- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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I'm still not used to it.
My friend Amanda Murphy invited me to the Angels-Red Sox game Monday night at Fenway. Because Boston won, she wins our bet, which is a shout-out in this column. Suffice it to say that my side of the bet was better than a column shout-out and that I hate Erick Aybar.
Anyway, a couple of funny things happened at the game. I got recognized a decent amount, which happens a lot more often these days for whatever reason. What's after the D-list? The F-list? How low can we go on the alphabet? Maybe the K-list?
Anyway, as I was standing in line for food, two guys behind me asked if they had read my column on ESPN that day.
Me: Very possibly.
Fan No. 1: Don't worry. I'm a fan.
Me: I'm sure. Most people who approach me in public are. The ones who aren't send anonymous e-mails or post in conversation.
Of course, 10 feet later, I did have one drunk fan approach me and say "I just gotta give you [naughty word] about Larry Johnson. You know I could do your job better than you, right?"
I agreed with him, which seemed to make him happy. Sigh. Say this for LJ: People don't give me crap for the Adrian Peterson call from last year anymore. Or for Jeff Francoeur. Yeesh.
Walking down the street after the game, a guy yelled out "Talented Mr. Roto! You're awesome, man! I love you! Put me in your column!" and then stumbled off.
So there you go. Random drunk Red Sox fan you are in the column. Thanks for the kind words and congrats.
One guy recognized me in the bathroom. I'm always happy to meet fans and talk fantasy, etc., but seriously, could there be a more awkward time to have someone come up to you? "Hey, you're Matthew Berry right? Love the podcast man! Big fan.
Me: Uh, thanks. Kinda busy here. Can we, you know, shake hands and take a picture outside?
Seriously, the last thing I need is a picture of me at a urinal circulating the Internet. OK, that's not true. There are lots of pictures that could circle the Internet that could be worse. (See Cooley, Chris.) But that's probably top 10.
But the most surreal moment happened when Josh and his buddy Mike approached me in my seat. Now, my friend Amanda's seats are in the outfield and I'm four seats in. The game is going on, it's a playoff game, the teams are in the fifth inning and it's tied. Angels are at bat; everyone at Fenway is very nervous.
And this guy Josh just approaches, reaches over the other guys on the row and hands me a beer. Loudly. "This is for you."
Josh (he's had a few): You are the man! Talented Mr. Roto, man. I've been reading you for years. Even before ESPN.
TMR (tipping my beer): Thanks. Appreciate it.
Josh: No, man. You don't get it. I've met a lot of celebrities. I've met Mike Vrabel. You're right up there.
Which is really nice and Josh was great, but now I feel totally dumb. Because people are hearing this guy and looking at me and they have no idea who I am, which, believe me, I realize is the majority of people. I'm looking back like "Hey, sorry I'm not more famous. I like Mike Vrabel more than me too." I had that at-the-bar "Hey, sorry about my incoherently drunk buddy slobbering all over you because I know you three girls are all married and just out for a few drinks with friends" look. Meanwhile, Josh decides that this isn't nearly awkward enough for me, so he steps it up a notch.
Josh: Can we take a picture with you? After the inning?
TMR: Yeah, of course.
Josh: Cool. I'm gonna wait right here in the aisle until the inning is over.
Now I feel really dumb. The guy is, like, just waiting there, watching me. And he's telling his friend Mike, who doesn't really know who I am, all about me. Loudly. "He's the ESPN Fantasy guy! He used to have his own site which was awesome but then he sold it to ESPN! Don't shush me dude. I don't care. I've won lots of leagues because of this guy! He's on TV all the time. He's the man."
And people are looking. They can't see because this guy is in the aisle and they're all craning their necks to see if they recognize me, which they don't. And of course the inning won't end!
So finally I tell the guy that I'll meet him and his buddy after the inning at their seats to take the photo. They agree and leave. After the inning, I am walking out of my aisle to go take the photo. And there's an older guy at the end of the aisle. He stops me.
Old Guy: Tell the truth. Are you really some sort of big deal?
TMR: Not at all.
Old Guy (smug): I knew it.
All this public interaction on Monday got me thinking about our opinions and perceptions. Because I have perceptions about my awareness (or lack thereof) and clearly, fans have their perceptions of me. And we all have different perceptions when it comes to how we view the players on our fantasy teams. (Didn't think I could do it, did you?)
Fantasy Football is a game of matchups. Values fluctuate wildly and the value of a player on one team is different from that same player's value on another team. Everything depends on league size, roster requirements, scoring, your team depth at a position, league rules and, frankly, how your team is doing. A 1-4 team needs to swing for the fences a lot more than a 3-2 team does.
Some of these players are obvious, some aren't. Just like every week. Depends on how smart, active and needy your fellow owners are as well. We all have opinions. And hopefully this helps you form yours. Or doesn't. What do I care? If you're reading this it means I already got your page view, sucka! Hah!
With that in mind, study your team. Look at it, look at upcoming schedules and figure out whom you should add and whom you should drop if anyone. As always, ownership percentages in ESPN.com standard leagues are in parentheses and I've left one pickup out of the column, so you have to watch the video to catch them all.
Pickups of the Week
Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders (57 percent): So maybe he sits on the bench when Darren McFadden plays Madden, but he is healthy, he'll still be the starting running back for the Raiders in Week 6 against the Saints and Oakland is the third-best rushing offense in the NFL. Fargas needs to be owned in every league. Mentioned him last week and yet he's still available. I'm gonna keep writing about him until he isn't. You've been warned.
