12 players I hate
Every Bengal except Houshmandzadeh: Yes, short weeks favor offense. They don't completely remake them, though.
Chad Johnson, WE, Bengals: This is just a heads-up in case you missed it. Chad has been deactivated for the Thursday night game for violating a team rule. That rule, of course, is "don't suck."
Sage Rosenfels and Owen Daniels, Texans: And to be honest, I'm not expecting a huge game from Andre Johnson here either, but you most likely don't have better options. The Browns' pass defense is improving and the game is in Cleveland.
Trent Edwards, QB, Bills: Remember when people yelled at me for putting him on my "OK to drop" list?
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: I can guarantee he's not having the same game as last time.
Almost all your Jets: Keller is the only one I like in this game.
Justin Gage, WR, Titans: Darrelle Revis will shut him down.
Chris Johnson and LenDale White, RB, Titans: You can't run on the Jets.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: The Panthers are fifth best in passing defense and Roddy White is banged up.
All the Ravens running backs: If I can't even tell you which one I think you should hate, how are you gonna pick which one to start?
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: The Eagles give up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. And oddly, Flacco has played better on the road than at home from a fantasy perspective. The rushing yards help, but in four home games this year Flacco has thrown only one touchdown pass and has yet to throw for more than 160 yards. And I don't think you can count on his catching another one.
Gus Frerotte, QB, Vikings: He does not like the road; the road does not like him.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos: Yeah, and he is going to be covered by Nnamdi.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Eli has been rather average from a fantasy perspective lately, with only 11 points a game over his past five. Solid, but nothing exciting. Cardinals play much better at home than on the road, and the way the Giants are running the ball, I don't expect a big fantasy day from Eli.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals: Bad matchup even if we knew Arrington wasn't touching the ball.
All your Seahawks: See Zorn, Jim in the Redskins write-up.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: I know, I know. Everyone thinks I have this crazy bias against him, but I don't. It's just he's very inconsistent. And this is a game I really don't like him in. The Colts play the pass very well. They are top-10 in pass defense, give up the least amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and have given up only two -- count 'em, two -- passing touchdowns all season. I Think this game is all about LT.
That's all we got this week, gang. Good luck in Week 12!
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- must have been fat, because a lot of people have told him he has lost weight recently. 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
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