"Do you regret it?"
It was Monday morning of this week, and I was talking with my friend and editor Pierre Becquey about this week's column.
After watching my preseason No. 1 pick, Michael Vick, score zero touchdowns, throw two interceptions, score single-digit fantasy points for the second straight week and frankly, look terrible in the process, I had told Pierre it was time.
I need to fall on the sword on this one, I had told him. I had been holding out hope that the flashes we had seen during the Cowboys game and at other previous points in the season would prove to be harbingers of greatness to come. So, maybe Vick had gotten a tad lucky with his nine rushing touchdowns last season, but certainly the fact he'd had zero so far this year was too far of an extreme. Heading into the Cardinals game, the Eagles were tied for the eighth-easiest schedule remaining based on their opponents' win percentage. Three of the next five games (Arizona, New England and Miami) featured teams that were in the top 10 of most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. And, if his ribs could heal, he still would have those nice Miami and New England matchups.
As I watched on Sunday, all hope vanished, disappearing with nary a wisp when the rib injury was announced. Vick has been fine, actually. He's the 13th-highest-scoring fantasy player overall, and three of the players ahead of him (Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and the now-injured Matt Schaub) have played 10 games so far while he's played nine, so it's skewed even more. Vick also has been a much better first-rounder than Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Andre Johnson and Rashard Mendenhall, and about the same as Maurice Jones-Drew, all of whom also went in the first 12 picks. (For the record, I was down on Chris Johnson and Mendenhall in the preseason, too. Just saying.)
But no matter what spin you put on it, the fact is very simple: Vick hasn't been worth the No. 1 pick. Especially not after seeing what Aaron Rodgers has done this year. It is not a call that worked out. I got it wrong. No way around it. My bad.
So Pierre and I were discussing ways for me to cop to it. I had an idea for a whole mock funeral for the pick, with people saying kind things about some calls just not working out, etc., etc. I had an idea where my co-workers surprise me in the middle of a column with an intervention for my blind Vick belief. "Karabell: 'I'm here for you if you need me. But I'm taking back my calculator.'" That sort of thing could be funny, I thought.
The simple way out, of course, was just to pick the best of the hate mail, angry tweets and hate-filled Facebook posts about Vick. Those columns are among the easiest to write, and they always prove immensely popular.
Pierre left it to me to decide which way I wanted to go but warned me. He didn't want me to get too defensive. Or to try to counterbalance it by randomly mentioning that my preseason sleepers like Matthew Stafford, Matt Forte, Fred Jackson and Jimmy Graham have worked out very well, as has my being highest on Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace, Willis McGahee and LeSean McCoy. Those have all paid dividends. He didn't want me to mention it because it would come across as self-serving and cherry-picking. (See?) He's right, of course. Any time I point to a good call, someone can bring up the terrible calls I've made, like Felix Jones, LeGarrette Blount, Sam Bradford, thinking Tony Gonzalez was done, not buying Cam Newton after the first week and on and on. Many, many missed calls. So it's best to leave it alone. Starting now.
But the Vick thing, I said, I have to address. I was everywhere in the preseason, telling anyone who asked (and sometimes just walking up to random strangers and telling them) that Vick should be the No. 1 overall pick in ESPN 10-team leagues. One way or the other, I can't ignore it any longer.
And that's when Pierre said, very simply ... "Do you regret it?"
I've thought about that all week.
I regret spending way too much of my childhood playing competitive tennis, especially during summers when most kids were just being kids.
I regret not dating Marie Reuscher in high school when I had the chance. And not telling Christy Tolliver I had a crush on her all through my senior year.
I regret that I don't regret more about college. I was too focused, doing student TV, radio and writing for the newspaper. Have a beer, Berry. Relax.
I regret that I didn't wait to get married. No disrespect to the ex-Mrs. Roto, who is a terrific person I am friends with to this day, but we married really young. If we had waited, we'd still be married or never would have gotten married in the first place. No one should be allowed to marry before he or she is 30.
I regret that I didn't go into therapy sooner. Like, by a decade.
I regret hustling so much when I got to Hollywood. Instead of just getting an entry-level job, keeping my head down and paying my dues, I kept hustling, trying to beat the system. All it did was screw up some great opportunities, anger some people who were at first inclined to help me and ultimately just set me back ... as I later spent two years at an entry-level job, got lunch and answered phones, then got my break.
I regret many of the people with whom I did business in Hollywood. More importantly, I regret that when I did get screwed over, I just took it as opposed to standing up for myself. Too much "Oh, you don't want to anger that studio or make an enemy of this producer," etc. So much of that town works on fear. It's been many years, and I have a completely different life and career, but there is one particular individual who, if he were ever in front of me ... well, I'd need a good lawyer about 30 minutes later.
I regret not spending more time with my ex-father-in-law, Joe Bendavid, after his daughter and I split up. I loved that man, and as more and more years went by after the divorce, I felt weird about calling him up. Then he died a few years ago.
I think back over my entire life, and there are moments, people and opportunities that I wished I had handled differently. You try to learn from it, be a better person and hopefully the next time handle it a little bit better. We're all human. It's all you can do.
As I reflect on these, everything I regret are instances when I didn't do something. It's not the things I did or the chances I took.
As I look back on the Vick call, I acknowledged the risk and warned this was not for the weak of heart. But based on the information I had, I felt that the potential reward outweighed the risk. So I went for it. Did I get the call wrong? Yeah. But do I regret it?
Not one damn bit.
Week 11 Players I Love
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: Finger, schminger. Stafford is stone-cold cash at home, homie. I haven't trusted a man wearing a glove since Michael Jackson wore one, which was also the last time it was acceptable to use the word "homie." But. ... He's thrown for at least four touchdowns in three of his past eight games at Ford Field, where he's averaging more than 17 points a game this year. I know some folks make a lot of Chris Gamble and the Panthers' pass defense being solid, but although they've faced Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, the rest of the quarterbacks they've seen resemble a fantasy-league waiver wire. Going backward from last week: Matt Hasselbeck, Christian Ponder, John Beck, Matt Ryan, Brees, Jay Cutler, Blaine Gabbert, Rodgers and Kevin Kolb. So we'll throw in Cutler and Ryan ... that's four good quarterbacks. Four of nine, and only two are elite. Another weird stat: The Panthers have played only three games on the road this year. Don't get cute. Start Stafford.
Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders: I suspect he'll be a popular pick this week. Ha! See what I did there? Pick? Because he throws a lot of ... oh, whatever. This kind of whimsical wordplay is lost on the likes of you. It's gold, Jerry. Gold! Anyway, despite the turnover tendencies, Palmer is averaging more than 300 yards a game in his two starts, has five scores, faces a 30th-ranked pass defense that just lost Antoine Winfield and is still available in more than 60 percent of leagues. Don't trade two first-round picks for him or anything, but he's a solid start this week with Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger on bye and Vick banged-up. If you just lost Matt Schaub, I like Palmer for the rest of the season, too.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Titans: If you're looking in the second tier, my "Fantasy Football Now" co-host's brother should be solid this week. Hasselbeck completes more than 65 percent of his passes when not under duress. Taking things to the ESPN Next Level thanks to our Stats & Information team, Hasselbeck has been sacked, hit or under duress on just 15.9 percent of drop-backs, lowest in the NFL. Only three teams in the NFL have fewer sacks than Atlanta, making "The Hass," as only I call him, a solid No. 2 this week.
If you're desperate: Alex Smith (13 points a game since the bye) should be safe at home against the Cardinals. Matt Moore should be decent at home against a Bills defense that is allowing 17 points a game to opposing quarterbacks in its past three road games. Despite Monday night's evidence to the contrary, I expect a solid game from Christian Ponder at home in what should be a shootout with the Raiders.
