- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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Tomorrow is the day.
Assuming you're reading this on Thursday. If you're reading this on Friday, today is the day. And if you're reading it next week to see how many picks I got right or wrong, you know what? Screw you, dude. Hindsight is 20/20, get out of my grill. Unless I nail everything this week. Then, hey, welcome back! Check it out. Pretty good week, eh, buddy? Oh, yeah. Who's the man? TMR's the man.
OK, I've set a record for going off on a tangent because I haven't even started the thing that I'm going to leave for the tangent. I'll add it to the list.
"The list" refers to the one that I need for tomorrow, which is the day. Unless you're reading this on Friday, in which case. OK, wait, we already went down that road.
The day in question is Yom Kippur, which starts Friday night and is one of the Jewish High Holy Days. Longtime readers, fans of the podcast and anyone who has spent more than three minutes with me and my neuroses know that I am Jewish, but if you are unfamiliar with my religion and the significance of the day, indulge me for a second. Fine, another second.
The website JewFAQ describes it pretty well: "The name 'Yom Kippur' means 'Day of Atonement,' and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to 'afflict the soul,' to atone for the sins of the past year. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends."
I love this idea. Yom Kippur is one of the best things about being Jewish, along with matzo ball soup and getting to say things like "You know Scarlett Johansson? Yeah, she's one of ours."
On one day, you apologize and atone for everything you've done wrong during the past year, and it's all washed away. Awesome. One-stop shopping, and you're all set for the year. I've got a ton of stuff to atone for, but I'll probably be really bad tonight just to squeeze in a few more sins before the deadline.
I don't think the idea should be limited to Jewish folks. I do this column every year, and I'll keep doing it until the concept gets adopted by the rest of the world. Because it's not just members of the tribe who have stuff to atone for.
To wit, Shonn Greene. Really, dude? An injury we could live with. We knew that was an issue going in. But the fumbles? And the lack of focus? And the dropped passes? And the general suckiness? You realize you were a second-round pick, right?
Eric Mangini. You claim the job is Jerome Harrison's and he's going to "seize the opportunity." You don't actually give him that opportunity. What was he supposed to seize, exactly? The chance to block pass-rushers? You are on the road. Against one of last season's worst run defenses in the NFL. And your running backs are averaging 4.9 yards per carry. And yet you opt to throw. Thirty-eight times, in fact. In a close game. Did we mention on the road? At least with a guy like Bill Belichick, you can chalk up the uncertainty to the fact that he wins. But you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. What did Cleveland do to deserve you in the same year as it got LeBroned? Speaking of him.
LeBron James. You kill a city's dreams in a selfish, egocentric way by taking the coward's way out. Yeah, you need to atone. I'm sorry. But I said it in July, and I'll say it again: Think what you want about Kobe, but like Jordan, Bird, Magic and others before him, he always wanted to be the man, not some sidekick. For a guy who was quoted as saying he didn't want to chase rings, it's the coward's way out.
The Colts' defense. If they're going to be this bad, there's a very good chance Peyton Manning & Co. will have to play in Week 16 and 17. Which means those guys are steals for those who got them. Seriously, Colts' defense, please try not to be Manginiesque in your suckitude.
Brett Favre. Pick a reason. Any reason. Oh, I could pick a reason. By why make a decision? I'm gonna make you wait. Might change my mind, too.
Angelina on "The Jersey Shore." Just a terrible, horrible, selfish human being.
Sex rehab. Before it? Tiger Woods had 72 career wins on the PGA Tour. Since? 0-for-12. Bring back the ladies, Tiger.
