The first thing you should know about my friend Jenny is that her real name isn't Jenny.
You'll soon see why I changed her name, because the rest of the story is 100 percent true.
Back when I lived in Los Angeles, Jenny was introduced to me by a mutual friend. Starting with a common love of, and later frustration with, the Lakers, Jenny and I found we had a lot in common and quickly became good friends. She looks like your typical thin California beach blonde, which throws off a lot of people who play into the stereotype, because she's whip-smart, knows more about sports than almost anyone I know, has a great sense of humor, is super laid-back and is just one of the all-time great "hangs." You'll pardon the expression, but she's the very definition of "a cool chick."
The story starts with a catch-up phone call I was having with her. After asking how my wife and kids were and exchanging updates on our jobs, Jenny drops the big headline. She and Phil (also not a real name) have broken up. They'd been living together for four years, so I was shocked they had called it quits and asked why they had split up, how it had all happened and who got custody of the cat.
Turns out it had happened a few months ago, so she had started getting out there on the dating scene for the first time in a number of years. "How's it been going?" I asked.
"Been interesting. Have gone out on dates with everyone from nerdy guys five years younger than me to Studs McAthlete."
I'm sure you could have figured it out yourself, but "Studs McAthlete" is another name change. The guy in question is a super-famous former professional, a household name, controversial and talented athlete who has Hall of Fame-level credentials, single, between the age of 40-50. Depending on which fantasy sport you play, you definitely owned this guy at one point and spent a fairly high draft pick on him. For our story purposes, we'll call him Studs.
"Wait. The Studs McAthlete?"
"Yep. I know! Crazy right?"
"How'd you meet him?"
"Met him at work, he asked for my number, I gave it to him." (Jenny works at a well-known media company in L.A.) "I mean, what the hell, right?"
"That's hilarious. So you went on a date with Studs?"
"A few in fact. Five, I think."
"Wait, you're dating Studs??? Way to bury the headline, Jenny."
"OK, I know. It's just so ridiculous. And whatever. There's no future there."
"Why not? You never know."
"Well for one, he's stupid. I mean, like really dumb. And he doesn't really watch sports, which I thought was weird. Like I'll bring up something from a game the other night and he'll have no idea what I'm talking about. I can't be with someone that doesn't love sports."
I know. I told you. Jenny is super cool.
"No, I know some former professionals who never watch games once they are done. But yeah, knowing you, that would drive you nuts," I said.
Having lived in L.A. for a long time, Jenny is not impressed by money or celebrity, couldn't care less about either. So I asked, "Why are you hanging out with him, then?"
"Well, he's really nice. He's chill and not in my business all the time. And we actually do have fun together."
"Have you hooked up with him yet?"
"Seriously. Nothing. Just hanging out. We have dinner and watch movies. That's it."
"Has he made a move, or does he just want to be friends?"
"No, he's tried, but I say no and he doesn't push it."
"Five dates, huh? Wow, he's putting the work in."
"He really is."
"So what's the issue?"
"I told you. There's no future there. I'm not marrying this guy."
"Of course not. But you just got out of a five-year relationship. You just told me you're not looking for anything serious right now, right?"
"No, not at all. I definitely want to be single for a while."
"Are you attracted to him?"
"Then this is actually perfect for you right now. What's the issue?"
"I don't know. I don't want to lead him on."
I literally laughed out loud. "Look, Jenny, I adore you. You know this. You're a great girl. But he's a world-famous multimillionaire who has been single his entire life for a reason. I'm pretty sure he's not looking to settle down anytime soon, and I'm positive it's not with you after five dates, wonderful though you are."
"Hmmm," is all she could reply, pensively.
"I love that your ego is worried about leading him on, I think you're safe there, but you know what? Just go to him and say you know, hey, I like you, but I just got out of a long-term relationship and don't want anything serious. If we can keep things casual, great, let's keep hanging out. But if you want something more serious, we should just remain friends. And see what he says. I will bet you anything you want he says he's OK with keeping it casual. And if he isn't, then you know. Communication is never a bad thing."
