Last week's column elicited a lot of reactions, via email and social media.
Here is a sampling.
"Hi Matthew, I don't need to be unblocked...I don't even have a twitter account. Just wanted to let you know that I had never heard of the V foundation...or Jimmy V. So I read your column, then went on youtube and watched the ESPY video of Jimmy V. I''m glad 100% of the proceeds go to research. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you spreading the word is working. - Jeremy."
"Matthew Berry: Not blocked. Lost my dad in February. Mom fighting. Thx for awareness. Best, Scott."
Dear @MatthewBerryTMR ,
Thanks for the advice on sitting Rawls! Greatly appreciate it.
Me, your worst fan.
- Peter Jewell (@jewell_peter) December 5, 2016
"Thank you Matthew Berry! I don't use Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat ... just Facebook but I'm also not very good at it just like you stated in your Love/Hate column this week, so I don't need any unblocking. But I do love fantasy sports and I do care about finding a cure for cancer! I appreciate all of yours and everyone else at ESPN's efforts to help out the Jimmy V foundation.
"I have a grandmother that has survived breast cancer as well as another grandmother that unfortunately passed because of pancreatic cancer. So, that is the reason why I give to the Jimmy V foundation. Keep up the good work! A Faithful Love/Hate reader, Brandon"
- Kyle Doegg (@KyleDoegg) December 5, 2016
"Matthew, Thank you for the opportunity to give, and get. I went to tweet this to you and discovered I'd been blocked. I couldn't understand why. It bothered me a little, but overall, just made me wonder why. Maybe I said something a while back I don't remember. ... Your writing made me think. The only "mean" tweets I send have been political (not a fan of who won the election). Your line about putting negativity into the universe hit home. Despite my feelings about this, it does make me re-think the words I choose [to] tweet. Putting negativity in the universe ... I give to the Jimmy V Foundation every year during ESPYs week, and giving again now, to have the opportunity that maybe you read this, and get unblocked; very easy decision. Plus, it puts a little positivity into the universe. A faithful #06010Listener."
@MatthewBerryTMR you told me Baldwin over Rawls.....quit your job
- Zach Lazzaro (@zachlazzaro) December 5, 2016
"I am not blocked on twitter. In fact it was your tweet to pick up Tim Hightower (instead of CJ Spiller) when I lost Mark Ingram that [led] to me winning a fantasy championship last year by the score of 100.48-98.26. I am forever grateful to you. I just wanted to be the one (of many) to tell you that I fully support your blocking rules on social media. There is just no reason for people to go out of their way to send mean-spirited tweets.
"To take it one step further. If you could mention it to parents everywhere that when it comes to school and youth sports the same rules apply. There is no place for bullying. I do a lot of (volunteer) youth coaching. It is quickly turning into my most enjoyable hobby, but unfortunately it is alarming when you see kids getting bullied and when you address it to the parents they don't seem to care or simply don't get it. Then you quickly realize where the kids are learning it from. Thanks for your positive message and keep up the fantastic work. You are a company man after all. -Patrick"
- John Elliott Jr (@JEElliottJr13) December 5, 2016
"Hey Matthew, I listen to your podcast and read your articles. I don't always read your openings, but when I do I do enjoy them and I love your writing style. I am making this donation on behalf of a friend. I have suffered from addiction and while I have over three years sober now at the age of 29, it has not been easy. A huge reason I was able to turn my life around was a belief that everything happens for a reason and the people that have come into my life to offer support. I have always been a good student and at one point, even at the height of my addiction, I had straight A's throughout nursing school. Thank god I was unable to graduate, as my addiction took such a hold on my life that I ended up in jail and had to drop out of school and lose my job.
"Luckily I have loving parents and friends who always tried to help me at every turn. 3.5 years ago I moved to a new state and completely turned my life around from the ground up. I found an amazing support network of friends and met my current girlfriend (who one day I will absolutely make my wife.) Fantasy provided me with an escape when I wasn't able to live with some of the decisions I had made in the past. Seriously, it was a huge help as being a distraction early in my sobriety. I apologize for the long-winded email but, if I read you right as a person you enjoy these sort of things.
"So the reason for my donation is ... A very close friend of mine in AA was blocked by you years ago. He was not sober at the time and basically mad at the world, he followed some advice you gave (which didn't work out) and proceeded to be an ass on twitter. I am making this donation on his behalf and would ask you to please unblock [redacted] on twitter. This is someone who has helped me beyond any sort of gift I could buy him, and as a podcast listener decided this would be a good idea as a fun surprise. Just a few weeks ago he told me the whole story as to how he got blocked and how he regrets it and wishes he was still able to follow you. Matthew, again I thank you for everything you do. Best Regards, Ryan."
