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Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Week 3 fantasy pickups

By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

To this day, not everyone agrees.

The Talented Mr. Roto

It happened when I was a teenager, and for whatever reason, this story has stuck with me.

The year was 1989. My friend and I go to the movies to see "Batman," a huge movie at the time starring Michael Keaton. I buy a large popcorn and a large soda, and we walk into the theater. It's the last movie of the night, and the theater is in a mall.

While we are still watching previews, the projector breaks. Now, remember, despite my well-publicized TV-viewing habits , it's been a while since I was a teenager, so this wasn't a digital projector. Film breaks, film is over. It's that simple.

The manager comes out, apologizes and says "Patience, please." Five minutes later, he announces there's no fixing it. He's all apologies and offers refunds to everyone. OK, fine.

Everyone files out, and we go up to the guy. He gives us each five bucks, the cost of a movie back then. Crazy. Even crazier is that apparently I'm in "back in my day things cost less" angry-old-man mode. Good God. Someone get me a bowtie and hike up my pants. Anyway, he gives us the money. And I say, holding up the popcorn and drink, "What about this?"

Manager: What about it?
Me: Aren't we getting our money back for this?
Manager: Why would you?
Me: Because the movie's broken.
Manager: Yeah, but nothing's wrong with the snacks, right?
Me: Well, no, but I bought them because of the movie. Now I can't watch the movie.
Manager: Do you want to go see another movie?
Me: No, all the other movies started 30 minutes ago. I want my money back.
Manager: But there's nothing wrong with the snacks. You can still eat them.
Me: Eat them where? The mall's closed. There's no other movie. Should I eat it while I wander the parking lot? Sit in my car? Drive home to enjoy this huge tub of popcorn?
Manager: I don't know. Why'd you buy it if you didn't want to eat it?
Me: I did want to eat it. As part of watching the movie. The whole experience. If I wasn't watching the movie, you think I'd have just come in and bought an overpriced tub of popcorn? Have you ever sold popcorn to someone who didn't then walk in to see a movie?

Back and forth we go like that. He continues to insist that there's nothing wrong with the food, so he shouldn't have to refund my money, and I claim that I barely touched the food (remember, the movie stopped at previews) and that without the movie, there's no way I (or anyone else) would buy the food. In the end, the guy gives me my money back just to shut me up, but it takes much longer than it should and I don't go back to that theater for many years.

I've told this story a number of times throughout the years. I've probably even written about it before today. Yet I remain shocked that there are people who don't agree with me. Technically, the manager was right -- there was nothing wrong with the food. But life is rarely that black-and-white.

Is it wrong to drive over the speed limit? Of course. What if you have someone bleeding to death in your car and you're going to the hospital? Now is it OK?

I've talked before about how much I admire William Goldman, the famous screenwriter. He wrote my favorite book (and movie) of all time, "The Princess Bride." He also wrote a terrific book titled "Adventures in the Screen Trade." I highly recommend it for anyone who is a Hollywood fan or interested in movies, especially writing.

Anyway, in the book, he discussed a meeting he had with Robert Redford about the script for "All The President's Men." It's a long story and not mine, but basically, while Goldman was still working on the script, Carl Bernstein and his then-girlfriend Nora Ephron had gone behind Goldman's back and written a script. Instead of yelling at them and supporting Goldman, Redford had told him to read the new script and see whether they could all work together.

As Goldman describes the scene, he says he could understand Redford's behavior, and he even defends it because of the delicate relationships involved. But, Goldman writes, "I still think it was a gutless betrayal, and you know what else? I think I'm right."

I've always loved that because I can identify with it. I've said that phrase to myself lots throughout the years. Looking back on it, I think I should have gotten my money back. And you know what else? I think I was right.

Fantasy owners face a similar issue these days. You had your preseason beliefs. Do you still think you're right? Despite little evidence to support me so far, I'm sticking to my guns on Joe Flacco and the Dallas Cowboys' offense. I said at the start of the season that Flacco will be a top-10 quarterback this season, and you know what? I think I'm right.

I was all set to stick to my guns on Kevin Kolb. And you know what else? I think I'm wrong. Arghhh. After this column has been up all day, Andy Reid has just announced Michael Vick is his starting quarterback. Is this just for the Jacksonville game or the year? Who knows? Whatever Andy Reid says it clearly is a lie. Remember when he said they weren't trading Donovan McNabb? Yeah. Anyway, with is weapons and that offense, Vick is a top-10 fantasy quarterback the rest of the way and if I were ranking today, I'd have him at eight among quarterbacks. Oh, and somehow he's available in over 20 percent of leagues. If he's out there in yours, he's your number one pickup this week, above everyone else. [Editor's note: the preceding paragraph was edited after posting].

