Commentary

The Fail List

Updated: October 6, 2010, 2:42 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

I quickly understood why.

The Talented Mr. Roto

As many have reported, the Internet was abuzz the last few days (as opposed to the non-buzzed Internet, apparently) with the latest viral sensation. From many sports blogs to female-skewing sites like Jezebel or TheFrisky, to mainstream press like Forbes.com, everyone has been talking about Karen Owen, a 2010 graduate of Duke University who wrote an unofficial thesis called, "An education beyond the classroom: Excelling in the realm of horizontal academics."

That's the fancy title. But it's more commonly referred to by its nickname, "The Blank List." Blank, of course, isn't actually the word used, but rather a word that's not appropriate here. Suffice it to say it's a common colloquialism that refers to a long-standing, very popular activity that two (or more!) consenting adults engage in.

Loved the idea. Oh, I'm sure some of you will argue the reason Owen was one of the top 50 searches on Google the time I checked is due to issues of debate about the rights to privacy, what is and isn't appropriate, gender roles and the portrayal of such in media, the pictures and names listed, and of course, the potential book deals and movie offers with the appropriate lawsuits to follow.

Yeah, yeah. That ain't it. The reason is because people love the idea of this list. I'm sure of it. I mean, I love it. It occurred to me I could do a similar list with players in fantasy football. You've heard of the "D" List? Well, welcome to my F List. F, naturally, stands for "fail." Honest. Anyways, I've taken the liberty of using Karen's helpful format.

The current top five on my F List?

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Randy Moss, WR, Vikings. Drafted as one of the first two wide receivers off the board, he complained in the offseason about his contract. Motivated, Moss had something to prove and Tom Brady wanted Randy happy. A happy Randy means happy fantasy owners. This has not happened and Randy is now going back to his first home in Minnesota.

Memorable moments: Single-digit fantasy points in three of four games this year, Randy had no catches and dropped his one target (would have been a touchdown) on Monday night, thus also hurting Brady owners. He currently has the same number of fantasy points as Nate Washington.

Pros: He's still Randy Moss. Out of a situation that apparently made him miserable and hooking up with a quarterback that's tried to land him for years. Will play indoors on a field where he carved out the first half of his Hall-of-Fame career. Gets to make up for last week's no-show by not having a bye.

Cons: That beard. Karen Owen level of crazy. Older. First date with his new QB takes them to Revis Island. No telling if Brett Favre has been so terrible because he was lacking a Moss-type weapon, or if he's just too old.

Raw Score (how much he's "failed" owners): 5 (out of a possible 10)

Special Note: Edited Oct. 6 after rumors of his going back to his first team proved to be correct.

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Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: A consensus top-four pick (hey, I had him after Gore!), Rice has not been a treat. Not in San Francisco or anywhere. Owners hate him almost as much as that lame Rice-a-Roni joke. I regret ever drafting him at Shooters. Single-digit fantasy points in three of four games, he has yet to top 11 points in any one game or to even score a touchdown. In fact, he now has only one touchdown in his past 11 regular-season games.

Pros: There's a reason you drafted him. He's still the main running back on one of the better offenses in the league. You know I still believe in Joe Flacco, the Ravens' schedule does get easier, and as frustrating as he's been, he's still on pace to eclipse 1,200 yards. He's not gonna go the entire year without scoring. Probably.

Cons: Willis McGahee. Wasn't really gonna play this past week, but yet still dressed and killed any fantasy owner who started him. The schedule gets easier but not crazy easier. Lot more weapons in the passing game for Flacco.

Raw Score: 7.

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Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts. Pimped hard by, ahem, a prominent fantasy writer in the preseason, Garcon had several crucial drops in Week 1, did nothing in Week 2 and has been hurt since. Meanwhile, Austin Collie has established himself, something named Blair White has had even more value this year and Garcon isn't even on the radar.

Pros: Still on the Colts. Eventually has to get healthy. Named Pierre. No one really remembers who the guy pimping him was, so that's good. Who was it, anyways? Was it Karabell?

