I played tennis as a child.
From the time I was 10 until I was 18, I played tennis almost every day of my life. I traveled all over Texas, went to special camps, was obsessed with it.
And it paid off, as, believe it or not, I was actually fantastic at tennis, making the state rankings in the 14-and-under and a 16-and-under divisions. (Texas is one of the most competitive states for junior tennis because of its size and the fact that kids can play year-round.) I won district singles as a freshman in high school, went to the state finals, won lots of awards and tournaments -- the whole thing.
And I think it's very telling what kind of player I was: consistent, if you're being kind; a "pusher" if you're not. Either way, it was super-annoying to play me. I was not overpowering at all. I probably hit fewer than 10 winners a match. But what I did was get to everything. No matter where you hit it, I got to it and hit it back. You hit it 22 times, I hit it 23. You hit it 23, I hit it 24.
I just "pushed" the ball back. Nothing flashy, no amazing shots, I just got to everything and put the ball back in play. Then my opponent would get frustrated, go for a winner, take a further angle because I kept getting to everything and it would go out. Point me.
Every time, kids would walk off the court, wondering how they lost to me, feeling deep in their heart that they knew they could beat me, because I didn't have any amazing shots or a powerful serve. They beat themselves, they would think. And they'd be sort of right, but mostly wrong, not realizing that was the idea. Because I did have one pretty powerful talent that few people have, and that's what would beat them.
When necessary, I am tremendously patient. I can wait out anything. It goes hand in hand with stubbornness, that willingness to not give up, to not say, "screw this, I'm out of here," to go for something and not bail if it doesn't happen right then and there. My career is one long testament to patience and stubbornness, not necessarily in that order.
I bring this up because I can't tell you how many panicked emails, tweets and Facebook posts I get these days. I hear you, C.J. Anderson owners. I feel your pain, Andrew Luck drafters. Right there with you, Sam Bradford believers.
It's been a weird first two weeks of the season, and I completely understand the desire and impetus to want to blow up your team. But I asked my friend John Parolin of ESPN Stats & Information to look some folks up, and he responded with what I thought was a pretty useful chart. I posted it on Instagram, but wanted to post it here as well and discuss. (I'm just starting to use Instagram more. I enjoy it, but seriously people, what's with all the food pictures? That and Snapchat. I'm on both and half of it seems to just be food. What am I missing?).
Here's a chart from a year ago. It's a list of players after Week 2 last season, how many fantasy points they had, where they ranked at their positions and where they finished for the season at their positions.
All of these players were outside the top 20 after two weeks but finished the season in the top 10:
I think that's a pretty telling chart. We play a weekly game. Remember that. Ultimately, I believe players will do what they are supposed to. Yes, there will be some big busts this season and others who simply underperform, but it's too early to say who they are.
After Week 4, you'll have a better idea, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least somewhat concerned with Andre Johnson and the entire Eagles offense. I was down on Drew Brees in the preseason, so I'm not shocked by his slow start. But I definitely expected better out of Lamar Miller, Jeremy Maclin and Greg Olsen. So ultimately, I am doing one of the things I do best: nothing.
Patience, gentle reader, tough as it may be. Better days are ahead for Andrew Luck, Jeremy Hill, Peyton Manning and C.J. Anderson (this week, I think!). Same for Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham in Seattle, along with Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans and Jonathan Stewart. I'm hanging tough with the Eagles, Broncos and Dolphins.
I understand the urge. I feel the pain and anxiety. But ask anyone who traded Eddie Lacy or Jamaal Charles early last season if they regret it. Often, the best move is not to make one at all. Just let your opponent get impatient and beat himself/herself.
As we wander into this week's Love/Hate, I also just wanted to say thank you for the overwhelmingly kind notes, tweets, Facebook posts and more regarding last week's column. There were too many to reply to all, but I read every one and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write. Your support means a lot to me.
Here's a deal for you: I'll keep the long-winded explanation about how Love/Hate isn't a pure start/sit column to myself, if you promise that if you have a start/sit question, you'll simply consult my flex rankings instead of basing it on whether a player is a "Love" or "Hate" this week.
