Love/Hate for Week 16
Matthew Berry [ARCHIVE]
December 20, 2012
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My heart's not in it.

As I sit down to write the Week 16 edition of Love/Hate, I find it is hard to muster enthusiasm for an open. Be it on Twitter, Facebook, by email or when I meet someone in person, the majority of feedback I get is about my opens. A quick Google search for "fantasy football help" returns over 195 million results. I feel my advice is good, but honestly, there are lots of people who give good advice, both here on ESPN and elsewhere. You can get good advice from lots of places. The open, however … the open is mine.

So I take it seriously. I work hard on it. I start thinking about it about 20 minutes after I hand in the previous week's column. I've written this column, "Love/Hate," for different websites for well over a decade. I've also done a weekly baseball column for longer than that, and I used to do a weekly pickups column for football, and even, once upon a time, fantasy basketball. All of them had opens. I've written hundreds upon hundreds of them since I started in this business in 1999.

And this week, my heart's not in it.

I thought about looking back at some preseason stuff. Which calls panned out and which didn't from the preseason Love/Hate, whether my Draft Day Manifesto strategy paid off, what we can learn from this year as we look toward next year. And maybe I'll still do that next week.

But as I thought about how I'd present all that, I realized my heart wasn't in it.

I thought about doing something funny and maybe a little sweet about the upcoming "end of the world" on Dec. 21, as the Mayans have supposedly predicted. Like, on the off chance we have only two days left on Earth, here's all the people I want to tell off before I no longer have a chance, and then something sweet about regrets I have, paths not traveled, that sort of thing.

But my heart's not in it.

Thought about doing something about last week's games and coming up with funny ways to show how many big-name stars disappointed. A team starting Ray Rice and Doug Martin at running back with Jamaal Charles in the flex, Demaryius Thomas and Victor Cruz at wideout, Jimmy Graham, the 49ers' defense and fantasy's highest-scoring kicker heading into Week 15, Lawrence Tynes, with your choice of Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford or Josh Freeman at quarterback … would have scored, at most, 21 fantasy points. And would have lost to a team that started Dennis Pitta and no one else. Just a lot of things like that.

Eh. Heart's not in it. Kept searching.

Thought about talking about my daughters, who just recently turned 1, and what the past year as a parent has been like. About how my world view has completely changed, about the hopes and fears I have for them and about what those two little beans mean to me. Thought about talking about my brother Jonathan, who turns 40 this weekend. Thought about a rant, thought about a mailbag, thought about a way-too-early 2013 ranking.

But my heart's not in it.

It's in Newtown, Conn.

So let's get down to the business of Love/Hate and, here in Week 16, the advice remains the same. Don't get cute. Don't overthink it. Check my rankings for my opinion on specific player-versus-player comparisons and then use it as a loose guideline.

Quarterbacks I love in Week 16

Robert Griffin III, Redskins: Welcome back. He's gonna play. For the Redskins and for your fantasy team. You might be worried about the legs or the injury. Which I get. But it's the finals. Don't get cute. As John Parolin of ESPN Stats & Information points out, we know how much Washington loves play-action; they lead the NFL with 115 completions and 1,980 passing yards on play-action passes. Well get this: The Eagles' defense has a league-worst plus-9 TD-INT differential on those passes, and is one of four defenses (Colts, Titans and Rams) not to record a single interception on those passes this year.

Peyton Manning, Broncos: Less than 15 points in two straight and only one touchdown pass in each of the past two, Peyton has only two touchdowns total in five career games versus the Browns. As a result, I'm starting to hear a few whispers of panic. I have none. He's at home where, this year, he has a 16-2 touchdown to interception ratio in six games. Cleveland allows over 19 fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks on the road this year. He got you this far, you're not bailing now. Papa Bear is firing up the grill for you, too.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: Yes, he is on the road. Yes, it's a very good defense. Yes, he is a very young player. But you know who else has a really good defense? New England. And Chicago, when he played them. At least 18 points in four of the five games he has started, never less than 14 and the Seahawks may be without both starting corners for this game. Going Next Level here to tell you that, of Kaepernick's four touchdown passes in Week 15, three came on throws of more than 20 yards downfield. He's the first QB with three TD passes on throws more than 20 yards downfield in a game this season. Plus, you know about the rushing; he's always a threat and I expect Seattle to focus on stopping Frank Gore, who gashed them for 182 total yards earlier this season. A top-10 play for me.

If you're desperate: The way Russell Wilson is playing, I don't care who he is facing. Solid option outside the top 10. … More mobile than you think, Jake Locker is coming off two straight 15-point games and has a real shot at some quality junk time against the Pack. … Sad that Joe Flacco has dropped into the "desperate section," but in general he plays better at home and things should be easier this week against the Giants' 28th-ranked pass defense. … With two good receivers at his disposal in Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, and one bad defense that will let Tom Brady have his way with them, I could see Chad Henne having a big junk time day here. He wouldn't be the first.

Quarterbacks I hate in Week 16

Eli Manning, Giants: No question, he could have a good game here. It's not a terrible matchup. But if you somehow survived last week with Eli as your quarterback, are you really trusting him again? Exactly. He has a total of two, count 'em, two touchdown passes in his past five road games. Two. In five.

Andrew Luck, Colts: I think he'll be OK here, but I have him outside my top 10, which puts him on the hate list for me in a 10-team league. We know about Luck's struggles on the road -- 17 turnovers in seven road games this year -- and for all the Chiefs do poorly, they are actually seventh against the pass and shut down Carson Palmer last week. Expect to see a lot of Vick Ballard in this game, and you also won't see Luck needing to lead a crazy comeback in a game that should be fairly low-scoring from the K.C. side. Again, think he'll be OK -- think 15 points or so -- but not a...
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