Thank you @MatthewBerryTMR for continuing convincing me to start Kaepernick on the most important week of my season
- Sub Shake. (@subshake117) December 4, 2016
"Matthew, I just wanted to write to say thank you. I'm a regular reader of the Love/Hate column, have been for as long as I can remember. I've always been amazed at how you can use that short introduction to a fantasy football piece to make us as readers feel a certain way. A lot of the times, it makes me laugh, but other times it causes me to reflect a little. This week's column, though it had a larger message, hit me at one line; 'life is too short to deal with people who feel the need to try to harm someone or put negativity into the universe.' I teach sixth grade in North Philadelphia. Today, we had a "lock down drill," where we practice what we would do in the case of an active shooter or other intruder. After the drill, I commended my students for doing so well at staying quiet (no easy task, I assure you) and I explained the importance of such a drill. I asked them if they had ever, at their old schools (my school and our network starts with 6th grade, so they all went to other schools until this year), experienced a true lock down, as in not a drill.
"Every hand went up. Every. Single. One.
"My students went on to tell me about the active shooters (like, more than one) that they had nearly come in contact with at previous schools. I'm in no way the bleeding heart type, but I couldn't help but get emotional. In this world we live in, there's so much anger, hate and senseless violence that these poor kids have had to hear the sound of gunshots ring through the halls of their school while they were just trying to learn.
"When I got home tonight after work, I had a soda (spoiler alert: it wasn't really soda) and read your column. That line has been stuck in my head since, and I felt compelled to say something. When I was talking to those kids and trying to explain the unexplainable, trying to help them understand something that I can't even understand, that sometimes people hurt others for no reason at all, the best I could do was tell them that there's a lot of hate in the world, but that they don't have to add to it. Like you said, life's too short. Thanks for that. Josh."
- John Haden (@johnhaden) December 4, 2016
Before we get to it, a few quick pieces of housekeeping. Jimmy V Week continues, but even after it ends, my offer to unblock or try to get others at ESPN to unblock on your behalf will never expire. The response has been great and, so far, I have managed to get every other ESPN personality I have asked to get the person unblocked. If you'd like to get unblocked (or just make a donation and have me read your note), goto JimmyV.org. Make a donation of whatever you can afford. Send a copy of the receipt and your social media handle to: firstname.lastname@example.org. It might take a few days to weed through everything, but rest assured, we will get to it.
Quarterbacks I love for Week 14
Andrew Luck, Colts: I'm the highest on Luck this week among our rankers. "Sure," you say, "he beat up the Jets, but whatevs, dude, that doesn't count. Now he gets Houston in a tough division game. I'm nervous." Well, I'm not. He's rocked the Texans before, scoring 23 points in Week 6, and he's running a little bit more, with more than six rushing attempts per game in his past seven. And I actually like this matchup. The Texans are 20th against the pass the past four weeks, and rank just 26th in QB pressures. And my favorite stat? They have intercepted just six passes all season. In the four games in which Luck didn't throw an interception, he has 1,228 yards and 13 touchdown passes. Locked in as an upper-tier QB1 this week, he's my No. 2 QB and worth the price in daily.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins: A common question I got on Twitter when the initial ranks came out was, "Would you really start Kirk Cousins over Tom Brady?" Hey, I get the question and would certainly understand it if you didn't want to go there. But since Week 8, no team has allowed more total QB points (and the fourth-most QB points per game) than the Philadelphia Eagles. They've allowed at least 260 passing yards in eight straight games and in 11 of 12 this season, and Cousins has just 10 fewer points than Brady since Week 5, when Brady made his season debut. And while Tom doesn't have Gronk, I expect Kirk to get Jordan Reed back. Since coming out of Washington's Week 9 bye, only Aaron Rodgers has more fantasy points than Cousins, so I'm firing him up confidently against the 29th-ranked pass defense the past month.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks: I know, I know. Wilson has been shaky this season on the road, but current weather forecasts have this game as simply cold and partly cloudy but not a snowstorm or anything, and this is a pretty good matchup. The Packers have allowed more than 22 points a game to QBs the past four weeks, including games against Carson Wentz and Brock Osweiler, and while Wilson's fantasy point totals have been inconsistent, he has thrown for more than 270 yards in four of his past five games. He's also averaging nearly 10 yards a carry the past two games, so I expect a high floor for Wilson with obvious upside.
