The Talented Mr. Roto…wow, it must be nice to be you

Matthew Berry

Courtesy of www.sloansportsconference.com

On August 28th, 2013 Matthew Berry, AKA “The Talented Mr. Roto,” published his bold predictions for each of the 32 NFL franchises. My buddy brought this post to my attention today and after reviewing Matthew Berry’s litany of ridiculous predictions, I decided to take a departure from my regular style of posts and take you through the unequivocal disaster that Berry’s post has become a mere three months later.

Holding the job of “fantasy football prognosticator” or “fantasy football guru” is akin to being the local weather man. In other words, you can be wrong 70% of the time (which in this case applies to Matthew Berry’s 2013 bold predictions) and still retain your job. I argue that being a “fantasy football expert” (that title is a load of hogwash, but we move on) is even better than being a weatherman. The thing is if you screw up fantasy football predictions, no one really cares for that long. We all wake up Monday morning and head to work regardless of if DeSean Jackson gets us 2 or 22 points. If the weatherman predicts sun and it rains there are legitimate consequences (travel delays, accidents, etc).

Moral of the story: being a fantasy football expert is the best job in the world. In what other profession can you be wrong most of the time (applicable in this case) and not only retain your job, but be revered as the foremost expert in your field.

I love this comment from my friend Max today via email (sums up exactly how I was feeling as I was reviewing these bold predictions): “I get that these are “bold predictions,” so he wanted to go out into left field a bit, but how about putting some thought into your “bold predictions.””

Anyways, I provide you with the most egregious 2013 “bold” predictions courtesy of Matthew Berry (and the few predictions that he nailed).

Please note that everything in quotes below is pulled directly from Matthew Berry’s August 28th column.

Atlanta Falcons

Matthew Berry: “I say Steven Jackson leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns this year.”

My response: Look at S-Jax’s stats!! Steven Jackson has been declining (albeit not slipping precipitously) for the last three years. When

Steven Jackson

Courtesy of zimbio.com

was the last time Steven Jackson scored more than 10 touchdowns in a season? Let’s hit the way-back machine and go back to 2006. In fact, 2006 was the only year that he has scored more than 8 touchdowns in a season. Why would Matthew Berry think that a change of scenery would all of a sudden cause S-Jax to triple or even quadruple his touchdown output, during his age-30 season no less? Keep in mind, Jackson had nearly 2,400 carries on his odometer and nine seasons of being the featured player on some terrible Rams teams. The man has taken an absolute beating and that showed in 2012 (his final season with the Rams) when he rushed for only 1,045 yards at 4.1 yards per carry, both four year lows.

This year S-Jax has run for three touchdowns, which ties him for 32nd on the rushing touchdown list through week 13. Part-time ‘backs such as Ben Tate, Brandon Jacobs and Mike Tolbert all have more touchdowns than Jackson through 13 games this year. Nice one Matthew!

Baltimore Ravens

Matthew Berry: “I say Ray Rice finishes this year as the No. 1 running back in fantasy.”

My response: It’s tough to fault Matthew Berry too harshly on this one. Ray Rice is still relatively young (26) for a running back and has only five pro seasons of tread on his tires (albeit high usage during those seasons). Through 11 games (missed 1 game due to injury & team had a week 8 bye) he has managed a measly 482 yards, averaging only 2.9 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns. With top wide receiver Anquan Boldin being traded to San Francisco and tight end Dennis Pitta injuring his hip in the off-season (Joe Flacco’s security blanket), the doors appeared to be open for a run heavy attack with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce spelling him.

This couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Ravens have stumbled at times in their 6-6 start. While the Ravens still have time to turn their season around, the book has already been closed on Ray Rice. 2013 was a major disappointment and a far cry from being the #1 fantasy running back in football.

Buffalo Bills

Matthew Berry: “Also thought about a good Fred Jackson prediction here; he’s going to be a lot more valuable than folks think.”

