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I get a lot of mail. Every week I get more than a thousand letters. Most are e-mail, though some still reach me through anachronistic means. I read as many as I can, and certainly all of the ones that come in through the "Cyberstalk the TMR" link. Many are very kind, some are hateful, most want advice -- on either their team or getting a job in fantasy sports -- and some wonder if I would help them because they have an insanely large sum of money in another country, they need to send it to someone and they have been told I am trustworthy. Clearly, they haven't talked to Larry Johnson owners recently.
I skim all of them, and it takes a lot to catch my eye. Mel Sanchez did just that. And not just because his letter was attached to a large, rectangular package.
Go Warriors! Please accept this small token of gratitude for helping me guide my football fantasy team to an improbable championship last season. Without the show's hard-hitting analysis and valuable insight, I would not have known about the likes of Brandon Marshall before my draft, grabbed Ryan Grant or would have had the cojones to pull off a trade of an on-fire Matt Hasslebeck for a struggling Laurence Maroney near the end of the season (one that would pay off quite richly during my playoffs).
I hope you are able to find a place for this in your abode -- or better yet, risk your status as a company man (one ... two ... ) by displaying it proudly on your studio wall.
Keep bringing the thunder to the show, and I'll continue to download ... and listen.
Thanks, Mel. The show Mel is referring to is the Fantasy Focus: Football podcast that Nate and I do every morning. And the token he sent along is a three-foot poster version of the cover of the Sept. 26 issue of Entertainment Weekly. The one featuring Anne Hathaway.
Regular readers know I am a longtime fan of the doe-eyed star of "The Devil Wears Prada," "Get Smart" and, perhaps her finest work, "Havoc." Google it when you're not at work. Then thank me later.
It's her smarts and humor, her girl-next-door looks and her clearly terrible taste in men that makes her so desirable.
|Now imagine this blown up about 100 times bigger.|
And then I saw this poster. It hangs in my office now and even Megan Fox fans who see this when they walk in are like "Whoa."
Look at the headline. "A Princess No More. Post-scandal, she bounces back with an edgy new role. Is Oscar next?"
I don't know who Oscar is, but Matthew is certainly next. Someone get Anne Hathaway's publicist on the phone and ask her to have dinner with me.
I bring this up for two reasons. First, it's an excuse to have a picture of Anne Hathaway in a fantasy football column. Second, Anne's very public breakup with The Guy Who is Not Good Enough For Her (as he's known in my house) has caused her to re-emerge.
Entertainment Weekly calls the look "edgy." I call it "half-clothed." My mom calls it "trampy." Regardless of which adjective you choose, all of them are compliments. She's no longer the nice girl next door that gets her heart trampled. Now she's the heartbreaker with an extensive hat collection and a generous amount of eyeliner.
Good for Anne, I say! Instead of pouting, she put on a pouty look. She turned lemons into many magazine covers. She turned the world on with her smile. Wait a minute. That's not right.So what does this have to do with you? Well, maybe you're 0-4. Maybe you're 1-3. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to remake your team's image.
You should have a very good idea of what your team is and what it is not at this point. As a result, you know which needs you have and which ones you don't. Some you'll need to trade for (and Shawn Peters will have just such names for you in his terrific weekly "Grand Theft Roto" column) but some you can find on the waiver wire.
And that's why we are here. To maybe not totally reinvent our teams, but at least throw a slinky dress on them.
A few things to remember, as always: There's one pickup I recommend this week that's in the video above only. Bye week teams for Week 5 are the Rams, Jets, Raiders and Browns. (Of course, you could argue every week is a bye week for the Browns. Hah! It'll be nice to mix some hate e-mails from Cleveland fans in with all the Larry Johnson owners.) And finally, ownership percentages in ESPN.com standard leagues are indicated in parentheses.
Mewelde Moore, RB, Steelers (1 percent): Sometimes you don't need to be good. Sometimes you just need to be the last guy standing. That motto has served me well throughout my dating career. Anyway, this is the deal with Moore, who found himself as the last guy standing on "Monday Night Football." With Willie Parker out for the Jacksonville game, Rashard Mendenhall out for the year and Carey Davis injured as well, Moore should get the bulk of the work for a team that (usually) likes to run the ball.
|The Deuce flies like a goose?|
Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints (52 percent): The Deuce drinks juice! Sorry, I'm just sick of the "Deuce is loose" line that everyone (me included) has used to death. Clearly, he's drinking an extra glass in the morning because he's fully healthy and getting back into the mix with New Orleans. He had 21 touches for 83 yards and a score Sunday, and thanks to the Saints' defense and the injuries to guys in the passing game, the Saints' offense will continue to put up numbers and use Reggie Bush as a wideout. Which means McAllister gets in on the action between the tackles. I still like Pierre Thomas, but I'm not coaching the Saints. All this said, Deuce is a pickup for future weeks, not this one, because I wouldn't use him against Minnesota in Week 5 unless I was truly desperate.
Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders (67 percent): He's on a bye and he's injured. But Lane Kiffin said he'll be healthy and Oakland's starting running back after the bye. Of course, Kiffin isn't the coach anymore, but that doesn't change the part about Fargas being healthy. Fargas is available in more than 30 percent of leagues and there's way too much upside for him to be available in, frankly, any league. Speaking of crazy upside and available, anyone know if Anne has a new guy yet?
