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Fantasy sports are no dream for The Talented Mr Roto

Michael Kim
MichaelVick 300x211 Fantasy sports are no dream for The Talented Mr Roto

Michael Vick is Matthew Berry's No 1 player

Matthew Berry has a dream job in the eyes of his many fans and followers.  Too bad he doesn’t see it that way.

He began playing fantasy sports as a 14-year-old in College Station, Texas.  Now more than three decades later, he’s still playing. And, he’s getting paid to do it.  As a result, his dream to become a radio station disc jockey remains on hold.

Yet, Berry admits, “It’s ridiculous,” that he has crafted a career from his alter-ego, The Talented Mr. Roto, advising the tens of millions who are participating in leagues worldwide as ESPN’s senior director of fantasy sports.

Not only are the fantasy fans following him, so are the actual athletes who are scoring the touchdowns, hitting the homers and drilling the game-winning jumpers. It proves just how much fantasy sports have grown that Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew hosts his own radio show on the subject.

It’s doubtful that MJD concurs with TMR in raising the caution flag on the upcoming season.  Berry expects first-round draft pick Blaine Gabbert to take over the starting quarterbacking duties in Jacksonville at some point during this season.  When that happens, Berry expects the offense will turn one-dimensional with Jones-Drew becoming the focus.  Defences will adjust accordingly by stacking the box in hopes of stopping the run.

“Running room will be tough to come by,” says Berry, who was kind enough to share other fantasy football advice and analysis in this week’s edition of Kimmer & Answers...

Kimmer: As fantasy football continues to grow internationally, what advice would you offer to the novice players who are reading this, maybe wondering if they should jump into the fray?

MB: If you’ve never played, I have two pieces of advice.  First of all, don’t be scared.  It’s not that tough to play and it’s a great way to learn about the NFL and American sports.  Secondly, when in doubt about who to pick, just go with the rankings.  Go to ESPN.com and draft your team based on our rankings.  If all you do is pick the best player on the board, you’ll be fine.  You’ll have a decent team and you can tinker from there the rest of the season.

Kimmer: Let’s talk about some individual players.  Where do you rank Michael Vick?

MB: He is my #1 player overall.  It’s not a strategy for the weak at heart.  If he does what he did last year, you win your league.  It’s that simple.  He just needs to stay healthy. We did the numbers here.  If he had played a full 16-game season last year and you extrapolate the numbers for a full season, he would have scored 449 fantasy points.  By comparison, in Tom Brady’s 50 touchdown season in 2007, Brady scored 386 fantasy points.

Kimmer: What advice do you have for those wondering about Peyton Manning, who’s coming back from neck surgery?

MB: There’s a little bit of caution and concern here.  I have him as my seventh-ranked quarterback.  I feel about him similar to the 2008 season.  He missed the preseason after knee surgery and got off to a slow start.  In the end, he was Peyton Manning. He’ll have his numbers in the end.

Kimmer: How do you like Arian Foster’s chances of repeating what he did last season when he ran for 1,616 yards, had another 604 yards receiving and scored 18 total touchdowns?

MB: Over the last 20 years, only six running backs have scored 18 touchdowns or more and repeated that the following year.  History says it’s probably not going to happen again, but he doesn’t have to do that to have a good season.  He was far and away the best running back last season.  I rate him #4 overall, the third-best running back behind Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles.

Kimmer: Who’s your sleeper pick?

MB: I don’t know if he’s a sleeper but a guy who’s not getting as much attention as some others is Felix Jones.  He could have a really big year.  Once Jason Garrett took over as the Cowboys head coach, only the New England Patriots scored more touchdowns.  Jones averaged 17 touches per game under Garrett, compared to only 12 under Wade Phillips.  Plus, there’s no Marion Barber in the way.

Michael Kim is the host of SportsCenter, ESPN America’s flagship US sports news programme, now airing in the UK on ESPN America – Sky channel 430, Virgin channel 531 and TalkTalk TV channel 566 – every weekday morning live from 6:00am with an updated show at 10:30pm. For more details visit: www.espnamerica.com. Watch NFL Monday Night Football exclusively on ESPN this season, starting with a double header on at 10pm Monday 12th September. ESPN and ESPN America are the exclusive home of live NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL Monday Night Football, and NCAA US college sports in the UK.

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