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Monday, December 17, 2007
Updated: December 18, 3:37 PM ET
TRUM: So you want to be a fantasy expert?

Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings from Week 15 …

A lot.

I have learned a lot in my time at ESPN. And one of the things I have learned is that people love lists. Rankings, bullet points, quick hits, you list it and people love it. A lot.

With that in mind, here's the TMR's Top Five FAQ. (The people, they also love acronyms.)

  1. Do I start [blank] or [blank]?
  2. What's the deal with Molly? She's very attractive. (Best version of this: Some guy wrote in with "ESPN should replace 'Rome is Burning' with 'Molly is Smoking.'")
  3. How did you get your job?
  4. How can I get your job?
  5. When are you going to get married and give me some grandkids?*

*This question comes from a very specific demographic.

I address question No. 1 with my rankings every week and question No. 2 is not mine to answer. Molly can answer her own deal. Question No. 3 has been written about extensively, most recently in an article in Sports Business Journal. The short version is that I started writing for a popular fantasy Web site in 1999, left that site in 2004 to start my own site (along with, the site grew in popularity and, in 2007, my site was purchased by ESPN.

So for all those who say, "I could do your job better than you," I say: Go for it. I didn't know one person in the business when I started. I replied to a blind ad on a Web site and eight years later, here I am. There wasn't one thing I did that anyone else could not do if they're willing to pursue it.

Question No. 4 is along these same lines and I bring it up now because something happened today that, in eight years of doing this professionally I have never seen. One of these days, I will write a whole long treatise on how to become a fantasy analyst. I've spoken about it a decent amount at trade conferences and in various forms in interviews and on my old site, but here are three quick hints. (Another list. 'Cause the people? They love the lists).

  1. Volunteer to write for a Web site. You won't make any money at this anyway in the beginning, and all you really want is experience and a way to build your résumé. Offer to work for free in order to get an opportunity to show your stuff. Ideally, it's a Web site that has some traffic and can get you noticed.
  2. Failing that, start your own Web site. Buy some ads in various fantasy magazines. Unless you work for a big company like ESPN, which gets you more invites than you could possibly accept, most "expert drafts" in magazines are just folks who bought ads or paid to be in the leagues. So just make sure you get in the draft before you buy the ad. Voila! You're an "expert."
  3. Make sure you are OK with criticism, second guessing, name calling and death threats. And by that, I mean being on the receiving end. Most folks have a hard time dealing with it and they either get out, or their analysis is so middle-of-the-road and wishy-washy so as not to offend that they're fairly useless.

I bring the third point up because I've gotten more than my share of criticism over the years. Name-calling, words being taken out of context in blogs, lies about me, death threats (not serious ones, but yeah) … the list goes on. Comes with the gig, no complaints and I've also gotten tons of amazing support, so it more than balances out.

But I've never gotten something like this:

Jared (Atlanta, Ga.) Thanks Matt for your ''Love the Patriots." I was the No. 1 seed and lost by 5 points because of Tom Brady's awful game I had a gut feeling to play David Garrard but trusted the ''expert'' on this one now I'm broken-hearted and will be until Fantasy Baseball starts. Once again, thank you Matthew Berry, thank you."

Chris (Washington, D.C.) Thank you sooo much. I had planned to start Brett Favre over Brady but after watching you and how much passion you put into your reasoning for starting Brady over Favre, I changed it and now will lose my playoff game. You are absolutely pathetic.

TMR: I've been accused of recommending that you start obvious names. I've been criticized for liking someone obscure and suggesting you bench an "obvious name." But I've never before been criticized for suggesting you start the most valuable player in the history of fantasy football.

Tom Brady is on pace to shatter every fantasy record known to man. Even with Sunday's stinker, he is 95 points ahead of the consensus No. 1 pick, LaDainian Tomlinson.

Fantasy is about making educated guesses to give yourself the best chance of winning. That simple. Starting Brady was the correct call. My advice was the correct advice. It just didn't work out. It happens.

I could go on and on about the fact that St. Louis had given up only five passing touchdowns in its past five games, which was the reasoning I used on Sunday Countdown to suggest Brady over Favre. I could point out the Steelers had the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL and the game was at Pittsburgh as my arguments against Garrard. But it's irrelevant because you never should have benched Brady. Bad weather or no, since he has played well in bad weather before.

Sometimes you see someone at a blackjack table in Vegas take a hit on 18 because "they have a feeling." And then they pull a three. "See?" they'll say, "I told you so." And I'm always like, "No! It wasn't right! You got lucky, but that was a dumb play!"

I don't think there has been a bigger David Garrard fan than me this season, all the way back to when he was named the starter over Leftwich. But to play him over Brady would have been idiotic. Even if it would have worked out.