My response: He even was a bit coy in delivering this tidbit of information. Fred Jackson currently sits alone as the #9 fantasy running back…this for a guy who routinely went in the 7th and 8th rounds of many 12 round drafts. Jackson has 7 TD’s on the year and 8 games with double-digits points, including five consecutive double-digit games to start the season.

Kudos to Matthew Berry…his first correct prediction.

Cincinnati Bengals

Matthew Berry: “I say the Bengals D/ST finishes the year as the No. 1 scoring fantasy defense.”

My response: touché Matthew Berry, you’re on a roll. Through week 13, Cincinnati sits alone as the #3 fantasy defense in the league, sitting only four points behind the Panthers and Seahawks D/ST. With Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Minnesota on the schedule for the fantasy playoffs (combined 16-19 record); I see this defense continuing to climb the ranks.

Cleveland Browns

Matthew Berry: “Brandon Weeden (QB No. 27) is a top-20 QB.”

My response: hold the phones!! This is the same guy who threw for 14 TD’s and 17 INT’s during the 2012 season, amassing a QB rating of 72.6? The Talented Mr. Roto put way too much stock in Norv Turner coming in as offensive coordinator in the offseason and turning this ship around. Through 13 games this year Weeden has been in and out of the starting lineup due to poor performance and injuries. Thus far this year, Weeden has appeared in 8 games and has thrown for 9 TD’s and 9 interceptions….good for a 70.3 QB rating. He is currently the 35th ranked QB in the NFL, behind back-ups such as Josh McCown, Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Matthew Berry, do me a favor and never mention Brandon Weeden and top 20 again, unless you’re referencing his league-leading penchant for committing turnovers.

Denver Broncos

Matthew Berry: “I say the running back on the Broncos with the most fantasy points at the end of the year? Knowshown Moreno. You heard me again. What I’m thinking: Ronnie Hillman can’t hold onto the ball and Montee Ball is having protection issues. Meanwhile, Moreno is back healthy, played well down the stretch last year, kept Peyton Manning upright and, with the up-tempo no-huddle offense they want to run (plus Peyton audibling all the time, which is too a verb), Moreno won’t come off the field once he gets on there.”

My response: wow, I can’t think of a more on-point, accurate prediction. Everything he detailed within this prediction has come true and then some. Congrats Matthew Berry, you nailed your third prediction. Moving along…

Green Bay Packers

Matthew Berry: “I say Eddie Lacy, currently going as running back No. 21 in the fifth round, finishes as a top-10 running back.”

My response: Better to be lucky than good. The Talented Mr. Roto backed into this one with Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone injury in week 9 significantly impacting Green Bay’s play-calling. If Rodgers doesn’t break his collarbone in the first drive of that Bears game, then Lacy doesn’t emerge as a force during the last month. Nevertheless, Lacy is well on his way to finishing the season as a top 10 fantasy running back (currently ranked #13, but only 4 points behind the #10 backs).

Jacksonville Jaguars

Maurice Jones-Drew

Courtesy of sportsbycolin.com

Matthew Berry: “I say Maurice Jones-Drew plays all 16 games and has the best statistical year of his career.”

My response: We’re seeing the end of MJD as a dominant back. Since peaking during his age 26 season in 2011, with 1,606 yards rushing, 374 yards receiving and 11 total TD’s, MJD has been in decline during the last two seasons. Why would Matthew Berry think that MJD would have the best year of his career this year after coming off one of the worst injuries for a running back, a lisfranc injury, suffered in the middle of last season?

You don’t bet on running backs who are in their late 20’s, are coming off serious foot injuries and are on one of the worst professional sports franchises. You just don’t do it, which is why this is one of the most unforgivable “bold” predictions that Matthew Berry made back in August.

Kansas City Chiefs

Matthew Berry: “I say Dwayne Bowe, currently going 18th among wide receivers, is a top-five fantasy wide receiver.”