As always, thanks to the patient researchers in ESPN Stats & Information for their help. Now, let's get to it.
Quarterbacks I love in Week 3
Carson Palmer, Cardinals: In the preseason, I was asked a lot about Tom Brady. It's weird, because we don't really talk about the Patriots here at ESPN, but sure enough I got a lot of Brady questions. Prior to his suspension being lifted, I mentioned how I would love getting Brady late and then pairing him with a QB like Palmer (or, ahem, Sam Bradford). I loved Palmer, but even I didn't think that through two weeks he'd be tied with Brady for the league lead with seven TD passes. No, the 49ers aren't as bad as the Bears, but still, they allowed 369 yards and three TDs to Big Ben last week, and on the season they've allowed opponents to complete 74.6 percent of passes, the third-highest rate in the league. Wherever you land on the 49ers this season, I think we can all agree they were a better defense in 2013 when Palmer averaged 352.5 pass yards and two TDs in two games against them. If you remove the Rams game in which he got hurt last season, Palmer has now thrown for multiple touchdowns in all seven games since the start of last season. Sunday will be No. 8.
Cam Newton, Panthers: I know, I know, Cam has been on the hate list a lot recently through no fault of his own. So why the change to love? Because on the short list of things worse than Cam's receiving corps is a Rob Ryan defense. The Saints are one of four teams without an interception this season. Since the start of last season, they've also allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, including four rushing scores to opposing QBs, which is tied for the second most in the NFL. It's not all dire for the Saints' defense. They do pressure the QB. I mean, they have three whopping sacks this season, tied for 21st in the NFL. Seriously, I love the dad, I love Rex, I even love the hair and the attitude. Rob Ryan seems like an awesome dude to have a beer with, but man, do his defenses not show up. On the road in Carolina, with a struggling offense failing them with field position, Sunday will be the same, leaving Cam to keep the Play60 kid on the bench at least one more week.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills: Wave your hands in the air as if you do actually care if you had him as a top-five fantasy QB through two weeks. I mean, I liked him a lot as a flyer in the preseason, and he's been on the "Love" list every single week (including preseason), but even I didn't expect this (especially since he didn't face a Rob Ryan defense in those first games, either). The running helps, of course, but dude is actually completing 75 percent of his passes (fourth highest, better than Brady, Ben or Russell Wilson among others), and it's not all dink and dunk, as his 8.92 yards per attempt is also fourth best. It's his first road start and it's in Miami, so I don't love the matchup, but at least 40 yards rushing in two straight keeps the floor reasonably high, and the Dolphins just got lit up by Blake Bortles, so it's not like they've lived up to expectations, either. I love me some Tyrod Taylor, who is now a legit starting QB in 12-team or deeper leagues.
If you're desperate: Among the things Nick Foles and the Steelers have in common? Neither have any interceptions. Pittsburgh is 27th against the pass through two weeks, and only one QB has thrown a higher percentage of his passes 20-plus yards downfield with a higher success rate than Foles. ... One good game, one bad for Colin Kaepernick, the key so far has been can we get him to junk time? If they're up, they're running. Behind and he's throwing. I believe they will be behind against Arizona; make Colin a top-15 play this week.
The price is right: Other than the guys listed above, this may be a week to consider the high-priced guys. Tom Brady is just the third-highest-priced guy on DraftKings and is at home against Jacksonville as the 2015 Gronk You Tour rolls on. ...The Colts are 0-2 and on the road against a divisional opponent. Sound familiar? It should. In the exact same spot last season (Week 3, Colts 0-2, on road at the Jags), Luck threw for 370 yards and four scores. His ownership won't be high in tournaments, either. ... Death. Taxes. Aaron Rodgers at home. There's little in the crazy world you can count on, but Rodgers at home on Monday night is one of them.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 3
Drew Brees, Saints I wanna give some props to Ed Werder here. There were a lot of initial reports out there that Brees was likely going to miss "several weeks," but the excellent Werder reported Brees said there was a "reasonable possibility" he overcomes the rotator cuff injury and plays this week. Just the fact this is even a possibility is impressive. It underscores an important lesson in fantasy: never overreact until you have facts confirmed. Meanwhile, I don't know if he'll play for the Saints, I just know he's not playing for me. Brees has traditionally struggled when playing outdoors (and that's when he's healthy), especially in Carolina. You have to go back to 2011 to find a game at the Panthers where Drew Brees threw more than one touchdown pass. In fact, 2007 was the only time he has thrown more than two touchdown passes there. So far this season, Carolina is no joke: Being the second-best scoring defense through two games (against Houston and Jacksonville, but still), there's nothing about this situation that can give you any confidence at all.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: Stafford is another banged-up guy going against an elite defense, as the Broncos have yet to give up a touchdown pass this season. Coming off the Thursday night game with extra time to prepare, the Broncos' four INTs this season are tied for the most in the NFL, and man, can they pressure the QB. My guess is Stafford starts this game, but I'm not super confident he finishes it.
