Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Matthew Berry is Atrocious at His Job, Don't Ever Listen to a Single Word He Says

Berry, aka ESPN's "Talented Mr. Roto," presumably has been a successful fantasy sports GM in the past. I mean, I won't speculate as to exactly how he got his nickname, or exactly how he acquired his position at ESPN. But I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he has won/fared well in numerous fantasy football and baseball leagues. Probably.

Now, HAVING SAID THAT, this guy is a fucking idiot. Here's the thing- I've known this for a looonnnnnnnnng time. A long time. And I came to know it by seeing his televised fantasy blurbs on various terrible ESPN programs. But until today, I had never bothered to read anything he wrote. And having finally done so, I have no choice but to make this post.

Before I begin, let me clarify "fucking idiot." Berry's problem is not lack of knowledge. (Well, actually, as you'll see below, that is in fact his problem some of the time. But not all the time.) His real problem is his inability to apply that knowledge. He knows the stats. He obviously does his research. He just can't take those stats and that knowledge and use it to offer any kind of meaningful advice. Don't believe me? Of course you do. All eight of you who read this blog seem to pretty much take my word on everything. But just in case you don't believe me, read on. His week 15 NFL "Players I Love"/"Players I Hate" column is a great example of his incompetence. I'll provide some analysis of his analysis, and then list the relevant stats his recommendations/non-recommendations piled up last weekend. At the end, I'll total everything up for both groups. I'm writing this before looking up the stats, but based on what I know offhand, I'm fairly certain the players he hated did better than the players he loved. When your whole job is giving people fantasy advice... that means you're a fucking idiot.

Week 15 Players I Love:

Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts: Jaguars give up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and I have Garcon ahead of Reggie Wayne in my rankings. He's healthier, he will see fewer double-teams, he's been the better fantasy wide receiver the past six weeks, he has a French first name, he's nice to children and pets, there are only two games all year where Jacksonville has not given up at least one touchdown to an opposing wide receiver, even with his poor game last week, Garcon still leads the Colts in targets, Rashean Mathis probably isn't going to play and I play softball with a guy who played college football with Garcon and says he's a really nice guy. At least some of these reasons are relevant.

Hilarious. And insightful. Not terrible analysis (far from the worst you'll read here), but Wayne went off (more on that below) and Garcon went for a whole 2 catches and 16 yards.

Robert Meachem, WR, Saints: Even without scoring last week, Meachem still has seven touchdowns in his past six games. Cowboys are 21st against the pass and Drew Brees looks for Meachem often; he's second on the Saints in targets over the past six weeks.

Hmmm. Meachem went for 5 catches and 43 yards. He was targeted fewer times than either Marques Colston or Devery Henderson.

Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Pierre has four scores in his past three home games, Bush will be a good outlet for Brees when the Cowboys try to blitz, and I don't think Mike Bell plays. If he does, I'm not as excited about Bush.

Bell: only Saints RB to score a touchdown during the game. Thomas and Bush combined: 116 total yards of rushing and receiving.

Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: A podcast listener came up with the term "Fantasy Zombie."

A pox on that asshole.

As in ... a guy left for dead who has somehow risen from the grave to actually have real, legit fantasy value. And backing up Cedric Benson in the backfield for the Fightin' Fantasy Zombies is Laurence Maroney. With Brady banged up, I expect the Patriots to rely on the run even more, especially considering how bad the Bills' rush defense is.

Shitty analysis, considering the Bills are bad at everything. Maroney is Berry's first pretty decent recommendation, with 81 yards and a TD.

In fact, I even like Sammy Morris to get four or five points in this game, useful if you are in a deep league.

NO! Quit while you're ahead! Don't say extra stuff when you don't have to- it's almost definitely going to be wrong. Morris: 15 total yards, no TDs.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bills: Speaking of Zombies, Owens makes my flesh crawl. But the Patriots have given up 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in the past five games and Owens has scores in three of his past four games (the one exception being the game he was out on Revis Island).

Hooooo boy. The first of many times Berry will bumblefuck his way through the whole "this team has a good pass (or rush) defense!" thing. Yeah, you know what feeds into those numbers? Whether or not you're a good team or not, or more accurately, whether you're usually playing with a lead or not. It doesn't often speak to the defensive talent the team he's evaluating has. The Patriots gave up 10 pass TDs in their last 5 games for two reasons: 1) they played the Saints, in the Superdome, and 2) they're a good team, having won 3 of the other 4 games, and thus causing the other team to throw to try to catch up. This isn't the worst example of this mistake, but it's certainly one example. Oh yeah- Owens: 2 catches 20 yards, no TDs.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals: Wells has gotten at least 13 touches in five of his past six games. Against the Lions, 13 touches might be enough.

His first truly successful pick: 123 yards and a TD.

Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals: Especially if Larry Fitzgerald doesn't play for some reason, this is a gut call more than anything.

A "gut call." You're fucking awful at your job. I sure hope Ben Bernanke doesn't make decisions about the economy on his "gut." Insert political joke here.

But he's been involved more recently and I could see him getting four or five points for those in super-deep leagues.

Thrown to once. No catches. No yards. Three TDs. Just kidding, zero TDs.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Scores in three of his past four, in each of his past two home games and in five of his past six games in December.

Monthly stats, especially those reaching back into previous seasons, are completely and totally useless. Three caches, 35 yards, no TDs.

Chris Jennings, RB, Browns: I can't believe I am recommending a Browns running back. Again. Hey Lucy, hold the football. I want to try and kick it. Good grief.

Way to recommend a Browns RB. Unfortunately you recommended the one who ran for 18 yards and no TDs, instead of the one who ran for 286 yards and 3 TDs.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs: First! I was, too.

A second good call (not that it was a tough one to make- gee, you think you want to start KC's only good RB against the fucking Browns?)- 170 yards and a TD.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: Welcome back. We missed you. OK, "we" does not include Chris Chambers. He's sulking a bit. But the rest of us? Very excited.

Sulky McChambers went for 114 and a TD. Bowe went for 56 and no TDs. Look, you'd think he'd get ONE of these right, huh?

Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Like the upside, the matchup against the Rams and that Gary Kubiak has said they are going to give him a long look. Just realize you are playing with fire.

In other words: Start him! Except be careful! And maybe don't start him! But I "Love" him this week! So start him! I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about!

This coach pulled Steve Slaton after one play (albeit a fumble) and let Ryan Moats play all game in Week 8, a juicy, tender matchup against the Bills.


Houston Texans D/ST: This is what I wrote in my pickups column earlier this week ... "A week after scoring 15 fantasy points against Seattle, Houston, a team that is still in the hunt and desperately needs a win, visits St. Louis. That would be for a matchup with a Rams' team featuring a banged-up Steven Jackson and a third-string quarterback. It's a squad that just gave up 21 points to the Titans' defense. In fact, no team gives up more fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Rams. The defense facing them has scored at least nine fantasy points in five straight weeks."

Start the defense playing against the Rams? Crazy talk! And yet, a very middling performance. Two turnovers forced, 3 sacks, 13 points allowed. Nothing to write home about.

Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: Falcons have given up at least 17 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers each of the past five weeks. I have decided I like that fact more than I hate Kellen Clemens. Wow. This is one ugly week.

Edwards accounted for the Jets' only TD with a 65 yard catch. Without that this would be a horrendous recommendation. As things happened: these two combined for 154 receiving yards and a TD. Mediocre at best. Look, it doesn't take a fucking guru to figure out that offense would be in short supply in the Meadowlands, in December, after a gigantic snowstorm, with Mark "Holy Balls it's Cold Out Here, Where the Fuck am I?" Sanchez starting. But Berry doesn't think about stuff like that, I guess.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: A score in four straight games, Eagles give up the most points to opposing tight ends and clearly, Davis is the starting tight end on our fantasy zombie team.

I detest the idea of this zombie thing, but how the fuck would Davis even qualify? This is only his 4th season in the league, and his first full season with a competent coach. Anyone who completely wrote him off after three "meh" seasons is an idiot. In any case: 43 yards, no TDs.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: Without Correll Buckhalter in the lineup, Moreno will touch the ball plenty enough against the Raiders to have perhaps his best week yet.

Oh, he got his touches. This is the kind of analysis which forces me to give Berry credit for knowing what he's talking about. But the Raiders have a decent rush defense (in spite of the fact that they suck, and thus usually trail late in games, causing other teams to run against them more than usual) and Moreno hasn't been that good. So of course he came up with just 42 yards rushing on 19 carriers, and 81 total yards.

Denver Broncos D/ST: Happiness is being at home against Charlie Frye.

Sadness is losing to Frye/JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders at home, giving up 20 points while getting 2 turnovers but just 1 sack. Can't blame Berry too much here, though. This was a good pick in theory.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: More of a gut call than anything here, but the Packers do give up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Fine, good call. Decent analysis.

Hines Ward is still a bit banged up and I expect Charles Woodson to be all up in Santonio Holmes' business.

Holmes had 77 yards and Ward led the team with 126 yards. So... no so decent analysis. But Miller did have 118 yards, so I'll give Berry his third good recommendation here.

Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks: I also like Julius Jones in this matchup against the Bucs, but I'm putting Forsett here because he is a part of the pass game, Seattle wants (needs) to get him even more involved to see what they have. Obviously, from my ranking of Forsett above, I believe he will be the starting running back next year and I am a huge fan of his skills. And by the way, he has five scores in his past five games. Regardless, the Bucs give up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and have allowed five scores to them in their past four road games. This is a bad team on a long trip and both Seahawks running backs will have nice games.

I like what he's saying about Forsett here, generally. He'll probably be a legit fantasy starter next year. However, again we see a failure to realize why a team gives up lots of points to either RBs or QBs/HBs. The Bucs are terrible. That's why RBs pick up good stats against them. Is it that hard to figure out? Since Seattle's anemic offense prevented them from getting a substantial lead, and thus focusing on the ground game, this pick failed miserably. Sixty nine total yards and no TDs for Forsett. (65 total yards and no TDs for Jones.)

Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks: Nate Burleson won't play and it's not like the Bucs' pass defense is all that. Branch actually showed signs of life on Sunday with five receptions on seven targets. The targets were second-most on the team. I ranked him 42nd, incidentally, and will move him up on Friday following the official news that Burleson is out.

Branch was targeted ten times, leading the team. Awesome. The result? Four catches, 28 yards. The only talented WR the Seahawks have on their roster, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, had 73 yards.

Seattle Seahawks D/ST: What? Really? They are bottom 10 in total points allowed. Yes, but they are at home to Tampa Bay. Bucs allow the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. The defense facing them has scored at least 15 points in three of the past four. They average more than 12 points a game at home and they are available in more than 80 percent of leagues. I'm not saying it'll be pretty but if you're stuck, it will do in a pinch.

Then why is it on your "Love" list?

It's kind of like the Perkins waitress in the Tiger story.


You're surprised to see her there but some days, there's just not a lot else around. If Laurence Maroney is a fantasy zombie, the Seahawks' defense is a fantasy Perkins waitress.

They gave up 24 points, forced 1 turnover, and had 0 sacks. Hope that worked in a pinch for someone out there, but I doubt it.

Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins: Has outscored Tom Brady each of the past three weeks. Just saying. The Giants, by the way, have given up at least 17 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in five of their past six.

The Giants' last 6- Eagles x2, Chargers, Broncos, Falcons, and Cowboys. Soooooo... 5 games against good QBs, 3 against "elite" (or close to it) QBs. You know, QBs who are way way way better than Jason Fucking Campbell. Maybe not a stat worth investing in. And of course, Campbell came up with a stellar 15/28, 1 TD, 2 INT night. One of the picks was the worst I've seen in the NFL this season; the Redskins called a TE screen, and Campbell, under only minimal pressure, threw the pass 10 feet over the head of a wide ope Fred Davis for a pick six.

Quinton Ganther, RB, Redskins: Giants have given up 17 rushing touchdowns this year, third most in the NFL.

Forty total yards and a TD. Shrug.

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins: I admit to being a Redskins homer but I like teams at home on "Monday Night Football."

GREAT ANALYSIS. STELLAR ANALYSIS. After Washington's blowout loss, MNF home teams are 8-8 this year.

National audience under the lights and all that. Plus, Davis has four scores in his past three games and New York gives up the second most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Fine. A tepid thumbs up, for Davis's 65 yards and a TD.

So let's total it up: 26 players (including defenses). One QB who had a terrible night. A total 1292 yards and 5 TDs from his 22 RBs, WRs, and TEs. (I'm pretty sure that math is right. If it is, that's 59 yards per player. Meaning, not a total which will help you win.) Three defenses, none of whom had good days. At least two players with marginal roles and questionable skills which he recommended "on a hunch." Berry, you are an assclown. And your analysis only gets worse.

