Love/Hate for Week 5. Really.
On "Saturday Night Live," friend of the podcast Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler (sister to friend of the podcast Greg Poehler) do a bit they call "Really?" They say the word over and over, with different inflections, to express incredulity over a certain topic. Click here for one of the better ones.
I've felt like that recently. I mean really.
Like, tonight (Thursday) I'm speaking at the Springfield, Mass., Jewish Community Center. As it says on its website, the SJCC "is a non-profit organization offering programs for all ages, including preschool, youth and teen programs, adult life programs, senior adult life programs, and is home to the JCC Health & Fitness Center. Everyone, including the general public, is welcome at the Springfield JCC."
They contacted me a while ago, asking if I'd be willing to speak for free and help them raise a little money. Sure, I said. Good cause, happy to do it, not a big deal.
So FantasySportsBusiness.com, a website that cover the business of the fantasy sports industry posts this little item:
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.
"Check this out: Matthew Berry has an Oct. 7 appearance scheduled for the Jewish Community Center in Springfield, Mass., for which attendees will be charged up to $35 (reserved seating; tickets also available at $25, $15 for Center members). By comparison, folks in Houston can buy a $30 ticket to go see Vampire Weekend (plus $12.99 in extra whatever charges)".
Me now and I'm like Really? Reaaaaally? People take shots at me all the time. Nature of the gig when you are in the public eye, especially when you do something like try to predict the future and aren't shy about your opinions. But making fun of me for a charity appearance? Really? That's what you want to take a shot at me for? Donating my time and trying to raise a little money for a local community center? Reallly? (If you want details on tonight's event, go to the Springfield JCC website or call 413)-739-4715.
But really now. I got the following e-mail recently, which is similar to a decent amount that I get:
Iggy F. (unknown): You are such a baby! Blocking me on twitter for mocking your pathetic rant about being a punter. What are you 12? Man UP!
Really? You went out of your way to insult me on Twitter and you're surprised I blocked you? Really? Reallly? And you're upset that I blocked you even though you think I'm pathetic? Really? I'm lucky enough to have over 225,000 followers and you think I'm desperate enough for followers that I'll put up with unprovoked abuse? Really? And now you send me an angry e-mail and expect that to work? Really? Reallly??! I follow over 300 people on Twitter. Many of them coworkers or fellow fantasy analysts in the industry that I want to support, good sources of information from beat writers and reporters, celebs, blogs and friends.
They all have one thing in common: I like them. All of them. It would never occur to me to follow someone I didn't like. Or try to be a jerk. Really? You're ostensibly a reasonably intelligent person yet you're busy sending angry tweets and e-mails to someone you've never met about a hobby? Really? Realllly?
It's not about having thick skin; believe me, you should the see the stuff I can't or won't print. I've been called much worse and by much more clever people. But it's just mind-boggling to me. It's like if you're not a fan of me, why would you wanna follow me? Really?
I was getting ready to tape an Instant Analysis on the fantasy impact of the Randy Moss trade for "SportsCenter" yesterday when an ESPN tour walks through. And one of the guys on tour, a man around the age of 45 or 50, starts waving his hands at me. Really. He puts his thumbs on his forehead like a moose and sticks his tongue out. And I was like really? Really?! We're always happy to have fans come by and see us but it is a place of business.
I'm about to tape something that will be broadcast multiple times to millions of people and because it's reacting to fresh news, time is of the essence. You're a grown man and you're sticking your tongue out? Really? Who behaves like that? Really, what was he thinking? That I'd mess up (I didn't)? That it'd be hilarious instead of insane and childish? Really? Really, dude?! You're 45. He walked off, satisfied with himself for a hilarious bit as I finished my segment. Really.
So many times these days I find myself thinking "Really? Reallllly?" Like Chris Johnson's inconsistency. Really, dude? Or Marques Colston not showing up yet. Really? Or the fact that I explain the premise of Love/Hate every week in painstaking detail but some people can't comprehend it. Really? How do you function in society?
But instead of just ignoring the idiots I try to help them. So I say "Really, Berry? Really?" and remind you that 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. In a few cases, my ranks are similar to everyone else's, but the overall rank for that player is higher or lower than it normally is during the season. Like Hakeem Nicks this week.
