|ESPN.com: 2013||[Print without images]|
It was only a matter of time.
The email came this week and it said, very simply, "I think this was meant for you."
He was right, of course. The email was intended for me. The only issue was it had been sent to my new ESPN colleague, "SportsCenter" anchor ... Matt Barrie.
Great, I thought. Here we go again.
I do not have a unique name. It drives me crazy. It's my name, of course, I love my name, except I want it to be mine. And it's not. Not even close.
According to the good people of Howmanyofme.com, there are 501 people in the United States named Matthew Berry. But it feels like there are actually millions with the name, or some variation; the site claims "Matthew," incidentally, is the 40th-most popular first name in our nation, and "Berry" is the 205th-most popular last name.
When I was growing up, I played competitive tennis in the state of Texas. And there was another very good player a year younger (and better than me, frankly) named Matthew Berry. There's a popular British singer/comedian named Matt Berry, who has many videos on YouTube. There's a well-respected casting agent in Hollywood with the same-sounding name, but spelled B-A-R-R-Y. A former Congressional candidate in Virginia, the director of heath care analysis for Bloomberg Government and the director of marketing for IBM MobileFirst are named Matt Berry. The basketball coach for Luzerne County Community College is another Matt Berry, and my apologies to @MatthewBerry on Twitter. He's a guy with a fly fishing lodge in Driggs, Idaho, who got to Twitter before me and now gets more fantasy football questions than he probably wants. I'm @matthewberrytmr, if you care.
While I was in college at Syracuse, I decided I wanted to be a sitcom writer. After I graduated, I moved to Hollywood and tried to pursue that dream. I spent a few long years getting coffee, Xeroxing scripts and doing general grunt work as a production assistant trying to break in. Eventually, I managed to get a break and landed on a sitcom called "Kirk," starring former teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron. I'm sure you were a big fan. Here's how long ago that was, incidentally: The network it was on, The WB, doesn't even exist anymore.
|This photo proves two things at once; that I once had a full head of hair, and that "Kirk" wasn't exactly cutting-edge funny. The guy on the left was my writing partner, Eric Abrams.|
It wasn't a very good show and its gentle family humor certainly didn't jive with my 24-year-old comedic tastes, but whatever. I was a writer. Someone was actually going to pay me to write jokes, soft as they may be. I was over the moon. We sent out for lunch every day and I wasn't the one getting it. Heaven.
Among the first things that you get to do once you get a job as a writer -- and keep it for a little while -- is that you get to join the Writer's Guild of America. This was a big deal to me, and I've already told at least part of this story in a column before, it was that big a deal in my life. I was waiting for it, couldn't wait until I had worked long enough to qualify. Just felt more permanent, you know? Like once I was in, then and only then would I officially be a professional writer. They couldn't take it away from me after that. (That I had that fear speaks volumes about me, but that's for another column. Or book.)
So time comes to join the WGA and there is, as they say, a hiccup.
I couldn't use the name "Matthew Berry." Turns out there was another writer with that name already, a story editor on "Roseanne" named Matt Berry. I'm guessing it's still a guild rule, but I know for sure it was at the time. It's why Michael J. Fox uses the "J." When he joined SAG, there was already a Michael Fox.
The Writer's Guild wanted me to use my middle initial, which, randomly, is also "J" And I really didn't want to use my middle initial. I mean, I never used it in real life. Plus, I thought "Kirk," written by Matthew J. Berry, sounded really pretentious. It's a kids' sitcom and not a good one, you know? And it's not like this would be just for "Kirk." This is for the rest of my career. This is what I would always be known as professionally as a writer.
So I'm really struggling with this, trying to figure out what to do when they called back. Don't sweat it, they tell me. I can't use "J" anyway because the other Matt Berry's middle initial was also J.
Now they want to use a different middle initial or just use a fake name.
So now I'm really depressed. I've been working so hard to make it, I finally get my chance and now I have to change my name? Eventually, I'll write something I'll be proud of and I'm gonna want my name -- my real name -- on it.
They are kind, but tell me, in essence, that I am blank out of luck. It's the guild rules, he was there first, and it is what it is. If I want to be a writer, I gotta come up with at least a fake initial.
