The 10 Fantasy Commandments
"I had to bump you."
The e-mail was a response and it was not the one I was expecting.
Last year, a friend had asked me to join his fantasy basketball league. It was year two of the league, one guy had dropped out, they needed one more owner and was I interested? I knew a decent number of guys in the league and liked them, so I said sure. We played out the league.
So this year comes around and it occurs to me the season is coming up. I send my buddy an e-mail about the draft. We should get around to setting a draft date, no?
And that was his response.
"We accidentally bumped someone last year who had to be added back in this season (there was some bitterness). I didn't think you'd care, you're in, like, 20 leagues." He then goes on to tell me about the team he drafted in the league I am no longer in. "I overpaid for Durant and Blake Griffin" he complains.
I had enjoyed the league last year (really funny smack talk), so I was bummed. But he was right; I am in a million leagues and one less does not crush me.
But the thing that really hacked me off was that he didn't tell me beforehand. I was like ... wait, what?! You already had the draft? (The guys in the league live all over the country). It's like dating a girl, then strolling up and seeing her at a romantic dinner with a new guy. And she's very nonchalant. "Oh, I forgot to mention it. We broke up last week."
No, dammit. That's not how it works.
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 season, I was in the 95.7th percentile on ESPN.com against the spread.
This season, I 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.
Podcast listeners have heard me and our frequent guest Michael Smith (from NFL Live, Around the Horn, etc.) discuss trades. The two of us had a long, very funny podcast last week where I gave him crap for a trade offer that went wrong in a 14-team league we are both in. We had been discussing a trade, going back and forth all day via text, each of us making offers. And maybe a hour after he had made one offer, I said "You know what? I'll do [the offer from a hour ago]. And then he said, "I don't know ... " And I was, like "You offered it!"
We never ended up doing a deal that day and you can hear all the back and forth about it on the pod; it really is pretty funny and he was a great sport. But the story didn't end there. He calls me after the podcast and we end up talking about a different trade. We talk on the phone for like 45 minutes. And we come to an agreement. "Propose it to me on the site," he says. "Done deal."
Which I do. And then, later that day ... he rejects it! Insanity! We had a deal. We agreed to it! We get on the phone again, he's very apologetic, said after thinking about it he really didn't like it, tells me I have every right to clown him on the podcast again and ultimately, a few days later, we did, in fact, get a deal done. And you should know that Michael Smith is one of my all-time favorite people at ESPN. Just a great guy, so don't think anything of this other than what I'm writing. Michael will be the first to say he deserves the abuse.
But the whole process was so anti- "what I believe in." To me, a deal is a deal.
Being replaced in a league without being told and the reneging on an agreed-upon trade happened within a day or two of each other, and I wondered if I was the only one this bothered.
I asked the gang that follows me on Twitter (@MatthewBerryTMR) what their biggest fantasy pet peeve was. Over 600 responses in less than a hour, and they continued to flood in all night. Most responses I've ever gotten to a question I posed on Twitter.
I am not alone. People have lost all decorum. It was clear to me from reading these tweets that people have no idea how to act in fantasy leagues anymore. It's fantasy chaos out there. It's like we're monkeys playing with feces in one hand and a computer mouse in the other.
So here, now, is the definitive word on fantasy etiquette. Learn it, live it, love it.
The 10 Fantasy Commandments
1. Thou shalt not veto. If there is obvious collusion between two owners, then the commissioner (or league via veto) should not allow it. But other than that? Let it go. People should be allowed to coach their team and trade whoever they want, even if you think it's a really stupid rip-off trade. Negotiating a steal of a deal is part of fantasy skill and as long as both parties want to do the deal, you're a punk if you block it. Especially the people who block a trade just because it doesn't involve them or because it's part of their "strategy" to block other teams from improving. That's the coward's way out and you're a scummy, spineless punk if you do that. Win on the virtual field, not in the bureaucracy.