Oh, the list is endless: Any politician who has lied, especially someone caught in a questionable moral position after espousing a moral high ground. Pierre Garcon's hands, which made me look stupid last week. Any blog that knowingly puts out false or unverified information. Everyone who doesn't follow me on Twitter. The guy behind me on an airplane, who, when I'm sleeping, violently grabs the back of my seat to lift himself up to go to the bathroom. M. Night Shyamalan for pretty much every movie since "Sixth Sense." Never again. People who were jerks to me in high school and college who now try to friend me on Facebook. Josh Beckett. Matt Wieters. In fact, my entire Tout Wars team. The gang over at BP. Kate Gosselin. People who take anything said by a Kardashian or any other reality star seriously. Everyone who failed to get a hit in the ESPN softball game against the Jonas Brothers. The Chick-fil-A corporation for continuing not to have any restaurants in Connecticut. And last but certainly not least
Matty's Pigskin Pick 'em picks
I always enjoy playing Pigskin Pick 'em, our football pick 'em game. I play both straight-up and against the spread. Last year, I was in the 95.7th percentile on ESPN.com against the spread.
This year, I have decided to publish my picks. You can find them every week on my TMR page, where there's an uncomfortable amount of me but also links to various articles, videos and podcasts and now, every week, my picks against the spread. Check it out here: Matthew Berry's home page.
Matthew Berry. So many things to atone for. Let's start with the "bench Reggie Wayne" call from last week. Everyone who bought in on Kyle Blanks in baseball, I'm sorry. Ugh. And I'm sure I'll get something wrong this week, too, so let's throw that one on the pile. Let's just say a blanket "If you took my advice on something and it turned out wrong, um my bad." My hairline, my obsession with "Beverly Hills, 90210," my lack of ability to turn the other cheek to everyone I just mentioned, to all non-Lakers fans for pointing out that we are back-to-back champions. Lakers, baby! That I used the term "to wit" in this column, that I rehash this column every year, that I get paid to do this, that I have a questionable tie collection, that I force you to listen to Pod Vader on our podcast, that I wrote this long intro. I promised my editor this column would be fewer than 3,000 words. I think I'm just barely gonna make it. [Editor's note: You did not.]
With all that atoned for, let's move on to Week 2's Love/Hate. A reminder for those of you just joining us or those who didn't bother to read this part last week: This year, I've decided the best way to do this is based on our rankings. Players I "love" are players I have ranked significantly higher than my colleagues. Players I "hate" are players I have ranked significantly lower than everyone else. As always, use your brain. Just because I "love" Mohamed Massaquoi and "hate" Randy Moss does not mean I suggest you bench the Patriot for the Brown. But rather that, compared to everyone else, I am higher on Chainsaw and less excited about Randy.
For my thoughts on where specific players rank in comparison to one another, look at my rankings. And do it Friday afternoon! I write this column late on Wednesday after the ranks come out midday. Sometimes, as more research or info comes to light, I adjust my ranks. We publish updated rankings Friday morning. And, of course, I continue to tweak and dispense nuggets on Twitter (@MatthewBerryTMR) up until kickoff.
This year, I've tried to narrow the names each week to just those I feel really strongly about, but there always will be a few more "loves" than "hates" because you're picking from a greater player pool. (Hating the lower guys like Marshawn Lynch doesn't do anyone any good.) Finally, the number in parentheses are my ranks (as of Wednesday morning) and the average rank of the three other rankers.
With that, let's get to it. Who do you think needs to atone?
Players I love for Week 2
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles (7, 11): He's not even officially the starter as of this writing, and it's not as if my fellow rankers are down on him. So why is he on this list? Well, I'm the highest on him of the four, and my rank has him as a must-start this week. He also happens to be available in 60 percent of leagues. I find it appropriate that Vick makes his Love/Hate list debut in the atonement column, and I don't have to like the guy or agree with what he did to use him for fantasy purposes. Do you realize he was the seventh-best fantasy player -- not quarterback, player -- last week? A buck seventy-five in the air, over a hundy on the ground, a TD pass and lots of highlights on ESPN is what he did against the Packers. Do I need to tell you that, on the turf against the Lions with a week's worth of reps with the first team, it is an even better matchup? Consider that Vick has more weapons at his disposal than he ever had in Atlanta. Like, by a lot. Don't be a Vick. Get him in your lineup. And add bad puns to my to-atone-for list.