Others receiving votes: Dec. 6, 2015, was the last time Eli Manning didn't throw for at least 350 yards or multiple touchdowns in a home game. I expect more of the same against a banged-up Cowboys secondary that has shown some leaks recently. ... The Browns have allowed at least three passing touchdowns in three of their past four, and Andy Dalton has more than 15 fantasy points in four of six road games this season, so despite the injuries, the Red Rifle is usable in a solid QB2 sort of way. ... I know, I know. Colin Kaepernick killed you last week. But if you somehow survived it, I'm back on board. Even when you include last week's stinker, he's fourth in total QB fantasy points over the past five games, and he's home with good weather against a Jets D traveling cross country on a short week in a season they seem to have given up on. It's worth noting the two mobile QBs the Jets have faced, Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson, have averaged 24 points against them.
Quarterbacks I hate in Week 14
Marcus Mariota, Titans: It's hard to bench the fourth-best QB in fantasy, and the No. 1 guy since Week 9 in points per game, but you know, Denver. The Broncos have allowed fewer than 15 fantasy points to opposing QBs in 10 of their past 11, and you know they will bring pressure -- they lead the league in sacks. Mariota is in the bottom half of the league in QBR versus pressure. He's a risky QB2 this week against a Denver team that has given up more than one passing touchdown in a game only twice all season.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills: There's a reasonable floor here because of the rushing, of course, but since the start of last season, the Steelers have allowed just one rushing score to an opposing QB. The fifth-best scoring defense and a top-10 pass defense the past four weeks, the Steelers are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs since Week 9. Taylor, meanwhile, now has less than 195 passing yards in three straight games, with just one total touchdown pass in that span.
Running backs I love in Week 14
Spencer Ware, Chiefs: At least 16 touches in four straight games for Ware, and I expect the Chiefs to once again take a run-heavy approach against the Raiders. Now, maybe not as much as Week 6 in Oakland, when the Chiefs had 40 rushes for 183 yards and three rushing scores, but still. The Raiders have allowed a league-high 12 rushing touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line and you'll never guess the only running back on the Chiefs with a carry inside the 5 in their past five games. During the past four weeks, no team -- and that includes the 49ers -- has given up more rushing yards than the Raiders.
Jordan Howard, Bears: No doubt the Lions have played terrific defense recently, as they are third against the run the past four weeks. But take a closer look at their opponents: Jacksonville, Minnesota, New Orleans and a bye. Only the Saints have a decent running game and even they are below league average in rushing attempts per game. The Lions have still allowed at least 16 fantasy points to opposing RBs in four of the past six weeks, and with 53 touches in his past two weeks, Howard's guaranteed volume keeps him a RB1 for me this week.
DeMarco Murray, Titans: In case you were worried about Derrick Henry stealing too many touches, or Denver's defense ... don't be. The Broncos have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, including giving up five 20-point performances (more than the Saints or Colts, for example). Murray has at least 18 touches in every game this season, and Ezekiel Elliott is the only other running back to rank in the top five in total rushing yards before and after contact this season. This is actually a decent matchup for Murray and his workload is secure. He's a rock-solid RB1 for me.
Others receiving votes: Fifth among running backs in yards per carry after first contact, hard-running Robert Kelley has better than 83 percent of the Redskins' running back carries since Week 8. You know I expect Kirk Cousins to move the ball in this one, so I like Kelley's chances at a score here. The Eagles have allowed a RB rushing touchdown in three straight games. ... Only three teams allow more receptions to opposing running backs than the Baltimore Ravens, and with Tom Brady running out of pass-catchers, I could see Dion Lewis having success on Monday night. ... After playing just 12 fewer snaps than Jeremy Hill the past two weeks, Rex Burkhead is kind of a thing, y'all. NOW. This is the fantasy playoffs, so hey, buyer beware here, as there's not a lot to go on, but 12 touches last week and Cleveland on the docket makes him usable in a 12-team PPR flex sort of way. ... If you're really stuck, Mike Gillislee has scored five touchdowns in his six career games in which he has received at least eight carries. As mentioned in the Tyrod Taylor part, I expect Buffalo to run a lot here, making Gillislee worthy of flex consideration.
Running backs I hate in Week 14
Todd Gurley, Rams: I realize the Falcons may seem like an inviting matchup, but I'm nervous here. Other than that Philly game, where the Eagles ran all over them, the Falcons have allowed fewer than 60 RB rushing yards in five of the past six games. Now, some of that is due to shootouts or the other team, but with a rookie QB under center and a defense that has struggled recently, expect Atlanta to both score a lot of points and stack the box and make Jared Goff beat them. Gurley has been held below 100 yards from scrimmage in every single game except one this season and he has just one TD in his past seven games. Let's face it, if you're in the playoffs, it's in spite of Gurley, not because of him. If you start Gurley, it's because you think he gets into the end zone, which, against Atlanta, could certainly happen. How lucky do you feel?