Andy Dalton, Bengals: A popular pickup this week for Romo, Brees and Stafford owners, he's not the droid you are looking for. We discussed this on Fantasy Football Kickoff (3 p.m. ET every Tuesday on ESPN and the WatchESPN app, don'tcha know), but Dalton's upcoming schedule is not kind, including this week when he faces a Ravens defense he has just four touchdowns and seven interceptions against in four road games. I tend to believe things ultimately return to the mean, which means I don't think the Ravens are as bad as they showed in Oakland or that Bad Andy no longer exists. He hasn't shown up yet, but he will.
Sam Bradford, Eagles: Yeesh. I was banging the drum for him and the Eagles as hard as anyone this preseason and so far ... well, quick, look at that Tyrod Taylor recommendation! Don't look here! Ooh, over there! Something shiny! (Did I distract you? No? Ergh. OK.) Look, just like I spoke about in the open, ultimately I still believe in Chip Kelly, and at the end of the season, Bradford will be among the league leaders. But this week? On the road at the Jets with DeMarco Murray questionable, a still-figuring-it- out offensive line and a Jets defense that is rolling on an all-time high? Oofa. For his career, Bradford has completed 28.3 percent of his passes when under pressure, the worst in the NFL among qualified QBs in that span (league average is 41 percent). Meanwhile, the Jets have put opposing QBs under pressure 29 percent of the time since the start of last season, third most in the league. If they can get to Andrew Luck on the road, they can definitely get to Sam Bradford at home. I'll be right on Bradford soon, but not this week. Sorry. Yeesh.
Running backs I love in Week 3
Latavius Murray, Raiders: A Latavius for the rest of us! Top 15 in the NFL in offensive touches so far this season, he's a true three-down back, and in today's NFL, that's kind of a big deal. He has many leather-bound helmets and his locker smells of rich mahogany. Also, he's playing Cleveland, the worst rushing defense in the NFL so far, which has also allowed the most rushing yards after contact this season. Mr. Murray currently is ninth in the NFL in rushing yards after contact.
Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar, Cowboys: What are the Cowboys going to do, let Brandon Weeden throw it? Exactly. Run, run some more and then maybe a short swing pass to Dunbar. That's Dallas' offense these days, and this Sunday, I think it'll work, at least as far as these guys' fantasy value is concerned. Randle is currently getting 67 percent of the running back rushes, and very quietly, Dunbar has 115 receiving yards this season, second most in the league among RBs. Since the start of last season, the Falcons have allowed three more rushing TDs than any other team, the most PPR fantasy points to opposing RBs, and the second most in standard leagues. Just this season they have allowed the most receptions (24) and receiving yards (199) to opposing RBs.
C.J. Anderson, Broncos: I know. I know. I know, OK? I know. Calm down. He has not been fun to own this year, no doubt. He's also playing behind a terrible line, has faced two good defenses and in the latest game he played hurt on a short week. But I'm going back to the well this week, keeping the faith. With a longer week for the Broncos to fix what's wrong with the offense, I expect them to go at least a little more shotgun this week, if not a lot of the time. That should help open the offense for Peyton Manning, which should then create running lanes for Anderson. You can't ask for a better matchup. The Lions have allowed 147 rushing yards per game and four rushing touchdowns in two games, the most in the NFL.
