I am very excited.
I'm writing this on a plane as I head back to College Station, Texas, for Thanksgiving. I grew up there, my folks still live there. (My dad teaches at Texas A&M University). ... I am excited to be going back.
Ten Things You Should Know About My Hometown
Yes, it's actually called College Station. The reason is because a long, long time ago (in a galaxy nearby), the only thing in the city was, in fact, the college. So when the railroad would make its routes around Texas, it would stop at the "College" station. I'm fairly certain there isn't a less interesting story about how a city got its name.
For a long time, Texas A&M was literally the only thing in the city. This is no longer the case. We now have a Chili's.
There is a very good chance I will be at a bar known as the Dixie Chicken with some old high school friends. Rumor has it that more beer is consumed per square foot there than any other bar in Texas. We couldn't be more proud.
The Dixie Chicken also has a live snake on the premises.
There is no food there that can't be "chicken fried."
Lyle Lovett is from the area. I love Lyle Lovett.
You can fly there only from Houston or Dallas.
It's not a very big city, but at last count we had six country radio stations.
I will be at the Texas-A&M game Friday, otherwise known as the last game of the Franchione era. (Hopefully.)
Domestic beers at a bar generally are a dollar. Like I said, I am very excited.
Let's get to Love/Hate for Week 12. As always, players I love this week are guys I think exceed certain statistical benchmarks. Guys I hate I feel will fall short. It's that simple. Those benchmarks are 175 yards and two touchdowns for quarterbacks (or 15 fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring); 90 yards and/or 30 yards and a touchdown rushing and receiving (or nine fantasy points) for running backs and wide receivers, 60 yards or a touchdown for tight ends and eight points for kickers and defenses. I used to say no obvious names, but I don't think there is such a thing anymore. If I had told you to start Peyton Manning last week, you would have said that was obvious. It also would have been wrong.
Week 12 Players I Love
Brett Favre, QB, Packers: Traditionally plays very well at Detroit.
Donald Lee, TE, Packers: Has three touchdowns in his past two games.
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions: Not a low-scoring affair, this one.
Kellen Clemens, Jerricho Cotchery, Jets: The Cowboys are in the bottom 10 in the NFL in pass touchdowns and passing yards allowed. Or, to put it another way, it's the kind of secondary that made Jason Campbell and Santana Moss look All-World last week. I even like Brad Smith to get 60 yards or so in this game.
Colts defense/special teams: The Falcons gave up 22 fantasy points to the Bucs' defense/special teams last week.
David Garrard, QB, Jaguars: Other than his silky smooth moves on the dance floor, there's nothing sexy about Garrard. But I really like him here. He has averaged 15 fantasy points the past three weeks. He's never gonna explode for a huge game, but he is very consistent and won't burn you. He has had double-digit fantasy points in six of seven games, and this is a great matchup.
Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars: Bit of a reach here, but he has touchdowns in two of his past three games, and only four teams have given up more passing touchdowns than Buffalo.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Bears: He'll get deep for one.
Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings: His yardage won't be great, but he'll get in for a score. Or, the yardage will be great, but he won't score. Or I'll be dead wrong. You roll yer dice, you take yer chances.
Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey, Giants: With the running game banged up and this being a terrific matchup, I actually have Eli in my top 10 this week. I feel so, so dirty. If you were desperate, you also could put Amani Toomer in, and I'd be OK with it.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints: Actually plays better on the road than at home. That holds true for the TMR as well.
Vinny Testaverde, QB, Panthers: What can I say? I was taught to respect my elders.
The UPS Whiteboard Guy: I must have gotten 100 e-mails from readers about this guy after I mentioned him in Monday's TRUM. Turns out he's actually the creative director of the agency that came up with the ad campaign (and the same agency that has created all the funny Geico ads). After auditioning a ton of actors, they couldn't find anyone they liked more than him on the little demo tape they made to pitch the ad. So they gave it to him. Great story. And I am now a fan, hence my reason for putting him in the Love section. Hey, guys with questionable hair who are slightly awkward on TV have to stick together, ya know.
Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders: Remember how I just told you they gave the UPS Whiteboard Guy the gig not because they wanted to, but because they couldn't find anyone else they liked more? Well, same thing with Fargas.
Kolby Smith, RB, Chiefs: Speaking of which ... aka ATCHL, or "all the Chiefs have left. Good matchup here, though. Real good.
All your Seahawks: Hasselbeck, the top three wide receivers, Maurice Morris and the Seattle defense. There's a reason the Rams have only two wins. It's because they are bad. Stinky bad. Ha! Who needs the Scouts Inc. guy when you have analysis like that?
Vince Young, QB, Titans: Great. I just finished the shower I had to take from recommending Eli, and now I have to get back in. Sigh.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: I wish Jason Campbell had a really crazy haircut. Then I could print up T-shirts with pictures of him and Clinton with a caption that reads: "The Portis and the Hair!" Yep, that's how my mind works, folks.
All your Cardinals: Warner, James, Boldin and Fitz, plus the defense/special teams and Neil Lomax.
Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens: Touchdown in five straight games. Make it six.
Heath Evans, RB, Patriots: You're starting everyone else, but I think Evans could get a score here as well.
Week 11 Players I Hate
Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: It was fun while it lasted.
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets: Yes, he was on your bench last week when he went off. You're bitter. You have every right to be.
Every Falcon: Unless you play in one of those "suckball" leagues in which you get points for players being bad. In that case, start all of them.
Jay Cutler, QB, Broncos: I never like guys on the road on a short week. Er, better clarify: Except when they play Detroit or Atlanta on national holidays.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bears: Yes, he has a good matchup, but then I'd have to take a third shower. Rather be wrong than recommend him. He's the Rams of running backs.
Any Giants running back: Stephania Bell said if you want any of them, it's Reuben Droughns this week. I'm sure she's right. Just as I am sure it's not gonna come to that for me.
Any Viking not named Chester Taylor: It's as true today as it was, um, a week ago.
Brodie Croyle, QB, Chiefs: Once, in college, I lost a bet and had to eat a whole Brodie Croyle.
Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Rams: If you have Jackson, you probably have to start him. But I'm not crazy about him here either. The Seahawks have given up only five passing touchdowns all year, best in the NFL. They're also sixth-best in scoring defense. And then there's that whole "crappy Rams" thing. It'll take guts to bench Holt, but I don't see a big game from him.
LenDale White, RB, Titans: The fumbles, the fat hanging off his gut and the touches from Chris Brown all make me nervous here. That said, if one prediction is gonna blow up in my face this week, this is possibly it. It's a great matchup for him.
Jason Campbell and Santana Moss, Redskins: You saw them go off last week and got all excited. Don't be. The Bucs are third in passing yards allowed, second in passing touchdowns allowed, and no team gives up fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than they do.
All your 49ers: The Rams of the NFC West. ... Wait a minute ...
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Yes, I know he counts under "All your 49ers," but I want to single him out especially because he is so horrible and deserving of ridicule and derision. I deride you, Frank Gore! I deride you!!
All your Eagles except Brian Westbrook: Insert players going against Patriots here.
All your Dolphins, including Jesse Chatman: They looked bad against Philly, and Pittsburgh is a lot better than Philly.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's Senior Director of Fantasy, in charge of content. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a four-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner and the only writer in the industry with wins in multiple sports (NFL, MLB, NBA). Be sure to check him out every Sunday morning on "ESPNEWS Fantasy Insider" at 11 a.m. ET and then on Sunday Countdown on ESPN, usually around 12:05 p.m. ET.
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