2. Thou shalt play out the season. I don't care if you're 0-12. You make waiver claims and set your best possible lineup in Week 13. It matters to the rest of the league. Have fantasy pride. Quitting is for wimps and people with no moral fiber. You made a commitment, stick to it. Too many times I've heard of people in public leagues (it seems to happens less on ESPN than on other sites, thankfully) sign up for the league to practice drafting and then abandon the team. (This is why we offer free mock drafts and auctions). But even more than that, as teams get tough breaks or aren't winning, owners no longer play it out, leaving bye week and injured guy in their lineups and essentially handing their opponents crucial wins.
I was forced to do it once (a high-stake baseball league the summer I was going through my separation) and I hated myself for it. Seeing as how I ultimately ended up divorced, I should have found a way to play it out.
3. Thou shalt set your lineup every week Nothing is worse than seeing someone starting a lineup with guys on a bye and playing against a competitor you need to lose. Every game matters to everyone else in the league, so I don't care if your honeymoon is right smack in the middle of your season, you can't have a week off. If you know you're not gonna be able to play every week, then don't play at all. The Internet is everywhere. You can set your lineup six days in advance and you can access your ESPN Fantasy team from any mobile phone. If you have to, you can ask a friend or the league commish to set your best possible lineup for you. There is no excuse.
4. Thou shalt not talk about your team. No one cares about your team but you. If you meet me in public, sure, tell me, I get paid to listen to you. But other than that? Seriously, no one wants to hear you prattle on.
5. Thou shalt respond to trade offers. Dude, it's common courtesy. Just a simple "No thanks" is fine. Just let us know you got it but you're not interested.
5a. Thou shalt take no for an answer. A follow up to 5, if the person says no, then don't bombard them with a million other trade offers. One follow-up "Are you interested in talking trade at all?" or "is Player A at all available?" is allowed. But if they still say no, then let it be. Whether it's a girl or a trade, no means no. Period.
6. Thou shalt not bid on a player in an auction if you don't know who he is. If I throw out a player and someone says "Oooh, sleeper," you're not allowed to bid if you don't know who he is or why he's a sleeper. Do your own homework. Stop copying off my paper, jerk.
7. Thou shalt not abuse the waiver process. Don't continually pick guys up and then drop them, placing them on waivers, thus making them unavailable for two days to the rest of the league. Like I said in the first one. Win on the virtual field, not in the bureaucracy, coward. (For those who play on ESPN, that's not a problem; a player must be owned for 24 hours before he'll be put back out on waivers when dropped.)
8. Thou shalt not change the rules midseason. I don't care if it everyone's complaining or it seems unfair in Week 5. You play the rules that were set up at the start of season. Change at the start of next year. Take the job of commissioner seriously. Have a strong constitution at the start of the year and enforce it.
9. Thou shalt not say "Championship!" after drafting T.J. Houshmandzadeh. It's an old joke. We've heard it a million times. Let it go. (thanks to @US_LaticFanatic on Twitter for that one).
10. Thou shalt act like a normal, civilized human being. This is a catch-all for everything else. Act in fantasy how you would in real life. If you agree to a deal, you go through with it. Unless your word means nothing in real life too. Then you're just a horrible human being. Don't be an Internet tough-guy on e-mails or message boards. Smack talk is fine, but insulting or getting personal and saying things you'd never say to someone to their face? Save it, coward. Especially if you hide behind a fake screen name. Don't kick someone out of a league without telling them. Don't reneg on a bet or league fees you owe because the game or season didn't go the way you wanted. Don't abuse your power as commissioner. Don't offer a crappy trade you would never take if you were on the other side of it. Don't whine, bitch, complain or do anything that takes the fun out of the greatest game ever invented.
Those are my commandments. What are yours? While you think of some, let's get to this weeks' love/hate. If you don't get the premise by now, you never will. Numbers in parentheses are my Wednesday rank numbers and the average score of the other three rankers. Use your brain, use my Friday rank updates, watch both editions of "Fantasy Football Now" on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. ET on ESPN.com and at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2, make sure you check the inactives as they get announced and follow me on Twitter for the latest ranks and news up till kickoff.