For my thoughts on where specific players rank in comparison to one another (i.e., Do I play this guy or that guy?), look at my rankings. And do it Friday afternoon! I start writing this column late on Wednesday after the rankings come out at midday. Sometimes, as more research or info comes to light, I adjust my rankings. We publish updated rankings Friday morning. And of course I continue to tweak my rankings, give spins on news and dispense nuggets on Twitter (@MatthewBerryTMR) up until kickoff (well, except for Iggy).
There always will be a few more "loves" than "hates" because you're picking from a greater player pool. Many players, high and low, can exceed expectations, making them a "love," but hating the lower guys that you're unlikely to start, like Max Hall, doesn't do anyone any good. Nor does loving the Chris Johnson types you're starting regardless of matchup.
Finally, the numbers in parentheses are my ranking (as of Wednesday morning) and the average rank of the three other rankers.
Week 5 players I love
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos (7, 10): Death, taxes, I'm the highest on Kyle Orton. Only three things in this crazy world you can count on. Seriously, for the rest of the year, after the "Big Seven" (in order: Brees, Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Rivers, Romo, Schaub, Brady), I have Orton next. He's a regardless-of-opponent every-week start.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (10, 9): I thought he looked really solid last week in a very tough road matchup. Remember, he's had only one home game so far, and in that one, he threw for three scores and over 250 yards. OK, yes, it was the Browns, but still. Over his past nine home games (all last year and this one), Flacco has 15 touchdowns and averages over 250 yards a game. Denver's pass defense continues to be Champ Bailey and a hot injured mess, so I expect Flacco's home studliness to continue.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles (14, 17): Apparently, this is the sticking-to-my-guns version of "Love/Hate." Either that or old favorites. But as a deeper league play, lord help me, I still believe in Kevin Kolb. I wrote about him a lot in Tuesday's column, but suffice it to say that in that offense, with those weapons, a banged-up run game and a full week with first-team snaps, I still believe.
Shaun Hill, QB, Lions (12, 16): Two 20-point fantasy days in the past three weeks, I know the Rams defense is a lot better, but so is the Rams offense. And Detroit's defense isn't. Which means the Lions are gonna have to throw a lot in this game. And with Megatron, the two tight ends and Best, he's got some weapons. By the way, if you're really stuck this week, I could also see Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills, having a nice game against Jacksonville. OK, an ugly game. But one that produced a decent amount of fantasy points.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers (7, 16): I'm not surprised to see myself alone on this particular island. Having seen what Mike Tolbert has done, why would you ever think Mathews is the guy? But the Chargers didn't trade to move up and draft him for no reason. Norv Turner is the anti-Shanahan, and you can usually trust what he says. So I believe him when he said, in a recent press conference, that Ryan is his guy. They wanted to ease Mathews back last week. Not fully healthy, and against a very generous opponent (in terms of rushing yards allowed; they rarely pick up the check at dinner), Mathews is going to get the majority of the carries and be a top-10 back this week.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs (8,16): Only four teams in the NFL have allowed more rushing plays of more than 10 yards than the Colts. And more than 20 percent of Jamaal's runs have been of 10-plus yards, second among running backs in the NFL. Big-play guy against a team that gives them up? Doesn't matter how many touches he gets, he's not gonna need that many.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (21, 24): More of a gut call than anything, but sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers (42, 43): Stuck with some bye-week issues? In a deeper league? Want a fighter's chance? Blount is going to get half the carries and the goal-line work for the Bucs this week, and on the road at Cincy I bet they try to run it a decent amount against a team that has given up a rushing touchdown in back-to-back weeks to the Browns and Panthers. Available in 98 percent of leagues, he's a deep-league flyer, but one with upside.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants (7, 10): In case you weren't paying attention, Nicks is now a No. 1 wide receiver, in fantasy and for the Giants. He's a no-matter-what-the-matchup start these days, but when the matchup is the Houston Texans' "just wave at him as he goes by" pass defense, you get a happy feeling in that special place.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys (27, 32): Obviously not everyone has played four games, so this is a bit skewed, but the Titans have given up almost 500 yards after the catch this year, more than all but seven teams in the NFL. Fully healthy with a bye week to get even more ingrained in the offense, Bryant has the kind of big-play ability I think he shows off in a must-win home game for Dallas.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans (38, 45): Scored in two back-to-back weeks and has only one fewer target than Nate Washington in that time frame. Tennessee has to throw enough to keep Dallas honest and off the line to give Chris Johnson some room, and even though I don't love going against teams that are home coming off a bye, down this low I feel Britt is a good gamble against a team that has allowed over 20 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in its past two games.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos (20, 33): The Broncos receiver I trust the most.
Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins (6, 8): As our guys at Scouts Inc. note, "Cooley has quickly become one of McNabb's favorite targets, especially when looking for a release valve or for a clutch first-down catch. He is very effective down the seam and can be very difficult for a linebacker to cover man-on-man." Green Bay is top-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends (and it's not like it's played against Antonio Gates or Dallas Clark, you dig?), it just lost linebacker Nick Barnett, Cooley has a touchdown in two of his past three and only Santana Moss has more targets on Washington.
Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars (13, 14): Indy is very tough against the tight end and Marcedes still scored against them. Buffalo is very bad against the tight end. I expect him to score again.
Chicago Bears D/ST (3, 6): Available in 40 percent of leagues, the Bears have at least nine fantasy points in three of four games this year. Now they get a team that is struggling to run the ball, has a rookie quarterback and no Steve Smith, plus, Julius Peppers is playing his former team. Yummy. Did I really just write "yummy" in a football article? You're damn right I did.
"Monday Night Football" on ESPN (I'm a company man): Practice, schmactice. The Vikings and Favre will do everything in their power to get Randy Moss a touchdown this week. That's about as sure a bet as I think there is this week. I also like Percy Harvin in the slot (where he's much better suited and won't face Revis) against the Jets. Favre's gonna throw a pick against his former team and they're gonna blitz the crap out of him, which makes me think his won't be an awesome game, but his top two receivers? They'll both be productive.
Week 5 players I hate
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens (15, 14): Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I'm a fantasy football owner whose ready to throw something through a window. Not convinced he's fully healthy and Denver has been strong against the run. Just ask Chris Johnson owners last week. I do like Flacco as you know and Rice is a part of the pass game and chances are, in a bye week, you don't have better options than him. But, as a wise man once said, curb your enthusiasm.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers (34, 29): If I have to start a Buc, it's Caddy, but the fact that I'm taking a swing with LeGarrette in the "love" section should tell you I believe he cuts into enough of Caddy's value that I don't like him on the road at Cincy.
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions (20, 15): Fair warning: Last time he appeared in my "hate" section he may have, um, set an NFL record of some sort. But he just doesn't look right with that toe. And since that crazy Week 2 performance he has a total of nine fantasy points in two games. The Rams defense is better than folks think, having allowed only one rushing touchdown all year, and they're top-10 in terms of fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers (37, 34): You know what the Packers' run game is? An Aaron Rodgers bootleg. Or a short pass. Maybe John Kuhn gets a goal-line carry, but with Green Bay's offensive line really hurting, I'm not touching this.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars (44, 35): I know. It's a great matchup and he's been complaining, so under the Beanie Wells squeaky-wheel rule I used earlier, he shouldn't be here, right? And the honest answer is he's been so bad and so inconsistent (which is why I hated him in the preseason) that I just don't trust him. How comfortable do I feel about putting him in my lineup? The answer is not very. I acknowledge that he could go off, but the lack of confidence in him and in the Jaguars' getting him the ball on a consistent basis have me wanting to start many more people (43, to be exact) ahead of him.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints (NR, 41): Seriously, why is he even owned in 64 percent of leagues now? Same argument I used for Mike Sims-Walker. Would take a lot before I would trust him in my lineup. He's been shut out twice and has a season high of three points. He's just not on the field.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons (12, 6): He's had one good game in four this year, and while he's a solid PPR-type tight end, I don't love him on the road at Cleveland, where it's much easier to attack deep. The Browns actually are tied for fifth-fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. And with Harry Douglas becoming more of a factor in the pass game, along with Roddy White and Michael Turner getting theirs, I just don't trust him this week.
Houston Texans D/ST (23, 13): I realize Brian Cushing is back this week, and that certainly helps. But in two home games this year, this defense has three points and a minus-1. Yes, Eli has struggled, but I know the Texans will score, so the Giants will have to keep up, and I'm feeling a bit of a shootout here. I don't like them, even in deeper leagues.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- fully realizes that today's column was self-indulgent. But you're surprised? Really? 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