Print and Go Back ESPN.com: 2012 [Print without images]

Thursday, November 8, 2012
So, about last week …

By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

So let's open up the ol' email bag and see what we got (I've changed names and edited for length).

The Talented Mr. Roto

Rick (San Diego): Really? Left guard issues are going to kill Doug Martin's value the rest of the way? ARE YOU FRICKIN' KIDDING ME MAN? Could you possibly be more wrong at any point in your career? I was sitting on a trade proposal for Doug Martin all week until your convincing plea that denigrated this running back's value. I had faith that you were getting paid for having some knowledge of the game. … DO NOT try to give fantasy football advice on your own anymore. It could have disastrous effects in reality and thousands could get hurt. The next time you think of giving fantasy advice, do the following: take a deep breath, count to ten, throw cold water on your face and then do a few jumping jacks. Hopefully this will wake you up to the reality that you should never ever give fantasy football advice.

TMR: Yeah … that's what I thought I'd find. Well, you know what, "Rick"? I'm not taking it this week. I'm ready for the lot of ya. First, if you listen to me, I'm probably the reason you drafted Martin in the first place. Talked him up all preseason, said the overall ranks were way too low on him. So you know what? You're welcome. And you know why I was talking him up all preseason, "Rick"? Let me remind you of this stat I used all preseason: In 2011, the Saints (who featured Carl Nicks at left guard) averaged 6.6 yards per carry going to the left, the second-best average in the NFL. And conversely, that same year, the Buccaneers averaged 3.0 yards per carry when going to the left, the worst figure in the league by a yard.

So then the Buccaneers sign Nicks to a $47 million deal and suddenly, instead of 3.0 yards per carry to the left, Martin comes in averaging 4.4 yards per carry going to the left. As expected. Remember, Tampa also lost Pro Bowl right guard Davin Joseph for the year in the preseason, and it just so happens that Martin was averaging just 3.2 yards per carry to the right.

So yeah, when the Bucs lose one of the best players in the NFL at his position, and it's the second elite lineman they've now lost for the year, it's reasonable to assume that the end result is not an improvement in the rookie running back's stock, and yeah, you got me, I didn't predict he'd have the third-best fantasy day since the year 2000.

But I certainly didn't tell you to bench him. I always say: use my rankings as a guide. I ranked him 12th last week. If I'd ranked him No. 1, you and everyone else would have called me crazy, and you'd have been right. Prior to the Bucs game, Oakland had had three straight weeks of holding opposing running backs to 50 total yards rushing or less. I repeat. All of the running backs in a game combined, less than 50 total yards rushing for all of them, three straight weeks. Since the Raiders' bye, they'd be great against the run (11th in the NFL) … until Sunday. And as for trading him: I never said trade him. I said I still believed in his talent but that I thought the loss of Nicks would hurt. I said I thought he went from a low-end No. 1 running back to a low-end No. 2 running back. That's what I said, "Rick."

Doug Martin
"Outta my way, Tyvon! I've got a fantasy analyst to make a fool of."

So yes, given the data I had to work with, I stand by the call of lowering his rest-of-season rank. After one week, it looks like a terrible call, but it had a good basis for reasoning and that's all I can do: make a call based on data in front of me. And if you're not going to own up to the fact that you obviously saw something in my thinking too, then you know what, "Rick"? I'm glad you traded him. I hope your season goes down in flames. I hope you don't win another game. How you like that? I just sung an incantation to the fantasy gods and cursed you. Oh yeah, that's right. I have that kind of power.

Anyone else? 'Cause I see how this is gonna go. Oh yeah, one of those weeks. One call goes the wrong way and you know how the Internet works. All you vultures are just waiting to unleash the hate. Well, you know what? I don't care. I'm fired up. Bring it on! I'm ready.

Justin (Philadelphia): Just wanted to say thanks for the great advice on dumping Doug Martin. ;) Totally kidding. Love the article every week, you give great insight into the hilarious and awesome ride that is fantasy football. I was thinking the same thing about Martin as soon as I saw Nicks was out. I'm glad I didn't have any other options though … Keep up the good work Berry, you're the man.

TMR: Oh yeah?!? Well, I … uh … well … um … huh.

Tom (Merry Olde England): Matthew, I have been reading your Love/Hate for about 3 years and believe your articles and opinions/rankings to be mostly great. Using your knowledge to help me has worked out great so far in my short fantasy football career (multiple championships). However, last week upon reading that you had given up on Doug Martin and the reasons behind it, I decided to give up on him. … I was mad at you for about 5 seconds upon seeing Martin drop 51 points in my league and then I realized, in the end, it was all my decision and no matter how great of a FF writer you are, you cannot tell the future. Anyways, I will still continue to listen to your advice in the future. Thanks for everything and I look forward to reading your next Love/Hate on Thursday.

TMR: Yeah, exactly! It's totally your own … wait. That's an unbelievably gracious note and I'd have been mad at me for much longer than five seconds. Hmmm. Not going how I expected.

Matthew Whittington (Tacoma, Wash.): So Berry, I'm sure you are getting killed over Doug Martin (and rightfully so) …

TMR: There it is. OK, buddy, what have you got to say, smart guy?

Continued … But in fairness I will say I haven't seen anyone give you credit for Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, Eric Decker, Randall Cobb, Jermaine Gresham, or the Chargers D. For the loves. And you were right on virtually all your other positional "hates." (Especially Rudolph). Guess on that Martin call, you just overthought it a bit huh? I've only recently started paying attention to the comments sections of the articles posted, and you are getting lambasted on there today by all the Monday morning quarterbacks. I just wanted to send you acknowledgement and affirmation on how much you got right. Good luck next week sir!

TMR: What the … ?

Jim Shields (Elsmere, Ky.): Matthew, thank you for your advice on drafting Doug Martin a round or two early. I did so and just received huge points two straight weeks. Love the advice and podcast … Take care and happy fantasy season.

TMR: Errr … Well, I … um … I mean … well … uh … you're welcome?

Gary Smith (wherever the Air Force sends me): This isn't an I told you so, but a thank you. You have been saying just go with your gut, etc., for the past few weeks, which I usually do anyway. This week you said you didn't like Doug Martin and my gut said to play him anyway. Just go with your gut -- so I did. Thanks for the fun articles, I've read you every week for a few years now. All my friends come to me for fantasy football advice because I tend to do pretty well in my leagues, I always tell 'em to go read what you say because, while I don't always agree with you, you have sound logic and are a fun read. I know you get tons of letters and mail from all over with stories about peoples teams, I just wanted to send a note and say that I appreciate the time and passion you put into fantasy football. Fantasy football is how I stay in touch with all of my closest buddies from college, we are all in the Air Force and most of us are pilots and thus literally scattered all over the globe. We love what we do, and fantasy football provides another way for us to stay in touch. Your passion and effort shows in your work and in your writing and from one guy who loves his job to another, I appreciate it. Keep up the great work Mr. Berry! Very Respectfully, Gary Smith.

TMR: Respectfully? Respectfully!?!? Dude, you risk your life serving and protecting our country. I write articles about a game about a game. How dare you! RESPECTFULLY??! I'm not out of order; you're out of order!! I refuse to take your respect, and in fact, I respect you! Yeah, that's right. I respect you and reject your respect of me. So there. How ya like them apples, Gary?

All right. Not great, but it's a start. Who's next?

DJ (San Marcos, Texas): I had the misfortune of playing against Doug Martin this week, and to make matters worse, my QB Tom Brady was on a bye. But thanks to your advice on Carson Palmer, I was able to make the key bye-week pickup that kept my winning streak alive. Thanks!

TMR: I have no idea what to do with this.

Brenna (Baltimore): I just wanted to thank you for your weekly articles. This is my first season of fantasy football and I have had more fun reading your stuff and playing every week. As a girl it was a little intimidating entering a male-dominated league but I found your articles extremely helpful and it gave me the confidence to go out on a limb sometimes with my starters. Anyways, thanks a bunch!!

TMR: I give up.

Time now for this week's Love/Hate. As always, please use my weekly rankings, updated throughout the week. Except for you, "Rick." You've been cursed. With a shoutout to John Parolin of ESPN Stats & Information for all his help, here we go.

Quarterbacks I love in Week 10

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: At home in front of a Monday night crowd against a defense that is 30th in total points allowed with an offensive coordinator who wants to run up the score on his former team. It's like a fantasy lunar eclipse. Doesn't come along often but when it does, you stop what you're doing and watch it unfold with your kids.