It's clear that my preseason Draft Day Manifesto "ugly running backs" drafting theory has legs (sorry for that one), as we keep seeing guys such as Clinton Portis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Thomas Jones, Tim Hightower and Ahmad Bradshaw (drafted behind Brandon Jacobs!) having value.

But … I'm changing my mind on Jay Cutler, and I'm officially worried about both Carolina running backs.

As we head into Week 3, you need to look at your team and ask yourself: Do I think I'm right? One week you can forgive (or chalk up to a fluke), but after two weeks of subpar performances, you have to think about either worrying or believing.

Few teams are perfect after a draft, and fewer still are the teams that survive unscathed by injury, role change or The Evil Mangenius. With that in mind, here are some players who I think can help your team. And you know what else? I think I'm right.

Don't look back in anger

"You used to be the best. To make life be life to me. And I hope that you're still out there. And you're like you used to be. … We'll be back in the high life again. All the doors I closed one time will open up again."

Here are some guys I suggested you pick up in this column last week. Somehow, you managed to avoid my genius, or you ran into my idiocy and picked up the wrong guys. Either way, they remarkably are still available in some leagues. I list them quickly here because I already discussed them last week, so consider this a combination of obvious names and a list of guys previously discussed. They should be picked up before any of the guys listed below them except where noted. I've listed them in the order I would claim them. As always, ownership percentages are for ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.

In addition, at the request of many of you, I am adding how much I would bid on this player in a league that uses FAAB money. The dollar amount is based on a standard $100 cap.

Mark Clayton, WR, Rams (38 percent, $30), Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos (46 percent, $25), Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos (45 percent, $17), Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns (57 percent, $10), Fred Taylor, RB, Patriots (49 percent, $8), Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers (34 percent, $7), Mike Thomas, WR, Jaguars (5 percent, $3), John Carlson, TE, Seahawks (27 percent, $3). Also, I didn't mention him last week, but Donald Brown, RB, Colts is available in 16 percent of leagues. If he's somehow out there in your league based on Addai's injury history and the Indy offense, I like him more than Peyton Hillis long-term and would bid $12 for him. And Mario Manningham, WR, Giants (56 percent, $4) has had at least seven points in both his games. Also, the Bengals' D/ST (82 percent, $1) will face Jimmy Clausen in his first NFL start and then the Browns in the next two games, so if it's available, it should be a good play in the short term.

Pickups of the week

"Baby, if you were words on a page, you'd be what they call fine print!"

Here are some players you should consider adding to your team and who are available in the majority of ESPN.com standard leagues. I list them in the order in which I would pick them up (unless you have a specific positional need),

On Sunday it seemed that this could be a big week for pickups, but as of this writing, it's the opposite. Things can change when the first injury reports come out Wednesday, but as I'm writing this, early reports are that Michael Turner and Ryan Mathews are expected to play. In the absence of new starters, let's pick up some depth for your roster.

Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas was the first of the Broncos' two first-round picks, 22nd overall and three ahead of Tim Tebow.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos (2 percent, $8): So yeah, about that whole Jabar Gaffney thing … as much as I loved him, and boy, was I pumping his value hard, the return of the rookie hurts him. Now, I actually think Brandon Lloyd is the one who's on the field less, but the point is that Thomas is a nice, big target who caught eight of the nine balls thrown his way for 97 yards against Seattle. As I've been saying forever, the Broncos are a passing team this season, but they'll spread it around. As a result, it'll be hard to count on any receiver here, and rookies tend to be inconsistent, hence the $8 bid. But I have to tell you, I don't think that's enough to get him. It's just what I think he's worth.

Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers (0.5 percent, $8, $30 if you own Mathews, $70-75 if Mathews misses any time): Stupid Adam Schefter. I'm in a 14-team league with Schefty and, as is the case in any 14-team league, running backs are thin. I thought Tolbert looked pretty good in his opener against the Chiefs, when he had two carries for 26 yards. Schefter apparently thought the same thing and beat me out to pick him up. Before this past Sunday's game. Stupid Adam Schefter. Grumble, grumble. And Schefty proved to be smart when Mathews left with an injury and Tolbert got 95 total yards and two scores. But one key here? Tolbert got his first score while Mathews was still in the game. He'll have value this season, and don't be surprised to see him vulture some scores down the road. He is a must-grab for any Mathews owner.

Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons (4 percent, $8, $30 if you own Turner, $85 if Turner misses significant time): I'm not sure what level of fantasy football hell it is, but watching your stud player leave a game and then watching the backup go for 186 total yards and three scores is up there. I said in my preseason Love/Hate that I liked him as a key handcuff with upside, and given Turner's injury history and the Falcons' wanting to ease his workload, Snelling is a good fit in that run-friendly offense.

Louis Murphy, WR, Raiders (31 percent, $6): How many times have we said it? All he needs is a little Gradkowski. Murphy went six catches for 91 yards and a score as the No. 1 receiver on the Raiders this past Sunday. You know that the Raiders will always have downfield passing as part of their attack, and with Arizona, Houston and San Diego as their next three opponents, I expect plenty of successful pass attempts.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans (11 percent, $5): A couple of funny things happened on the way to Dumpsville. Kevin Walter, he of the two first names, took a detour into Still-Relevant Lake. He now has scores in both games to start the season and had a crazy stat line in the comeback against the Redskins (arghhh): 11 receptions and 144 yards. I'm still a Jacoby Jones guy, having been burned by Walter one too many times. But with Owen Daniels still not 100 percent, Walter is more involved in the offense. I think Nate Ravitz put it best on the podcast: If you're in a 12-team or deeper league and need to start someone in Week 3, Walter has the best shot at production. But if you're in a 10-team league and are just looking for bench depth, Jones has the most upside.

Aromashadu
Devin Aromashodu couldn't have been more disappointed with his fate on Sunday if he'd started himself in his fantasy league.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears (9 percent, $4): If you were sitting next to me right now, you'd say, "Stop that," because you'd see me banging my head against the table until it bled. According to Monday's Chicago Sun-Times, not even Devin Aromashodu knew why he was benched for basically everything but special teams last week. Bears coach Lovie Smith wouldn't comment, and Aromashodu, or, as he is better known, the guy I spent all week hyping, was in the dark. Luckily, my Twitter followers and e-mailers were kind with understanding of being unable to know something that even the player was unaware of until after the game. Seriously, just search @MatthewBerryTMR and "Aromashodu," and you'll find many kind, supportive tweets that are very descriptive. Anyway, I'm not superconfident about recommending a Bears receiver. On the other hand, he is a starter, and I'm not buying all the "Earl Bennett and Jay Cuter went to college together" stuff, despite Bennett getting six targets on Sunday. Hester had six targets, which he turned into four for 44 and a score. Clearly, the Bears offense is going to score this season.

Chris Ivory, RB, Saints (0.2 percent, $4): Reggie Bush could be out to up to six weeks with a fractured fibula, but Ivory's health is also a concern, as he's been banged-up since wowing (as opposed to J-Wowwing) everyone in training camp. DeShawn Wynn is healthier right now, but long-term I like Ivory more. Maybe I'd put a token buck or two bid on Wynn, but Ivory is the guy I like. Assuming we find out that Bush is indeed out six weeks and that Ivory will play Sunday (over Wynn), I'd bump Ivory up to the $6-8 range. He'll be the Reggie Bush in this offense, which means he'll have value, but Pierre Thomas is still the primary guy and the only one you'd feel comfortable starting.

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers (5 percent, $4): Surprised I'm this low on him? After all, Freeman has been a top-10 quarterback each of the first two weeks and is tied for sixth-best on the season, with four touchdown passes and nice passing- and rushing-yardage combos. I was alone in ranking him high last week (had him 19th), and he was even mentioned in this column last week, so what's wrong? Do I no longer think I'm right? It's because of his schedule. He'll face the Steelers in Week 3, then go on a bye week, then play at the Bengals, so the first time you'd think of starting him would be Week 6 against the Saints. Still, I'm putting him down because I do believe he is legit, and look at Weeks 7 and 8: Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco and whoever is starting in Philly will all be on bye in one of those weeks. Freeman will face the Rams and the Cardinals in those weeks. Tasty. If you have room to stash, do so. But don't go nuts trying to get him for the immediate future.

Others receiving votes


"So close. And yet, so far away."

Here are some guys who shouldn't be picked up in 10-team leagues, but if you're in a 12-team or deeper league, I like them, and you should keep an eye on them. I've sorted by position and then listed them in the order I like them.