Mark Ingram, Saints: What are they gonna do, let Brees throw it? I'll take sentences I never thought I'd write for a gabillion, Alex. But with Brees banged up, the Saints on the road and a guy in Ingram who has a rushing touchdown in four of his past five games, I expect a heavy workload for the New Orleans back, keeping his floor high.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: In the same game, Stewart is averaging more than five yards a carry against the Saints for his career. Meanwhile, Rob Ryan's defense has allowed opposing RBs at least 105 rushing yards in seven of its past 10 games while giving up nine rushing TDs during that stretch.
If you're desperate: I'm always nervous going back to the same Patriots running back, but Dion Lewis has the most receiving yards among running backs this season and faces a Jags team that is second in running back receptions allowed since the start of last season. And, of course the Patriots are throwing it more than 73 percent of the time on the "Gronk You Tour." Speaking of teams that give up a lot of receptions to running backs, Denver gave up the most last season. Given the secondary and the pass rush of the Broncos, I could see a lot of dump-offs to Ameer Abdullah. The Colts are traveling on a short week, are banged up on defense and aren't great against the run to begin with, making Bishop Sankey a flex play consideration. Finally, I ranked Alfred Morris above Matt Jones for this week (by two spots) because I know Morris is guaranteed touches. But as I've been saying all preseason, Jones is too talented to keep off the field. Until we see consistent usage from Jones, especially in a game in which Washington is trailing, he's just a flex with upside, but man do I love this kid. I have him in all but two leagues and was a few picks away from getting him in all of them. Special talent.
The price is right: In addition to the guys mentioned above, if DeMarco Murray were to miss the game -- he left practice early on Wednesday -- Ryan Mathews would be interesting to me, and he's dirt cheap in DFS (just $3,300 on DraftKings). Count me among the folks who think Frank Gore bounces back this week, and he's not expensive after a slow start. T.J. Yeldon is also priced fairly low. He is sixth in the NFL in rushing attempts, and the Patriots do allow 5.7 yards per rush this season, worst in the NFL. If you want to go big, Marshawn Lynch will have a huge game at home this week against a Bears team that should leave Seattle in very good field position for much of the game.
Running backs I hate in Week 3
Devonta Freeman, Falcons: He's gonna be the lead running back for Atlanta, but does it really matter? The Cowboys rank third in fewest rushing yards allowed since Week 9 of last season, and have allowed the fewest yards in the league this season, both in total and per carry. Meanwhile, the Falcons rank third in passing yards this season. There's always a chance Freeman catches a lot of balls in this one -- I don't hate him in PPR -- but for a runner who rarely goes up the middle, I can't see him as a top-20 back this week.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals: I'm not buying last week. Oh, I think he's talented, but Jeremy Hill will get the majority of work here. Traditionally this has not been a great game for Bernard. In four career games against the Ravens, Bernard has one rushing TD and has averaged just 43.3 rushing yards on 14.3 carries. Playing at home, I see the Ravens' defense playing much better than it did last week. Incidentally, the Ravens have allowed the fewest fantasy points to RBs in PPR leagues since the start of last season. And while I can't imagine benching Jeremy Hill this week, I'd lower expectations there, too, and look elsewhere in daily. In their past five games against Baltimore, Bengals running backs have averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. The Ravens basically try to make Andy Dalton beat them (Dalton has averaged 43 pass attempts a game against Baltimore in his career; it's 32 per game for all other opponents).
Rashad Jennings, Giants: In a committee against a very good run defense. You heard me. Washington is fourth in rushing defense this season, has a strong front seven and has held Miami's Lamar Miller and the St. Louis Rams' Tre Mason to a combined 79 rushing yards and no touchdowns this season. Thursday night is going to be the Odell Beckham Jr. show.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots: Another guy who I believe has better days ahead, but not this Sunday. The Jaguars are allowing the second-fewest yards per rush (2.9) and the fewest 10-yard rushes (six) this year. Plus, you know, the Patriots throw on every play.
