Matthew Berry on Matthew Berry
Before we start -- and by "we" I really mean me, because let's face it, I'm the one doing all the work here, and no, what you're doing right now doesn't count as work, no matter how much you grunt -- I just wanted to thank everyone for all their kind words about both the Muppets column and the actual Muppets script I posted in social media last week. Obviously meant a lot to me.
Speaking of social media, if you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook, you no doubt saw me promoting the "60 Minutes Sports" profile they did on me and fantasy sports that aired Wednesday night. If you missed it, you can read more about it here.
Being interviewed by "60 Minutes Sports" was, as you might imagine, surreal. The crew was very nice and professional; I had a blast with Sharyn Alfonsi, the correspondent; and they were very thorough. All told, they spent the better part of six days with me, filming our ESPN Radio event in Dallas, a book signing event for "Fantasy Life," me at home with my family, me at work on a Sunday morning here at ESPN, me actually drafting at the "Howard Stern Show" fantasy football league and then speaking with them on camera for a few hours at their NYC studios.
I watched it when it originally aired Wednesday night, of course, and it was definitely a bit weird to sit there and watch the piece with my family; the familiar ticking of the stopwatch and then there I am, in the famous "60 Minutes" interview pose and Sharyn is talking about me. I've been on TV plenty in my life, but very rarely when someone was talking about me. Usually, I'm the one talking about someone else. Anyone who listens to the podcast knows I can talk forever, and the whole piece was probably about 15 minutes, so there are definitely some topics we didn't get to that I wish we'd covered. So with that in mind, I'm continuing the interview. Sharyn's not here to ask the questions, but whatever; I can handle that too. How tough can it be, right? So let's adjust the lights, put on the microphone, take a sip of water and get to it.
(Sits down, shakes hand)
Q: Really? You're wearing that?
A: Is that a question? Has the interview started?
Q: Well, it's a profile piece, "60 Minutes Sports," the whole deal; just surprised that's what you chose. Are you wearing makeup? Is that lipstick?
A: What happened to a nice welcome, thanks for being here, that sort of thing?
Q: Thanks for being here. Welcome to the show.
A: That's better ...
Q: Seriously, are you wearing lipstick?
A: No. I mean, I don't think so. I don't remember actually. I just sort of go to makeup and zone out and let them do what they do.
Q: So they might have put lipstick on you?
A: Probably not, maybe, whatever, I need all the help I can get.
Q: No question. Just an agreement.
A: You could have argued with me a little bit on that one. My wife thought I looked great.
Q: She's legally required to. Are you going to talk actual fantasy football at any point?
A: I'm just answering the questions you're asking.
Q: So now it's my fault? Do I have to do everything?
A: I mean, not everything but …
Q: How come you never take responsibility for your own actions?
A: OK then! So ... how about some buy-low guys? It's four weeks into the season now, I always say you shouldn't make a major move in fantasy until four weeks in; that's when you have enough of a sample size to see what your team is made of, but there's still enough season left to make a move.
Q: Sure, what do you have?
A: Here's my list of players that I think will increase in value going forward:
• Tom Brady: completing 67 percent of passes the past two weeks, reinforcements coming.
• Giovani Bernard: might be a tough get because chances are his owner is a believer, but the touches keep increasing.
• Danny Woodhead: averaging 4.7 yards per carry, at least seven targets a game over the past three and now getting red zone carries. Not a typical running back, but getting the job done in San Diego in a way Ryan Mathews is not.
• David Wilson: schedule gets a lot easier the rest of the way, as only two of the teams he'll face are currently top 12 in run defense.
• Antonio Brown: Of the Steelers' 12 remaining games, only two are against opponents in that are top-10 in limiting points to wide receivers.
• Torrey Smith: discussed below as well, but averaging 10 targets a game, including the most deep targets in the NFL; the touchdowns will come.
Q: Not a bad list. Who says you're totally useless?
A: Someone says that?
Q: I don't know, do they?
Q: Are you sure?
A: No. Is this the part where you make me cry? Where you get all personal with me?
Q: No, that's later, when we remind people you recommended Maurice Jones-Drew in the preseason.
A: Yeah, that was a bad call. Brutal. I'm selling him for 50 cents on the dollar, especially if he does anything this week against the Rams. Upcoming schedule is brutal and I don't think he gets traded to a better team.
Q: OK, although in fairness, your evaluation of Maurice Jones-Drew really shouldn't be trusted at all, should it?
A: I'm starting to well up.
Q: Good, it's about time you showed some emotion, you robot.
A: Robot? I'm emoting all over the place here.
Q: That's not emoting, that's saying stats with flair.
A: You want me to dig deep? Get emotional?
Q: I was surprised there wasn't more of that in the piece.