I think on it and I call back with one last desperation thing. I've seen this guy's credits on "Roseanne," I say. He always uses Matt Berry. What if, I ask, he agrees to always use Matt Berry and I'll always use Matthew Berry? Would that work?
They say they will ask.
Now take a second and imagine you're this guy. You've never met me. You don't even know I exist. You owe me nothing. You're established (he was a well-known club comedian before becoming a writer) and on a huge hit show like "Roseanne." You get the call out of the blue asking this.
My feeling is most people would say: "Tough. I was here first. Get your own name. Not my problem." But despite not knowing me from Adam, and with no motivation to do anything other than being a great person, Matt Berry agreed and signed whatever he needed to so that he would always stay Matt Berry. And I got to use my name.
Over the years, we occasionally would get calls or WGA mail for one another, so we would occasionally be in touch, sending or passing along something that was intended for the other. And a few years later, we actually met at a cocktail party and I told him how much that meant to me. He waved it off as no big deal, but I've always felt the need to honor that.
Even after I left show business, I'm always Matthew Berry. Never Matt. Podcast listeners know I get nuts when I'm credited or referred to as Matt Berry. It is in deference to this man and his generosity that I do that.
Friends in real life call me Matt, Matty or Matthew. I answer to all. But in case you were wondering why I go ballistic when someone on ESPN refers to me professionally as Matt Berry, that's why.
I thought I was finally done with that. But no, here we are, back again. I've only briefly met Matt Barrie, but he seemed a very affable fellow and from what I've seen, really good on air as well. Good hire for us. Just wished he had a different name. At some point, we're gonna be on TV together and it's gonna be "I'm Matt Barrie, joined by our fantasy guy Matthew Berry" or some such ... ugh.
At least, that was my initial reaction. But then I realized: You know what? He spells it differently, he does a different job than me, and, luckily for him, he's younger and has a full head of luxurious hair. It's not about the name, it's about the quality of our work. There's a lot more to either one of us than just our name. In fact, our similar-sounding names are just a small part of everything either of us is about.
This is a lesson that fantasy football owners should learn: forget the names. It's about production. "Ray Rice" doesn't mean what it used to. Neither does "Marques Colston." Forget that "Zac Stacy" and "Keenan Allen" were on your waiver wire two months ago and that you spent a first-rounder on "Trent Richardson." You're starting either guy over T-Rich, and it's not close. We're in Week 10, the stretch run, and names mean nothing. Stop holding onto names and look at everything else they bring to the table.
One name that doesn't change is "Love/Hate." It's Week 10. If you don't know the drill on how to use this article and my rankings by now, you never will. Here we go.
|No, Cam. YOU da man.|
Cam Newton, Panthers: Just in case you were thinking of getting cute because it's the San Francisco 49ers' defense and they're off a bye. Don't. Look at the quarterbacks they've faced recently: Chad Henne, Jake Locker, Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub and Sam Bradford. And Locker got 21 points on them. It's a good defense, but let's not get crazy. Newton is still a no-brainer start.
Jake Locker, Titans: Speaking of Locker ... yeah, yeah, I know, bad against the Rams last week. But that was on the road (Locker averaged 22 points a game at home) and the Rams are better than you think. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are just as bad as you think they are. Only two teams have allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than Jacksonville, which has surrendered 16 passing touchdowns and generated just three turnovers. Oh, and Locker's available in 75 percent of leagues, for you Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers owners who are still looking.
Chicago Bears Quarterback To Be Named Later: I like Jay Cutler more than Josh McCown, obviously, but either guy should be solid in a high-scoring game with the Lions. As I write this on Wednesday, I feel like Cutler will play, but either way, you can beat the Lions deep (only six teams have allowed more touchdown passes of 20-plus yards) and with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery running wild, that's what the Bears will be looking to do.
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders: I keep talking about this, but his floor is so high that he's a safe start. Look, last week, he had two interceptions, zero touchdowns, left the game early and still had 16 points. That's what the rushing will get you, and against New York, even a Giants team that's playing a little better recently, he's a safe bet for 15 points or so with upside for much more. Available in over 60 percent of leagues.