Matthew Stafford, Lions: Gets back to being Matthew Stafford this week against a Vikings defense that has given up six touchdowns in the past two games to Russell Wilson and Josh Freeman. He threw for 319 against them in Week 4 as well and played well last week (completing 67 percent of his passes).

Carson Palmer, Raiders: Well, I loved him all season so I'm certainly still on after last week. He's averaging just over 41 pass attempts a game, that's fourth-most in the NFL. And that's when they had some semblance of a run game. He's gonna turn it over once or twice here but the Ravens defense isn't what it used to be (22nd against the pass) and generally speaking, you throw that much against a middle-of-the-road defense, fantasy goodness happens.

If you're desperate: When Ryan Fitzpatrick faced the Patriots earlier this year, he threw for 350 yards and four scores. Well, and four picks, but who's nitpicking? It won't be pretty but at the end of the day he'll have solid numbers. With apologies to Chris Berman, nobody circles the junk time like Ryan Fitzpatrick. … Ryan Tannehill is the answer to this trivia question; considering no quarterback facing the Titans this year has ever scored fewer than 15 points, who faces them this week? … And making a triumphant return to the "if you're desperate" section is Russell Wilson, who has at least two touchdowns in three of his last four and the one game he didn't was against the 49ers. Not a great matchup, but not terrible either, and I like that they are at home and Sidney Rice is healthy.

Quarterbacks I hate in Week 10

Michael Vick
Michael Vick has turned into a matchups-dependant quarterback. Sometimes I love him, sometimes I hate him, and at no time do I know exactly what I'm going to get out of him.

Michael Vick, Eagles: His rushing will keep his numbers respectable, but that offensive line is in a shambles (seven sacks allowed to the Saints last week), so I expect Vick to spend a lot of the day having close personal interactions with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. For all the issues the Cowboys have (their run game, their late-game performance, their insecurity, the fact they work too much and have trouble expressing their emotions, etc.), the pass defense isn't one of them, as the secondary allows the fifth-fewest amount of passing yards per game this year.

Jay Cutler, Bears: Can't I just say that he faces the Texans? Has a league-worst 14 sacks and sixth-worst 52.4 completion percentage when facing at least five pass rushers? And Houston has the most aggressive defense in the league, sending five or more pass rushers on 44.9 percent of dropbacks?

Matt Schaub, Texans: It's not like playing the Bears is a cakewalk.

Joe Flacco, Ravens: Not unless your league gives points for handoffs. Even Cam Cameron can't ignore the game film of what Doug Martin just did to the Ravens' next opponent.

Running Backs I love in Week 10

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: I include him only because I want to share this stat, which I think is unbelievable: He has 515 yards after contact this year. If you took just his yards after contact, he'd be 19th in the NFL among running backs in total rushing yards. Still less than a year removed from ACL surgery. Ka-RAZY.

Reggie Bush, Dolphins: Insert running back playing Tennessee here.

Steven Ridley, Patriots: You know what's fun? Going Next Level. Seriously. Try it with me here. The Bills have allowed 5.6 yards per rush between the tackles this season, the highest rate in the NFL. And in Week 4 against the Bills, the Patriots had 33 rushes between the tackles, gaining 200 yards (6.1 yards per rush) and scoring twice. Ridley had 106 yards and two scores last time they played.

Mikel Leshoure, Lions: Remember when the Vikings run defense used to be good?

Doug Martin, Buccaneers: So here's another very reasonable email I got that I didn't include in the intro.

Jeff (El Dorado Hills, Calif.): Well, Berry, I get your Martin take last weekend. Now that he has erupted in Clinton Portis rookie fashion, do you think he and Freeman and his receivers are gold this second half? I guess what I'm asking is, can the Buccaneers be a fantasy powerhouse the remainder of the season? BTW: I benched Martin this weekend based on your analysis. I read Chris (Harris)'s also. I started Ryan Mathews and Alfred Morris over him. However, my opponent's AP, Brandon Marshall and San Diego Chargers D did so much damage, I still would have lost. Easier pill to swallow. I still believe in your analysis.

Thanks, Jeff. I appreciate that. So here's my take on Martin the rest of the year: Yes, he's clearly a No. 1 running back. But I'd still rather have guys like Arian Foster, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, and I think he's neck and neck with guys like LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Frank Gore, Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris.