Starting at quarterback, Shaun Hill of the Lions had decent numbers (335 yards, 2 scores, 2 interceptions) in the comeback attempt versus the Eagles, and he'll face the Rams in Week 5 if you're looking for a bye-week replacement for Tom Brady. Obviously, Jimmy Clausen of the Panthers, Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Bills and potentially Bruce Gradkowski of the Raiders (decision coming on Wednesday) will make their first starts of 2010 this week. I'm not interested in any of them, but Gradkowski who will play at Arizona this week, is the most interesting to me.

Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch has been known to break a tackle or two, but this is getting ridiculous.

At running back, I was also the only guy to rank John Kuhn of the Packers last week. Given that he went nine for 36, I think Brandon Jackson will be the runner you want there (barring a trade), but Kuhn will have value. … Add me to the list of folks who are not buying the Bills' saying they won't trade Marshawn Lynch. The 17 carries for 64 yards makes no sense to me, and I include him here because he's worth a spec bid in a deeper league if he does get traded, but I'd never start him as long as he's running behind what passes for an offensive line in Buffalo. … I still say Fred Taylor is the Patriots' running back you want (inasmuch that you want one), but BenJarvus Green-Ellis did lead the team in carries last week when Taylor got nicked-up. He certainly has the opportunity to do so again -- Taylor getting nicked-up, that is.

I realize that Keiland Williams of Washington didn't do anything on Sunday, but Clinton Portis looked bad despite his two touchdowns, and Larry Johnson looked even worse. Neither has been good in either Redskins game, and I think there's a decent shot Williams will get a start this year. … The news that Brandon Jacobs wants to be traded means Danny Ware could soon have No. 2 running back value in New York. … I'm not buying it at all, but Earnest Graham got six targets in the Bucs' passing game (scoring once and catching five for 33), and we've seen him have value before. … Finally, as I said, I'm worried about both Carolina running backs based on the offense, the poor line play and the fact that Mike Goodson got a little run. It'll take a lot to get him out there on a permanent basis, but I thought he looked solid, getting 53 yards on seven touches.

At wideout, I still don't want to trust any Titans wide receiver, but if I'm picking one, it's obviously Nate Washington, who had nine targets on Sunday and has scored in two straight games. … Deon Butler of the Seahawks (five for 50, 8 targets) and James Jones of the Packers (three for 32 and seven targets, which led the team) are both interesting guys, but I'm not sure I trust Seattle's offense, and I trust Green Bay's too much (so many mouths to feed) that I'm not jumping up and down just yet. However, I like both from a skills standpoint. … Stephen Williams of the Cardinals got a boost in value with the injury to Early Doucet, and he got six targets (second most on the team) on Sunday during a two-for-26 day. Luckily for the Cards, they play in the NFC West. … Jordan Shipley (five for 42, six targets) now has back-to-back games of five receptions. … Finally, I'm amazed Joey Galloway is even in the league, let alone fantasy-relevant (OK, adjacent to fantasy relevance), but he did have seven targets during the Washington explosion and caught three for 88 yards. Most of it was on one play, but clearly, the Redskins have to throw to move the ball this season.

Tight end is deep, man. That's the reason I didn't list anyone other than John Carlson (who faces the opposing-tight-end-friendly Chargers this week), but Dustin Keller obviously had a big game (seven for 115, a touchdown, nine targets that led the team), and in both Jets games it seemed Mark Sanchez was looking for Keller a lot. Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots looks to be a real find, and I'm buying, at least a little, the Chiefs' Tony Moeaki, who scored in Week 1 and had 10 targets (by far the most on the team) during a five-for-58 game. Brandon Pettigrew's first game with Shaun Hill as the starter ended with a seven-for-108 game. Lastly, all indications are that Jason Witten will play this week, but if he doesn't, his teammate Martellus Bennett has a lot of skills and would be a top-10 tight end.

Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: you

As always, these are not guys I'm saying you should drop, and as always, some of you will ignore that caveat. But if you need roster space to grab someone above, I have no issue with dropping these guys. They're good players who will have productive weeks but whom I feel ultimately won't lead you to the promised land, based on schedules and who else is available in ESPN.com standard 10-team leagues.

Matthew Stafford, Vince Young. David Garrard, Chad Henne, Matt Hasselbeck, Laurence Maroney, Correll Buckhalter, Kevin Smith, Steve Slaton, Chester Taylor, Leon Washington, Mike Bell, Kenny Britt, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Lee Evans, Nate Burleson, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney (sigh), Mohamed Massaquoi, Bernard Berrian, Robert Meachem, Owen Daniels (until midseason), Heath Miller, Colts' D/ST, Broncos' D/ST, Texans' D/ST.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- rarely thinks he's wrong. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend