They hated it.
I mean with a passion I had never seen before.
The "it" in question was last week's column and the "they" I am referring to are my former readers, all of whom assured me they would never read me again. So there are fewer of us this week, but somehow we will have to muddle through.
I have to admit, I was really bummed. And surprised. I've been doing this for a long time. I've been writing a weekly version of "Love/Hate" at various places on the Internet since 1999. The dance is always the same.
I write the column and it's published on a Thursday. It is usually very well received. Some more than others and there are always some bitter types who like to read me every week just to get angry, but for the most part I get really nice notes, tweets, emails and comments on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Some like the intro, some like the advice, some like both; whatever. They're all lovely and they mean a lot.
Once the games are underway on Sunday, people start getting angry about advice that went wrong or something and the negativity starts. Then, by Tuesday and Wednesday people have calmed down and are back asking for advice on trade offers, pickups and whom to start. That's not everyone, of course. Many folks are very rationale throughout the week and I'm speaking in generalities here, but for 16 years now, that's the dance I do with my audience.
Until last Thursday, when I received this tweet: "@MatthewBerryTMR die in a fire you spineless shill."
I have so many questions about this tweet. So oddly angry, yet very specific. Like, is it OK if I die in another way? Does it have to be a fire? Is the fire more important or the death? Like, would he rather I die by whatever means necessary or maybe just get caught in a fire and whatever damage happens, happens. Ideally death, of course, but would first-degree burns work? And where does the spineless part come in?
Shill. Sellout. Those were the polite ones. So many complaints and anger at last week's column before any of the advice hadn't worked out (and frankly, if you just look at the names, I actually had a pretty good week, especially considering it was the first week, always the toughest to predict).
I was so taken aback. I spent a long time on the column, took a lot of time to find all those photos, which I thought people would really enjoy. The advice was more or less the same as I would give any week, except I added prices for the players in daily from DraftKings and a line or two about how those players worked in daily.
So I was surprised by people not liking that; I was surprised by how much they didn't like the daily slant toward some of the analysis. And frankly, I was mostly shocked by the whole "sellout" thing.
Speaking as man who once accepted a large check to co-write "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles," a movie script for a third sequel, 16 years after the first one, I assure you: I know exactly what a sellout is. I've done it, and in a big way.
And I hated it. I've discussed that project a lot in various places, including this column and my book, so no need to get back into it here, except to say the feeling I had during and after that, despite the big check, was so soul-crushing I swore I'd never do it again.
Selling out is doing something you don't believe in, or enjoy for money or some other reward. But here's the thing. I love DraftKings.
Full disclosure: I am a paid spokesman for them. I've filmed a few commercials for them, I'm going to continue to tweet for them, make appearances on their behalf and there will be opportunities for people to play against me on their site in the future. It's a deal I agreed to for one very specific reason:
I like it.
I like the product, I like the company, I know the people who run the company and they're good people. I really enjoy playing daily fantasy and I really enjoy doing it on DraftKings. I'd recommend them anyway, so if they want to send me a check to do it? You bet. Where do I sign?
It's this weird thing. Like you, I have bills to pay. I have kids to put through college (five, believe it or not). I have expenses, so I need to earn money.
But I'm blessed that over the past 16 years I've managed to develop an audience that trusts me and it's a responsibility that I take very seriously. So I've never endorsed something I didn't believe in. That simple.
If you've read me for a long time, you know my father is a customer service guru and among the things he's preached is quality of service and the best way to get a customer is not by being the cheapest, but by being the best. Deliver a good product, whatever that is, and people will find it.
So as fantasy has grown, my career has as well, and I'm blessed that I've been offered a number of opportunities. Some I turn down. But I'm 45 years old. I have no idea how long some of those opportunities will be around. So when I find one that I really like and believe in, I take it and I promote it, because I believe in what the company is doing or what I have done. I figure if I like it, others will too. They are almost always related to the enhancement and enjoyment of fantasy.
My book has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon off of hundreds of reviews. We have an over 90 percent renewal rate on RotoPass. The app based on "Fantasy Life" has a five-star rating based on hundreds of reviews. The fall season of the Fantasy Movie League site is up 800 percent from the summer season. People are obsessed with that game.
None of that is promotion -- in all seriousness, enjoy them or not, I don't care, all of them are doing well -- but rather me trying to show that when I promote something it's because I truly believe in it and it's something of quality. The people that have taken my advice and bought/downloaded/used one of those products have almost always come away very happy.
Daily fantasy isn't for everyone. It's illegal in some states, it costs money and the appeals of it are different than the appeals of season-long play. I get that. Everything in moderation, and just like I would tell someone not to go to a movie if they can't afford to lose the cost of two tickets, gas, snacks, a babysitter and everything else, nor should you play daily fantasy if you can't afford it.
I merely wanted to say that if it's something you're interested in trying out, I believe you will have a fun and good experience doing so on DraftKings. That's all.
There are also lots of people who do play daily and those people are looking to me for advice on how to win there. So I wanted to give them advice. And people HATED IT.
Maybe some of it is just fatigue from all of the commercials, which I can't control. Maybe some of it was because I handled it poorly. Sometimes I don't have the time or, honestly, the skill to write a column exactly how I want. I'm human. So it's probably on me.
Many people sent notes and tweets telling me they enjoyed the column and to shake off the "haters," but here's the thing: It wasn't haters. A typical note I got was like this: (I've edited for length)
Matthew: For years I have been reading your articles and have enjoyed so much of what you've written, particularly the draft day manifesto and each week's love/hate for football. You always mention that we can skip down to the end to read past the non-football stuff, but honestly I love what you write in the beginning of the articles just as much. Typically your fantasy advice is taken into account with all of my roster decisions, but I was really put off by your last love/hate. I know DFS has become a part of your business, but for those of us who have no interest and stick with season-long leagues it makes the recommendations skewed. I spent nine years in the Navy, so I understand having to be a "company man," but I really wish you would take it back to comparing it against overall rankings. Or at least make a different set of recommendations for DFS and those in season-long leagues. I know you still have your rankings, but the reasoning of why you love or hate a player more than others is what I tend to focus on. For now I'll continue to read the opening stories and be entertained, but I'll be hoping your whole article will be returning to its former glory. - Sean Powers (Washington, DC)
Now ... how can I turn down a note like that? Many opinions were like that. "I'm a fan; I didn't like this."
So ... I hear you. I appreciate the genuine feedback and thoughtfulness of the note, Sean. And thank you very much for your service.
I wanted to address this, but starting next week we will be back to the format you've come to expect with a long, fun intro and then the normal Love/Hate. For those that DO play daily, understand that pretty much everyone that is a "love" or "hate" is also someone I would use in daily. But for each position, I have put a small section of players whose prices on DraftKings I particularly like. So ... a compromise hopefully everyone can live with. And if not, well, there are lots of other great fantasy articles here on ESPN.com. I am positive your needs will be met by one of my colleagues.
The intersection of art and commerce is never an easy one, but I've tried to be as honest as possible as I navigate it and I'll continue to try to do so. Either way, I appreciate the feedback. Well, except for the tweet about me dying. That one burned a little.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 2
Drew Brees, Saints: I was down on him in the preseason and don't think he's a top-five QB at the end of the season when all is said and done. Or frankly, even when just some things are said and done. But this week, he's all that and a beignet, playing at home (98 TDs, 26 INTs at home the past four seasons) against a Tampa Bay team that just made a rookie QB look like Montana. Joe, not the state. My No. 1 quarterback this week for both season-long and daily.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Money at home, Big Ben has averaged 347.3 pass yards per game (best in the NFL) since the start of last season to go along with 23 passing touchdowns and four interceptions. The 49ers are traveling east on a short week for a 1 p.m. game, and it's worth noting four of the five highest-scoring games they gave up to opposing QBs last season came on the road.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals: NOW do you see why I was talking him up so much in the preseason? Take out the game when he got injured last year and he's now thrown multiple touchdowns in each of his past seven starts. Two first names and two last names, double the crowd pleaser. Yes, I do know someone named Palmer. How many Bears-are-bad stats do you want? Let's say three, all since the start of last season:
1. Only one team has allowed more fantasy points to QBs than the Bears.
2. Bears have allowed opponents to complete 67.3 percent of their passes.
3. They have also allowed the most completions and highest completion percentage on deep passes (15-plus yards downfield).
Wait a minute. What's this one doing on the floor? Chicago has also given up 37 passing touchdowns since the start of last season, most in the NFL. Damn. They really are not good. But that's it. Seriously. I'm done. No more. I promise.