Rashad Jennings, Giants: Jennings is starting to come on, just like he did last season, but I'm nervous here. The Cowboys have allowed the third-fewest running back points per game this season (12.3) and RB rushing yards per game (71.3), and I have a sneaky feeling we see more Paul Perkins in this one. Jennings is more of a flex play for me than a solid RB2. You need him, and not Perkins (or maybe a returning Shane Vereen), to be the pass-catcher here, as I suspect the Giants move the ball through the air, not on the ground.
Devontae Booker, Broncos: Man, I want to be wrong about this. And I know people are excited for Booker's workload with Kapri Bibbs now out for the year. But volume or not, he just hasn't been great. In averaging just 2.8 yards per carry in his past five games, Booker has shown neither burst nor power. I'm not super worried so much about the presence of Justin Forsett this week, though I think he does get some work. Rather, it's more about what the signing of Forsett (who has been brutal this year) says about what the team thinks about Booker internally. The Titans are a top-10 run defense the past four weeks and just once in the past eight games have they allowed both 50 RB rushing yards (that's not that much) and a rushing touchdown. So Booker's odds of a big game aren't that great.
Wide receivers I love in Week 14
Julian Edelman, Patriots: Mike Evans. Odell Beckham Jr. There. That's the entire list of players averaging more targets than Edelman since Tom Brady returned in Week 5. No Rob Gronkowski and even no Danny Amendola, plus a clearly not 100 percent Martellus Bennett means even more looks for Edelman against a Ravens team that has given up at least seven receptions and 75 yards to the slot in three straight games. He's a WR1 for me in standard and, of course, PPR.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: Well, if I'm on Russell Wilson, it makes sense that I am on Baldwin. He has at least six catches in four of the past five games, has scored five of the six wide receiver touchdowns for Seattle this season and has 832 receiving yards (the next TWO Seattle wide receivers? 810). Baldwin is a consistent, clear-cut target in the Seahawks' passing game. That brings us to this week's opponent, the Green Bay Packers, as only the 49ers have allowed more WR touchdowns than the Packers, and over the past five weeks, only Philadelphia has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Golden Tate, Lions: Tate has really come on lately, especially as a PPR force, and he has at least 75 yards in three of the past four games. Since Week 6, Tate has been the 12th-best WR in standard fantasy, and in PPR he's WR5, with only Beckham, Antonio Brown, Evans and Julio Jones being better. Prior to last week's snowfest where Colin Kaepernick got only five pass attempts (arghhh), the Bears had allowed at least 19 points to opposing wide receivers in seven straight games. Tate leads the Lions in targets (almost 20 more than No. 2, Marvin Jones) and since Week 6 he's 15th in the NFL in targets, meaning Tate will get a Lion's share -- ha! See what I did there? Whatever, that's gold, Jerry. Gold, I tell you -- of the work against a team that (not including last week) is allowing more than 200 yards a game to wideouts in its previous seven.
Others receiving votes: DeAndre Hopkins (ducks) now has three straight games with 58-plus yards (he had two such games in his first nine) and Indy has certainly struggled against No. 1 wideouts, giving up big games to Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Rishard Matthews and Robby Anderson, who was the No. 1 for Bryce Petty. I realize 58 yards isn't all that exciting, but such is the state of DeAndre Hopkins. Given the state of Indy's secondary, I do like Hopkins as a WR3. ... Kenny Britt now has a score or at least five catches in five straight and yes, I expect the Rams to be down in this one. Atlanta is 23rd versus the pass in the past four weeks. ... No apologies needed this week, Eli, as Sterling Shepard comes off another game with a score to face the Cowboys. Dallas is allowing 99 yards a game to the slot over the past four. ... Fortune favors the bold, they tell me, so while this is a VERY risky pick, I have a weird feeling this is the week we see the real Sammy Watkins against a Steelers squad that has given up 98 receiving yards a game to the opposing team's No. 1 WR the past five games. But again, we have yet to see the real Sammy this season, so it's truly a faith-based pick for the risky/desperate. ... And from the something's gotta give category, Jarvis Landry can't score, but Arizona has allowed a slot TD in four straight games. In a game where I think Miami struggles to run the ball, I like Landry as a WR3 this week.
