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Thursday, December 1, 2011
Updated: December 2, 12:33 PM ET
Twitter Amnesty

By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

So I get email.

The Talented Mr. Roto

Jay (Los Angeles): Trying to follow you on twitter and it is telling me I am blocked. Should I take this personally?

TMR: Probably, yeah.

Dan (Culver City, Calif.): Berry I am sorry. Super Sorry. I made a stupid tweet almost a year ago now. I can't have a fantasy football season and not follow you on twitter. Please unblock me.

TMR: So I get a decent amount of these type of emails. The reason I do, I am guessing, is that I block people on Twitter. I don't know if you're supposed to admit that, but I always try to be as honest as I can, so yeah. I'm a blocker.

I don't keep track, but if I had to guess, I'd probably say I've blocked about 250-300 people on Twitter in the past 18 months. That's a very small percentage of the followers I have, but still, I block and I do so without hesitation.

We've had some fun talking about it on the podcast but I've never really addressed it in this column. My co-host Nate thinks I am too sensitive and shouldn't block people. I've gotten other emails, tweets and Facebook posts with similar sentiments, saying, hey, you're in the public eye. You should have thicker skin.

Maybe they are right. Maybe I'm the only one. I mean, I know Howard Stern openly discusses blocking people on his SiriusXM radio show, but what about others?

So I thought I'd take a quick poll of some of the folks I follow on Twitter who have large and/or really engaged Twitter followings. I wanted a wide cross-section of different ages, genders and professions. ESPN folks were not included in the survey.

I asked all of them two quick questions. Do you block people on Twitter? Why or why not?

@TuckerMax (followers: 218,295) Hell yes I block people! People are absolutely entitled to be idiots if they want, but I am also entitled to not have to deal with their idiocy. Blocked!

@robertabooey (Gary "BabaBooey" Dell'Abate, 170,540 followers) I block people all the time. Jason Kaplan, who works for me, gave me a great philosophy. I take crap on the air all day long and that's my choice. Twitter is my thing and I don't need to be harassed by people looking for a fight. I tell people up front, if you're going to be a jerk I will block you. I'm up for discussions and disagreements but I don't need to be called names. And blocking jerks is cathartic!

@LoMoMarlins (Marlins OF Logan Morrison, 76,139 followers): I have only blocked one person. It got pretty ugly, but she went crazy. So, I had to do it. Otherwise, I just make fun of them. Someone once told me, the only reason someone makes fun of you is because they are jealous.

Milano
Alyssa Milano doesn't mess around with Twitter haters.

@Alyssa_Milano (1,853,919) Yes, I block people but only if they send me lewd, discriminatory or disrespectful tweets.

@TheBigLead (Jason McIntyre of sports blog "TheBigLead") (30,717): Yes I block. If you hate what I write or tweet, why bother follow in the first place? Disagreeing is one thing. But the relentless "you suck, you're an idiot" is a waste of everyone's time. There is one thing in common with the hardcore, daily bile-spewers: the inability to differentiate between "you're" and "your."

@KeithOlbermann (350,525) Of course I block people. I also hit "report as spammer" whenever I can get the button to work. It's just good time management; your attackers are usually anonymous, stupid, possibly users of troll accounts, and have 2 to 20 followers. It's like vaporizing them. As to the very few who actually exist under their own names, I tend to abuse in return, often retweeting them so others can join in on what I like to call "batting practice." It's just too easy - I think I've received two intelligent critical tweets in eighteen months on Twitter.

@Jaimeedmondson (45,006) I refuse to block them. I'm too stubborn to give them the satisfaction of knowing I took the time to do it.

@AmyKNelson (SB Nation's Sr. Correspondent, 46,989 followers): I have no issue blocking people because, quite frankly, I encounter enough stupidity and if I can avoid it, I will. Conversely, if you insult me but bring a rational, decent argument for why (or make me laugh) I can respect that. For instance, one person wrote to me that he disagreed with everyone attacking me because of my gender. His argument? It's not because I'm a woman, it's because I'm just a terrible journalist. That amused me; he made the cut. But if you use lazy stereotypes and cliches about my gender, and spice it up with some sweet profanity? #adios.

@DustinKeller81 (68,650): I do block people on twitter, it's always people that are hating for no good reason…everything they say is negative and they are things they would never say to your face.