Here we go:
Week 7 players I love
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (6, 8): The force is strong in this one. Like many of you, I have remained Wacco for Flacco. He's averaging almost 19 fantasy points in his two home starts and now the Bills come to town. Hope they enjoy the crab cakes because they won't enjoy playing Joe. Buffalo gives up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and an average of 24 points a game on the road.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs (13, 17): Speaking of short weeks, the Jags have one too. Except they're also traveling. And playing at Arrowhead. It's nothing fancy in KC, with many dinks and dunks and relying on yards after the catch. But against Jacksonville's 28th-ranked secondary that gives up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, that will work. Cassel actually has two 20-point games in his past three and I expect the Chiefs to, among other things, get Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster in space on short dump-offs and let them outrun an overmatched Jags defense. It won't be pretty, but at the end of the day, Matt Cassel will have a nice fantasy day.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers, Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, Alex Smith, 49ers (My ranks only: 17, 18, 19): I just list them all here because they're low but if you are in a deeper league, with guys like Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub on bye, you might be scrambling a bit more than usual. Except for the Steelers game (everyone struggles against Pittsburgh), Freeman has four double-digit games and averages 15.5 a game. Hasselbeck is at home to Arizona's generous pass defense (allowing almost 250 passing yards and two passing touchdowns a game on the road) and don't look now, but Smith has double-digit games in four of his past five, averaged 17 points a game over his past two and has six scores in the three games since the switch at offensive coordinator.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears (6, 14): The fifth-highest scoring fantasy running back is a top-10 play this week thanks to this little stat: No team has allowed more running back receiving yards (317) than my beloved Washington Redskins.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns (10, 14): If I crush guys for still using the Houshmandzadeh joke, I can't really do a "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Hillis?" here, can I? Crap. Didn't think so. I'm the only ranker to have him in the top 10 and it's for these simple reasons: He's matchup proof and he's the only guy getting all the carries. Cleveland looked OK with Colt McCoy at quarterback last week and that's all you need.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks (20, 20): We're all high on Marshawn this week. And by high, of course, I mean we've smoked him. Wait, I mean he got 20 touches last week and this week he's against a defense that has given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Pete Carroll likes a big back. Not to smoke. To run.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs (23, 22): I'm all in on the Chiefs this week.
Michael Bush (17, 30) and Darren McFadden (24, 25), RB, Raiders: I'm the highest on Bush (there's a Beavis and Butt-head "heh heh" joke in there somewhere) and also fairly confident on Run DMC. It's hard to say how Oakland will divvy up the running back carries but, as of Thursday morning, this is my take: Both guys alternated carries with the first team in Wednesday's practice. But per NFL.com, McFadden was limited in practice and he's listed as questionable. Either way, Bush has the better shot at scoring. I expect both to play and split carries, but if I have to choose, gimme the healthier guy with a shot at goal line carries. The Broncos have given up seven rushing TDs this season, tied for most in the league.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals (6, 20): This is a gut call. Period. He hasn't done squat since Week 1 and Terrell Owens has been the better fantasy wideout. But Chad is very aware of what he has (and hasn't) done. With reports of him sending "Mad Chad" (his new videogame) T-shirts to the Falcons and likely no Duanta Robinson, I think Chad has a big game here. Off the bye, Chad knows the game plan and he tends not to shoot his mouth off this big unless he knows something. But seriously, that's all I got. Total gut call. How's your feel on this one?
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers (11, 17): Only five teams have given up more touchdowns on pass plays of 21 yards-plus than Miami. Wallace is a big-play guy who can stretch the field and Big Ben is great at extending the play with his legs. If he's not open on the first try, Ben's gonna run around until he is. Three scores in his past three games, I like Wallace on the road against a Miami team that has given up at least one score to an opposing wide receiver in four of five games this season.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens (28, 40): Bills have given up at least 34 points in four straight. There's enough fantasy pie for everyone. Heh heh. Shut-up, Beavis.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles (7, 8): How soon can we start calling him "Mac-Daddy?" Or "Daddy-Mac?" Both nicknames have been available since early 1993. By the way, I used that joke in Love/Hate for Week 3. That week, he went out for 83 yards and two touchdowns. So I'm using the joke again and Maclin will go off. Trust me. That's how it works.