"Should I say it? Or should I text it? I don't know."
"Either. It doesn't matter. Tell me when I say something false. You're both adults, you're both single, you're both attracted to each other, he's made moves, and having listened to your dating adventures for a decade now, I know you really like hooking up. Stop overthinking this and have some fun."
"Huh. I hadn't really thought about it like that."
Six hours later, I get a text from her.
"Done. Fantastic!! Thanks for the advice ..."
OK, so I had a lot of reactions to this story, but the three big takeaways for me were:
1. I'll never understand the thought process of women.
2. I can't believe I had to anonymously wingman for a world-famous millionaire athlete. This dude owes and has no idea.
3. People overthink things way too much. They do it in dating. They do in life. And they definitely do it in fantasy football.
I'm guilty of throwing a lot of stats out there, and there's no doubt you can gain an edge with stats and scouting and film work and insider knowledge from team sources and beat reporters. There's no doubt. But in a lot of cases, it's not that tough.
Got this question on Twitter today: "Thoughts on Kendall Wright or Brandon Marshall at WR for my @espn fantasy team this week?"
Not trying to pick on any one question, but this is a classic example. Yes, Wright had two scores last week and has a nice matchup with Jacksonville. Certainly he could have a better day than Marshall. He did last week, as it's been a quite few weeks for Marshall. But come on: better quarterback, better player ... this isn't even close. I have Marshall as a clear top-10 play this week at Atlanta and Wright as a top-30ish wide receiver, depending on who is at QB for the Titans. This is overthinking things.
I see it on Twitter and Facebook all the time. From friends who text me or readers asking. People overthinking, second-guessing themselves, playing low-percentage odds because of a recency bias or because they've thought so much they can't see straight. It's paralysis by analysis.
What's the most obvious answer is often the correct one. We're five weeks in. Time to accept what Larry Fitzgerald is at this point. That the running back situation in places like Baltimore is going to continue to be a mess. That you're not starting Eli Manning over Andrew Luck. I love Eli this week, have him as a top-10 play, but I just don't see a scenario where you are benching Andrew Luck. Back and forth we go, studying everything, overanalyzing. Stop overthinking. Again, the obvious answer is most often the correct one. In fantasy football and in life.
Play the odds, put ourselves in the best position to succeed, and hope for the best. Because when you overthink, that's when you've already lost. Or are not having fun on a date.
Before we get into Love/Hate, I just want to mention that if you're curious as to why I tend to avoid team names in this column, I wrote about my conflicted feelings as a fan of Washington earlier this week.
And a huge shout-out to Zach Rodgers and all the mystery-solving kids from ESPN Stats & Information for their help with this column and every Love/Hate, whether I mention them or not. Let's get to it.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 6
Peyton Manning, Denver: The most obvious of obvious names, I just wanted to put him in here to give a salute. My colleague Tristan H. Cockcroft noted in his Monday Fantasy Fallout column that Manning passed Brett Favre for the most career fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring in Week 2 of this season. As more people are playing with decimal scoring these days, he still has yet to pass Favre in that scoring system. That could change Sunday, though. With 12 more fantasy points, Manning will pass Favre for the most fantasy points of all time (or at least, since the merger in 1970), pretty much regardless of your scoring system, and it looks like it will be a long time before anyone catches him. Here's the all-time top five in fantasy points in decimal scoring:
Brett Favre, ATL/GB/MIN/NYJ: 4,371.2
Peyton Manning, IND/DEN: 4,360.2*
Dan Marino, MIA: 3,594.5
Jerry Rice, SF/OAK/SEA: 3,581.8
Drew Brees, SD/NO: 3,321.4
*Entering Week 6
So a tip of the cap and a doff of the mobile app to Peyton Manning, who continues to crush and add to his legendary career.