Week 15 Players I Hate:

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: It will not surprise me in the least to wake up Friday morning to see that Wayne has gone off (just like he did in Week 1 against the Jags).

I hate him. But if he succeeds DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU!

He certainly has the skill and Jacksonville is terrible against the pass. But as I wrote to Tristan Cockcroft for his "Called Out!" column, Wayne has single-digit fantasy points in five of his past six games and last week,

Fine, fair enough.

Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai ALL had more targets than him. He's banged up and there's no motivation to play Wayne the whole game. I have him outside my top 20 and feel he's a flex play at best.

I don't disagree with the thinking here. But Wayne went for 132 yards and a TD. A better day than any HB, WR, or TE on the "Love" list. After one entry on the "Hate" list.

Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars: Same thing here as with Wayne. Could he explode? Sure.

Will he? Don't ask me, this is only my job!

But something's not right and frankly, I just don't trust him.

My gut says don't start him! Just a hunch.

Single-digit fantasy points in three straight games, including a total of 18 yards receiving in his past two home games.

Sort of like Deion Branch. And so of course Sims-Walker goes for 64 yards and a TD.

Randy Moss, WR, Patriots: He was in this list last week and I'm by far the lowest on him (I have him 19) this week. My reasoning is this: He had less than 70 yards for four straight weeks,

He stink! Ask Chris Gamble, authority on everything.

the Bills are fifth best against the pass,

Because no one needs to pass on them, because their opponents are always beating them. I already asked, but I will again: how hard is this to figure out?

allow the second fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers

Correlation? Causation? Don't ask Berry, he's busy having hunches and telling you to start Arian Foster.

and Brady ain't right. I bet they do everything in their power to get Moss a score after all the media attention this past week, but his yardage total won't be high and counting on TDs is like chasing wins in baseball.

Oh, please believe I will be reading your baseball advice when April rolls around. Could it be worse than this? Hopefully, for the sake of the blog. Meanwhile, Moss led all WRs in this game with 70 yards. He also had a TD. If chasing TDs in football is like chasing wins in baseball, chasing them with Moss is like chasing wins with Tim Lincecum.

Maurice Morris, RB, Detroit: There's Perkins waitresses and then there's "Come on, man, what are you doing? Seriously. Go home."

Wow. 161 total yards and a TD.

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: Don't get cute because you see the Browns on the schedule and Dwayne Bowe is back.


He has zero fantasy points for two straight weeks and while I think Bowe has a good game, it won't be enough to lift Cassel.

22/40, 331 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. I mean, he's no Jason Campbell, playing at home on a Monday night. But realizing that a QB playing the Browns is probably going to have a good game (see Matt Stafford) shouldn't be too difficult.

Any Falcons Running Back: I don't know if Michael Turner is playing as of this writing, but it's a muddled mess that I don't trust regardless of who is or is not playing.

Fair enough, the Falcons only ran for 86 yards against the Jets. Jason Snelling had 59, I'll count that towards my total at the end of the post.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons: Insert "stud facing Darrelle Revis" here.

Yeah fine blah blah whatever.

Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree, 49ers: Short week, on the road, Eagles very tough. No thanks.

Smith basically played like Campbell, with an extra INT. Who the fuck would even have Smith on their team in the first place? This is like saying "Don't start Kyle Boller!" But Crabtree (he carries a curse!) did have a shit game. Berry's on a roll!

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: Don't trust any Philly running back, especially him.

Except when he goes for 56 yards and a TD.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: As someone who owns Forte in a league, I'd like to request Forte also post a message to his Web site apologizing for his transgressions.

Pretty glad I didn't end up with this guy on my team. He did end up with 69 total yards, though, which is just as many as "Love" guy Forsett. But it doesn't take a huge brain to tell owners not to start Forte, who hasn't done anything in weeks, against the Ravens.

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: New mystery book racing up the best seller charts: The Cutler Did It!

Horrendous joke. The recommendation, though, was correct. A little surprising given how bad Baltimore's secondary has been, but I'm sure resident FJayM Ravens fan Jack is OK with the way things turned out.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Single-digit fantasy points in four of his past five games, the Chargers are top 10 in the NFL in both passing yards allowed per game and fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. In fact, they've been even better at home; opposing quarterbacks are averaging just 11 fantasy points a game at San Diego this year. Plus, the Bengals are running a lot more than passing these days.