Cons: Everything else. Still hurt. Collie ain't going anywhere. Not sure how long it would take for me to trust putting him in my lineup. Pride (and a sick belief in his talent) keeps me from putting him in Dumpsville just yet. Making Karabell look really foolish. Yeah, now that I think about it, I'm almost positive it was Karabell who loved him.

Raw Score: 9.

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The 49ers, except for Frank Gore: A trendy pick by many, including me, to roll the NFC West, they've instead gone 0-4, fired their offensive coordinator, killed the fantasy value of Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis is on a tenuous lifeline. Their defense has been bad, especially in the first three games.

Pros: Nowhere to go but up. They did fire their offensive coordinator. They are still in the NFC West.

Cons: Might have fallen to the Curse of Stephania Bell. Alex Smith. Also would take a long time before I trusted them. At least my slobbering over Frank Gore in the preseason still looks smart despite everything else.

Raw Score: 8.

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Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: We knew the quarterback situation would be bad, but we didn't think it was gonna be a total hot mess. And just when you think it can't get worse, it does after a stink bomb in San Diego. Was drafted as a No. 1 wideout but has been a flex play at best through four weeks.

Pros: It's not him. Talent-wise, he's still one of the best wide receivers in the league. Appears to be fully healthy. Nice thick head of hair. Very jealous of that. Also, gets to live in Arizona and is worth a lot of money. By all accounts, just a great human being too. Donating a lot of money to breast cancer research. Class act all the way.

Cons: Can't hike ball to himself and then pass it. Has yet to have a 100-yard-and-a-touchdown game this season. Derek Anderson. And Max Hall. Team in disarray. No other viable wideout to take defensive pressure off. Trade value at all-time low. Tougher schedule than you'd think coming up. The hair probably takes forever to wash.

Raw Score: 6.

That's my list so far. Who is on your F list? While you ponder that, let's get to it.

Don't look back in anger

"Was it always my nature to take a bad time and block out the good times, until any success became an accident and failure seemed the only truth"? -- Lillian Hellman

Here are some of the guys that I suggested you pick up in this column last week. Somehow, you managed to avoid my genius, or you ran into my idiocy and picked up the wrong guys. Either way, they remarkably are still available in some leagues. I list them quickly here because I already discussed them last week, so consider this a combination of obvious names and a list of guys previously discussed.

They should be picked up before any of the guys listed below them except where noted. I've listed them in the order I would claim them. As always, ownership percentages are for ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.

In addition, at the request of many of you, I am adding how much I would bid on this player in a league that uses FAAB money. The dollar amount is based on a standard $100 cap.

Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos (71 percent, $50): Seriously. I'm begging here. How many times do I have to tout this guy? How is he still available in any league? What happens after you die? I have so many questions …

Ryan Torain
AP Photo/Mel EvansRyan Torain was a fantasy sleeper with the Denver Broncos in 2008 but was limited by injury to just two games. His coach back then, of course, is the current Redskins coach, Mike Shanahan.

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins (4 percent, $35): Separating him out here because I want to talk more about him specifically. I had him listed as a top pickup last week, but with the release of Keiland Williams and Clinton Portis banged up, Torain is going to play a big part going forward. He had 18 for 70 and a score Sunday, and with the Redskins' offensive line still hurt, they need to run to keep Donovan on his feet, just like last week. And with the blitzy (yes, blitzy is a word) Packers coming to town, I expect more of the same. With Portis already ruled out for this week, Torain will be the featured back, and will likely remain the first- and second-down back in future weeks, with Portis taking on the third-down role.

Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers (69 percent, $30). BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots (70 percent; $20); Mark Clayton, WR, Rams (89 percent; $17); Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos (57 percent; $12); Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos (60 percent, $12), Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets (67 percent; $12).