A: We talked about it. They must have cut for time. I mentioned how fantasy sports saved my life.
Q: That's a bit over the top, Johnny Drama.
A: Maybe. But in the book there's a really uplifting chapter on how fantasy has helped people overcome great personal demons and tragedies, from the loss of a loved one, to cancer, to alcoholism and drug use, to physical disability to, in my case, intense clinical depression. Without fantasy, I'm still depressed in Los Angeles living a life I hated. Without it, I'm not at ESPN; without ESPN I don't meet my wife; without her I don't have my kids. I certainly felt saved. It's circle-of-life stuff. Big theme in the book and in my life. It's important to me.
Q: Am I supposed to hug you now? What was that?
A: I'm just trying to show some depth here. This is "60 Minutes." Shouldn't you be grilling me? Cornering me with the tough questions, getting to the truth by using my own words against me?
Q: Think you're doing that all by yourself.
A: No need to be condescending.
Q: Need? No. Fun? Yes.
A: Is this over yet?
Q: You're the one who wanted this. Truthfully, I voted for us to do Karabell. I'm doing whatever I can to make you interesting.
A: What are you doing, exactly? You're all over the place! You're not asking anything.
Q: What's to ask? You just spill everything anyway. I'm trying to get you to shut up, actually.
A: Shut up?!? It's an interview! I'm supposed to talk.
Q: Talk, not pontificate. Yawn. Seriously, what about Stephania Bell? She seems interesting.
A: Hey now, you're starting to get personal here.
Q: What are you gonna do about it?
A: Really? You're calling me out?
A: This isn't happening, right? You're serious?
Q: Bak bak bak. Bak! BAK! BAK!!
A: That's it.
(Gets up from chair, lunges at interviewer, punches thrown, rolling around on the floor, light knocked over ...)
Huh. Well, that didn't go like I thought. It never does. In fantasy or in life. My sincere thanks to Alan Goldberg, James Watson and Sharyn Alfonsi; the piece was actually great and it was an honor. I'd also like to thank Zach Rodgers and the gang at ESPN Stats & Information. They had nothing to do with the "60 Minutes" piece but he did, as always, help with this column. Rock stars.
As always, this is not a pure start/sit column. Most of the people you're starting or sitting aren't listed here, as I try to avoid obvious names (on both sides) unless something specifically stands out. For questions about whether I'd start this guy or that guy check my rankings, which are updated every day.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 5
Tom Brady, Patriots: Super Bowl MVP. Supermodel wife. The ability to yell at wide receivers who drop passes. Tom's a hero to regular folk and fantasy owners alike, yet I'm the only one to have him in the top five this week. Part of it is that I expect him to get at least one of Danny Amendola or Rob Gronkowski back. Part of it is Kenbrell Thompkins, who has now dropped the "Dropkins" nickname (see what I did there?) Part of is the banged-up Bengals secondary that just gave up 269 yards and two scores to Brian Hoyer, who, according to at least one former depth chart, is not as good as Tom Brady. But mostly it's just that he's Tom Flippin' Brady and coming off his first 300-yard game of the year, he's gonna remind you of that.
Philip Rivers, Chargers: At least 22 points in three of four games this year, he's top-10 in the NFL in yards, yards per attempt, passing touchdowns and fans saying "Wait, Philip Rivers? THAT Philip Rivers? Really?" A shoddy defense and struggling run game means he'll continue to throw, and he's playing Oakland. If you need an RG III replacement this week, here he is. Only question left to answer is who sold his soul to the devil, Rivers or Mike McCoy?
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders: Even better, you don't have to stay up and watch him! It's not just the matchup that's tasty (San Diego is 29th versus the pass and gives up the most points to opposing quarterbacks), but it's the rushing, too: The Chargers are allowing 5.2 yards per carry, third-most. I'm expecting him to play and to be a top-12 option this week.
If you're desperate: In Eli Manning's past six against the Eagles, he's averaged three touchdowns, and Philly is currently giving up the second-most points to opposing quarterbacks. Concentrate on those two facts and not the whole "Eli has only two touchdowns in the past three games" thing. ... All he does is win games! Brian Hoyer has five scores in the past two games and, while Thursday games tend to be lower-scoring, the Bills' defense has given up at least two touchdowns to every quarterback they've faced this year.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 5
Russell Wilson, Seahawks: Last three games haven't been great for Mr. Wilson. He's averaging just 155.7 passing yards, completing just 54 percent of his passes (29th in the league), and rumor has it he burned his eggs five breakfasts in a row. The Seahawks average just 24 passes a game (lowest among qualified quarterbacks) and they're on the road against a Colts defense that is seventh in passing, fourth in scoring and allows the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Now, Indy isn't this good, they've feasted on a nice schedule of QBs, but given other available options and his lack of big numbers, I have Wilson outside my top ten this week.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: Another guy struggling over the past three, Colin has thrown for under 168 yards in each game, has seven turnovers in four games and has just two touchdown passes in his past three. The rushing has been inconsistent and it's not a great matchup, as Houston forces opponents to go three-and-out on 50 percent of their possessions, the highest rate in the league. They are also holding opposing quarterbacks to just 141 passing yards per game, by far the fewest in the league. I expect a lowish-scoring game (Vegas has the over/under at 41.5), so while he'll be OK, Kaepernick, like Wilson, is outside my top 10 this week.