@Richarddeitsch (28,910) I don't block people on Twitter. Oh, I have been tempted. And part of me wants to block someone who annoys me (say, Mario Lopez) just for fun. But I respect the conversation on Twitter, even when people are bashing me or bashing something I've written. I haven't had too many people cross the line of decency but when that's happened, I've either ignored them or responded to them directly with humor. I don't broadcast it to the masses. One of the things I really like about Twitter is that it gives readers access to writers. I respect that principle, and can deal with the occasional venom. So no blocking, at least for now.

@MatthewBerryTMR: Agree with the sentiments. To Tucker, Gary and Amy's point, I'm a public person and as such, my picks and analysis are fair game for criticism. No issue with that. But it doesn't mean I have to read it or allow you to try and aim it at me. To Jason's point, if you think my picks are terrible or I'm bad at my job, why do you want to follow me? And why do you get upset when I block you?

I agree with Dustin that the anonymity of the Internet seems to give cowards the courage to say things they would never say to you personally. As much anger as I receive online, when I meet people in public they are 99.9 percent of time unbelievably kind and gracious. Logan's correct in that a lot of it seems to be inspired by jealousy, and as Keith, Gary and Amy mention … I've no issue with people disagreeing in a respectful tone. "Hey Berry, why this guy over that one? I love that one this week." But as Keith and Gary both mention, it's kind of fun to block the jerks.

I get what Logan, Jamie and Richard are saying and I respect them for it. I'm not built like that. I realize it's a bit odd to block since I also print hate mail, but it's different to me for two reasons. One, when I print hate mail, it's to make fun of it. They're not friends. I feel like my Twitter followers are my friends. I only want friends following me. Anyone can read the column.

There are other reasons I block that weren't mentioned. I block when someone makes something up, especially if they try to start something on Twitter. "Hey, 'name of athlete,' you see @MatthewBerryTMR said you sucked?" No one likes a tattletale, especially me. And honestly, if you're consistently badmouthing me -- either to your own Twitter following or, worse, as my readers will gladly let me know, without even using my Twitter handle, which is the online equivalent of talking behind someone's back -- then I really have no use for you, and I don't care whether you're a regular reader or even someone else in the fantasy industry.

There's too much negativity in the world to begin with. I mean, who is sending nasty tweets to Alyssa Milano? I wouldn't call us good friends or anything but I do know her a little and she's very possibly the nicest person on the planet. She's also a terrific tweeter whose message is super positive.

So with this being the start of Jimmy V week, I wanted to try to turn the negativity of Twitter hate into something positive. So Jay in L.A., and Dan in Culver City, and everyone else, haters and fans alike, here's your chance at Twitter amnesty. I will happily unblock you from Twitter. All you have to do is make a donation to the Jimmy V fund. There is no minimum amount. Everyone can afford different things. You want to go to the trouble of donating one cent for something like cancer research, that's on you. But any amount, you're unblocked. Here's what you do.

1. Click here to make a donation.
2. Send a copy of the receipt or confirmation to me at MatthewBerryTMR@gmail.com. Put "TWITTER" in the title.
3. Make sure you include your Twitter handle.

That's it. I'll probably give some Twitter shoutouts to those who do this as well. You've got until the next Love/Hate comes out, sometime next Thursday afternoon. One thing, though: Doing this doesn't grant you immunity. Be a jerk again, you get blocked again.

Oh, and I set up that email address specifically for this project, so if you need to reach me, I'll happily respond on Twitter or Facebook.

The Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research is a good cause and I hope that even if you're not looking for amnesty, or don't even care to follow me on Twitter, you'll consider donating anyway. Simply click on the link above. You can even donate in honor or memory of a loved one.

As we enter Week 13 of the fantasy football season, it's make-or-break time for many. And while it was much more important in the context in which Jimmy V originally gave it, the sentiment rings true for everyone this week as well. "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

Week 13 Players I Love

Paulina and Wayne Gretzky
Paulina Gretzky didn't just block people on Twitter. She obliterated her entire following! She's like the Chuck Norris of Twitter-blocking.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Easter Bunny. Santa. That Kim and Kris were ever truly in love. That Tim Tebow is a calculated media act. That Anne Hathaway is really engaged. That there is a right way to win at fantasy sports. That people actually eat from the free buffets at gentlemen's clubs. That my Redskins will win another game. That Paulina Gretzky won't have her own reality show within six months. The Arizona Cardinals secondary. That Tony Romo isn't worth a top-five ranking this week. Sorry, just listing a bunch of things I don't believe in.