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks (56 percent, $25): So, I've tweeted about this before but I'm in this super intense, hard-core 14 team fantasy league with many of our NFL analysts and NFL producers here at ESPN. Among them? Two of the most knowledgeable and plugged-in people on the planet, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter. So you can believe I paid attention when, prior to last week, Mort traded for Lynch and gave up Peyton Hillis. The fact that it took Hillis to get Lynch away from Schefty and that Mort was willing to pay it should tell you that both foresaw Lynch getting moved and were willing to put their running back where their mouth was, so to speak. With the news that Lynch is now in Seattle, he becomes a flex-type running back. The Seattle offensive line is getting healthier and hopefully Russell Okung is 100 percent after the bye. With a week off right now to help get Lynch installed in the offense, it's worth noting that Seattle gets Oakland and two against Arizona in their first five games after the bye. Forsett's value takes a hit, obviously, as he'll be more of a third-down back; basically, a lower-end flex for 12-team and deeper leagues.

By the way, the move really helps Fred Jackson, RB, Bills (74 percent, $10), who will probably see at least half the touches (the Bills seem reluctant to commit to C.J. Spiller on every down) with Lynch out of town, and he has a nice matchup this week against the Jaguars.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets (89 percent, $7), Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders (5 percent, $5), Lance Moore, WR, Saints (39 percent, $7); Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens (68 percent, $7), John Kuhn, RB, Packers (37 percent, $5), Kenneth Darby, RB, Rams (6 percent, $5) Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers (43 percent, $4), Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers (13 percent, $3), Chargers D/ST (23 percent, $2), Tony Moeaki, TE, Chiefs (5 percent, $2).

Pickups of the Week

"Hiya. If I promise not to judge you or even write about us hooking up in a PowerPoint presentation that will be forwarded all over the Internet, can I buy you a drink?"

Considering how many injuries there were, it's a fairly light week for impact pickups. With Michael Vick's and Jay Cutler's injuries (we'll know more later this week), there are lots of backup quarterbacks to choose from. I've mentioned Sanchez, Gradkowski and Freeman above, each of whom should be solid this week. And here's a few more. For order of who I like the most, look at the bid amounts. (I like a few guys below more than Freeman, for example.)

Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles (58 percent, $30): Stop me if you've heard this one before. I like Kevin Kolb. I know, he was King of the Checkdown when he came in for Vick. And he looked bad in his first game before going out. But there's a reason Philadelphia was willing to let McNabb go and it wasn't Vick (seriously, as Schefter reported, Philly offered Vick to every team in the NFL and no one was interested). It's still a pass-first team with lots of playmakers and now a banged-up run game. I'm still a believer, and if Vick is out for an extended period, I like Kolb more than any quarterback listed in this column, save for Orton.

Shaun Hill
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesShaun Hill has accumulated 49 points the past three weeks, more than the season total of Tony Romo and Brett Favre (also in 3 weeks), Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, Chad Henne and Sam Bradford.
Shaun Hill, QB, Lions (3 percent, $8): Fun with numbers. Here are three quarterbacks' stats lines over the past three games.

Player A: 88-for-142, 903 yards, 5 touchdowns.
Player B: 91-for-124, 894 yards, 6 touchdowns.
Player C: 77-for-113, 930 yards, 6 touchdowns.

Fairly similar group for fantasy purposes, right? Players B and C are clearly more accurate, but for what we care about, these guys have similar numbers. Well, Player A is Shaun Hill since becoming a starter. Player B is Drew Brees and Player C is Matt Schaub, over the same time frame.

Obviously, I'm not saying Hill is the equal of those two guys, and when Matthew Stafford is healthy, Hill goes back to the bench. But I wanted to illustrate how good Hill has been recently for fantasy purposes. The Lions have been using their two tight ends really effectively (more on them later), Jahvid Best is a beast on the checkdowns, and of course, they have a pretty good wide receiver you may have heard of. The Rams have improved their defense, no doubt, but not that much. At home, seeking a win, Hill should have a solid day against St. Louis on Sunday.