Jay Cutler, Bears: From the "Yawn, you don't say" department, Jay Cutler has completed just 42 percent of his passes when under pressure this season. The Saints will bring some. Plus, they have the highest interception-per-pass-attempt rate in the league (5.4 percent), they are top-10 in recording a sack on dropbacks and they allow the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals: The Panthers' defense is a lot better than you think. Carson Palmer is not.
Running backs I love in Week 5
Ray Rice, Ravens: How many times do we say, "Don't get cute? Start your studs." Last week the Ravens got cute, benched their stud and lost. It won't happen again.
Matt Forte, Bears: I keep putting him in "Love," he keeps exceeding high expectations. Saints pass defense has been legit this year. The run defense? Not so much. Obvious name, of course, but I put him in because I have him as a top-three play and this is a good week to use him in single-eliminator games or salary-cap games.
Chris Johnson, Titans: I know, I know. I own him in a dynasty league and it's killing me too. But dude leads the NFL in red zone carries, is third in total carries and I expect Tennessee to lean on him even more with Jake Locker out. You can run on Kansas City (they're allowing 5.4 yards per carry), so expect the touchdown drought to end this week.
Eddie Lacy, Packers: Pick a stat, any stat: Lions allow third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, tied for fourth-highest yards per carry, tied for third-most rushing touchdowns. Very simply, Saturday is your last day to buy low on Eddie Lacy.
David Wilson, Giants: "Here lies Matthew Berry. He believed in David Wilson too long." If he can't do it against Philly, very good chance you're reading that next week. I'm in for one more week.
Rashad Jennings, Raiders: Thought Jennings looked solid after taking over for McFadden last week, and it's a good matchup. San Diego is allowing 5.2 yards per carry this season, third-most in the league. And its 5.3 yards on zone read carries, which is good since I expect Terrelle Pryor to play in this game. Sneaky PPR play here as well. Raiders running backs are tied for sixth in the league in targets.
Bilal Powell, Jets: Over 100 total yards in two straight, double-digit fantasy points in three straight, I expect him to be the focal point of the offense, with much of the Jets receiving corps banged-up. If Chris Ivory plays in this game, I'll lower Powell to a flex (currently have him as a high RB2), but the Falcons have given up at least 15 points to opposing running backs in every game except the Rams one, so I like Powell's chances at double digits here.
If you're desperate: Willis McGahee should get the ball more than any other Brown and has a solid matchup with Buffalo on Thursday night. ... I don't expect Danny Woodhead to have two touchdowns every week, but he leads the Chargers' running backs in snaps and he's good for at least five catches in what should be a high-scoring game.
Running backs I hate in Week 5:
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, Bills: Now, this assumes both are active. If Spiller is ruled out, Jackson becomes interesting, but I'm worried they are not 100 percent healthy, that Browns defense is sneaky good, it's a short week and they are splitting carries. You probably don't have better options, especially this week, if you own either of these guys, especially Spiller, but as a wise man once said, curb your enthusiasm.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers: No scores this year with Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert back there; I don't think that's a fluke. He'll score eventually, probably this week since I just put him in the "Hate" section, but I'm a believer in Arizona's run defense this year. Cards have allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per carry and they've given up only one rushing touchdown as well.
Rams running backs: As of this writing we're not sure who is starting, and sadly, I'm not sure it matters. The run game is a hot mess and I want no part of it, even with a cushy matchup. If we get clarity before Sunday that one specific guy will be the starter, then fine, start him as a flex if you must, but this is too murky for me to trust.
Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals: Panthers are legit (they've help opponents to 70 rush yards or less in six of the last seven) and Mendenhall averaged just 1.8 yards per carry last week. Don't be surprised to see Andre Ellington do better in this game and become the starter there sooner than later.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers: In Week 3, it was Ronnie Brown. Last week, it was Danny Woodhead. Woodhead received the only two red zone carries for the Chargers last Sunday. Think about that. Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead have more red zone rushes and more touchdowns than Ryan Mathews.
Wide receivers I love in Week 5
Josh Gordon, Browns: Normally I don't like guys on Thursday night, but the combo of Gordon's talent, bad Bills secondary and the two first names is too much to resist. Since he returned two weeks ago, no receiver has been targeted more on throws at least 15 yards downfield. The Bills, meanwhile, are allowing the second-most receiving yards on throws at least 15 yards downfield. Oh, and they've allowed the most receiving yards to opposing wide receivers this year.
Victor Cruz, Giants: Only on here because I have him second overall. He's red-hot, the Eagles are red-not. See what I did there? This is like a master class in fantasy analysis. Or basic rhyming. You're welcome, America. Eagles have allowed the most receptions and touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year and they don't have anyone that can keep up with Cruz, who torches them every time he plays them.
Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots: See Brady, Tom.
Torrey Smith, Ravens: Averaging 10 targets a game and catching at least four balls for 85 yards in every game this year -- he's an every-week starter these days; people just don't realize it.
Calvin Johnson, Lions: The most obvious of the obvious names, I'm just putting him here because he torches the Packers. Eleven scores in 11 games, he's averaging better than 8 receptions and 168 yards in this past three against them. Worth the money this week in salary-cap games.
Jeremy Kerley, Jets: They gotta throw it to someone, so why not last year's team-leading receiver?
If you're desperate: Alshon Jeffery has at least eight targets in three of four games, including the last two. ... Nothing but a gut call here, but Chris Givens is due. ... Again, don't love Thursday night games, but worth noting that Robert Woods has now seen eight targets in back-to-back weeks, had a score and came very close to a second last week.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 5
Mike Wallace, Dolphins: So Mike Wallace has averaged 11.7 yards per reception this season, which, if it continues, would be the lowest of his career. His yards per catch have dropped each season since 2010 and Wallace only has one catch at least 15 yards downfield this season, which is fourth on the Dolphins. Ravens have allowed just one score to an opposing wide receiver in the past three games.
Stevie Johnson, Bills: Bad hammy, short week, Joe Haden. Pick a reason, any reason.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts: Love his talent but he's a secondary receiver on a run-first team these days (just one red zone target so far), and Seattle has allowed just one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver (and the fewest fantasy points).
Tight ends I love in Week 5
Jordan Cameron, Browns: Before, now and forever.
Greg Olsen, Panthers: Olsen has basically doubled his average red zone targets from last year, while on pace for the highest catch rate of his career. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. With Patrick Peterson on Steve Smith (Peterson is overrated as a shut-down corner, but still), Olsen should get extra love this week.
Coby Fleener, Colts: Since Week 2, after Dwayne Allen's injury, Fleener is top-10 in tight end targets and receptions and top-six in yards and red zone targets and has two scores in three games. Seattle is 18th in yards allowed to tight ends.
If you're desperate: Someone's got to catch the ball for the Jets and it can't always be Kerley, so maybe Kellen Winslow gets a little more love. ... Brent Celek is more appealing this week than most. The Giants give up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. … It's now three scores in four games for Garrett Graham of the Texans.
Tight ends I hate in Week 5
Vernon Davis, 49ers: Yeah, he caught a touchdown last week, but his targets, receptions and yards have dropped in all three games he's played in since the start of this season. Given the depth of the position this week, I don't wanna have to hope for a score from Davis, especially since the Texans have allowed only eight receptions to opposing tight ends, fewest in the league.
Brandon Myers, Giants: 7, 6, 3... His reception totals are heading in the wrong direction. He's needed to block more, and for all the issues in Philly, they've actually defended the tight end fairly well, with the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
Defenses I love in Week 5:
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Cleveland Browns: Scoring 12 points in each of the last two games, Buffalo is banged -up on a short week. Don't see them having a ton of success here, which should mean another double-digit game for Cleveland's defense.
Kansas City Chiefs: Three different 20-point games in four weeks, how are they not 100 percent owned yet? How many weeks do I gotta keep talking about them?
If you're desperate: The St. Louis Rams are the answer to "What team plays the Jags this week?" ... The Atlanta Falcons have 13 interceptions in home games since the start of 2012, tied for the fifth-most in the league. And now they get Geno "five interceptions in two road games" Smith and a banged-up receiving corps. ... As much as I talked up Hoyer and Gordon, the Buffalo Bills have actually played pretty decent fantasy defense this year, and again, short week, etc.
Defenses I hate in Week 5
Philadelphia Eagles: I know, I know, they're playing the Giants, but I'd rather bet on Eli and his gang figuring it out than on Philly stopping someone. Don't get cute.
Cincinnati Bengals: See Thompkins, Kenbrell.
And there you have it. Week 5 Love/Hate is in the books. Aren't you glad you asked?
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is no Charlie Rose. 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.
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