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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Talented Mr. Roto: Giving thanks, Love/Hate style

By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

The hacky way to write this column is to just list all the players I am thankful for. You know, it's Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for Steve Slaton, give thanks for Matt Cassel, blah blah blah. Or I could go the sappy route: I'm so thankful for everything that I have, including you, the best readers in the world. Yeah, that's not happening. I'm not a particularly sappy guy, and frankly, I think we can all agree you're not the best readers in the world, either. The angriest, maybe, but not the best.

But I will just say that whatever your situation in life is, it's always wise to remember someone else's situation is worse. For example, you could be this guy …

Douglas (St. Louis, MO): I'm in a league where my chief competitor is my girlfriend, who has recently beaten me in fantasy baseball (twice) and has a better record than me now in our football league. If she keeps beating me, I fear I might slip into the "friend zone" due to fantasy ineptitude!

Or this dude …

Rob (Halifax, NS): Have you ever heard of a fantasy team scoring the most points for the season and finishing in last place? Am I on the verge of Fantasy Football infamy?

Or even this guy …

Adam (Cleveland, OH): John Carney being benched out of nowhere may have just screwed my season! I lost by one point to the team I was tied with for the division …

Or, worst case, be the guy Aaron is talking about …

Aaron (Kennesaw, GA): My question is, why do you still hate Philip Rivers? I went back and looked at the rankings archives and you have not had him ranked inside of your top 10 at quarterback any week of the season.

TMR: Yeah, the inconsistency bothered me, but I was wrong on Rivers. My bad.

I'll be in College Station, Texas, for the Thanksgiving holiday. Wherever your holiday is, I hope it's a good and safe one.

Week 13 Players I Love

All of your Titans: Chris Johnson, Kerry Collins, Justin Gage, Bo Scaife and the defense play the Lions. On a short week. And they're angry.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions: He's scored double-digit fantasy points in three of four and ran hard against Tampa Bay (16 carries for 86 yards). The Titans very quietly have given up more than 100 rushing yards a game.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: They play on Thanksgiving on national TV, so you can be thankful that at least they aren't your team.

All of your obvious Cowboys: The Seahawks are terrible, it's a short week, and if you want a deep, deep flyer I have a weird feeling that Tashard Choice gets a touchdown. Just a total, weird gut call. Nothing more.

Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks: I got a lot of questions asking why I didn't have Maurice Morris as a pickup in my column this week. First, he's Maurice Morris. Second, given the short week and the motivation-against-his-former-team factor, I thought Jones would get the start. Jones is getting the start, and while he won't go nuts, 80 yards and the potential for a touchdown is a very reasonable expectation. I like him in this one.

All of your Cardinals: I wonder if Donovan McNabb still thinks the Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC East.

Donovan McNabb
Sure, Donovan McNabb got benched last week. But that was against the Ravens; the Cardinals may not be as tough a test.
Donovan McNabb, Kevin Curtis, DeSean Jackson, Eagles: Make no mistake: You are playing with fire here. But on a short week, with his back against the wall, at home … I say McNabb comes out and has a big game. No team has given up more touchdown passes this year than the Cardinals, and they play much worse on the road. In six road games this year, the Cards are giving up more than 200 yards and two passing touchdowns per game. McNabb also has 10 touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards in his past five games versus Arizona. Not for the weak of heart, but I believe. And I like the receivers regardless of who is throwing to them.

Shaun Hill, QB, 49ers: He's had at least 200 yards and two touchdowns in three straight games. The Bills play better at home, and Hill will have a few turnovers, so this will not be pretty, but he'll wind up with double-digit fantasy points in this one.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: Every time I type his name, I have to take a shower. So dirty, so shameful … must cleanse, must cleanse.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: If you need 60 yards with some upside, here's your guy.

Lee Evans, WR, Bills: Only one team gives up more fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers than the Niners.

Le'Ron McClain, RB, Ravens: He's a maverick!

Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts: You're already starting Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai and Dallas Clark, but I like Gonzalez here. He has three touchdowns in his past four games, and the Browns give up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. True story: Gonzalez and Reggie Wayne each have 37 fantasy points in the past four weeks.

Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns: And I bet Jerome Harrison has at least five fantasy points.

All of your Dolphins:: Chad Pennington, Ted Ginn Jr., the running backs and even Davone Bess.

Torry Holt, WR, Rams: There might still be a pulse.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints: Has now achieved must-start status.

Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers: Has three 100 yards games in his career versus the Saints. Sunday will be No. 4.

Jeff Garcia, Antonio Bryant, Jerramy Stevens, Buccaneers: Someone hand me an eye patch. If I'm this much on board might as well go whole hog.

Derrick Ward, RB, Giants: I don't think Jacobs plays, and the Giants will run a lot on the road.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Has a touchdown in four of his past five games.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: The Chargers still can't stop the pass.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Happy?

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers: The one obvious Charger who isn't obvious yet to some folks.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: He's played well recently, averaging 277 passing yards in his past three games. And even though the Patriots are putting up points, they are giving them up as well. In fact, in the past seven games, the opposing quarterback has averaged 17 fantasy points per game against the Pats.

Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers: Ben isn't passing to himself.

Tony Scheffler, TE, Broncos: Only the Chargers give up more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Jets.

Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos: The Broncos won't be able to run, and Brandon Marshall will be shut down by Darrelle Revis.

Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, RB, Jets: They have combined to score 14 touchdowns in their past six games. And the reason they call it a Denver omelet is because that's what their run defense looks like.

Brett Favre, Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles, Dustin Keller, Jets: I don't have a ton of confidence in the Broncos' pass defense, either.

Nnamdi Asomugha
If Nnamdi Asomugha is lined up against your receiver, it's probably best to look elsewhere for help.
All of your Chiefs: This is me, not buying the Raiders. I do expect Dwayne Bowe to struggle against Nnamdi Asomugha, however, and I like Mark Bradley more than Bowe this week.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: It's been a disappointing, injury-plagued season, and yet he still had a good game against the Chiefs earlier this year. And now he's healthy.

JaMarcus Russell, QB, Raiders: It's not a great option, but if you're scrambling, you could do worse. Trent Edwards did have four touchdowns against the Chiefs last week. Just saying.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Vikings, schmikings. Forte had 83 total yards and a touchdown the last time they played, and he's a must start no matter what. Don't get cute.

Kyle Orton and Devin Hester, Bears: I still believe. The fact that the Vikings rank 22nd against the pass helps.

Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings: I know, I know. He's been ice cold lately. But when he played his former team in Week 7, Berrian had 81 yards and a touchdown. The game is at Minnesota, the Bears give up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and with all the focus on stopping Adrian Peterson, Berrian will get back on track.

David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, Fred Taylor, Jaguars: I even like Marcedes Lewis here as a deep sleeper. The Texans are in the top 10 for most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends.

Steve Slaton, RB, Texans: It ain't easy being (Ahman) Green's … owner. Or his knees.

Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels, Texans: Am I right about Walter and Daniels? Tune into ESPN's Monday Night Football on ESPN and ESPN HD to find out!

Week 13 Players I Hate

Every Lion except Kevin Smith and Calvin Johnson: The Titans are angry.

All of your Seahawks: Except Jones and John Carlson to an extent. But this will get ugly quick. I can't tell you how many times I've overheard that after leaving a bar with someone.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: Something just isn't right. You probably don't have better options, so unless you have two studs, you're starting him. But I don't expect a huge game. I hope I'm wrong, but the Cardinals rank eighth in the NFL against the run, and Westbrook has single-digit fantasy points in four straight games.

Isaac Bruce, WR, 49ers: Don't get fooled by last week.

Trent Edwards, QB, Bills: See: Bruce, Isaac.

Every Bengal: In other news, shooting fish in a barrel is easy.

Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: Remember the kids game "Duck, Duck, Goose," where you go around and unless you get called "Goose" it's not "you"? Well, Marvin doesn't hear "Goose" nearly enough these days.

Derek Anderson, QB, Browns: The Colts have given up only four touchdown passes all year.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers: Delhomme isn't as good as he was last week, the Saints' defense isn't as bad, and I'm not as sniffly. What? Why do they all have to be about football?

Donald Driver, WR, Packers: And I actually love Driver, just not in a Love/Hate sort of way.

Every Ram except Holt: Wow is this a bad team. In other news, the sky is blue.

Marques Colston, WR, Saints: Drew Brees' No. 1 target these days is Lance Moore. The Buccaneers have given up only four passing touchdowns at home this year and have allowed only one quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards. With Reggie Bush expected back, that's one more guy taking passes away from Colston, who has had more than three receptions in only one game this year.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants: The Redskins actually play very good pass defense at home. In their past four games at FedEx Field, they have not allowed a 200-yard passer and have given up only three passing touchdowns. Both Drew Brees and Kurt Warner had their second-lowest fantasy scoring games of the year at Washington, and Manning has had fewer than 200 yards passing in three of his past four road games.

Every Redskin but Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley: My heart says 'Skins, my brain says G-Men.

Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore, RB, Steelers: It's hard to run on the Patriots, and when you don't even know the distribution … stay away.

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Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: It's not like it's a picnic running against the Steelers, either.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos: Last week I had Marshall on this and ranked him 19th among wide receivers. It's about the same this week, as I expect Revis to shut down Marshall the way he shut down Randy Moss. Expect around 50 to 60 yards and not much else.

Jay Cutler, QB, Broncos: The hate applies especially if you get negative points for turnovers. He has fewer than 217 yards in each of his past two games and only one touchdown in that time. He has 216 or fewer yards in four of his past six games. The two times he was better than 216, however, he went nuts. But considering how well the Jets are playing these days and the fact that they are getting pressure with just four means a long day for Cutler and his owners.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: The Nnamdi Rules.

Sage Rosenfels, QB, Texans: While I was writing this he turned the ball over twice.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- will most likely be out in Northgate on Friday. He appears on Sunday Countdown on ESPN and then 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. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend