- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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I am obsessed with fairness.
When I was married, working in Hollywood as a screenwriter and massively unhappy (and had no idea why) I started therapy. And one of my deep-seated issues, we discovered, was that I got really upset when I perceived that I was being treated unfairly. And that I jumped in where I had no business when I perceived someone else not being treated fairly. And sometimes that made the situation worse and never ended up making me happy.
The therapy gave me the courage (along with my ex-wife; it was very mutual) to end the marriage, quit the business of show and try to make my living at this weird, niche online game that people called fantasy sports. But what it hasn't done yet is solve why I am so obsessed with fairness. My therapist always asks me why and I always say "well, if I knew that I wouldn't be here, now would I? Sometimes my therapist is a bit thick.
But maybe that's why I got so angry when I heard that Notre Dame was keeping Charlie Weis as its head coach. Understand that I hate Notre Dame. Like the Yankees, the Fighting Irish are arrogant despite the fact that it's been awhile since they've been relevant in deciding a title. On my list of the top five teams/programs I hate, they've always been up there. And this is just another example of why.
They ran Tyrone Willingham out of town. He had a better winning percentage than Weis. Who won in his first two years with Willingham's recruits. Brady Quinn wasn't recruited by Weis, you know. Weis has an even worse winning percentage than Bob Davie. But they are keeping him.
I've never met Charlie Weis. He might be a great guy. And I'm sure he knows more about football than I ever will. But that job has a high level of expectation. And when you fail to meet that level of expectation, you need to be fired. Just like Davie and Willingham.
In the interest of upholding fairness in the world, here are 10 people who haven't been fired but should have been, in no particular order.
The entire Chargers front office, but specifically whoever decided Tomlinson no longer needed Lorenzo Neal.
Matt Millen. Should be rehired just so he can be fired again.
President George Bush. We shouldn't have to wait for January.
Whoever is advising Plaxico Burress.
Gary Bettman. I'm not saying Sean Avery is a class act, but I will say this: For a nanosecond, hockey was actually interesting. Let people speak their mind.
Matthew Berry. Because I know half of the folks on my ESPN Conversation pages would want me on this list, and I am nothing if not a man of the people.
Mariah Carey. From the hot chick list. Sorry. It was a fun ride but seriously, put some clothes on. I can't believe I just wrote that. And meant it.
Any Eagles fan who calls for Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb to be fired. Seriously, do you guys remember how bad you were before they got there?
Pretty much everyone at the head of any major investment firm. At least when I tell you to sit Larry Johnson and he goes nuts, it doesn't bring down the entire economy.
The expectation on the Notre Dame head coach is that he needs to win big. Which is why Davie and Willingham were let go. Which is why I don't think you can justify Weis keeping his gig. Notre Dame lost to Syracuse. Syracuse! Take it from a guy who went to Syracuse. We're terrible. No excuse to lose to us. None.
So, Notre Dame is adjusting its expectations and that leads us to this week's "Love/Hate," which is all about expectations. I've said this before but I will say this again, because it is the playoffs in many leagues. When I love someone, it means I feel he exceeds his generally held expectations. When I hate someone, it's that he falls short. I have Clinton Portis on my hate list this week because he is banged up and facing the Ravens. I have Davonne Bess on my love list as a start against Buffalo. But that does not mean you start Bess over Portis in a flex spot.
As an elite No. 1 running back, I think Portis struggles this week. As a borderline No. 3 wideout, I think Bess has a nice week. And to answer some questions that came up in my TRUM this week No, I never base it on whom I am playing or playing against. The TRUM was just a blog reaction to my own personal feelings about what I was watching. My analysis is always done objectively.
Week 14 players I love
Zach Miller, TE, Raiders: The Chargers have given up eight, count 'em, eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season and they give up by far the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The last time he faced the Chargers, Zach Miller had 85 yards and a touchdown.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: You know what's depressing? I don't have to apologize for this being an obvious call. Because it no longer is. But LT has eight 100-yard games in his 10 December contests and you (yes, you) can run on Oakland.
David Garrard and Matt Jones, Jaguars: I expect 200 yards passing, a touchdown and 35 yards rushing for Garrard against a Bears defense that is 29th against the pass. And Jones to be his leading receiver with approximately 80 yards.
Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings: Playing Detroit, I could see the Vikings getting up big and resting Peterson. You'd have to be in a pretty deep league or pretty desperate to start Taylor in a playoff game, but I do think he has upside. He also has scored in back-to-back games.
Gus Frerotte, QB, Vikings: Playing Detroit solves a lot of offensive woes, including "Being Gus Frerotte."
Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings: We all saw what he did last week and Chicago's a better defense than Detroit.
Steve Slaton, RB, Texans: Awkward thing I yelled at the TV on Monday night: "I wanna be matin' with Slaton!" Even my dog looked a big uncomfortable with that one.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans: The Packers are tied for the eighth-most fantasy points allowed to tight ends and Daniels plays much better when Schaub is the quarterback.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: Think he plays, think the thumb is fine, think he rocks it hard. Apparently, I'm an MTV VJ.
Donald Lee, TE, Packers: Weird stat: Donald Lee has a touchdown in four straight home games. I know, I said I was OK with dropping him in this week's TMR and I am. There are a lot of tight ends out there. But if you have kept him on your roster, he's worth a gamble this week.
Almost all your Colts: Big bounce-back week for Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark. But I don't trust Marvin Harrison. I do think the Colts' D/ST is a good sleeper play here. A defensive touchdown last week and only the Lions have allowed more sacks than the Bengals.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: You're already starting Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Lance Moore. And I like Pierre Thomas to get a touchdown. (He's scored in three straight games). But I'm high on Bush this week. Last week was a "he's rusty and the game is away and on grass" week. This week, at home, on the turf, against the Falcons' 21st-ranked run defense, it's a different story. He had a receiving touchdown in his last game against Atlanta and the Falcons won't be able to focus solely on Bush with so many other weapons in Brees' arsenal.
Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Has a score in four of his past six and had one last time these two faced off.
Amani Toomer, WR, Giants: Touchdowns in his past two games and three in his past five, he had more than 50 yards the last time he faced the Eagles and, get this, so far this season, Toomer is top 20 in the NFL in red zone targets. If you need five or six points with upside, Toomer's a good bet.
Tyler Thigpen, QB, Chiefs: I'm getting jiggy with Thiggy!
Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: I seem to vaguely recall him having a good game the last time he played Denver. Sigh.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills: I know. Lee Evans hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 7. He's had single-digit fantasy points in four of his past five games. Trent Edwards is banged up. So why do I love him this week? Because he is playing Miami. Eight touchdowns in nine career meetings with the Dolphins and by the way, Miami is 26th against the pass.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: Think 50 yards. You know, what he should have done last week.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins: In his two games as a starter he has 11 receptions for 171 yards.
Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins: Had 314 yards and a score last time he played Buffalo.
All your Jets: Brett Favre, Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles, Thomas Jones and Dustin Keller all have big games here. Interesting fact about Keller: In the past four games, Keller is top 10 in the NFL in receiving yards and only Tony Gonzalez has more among tight ends.
Ben (Brownsburg): Eureka! I was listening to the podcast on Monday and heard what you had to say about Frank Gore and his lack of production the past two weeks, so just for the heck of it I decided to look at his schedule and noticed that all of his bad games came on the road. Road Games; @SEA, 13 points; @NO, 13 points, (those are his best games); @NYG, 6 points; @ARI, 9 points; @DAL, 2 points; @BUF, 6 points.
Now let's look at his home games, notice how none are worse than 13; ARI, 20 points; DET, 22 points; NE, 13 points; PHI, 17 points; SEA, 15 points; STL, 20 points. What I find the most interesting is how he shows up one week against a division foe at home and then does terrible away. I'm not saying he's gonna go off versus the Jets but if stats say anything, then he is a near-definite 13 points, just think about it.
TMR: Hadn't noticed that. Nice job and I agree with you.
Jason Hill, WR, 49ers: Think Bruce gets a lot of the attention and Hill gets a score. Again, only for really deep leagues or if you are desperate.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: Only the Chargers give up more fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots: Think the Patriots get up big and run in the second half. And Morris gets a score.
Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks: Against his former team and the Seahawks will be down and throwing? Sure, I'll buy some of that.
All your Cardinals: They play so much better at home. Same is often said of me. I'm counting Hightower and Breaston in there.
Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers: In case you were worried about being on the road at Carolina, don't be. The Panthers' run defense has given up at least 130 yards rushing in each of its past four games and the last time the Bucs and Panthers faced off, Warrick Dunn had 133 total yards.