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos (13, 16): As seen in last week's column. Before he threw for almost 300 yards and a score. Seattle isn't the same on the road, and once again, this Broncos team is a passing team. They just traded for Laurence Maroney. That tells you just how confident they are in their run game.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants (8, 13): Like his father, Hall of Fame quarterback Terry (OK, add lack of research to the list), Bradshaw has emerged as a go-to guy for his team with twice as many touches as Tall and Fat Brandon Jacobs. He's a great start this week against the Colts; you may have heard of the exploits of the last running back who faced them? The "Matthew Berry promoted and never wavered on him since last year" Arian Foster? (Aaaand we're throwing lack of humility onto the ledger.) Wanna hear a scary Next Level stat from our ESPN Stats & Information crew? When the Colts put seven or more guys in the box against Houston, the Texans averaged 7.7 yards per carry and scored two of their rushing touchdowns. Plus Bob Sanders is out, which hurts all facets of the Colts' defense, all of which means Ahmad will make your opponents "ahhh, mad." See what I did there? What do I care? Already got bad puns on the list.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers (25, 29): There's not a huge difference between where I rank him and where the other guys do, but my guess is we're all high on him for the same reasons: He got the majority of the workload last week, and he crushes at Carolina. He's scored five touchdowns in eight career games against the Panthers, and he had 183 total yards and a score in two games last season.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles (6, 13): Mike Vick can throw it a mile. Seriously. I saw it in a commercial, and those never lie. Oh, and last season, only three teams gave up more 20-plus-yard touchdown passes than the Detroit Lions. And their secondary isn't a whole lot better this season.
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears (26, 33): The argument against Devin A. in the preseason was that he was the third receiver. Well, the gang at ESPN Stats & Information help counter that argument with this: Last week, the Bears went three-wide for 71.4 percent of their plays and 83.7 percent of their pass plays. In simpler terms, Aromashodu led the team with 10 targets and had five catches for 71 yards. With DeMarcus Ware breathing down Jay Cutler's neck, the quarterback won't have tons of time to let deep plays develop. That means lots of looks to Aromashodu, and this week he'll get the touchdown he should have scored last week.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts (21, 23): There's a slight difference here, but I included it because I pumped him up all offseason and then he got a case of the Braylons. But knowing what I do about Peyton Manning and the Colts, my thinking here is that instead of ignoring him, Manning will target him a lot. Indy needs Garcon if it's going anywhere this season, and Manning will want to get his confidence back.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns (28, 44): He'll be lower if Jake Delhomme doesn't play (I can't believe I just wrote that), but as improved as the Chiefs' defense looked on Monday night, it can be beaten. Cough, Legedu Naanee, cough. Because it's a young defense headed on the road in a short week, I expect Cleveland to do a better job of using the run to set up the deep ball. Although this is a feast-or-famine call and not for the weak of heart, I like the Chainsaw to hit pay dirt or get enough yards that you don't care. (Putting my faith in a team run by a coach I just chastised for being illogical? Check.)
Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins (4, 9): The Texans are without Brian Cushing. They also are missing their offensive coordinator from last season, Kyle Shanahan, who is now calling plays for the Redskins. Shanahan faced the Texans' defense every single week in practice last season; I think he's got a pretty good idea of how to exploit it. And you saw the game Sunday night. With six receptions for 80 yards last week (on nine targets, tied for the team high), it makes sense. If you were Donovan McNabb, whom would you throw the short ones to on that team? Exactly.
Todd Heap, TE, Ravens (11, 18): The question has never been the talent, just the health. I thought that he looked great on Monday (six for 72) and that Joe Flacco looked for him often. Expect the Ravens to use a lot of three-receiver sets to get Heap in a favorable matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs' D/ST (19, 19): I need to move them up in my Friday rankings update. You know that Delhomme or Seneca Wallace will throw a pick or two, that the Browns' runners have had fumble problems and that when you throw Dexter McCluster and the special teams in there, you have Exhibit A in the "just play D/ST matchups" argument.