Jay Cutler, Chicago: Yes, he's locked into your lineup these days, but on the road at Atlanta, I have him second overall. With at least two scores in every game, Cutler has 12 touchdown passes this season. Eleven of them have come when he's not under pressure. Which makes sense -- most QBs are better when not under pressure, but Cutler significantly so. Well, the Falcons pressure quarterbacks on 17 percent of their dropbacks, the lowest rate in the league. Giving up 260 passing yards a game, 24th most in the NFL, this should be a high-scoring game. Who led your team to victory, you'll be asked next week? Why, the Cutler Did It! ... Move along. Nothing to see here. Keep moving. OK, that's enough. Nothing to see.
Eli Manning, New York: Andrew Luck. Aaron Rodgers. Philip Rivers. Over the past four games, those are the only quarterbacks with more fantasy points than Eli Manning. Surprised? The Eagles aren't. He usually lights them up. Last 10 times against the Eagles, Eli has averaged 266.4 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game. Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, the Eagles have allowed the most passing touchdowns this season. As the kids say: Bet the over.
Carson Palmer, Arizona: Forget about the neck and concentrate on Washington! If he starts, I like him against Washington, because I like anyone against Washington. Even you.
If you're desperate: Andy Dalton usually plays well at home, averaging almost 250 yards and over two touchdowns a game, and Carolina hasn't been Carolina for a while, tied for the fifth-most passing touchdowns allowed this season. ... Eli and Dalton in the love section; what is the world coming to? Next I'll be recommending Brian Hoyer. Well, now that you mention it, this is the "desperate" section, and I will say that Hoyer is averaging 18 points the last two weeks, playing well and has a legit run game to set up the pass. Next up for him is Pittsburgh, and throwing out the Jacksonville game, the Steelers have given up over 15 points a game to opposing QBs.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 6
Tom Brady, New England: Really, Berry? Back for more after last week? And the answer is yeah, I am. No doubt, he looked great last Sunday night. He's also played five games this season, and four of them have been terrible. Need to see it again before he makes it back to my top 10, and I don't that happens against the Bills. Last three games against Buffalo, Brady has been limited to 13.3 fantasy points per game. Also, we've seen how Brady struggles with pressure in the pocket. In fact, he's completing just 39 percent of his passes under pressure this season, 25th among 33 qualified quarterbacks. No team has more sacks this season than ... the Buffalo Bills.
Cam Newton, Carolina: Still not running, he's averaging 13.8 fantasy points per game. You know who else is averaging 13.8 fantasy points a game (with at least three games played this season)? E.J. Manuel. That's what we are currently talking about. He'll get healthier and have a nice second half, I believe, but this week, I'm not a fan. After being embarrassed on Sunday night, I like the Bengals to come out fired up. The Bengals -- even after last week -- still give up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs.
Tony Romo, Dallas: On the road at Seattle in a run-first offense. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true.
Running backs I love in Week 6
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati: And now, an actual transcript from inside Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's mind: "Hmm. A.J. Green is banged up. But luckily, the Panthers are giving up the most yards per carry in the NFL this year (5.4). My good pal Matthew Berry owns Giovani Bernard in the War Room league and has a tough matchup this week. I think I will run Giovani hard in this game to great success. It's the least I could do after Matthew saved my life by donating his kidney to me. I love that Matthew Berry. He's really a great American. I will do this for him. Yes. All Gio all the time. That is what I will do. Now that our game plan is settled, what is for lunch?"
Andre Williams, New York: Twelve, count 'em, 12 red zone rushes for Andre Williams the past two weeks, three more than any other player during that span. Scored in each game as well, now has job to himself after the injury to Rashad Jennings, and gets an Eagles team that has given up 18 points a game to opposing running backs in every non-Jacksonville game.
Ben Tate, Cleveland: Hey, he's healthy now! Small sample size caveats and all that, but he is averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Browns ran for almost 200 yards and two scores the first time they played Pittsburgh and will be able to run on them again.
Branden Oliver, San Diego: Make no mistake, you've seen Branden Oliver's best game this season, but with no Donald Brown or Ryan Mathews expected in the lineup this weekend, he'll have pretty good success against an Oakland team giving up the second-most rushing yards per game.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis: Nineteen touches last week to Trent Richardson's 13, the Colts are finally realizing what fantasy owners have been screaming about for quite some time. He's by far the better back for this offense. Averaging 5.1 yards per carry, expect another 18 touches or so against a Texans team giving up the fourth-most rushing yards this season.