Reasonable analysis, but Palmer went for 27/40, 314 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers: Chances are, if you have him, you're in a deep hole in the playoffs this week, thanks to last week's brutal performance against Cleveland. But if you managed to survive, I got sour news for you, Jack. Packers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 3. They've given up just four rushing touchdowns all season, they give up the second fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and I expect Green Bay to score a lot of points against a reeling Steelers defense, meaning Pittsburgh will be playing from behind.

Nice sentence. Mendenhall went for 111 total yards and a (GASP!) rushing TD.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Four points or less in his past three games with DeAngelo Williams ... maybe he gets a score, but I don't trust him against the Vikings.

DeAngelo Williams has been hurt for the past month. He got hurt again early in this game. (WHO COULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING?) And Stewart went for 123 totals yards and 2 TDs.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Redskins allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Boss goes for 57 yards. Shrug.

So let's total it up. Four QBs, one of whom was Alex Smith, who isn't on anyone's roster. So I'll total up the other 3- 739 yards, 4 TDs, and 4 INTs (3 of which were Cutler's). Nothing to write home about, but in general more effective than Jason Campbell. Twelve RB/WR/TEs- 962 total yards, 8 TDs. Ten fewer players of this type than those he "Loved," and yet 3 more TDs. That's incredible. An average of 80 yards per player, 21 more than the "Love" guys. It's mind-boggling. Take out one or two of the successful "Love" guys, like Charles or Wells, and a team made out of these 12 "Hate" guys beats a team made out of those 20 or so "Love" guys. How awful is that? The performance of the two groups wasn't even roughly similar on a per-player basis. And this is why Matthew Berry is a useless cockbucket. Don't listen to him, not that you were in the first place. You could make better decisions about starting or sitting players by flipping a coin.


Chris W said...

espn: the worldwide leader in online columnists who probably wear jorts

Martin F. said...

What's weird is that Berry made his living doing money leagues and writing scripts in Hollywood. He then had a little online site that he gave out advice and information about fantasy stuff. He was good when he was having to make a living at it, but like everything else TWWL touches, becomes tarnished and dull. I agree that he seems to be talking out his ass as much as anything whenever I see him do fantasy stuff nowadays. This is sad, because before he went to ESPN, he used to be on one of the local radio shows, seemed like a good enough guy, knew his stuff better then the hosts usually, and was kinda helpful.

Elliot said...

Man, Jay Cutler is awesome.

Tonus said...

Maybe he read "Deion Branch" and started thinking about Deion Sanders and Cliff Branch? I dunno, the 'hawks are having an awful year and I'm depressed.

The thing I hate most about that column is all of those "I MAY BE WRONG" parts. Yeah, we know you might be wrong, for god's sake man up and make your picks and live with the bad ones, you weasel.

Anonymous said...


1. You cant write this article AFTER the week has played out.

2. "Love" means he thinks the player will outperform his projected score and "hate" means the opposite. I'm not a huge TMR fan but he's stated that pretty clearly several times over the past few years. Thus, it's not that unlikely that a player he "loves" will be outscored by a player he "hates."

The Klosterman/Simmons post was good, though.

Chris W said...

"1. You cant write this article AFTER the week has played out."

Yeah, Larry--how dare you hold him accountable for picks which you explained didn't even make sense results notwithstanding.

Biggus Rickus said...

Eh, about half were bad (as in "gut feelings," illogic or Alex Smith). It's not at all fair to criticize him for the sound-reasoning-didn't-work-out picks. I don't really know why columnists bother with prognosticatiion articles. You're almost always going to look foolish in hindsight.

Adam said...

Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: A podcast listener came up with the term "Fantasy Zombie."

As in ... a guy left for dead who has somehow risen from the grave to actually have real, legit fantasy value.

Would this "podcast listener" happen to be named Bill Simmons?

Different Anonymous said...

Not much to add, just that I love the term 'cockbucket'. I think that will be on Paris Hilton's tombstone

John Foley said...

Matthew Berry also thinks Kobe Bryant is a great teammate; that should give you a clue as to what kind of judgment he has.

Anonymous said...

And this blog hits a new low...criticizing fantasy advice. I don't like Berry, but no matter how you bitch about anything fantasy-related, you sound like a whiny 12 year-old. Stick to taking down TMQ.