By the way, super random, but did you know that since last season, one of every 10.4 completions against the Bears has resulted in a touchdown?
If you're desperate: The Raiders' secondary was bad to begin with and now it's banged up. Hello, Joe Flacco. ... Greg Roman has installed many of the same plays for Tyrod Taylor that he used for Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. Against a Patriots defense that gave up the 5th-most passing yards last week, he'll be able to put them to use. ... Philip Rivers gets no respect. I'm the highest on him, as he now has three straight games with at least 290 passing yards and multiple touchdown passes in 10 of his past 16, the same rate as Drew Brees.
The price is right: If you play daily fantasy sports on DraftKings, all the guys here are priced well, like Brees, Roethlisberger, Palmer and Flacco. I also think for the price that Jay Cutler could be interesting this week, as could Taylor if you want to go really cheap. Speaking of cheap, no one ever went broke betting against Rob Ryan's defense, so I could see a good amount of junk-time scoring this week for Jameis Winston, especially if he gets Mike Evans back.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 2
Peyton Manning, Broncos: Man, I hope I'm wrong here, but what about last week gives you any amount of confidence at all? Single-digit fantasy points now in three of his past five and has not had more than 13 points in his past six. The Broncos' offensive line looks like a mess, Peyton looks uncomfortable in the new system so far and now he has to travel to Arrowhead on a very short week? I think he'll ultimately be fine, but it doesn't feel like it happens Thursday.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: Not playing in a dome this week, Stafford has averaged just 185 passing yards per game with three total touchdowns in his past three against the Vikings, whose defense is better than they showed Monday night in San Fran. I mean, maybe he throws another 5-yard pass to Theo Riddick in the middle of the field that Theo then outruns everyone for a touchdown with a minute left again to give Stafford a second touchdown pass again this week, but I would not call it likely.
Cam Newton, Panthers: Bad matchup, even if Cam had a receiver on the team who could catch. Greg Olsen will be covered by, like, six people. Or else the Texans will blitz. Since the start of last season, the Texans have blitzed 43 percent of the time, second most in the NFL. During that same time frame, Newton has 12 INTs against the blitz, tied for second most. Oh, and Houston has allowed just one rushing TD to a QB since the start of last season.
Running backs I love in Week 2
Justin Forsett, Ravens: Filed to ESPN: The Raiders are stinky. Forsett may lose his gig at some point this year but it won't be because of what he does Sunday. Last season, the Raiders gave up 17 rushing TDs (tied for third most in the league) and seven receiving TDs to running backs (second most). Jeremy Hill put two on them last week and Forsett should find the sledding much easier this week than last.
Chris Ivory, Jets: Guys! I swear! The Jets' offense isn't going to be terrible! Chris Ivory is going to be better than you think! I was screaming this from the rooftops in the preseason, which, now that I look back on it, wasn't nearly as effective as just writing it in columns online, but whatever. No time to reflect on my communication methods now, but Ivory is getting plenty of work and has a Monday night matchup against a Colts team that is tied for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns allowed since the start of last season, including two to the Bills last week. Another benefit? The more Ivory runs, the less time Andrew Luck and his beard (whatever the length) gets to be on the field.
Rashad Jennings, Giants: The Falcons looked like a different defense last week; there's no question Dan Quinn has them fired up. I was impressed. But even with that, they still gave up two rushing touchdowns last week, and three total to running backs. The Falcons are traveling on a short week and with 100 total yards or a score in six of his past eight games with more than 10 carries, expect Eli Manning to tell Jennings to score this week.
Tevin Coleman, Falcons: Coleman had 58 rushing yards before contact Monday, more than any Falcons player had in a game last season. He had more carries last week than Devonta Freeman had rushing yards and now gets a team that just got gashed for 212 yards last week by the Cowboys' running backs. High-upside flex play.
If you're desperate: I know, I was surprised by Bishop Sankey too, but against a Cleveland team that just gave up 153 to Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, he should have another week of looking like an actual NFL running back. ... Lance Dunbar led all Cowboys running backs in snaps on Sunday night, and had eight targets, tied for second most on the team. No Dez Bryant means the team will continue to need all others in the passing game to step up, and it's worth noting the Eagles allowed the most receiving touchdowns to running backs last season. ... Danny Woodhead's usage in the red zone last week was not a fluke. He is who Philip Rivers trusts.