Lance Moore, WR, Saints (2 percent): Yeah, for all the folks yelling at me about Larry Johnson (and, OK, rightfully so), let's not forget Moore as a guy who was in my "Love" column last week. After his two-touchdown game, I'm guessing a lot more people are aware of him. He now has 14 receptions for 179 yards in his past two games and these two things are clear: The Saints need to throw a lot and Drew Brees is looking for him.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints (25 percent): Might as well stay in New Orleans. Anyone know where I can buy some beads? I'm told they are the accessory to have down here. Anyways, if you're picking up Saints wideouts, I'd rather have Moore than Meachem, who is basically just a deep threat. He has only five receptions so far and hasn't had more than two in a game. Of course, he has two scores in his past three games, those five receptions have gone for 204 yards and the Saints play the Vikings on Sunday. Minnesota has given up eight passing plays of 20-plus yards this year and I could certainly see Meachem getting deep for one.
Matt Jones, WR, Jaguars (23 percent): Bill Simmons created the term "Fantasy Kryptonite," to describe an affliction of our mutual friend and fellow fantasy competitor John Walsh. Every year, no matter what, John winds up with Andrei Kirilenko and Rich Harden in his fantasy basketball and baseball leagues. It finally paid off for him this year with Harden, but Fantasy Kryptonite guys are those guys who, every year, you draft thinking "This is the year." You just love them. There's a bunch of guys like that and for me (Donovan McNabb? I'm looking at you), one of them has been Matt Jones. Great hands, amazing skill, I can't tell you how many teams I have had Matt Jones on over the years. Well, this year may finally be the year for Jones. Not only do his 32 targets lead the Jags, they're twice as many as for the No. 2 guy on the list, Reggie Williams (16). Jones has had at least five receptions in every game this season, he had 71 yards and a score last week, and for those looking ahead, has a great schedule in Weeks 8-10 (Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit).
|Kevin Walter has made some big catches for the Texans.|
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans (30 percent): Other than for my goofy delivery and to make you feel better about your own hair, here's another reason to watch our pickup of the week video. Two weeks ago it was Walter. Last year, only Andre Johnson had more targets on the Texans and it's clear this team is gonna be throwing from behind, ya dig? He had two scores Sunday to make it three for the season, which is three more than Johnson has. Just sayin'.
Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins (34 percent): I'm guessing the Chargers' defense is gonna concentrate on stopping Ronnie Brown, no? A few things to consider here: I don't think Pennington's great, but I do think he's passable. Especially this week. With a few quarterbacks banged up and Brett Favre and Derek Anderson on a bye, if you're looking for a one-week fill-in, I like Chad. No team in the NFL has given up more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks than the San Diego Chargers. Incidentally, I find this to be an incredibly useful tool.
Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers (28 percent): OK, I give up. Never been a big fan. But facts are facts. And the first one is that Dunn is a top-30 fantasy running back and the second one is that he next gets to run against Denver's porous run defense. The third fact is there are a lot of great pictures of Anne Hathaway on the Internet.
Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons (72 percent): Another big Fantasy Kryptonite guy, some folks may not be aware he's currently a top-30 fantasy running back, with double-digit fantasy points in his two home games. I don't like him on the road at Green Bay, but I do think he's a solid flex options in certain matchups.
Here are some guys who I am not recommending you pick up unless you are in a deep league or have some open slots to mess with.
We're still waiting for word on Anquan Boldin's status, and Arizona's Week 5 opponent, the Bills, rank in the top 10 in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts. All of that said, I wasn't all fired up about Steve Breaston's big game Sunday, especially with Jerheme Urban (1 percent) still in the mix. But if you're desperate and Boldin can't go, Breaston is worth a look.
He's on a bye, but Marc Bulger (57 percent) is back as the No. 1 QB for Jim Haslett's Rams and he'll be better than he has shown so far this season.
I talked a lot about Devin Hester (29 percent) in the preseason and it was looking like he was just a bad call on my part. It may still end up being that way, but there are signs of life as Chicago made efforts to get him into the offense last week, getting him one touchdown and close on another.
As many of you know, I hate kickers in fantasy. You draft one in the last round, dump him for another one when his bye week comes up, and be done with it. However, every year, there's a Robbie Gould or Neil Rackers: a player no one drafted who becomes the No. 1 fantasy kicker. With that in mind, I'll just point out that Matt Prater of Denver and Josh Scobee of the Jaguars are the top two fantasy kickers this season and both are available in 50 percent of leagues.
I'm not a huge Bobby Wade (2 percent) believer, but he did have seven catches for 75 yards Sunday and gets the Saints on the road this week.
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Here are some guys who I have written about in previous weeks who are still available in too many leagues. And, in fact, I rank all these guys ahead of the ones listed above, except for Deuce. So if you missed them initially, go back and read my previous columns for my thoughts on Jason Campbell (86 percent), Correll Buckhalter (54 percent), Le'Ron McClain (41 percent), Justin Gage (31 percent), Bobby Engram (83 percent), Deion Branch (86 percent), Muhsin Muhammad (38 percent), Miles Austin (9 percent), Rudi Johnson (65 percent), Fred Jackson (13 percent) and Dustin Keller (19 percent).
If you're stuck during this bye week and looking around in deeper leagues or for someone not listed here, I like the Carolina offense versus Kansas City, the Bears' offense at Detroit, any Packer versus Atlanta and anyone involved in the Vikings at the Saints.
Also, Anthony Fasano (56 percent) and David Martin (16 percent) play the Chargers this week. San Diego has given up a touchdown to a tight end in every game this season. Just saying.
These guys may seem obvious, but all are owned in more ESPN.com leagues than they should be: Donald Lee, Reggie Williams, Trent Edwards, Hank Baskett, Pierre Thomas, Joey Galloway, Michael Jenkins, Ahman Green, Chris Taylor, Ronald Curry, Darren Sproles (unless you also own LT; then you keep him), Andre Hall, Javon Walker, D.J. Hackett, Dante Rosario, Robert Royal, Ray Rice, Devery Henderson, Donte' Stallworth and Jeff Garcia.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- really likes women in hats. 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