OK, if they trade Kobe Bryant, I quit.
Longtime readers know that I am a die-hard Lakers fan (still a season-ticket holder), and if they trade Kobe, I don't know how I can root for them anymore. Look, Kobe's not Vince Carter. A punk who'll just tank it if he's not happy. He gives "110 percent" no matter what and they have him under contract for two more years. Play it out this season, see if you can make peace and see what happens in the next offseason. If you still can't get anything done, then you look to deal him.
But real life should learn from fantasy. You never trade a stud without getting one in return, right? The two-for-one deal is almost always a rip-off if you're getting the two. And how can a franchise be so screwed up that it deals both Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant within four years? If I were Mitch Kupchak, I would resign before making this trade.
This is all Jerry Buss' fault, and I couldn't be sicker to my stomach about it. I could go on and on about this subject but there's much to get to.
First, you can be my cyberfriend at MyESPN. I'm posting stuff there, like my recent ESPN The Magazine article about favorable and unfavorable playoff schedules. And it takes awhile, but so far I'm able to answer every e-mail. No promises, but it's free and what have you got to lose?
And second, it's clear I need to do a mailbag. So many things to get to, from Patriots and Redskins reaction, to what I call "TMR FAQ." I get a lot of the same questions regarding me, my ability (or lack thereof), ESPN and Fantasy, what have you. I also still have the list of undefeated league champions to print. So I want to print all of those along with the fact that apparently I have been "Baba-Booeyed."
Tomorrow (Friday), I'll have my flex rankings up (combo ranking of RB, WR and TE) along with a new TRUM that will be all mailbag, plus all of our updated rankings for Week 9. But in the meantime, it's time to do another love/hate and here's one e-mail that will also be in the TMR FAQ but is appropriate here:
John (Ohio): TMR, first let me start by saying that your columns and podcasts are absolutely hilarious and thoroughly entertaining. Now that the complimentary stuff is out of the way, I'd like to rip your Love/Hate picks for this week. How can you say you "hate" Steve Smith this week, yet you rank him 14th, ahead of a bunch of guys you "love," like Jerricho Cotchery (20), Ronald Curry (22), Lee Evans (23), Brandon Stokley (29), Arnaz Battle (30), Drew Bennett (37), Derek Hagan (39), just to name a few. If all those "love" guys are going to exceed nine fantasy points, then how can you rank Smith -- who's going to have less than nine points -- ahead of them? Hmmm?
TMR: I've gotten this question before and it's a two-part answer. First, I do the first wave of rankings on Tuesday night (for posting Wednesday morning). So when I write my love/hate on Wednesday night or Thursday morning, things have changed. More practice reports, weather outlooks, injury updates, etc. are clearer. That's why we do the Friday rankings update as well. (Smith's QB was not named until after the first wave of rankings last week, for example.) So someone I love on Thursday may even drop in the Friday rankings, although I try not to do that very much.
Also, when I do rankings, I take upside into consideration quite a bit. For example, I had Steve Smith on my hate list last week because I did not think he would exceed nine fantasy points (which turned out to be correct -- I had a good week last week except for the Saints). BUT, he has much more potential to go nuts than a guy like Stokley or Battle, hence the ranking. I guess everyone does them differently, but I always do the rankings based on "If I were drafting for this weekend, who would I take when." And drafting is all based on expectations and upside.
Love/hate is basically a sleeper/bust column for the week. You know, just like you read a draft kit with rankings and then you have your sleepers and busts, which sometimes don't always coincide with rankings, because their purposes are different.
One more thing here. All of this should be read with intelligence and your own team in mind. If you own Steve Smith, and you see last week I have him on hate, do you bench him? Well, it depends. Do you have someone like Evans or Stokley on your team from my love list? Then, sure, go ahead. But if you don't or need to play it safe, then no. Again, Smith is much more likely to go nuts than most.
And with that, we get to Week 9.
As always, players I love this week are guys I think exceed certain statistical benchmarks. Guys I hate I feel will fall short. 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. This past week, if I had told you to start Carson Palmer, you would have said that was obvious. It also would have been wrong.
Here we go.
Week 9 players I love
Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals: Bucs give up more than 20 fantasy points a game to running backs.
Ike Hilliard, WR, Buccaneers: I like Ike! And this joke!
Titans D/ST: You know what happens when the team with the second-most interceptions in the league gets to face David Carr? Fantasy goodness, my friend. Fantasy goodness.
Chris Henry, RB, Titans: You know how when you get three strikes in a row in bowling, they call it a turkey? Well, it's November now and Henry has touchdowns in two straight...
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: Because junk time still counts.
Jeff King, TE, Panthers: If Chuck Berry wrote a song about him, it'd be "My King-a-ling!" (Pause) They're not all pretty, kids.
ALL YOUR BENGALS: This game, however, I like Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Kenny Watson. If Rudi Johnson plays, I still like Watson. And if Rudi doesn't play, I like DeDe Dorsey to get at least 50 total yards.
ALL YOUR BILLS: Not a defensive battle, this one. Marshawn Lynch, J.P. Losman and Lee Evans should all be started with confidence. OK, Lynch and Evans should be started with confidence. Losman should be started with cautious optimism and hope.
Selvin Young and Andre Hall, RB, Broncos: Nate Ravitz and I discussed this very scenario on the podcast today. Here what we think happens: Travis Henry practices all week in a limited fashion. Mike Shanahan announces he is starting. Two plays into the game, he pulls Henry and gives Selvin Young the ball 20 times and the goal-line carries to Andre Hall just because he is evil and hates you and wants to punish you for not listening to me and drafting a Shanahan running back. This is what happens every year, this is what you deserve.
BRONCOS D/ST: No team gives up more sacks than Detroit.
Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos: The Lions' secondary is playing better but I still like both guys this week.
Tony Scheffler, TE, Broncos: Two straight with a touchdown. Just saying.
Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: This will be his third straight game with more than 100 total yards. And then, sell high. Check out his upcoming schedule.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs: Packers give up the second-most fantasy points per game to tight ends in the NFL.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers: There's something about both of his names that I like, I just can't put my finger on it.
CHARGERS D/ST: You know what else is fantasy goodness for a defense? Tarvaris Jackson.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: If he can't do it against Atlanta, he ain't ever doing it.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: Also known as "It's about time."
Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Once you wear a man's jersey on national TV, you have a fondness for him.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: It's not as if the Jets stop the run all that much either.
Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Deion Branch (if he plays), Bobby Engram, Seahawks: And deeper leagues that need a bye-week fill-in should consider D.J. Hackett and even Will Heller. Those that say I hate on the Browns should remember that they give up more than 400 yards a game.
Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Browns: Those who say I hate on the Browns should also note that Nate and I recently did a re-ranking of players the rest of the way and among other things, I took Braylon Edwards as the No. 2 wide receiver overall and I bet Nate on our podcast that Anderson would be a better fantasy QB the rest of the way than Carson Palmer.
Ron Dayne, RB, Texans: The definition of sometimes, fantasy isn't pretty.
TEXANS D/ST: Assuming the Raiders are without Ronald Curry.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Obviously, you're gonna start all your Colts studs, and I'm playing Addai in every league I own him in, but Wayne is the only guy in whom I have total confidence.
Week 9 players I hate
Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals: I expect Tampa Bay to blitz a lot and Warner not to last the game. Bucs give up only 173 passing yards per game, second best in the NFL, and have given up only six passing touchdowns this year, fourth best in the NFL.
Jeff Garcia, QB, Buccaneers: Cards give up only one passing touchdown per game (and yes, I'm saying I think it goes to Ike Hilliard this week).
David Carr, QB, Panthers: In other news, water turns to ice when you freeze it.
Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals: Even if he plays, I expect Watson to get the majority of carries here against an improving Bills defense.
Travis Henry, RB, Broncos: See Young, Selvin.
Brett Favre, James Jones, Packers: Game is at Arrowhead, Chiefs give up fewer than 200 yards passing per game and only three teams in the NFL have allowed fewer passing touchdowns than the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars: Among the surprising things I learned this week? Patriots fans are more civil than I originally thought, I have even more gray hair I need to dye and the Saints allow less than 100 rushing yards a game and have given up only four rushing touchdowns all year.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: The Emperor has no clothes. At least this week.
Kellen Clemens and Thomas Jones, Jets: I have decided the Patriots game never happened last week and the Redskins are still an elite defense. Yes, they lost Carlos Rogers but Laveranues Coles not playing hurts Jets more.
Sage Rosenfels, QB, Texans: Here's a headline you WON'T read on Monday: Sage is all the rage!
Josh McCown, QB, Raiders: Here's another headline: He's no Sage!
That's all I got. Good luck in Week 9, folks. And be sure to check out my flex rankings Friday.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's Sr. 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 ESPN.com's "Fantasy Football Now," which is live starting at Noon ET.