The price is right: Among the running backs I'll be using a lot of in daily this week include all of the guys I've listed in this section, plus Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray, Carlos Hyde ($5,200!) and, in tournament play, Chris Johnson.
Running backs I hate in Week 2
Latavius Murray, Raiders: Just 60 yards a game (3.8 yards per carry) and no touchdowns since that magical Thursday night game last season. He gets you almost 30 a game in the receiving department, which helps, but against Baltimore it won't be enough to make him anything more than a low-upside flex. Did you know that since the start of last season every single defense in the NFL has had multiple games allowing at least 21 fantasy points to opposing running backs? Every single NFL team ... except the Ravens.
Dion Lewis, Patriots: Like him a lot, but let's not overreact to last week too much. It's a poor matchup against the Bills, LeGarrette Blount is back and the last time the same New England running back had back-to-back games with 100 total yards was November 2010. You might have forgotten that Lewis fumbled in the red zone last week, but I bet Bill Belichick hasn't.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers: At the moment the Chargers prefer Danny Woodhead in the red zone. Danny. Woodhead.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: Eventually, Stewart and the Panthers will get on track, but not this week against a Texans team that has given up the second-fewest rushing scores and the eighth-lowest yards per carry since the start of last season.
Wide receivers I love in Week 2
Brandin Cooks, Saints: See Brees, Drew. Top-10 play for me this week.
Julian Edelman, Patriots: There might be three players guarding Rob Gronkowski on Sunday. Seriously. Averaging almost nine catches and 92 yards a game in his past five, Edelman has two more receptions in that time frame than Antonio Brown. He's also got 10-plus targets in eight straight games, and I expect it to be hard to run on Buffalo and for Gronk to be well covered. Shana tova, Mr. Edelman. Shana tova!
John Brown, Cardinals: In seven games with Carson Palmer, Brown has four touchdowns. Need me to give you more stats about how bad the Bears are? No? You're good? OK, just making sure.
Steve Smith Sr., Ravens: When your opponent's best defensive back is 39 years old and hurt, well, that's a secondary to attack.
James Jones, Packers: Put this stat out on Twitter recently. In the past 24 games Jones has played with Aaron Rodgers (not including the game Rodgers left early with injury), Jones has 20 touchdowns. Twenty touchdowns in 24 games. Just a way of me saying I don't think last week was a fluke. Randall Cobb and Davante Adams will still have tons of value, of course, but Jones will have value this season, including Sunday against the traveling Seahawks, who look a little more human without Kam Chancellor.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins: No team has allowed more receiving yards from the slot since the start of last season than the Jacksonville Jaguars. For all the struggles the Dolphins' offense had last week, Ryan Tannehill is dialed into Jarvis Landry (11 targets last week) and should find a lot more yards on the table this week.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys: Just a stat to tell you what you'd probably guess: Since the start of last season, Williams leads the Cowboys in targets and receiving yards on plays when Dez Bryant isn't on the field. There's lot to like about the Eagles this year but if last week was any indication, their secondary isn't one of them.
If you're desperate: Speaking of opportunity with players out, I expect Pierre Garcon to get a ton of looks without DeSean Jackson on Sunday. ... Tony Romo has completed more than 70 percent of his pass attempts to Cole Beasley, the highest completion percentage to any wideout he's targeted at least 10 times. Beasley also gets a boost. ... Brandon Coleman got seven targets last week, scored and is available in about 75 percent of leagues. In case you missed it, I'm all about New Orleans this week. #All in #Sorry to curse you Saints fans #I can't believe I'm still doing this bit ... It's just one week and it was a lot of dink and dunk, but still. Thirteen targets are 13 targets, so super-deep PPR leagues should be aware of Rashad Greene. Why do I think Jacksonville will be throwing a lot in this game? I'd feel more comfortable just rostering him than starting him this week unless I was super desperate, but just wanted to mention him.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 2
Andre Johnson, Colts: Johnson looked slow to me last week (which stinks, because I was hyping him all offseason) and while I'm hoping he snaps out of it, he'll spend at least some of his time Monday night on Revis Island and I just don't have a lot of confidence he'll do much against the Jets secondary, even if Antonio Cromartie doesn't play.