Wide receivers I love in Week 3
Brandon Marshall, Jets: A target monster on a team that should dictate game flow and have good field position, going against a team that has struggled in pass coverage so far? You betcha.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals: You already know I'm on Carson. And while I still prefer John Brown for the season, this Sunday I'm back on Fitz. Six targets on deep balls this season (15-plus yards downfield), four more than anyone else on the Cardinals, and getting deep targets against San Fran is a good thing. Through two games, the 49ers have allowed 12 catches for 386 yards on deep passes, both of which are most in the league.
James Jones, Packers: With all due respect to my colleague Cris Carter, all Jones does is catch touchdowns! A scoring machine in all his games with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, I like his odds to get into the end zone again on Monday night. The Chiefs have allowed the second-most touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this season (along with the most receiving yards) and we know how Rodgers is at Lambeau. In his past 13 home starts since the start of the 2013 season, Rodgers has averaged 278.8 pass yards per game while throwing 35 TDs and 0 INTs.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs: Total gut call, but with extra time to prepare and a high-scoring game I say Maclin gets into the end zone this week, ending the whole "no touchdowns to a wide receiver" thing.
If you're desperate: Doug Baldwin has 17 targets in two games, seven receptions in each and now gets a Bears team that has allowed more receiving touchdowns to wideouts than any other team. Washington wants to run the ball. Like, a lot. But you have to pass it sometime and you can do that fairly successfully against the Giants (last in the NFL against the pass through two weeks), making top target Pierre Garcon viable for another week. Especially with Ladarius Green questionable for Sunday, the Chargers are running out of people to throw it to in San Diego, which means Stevie Johnson, who has 11 receptions on 12 targets this season -- good for the highest WR reception percentage in the NFL -- should have another strong game.
The price is right: In addition to the names mentioned above, Odell Beckham Jr. and A.J. Green are worth the price if you want to go top shelf in daily. Green in his past three games against the Ravens: 18 receptions, 343 yards, three touchdowns. Julian Edelman is the 10th-most expensive wideout on DraftKings, but I believe he'll return more value than that. A Brady/Edelman stack is among my favorite plays this week, as the Jags have allowed the most receiving yards to slot receivers since the start of last season.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 3
Calvin Johnson, Lions: I know, I know. But seriously, what about this makes you feel good, except for the fact he's named Calvin Johnson? His QB is banged up and currently ranks 31st of 32 QBs in accuracy when under pressure. Since the middle of last season, he's completed just eight of his 37 deep (20-plus yards) attempts. That would be problematic, but Stafford is not even throwing it deep to Johnson so far. Johnson's current aDOT (average depth of target, how far downfield passes are being thrown to him) is just 7.9 yards. For comparison, Julian Edelman's aDOT this year is 8.0. So far, the Broncos are the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL and I believe they will be successful in getting to Stafford. I can't imagine you have better options than Megatron, so you're probably starting him, but again, lower expectations and look elsewhere in daily.
Andre Johnson, Colts: Man, was I promoting this guy all preseason and so far, man, have I been wrong. Like many of his teammates, he's off to a slow start; he's caught just 41.2 percent of his targets, the fourth-lowest among the 68 WRs with at least five receptions this season, and his 7.3 yards per catch is third lowest. Maybe he's just not comfortable running inside, which he's been doing a lot more of than he ever did in Houston. Maybe he's just not on the same page with Andrew Luck. Maybe he just enjoys making me look like an idiot. Whatever the reason, until I see it on the field, I'm leaving him on my bench.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles: See Bradford, Sam. Lots of pressure coming for Sam and, you know, Revis Island.
Brandin Cooks, Saints: Last week, DeAndre Hopkins was on the "hate" list with this stat: Dating back to last season, the Panthers have held the opposing team's top receiver to less than 60 yards in eight straight games. Well, after Hopkins put up just 53 yards, it's now nine straight. Josh Norman & Co. should have no issues making it 10 in a row, especially given Brees' injury, his struggles on the road and the chance that Luke Kuechly could be back.
Tight ends I love in Week 3
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks: Complaining about not getting the rock? Home opener against a Bears team that has allowed the most red zone touchdowns and red zone receptions to opposing TEs? Only Rob Gronkowski (5) has more red zone targets than Graham (4) among TE this season. Your last chance to buy low ends Sunday morning.