He has benefited from a good schedule: Martin's average opponent this season has allowed 4.4 yards per rush, which would rank eighth-worst in the league as its own team. In fact, he has faced three of the seven worst teams in the league in yards per rush, and the best team he's faced statistically so far has been Dallas, which ranks 12th in the league with 4.1 yards allowed per rush. Martin had 19 rushes for 53 yards against the Cowboys, and that was with Carl Nicks.

So Sunday will be a true test: The Chargers defense is fifth-best in the NFL, allowing just 3.7 yards per rush and only 1.3 yards after contact per rush. Having said all that … he is in the love section because I obviously believe in his talent (hey, I even wrote that last week), and history is on his side. I asked the great Tristan H. Cockroft, who keeps a meticulous database of all this kind of stuff, to look up what running backs did the week after they had an insane game (47 fantasy points or more). See the chart below; not one ever had fewer than 17 points in their next game.


Marcel Reece, Raiders: You already know I think they are going to throw it a ton. I expect Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson to miss this game, and Oakland doesn't trust Taiwan Jones yet. Reece is the superior pass blocker and pass catcher, so in a game in which they're throwing it at least 40 times, Reece stands to have a very nice flex-worthy day as a pass catcher, throwing in the occasional run.

If you're desperate: I am assuming Donald Brown does not play Thursday night, making Vick Ballard a top-20 play against Jacksonville's 27th-ranked run defense. … All the bad Buffalo Bills run defense stats apply to Shane Vereen as well, especially since Brandon Bolden is banged up. Could see the Ridley scraps being more than enough for Vereen to be flex-worthy. … Joique Bell continues to get work (27 touches the last two weeks) and the Vikings have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing running backs in just the past four games. …The whole "getting a decent amount of work and has a good matchup" thing also applies to Daniel Thomas this week. … Keep an eye on Lance Dunbar this weekend against Philly. Decent matchup, and that job is ripe for the taking until DeMarco Murray comes back.

Running Backs I hate in Week 10

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: Top-10 talent that I have outside my top 10 and frankly, I still might be too high on him. Maybe by putting him in here I can reverse-jinx him. So, you know about the lack of touches. But even when he's touching the ball, here's a concern: He has just 17 yards after contact (1.0 yards after contact per rush) the past two games. In fact, his 2.5 yards per rush average is the worst of any Chiefs rusher, including Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. And over the past four weeks, the Steelers are fourth-best in the NFL with a 3.7 yards per rush-allowed average. Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Chiefs are going to be down in this game, and you know how they like to bail on their run game. My guess is you don't have better options to start than him, but lower your expectations even lower, if you can.

Fred Jackson, Bills: Does not have the big-play ability that C.J. Spiller has, and New England has allowed just 3.5 yards per rush, secon- best in the league. In fact, they've allowed just one rush of at least 20 yards this year. You're hoping for yards in the receiving game here and I don't see him getting enough of them to warrant being anything other than a low-end flex.

Steven Jackson, Rams: Plays the 49ers. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: So much for that whole "committing to one guy" thing. Sigh.

Shonn Green, Jets: Not on the road at Seattle. I don't care how good he's looked or how human Seattle has looked. Not feeling it.

Wide Receivers I love in Week 10

Wes Welker
One of the best things about owning Wes Welker is getting to start him twice a year against the Bills.

Wes Welker, Patriots: Say this for the Bills: they find a bunch of different ways to be bad. Did you know they have allowed a 78.7 completion percentage on passes targeting receivers lined up in the slot, the highest of any defense in the league? And, of course, Welker is third in the NFL in targets from the slot.

Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers: Think he's motivated against his former team? You know, the one he sat out almost a whole season with? The one he kept trying to leave? Yeah, me too.

Danny Amendola, Rams: Welcome back, Danny. More slot receiver stats: The 49ers defense has allowed 39 receptions to slot receivers this season; that's tied for second-most in the NFL. And even though Amendola has only played five games this year, he's tied for sixth with 35 targets out of the slot.

Brian Hartline, Dolphins: Only five teams have allowed more 20-plus yard completions than the Tennessee Titans. Coming off a 100-yard game and leading the Dolphins in targets, Hartline is a legit fantasy starter this week.