If you're desperate: Yes, Eli Manning has been brutal, but back-to-back weeks with no turnovers, off the bye, Raiders traveling East for a 1 p.m. game and, you know, Oakland did just give up seven scores to Nick Foles. ... Arizona has a very good run defense, and combined with Arian Foster's injuries, I could see another week of the Case Keenum show.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: OK, this won't shock you, but to put some numbers to it, since Week 2, Kaepernick has averaged 167.4 passing yards per game, fewest in the league among qualified quarterbacks. Now, what has saved him is the rushing; 120 yards and three scores in just the last two weeks. But how much do we think he'll be able to run on the Panthers? Don't answer, I've already decided. Not much. Carolina is second versus the run, and it has allowed the fewest rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this year, including holding Russell Wilson to just 7 yards rushing earlier this year. The Panthers allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. I don't see Karpernick as a top-10 play this week.
Matt Ryan, Falcons: Maybe he gets Roddy White back this week, and that helps. And the Seahawks did just give up 15 points to Mike Glennon. In Seattle. And this game is in Atlanta. But ... he's posted back-to-back single-digit fantasy points, the first time he's done so since 2009. Dude has seven picks the last two games; do you feel confident starting him this week? Exactly. He's not in the top 10 this week and that means that, for where he was drafted and what you expect out of him, he belongs on the hate list.
Andy Dalton, Bengals: How lucky do you feel? In his past six games, he's had three with at least 24 points and three with eight or less. It's high-risk, high-reward; he could easily go off again against the Ravens(a good defense), but considering he's averaged just 226 yards a game in four career matchups against Baltimore and that opposing quarterbacks average just 10 points a game in Baltimore, I'm taking the under on 20 fantasy points and have him outside my top 12.
Reggie Bush, Lions: Remember when the Chicago Bears' defense was the CHICAGO BEARS' DEFENSE? Yeah, me neither. Of course, I don't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, either.
Zac Stacy, Rams: Two first names, always a crowd pleaser. What's this guy got to do to get into the top 10? He'll move up there after the Thursday game, when we remove Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris from the rankings, but in the Wednesday morning iteration, I'm the only guy to rank Stacy as a top-10 play. I continue to be the highest on him and I don't get what I am missing. He's touching the ball like 25 times a game. He's their entire offense. He runs hard and runs well between the tackles (4.5 yards per carry since Week 5) and that's one place where the Colts are vulnerable. Since Week 5, the Colts have allowed 4.8 yards per carry between the tackles, second most in the league. Zac Stacy's mom has got it going on. Why? Because she has her son on her fantasy team.
Mike James, Buccaneers: OK, so yeah, not only did Mike James lead the league in rushing yards last week with 158 yards, against the Seahawks, in Seattle, but 68 of those yards came after contact. Not a fluke. This year, James has averaged 2.2 yards after contact per carry, second most in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Dolphins, who might be a little distracted this week, allow the third-most rushing yards after contact. They give up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, he's somehow still available in 80 percent of leagues, and I'm playing against him in the ESPN War Room league, where I need a win and am without Jamaal Charles and Rob Gronkowski, so I assure you he's going off. Top 20 guy for me.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys: I know, I know ... he got, like, four carries last week. He's topped more than 100 yards rushing in only one game this year. But Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, of course, spent many years watching Romo at practice, so he knows his strengths and weaknesses well. Between wanting to limit shots at Romo and trying to keep Drew Brees off the field, I expect Dallas to try to run quite a bit, especially since that's the way to attack New Orleans. The Saints allow 4.95 yards per carry, second most in the league.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals: Eggs! I had eggs for breakfast this morning!
The Buffalo Bills' running backs, 1A and 1B: You can run on the Steelers and you were starting C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson anyways, but I put them in here entirely because I just liked this odd little stat: Only three players have at least 30 yards rushing in all nine games this season: LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and ... Fred Jackson. And before you go all "bye weeks!" on me, realize that there are 10 teams that have played nine games so far.