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos: He's been a starting quarterback for six weeks. He's been in the "love" list for six weeks. In that time, he's averaging 17.2 fantasy points a game. That's seventh-best in the NFL over that time frame, better than guys like Romo, Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger. Tristan Cockcroft does a great column every week called Consistency Rankings, and as Tristan (@sultanofstat on Twitter!) notes: Tebow now has nine career NFL starts and he is 8-for-9 in "Start"-worthy (basically, 15 points-plus) performances. His "start-worthy" percentage is 89 percent. In fact, he's been a "Stud" (20-plus points) five times. Also, he's a much better person than me. I bet he never blocks anyone on Twitter.

Vince Young, QB, Eagles: Told you guys that an Andy Reid quarterback would put up big fantasy points! (Bangs head against desk until it bleeds profusely). Anyway, the Seahawks are actually tough to run on, but easy to throw against. Seahawks corners are slow, slow, slow. In fact, they fail to pass the all-telling "Rex test." As in, when Rex Grossman throws for 314 and two scores against you, the sky is the limit for good quarterbacks. Especially with DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper beating these guys deep. Young's 84 pass attempts in two weeks are skewed a bit by the junk time in the massive blowout loss to the Patriots, but he had 36 passes in a win against the Giants. If you're scrambling a bit this week (see what I did there? Scrambling? Vince? Whatever, it's a Thursday game. You never waste the good jokes on the Thursday game), Young is available in 92 percent of leagues and should be a very solid top-10 play.

Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins: Want me to go Next Level? You sure you can handle it, kemosabe? Well, while you decide -- or better yet, look up the definition of "kemosabe" -- I will tell you that Moore, in the month of November, is top-five in the NFL in 30-yard pass plays and completion percentage. Brian Daboll, the Dolphins' offensive coordinator, is quietly doing a great job of opening up this offense, as Moore's 9.4 air yards per attempt is tied for fourth-highest in the NFL. Always like being at home against a West Coast team traveling east for a 1 p.m. ET game, and the Raiders are giving up the fifth-most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. If you need a guy in a deeper league, I kinda like me some Matt Moore this week.

If you're desperate: I know it's on the road against the Steelers, but Andy Dalton still has had double-digit fantasy points in eight straight weeks, including an earlier matchup with the Steelers. Alex Smith is another fairly safe bet for double digits against a Rams secondary that has been decimated by injuries. And finally -- and remember that this is the "desperate" section and that he will have a bunch of turnovers -- but if you play in a deep league that doesn't count turnovers, I could see Rex Grossman needing to throw a lot in this game and putting up decent numbers.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Many people on Facebook and Twitter questioned my Gore at No. 2 rank for this week. I can only assume they didn't see Beanie Wells, aka "Beanie Freaking Wells? Arghhh!," run for over 200 and a score against the Rams, who are 32nd in the NFL against the run. Gore has had extra rest since playing on Thanksgiving and, if he does sit out the fourth with a big lead, it'll be because he's done the kind of damage that has led to him being sixth in rushing yards this season. And oh yeah, only four running backs have more 20-plus-yard runs this year than Gore. And you know what? The Rams are not shy about giving up the big run. Just sayin'.

Blount
Blount!
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers: I wish, when he jumped over people, he would scream "Blount!" It's like an old Batman sound effect. "Blam!" "Pow!" "Blount!!" From the obvious analysis department, the Panthers are terrible against the run and the Bucs have finally realized they need to run the ball. Blount was started in only 74 percent of leagues last week. Let's make it 100 percent this week, shall we, kids?

Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins: Apparently, I'm on the Dolphins this week. Huh. Oakland is 27th against the run and I expect Miami to create situations to get Bush in space, just as they have the past four games, where Reggie has four scores in Weeks 9-11, and 96 total yards in Week 12 at Dallas. Who are much better than Oakland at run defense.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: Speaking of good matchups …

If you're desperate: You always play with fire when you go Redskins running back, but I've long loved Roy Helu's talent and feel the reward outweighs the risk as a flex play this week. You never know what to make of the Panthers' run game, but against the Bucs, there should be enough for both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams to get some. With the Rams defense not putting up much of a fight these days, Kendall Hunter could get some good junk time run against that 32nd-ranked run defense.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins: Who knew? Go Fins.