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders: Don't be scared of the Vikings and their top-six run defense. If you sit Bush, it's the definition of getting cute. Don't get cute. No one likes cute. Except, of course, your opponent.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: You know what has two thumbs and is not worried about Felix Jones coming back? Pretty much anyone who has seen both running backs play and also has two thumbs, that's who.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: He might end up being the death of me. True to his whack-a-mole form, Lynch was awesome last week. Shoutout to Paul Carr of ESPN Stats and Info, who tells me (yes, we whisper these kind of things to each in the back during meetings, like a couple of schoolgirls) that during the past two weeks, Seattle has run the ball 55 percent of the time, fifth-most in the NFL. Lynch has scored in five straight games (that he played in -- I can't discuss the Cleveland game), and of course, no team in the NFL is worse against the run than the St. Louis Rams.
Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins: Who knew he'd last longer as a consistent fantasy running back longer than his former girlfriend's marriage? I hate to admit it, but he's actually looked ... kinda good. He's had three scores and 242 total yards in the past three, and the Bills allow the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Per Stats LLC, Miami runs the ball the 11th-most in the NFL on first-and-10. Per ESPN Stats and Information, the Bills allow the second-most yards (6.9) per play on first down. And per my own personal research, this is the most usage of the word "per" in a player write-up since the unfortunate "DeAngelo Williams is the Perrr-fect back for Panthers" incident of 2008.
Lance Ball, RB, Broncos: If you need a flex play, the only three things I know for sure in this life are death, taxes and the Broncos are running it against the Jets. With Willis McGahee still not 100 percent, Ball should get enough work to be a solid lower-tier play.
If you're desperate: Maurice Morris will get the majority of carries, such as it is, against Carolina, which gives up the most points to opposing running backs. ... Kendall Hunter is in line for more work against Arizona with Frank Gore banged up. ... If ever there was a week for James Starks, this is it against a Tampa Bay team that is so bad against the run, it hired Albert Haynesworth to sit in the middle of the field and try to roll in the direction of running backs. ... Finally, the way you beat the Lions is by running, so DeAngelo Williams could get more work than normal this week.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: There's the thing we don't know: Is Tyler Palko any good? There's the thing we do know: The Patriots' secondary isn't. Tiebreaker goes to the likelihood that the Chiefs are going to be down big in this game, and quick.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams: I don't love Brandon Lloyd as much as Josh McDaniels does. But you wanna know something? It's close. Mmmmm, Brandon Lloyd. On the road, the Seahawks are allowing more than than 21 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens: He was a "love" last week, and that didn't work out, so you've been warned. But no Leon Hall for the Bengals, and Boldin just gets so many looks. Currently, there are only six wide receivers who have gotten more targets in the NFL, so I'm back on Anquan. On? AnqUAN. I've got dope mad rhymes, yo. What can I say? I was the illest in 1985.
Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders: You already know I like Palmer this week. Small sample size, of course, but since Palmer became the starter, only four wide receivers have more targets than Moore, only three have more yards and only two have more syllables in their first name.
Damian Williams, WR, Titans: A deeper-league play, he has at least 60 yards or a touchdown in five of the six full games since Kenny Britt went down with an injury. You know I like the Hass; the Falcons give up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers; and since the Titans' bye week, only Chris Johnson has more targets than Williams (CJ has 24, Williams has 23).
If you're desperate: I like Doug Baldwin against a bad and banged-up Rams secondary. Early Doucet now has at least seven fantasy points in five straight games, and Steve Smith (the Eagle) could get a lot of run with Maclin likely out for Sunday.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: More of a gut call than anything, but seeing how the Titans took away Steve Smith last week, I feel the Lions will try the same thing. Detroit has been great against the deep ball this year, having allowed only eight completions of 20-plus yards. The way you attack Detroit is by running the ball, so I expect a more ball-control offense, lots of runs and short passes to Olsen.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons: Has a score in back-to-back games, and only 10 teams allow more passing touchdowns inside their own 30 than the Titans. Coincidentally, only 10 players get more red zone targets than Gonzalez.
If you're desperate: Benjamin Watson will face the Jaguars, who give up the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST: Averaging more than 11 points a game in its past three games, it's available in more than 80 percent of leagues and will face the Browns, who are giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Although the Jags' secondary lost Rashean Mathis to injury, Cleveland has, frankly, and with apologies to Josh Cribbs, no explosive playmakers to take advantage of it. The Browns are also tied for the fifth-most sacks allowed.