If you're desperate: The return of Knowshon Moreno isn't ideal, of course, but I do believe this team will be able to run effectively, and both backs, especially Lamar Miller, will have flex-worthy numbers with No. 2 running back upside against a Packers team that has given up the most rushing yards in the NFL. ... As you gleaned from the Tom Brady write-up, I expect a tough matchup for New England against Buffalo. However, the Bills are tied for the sixth-most receptions and tied for the fifth-most receiving yards allowed to opposing running backs, making Shane Vereen an interesting flex play this week. ... If ever there was a week to use Steven Jackson, it's this one: at home against Chicago. ... Because I declared last week to be Bishop Sankey's coming-out party, you know this will be the week he goes off. Playing Jacksonville this week doesn't hurt. ... More of a "stash" than a "play," but in super-deep leagues, since you can run on Tennessee, Storm Johnson seems to be the most productive of the Jags' running backs, in a very small sample size.
Running backs I hate in Week 6
Matt Asiata, Minnesota: It's only a matter of time, and Asiata's fumble last week didn't help matters. Asiata is averaging 3.7 yards per carry, Jerick McKinnon averages 5.5 yards. Whether McKinnon takes over for a lesser Asiata remains to be seen, but I don't love facing a Lions team giving up the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game this season.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis: Has exceeded 12 carries in a game just once this season, against Tampa Bay, and has averaged more than four yards a carry in only one game, against Dallas. Now, he's been part of the pass game more than originally expected, but I still don't totally trust that, especially as he may still be a bit banged up, meaning you could see a little more Cunningham in this game. San Fran gives up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and it's not like they did it against the Jags. Matt Forte had one point against them. LeSean McCoy had one. Andre Ellington had seven, Jamaal Charles had eight. Only DeMarco Murray, in Week 1, had success, and he needed 25 touches to get to 17 points.
Ronnie Hillman, Denver: Let's keep in mind that so far, the "DEN RB" has not had a lot of success in general. And since entering the league in 2012, Hillman has averaged 3.9 yards per carry, which would put him just ahead of Shonn Greene at 33rd among 42 qualified running backs during that span. There was one run inside an opponent's 10-yard line last week, and that went to Juwan Thompson. For all that is wrong with the Jets, they've allowed the fifth-fewest yards per carry this season. Until we see it for a full game and know for sure Hillman is the guy, I'm not ready to trust it.
Wide receivers I love in Week 6:
Golden Tate, Detroit: Three guys. That's it. Three guys have at least five receptions and 50 yards in five straight games this season. Julio Jones. Antonio Brown. And Golden Tate. Dude has 250 receiving yards the last two weeks with Calvin Johnson banged up, and while his decoyness, which is too a word, will be missed, Tate should get plenty of love against a Vikings squad that is tied for the second-most touchdowns allowed to opposing wide receivers.
Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz, New York: Randle currently leads the NFL in red zone targets and has four scores in the two full games he's played against Philly. Cruz has five scores and averages 88 yards a game in the six contests he's played Philly. And, ahem, as you may have heard, the Eagles' secondary has struggled, allowing the most touchdowns and fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay: You know who loves him some V-Jax? Mike Glennon loves him some V-Jax. Big numbers with him last year; Jackson is averaging 16 yards per reception with Glennon under center compared with 10.2 in his first three games. Only the Texans have allowed more receptions to opposing wide receivers than the Baltimore Ravens.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis: Ranking in the top 10 in both receptions and receiving yards among wide receivers, he's been much more of a target monster than you would have thought before the season started. Julio Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jeremy Maclin and Antonio Brown are the only guys targeted more this season, and last year, he torched the Texans. Feel he does so again Thursday night.