"Check out the fantasy points over the past three weeks for four quarterbacks. The last number is the total of the three weeks.
"Quarterback 1: 13, 14, 19 = 46
Quarterback 2: 15, 22, 12 = 49
Quarterback 3: 16, 14, 14 = 44
Quarterback 4: 22, 11, 18 = 51
"Now let's put names to those guys:
"He's not "Sexy Rexy," but Kyle Orton has seven touchdowns in his past three games, his next three games are against Atlanta, Minnesota and Detroit again (after a bye), and he's available in more than 60 percent of leagues."
Greg Olsen, TE, Bears (55 percent): He's had 122 yards and a score on seven receptions in his past two games. And you just saw the Bears' schedule coming up. Orton seems to be looking for him more and more.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears (27 percent): As long as we're talking Bears, Hester now has a score in back-to-back games. Nine touches for 103 yards in the two games combined and Chicago is working on getting him the ball more. I keep writing his name. See Fargas, Justin.
Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks (50 percent): There's not a lot I claim to know but I know this: Engram is healthy and the best wide receiver on a team that will need to throw a lot this year. He should be owned in every single league. Eight receptions for 61 yards Sunday is just the beginning.
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles (64 percent): A funny thing happened on the way to Brian Westbrook's first injury return. He suffered a second one. Fractured ribs are no fun and neither is your first-round draft pick getting hurt. The Eagles need a win badly and my guess is that if there is any way Westbrook can play, he will. But if he can't, Buckhalter should be solid against the 49ers. And by solid, of course, I mean he's neither a gas nor liquid. No? I guess I was right and Mr. Ribeiro, my 11th-grade chemistry teacher, was wrong; I'll never need to know this stuff.
Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos (10 percent): It was one magical year. The year Stokley came out of nowhere to catch double-digit touchdowns. As a result, he's always had a place of fondness in fantasy owners' hearts, if not their rosters. He's been pretty ordinary the past three years, but with both Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler banged up, it's worth noting that Stokley has 17 targets, 13 receptions and a touchdown in the past two weeks. That's only nine fewer targets than Eddie Royal has all season, and more than Scheffler.
Ryan Torain, RB, Broncos (9 percent): As long as we are in Denver, we might as well point out that Torain has a chance to get 12 touches a game at running back during the home stretch. Anything is possible, especially since none of the other guys have done anything yet. Torain should be cleared to practice soon and will probably play in early November and blow up whenever he's on your bench and do nothing whenever you start him. Because that's just the way it works with Denver running backs. But if you have the bench room, you might as well strap in and go for the ride.
Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals (20 percent): I wasn't that high on him last week because I felt Anquan Boldin would be back and Buffalo's defense would limit the Cardinals' passing attack. Wrong on both counts. Breaston followed up his 9-for-122 game with a nice 7-for-77 and gets the Cowboys and their 17th-ranked pass defense at home in Week 6.
Greg Camarillo, WR, Dolphins (3 percent): He's increased his yardage every single week this season and you have to like anyone playing Houston. He leads the Dolphins in targets and I think Burt Reynolds used to drive a Camarillo. Loved those "Bandit" movies!
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals (10 percent): One other funny story that came from the Red Sox-Angels game was that Josh told me he and his buddies who read me text "Lincoln freed the slaves" to each other all the time. That's a reference to an earlier column I wrote, and I find that hilarious. Josh was a good guy, incidentally, I don't mean to imply otherwise in the story I told. But I bring this up for two reasons. One, because I'm hoping "Lincoln freed the slaves" becomes a catchphrase and, second, because it makes no sense at all. Just like Cedric Benson having fantasy value. And yet, there you go.
Others receiving votes
Keep these guys in mind Ahman Green (26 percent) is now clearly the backup to Steve Slaton but he ran well last week, going 12-for-47. Antwaan Randle El (41 percent) has a ridiculous schedule coming up, including at home to St. Louis this week. The only reason I didn't do a big write-up on Muhsin Muhammad (63 percent) is I feel I've talked about him to death. But he's still owned in only 63 percent of leagues and he has a score in two straight games. Dustin Keller (23 percent) of the Jets has a touchdown in back-to-back games and is at home to the Bengals, who have already given up over 200 yards and two touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Speaking of the Jets-Bengals game, Nate mentioned this on the podcast today and he's right: If you need a good defense with the Titans, Steelers and Bills on a bye, the Jets (19 percent) and the Redskins (19 percent, at home to the Rams) make nice one-week fill-ins.
Feel Free to Drop
LaMont Jordan, Ray Rice, Maurice Morris, L.J. Smith, Selvin Young, Andre Hall, Michael Pittman, T.J. Duckett, any Eagles wide receiver except for DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown; I want to see Kevin Curtis healthy and playing before I believe he's fully back. Donald Lee, Michael Jenkins and Kenny Watson. Sigh. So much for my prediction that Watson would get more fantasy points than Chris Perry. Watson just couldn't get healthy. He may get re-signed this week, but still. When you get passed on the depth chart by Cedric Benson, you chalk that up as a loss.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- isn't real fond of Howie Kendrick either these days. He appears on Fantasy Football Now, airing Sundays at noon ET on ESPN.com. 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