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (23 percent, $5): After three straight weeks of double-digit fantasy points, if ever there was a week, it's this one at Detroit. I like him more than Hill long-term, but I have him cheaper than Hill because I like Hill more this week and over the next few. Make sense? If I just needed a guy this week only, I'd go Hill. If I needed someone for the rest of the season, I'd go Bradford. If I needed someone for the next few weeks to get me through the byes, I'd go Hill. Regardless, Bradford has looked poised and is impressive to me. With a decent run game that can catch out of the backfield, a go-to guy in Mark Clayton, and Danny Amendola making one-handed grabs, Bradford won't make your F List this Sunday.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills (2 percent, $1): If you're really hurting, it's worth noting he now has double-digit fantasy points each of the past two weeks, two touchdowns in each game, 92 yards rushing in those games, gets Shawn Nelson back this week (can't hurt) and is home to a brutal Jacksonville secondary on Sunday.

At other positions

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders (63 percent, $15): The sixth-most-dropped running back last week, it looked like Darren McFadden took the job and, uh, ran with it. Run DMC was getting all the love and Bush got none, so trendy preseason favorite Bush (and I was hard on that bandwagon) was welcomed to Dumpsville. But then, sadly, we remembered that it helps to have hamstrings when playing the game. Darren hurt his against the Texans and we're not sure how long he'll be out. Meanwhile, Bush ran well in McFadden's absence (9 touches, 56 yards, TD). McFadden could easily miss this week's game -- hammies have a way of being a season-long concern -- the Raiders can run the ball effectively and it's not a terrible matchup this week at home against San Diego.

Mike Bell, RB, Eagles (2 percent, $8): "Philadelphia has a new Bell and this one isn't cracked!" is the kind of thing I might say if I were a terrible sports radio host in the City of Brotherly Love. Anyone else find it ironic that a city well-known for booing Santa Claus, throwing batteries, cheering injuries, having women who offer a game of Madden in exchange for World Series tickets is known for "Brotherly Love"? Me too. None of this has to do with Mike Bell, but there's really not a lot to write about. He's the backup running back to LeSean McCoy, who is out indefinitely with a rib injury. With question marks at quarterback (I still believe in Kolb, but the island is getting pretty deserted), the Eagles might run the ball even more, and Bell will be part of the short-passing game nonetheless.

Jacobs
John O'Boyle/US PresswireBrandon Jacobs has averaged 5.0 yards per carry so far this season, the same average he had in 2007 and 2008, his two 1,000-yard seasons.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants (75 percent, $10): He's most likely owned in your league, but I'm just putting him here in case he isn't. With Ahmad Bradshaw banged up, Jacobs, who scored a junk-time touchdown last week, is in line to get a lot more carries against Houston. I don't like him, but he could be useful. By the way, that's been written about me in many PowerPoints.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers (1.2 percent, $5): Mentioned last week but I wanted to bring him up again since you may have forgotten about him because Tampa was on a bye. But after six for 27 with a score in Week 3, Blount is going to start splitting carries with Cadillac Williams and will get the goal-line touches, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Caddy has injury history, is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry and isn't the future for this young team, so Blount (over preseason fave Kareem Huggins) seems like a nice speculative grab.

Chris Ivory (1 percent, $5) and Ladell Betts (1.4 percent, $3), RB, Saints: With Pierre Thomas a game-time decision last week, my guess is he goes this week. But if he doesn't, we'll see these two again. Here's the deal: If Thomas is healthy, you want Ivory, who will get more goal-line work and whom the Saints really like, despite his fumbles in back-to-back weeks. If Thomas can't go, you want Betts, who they trust much more in pass protection (and, you know, they kinda pass a lot). Frankly, Lance Moore seems to be getting the Reggie Bush throws here, but if you're looking this far down, they're two names worth considering.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions (3 percent, $4): Currently tied for 11th in terms of fantasy scoring among tight ends, you heard me talk about Shaun Hill earlier. Well, you didn't hear it, unless you read out loud to yourself, which is weird, and I guess that means you heard you talk about him earlier. But you know what I mean. Or maybe you don't. Whatever. The important thing is that the Lions are running a lot of two-tight-end sets with Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler (7 percent, $3). Both have 30 targets on the year, tied for fourth in the NFL among tight ends, and the same number as Dustin Keller. I like Pettigrew more than Scheffler, as the former has been more consistent with yardage and totals, but both will have value this year.

St. Louis Rams D/ST (6 percent, $1): They are currently sixth overall in terms of fantasy points among D/STs, they are playing Detroit this week, they haven't earned fewer than seven points a game. I know, I know, I talked up Shaun Hill earlier. It's possible for Hill to have a good game and the Rams to be a decent defense, especially in a week with the Steelers and the suddenly red-hot Patriots defense on bye.

Others receiving votes

Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning." -- Denis Waitley

Here are some guys who shouldn't be picked up in 10-team leagues, but if you're in a 12-team or deeper league, I like them, and you should keep an eye on them. I've sorted them by position, then listed them in the order in which I like them.

I'm sick of talking about quarterbacks, and by now, you shouldn't need any. But there's a chance that Max Hall, QB, Cardinals (0.4 percent) starts for Arizona this week. Anyone who gets to throw to Larry Fitzgerald should be on your radar. … While Arian Foster sat on the bench in the first quarter and fantasy owners across the country had heart attacks, Derrick Ward, RB, Texans (1.5 percent) looked pretty good and finished with a 12 for 80 and a score day. Only interesting if Foster goes down, but if I owned Foster, I'd put in a claim. … If the Ahmad Bradshaw injury is serious, it's not just Brandon Jacobs who would see an uptick in value, but Danny Ware, RB, Giants (0.4 percent) would as well. … The fantasy emergence of Mike Hart, RB, Colts (0.5 percent) wasn't all that (2 carries, minus-4 yards), but if Donald Brown keeps missing time, Hart has two big things going for him. He's on the Colts and Joseph Addai ain't the most healthy cat in the world, you dig? Finally, I continue to love Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals (32 percent) and wouldn't be surprised to see him get a shot at some point this season, for any variety of reasons.

There are so many free-agent wide receivers out there but just thought I'd mention that Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys (26 percent) is actually getting looks and, until the Cowboys figure out their run game, they will have to keep throwing. … I feel like I've mentioned him a ton and he's on a bye this week, but with six receptions in three of four games, Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins (2.5 percent) continues to be a PPR monster. … With Justin Gage banged up, Kenny Britt, WR, Titans (37 percent) continues to tantalize me with his potential. A score last week and frankly, he should have had another -- or at least a very long completion -- that he let go through his hands. But they keep looking for him. Kenny Britt is gonna drive me crazy.

Brandon Stokley, WR, Seahawks (0.1 percent) is the latest potential fantasy zombie after he got eight targets during a four-for-62 day. Seattle goes to a bye this week with more of a chance to integrate him into the offense. I'm also intrigued by Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks (4 percent) there, based on what I hear from my Fantasy Football Now co-analyst Tim Hasselbeck. … I'm sort of intrigued by Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons (0.2 percent), as he had 21 targets the last three weeks, he scored on Sunday and Matt Ryan keeps looking for him. And finally, there's lot of tight ends out there, so I'm not having him as a pickup, but Ben Watson, TE, Browns (4 percent), who has at least six fantasy points in three straight and gets the Falcons this week, who are tied for 13th in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends.

Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You

As always, these are not guys I'm saying you should drop, and, as always, some of you will ignore that caveat. But if you need roster space to grab someone above, I have no issue with dropping these guys. Especially given upcoming bye weeks and the depth at certain positions. These are good players who will have productive weeks but who I feel ultimately won't lead you to the promised land, based on schedules and who else is available in ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.

Chad Henne, Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck, Matthew Stafford, Alex Smith, Fred Taylor, Jerome Harrison, Correll Buckhalter, Chester Taylor, Leon Washington, Kareem Huggins, Darren Sproles, Keiland Williams, Reggie Bush, Mike Sims-Walker, Laurent Robinson, Steve Breaston, Devin Aromashodu (sigh), Robert Meachem, Bernard Berrian, Mike Williams (SEA), Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice, Demaryius Thomas, Nate Burleson, Chris Chambers, Jordan Shipley, Josh Morgan, Mohamed Massaquoi, Jeremy Shockey, Heath Miller, Kevin Boss, Todd Heap, Owen Daniels.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- came awfully close to adding Chris Johnson to the list. 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

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"