The same goes for anyone who started any of the Cowboys. Or any of the big-name Colts. Or sat Vince Young. Like Barry here.

Barry Block (Towson, Md.) Joan Jett, indeed! Started LenDale White as my No. 2 RB behind Brian Westbrook, with Aaron Stecker and Clinton Portis on the bench. That fantasy football takes some crazy bounces, but this week, wow. Fantasy points production the same for Tom Brady, Tony Romo, T.O., Randy Moss, and … Mercedes Lewis? Three lousy points!

TMR: I have no problem starting White over Portis or Stecker. You made the right call, it just didn't work out. Anyone could have dropped Joseph Addai and picked up Darren Sproles and it would have worked out beautifully. Chris from Washington could have picked up Shaun Hill, Cleo Lemon or Sage Rosenfels -- all of whom scored even more than Favre -- and it would have worked. Would've been insane, but it would have worked out. And I would have said you were a lucky idiot, not a genius.

John has the right idea.

John (St. Louis, Mo.) Matt, God I hope TRUM is good this week. I need something to make me smile after what Brady did to me. I'm one little nudge from the pile of sleeping pills with a fifth of whiskey chaser. Love your stuff. Keep it up. John

TMR: Well, I'll try. I have a really good crazy chick story from last month, but I'll leave it until tomorrow since I am already going long. Here are 10 random observations from the weekend. (List No. 3. See, the people, they love lists, and I, I love the people)

Just Saying …

… That I am not worried about Rudi Johnson, any of the Browns or any of the Patriots.

… That I do, however, believe in the Jessica Simpson curse. No matter in what relationship. In a related subject, if someone in Congress were to propose a bill that anyone wearing a pink jersey to a stadium be tarred and feathered on sight (and on site), I would give it my full support.

… That I am worried about Joseph Addai. He had a huge game against Baltimore because of the touchdowns, but he hasn't topped 100 total yards since Week 11. He should be fine against the Texans, but he's not leading teams to the title the way he did midseason.

… That I could tell you that I know what is going on with the running back situations in Denver and Houston, but I'd be lying. And so would anyone else that told you unless they were Mike Shanahan or Gary Kubiak. And even then, it's still only 50/50.

… That I actually think Shaun Hill will be a productive quarterback. He looked good against Cincinnati. But there is no way I would start him against Tampa Bay.

… That Dan from Maryland has a pretty good point (and he wrote this to me before the game):

Dan (Westminster, Md.) Reggie Bush is out, but if Aaron Stecker is not the recipient of all the passes Bush was receiving, then who? Oh, receivers! What a thought, the Saints passing to their receivers. I'm shocked no one else sees this! David Patten's production has to increase without Bush in the lineup and the receivers will get more looks. Last week for Patten was not a fluke. He should still be a solid No. 2 or 3 wide receiver! Please reflect this in your rankings next week as you watch his number of looks and overall performance on Sunday! I predict Patten's weekend numbers will be 6 or 7 receptions, 70 yards and one touchdown. TMR, this one is so obvious, no one sees it coming!

TMR: Patten's numbers from Sunday were actually four receptions, 71 yards and a score. He now has 193 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games and gets Philadelphia at home next week. Expect to see him as a pickup in this week's "Talented Mr. Roto" column.

… That Jerious Norwood has a total of 25 fantasy points in his past three games and had 73 yards on just nine attempts against a very good Tampa Bay defense. He gets Arizona next and if I was in a deep league and needed to gamble, I'd probably roll the dice with him.

… That all the stuff that I wrote about the Denver and Houston running back situations goes for Carolina as well. I don't trust DeShaun Foster or DeAngelo Williams at this point. In fact, with Steve Smith no longer being Steve Smith, there isn't a less fantasy-relevant team in the NFL than the Panthers.

… That lead time is a dangerous thing. You see that truck commercial with the running back footage mixed in? It's like, LaMont Jordan, Cedric Benson and someone else terrible and injured whom I forget. Same for that watch commercial with Eli Manning. It's almost cruel. It's like, buy a watch, so you, too, can count down how many days Eli has left as a starter.

… That as much of a tease as Philip Rivers has been this season, has there been a worse situation than seeing the Chargers put up 50 points and Rivers getting only one score? And less than 150 yards passing? I hate Phillip Rivers.

You can be my cyberfriend and read my personal blog here:

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy in charge of content. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a four-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner and the only writer in the industry with wins in multiple sports (NFL, MLB, NBA). Be sure to check him out every Sunday on "ESPNEWS Fantasy Insider" at 11 a.m. ET.

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