Commentary

The Talented Mr. Roto: Week 4 pickups

Updated: September 23, 2008, 5:03 PM ET
By Matthew Berry | ESPN.com

I am a man of my word.

But while I continue to not talk about my crazy dating stories, I never said I wouldn't talk about others. Swapping dating battle scars with a female friend of mine a few weeks ago; she was telling me about the latest guy who didn't work out.

"He's done with me. I'm never seeing him again."

Now, despite what you read here sometimes, I'm actually a pretty positive person. I always believe there's a way. No matter what the challenge, be it becoming a Hollywood screenwriter, or changing careers in my 30s and deciding to make a living at fantasy sports and becoming a heartthrob despite a lack of hair or muscle tone (still working on that last part). In this particular case, if she likes this guy, there is nothing that can't be overcome. Come on, I say. How bad could it be?

"Well, we hadn't talked in a week or so. And then I drunk-texted him."

"Everyone's done that. He probably was happy to get it."

"It was at 4 a.m."

"So he was asleep. No worries."

"I had been out at a party and came home. And then I couldn't fall asleep. And then I just got loopy."

"O-kaaay. Maybe not the best frame of mind to start texting on, but go on."

"So I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn't go back to bed. So I started watching TV and there was a documentary on the History Channel. And I was still buzzed. So I texted him. And he didn't respond."

"I told you. He was asleep. Don't worry about it."

"I texted 'Lincoln freed the slaves'."

After that, I just stared at her for what seemed like a minute.

"Yeah, you're not hearing from him again."

"It was an emotional documentary! It was very exciting!"

"I have no doubt. Just like I have no doubt you're never hearing from him again."

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"But it's cute, right? Kind of funny?"

"No. It's crazy. Guy hasn't heard from you in a week and then gets a text at 4 a.m. that says "Lincoln freed the slaves?" He thinks you're insane. And, I love you, but he's right."

Look, I've texted some pretty dumb stuff in my life. "No, bench Peterson." "I want you, Laura." And then, a minute later, "I mean, I want you Linda." But nothing that bad. So I ask you, gentle reader. What's the dumbest/worst/most embarrassing thing you've texted? Or been texted by someone?

And while I think she is done with this guy, whatever the situation is, it can usually be turned around. Like if you are 0-3 at this point. Or 1-2. Not all is lost. Lotta football still to play and now is not the time to panic. It is, however, the time to try and improve your team. And that's what you can do with the …

Pickups of the Week

This is a huge week for pickups because there are six teams on a bye in Week 4. The Giants, Colts, Patriots, Lions, Seahawks and Dolphins all take the week off, which means a lot of holes. For you … and your Week 4 opponent. I suggest looking very carefully at what you need and, just as importantly, what your opponent needs. Because you may not need a quarterback, but if you are playing the guy who has one of the Mannings, why not grab Trent Edwards, who has a sweet matchup at St. Louis, and have him sit on your bench instead of racking up the yards for your opponent?

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. Like, the next morning, my friend should have texted that dude and said "Hey, did you get a weird text from me last night? Because my little cousin was hopped up on sugar and got into my purse." Or, as the kids would type it, "HDUGAWTFMLN, BMLCHWHUOSAGIMP. LOL."

As always, ownership percentages in ESPN.com standard leagues are indicated in parentheses, and in the video clip above, there is a "secret" pick-up that is not mentioned anywhere else in the column.

Steve Slaton, RB, Texans (56 percent): I was shocked to find out that Slaton is available in almost half of ESPN.com standard leagues. Then again, I was shocked when I was asked to be on "One Life to Live." (I tape Wednesday. Man, I hope I'm not terrible). Slaton was the Texans' best runner in the preseason, Ahman Green can't stay healthy, and reports of a time-share with Chris Taylor appear to be premature. Slaton ran very well against a very good Titans defense (18 carries, 116 yards and a score) and will be a very good flex play the rest of the way.

Le'Ron McClain
AP Photo/Nick WassLe'Ron McClain scored two of Baltimore's three offensive touchdowns in Week 3.
Le'Ron McClain, RB, Ravens (6 percent): A funny thing happened on the way to vulture-ville. (Mike Alstott, Mayor). Le'Ron McClain bypassed Ray Rice on the Ravens' chart. He looked good. Now McGahee is only going to increase touches and Rice isn't out of the picture, plus a Week 4 matchup on the road at Pittsburgh isn't any fun either. But the Ravens are going to run the ball, they are going to do so effectively and McClain is going to get the ball on the goal line and touch the ball at least 10 times a game. And that's worth something.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers (73 percent): I actually hate his matchup against the Ravens on "Monday Night Football," but with FWP now being SWP (Sidelined Willie Parker) you have to like anyone who is going to get the ball a lot on a team that's pretty good at running, especially considering that Ben Roethlisberger is banged-up and will lean even more heavily on the ground game.

Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles (6 percent): Coming off of 87 total yards and a score, but the most important thing about Buckhalter is that his value is attached to Brian Westbrook's lower appendage. If the ankle is healthy, never mind. If it's banged up, Correll's a top 15 running back against Chicago. Considering there is a 94 percent difference in ownership for Westbrook and Buckhalter, I am guessing he is not owned by every Westbrook owner. See? It's not just with texting. I'm smart all over.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Bears (8 percent): Having watched Brandon Lloyd never fulfill potential in San Francisco and then spectacularly under-perform in Washington, I've never been a fan. In fact, if I text someone and it doesn't go through because my cell service drops it, I refer to it as having been "Brandon Lloyded." But facts are facts and Lloyd leads the Bears in receiving yards, targets and is tied in receptions with Matt Forte. He seems to have developed a chemistry with Kyle Orton (most likely reason: he was the least creeped-out by his mustache) that resulted in 124 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Not crazy about his matchup against Philly, but Weeks 5 and 6 against the Lions and Falcons sure look inviting.

Rudi Johnson, RB, Lions (64 percent): Lost in the "Ronnie Brown did what?! And the Patriots lost to who? And the Seahawks have a guy named Bumpus?" hoopla of Sunday was the fact that Rudi Johnson looked like the Rudi everyone drafted two years ago. Yes, it was against a subpar defensive team, but 17 touches for 131 yards and a score is not to be dismissed. The Lions have a bye this week, and I do not think Rudi has supplanted Kevin Smith as the starter. And I'm willing to bet whatever you want that he doesn't have 48 receiving yards in any game the rest of the season. But he could be started at some point this season, and it's worth adding the running-back depth if you have the bench space.

Derrick Ward, RB, Giants (24 percent): He's only the third back you want on the Giants and he's on a bye. But there will be weeks when he is productive, and the Giants' runners are all splitting enough touches that it's worth noting any of them are decent flex plays in a bye week. For what it's worth, Ward had more than 100 total yards Sunday, and looked like the best runner on the team.

Antonio Bryant
Jerry Lai/US PresswireAntonio Bryant caught 10 passes for 138 yards on Sunday, but did not score.

Antonio Bryant, WR, Buccaneers (10 percent): I'm not totally buying this. In fact, with less upside but more consistency, his teammate Ike Hilliard (12 percent) and his two touchdowns is the guy I'd like to have. But clearly, Brian Griese stretches the field in a different way than Jeff Garcia (as in, more than 20 yards) and with Joey Galloway being injured, Bryant stepped up with 10 receptions for 138. Worth stashing if you have the spot, but I can't see consistent production from him week in and week out. Of course, that is often said about me.

Justin McCareins, WR, Titans (2 percent): As long as Justin Gage is out and Kerry Collins is the quarterback, McCareins get some looks and, with all the byes this week, I could see him being OK against the Vikings' secondary after having four receptions for 90 yards Sunday.

Deion Branch (18 percent) and Bobby Engram (40 percent), WR, Seahawks: Both of these guys are due back after the bye week in Week 5, and both will be very good wide receivers. If you're fine for the bye week, grab them (Engram first, then Branch if you can't have both) and stash them for later. By the way, the return of these two and the play of Billy McMullen is why I'm ignoring Koren Robinson.

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys (1 percent): Honestly, I think two great plays is all it was. But what plays they were. I'm not convinced yet, but I bring him up here in case you are. Only for deep leagues. The fantasy sports equivalent of a 4 a.m. text: don't expect to get anything out of it, but be very happy if you do.

The "Tight End if you Just Lost Shockey" List:

In order, here's a bunch of tight ends that are available in over 50 percent of leagues if you're looking for someone because you lost Jeremy Shockey (or need a bye-week guy).

John Carlson (57 percent) and Anthony Fasano (54 percent) are on a bye this week, but those are my top two choices. L.J. Smith (64 percent), Owen Daniels (63 percent), Dustin Keller (13 percent), Robert Royal (35 percent), Billy Miller (4 percent) and Jerramy Stevens (1 percent) would be the others I would target, in that order.

The "Guys I Have Mentioned in Previous Columns But Who are Still Available in Too Many Leagues" list

Michael Bush (21 percent), Pierre Thomas (24 percent), Chansi Stuckey (17 percent), Michael Pittman (40 percent), Jason Campbell (74 percent), Hank Baskett (34 percent), Jordy Nelson (1 percent, for deep leagues only) and T.J. Duckett (34 percent).

The "If You Have Guys on Byes this Week List and are Looking for Pickups not Listed Above" list

The matchups I like are Jacksonville against Houston (Matt Jones, David Garrard); Carolina at home against Atlanta (Muhsin Muhammad, Jake Delhomme); Denver at Kansas City (Michael Pittman, the Broncos' D/ST); San Francisco at New Orleans (J.T. O'Sullivan, Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, David Patten, Pierre Thomas, Billy Miller); Buffalo at St. Louis (Trent Edwards).

The "Guys I'm Willing To Drop" list

Kenny Watson, Reggie Williams, Drew Bennett, Tarvaris Jackson, Jeff Garcia, Ahman Green, Maurice Morris, Kevin Jones, Adrian Peterson (Chicago), Jacob Hester, Kevin Curtis, Courtney Taylor and Greg Olsen.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto  can be texted at 4-ESPN. 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

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

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