Laurent Robinson, WR, Cowboys: As of this writing, I don't think Miles Austin plays. I didn't rank him in my Wednesday ranks. Obviously, follow that closely. But even if active, I still have Robinson the highest among the Cowboy wideouts. As Paul Carr from ESPN Stats & Information points out, over the past three weeks (with Miles out), Robinson has four of Dallas' six red zone targets. In the entire NFL, in fact, only Roddy White has more targets than Robinson over that time frame. In addition, he has a receiving touchdown in five straight games. Five. Only other guy to do that this year is … Calvin Johnson. If I have him, I'm starting him, period.

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Fun fact about Antonio Brown. He has one drop this year. One. His 98 percent catch percentage is 11th-best in the NFL. If only he were getting the ball a lot … oh wait. He leads the Steelers in targets and he's actually top-10 in the NFL in targets since Week 7. Five straight games now with at least eight fantasy points, including the last time he faced the Bengals. Now that I think about it, that fact was less "fun" and more "informative." Here's a fun one: His father is Arena Football League legend Eddie "Touchdown" Brown. Hmm. That's not fun, that's biographical. Okay, here's a fun one: He is dating former "America's Next Top Model" winner Adrienne Curry. Here's one more fun fact: I completely made that up because I couldn't find any fun facts on Antonio Brown. I'm a fan of Adrienne's, though. She's a fun Twitter follow.

Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: Four scores in five games, Vikes give up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Only flaw in his game is he's yet to "Tebow" after scoring.

Deion Branch, WR, Patriots: Eighth among wide receivers in yards after the catch this year, he's fast and the Colts are, um, not. They allow the fifth-most yards after the catch of any team in the NFL. Always tough to predict what the Patriots will do in their pass game, but given the matchup, Branch makes a solid No. 3 wideout or flex play with upside.

Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles: See Young, Vince. Eight for 146 and a score (on 17 targets) in the two weeks that Vince Young has started and Jeremy Maclin has been out. Same thing is happening this week with another good matchup. Cooper available in 99 percent of leagues.

If you're desperate: With three scores in his last four, Damian Williams continues to find ways to be productive. C.J. Spiller qualifies as a wide receiver in ESPN leagues. Any time a wideout is gonna touch the ball 15 to 20 times, it's a pretty good sign. Titans give up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, making Spiller even more valuable at wideout. Jabar Gaffney has at least seven points in three of four games and might get extra love with Santana Moss on Revis Island.

 Brent Celek
No, that's not an extra from "The Walking Dead." It's fantasy zombie Brent Celek, who was left for dead after Week 5 after three consecutive zeroes brought his season total up to a whopping 5 points.

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles: Fantasy zombie! Averaging over eight points a game in his last six, he has 135 yards in his last two games with VY at the helm (eight receptions on 12 targets) and Seattle allows, well, a lot. It's a fairly liberal city. I hear, one time, they applauded musicians who played wearing flannel! Also, their football team is tied for the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins: Fourth in yardage among tight ends, he's the best shot the Redskins have of doing anything considering the corners the Jets have. The Jets give up over 63 yards a game to opposing tight ends, and that sounds about right as a benchmark for Davis, with some upside for a bit more.

Jake Ballard, TE, Giants: Lotta passing gonna be needed from Eli Manning in this one. The Packers allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, and Ballard is averaging six targets a game since the Giants' bye.

If you're desperate: Scott Chandler has a nice matchup with the Titans and has 121 yards the past two weeks. In return, the Bills are super-friendly to opposing tight ends and Jared Cook continues to be more and more involved in the offense.

Denver Broncos D/ST: Averaging over eight points in their past four road games, they will likely get a rookie quarterback and no Adrian Peterson. Since Ponder took over as quarterback, defenses have averaged over nine points a game against them. Only three teams allow more sacks than Minnesota, and the way Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are playing, that's not gonna improve any Sunday. The Broncos' D is available in 94 percent of leagues.

New England Patriots D/ST: You better watch out, you better not cry , you better not bench 'em, I'm telling you why … Dan Orlovsky's coming to town!

Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST: It's been a mess in Jacksonville this year, but the defense has been solid. New coach, Monday night home game (they should be fired up) and the best thing to happen to defenses since Rex Grossman, Mr. Philip Rivers, is in town fresh off a 2,000-mile flight. Averaging over 10 points a game since their bye week, the Jags are available in about 80 percent of leagues and are a very solid play this week.