My response: This one is tough to fault and a good buy-low option. Bowe was coming off a rough season, having caught 59 balls for only 801 yards in 2012 from a couple of borderline NFL players (Matt Cassell, Brady Quinn). One would figure that entering his age-29 season and with a solid quarterback at the helm, in Alex Smith, that Bowe would at least increase his output by 50%. This has not been the case, as Alex Smith has looked to Bowe on short and intermediate routes not near the goal line, resulting in a career low 11.8 yards per catch and only 4 TD’s through week 13.

New England Patriots

Matthew Berry: I say Zach Sudfeld, currently going in the 14th round, is a top-10 fantasy tight end.

My response: Zach Sudfeld caught four more passes than me this year and was cut after just four games. ‘Nuff said.

New Orleans Saints

Matthew Berry: “I say Mark Ingram, currently going 34th among running backs, is a top-20 back this year.”

My response: Pierre Thomas (#19) and Darren Sproles (#30) are both top 30 running backs through week 13. Mark Ingram has produced just 35.3 fantasy points this season, good for being the #61 ranked running back in the NFL. Ingram has never broken a run of more than 35 yards and is averaging a pedestrian 4.0 yards per carry for his career. When I see Ingram live, I think to myself, “He is the definition of an average NFL running back.” He does nothing great but is good enough to get on the field just enough to stay relevant. Keen prediction Matthew!

New York Giants

Matthew Berry: “I say David Wilson is a top-10 fantasy running back.”

My response: Can’t fault him too much here. With Ahmad Bradshaw jettisoned in the offseason and Jacobs unloaded the year prior, the path was carved for him to have a big year. Problem is that David Wilson can’t pass protect and his ball security is dicey (to be kind). Alas, Wilson suffered a neck injury a month into the season and has not been heard from again. Giants fans have had to watch the triumvirate of Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs and Da’Rel Scott handle the rushing duties in his stead, until Andre Brown returned in week 10 to rescue this rag-tag crew.

Philadelphia Eagles

Matthew Berry: “I say Michael Vick stays healthy all 16 games and becomes a top-five fantasy quarterback.”

Michael Vick

Courtesy of blog.gtbets.eu

My response: I think I’m most appalled that Matthew Berry so irresponsibly packaged two outlandish predictions into one. He first predicted that Vick would play the full 16 games. His second prediction is that Vick will become a top-five fantasy quarterback. I just think this is lazy and one of the least plausible predictions I have seen from an expert in a while. Given Vick’s history and age, it would be a miracle if he were to achieve one of these predictions, let alone both of them.

Let’s take a step back for a moment. Vick has played a full slate of games in a single season exactly once in his 11-year career. Mind you this occurred in 2006, during his age 26 season. How does a 33-year old quarterback do what he has only done once in his career in a brutally physical conference? The answer: this only happens in Matthew Berry’s bold predictions. Of all of Matthew Berry’s “bold” predictions, this was by far his most egregious assertion.

 

The funny thing is if I wasn’t writing this post, no one would have raised a finger over these botched predictions. Must be nice being The Talented Mr. Roto…free to predict the most outrageously plausible outcomes with no fear of retribution or punishment.

About Jim Armstrong

Jim is a life-long sports fan and split his childhood between the ‘burbs of Chicago and central NJ, while throwing in a summer living outside of Boston into the mix. This explains his passion for the 90′s Bulls, late 90′s/early 00′s Knicks and late 00′s Celtics (he will explain in a future post). Jim never played a minute of college basketball or football but did complete a Tough Mudder recently and continues to play in basketball leagues year-round. If this doesn’t make him an expert, then I don’t know what does. Jim crunches numbers for a living and enjoys applying these analytical skills to his sports obsessions. In his free time, Jim enjoys spending time with his family, fishing and writing.

Comments

  1. Good thing he only make 35k a year doing this.

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