If you're desperate: If we learned anything from Mike James and Zac Stacy the past two weeks, it's that you can run on Seattle. Steven Jackson should get enough work to be a solid flex play. ... I have no idea how much Darren Sproles plays (he practiced Wednesday), but I really don't care. Pierre Thomas is the lead back for the Saints, he has 20 receptions in the past four games, and the Cowboys have given up the most receptions and receiving yards to opposing running backs this year. ... The Shonn Greene thing in Tennessee is real and the light doesn't get any greener than at home to the Jags. ... Your weekly reminder that all Mike Tolbert does is score touchdowns; he now has five scores in the past four games. He won't get more than 10 touches, but he has as good a shot at a score as anyone.
|I know it looks like we're piling on Ray Rice, but in fairness, it was NFL defenses that started it.|
Ray Rice, Ravens: Sigh. Pick a stat -- any stat. Rice has averaged 2.7 yards per carry this season, second fewest among qualified running backs. He's the only qualified running back in the league to average less than 1.0 yards after contact per carry. Single-digit fantasy points in three straight and in four of the last five. Yes, the Bengals have a banged-up defense and Lamar Miller gashed them last week, but you know what's sad? Ray Rice isn't as good as Lamar Miller these days, and I don't think it's that close. Hopefully they figure out what's wrong with him soon, but until we see a bounce-back game, he's not a top-20 guy for me.
Trent Richardson, Colts: I bet, every night, before he goes to bed, Trent Richardson brushes his teeth. What? Just because he's been a failure as a fantasy running back these days doesn't mean he has poor dental hygiene. When he's done with his teeth, I bet he gets into bed and thanks the heavens above for Ray Rice. Because if it wasn't for Rice, T-Rich would be the biggest non-injury-related fantasy bust this year. He's yet to have more than 60 yards rushing in a game, and when you can't even beat out Donald Brown for full-time carries, there's a problem. He's still young and the coaching staff in Indy is smart, so there's hope they figure it out soon, but this week? Even in a great matchup, how can you consider him a top-20 play?
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals: Last week, Giovani Bernard got both red zone rushes. That should tell you all you need to know. Green-Ellis hasn't scored since Week 5 and no team has allowed fewer fantasy points or rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs than the Baltimore Ravens.
Rashad Jennings, Raiders: Before you think he's a plug-and-play savior, realize that 96 percent of his runs this year have been between the tackles. And for all of New York's struggles on defense, they allow just 3.5 yards per carry between the tackles, third fewest in the NFL. Flex play at best.
Keenan Allen, Chargers: Much like Zac Stacy, I continue to be the highest every week on Keenan Allen. I don't get the reluctance. Since Week 5, Allen has averaged 104.3 receiving yards per game, fourth in the league. He also has eight red zone targets during that span, tied for fifth. Meanwhile, Denver has struggled on defense (bottom seven in both receiving yards and fantasy points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers), and you expect this to be a high-scoring game with both sides throwing a lot.
Alshon Jeffrey, Bears: See Cutler, Jay.
Kendall Wright, Titans: Guy getting the most targets and reception on his team, at home against the Jaguars? Sure, I'll play along. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts: This is what I wrote about T.Y. Hilton in last week's Love/Hate: "Might want to mark Saturday on your calendar. It'll be the last time you can still buy T.Y. Hilton at less than top-20 prices. Just needs a chance. Starting Sunday, Colts aren't looking back. The T.Y. stands for Thank You." Thank You? No. Thank you. I have seen the future and its name is T.Y. Hilton.
If you're desperate: If ever there was a guy who's "due" it's Hakeem Nicks. He's been targeted 66 times this season, the most by any player yet to catch a touchdown this season. And then there's the Raiders' secondary, that, you know, understands a thing or two about giving up touchdown passes. ... I expect Mike Wallace to be on Revis Island, which should mean more love for Brian Hartline. Ted Ginn, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse all had good games opposite Revis since he started playing man coverage. ... Since Week 5, when Nick Foles started against the Bucs, Riley Cooper is averaging 21.2 yards per reception, third highest among qualified wide receivers. Super-small sample size on that, but still, he seems to have a connection to Foles and the matchup with Green Bay is solid. ... Gut call here, but I bet Eddie Royal scores against his former team.
Mike Wallace, Dolphins: Hasn't scored since Week 2, visits Revis Island, and I just don't like him. Pick your favorite reason.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars: With Justin Blackmon out, that will mean extra targets, but also extra attention from Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty. As much as I love Shorts' skills, the Titans are seventh against the pass, have allowed just two touchdowns to wide receivers this year and given Shorts' lack of red zone opportunities (just one red zone catch this year), it's hard to see him as a top 20 play.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers: Forty-third. Since Week 4, when San Francisco got back to more of a power run game against the Rams (after getting destroyed by Indy at home), Anquan Boldin's per-game targets ranks 43rd among wide receivers. And that includes the score he had in Week 4, his last good game. They just aren't throwing enough for him to be a top-20 guy, he's touchdown dependent for fantasy value in standard leagues these days and, considering the Panthers have allowed the second-fewest touchdowns and fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season, I don't think this is the week that changes.
