Monday, August 24, 2009

Winter vs. Berry: The Showdown!

Matthew Berry's at it again.

Some of you might remember my criticism of ESPN's "The Talented Mr. Roto" and his outrageous predictions for the 2008, and it appears I wasn't the only one. In this year's article Berry acknowledges the criticism with several excerpts from his comments and mail bag (though apparently not from my blog; I'm terribly offended) and re-iterates his point that his "bold predictions" were supposed to be out-on-a-limb, rather unlikely to be met, and meant to improve your draft strategy. He says:

The point of this is not that I nail every prediction. In fact, I'm going to tell you that the only prediction that I guarantee here is that I'm not going to get all of these correct. Especially since we still have three weeks of preseason to go.

But, if you use this correctly, the idea is simply that it helps you draft. For example, in last year's article, I said eight other tight ends will have a better fantasy season than Antonio Gates. Technically, that was wrong, as Gates finished fourth in fantasy scoring among tight ends.

But, if you took that to mean, in essence, that I felt Gates was overvalued (he was generally the first tight end off the board last year) and ended up passing on him and waiting two rounds later for someone like Dallas Clark (I predicted he would be the No. 1 tight end, also wrong, but he did finish two points out of second and ahead of Gates), then this article worked for you last year. And you still get to give me crap for getting it wrong. See? Everyone's a winner.

So, why not say "Gates is overvalued," rather than come up with some "bold" prediction? And what excuse do you have for saying "Ben Obomanu will reach 800 yards and six touchdowns"? (prediction #46; Obomanu finished with 180 yards and 1 TD." I don't think anyone was unjustly undervaluing Obomanu.

The reason is shock value and "wow" factor. Saying Gates won't be the #1 tight end is like saying, to some people, oh, that Brett Favre won't have a good year. Both will probably be true, but people who don't pay too much attention to football won't know that and will argue vehemently for the "conventional wisdom." Controversy = hits on your web site. If that was the goal, mission accomplished.

With all that being said, it's clear that Berry is in a bit of damage-control mode this year, as his predictions are much, much tamer and I can't argue with too many of them. In fact, I find myself outright agreeing with several. But not all of them. And this year, rather than ragging on the man after the season is over, I'm going to put myself out on a limb and grade his predictions, and at the end of the year, we'll see who is more "right."

Scoring will be simple. I'll give a "YES" or "NO" for each of the 32 predictions (the real, football-based ones), based on whether or not I think it'll happen. I'll assume that Berry labels each of them as "YES." At the end of the year, we'll total up the number we got correct, and highest score wins.

Unfortunately, he doesn't number this year's predictions, which means I'll have to reprint them, word for word, and number them myself for easy reference at the end of the season. Feel free to chime in with your own views.

On to the predictions:

  1. Chris "Beanie" Wells stays healthy enough to get at least 1,000 total yards and eight touchdowns. YES.
  2. Roddy White will lead the NFL in receiving yards. YES. Bold, but I like it. Jake Delhomme is due for a meltdown, and that'll hurt Steve Smith.
  3. Joe Flacco finishes the year as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. NO. Flacco is highly overrated because his defense is good.
  4. Terrell Owens finishes the year outside the top 25 fantasy wide receivers. You heard me. NO. I think he'll be down a bit, but even Trent Edwards can't screw him up too badly.
  5. Jonathan Stewart finishes with more fantasy points than DeAngelo Williams. NO. Williams is overrated, thanks to his huge TD numbers, but he'll still get more carries and points than Stewart.
  6. Devin Hester and Greg Olsen combine for 1,800 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. NO. Jay Cutler can't fix the mess that is the Bears' receiving corps.
  7. Chris Henry has a better fantasy season than Laveranues Coles. NO. Of course, the Jets lost Brett Favre so they don't know how to pass any more.
  8. Jamal Lewis has 1,400 yards and eight touchdowns, or the equivalent fantasy points. NO. Nice to throw in the "or the equivalent" phrase to CYA, but I still think Lewis is done.
  9. Without T.O. in town, Tony Romo has the best fantasy season of his career. NO. I think Romo will be fine, but the man had 4,211 yards and 36 TDs two years ago. That's tough to top.
  10. Peyton Hillis will end the year with the most fantasy points of any Broncos running back. You heard me. YES. Hey someone's gotta run the ball in Denver.
  11. Brandon Pettigrew finishes the year as a top-15 fantasy tight end. YES. Bad/young QBs love a good tight end.
  12. Ryan Grant goes for better than 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns. NO.
  13. Eighty-five receptions and 1,000 yards for Owen Daniels. NO. Daniels is really good and really underrated, but the Texans still have Andre Johnson.
  14. Anthony Gonzalez, whose career high in receiving yards is 664, doubles that this season. NO. A Colts WR might have 1,300 receiving yards, but it'll be Reggie Wayne.
  15. David Garrard will be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this year. Just like last season. YES.
  16. Matt Cassel will not be. In fact, he finishes outside the top 15. YES.
  17. Anthony Fasano, meet the end zone. You two will find each other 10 times this season. YES. Sure, why not?
  18. Bernard Berrian gets more than 1,200 yards and nine scores. NO. Having Brett Favre means Berrian won't have to settle for those weak-armed QBs like the ones he had last year that limited him to a paltry 20.1 yards per reception, second-best in the league.
  19. Eight hundred yards and seven touchdowns for Joey Galloway. YES. If he's healthy Galloway can catch 800 yards' worth of passes from anyone.
  20. Pierre Thomas is a top-10 fantasy running back this year. And Saints fans start wearing berets to games. You heard me. YES. But I'll disregard the beret thing.
  21. Brandon Jacobs scores 20 touchdowns. NO. How will the Giants get that close to the end zone with Eli Manning battling Brett Favre for the league interception lead?
  22. Dustin Keller gets 800 yards, eight touchdowns and is one of the top eight fantasy tight ends this season. YES.
  23. More than 1,500 total yards and eight scores (or the fantasy points equivalent) for Darren McFadden. NO. I dunno, but I think we're going to look back in 10 years and find that Felix Jones was the better Alabama RB who entered the league in 2008. Plus, being with the Raiders automatically subtracts 25% (or more) from your fantasy potential
  24. Brian Westbrook plays all 16 games. NO. Hasn't happened yet, see no reason to start now.
  25. Trendy preseason favorite Rashard Mendenhall finishes with fewer fantasy points than Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore and Heath Miller. YES.
  26. Philip Rivers ends up with 225 fantasy points or fewer, which last year would have put him ninth among quarterbacks. (To put that numerically, I think he throws for fewer than 3,400 yards and 25 touchdowns). YES.
  27. Shaun Hill wins the starting quarterback job, throws for 3,000-plus yards and has at least 26 total touchdowns. NO. He'll be the starter, but he won't get those kind of TD numbers.
  28. T.J. Duckett scores double-digit touchdowns. Julius Jones has more than 1,200 total yards. Both have solid fantasy value this year. You heard me. NO. I could believe Jones, but absolutely not Duckett.
  29. Donnie Avery has more than 1,000 yards receiving. And yes, I know he's injured and most likely will miss the start of the season. That's how much I like him and the Rams' revamped offensive line. NO. But I don't like Marc Bulger.
  30. Antonio Bryant finishes outside the top 30 of fantasy wide receivers. YES.
  31. Nate Washington, on the other hand, finishes inside the top 30. YES.
  32. More than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns for Chris Cooley. NO. Put simply, expecting 1,000 yards from any TE is asking for trouble.

And one of his non-football predictions:

At some point in the next 12 months, a blog will print a story about me and every "fact" will actually be, well, factual.

Already happened, man.

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