Wide receivers I hate in Week 14
Brandon Marshall, Jets: Down to just seven targets a game over his past seven games, I just don't know how you can trust him with Bryce "I only have eyes for Robby Anderson" Petty under center. Now, Petty will have all week to prep with the ones, as opposed to being thrown into the middle of a game, so he won't have to just go with who he knows, so to speak, and it is a good matchup with San Francisco. But I just don't know how, based on everything we've seen, you can start Marshall with any confidence at all. He has one touchdown in his past seven games and has been held below 50 yards in six games this season. If you're in the playoffs, it's despite him, not because of. He's a risky WR3 for me.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings: The Jaguars are the best passing defense during the past four weeks. They have allowed just one wide receiver score in that span and the sixth-fewest points to opposing wideouts this season. Diggs is usable in PPR, but he's averaging just 8.5 yards per catch in his past four games (tied with Isaiah Crowell for 118th of 150 qualified players in that stretch). Sam Bradford is dinking and dunking his way to killing Diggs' value in standard. Diggs is just a low-end WR3 in a tough matchup.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars: See Marshall, Brandon. With just eight catches for 73 yards (and one score) total in the past three weeks, Robinson is not the reason you've made it this far, so you don't need him this week either against a Vikings defense that has allowed just 21 deep completions, fewest in the NFL, and is fourth versus the pass the past four weeks.
Tight ends I love in Week 14
Zach Ertz, Eagles: Ertz has 32 targets and two scores in the past three games. He has a solid matchup too, as Washington has allowed 75 yards and a touchdown to an opposing tight end in three of the past five and surrenders the 13th-most points to the position.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans: After dropping six catches for 85 yards and a score on the Colts in Week 6, CJF (as only I call him) gets Indy again and that's good news. The Colts are top 10 in the NFL in most points allowed to opposing tight ends, they're operating on a short week and Fiedorowicz is averaging 7.5 targets a game in his past eight.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers: Brate has scored in four of his past six games, emerging as a terrific complement to Mike Evans in the passing game. In fact, during this six-game stretch, Brate actually has more red zone targets than Evans. The Saints are middle of the pack in terms of defending the position, but given Brate's usage in a game in which Jameis Winston should move the ball, the matchup doesn't scare me.
Others receiving votes: Jason Witten always kills the Giants and recently, every tight end has, as over the past five games tight ends have totaled 497 yards and two scores against the G-Men. ... I realize Antonio Gates has burned you two weeks in a row now, but no team allows more points to the position than Carolina. Even in a disappointing start last week, Gates ran a route on 65 percent of his snaps. The Panthers have coughed up a TE TD in three straight.
Tight ends I hate in Week 14
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: Same issue as Diggs here, as Rudolph has gotten 25 targets the past three weeks and turned them into just 121 yards. Because he's getting dinked and dunked to death, he's usable in PPR, but outside my top 10 in standard. This is a tough matchup, as the Jags have given up just three scores to tight ends all season.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens: Shoutout to Sal Pal, who called a big Dennis Pitta game last week on Fantasy Football Now, but with his two scores last week, he now has two touchdowns in the past 1,098 days. Because he's not really targeted in the red zone, I'm not expecting a repeat performance against a Patriots team that has allowed just one score to a tight end in the past 10 games.
Defenses I love in Week 14
Minnesota Vikings: Don't Bortle your playoff chances and get cute. You're starting the Vikes.
Others receiving votes: At home off the bye, the Titans have had two weeks to prepare for an offense that will likely have a banged-up Trevor Siemian under center. Since Week 5, only the Browns have seen more D/ST points scored against them than the Broncos. ... It may sound crazy, but over the past four weeks, no defense has scored more than Tampa Bay's 60 points. (In fact, no other defense has scored more than 42.) That includes games against the Seahawks and Chargers. It may seem insane to start a defense against the Saints, but three of the past four defenses to face New Orleans have scored at least eight points (the Rams are the only exception). I like the Bucs as a risk/reward deep-league option.
Defenses I hate in Week 14
Dallas Cowboys: Opposing defenses have scored more than five points against the Giants just once in the past seven games.
Philadelphia Eagles: In the past six weeks, they've totaled just six points. Against one of the hottest offenses in the league, in a must-win spot? No, thank you.
Thank you to Thirsty Kyle Soppe of ESPN Fantasy for his help with the column.
Matthew Berry, The Talented Mr. Roto, would like to remind you to never give up. He is the creator of RotoPass.com, a paid spokesman for DraftKings.com and one of the owners of the Fantasy Life app.