I know. Not a huge list this week. What can I say? Good week for wideouts!
|Antonio Gates has had the same bounce in his step this season as the owners who were smart -- or lucky -- enough to draft him.|
Antonio Gates, Chargers: Ranks in the top four in targets, receptions and yards per game among tight ends; it's been a helluva bounce-back year for Gates. Big part of an offense that will be throwing a lot in a great matchup, as the Broncos are among the bottom four in receptions and receiving yards allowed per game to opposing tight ends, making Gates my No. 2 tight end this week, the highest I've had him all year.
Jordan Reed, Washington: Since Week 7, which followed Washington's bye, Reed leads all tight ends in targets, receptions and yards and is third in yards per game. No brainer. Plus, here's the great thing: Either he exploits the Vikings, who've given up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, or he tanks and then you can make fun of me in the comments on Friday morning. You win either way.
If you're desperate: With Andre Johnson having his hands full with Patrick Peterson and the Cardinals' secondary, I could see more love going to Garrett Graham against an Arizona team that's given up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. ... Since Tampa Bay's bye week, there are only four tight ends in the NFL with more targets than Tim Wright, and the Dolphins give up the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. ... Given Christian Ponder's tendencies (23 percent of his pass attempts go to tight ends, which is top-10 among quarterbacks with at least 150 attempts) and the lack of other options in the passing game, don't be surprised to see John Carlson with 60 yards or so and potentially a score. ... Only two teams have allowed more receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends than the Falcons, so I could see Zach Miller, who has 15 targets the past three weeks, getting in the end zone here.
Coby Fleener, Colts: Didn't seem to be a bigger part of the offense in the last game, receiving basically the same number of targets he got before Reggie Wayne's injury, so it just feels like you need a score from Fleener to get starter's value out of him. The Rams give up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends and have given up just two touchdowns all year to a tight end, and the last one was in Week 4 to Vernon Davis.
Jared Cook, Rams: Fewer than 40 yards in four of his past five, he's another guy who needs a score to be fantasy relevant. Colts have given up just one touchdown to an opposing tight end all season.
Tennessee Titans: My No. 1 defense this week is available in 45 percent of ESPN.com leagues. They average more than nine points a game at home this year, but come on. They had me at "Jaguars."
Arizona Cardinals: Only two teams have more interceptions, they're tied for 13th in sacks and they average 12 points a game at home. Yes, Case Keenum has played well, but the Texans' run game is so banged up that it is fairly one-dimensional. And missing Gary Kubiak from the game planning is a blow as well. The Cardinals' D is available in 86 percent of leagues.
If you're desperate: The Miami Dolphins are averaging more than nine points a game at home, while the Buccaneers have allowed at least 10 points to an opposing defense in three of the past five, and at least eight points in six of eight. Plus, the Dolphins have had a long week to prep after making Andy Dalton look silly. ... Total risk/reward because the game could easily be a shootout, but the Saints' defense is playing really well, and Tony Romo throwing a pick-six on national TV would shock exactly nobody.
Green Bay Packers: No team in the NFL has fewer interceptions this season than the Packers. And get this: Since Week 5 (when Foles came in for the injured Michael Vick), in games that Foles has both started and finished (so, you know, no Matt Barkley), the Eagles have allowed an average of minus-three points per game to opposing defenses.
Chicago Bears: Just three points the last time they faced the Lions, they're still a bit banged up for me to risk in what should be a game with yards aplenty. Incidentally, when I retire from ESPN, I'm gonna open up a discount knitting store called Yards Aplenty.
That'll do it. Good luck in Week 10 and, be it victory, beatdown, squeaker, win, triumph, scoring more, a W, crushing, killing, success, getting it done, domination or even bringing home the bacon, whatever name you have for it, here's hoping you have it this weekend.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- never wrote on "Reba" or "Desperate Housewives." That was the great Matt Berry. Matthew 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. You may also have heard: He's written a book.