Week 14 players I hate:
Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers: Nnamdi shuts him down.
Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars: Traditionally plays very well in December but I'm banking on the Bears' run defense over that. Bears have given up six rushing touchdowns in their past four home games, though, in case you were wondering why Maurice Jones-Drew wasn't on here too.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns: If you own him, you know why. And if he recently appeared on your waiver wire, you're better off not learning that lesson.
Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals: Nate and I discussed my low ranking of T.J. on today's podcast. Which also features an interview with my mom and an embarrassing story about me and a teddy bear. Seriously.
Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: They call him Starvin' Marvin Harrison because his owners are hungry for fantasy points. Or maybe I'm the only one who calls him that. But I bet it catches on.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles: The Giants on the road with a week to prep ain't the Cardinals at home on a short week. That simple.
Kevin Curtis, WR, Eagles: See McNabb, Donovan.
Mark Bradley, WR, Chiefs: Two first names just not enough this week.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: Less than 50 total yards and no scores the last time they met.
All your Seahawks: Except for the aforementioned Branch.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Cardinals have given up only three rushing touchdowns at home all year. They've held four out of five teams to less than 90 yards rushing at home. Plus he's banged up.
Torry Holt, WR, Rams: If I'm down on Jackson, who is a lot better than Holt
Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys: The Brian Westbrook disclaimer (as I wrote when I mentioned BW during Thanksgiving) applies: My guess is you don't have better options. I am not saying to sit him. But, if you have other, stud options, consider them and here's why: Everyone who owns Terrell Owens has been excited lately but his past two games were against San Francisco and Seattle. Now he goes on the road against a Steelers team that has kept four of the past five quarterbacks it has faced at home to less than 200 yards. And T.O. has been held under 40 yards in his past five, count 'em, five road games. Steelers are No. 1 in the NFL in pass defense and third-best in touchdown passes allowed. I'm not expecting great things from Tony Romo here either.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: I so used to love him.
All your Redskins: If you have Portis and he's playing, you have to start him, but I don't like Campbell, Moss and I bet even Chris Cooley struggles here against a Ravens team that allows the seventh-least amount of fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: He has yet to throw for more than 200 yards in any home game this year and the Redskins are 12th-best in the NFL in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
Any Ravens running back: If you gotta start one, it's probably McClain but I bet you see Willis McGahee in this game and neither of them does much.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers: Delhomme: Cajun for disappointing.
Greg (unknown): Is this your only job? What else do you do with yourself?
TMR: That I can print? Absolutely nothing.
Dave (San Leandro): Matthew -- Lord knows it'd be impossible to be consistent among all the different bits of advice you publish, but I wanted to point out that you suggest Domenik Hixon is a worthwhile add and Kevin Curtis is droppable, but rank Curtis 39th and Hixon 40th this week.
TMR: That's because the pickup column was for the next three weeks. I like Hixon's upside more than Curtis' over the fantasy playoffs, but this week, I like Curtis slightly more (which isn't saying much). And I'm not saying you have to drop Curtis, just that if you need room I am OK with you doing so. Really, it won't hurt my feelings one bit. I can't speak for Kevin, though.
Mike (South Jersey): You said under the best matchup column: "Saints passing game: Falcons, at Bears, at Lions." However, later you said feel free to drop Devery Henderson. Can you please clarify why you said this?
TMR: Because he's the bench part of the Saints' passing game.
CJ (Philadelphia): First off, thank you for your columns throughout the season, they are pretty sexy. Speaking of sexy, I just finished watching you on "One Life to Live." Pure brilliance. Thanks for your help this season, you're the man.
TMR: Really hoping you are a girl. Or a sarcastic guy. Because I think we can all agree the gay community has been put through enough. It doesn't need me as a sex symbol.
Hane Misko (Detroit): Why do you put your posts up so frickin late every week? Everyone's is done but yours. I sit here at work waiting for it but it never comes. You're like a bad father.
TMR: You think turns of phrase like "Getting Thiggy with it?" just happen? Crafting that high-class humor takes time.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- never actually enjoys the music while his party is reached. 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
Matthew Berry's start/sit suggestions with a love/hate twist kick off with a list of those who, along with Charlie Weis, deserve to be fired.