Chargers' D/ST (4, 13): This is more a gut call than anything, but after getting embarrassed on "Monday Night Football," they'll play at home against a Jags team that has to fly across the country. I like the Chargers' chances. It's worth noting that last season, the Jaguars averaged almost 23 points a game at home. On the road? 13.
Players I hate for Week 2
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears (16, 11): The Cowboys ain't the Lions. On the road ain't home. Four turnovers and two sacks ain't gonna cut it against DeMarcus Ware.
David Garrard, QB, Jaguars (25, 18): See Chargers' D/ST and the scoring stat on Jacksonville on the road. Then add "lazy" and "running a joke into the ground" to the list.
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions (33, 17): You know my adage. "Never pay for saves." Wait, that's not the one I want. "Pull my finger." No, not that one, either. Oh, right. Touchdowns are hard to predict. Best averaged 1.4 yards per carry last week, and if you're Andy Reid, do you concentrate on stopping Jahvid Best or Shaun Hill? Exactly.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals (43, 34): I think Beanie Wells will play (if he doesn't, Hightower is obviously off the hate list), and as much as you hated Hightower's two fumbles last week, the Cardinals hated them more.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys (35, 32): Wake me when the Cowboys have an offensive line.
Randy Moss, WR, Patriots (23, 11): Yeah, if you saw the rankings, you knew we were going to get to him. It's Revis Island. Plain and simple. Moss picked up only 58 total yards combined in two games against the Jets last season. Add in the two games in 2008, and you have a total -- a total, mind you -- of 106 yards in four games against the Jets. He scored in that crazy overtime game in which he made an amazing catch, but any way you slice it, he underperformed in each game.
Moss does have two touchdowns in four games against the Jets, and I think that's right. I say there's a 50-50 chance he'll score on Sunday. And hey, a talent like Moss could easily go off, especially after Revis sat out all of training camp. But the trends say he won't. I think Tom Brady will try very hard to get him a score, but the yardage total will be low. Against the Bengals, Brady basically did nothing but three- and five-step drops, keeping it short and ensuring the Bengals' pass rush never got to him. That worked very well. Knowing the Jets' propensity to blitz, expect more of the same with a lot of bubble screens and underneath stuff to Wes Welker. I have Moss ranked at 23rd, which makes him a high-end flex play in 10-team leagues or a borderline starter in 12-team leagues. It takes guts to bench him, and I would do that only if I had other strong options. But yeah, I'm the only guy to have him outside my top 20 this week, and that's why.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals (44, 26): For the record, I also hate his reality show. I don't expect there to be the kind of junk time there was in Week 1 for Cincy (much of the passing-game production came after the game was well out of hand), and to beat the Ravens, the Bengals need to run more.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills (not ranked, 35): Hells no. I wouldn't start him on Angelina's team.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars (37, 28): See Garrard, David. I would tell you to see his receptions from last week, but there's nothing to see. Hey-oh!
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings (35, 24): I thought he looked terrible in the opener. I also thought Favre looked old. I mean, old for him. Also disinterested and not trusting of anyone on the team except Visanthe Shiancoe. The Dolphins don't have a great secondary, the Vikings have had a few extra days to prep, and this game is at home, which should help alleviate all the Minnesota concerns. This one could easily blow up in my face, as I expect Miami to blitz a lot, and a dump-off to Harvin in the slot is always a threat to turn into a run to the house. So understand that I'm admitting this is a risky call here, and if you like him, don't bench him. Even if he goes off, I just don't trust him or that offense enough yet to play him as a flex or No. 3 wide receiver in a 10-team league. (Fine, I'm writing down fence-sitting).
I don't have a clever way to end this article. Or maybe I'm just too lazy to think of one. Let's just, oh, I don't know add it to the list and be done with it.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- plans to atone . He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend
As he lists off his start/sit advice for Week 2, Matthew Berry looks forward to the Jewish Day of Atonement with a laundry list of things he and others need to make good for.