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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Updated: December 3, 3:45 PM ET
The Talented Mr. Roto: Are you an Oscar or a Grammy?

By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

Reeks.

It literally reeks of desperation. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Watching football on Sunday I kept seeing ads for the Grammy nominations concert. So let me get this straight … They are having a concert to announce the nominations? Mariah Carey, B.B. King and Celine Dion are among the people performing on a show to announce the nominations for the Grammys.

A number of questions immediately jumped to mind; the biggest one, of course, was this: They still have the Grammys? It's easily the most irrelevant of the major award shows, and a concert isn't gonna help change that. And what's the purpose of this? You want to know why no one cares about the Grammys? Look at the list again: Mariah Carey, B.B. King and Celine Dion. The only time those three names should be in the same sentence is when you are writing something like "Mariah Carey, B.B. King and Celine Dion are three names that should never be in the same sentence. Or on the same stage."

All three have their fan bases and rightfully so, but it ain't the same group of folks, you dig? And so then what happens? What if these performers get nominated? Does that mean we're not gonna see them perform on the Grammys because they just performed on the nominations show? So now the actual Grammy show is less? Or if they do perform on the Grammys, who wants to see them again? Haven't we just seen them? Celine is sad, B.B. is soulful, Mariah's dress is too tight. We get it.

ESPN's Matthew Berry on "One Life to Live".

Or worse, they don't get nominated. So now they have to go out there and perform knowing that they suck? I admit, Celine Dion has had years of practice at this, but it's still a tough row to hoe. It just makes no sense. It detracts from what little excitement there might be left in the actual Grammys, and it's just sad. It's like the Grammys are at the bar during closing time, searching around for any kind of audience so it doesn't have to go home alone, once again, to a lonely apartment with just a small dog and a cupboard filled with boxes of Pop-Tarts to kill time until the next fantasy football podcast. Hmmm. I seem to have gotten off track.

The point is … it's desperate. You don't see the Oscars or the Emmys do that. The ESPYS and the MTV awards don't even do that, and they're not even real awards! What the hell is an ESPY anyway?

But as I sit here thinking about it, it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, the Grammys are on the right track. Look, they know they are close to being extinct. They know they are one terrible dance number with feathered costumes away from being the Tonys. So maybe this is a Hail Mary of sorts. Nothing to lose, they figure, so why not give it a shot?

And as you approach the fantasy playoffs this week in most leagues, your attitude needs to be the same. Are you the Oscars or are you the Grammys? Are you a No. 1 seed or did you sneak in under the wire? Fully healthy or banged up?

Like, check this guy out:

Jake (St. Paul, Minn.): Hey Matt, you do a good job and I hate Donald Driver too. So I was wondering if it makes sense to pick up Le'Ron McClain (other best backs available are Leon Washington and Kevin Faulk) and drop my Peterson handcuff, Chester Taylor, just so that no one can play him against me. I got this urge to pick him up but am unlikely to use him considering I have Peterson, Forte, Ronnie Brown and Kevin Smith in the backfield (10-team league.) I'd hate to see him go down and not have an insurance policy, but I don't know Taylor would be better than Brown and Smith anyways considering their cake playoff schedule (I will have a bye next wk).

Chester Taylor
Keeping a guy like Chester Taylor around can be a good or a bad idea, based on your seeding and roster needs.

TMR: A really good thought and the answer is no, I stay put. First, the Ravens have a tough playoff schedule against the run. Redskins, Steelers and then at the Cowboys. Considering it's a 10-team league, your opponents will likely have guys that will produce about the same as McClain out there even if you block him. You're the No. 1 guy, so act like it. Protect what you have. If something were to happen to Peterson, Taylor would be very strong at the Lions, the Cardinals and home to the Falcons. And who knows? Smith or Brown could get hurt.

The point is … you need to be smart and continue to play with the lead now, not take risky chances or "get cute," which is exactly what that move would be. You're the Oscars in your league. You probably don't need this week's column and should just stay pat.

But if you're just barely in the playoffs and hoping against hope to get lucky (side note: If I ever write an autobiography, "Hoping Against Hope to Get Lucky" wouldn't be the worst title), then you go for broke.

