The Talented Mr. Roto: Pickup of the Week

A time for learning.

Football teams use the preseason as a time to learn, and for fantasy analysts the process is no different. I'll get to football soon (or you can just scroll down a few paragraphs), I promise, but in the meantime, here are five things I learned about myself from the Internet.

1. "Take that, Dan Shaughnessy!"

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: I have the ninth-worst hair in sports broadcasting.

THE ACTUAL TRUTH: It's probably worse than this. That's an old picture and I have a lot less hair than when it was taken. My picture on ESPN is from the front, where you can't really tell, but if you see me on TV, you know I've got this sad little island of hair up front, shrinking by the day. The other sad part? Not only am I losing my hair, but it's turning grey. I had to dye my hair the other day. It's getting ridiculous. I'm clearly six months away from going all bald.

2. "Yeah, nice thought, but I'm just not that brainy." http://pacifistviking.blogspot.com/

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: You'll have to scroll down to the Aug. 28 post. If you do, you'll find a very smart and in-depth analysis of the hidden meanings and motivations of my recent "50 things you need to know" column, including a conclusion that I am purposely excluding homosexual men from my writing because of the dating tips I put in there (i.e., never date a woman who was a psychology major).

THE ACTUAL TRUTH: I had no intention of excluding anyone; I just don't have the first clue on how to date gay men. Happy to pass any tips along, however!

3. "At least they know I was contrite! http://thebiglead.com/?p=3071

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: There are three different posts, but basically that I brought my dog into the office, it did business all over, I did not do anything about it and I have so much power it does not matter.

THE ACTUAL TRUTH: When I moved to Connecticut with my dog Macy, I had to live at an extended-stay hotel. She's a 13-pound total girl dog and I treat her like she is my child. It's a bit sad, frankly. It was early March, still snowing outside, and they can't clean the room with the dog in there. So I couldn't just stand outside with the dog for 20 minutes, because it was freezing, and I had a ton of work still to do, so I took the dog to the office with me. It was 10 p.m. and I figured it'd be OK if I brought Macy in. She's super-friendly, doesn't bark, etc. We came in for about 20 minutes.

AND SHE DIDN'T DO ANY "BUSINESS." Look, slag me all you want. Comes with the gig. But I gotta defend my dog against slander. She's an outside "do-er." Not inside. She's a proper dog.

4. "It's not everyone at ESPN. Don't you read TheBigLead?"

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: ESPN wants to promote me.

THE ACTUAL TRUTH: ESPN likes me, yes, but they want to promote fantasy. That's what we care about here. Fantasy is very important to ESPN. The people who run the company, as in, the boss of my boss? Longtime fantasy player. ESPN gets it. And bringing in me and the team from Talented Mr. Roto is one of the ways we're going to take fantasy to the next level. You've no doubt seen some changes, and we haven't even scratched the surface yet. If you play fantasy, you're gonna love ESPN.

5. "The Sports Gal and I have something in common."

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: Bill Simmons calls out my fantasy prowess.

THE ACTUAL TRUTH: Bill and I play together in a 10-team baseball keeper league. He's won it the past two years. This year, I joined. This year? I'm in second. He's in seventh. Check it out ... he's the MegaPowers. I'm Danni's Boys, a nod to my former "Fantasy Show" mate Danni Boatwright. That's what she calls her teams.


Every week, this column will normally appear on Tuesdays, and for those new to the rodeo, it's the same column I have been writing for years. My version of a free-agent pickup column. Guys to grab, working the wire, we call it the Talented Mr. Roto, because, well, that's my name and I am nothing if not an egoist.

With the season just days away, here are five guys whose value has risen and, if you need help, you should grab and stash.

Jacoby Jones, wide receiver, Texans: You know what Michael Clayton, Anquan Boldin and Marques Colston all have in common? Correct, they are the only three rookie wideouts over the past five years to have at least 1,000 yards receiving. Yet they were largely undrafted in fantasy and were not the "sexy rookie" everyone was talking about. I know, Calvin Johnson is all that and a bag of low-fat fruit strips. But if you ask me who has the better numbers at the end of this year, don't be surprised if it's Jones, who also plays in a offense that will be behind and that has no true No. 2 opposite Andre Johnson; plus, Jones had four touchdowns in the preseason.

David Garrard, quarterback, Jaguars: Everyone says so what, but I actually like Garrard. First, he reminds me of Gil Gerard, who played Buck Rogers. Speaking of which, next season on "Flavor of Love," I demand Flavor Flav wear Dr. Theopolis. Garrard is also a mobile quarterback who was third in the NFL in rushing among quarterbacks last year. My colleague, Nate Ravitz, had an excellent spin on this; the gist is that I think he'll run for 400 yards this season, which, using ESPN standard scoring, is the same as 1,000 yards passing. If he throws for 2,500 yards (very doable), runs for 400, passes for 20 touchdowns and runs four in, that's 144 fantasy points. And that puts him in the Alex Smith category from last season. A very useful backup.

Marcel Shipp, running back, Cardinals: I'm not gonna lie. I've never been a big Edgerrin James fan ... and without the gold teeth? Even less so. He's terrible on the goal line (he was 2-of-8 from inside the 3-yard line last season), and Shipp averaged 4.5 yards per carry this preseason. I say he vultures at least five touchdowns this season.

Heath Evans, running back, Patriots: Speaking of touchdown vultures, Evans very quietly was tied for the league lead in preseason touchdowns with four. Now, preseason means nothing, mostly, but Evans had four scores on just 32 touches in four preseason games, and I know if something happens to Maroney they're not giving it to Kevin Faulk from the 1. The Patriots scored 20 rushing touchdowns last season. Even if Maroney has an amazing year and gets 14, Evans could very easily get four, and it's worth a roster spot to find out, no?

Heath Miller, tight end, Steelers: I wrote about him in one of my "player tracker" columns, but he had 53 yards on three catches in the preseason (most of them in one game, when he caught two for 50). Big Ben is healthy, I am high on the entire Steelers offense, and folks forget that Miller had five touchdowns last season, the same amount as Tony Gonzalez.