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Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Dear Mr. Roto ...

By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

The Talented Mr. Roto
I got a note from my editor Pierre Becquey (or, as he was known in the old TalentedMrRoto.com days, Pete Becker) that was titled "I don't even know you anymore."

He wrote: There are 37 comments on "100 facts" so far, and not a single one ripping you. In fact, it's a regular love-fest. We have lost our way ...

It was, as these things often are, a short-lived concern. From the ESPN Conversation pages on my Top 200 rankings:

Littlerichie78: Aaron Rodgers at 37 !! Mathew Berry your a f***** ####!!

TMR: OK, it's Matthew with two "t's," and with the filters present on our conversation pages, I am not sure what you mean with the word that begins with "f." I have decided it's not positive, however. And yeah, I know I am a little more down on Rodgers than others out there. Look, I like him. I think he will have a big year. But the new Dom Capers 3-4 defense on the Packers will be a big improvement on a defense that was bottom 10 in points allowed per games. Which means fewer shootouts for Green Bay. I also think that a healthy-to-start-the-year Ryan Grant and the lack of a need to prove Rogers "is just as good as Brett, dammit!" will result in a more balanced attack and Rodgers throwing less this year. I like him a lot, just not as much as Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning or Tony Romo.

Jeff Codr (Omaha, Neb.): TMR, I just had my first draft on Sunday, and noticed that I have seven players from your "love" list and only one player on your "hate" list. I guess this means I'm pretty much guaranteed to win my league this year?

TMR: Yep, just show them the list and tell them to hand you the trophy. That's how it works.

Jeremy (Atlanta, GA): What's the best move when one's QB is facing one's defense? I have McNabb against Carolina. Should I sit the defense or start Carson Palmer instead?

TMR: I hate to break this to you, Jeremy, but Donovan neither knows, nor cares, that you also own the Panthers' defense. Same with the boys from Carolina. You start your best lineup, always, and let the chips fall where they may. Without knowing your other defense options, I'm guessing you're going McNabb and Carolina. Save the start/sit questions, incidentally. I just printed this because I get the "my blank is facing my defense which do I sit" question a lot and just wanted to tell you ... you start your best lineup. Always. Period.

Sean (Baghdad, Iraq): TMR, As a deployed soldier currently serving in Iraq, it's hard for me to keep track of all the projections and so forth with the upcoming season. I got a trade proposal that I think I might jump on, but I really need your input to finalize my decision. Our league is 10-team, No PPRs and 6 points per pass TD. Another owner wants to give me Brees, Wes Welker and Ray Rice in exchange for Maurice Jones-Drew, Greg Jennings and Matt Schaub. I also have Chris Johnson and Ryan Grant as RBs and Andre Johnson and Dwayne Bowe for WRs. Please help, I need to make a decision within the next day or two.

TMR: First, thank you to you and your fellow servicemen and women for all that you do for our country. I don't think that gets said enough; in fact, I don't think it can be said enough.

I do the deal. Look, MJD is a lot better than Ray Rice, but I really like Rice's upside. Jennings is better than Welker, but it's reasonably close. Considering you have Johnson and Grant as running backs and you get six points for a touchdown pass, you must do this deal. In a six point-per-touchdown pass league, Brees and Brady should be top-four picks and guys like Warner, Manning, Romo and Rodgers should be taken no later than the second round.

Stephen Gostkowski
Thanks to visionaries such as Robert S., of parts unknown, you may one day not have to waste a valuable draft pick on the likes of Stephen Gostkowski.
Robert S. (Unknown): TMR, I thought you might like to know, my brother and I successfully convinced our primary money league to play this year without kickers. Hopefully in 5 years, kickers will no longer be a part of any FF leagues.

TMR: OK, you're not Sean in Baghdad, but seriously, thank you for all you and your brother do for our country.

Jennifer (St. Petersburg, Florida): I understand you are a "Parrothead", so top five Jimmy Buffett songs, and no "Margaritaville," which has to be the most overrated, overplayed Buffett song of all time.

TMR: Totally agree that "Margaritaville" is overplayed. If I never hear it again, I'm good. But yes, a huge Parrothead. Seen him a dozen times. Tough to choose just five and they change all the time, but my personal favorite five songs are: "One Particular Harbour," "Son of a Son of a Sailor," "Tonight I Just Need My Guitar," "Last Man Standing" and "The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful." Others receiving votes include "Pencil Thin Mustache," "Blue Guitar," "Fins," "School Boy Heart," "Pacagoula Run," "Knees of My Heart" and "Far Side of the World."

Ty (Houston, Tex): Brandon Marshall was just released by a guy in my fantasy league and I'm first on the waiver priority list. Is Marshall worth my No. 1 waiver spot? I have Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss.

TMR: Since you have such great wide receivers, I am guessing you need help elsewhere, so I would say no, you need to wait for a running back to emerge. But, I've gotten this question a lot and generally speaking ... yes, I would pick him up. Look, the attitude and injury are both concerns, and now his quarterback is hurt too. But is there a guy out there with as much upside as Brandon Marshall? When you use a waiver claim it's basically either a lottery ticket or a bye-week replacement. And when hoping for production, why not go with a guy who was a top 12 fantasy wideout last year, is young, talented, with a chip on his shoulder and playing to get paid? Speaking of his quarterback ...