Todd Heap, TE, Ravens (6, 13): Didn't practice Wednesday, but assuming he plays, you saw my note on Mason right? Bills have given up five scores to opposing tight ends in their past three games.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots (4, 6): Look both ways before crossing the street. Wait an hour after eating to go swimming. Start your tight end against the Chargers.
Washington Redskins D/ST (8, 17): Available in 91 percent of leagues, they've scored at least eight fantasy points the past three weeks against the Eagles, Packers and Colts. Now they get the Bears and the turnover- (and sack-) prone Jay Cutler. Bears allow the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses.
Seattle Seahawks D/ST (4, 9): The fourth-best fantasy defense, they have days of 19 and 26 points at home this year. And now they get a rookie quarterback who has only one guy to throw to. They are available in 46 percent of leagues. Me likey.
Kansas City Chiefs D/ST (11, 15): While KC prepared for a home game at always-tough Arrowhead this week, Patrick Ramsey and Todd Bouman split the first-team quarterback reps for Jacksonville on Wednesday. Just saying.
Week 7 players I hate
Eli Manning, QB, Giants (14, 8): It's hard to trust him as a top-10, must-start guy when he is so inconsistent. In his past four games, he has two games under 200 yards passing (and three in the last five). He has two games with no touchdown passes. He had his best game of the season on the road, but also his second-worst. The Cowboys have oddly played better defense on the road against quarterbacks than they have at home, but on Monday night, in a must-win game to save their season, I feel that changes.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals (22, 15): He's just not a very good football player. I'm sorry, but he isn't. I still expect Chad to get 100 and a score, but on the road against Atlanta, even with Duanta Robinson likely out, I can't trust Palmer any further than I can throw him. Which isn't very far, but I'd still be more accurate than a Carson pass.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (15, 7): He has to be a top-20 guy for now because of the number of touches he is still getting and his past success. But I'm not sure what my fellow rankers see here. No quarterback means even more stacking the line, like the Titans did. Kansas City is a top-10 defense in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs this year and has not allowed a running back touchdown in two home games (against the Chargers and 49ers, no less). And then you look at MJD's game log. Single-digit fantasy points in four of his past five, he has scored in only one game this year and his yards-per-carry is a career-low 3.9 (he's never finished a season under 4.2). Bleah.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (27, 22): The Seahawks have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this year and no running back has scored on them at home, either.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks (33, 29): I think last week was a fluke. Well, not the whole week. I expected it to happen. What I don't think we see again is Forsett being that productive on just 11 touches. His touchdown was a third-down play last week, not something you can count on, and the more Lynch becomes familiar with the offense, the less we see of Forsett.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers (36, 32): At what point do we get to change his nickname to Pinto? Or Kia? Or Segway?
Steve Smith, WR, Giants (24, 14): Other than a game against Houston, where everyone in the passing game goes off, he's had only one other good game, against the Titans, where he went nine for a buck-oh-three. Single digits in four of six games, Eli clearly favors Hakeem Nicks and you already know I am down on Eli this week to start with.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints (38, 32): Oh sure, he could go off. It is Cleveland. But we still haven't seen a huge Colston game, Meachem is getting healthier and I feel like you attack Cleveland outside the numbers more than in the middle. From eight targets in Week 4 to just four targets each of the last two weeks, there's just too many people in the Saints' pass game to trust Moore this week.
Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars (15, 10): I may have mentioned this before. All in on Chiefs at home, hate the Jags on the road on a short week.
Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints (17, 13): Just like I wrote about Lance Moore and the Browns being tougher to attack in the middle of the field, Cleveland is top-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends and has allowed just one score to a tight end this year. And I hear Shockey agrees to fantasy trades and then pulls them back. At least two of those statements are true.
San Diego Chargers D/ST (22, 15): They play much better at home than on the road, but with the Patriots coming to town and so many good fantasy plays available on the waiver wire, I'm passing on Norv's charges. Just like Brady will all day.
That's all I got for loves and hates this week, but I want to hear from you what your Fantasy Commandments would include. And good luck in Week 7.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- believes that thy should not pay to play on other sites. 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
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