Fantasy sports -- and specifically fantasy football -- is all about playing the odds and putting yourself in the best position to win. But if the odds say you don't have a very good chance, then you roll the dice and hope for the best. "Roll the Dice and Hope for the Best" is another good title, incidentally.

A pickup column is a little weird at this point in the season, frankly. Either your season is over and it's moot (and you already own anyone you would consider keeping if it's a dynasty league), or you're in the playoffs and chances are you don't need to tweak too much.

But if you do, I've got a list of players who have recently seen an uptick in value and could be added if you need help. Or, if your playoffs start in Week 15, this could help get you there. Some of these are names you've seen before, but here in Week 14, it gets slim. But if for some reason Peyton Hillis or even Davone Bess is still out there (both mentioned more than once), go claim one or both of them ahead of everyone on this list.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is now a three- to four-week tournament: You need to play for the current week while keeping one eye on what's coming up next.

Here's a list of teams with the best and worst playoff schedules, in no particular order. I'm not including Week 17, even though it's part of the ESPN standard league playoffs, because it's hard to predict who will be starting/sitting based on NFL playoff scenarios, so let's just get you to the point where you need to care about Week 17 if required.

Best:

Patriots: at Seahawks, at Raiders, Cardinals.
Jets: at 49ers, Bills, at Seahawks.
Dolphins: at Bills, 49ers, at Chiefs.
Rams: at Cardinals, Seahawks, 49ers.
Colts: Bengals, Lions, at Jaguars.
Cardinals passing game: Rams, Vikings, at Patriots.
Bears passing game: Jaguars, Saints, Packers.
Saints passing game: Falcons, at Bears, at Lions.
Broncos run game: Chiefs, at Panthers, Bills.

Worst:

Browns: at Titans, at Eagles, Bengals (cold weather).
Cowboys: at Steelers, Giants, Ravens.
Eagles: at Giants, Browns, at Redskins.
Steelers: Cowboys, at Ravens, at Titans.
Redskins pass game: at Ravens, at Bengals, Eagles.

It's just something to keep in mind as you consider roster moves while reading the pickups. By the way, I find this page to be incredibly useful: ESPN NFL Schedule Grid.

Pickups of the Week

As always, I've saved one pickup suggestion for the video to make you click on it. Ownership percentage for ESPN.com standard leagues is listed in parentheses. And speaking of potential book titles: Let's get it on.

Amani Toomer (35 percent) and Domenik Hixon (7 percent), WR, Giants: With Plaxico Burress suspended for the rest of the season, I'll take a shot at the Giants' receiving picture and say Toomer will be the most consistent guy the rest of the way. Touchdowns in two straight and in three of his past five. Hixon has the most upside though, so if you're looking for the home-run guy, he's the best bet. Toomer will be consistent with five or six points a week, at least.

Sammy Morris
Sammy Morris has scored in five of his nine games this season.

Sammy Morris (74 percent) and Kevin Faulk (53 percent), RB, Patriots: Morris has been hit-or-miss, but when you look at New England's schedule, you have to grab him in the almost 25 percent of leagues still out there. He got the goal-line carry Sunday and he's gonna be solid down the stretch. And if you are looking for a five-or-six-points-per-game guy, Faulk is your man.

Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers (9 percent): All dependent on Ryan Grant's health of course, but Jackson clearly has the skills to succeed if Grant misses time. Looks like Grant will be fine, but he's been nicked up a lot this year and it wouldn't be a shock to see it happen again. If you own Grant (or just want to screw over his owner), B-Jax is a nice add. Especially since the Packers are home versus Houston this week.

Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys (2 percent): Looks like Barber is OK, and as noted above, the Cowboys' schedule is Dracula. Get it? Sucks? Like Dracula on a victim's blood? What? No, I'm not trying too hard. You are. You heard me. You take that back! Oh I'll tell you "or what." Come out the screen and say that. Anyway, even against tough matchups, if something happened to Barber, Choice would be all right. He had 12 touches for 63 yards on Thanksgiving when Barber went down.

Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, RB, Buccaneers (37 percent): Jon Gruden says he wants to get Caddy more work, and Gruden is just enough of a frustrating coach to do it. I don't like Caddy, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't think he'd have some value down the stretch. If you ignored him when I mentioned him last time, well, I promise not to bring him up again.

Isaac Bruce, WR, 49ers (69 percent): He was awesome, then he was terrible, and now he has a score in back-to-back games. With the rest of San Francisco's wideouts banged up, Bruce will get a good amount of looks in nice matchups going forward (Jets, at Dolphins, at Rams).

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Mark Clayton, WR, Ravens (8 percent): It's gotta be a deep league and you need to be pretty desperate, but after dismissing him yesterday I started looking closer. He now has four touchdowns in his past five games (one of them is the pass he threw Sunday), and as we've talked about a lot, Joe Flacco has breathed life into the Ravens. Not in a raven, because that would be creepy, mouth to beak and all that, but the team has been better than advertised with him at the helm.

Todd Heap, TE, Ravens (49 percent): I don't like Todd Heap either, but as long as we're listing guys on the Ravens who used to be good and then were dead for three years and then seem to have come back to life because of Flacco, we might as well throw Heap out there. Heap has three scores in his past four games. But if you are looking for a tight end, he's not the guy I like the most. The guy I like the most is Dustin Keller, whom I feel like I've mentioned every week for a year now, but he's still out there in 33 percent of leagues.

And if Keller is gone, I like the following tight ends in order:

John Carlson, TE, Seahawks (39 percent): Went for more than 100 yards last week and had a touchdown the week before. Having Matt Hasselbeck back under center means Carlson has value.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (52 percent): Finally healthy again and Big Ben is looking for him.

Heap would be next, and if you are in a deep, deep league and desperate, I could see Steve Heiden, TE, Browns (2 percent) as OK, considering that Winslow is out for Sunday, Ken Dorsey is the quarterback and will be checking down a lot, and the Titans' one area of slight weakness is against the tight end.

Matt Bryant, K, Buccaneers (63 percent): As everyone knows, I hate kickers. They are all the same. And I refuse to answer kicker questions. Having said all that, it is worth noting that Bryant now has at least nine fantasy points in six of seven games, he's had double digits in three of four and he has at least one field goal in every game this year. Consider this my token kicker stat for the season. Never let it be said I don't go all out for my readers in the playoffs.

Feel free to drop:

Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz talk about dropping the disappointing Braylon Edwards on Tuesday's edition of Fantasy Focus: Football

Brad (Rocklin, CA): Please, please, PLEASE put Braylon Edwards on the "OK to drop" list this week. I started him on a gut feeling this week. Guess I had some bad turkey or something, because the gut let me down. Now it's Ken Dorsey time? I'm going to go pick up a second kicker or something. Edwards is horrible. Is there a player with a worse catches/targets ratio in the league?

TMR: I'm with you, Brad. And not only am I OK with dropping Edwards (turnabout is fair play), I'm OK with your dropping any Browns player. Dorsey and that schedule … oofa! As always, this list is not folks you have to drop or even should, but if you are looking for someone to cut for roster space I am OK with your dropping them.

Michael Bush, Javon Walker, David Garrard (sigh), Sidney Rice, any Lion other than Calvin Johnson or Kevin Smith, Donald Lee, Chad Johnson, Cedric Benson, Jerious Norwood, Devery Henderson, Deuce McAllister, Kevin Curtis, Ahmad Bradshaw, Selvin Young, Trent Edwards, Josh Morgan, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Deion Branch, Bobby Engram, Julius Jones, Maurice Morris, Donnie Avery, Marc Bulger, J.J. Arrington, Roy E. Williams, Jason Campbell, Ray Rice and Jonathan Stewart.

Finally, speaking of desperate, to squeeze every last bit I can out of something, I've gotten some e-mails about my "One Life to Live" appearance from folks who missed it and wanted to see what a tool I could be on another platform. We played only two of the scenes here on ESPN.com, so if you want to see all six minutes of my glory (another good book title for me), then click here for all the scenes.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is magically delicious. 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