Mike Wallace, Vikings: I'm still on Team Charles Johnson here and while better days are ahead for Teddy Bridgewater and the entire Vikings offense, I don't see Wallace getting deep for one here. Since the start of last season, the Lions have allowed the second-fewest receiving yards and receiving TDs on deep passes (15-plus yards downfield).
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: I can't imagine you have better options, so you're starting him, but I'd lower expectations and I'm not paying for him in daily. Tough matchup here with the Panthers, who have held their opponents' top overall pass-catcher to fewer than 60 yards in eight straight games, a run that includes limiting the effectiveness of Julio Jones (twice), Josh Gordon, Mike Evans, Jimmy Graham and Jeremy Maclin. Hopkins is outside my top 10 this week, especially given the QB play.
Tight ends I love in Week 2
Martellus Bennett, Bears: Death, taxes, start your tight ends against the Cards. Especially when your tight end is the guy who led all NFL tight ends in receptions last season and was second in targets.
Zach Ertz, Eagles: Looked healthy to me and as you know, I am a medically trained doctor. Doctor of love, that is. Bwahahahaha. OK, I may be punch-drunk. Anyway, Ertz played more than 50 snaps last week and ran a route on 75 percent of those, both of which are good numbers. His nine targets on Monday night were nice as well and while Dallas' defense has improved (Sean Lee's return certainly helps), it's worth noting Dallas allowed 109 receptions to tight ends last season, 14 more than any other team in the NFL.
Jordan Cameron, Dolphins: I loved how he looked last week and, you know, Jacksonville.
If you're desperate: Jordan Reed is currently healthy and with no DeSean Jackson, Kirk Cousins will be looking for others. It's not a great matchup, but volume should make Reed usable this weekend. ... Gut call, but I bet Scott Chandler scores against his former team this week, getting into the end zone for the second straight week. He ran a route on 52 percent of his snaps last week (the Patriots run more two-tight end sets than anyone) and with so much attention on Gronk, I bet Chandler gets more usage than people might expect this week. ... Steve Smith can't catch everything and after watching Tyler Eifert highlights, I'm guessing Crockett Gillmore is excited to see the Raiders this week.
Tight ends I hate in Week 2
Greg Olsen, Panthers: Again, like with DeAndre Hopkins, I can't imagine you have better options, so you're starting him, but lower expectations and look elsewhere in daily. Olsen was used as a blocker on 39 plays last week and ran just 32 routes. He's the obvious target for a defense looking to take the Panthers' best passing-game weapon out of the mix. Houston was the second-best defense against tight ends last season and given the pass rush the Texans can generate, I'm worried Olsen will have to stay in and block a lot more this week as well.
Owen Daniels, Broncos: Daniels got just two targets last week and you know I'm nervous that Peyton didn't look great. In addition, the Chiefs allowed were second best in passing yards allowed and completion percentage in 2014 and allowed the third-fewest yards per attempt to opposing tight ends last season.
Defenses I love in Week 2
Miami Dolphins: Until further notice, start the defense playing the Jaguars. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true.
Baltimore Ravens: I'm picking on the Jaguars and Redskins, but it's not like the Raiders are all that, you know?
If you're desperate: You could do worse than starting the defense facing a depleted Browns team that might be playing the possibly-not-ready-for-prime-time Johnny Manziel. ... Ryan Mallett should scare no one, so at home, against the Texans, the Panthers' defense is safe to fire up once again. ... The Steelers' defense isn't good, but at home against a 49ers team traveling east on a short week for a 1 p.m. game could certainly work, especially given the conservative nature of San Fran's offense.
The price is right: In addition to the defenses mentioned above, the Saints at home against Winston, and the Cardinals against Jay Cutler are among the defenses that are interesting to me on DraftKings. But I'm probably rolling with Baltimore and Houston in most of my lineups.
Defenses I hate in Week 2
Seattle Seahawks: The most fantasy points scored by a defense in a game against Green Bay at Lambeau last season was five. The Seahawks will be without Chancellor again and just gave up 34 points to the Rams.
San Francisco 49ers: Love Eric Mangini, but again, on the road for an East Coast 1 p.m. start on a short week against an offense that gave up double-digit points to an opposing fantasy defense twice last year? No thanks.
Matthew Berry, the Talented Mr. Roto, also has something new coming up that he'll be promoting. You'll like it, he promises. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. You also may have heard: He has written a book.