New England Patriots D/ST: Monday night, at home, against the likes of Tyler Palko? Coming off a 17-point fantasy day against the Jets, this isn't a great NFL defense but, given the matchup, should be a solid fantasy one.
If you're desperate: The Browns' defense is averaging more than 12 fantasy points in its past two home games and now get to face Blaine Gabbert.
Week 11 Players I Hate:
Vince Young, QB, Eagles: Young split the first-team reps with Mike Kafka, but if Vick can't go Sunday night, I'm expecting Young to get the start. For the Eagles. Not for your fantasy team. With a really banged-up wide receiving corps and a road game against a Giants defense that has given up just three touchdown passes in the three games since its bye week (two of which were to Tom Brady), there are better options on your waiver wire. See Palmer, Carson.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: Very impressive young quarterback, but on the road at Baltimore? A.J. Green is banged-up, and Dalton has yet to throw for more than 250 yards in three games. You need touchdowns for his fantasy production to be start-worthy, and this week, I'm not seeing it.
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: He's averaging just 10 fantasy points a game on the road this year, and I was impressed with what I saw out of the Packers' defense Monday night. I think people see a blowout game here and lots of junk-time fantasy points for Freeman as the Bucs throw to catch up, but keep in mind that Freeman has 13 interceptions on the season (second-most in the NFL), and the Packers lead the NFL with 17 pickoffs.
I know, there aren't many quarterbacks on the hate list this week, but in a week with Brees, Schaub and Big Ben out, and Vick and even Matt Cassel (good matchup) hurt, there are very few quarterbacks to actually hate.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers: When the Bucs get down, as they have the past three weeks, they abandon the run. Just 22 total second-half rushes for Tampa Bay in the past three weeks (Thanks, ESPN Stats & Information!), so I'm probably not illin' here by saying Tampa Bay will be down in the second half.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals: To own Beanie is to hate him, you say, so what makes this week so special? The 49ers have not allowed a rushing touchdown all year. I will still be able to write that next week.
Jackie Battle, RB, Chiefs: Told you to sell high a few weeks ago. Same premise as Blount. They will be down; they will abandon the run; he's not a part of the passing game.
Roy Helu, Ryan Torain, Tashard Choice, Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan and my father for getting a job as a professor at the University of Virginia when I was a young boy, unknowingly forcing a life of Redskins fandom upon me that, after 35 years, I cannot get out of my blood no matter how much I try: The lot of 'em. Hate the lot of them this week, as my Redskins will again lose to the Dallas Cowboys, and another piece of me will die a little bit.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: One score in the past six games, no 100-yard game this season, and now he shows up on the injury report? It's a great matchup, and the Dolphins can get beat deep, so I wouldn't be shocked if Johnson had one big play, which is why I still have him inside my top 30. But hard to say top-20 given the struggles of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the lack of consistent production.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers: See Freeman, Josh. Or, just talk to a Mike Williams owner for more than three minutes. You'll see the hollow dead eyes, the lack of movement, the lethargic head swivel. Ask that owner whom he likes in fantasy baseball this year. Give him a reason to hope again.
Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: If Tim Tebow throws it, it's going to go to him, but I expect Darrelle Revis to be on him more often than not, and he's just too feast-or-famine in this matchup for me. Put it this way: Vegas set the line for Tebow at 11 pass attempts. I'm taking the under.
Dustin Keller, TE, Jets: Three fantasy points or fewer in four of his past six games; he hasn't scored since Week 2, and it's not a great matchup for him.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals: The Ravens allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Tennessee Titans D/ST: Big games in two of the past three, but they were against Indy and Carolina. On the road at Atlanta is a different story. Or maybe it's the same story but with a different ending. Or maybe it's a sequel that isn't nearly as good, like "Breakin' 2, Electric Boogaloo," which, when you think about it, answered none of the questions raised in the first "Breakin'."
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- already regrets this column. Berry is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. He is a charter member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his cyberfriend