If you're desperate: Mohamed Sanu just got a lot more interesting with the A.J. Green news, no? Worth noting he averages 8.8 yards after the catch per reception, fourth most among qualified wide receivers. Panthers allowing the seventh-most yards after the catch this season. ... There was a Kendall Wright sighting last week! Very exciting. And now, you know, Jacksonville. ... Feel like we'll see some nice garbage-time production from James Jones this week.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 6
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco: His targets, receptions and yards have all decreased each of the past three weeks. That is what we in the business call "trending in the wrong direction." Three games with four fantasy points or fewer, including the past two, consistent usage isn't there and the way you attack the Rams is running the ball, not throwing a lot. With so many weapons for Colin Kaepernick, hard to trust Crabtree as a top-20 guy this week.
Keenan Allen, San Diego: Easily the call that could blow up the loudest in my face, as this is a great matchup for Allen. But so were the Jets last week. And so was Buffalo. He went nuts against Jacksonville, but in four other games this season, he has five points or fewer. Take out the Jags game, and he has fewer targets than Eddie Royal this year and the same as Antonio Gates. They don't scheme for one particular player in San Diego's offense. Philip Rivers just gets the ball to whoever is open, and for whatever reason, the ball isn't consistently getting to Allen. Royal and Malcom Floyd (not to mention Gates) all have more points this year among Chargers pass-catchers, and with Rivers spreading the ball around so much (not to mention they could easily run the ball a lot in the second half), I have Allen outside my top 20.
Eric Decker, New York: Still banged up (was limited in practice on Wednesday), very shaky QB play, and the Broncos definitely don't want to be shown up that they made a mistake in letting him go. Lots of risk here in a week when there are a lot of decent options. Not a top-20 play for me.
Tight ends I love in Week 6
Jordan Reed, Washington: "I believe in the soul, the small of a woman's back, the hanging curveball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days." I also believe this is the week that Jordan Reed plays the entire game, and I know the Cardinals allow the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
Larry Donnell, New York: Feel free to get nervous. I'm apparently all-in on the Giants' offense in this game. Ignore last week's game and realize that even with last week, dude still leads all tight ends with 10 red zone targets.
If you're desperate: As our player card notes, Owen Daniels has seen at least six targets in consecutive games and now gets a Buccaneers defense that's allowed the second-most yards to tight ends. ... With Calvin Johnson not expected to play, I could see Eric Ebron getting some more looks against the Vikings. ... Dwayne Allen is touchdown-dependent, but then again, aren't we all?
Tight ends I hate in Week 6
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia: Has the same amount of red zone targets as Brent Celek, which is tied for fourth on the team, and when they are looking his way, he's struggling some, as he's caught just 64 percent of his targets this season, 25th out of 32 qualified tight ends. Not a top-10 play for me this week.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco: Banged up, Davis hasn't seen a red zone target since Week 1, and with this being the Monday night game, hard to start, especially if there's any question he might miss the game.
Defenses I love in Week 6
Detroit Lions: Yes, Teddy Bridgewater played well against Atlanta, but he's still a rookie, and the Lions are playing that rare mix of great real defense and great fantasy defense, tied for the third-most fantasy points among defenses.
Tennessee Titans: Jacksonville has allowed 75 fantasy points to opposing defenses this season, 21 more than the next-closest team.
Cincinnati Bengals: Like the Patriots Sunday night, this week it's the Bengals' turn to be embarrassed and redeem themselves after getting gashed on national TV.
If you're desperate: As noted in the Tom Brady paragraph, the Buffalo Bills always play New England tough, and they are currently a top-five fantasy defense.
Defenses I hate in Week 6
Carolina Panthers: If A.J. Green doesn't play, that certainly helps here, but the Panthers have allowed at least 24 points in three straight games, and I don't expect Dalton to gift Carolina with turnovers the way Cutler did. When playing in Cincy, opposing fantasy defenses have averaged just 2.7 points since the start of last season.
St. Louis Rams: They have just one sack, they can't stop the run, so I just don't see how they generate a lot of points in this one, as I expect S.F. to dominate time of possession and just ram it down their throats.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- sometimes thinks that if someone asks if they should bench Peyton for Eli, they deserve to be told yes. 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. You may also have heard: He has written a book.