Bostonbilly07 (from ESPN Conversation): Thank God you're funny, and I'll prove it. No. 83 Orton, 9 picks later, Cutler! In between we have two NE RB's, one guy out of retirement (not Favre), two No. 2 WR's, QB's David Garrard and Joe Flacco, and two guys named Fred! (OK, I did use one of the Freds twice) ... Hilarious!! Thanks for the list of bye weeks, as that is the only useful information you gave me. Don't get me wrong, I'll still continue to read you, whenever I need a break from serious analysis and feel like laughing.

TMR: So you liked the bye weeks? Cool.

Alternate response: The recent injury to Orton doesn't help matters so I want to see if he'll be ready for opening day. But before the injury, there were a lot of reasons I ranked Orton ahead of Cutler.

I like Devin Hester and Greg Olsen but they aren't Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall. And before you leap out of your seat with Matt Forte, keep in mind the Denver running backs (all of them) had a total of 43 receptions last year. Or 20 fewer than Matt Forte. Cutler checks down much less than Orton. He throws long, which is one of the reasons Cutler was second in interceptions last year. And we get docked two points for interceptions in ESPN standard scoring.

Plus, last year Denver was 30th in the NFL in points allowed. Lots of shootouts and the Broncos' running backs kept getting hurt. Like every week. So they did tons of throwing. Chicago, meanwhile, has a better defense and a more controlled offense, about 100 fewer pass attempts last year than Denver. So Cutler will be throwing less, to lesser wideouts, in a new system with new wideouts. And don't forget Josh McDaniels desperately wants to prove he didn't screw up by running Cutler out of town. He will do everything possible to make Kyle Orton a star.

Josh9222 (from ESPN Conversation): Probably the worst rankings I've seen so far. Not only on ESPN, but everywhere I've looked.

TMR: You always like to think you're outdoing everyone else, but it's always nice to hear.

Terrell Owens
Hey, T.O.! Jerry Jones didn't want you anymore ... and neither does the Talented Mr. Roto!
Alhambra29 (from ESPN Conversation): Instead of another set of rankings, give us something new. How about a "Do Not Draft" list. We all have them - players we wouldn't go near even if they were standing next to Anne Hathaway (or Rachel McAdams). Personally, you won't see a Clinton Portis, Terrell Owens or Warner on my team. So who's on your DND? Enquiring minds want to know.

TMR: Well, there's no "Never draft" list because it's all about value, rules and circumstances. Terrell Owens won't be on any team this year most likely but if he were around in the 10th round, would I take him? Of course. That said, my list this year of guys who won't be on my team because I won't be willing to draft them where I'd need to in order to get them includes Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel, Eli Manning, Ronnie Brown, Reggie Bush, Larry Johnson, Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald (not taking him in Round 1), Chad Ochocinco and Kellen Winslow.

Dana (Buckeyeland): I have the first pick in our draft and I'm taking Adrian Peterson ...who would you take with the 17th pick?

TMR: Dude, you know I wouldn't take Peterson with the "1," so why would you listen to me on 17? I get a lot of rankings questions -- should I grab this guy or that guy, etc., etc. And I answer all of them the same way. Please see my Top 200 rankings. Go on! See why fans are claiming this year's rankings are "The worst rankings seen so far!" and "Not only on ESPN, but everywhere else I've looked!"

Mike M. (Philadelphia, Penn.): Dear Matt, please come visit more often. Sincerely, Outside

TMR: Are you saying I'm pale?

Rob (Hoboken, NJ): Berry, I'm in a 12-team keeper league. Have to keep three players (already decided on L. Fitzgerald and S. Jackson). We get .5 pts per reception and can't decide on my 3rd keeper ... options are Roddy White, Ryan Grant, or Marshawn Lynch. Thoughts?

TMR: It's Roddy White. I'm really high on Grant this year but if you read the Manifesto you know how important wide receivers are this year and White will be a reception machine.

Ben Kelly (Salt Lake City, Utah): Just listened to your podcast. Before I write this, I just want you to know that I have a huge man crush on you. When I'm in class, I don't even listen to my professors half of the time due to me reading your articles. We both know I will learn way more from reading the fine works of The Talented Mr. Roto than paying attention in class! (I attend a small University in Ogden Utah called Weber State University).

TMR: And with that, the value of a Weber State degree just went down the tubes ...

TK Davey (Wellington, NZ): Man, I dig your columns (even with all the 'extra' bits thrown in amongst the 'informative' stuff ... take that one which ever way you like ...) I'd just like to say thanks. My cat says thanks too, because when my team does good due to the advice I've taken from your columns, she gets extra biscuits at meal time.

TMR: The TMR, now 23 percent more cat-friendly!

PJ (West Frankfort, Ill.): Berry, how much do you make? If the answer is more than $2, that's way too much. ESPN would be better off buying a Slim Jim and a coke. Your explanations for some players are flat out funny. Try stand-up comedy before blogging about anything football related. I have two straight fantasy titles, and three in four seasons. My secret ... doing the opposite of what you say. Apply at Wal-Mart you over-paid dumb-ass!

TMR: Hah! Like you can get a Slim Jim and a Coke for two bucks these days ...

Alternate response: I make $1.50. We cool now?

Alternate alternate response: Wal-Mart, you say. Do they have openings for a dumb-ass?

Alternate alternate alternate response: So you think I'm funny?

Alternate alternate alternate alternate response: TK's cat likes me.

Final response I settled on: So if I'm reading this right ... I'm the secret to your success? You're welcome, PJ. You're welcome.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- wishes more of his readers had dogs. 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