If you're desperate: The Dolphins (shocked? I kind of am) have quietly played very strong defense lately (almost 16 points a game in their last two home games) and Carson Palmer has been known to throw a pick or two in his day.

Week 13 Players I Hate

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: He should send a bouquet to Michael Vick for falling on the "disappointing fantasy quarterback" sword, because he's actually been much, much worse than Vick on a per-game basis. Drafted on average 19th overall (end of the second round), Rivers has just one 20 point game this year. Too many turnovers, bad (and conservative) play calling by Norv Turner, but I'll say this for him; He was on the hate list last week and he didn't disappoint me. I mean, last week in overtime, while just trying to get into field goal range, Norv ran three run plays in a row for no yardage (and one big loss) rather than letting Rivers try to improve their field position with a short pass to Antonio Gates or something. Brutal. I feel ya, Chargers fans. Anyway, on a long trip to Jacksonville (fourth against the pass, fifth in scoring defense, sixth in fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks), I'm avoiding if I can.

Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders: Mentioned the Dolphins defense in the love section, and what might appear at first glance as a good matchup, frankly, isn't. Since its bye week (seven games), Miami has allowed just seven touchdown passes and only two quarterbacks to pass for over 250 yards, while generating eight turnovers.

Steven Jackson
Some simple fantasy math: Fantasy Stud + 49ers D = Fantasy Dud.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Always start your studs. Against the 49ers' run defense, there is no such thing. Isn't that right, Ray Rice owners?

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: I'm too low on him in my initial ranks and he'll come up a bit in the Friday update, but, I don't know. I thought that, despite the injuries, the Jags' run defense looked pretty good last week against a very good Texans run game. And again, I'm expecting the Jags to come out pumped to play for the new coach -- their defensive coordinator Mel Tucker -- and in front of a national Monday night audience. Mathews hasn't scored since Week 3, so despite how good he looked last week, it's hard to have him inside my top 15.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings: Fair warning. He was on this list last week and scored a touchdown. But otherwise, felt he was fairly unimpressive. Takes one to know one, right kids? Hey-o! As written above, I'm a believer in Denver's defense.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: Nice to see him back. That's, um, pretty much all I got. Averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, you obviously have to hate the matchup and well, I have no problem dumping him, let alone leaving him on your bench this week.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions: Don't think he plays, and if he does, I don't trust he stays healthy for the whole game.

Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings: Love him as a player and I do think, just like last week, they will do what they can to get him in space and find different ways for him to touch the ball. But with a rookie quarterback (even one like Ponder that I like, skills-wise), I don't see Harvin doing that much damage against Champ Bailey. The Broncos have allowed just one score to an opposing wide receiver in their past four games, including shutting down Vincent Jackson, Santonio Holmes and Dwayne Bowe the past three weeks.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Speaking of Bowe, I don't care who is throwing him the ball this week. Tyler Palko has yet to throw a touchdown pass this year and I'm not sure Kyle Orton, with less than two weeks with the team, is that much of an improvement. On the road at Chicago, I have Bowe outside my top 20.

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: Revis. Rex. Bleah.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens: Joe Haden is the real deal for the Browns, and teams just don't need to pass against Cleveland because they are so bad against the run. This game is all Ray Rice, putting Boldin -- of whom I am normally a fan -- outside my top 20.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: He's been terrific this year and I still have him inside my top 10. Chances are you don't have a better option, so you're starting him. But he's not a top-five play for me this week the way he normally is, as the Texans give up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, having allowed just two touchdowns all year to them, and none at home.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: Like I said last week when he was on the hate list (and went on to put up, ahem, just 38 yards), Davis needs to score this year to maintain fantasy value. Otherwise, he just blocks too much. In non-TD games this year (eight of them), he had over 50 yards receiving in just one of them. Against the Rams, who have allowed just one touchdown to an opposing tight end all year, I don't see him getting in the end zone.

Green Bay Packers D/ST: Just six points total in their past two games, this game has shootout written all over it.

Detroit Lions D/ST: No Suh, and they are on the road at the red-hot Saints. No thanks.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- also blocked three people for saying that Phil Jackson wasn't the greatest coach of all time. They were too stupid not to be blocked. Berry 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