If you're desperate: The Colts secondary is really banged up, so in what should be a decently high-scoring game, it should be another productive week for Cecil Shorts. … Three scores in four games for Sidney Rice who, like Russell Wilson, had just the one bad game versus San Francisco. … With Antonio Brown out, I like Emmanuel Sanders more than Jerricho Cotchery in the run-up-the-score-against-KC sweepstakes. … If you just need something this week, there may not be a safer bet for 40 to 50 yards this week than Davone Bess against the Titans.

Wide Receivers I hate in Week 10

Steve Smith, Panthers: Champ Bailey continues to play like a shut-down corner this year (except against A.J. Green, but then again, Smith is no A.J. Green), and Cam has really struggled when playing good teams. In a great matchup last week, Smith finally scored his first touchdown of the year but still had only 41 yards. Hard to count on another score here.

Jeremy Maclin, Eagles: Single-digit fantasy points in three of the last four, he's just not connecting with Vick these days and as I said in the Vick post, I feel the passing game is under duress all game, making Maclin a flex play at best this week.

Tight Ends I love in Week 10

Heath Miller, Steelers: See Roethlisberger, Ben.

Greg Olsen, Panthers: The Broncos give up the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, Olsen is second on the team in targets and Steve Smith is gonna have Champ Bailey all up in his bid-ness.

Brandon Myers, Raiders: So there are 33 tight ends with at least 25 targets this season, right? And no one has caught a higher percentage of his targets than Brandon Myers (79.6 percent). He has 39 catches, which ranks fifth in the league. I wouldn't count on the touchdowns from last week repeating but in a game where I don't expect a ton of running and lots of passing, Myers should continue to see enough targets to make him a high-end TE2/low-end TE1. The Ravens, incidentally, have allowed 21 receptions and 228 yards to opposing tight ends in their past three games.

Dwayne Allen, Colts: More fun with completion percentage: 22 tight ends have had at least 10 targets in the past three weeks. Dwayne Allen leads them with an 84.6 completion percentage (11 catches on 13 targets). Ten receptions for 131 yards in the past two games, Coby Fleener is out, and only Reggie Wayne has more targets inside an opponents' 10-yard line.

If you're desperate: Anthony Fasano plays for Miami, which, you may have heard, faces the Titans. … Joel Dreessen now has four touchdowns in his past six games, and the Panthers allow the 13th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Tight Ends I hate in Week 10

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions: I realize he had a good game against the Vikings last time out and that their defense is reeling, but with less than 40 yards in three of the past four games and only one touchdown on the year, it seems like, due to the emergence of Mikel Leshoure and Bell, they no longer use dump-offs to Pettigrew as their "run game" this year. He's a TE2 for me with limited upside.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: This is me, peering over the cliff, trying to figure why Kyle fell off it. The touchdowns were always somewhat flukey but they just seem to ignore him in the middle of the field, which was the opposite of where it seemed like it was heading. Anyway, in the meantime, I'll just reach into the fridge to pour myself a glass of milk and … hey, there he is! Hi, Kyle!

Jared Cook, Titans: The Dolphins have yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing tight end this season.

Jermichael Finley, Packers: Hey Berry, you say, Finley's on a bye this week. To which I say: How can you tell?

Defenses I love in Week 10

Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST: Until further notice, you are starting your defense against the Chiefs.

Dallas Cowboys D/ST: Eagles allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses and the Philly offensive line, which has already struggled to protect Vick, is gonna be without Todd Herremans. The Cowboys available in over 60 percent of leagues.

Miami Dolphins D/ST: It's not just the Titans defense that is bad! Their offense gives up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Miami has been inconsistent as a fantasy defense this year but I like them at home this week, especially since it looks like Jake Locker will start.

If you're desperate: The Detroit Lions have averaged more than seven points a game since their bye week and face a struggling Christian Ponder. … Never a bad bet to go against Philip Rivers and Norv Turner, so the Bucs at home should be decent.

Defenses I hate in Week 10

Philadelphia Eagles D/ST: Can they fire Juan Castillo again?

San Diego Chargers D/ST: Muscle Hamster this! Don't get sucked in by last week's dominating performance. The Bolts are better than they get credit for, but that was more a result of Kansas City's ineptitude. As well as Tampa is playing on offense these days, I don't see a big day here.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- finally figured out what to say to all you emailers: Thanks. 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.