Jordan Reed, Redskins: Reed has at least five receptions in three straight games now, and the Giants have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends dating back (ding!) to the start of last season, including the third-most receptions and three scores to tight ends this season.
If you're desperate: Larry Donnell is second only to Graham in red zone targets, and in the Thursday night game against Washington last season (if you believe in those sort of things) Donnell destroyed them. Either way, Washington has allowed the third-most fantasy points to TEs since the start of last season. Jared Cook is one of only three tight ends to lead his team in receiving yardage in each of the first two weeks (Travis Kelce and Tyler Eifert are the others). Jason Witten is really banged up, otherwise he'd be in the "love" section proper, but it's worth noting that in Weeden's only start last season, Witten led the Cowboys in both receptions (6) and receiving yards (62). Charles Clay scored last week, had 40 yards in the season opener, is facing his former team and you know I love me some Tyrod.
The price is right: In addition to the players named above, there's probably no safer play in all of fantasy sports these days than Rob Gronkowski. He's the most expensive tight end on DraftKings, but when you consider where he ranks as a flex (tied for 10th-most expensive) you can certainly make a strong argument for him, especially against the Jags. Frankly, I feel he returns value even at tight end. Gary Barnidge is the minimum price and is this week's winner of "tight end who gets to face Oakland." Previous winners? Tyler Eifert and Crockett Gillmore. Eric Ebron has scored in two straight and if there's one area you can attack on Denver, it's with the tight end. The Broncos gave up six catches for 112 yards to Chiefs tight ends in Week 2. I could see Ebron being solid here again, as Stafford keeps it close while under pressure.
Tight ends I hate in Week 3
Jordan Cameron, Dolphins: Already banged up, the Bills generally play tough defense against tight ends (last week's Patriots game notwithstanding). Last season, the Bills allowed the fewest fantasy points, the second-fewest yards and just two receiving touchdowns to the position. Cameron has averaged just 40 yards per game and has not scored in two career games against Buffalo.
Richard Rodgers, Packers: Another team that is very stingy against opposing tight ends since the start of last season is the Chiefs. They have allowed the fewest receptions and receiving yards to opposing tight ends in that span. There's always a chance Aaron throws it to Richard in the end zone, but there are safer dart throws.
Defenses I love in Week 3
Denver Broncos: Well, if Stafford and Calvin are on the hate list, there's a reason. The No. 1 fantasy defense is not a joke and has had extra time to prep for an offense that is banged up and struggling.
Seattle Seahawks: I mean, come on. Jimmy Clausen? On the road? Seattle home opener, backs against the wall, Chancellor back? Just stop.
New York Jets: I don't think the Eagles can block and I know they can't block the Jets, who will bring all sorts of pressure.
Carolina Panthers: See Brees, Drew.
If you're desperate: The Indianapolis Colts aren't a great defense, but they're not terrible and I predict they'll be playing with a lead against a rookie QB, making them a nice streaming option.
The price is right: In addition to the defenses listed above, the Falcons are moderately priced, have looked strong and get to face Weeden this week. Big Ben does get Le'Veon Bell back this week, yes, but the Steelers are also much more human on the road than at home, so I could see the St. Louis Rams defense having a solid day this week and they are also moderately priced. But I'm probably going mostly Broncos, Jets, Panthers and Colts in my lineups this week.
Defenses I hate in Week 3
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have the third-fewest sacks in the NFL since the start of last season and Joe Flacco just doesn't get hit that much, being sacked on only 3.2 percent of dropbacks, third-fewest among qualified QBs.
Minnesota Vikings: Normally I'm a big fan, but the Chargers are playing at a high level, especially Philip Rivers. He's completing better than 81 percent of his passes (that's not a misprint) because he's throwing such dink-and-dunk stuff. And when pressure comes, he gets rid of the ball quickly (71 percent of his throws come in 2.5 seconds or less, third-highest percentage this year). I'm just not seeing a ton of opportunity for Minnesota to score points in this game.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- has patience for almost everything except a Rob Ryan defense. He's done. He is a paid spokesman for DraftKings.com and 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.