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Matthew Berry's Love/Hate

Matthew Berry's Love/Hate for Week 3 of Fantasy Football Season

by Matthew Berry
Updated On: September 23, 2022, 10:52 am ET

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I have been doing this a long time.

Almost 40 years, to be exact, that I have played some version of fantasy sports.

And in 23 of those years, I have written about them professionally.

As a result, when it comes to fantasy football, I have seen it all.

Every insane kind of loss, every wacky league punishment, every weird way to play. 

It's not just that I've been around a long time, it's the fact I have also actively looked for it. When I wrote my book “Fantasy Life” in 2013 (now a free newsletter [FantasyLife.com] and free app! [FantasyLifeApp.com] he said promotionally), I actively asked my followers to send me everything they had. Their best story, rules, settings, punishments, traditions, team names, bad beats and epic wins. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of submissions poured in. It took two years but I read every single one of them.

So when I tell you I've seen everything I am telling you, gentle reader, I have SEEN EVERYTHING.

Including every single way to play.

Until now.

Because I think I just invented it ten minutes ago. If you've ever heard or played a version of this let me know by emailing me at MatthewBerryTMR at Gmail, but I'm pretty sure this hasn't been done before.

It's a combination of something a reader sent me and a format that HAS been around for a while. And I really want to try it.

It starts with legendary Alabama head football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

It was famously said of Bear Bryant's coaching prowess that “Bear could take his'n and beat your'n, and he could take your'n and beat his'n.”

(Side note: I went down a total rabbit hole about this quote. It's been said many times over the years about multiple coaches, including Bryant, the legendary Don Shula and the first instance I found was in 1950 when then Clemson head coach Frank Howard said it about Missouri head coach Don Faurot. The most famous version of the saying is from former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips, who was known for colorful sayings. At various points over the years Bum was quoted saying it about both Bryant and Shula. If you want to do a deep dive, I found a blog from Barry Popik on the history of the phrase: https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/he_can_take_hisn/)

Anyways, debate about who said the quote and who it was about all you want, but it's my column so I am going with Bear Bryant.

Anyways, just to reset… It was famously said of Bear Bryant's coaching prowess that “Bear could take his'n and beat your'n, and he could take your'n and beat his'n.”

The implication of course is that, when it came to Bryant, the players are less important to victory than the coaching ability.

It was with this quote in mind that a reader named Alan Kluegel wrote me.

“Hi Mr. Berry, long-time reader, first-time writer. I'm sure you've seen anything and everything in fantasy leagues, so this probably has been done before, but in the unlikely case it is a new idea, then I give you: the Bear Bryant trade. Two days after our draft – and with no notice beforehand to anyone else – I sprung an entire team-for-team swap to another team in the league, and they accepted….”

Alan goes on to explain what I just did about the Bear Bryant quote and goes into some details about his league, a group of guys that all met in law school and are mostly lawyers. They've been playing together since 2006, and the trade was with his friend Patrick, a snake-bitten manager who has suffered injuries to his star players year after year.

Now, to be clear, I HAVE heard of total team for total team trades before, multiple times. There's even a “total team trade for total team trade” story in Fantasy Life. So that, unfortunately Alan, is not new.

But the motivation to do this type of trade using the Bear Bryant quote, that this is the ultimate test of your fantasy manager prowess, was new to me.

As was the idea I had as I was thinking about it. What if you expand that idea and then lay it on top of a guillotine league?

Anyone that has read me before or listened to my old podcast has heard me discuss guillotine leagues or “survivor leagues.” But for those unaware, a guillotine league is an absolute blast. And you can play it at any point in the season. (In other words, you can start one this week. Or next. Or a month from now).

It's very simple.

You and the rest of your league draft a normal fantasy football team (QB/2 RB/2 WR/TE/2 FLEX/6 BENCH, PPR scoring).

You start a lineup every week. 

You don't play head to head, you just see how many points your team accumulates.

At the end of the week, the lowest-scoring team in the league is CUT.

Out of the league. Forever. 

The players on the eliminated team go into the free agent pool for everyone to bid on. You have $1000 in FAAB budget for the entire season.

And that's it. Repeat every week until just one team remains.

You can also play a version where, once the league is reduced to four teams, there is no more weekly elimination, but rather the winner is just the team with the most total points over the final three weeks.

Either way, it is a “sweat” like you've never experienced. It seems easy until you are one of the lower teams heading into Monday Night Football and then it is incredibly intense. It is so much fun you have no idea.

I did a league last year and I am doing two so far this year, one with a bunch of my old friends from ESPN and another with a bunch of actors/directors/business people that I am actually drafting next week.

If you'd like to try, I highly recommend my friend Paul Charchian's Guillotineleagues.com. That's a league management service set up specifically for this kind of league. You can start anytime you want with however many folks you want. And there are public leagues available as well if you don't have any friends that wanna try.

There's a different strategy for playing a guillotine league – you want players with higher floors and late bye weeks, you have to think more about just the next week than worrying about the future, you want consistency to survive but you need to keep ceiling in mind for when you get to the playoffs, free agent budget is a major concern and so on. Anyways, if you can't tell, I'm a huge fan of the format.

Now to the idea.

So okay, I was thinking of guillotine leagues and I was thinking of the Bear Bryant quote so I just thought… what if we tried a “Bear Bryant Guillotine League”? 

Here's the idea.

You do a “guillotine league” draft.

For simplicity's sake, let's say it's 12 teams.

After the draft, the first team that drafted once again gets “first pick.” That team can choose any other team in the league to trade teams with. Then, Team 2 does the same thing. Then Team 3. And so on. The other team can't refuse to trade. If Team 8 says to Team 6, “I want your team,” then the trade has to go through. So yes, one team may get passed along to multiple teams over the course of this. I've done something similar with gifts at a holiday party and occasionally they do something like this on the TV show “Big Brother” with prizes.

The point is, you MUST trade when it's your turn. This ensures that everyone will have a different team than the one they drafted.

After every team has made a trade, the first team that picked (in our example, Team 1), gets one last trade but only if they want. The reason for this is to ensure no one intentionally picks a “bad” team. Because with this option, you may ultimately wind back up with your same “bad” team because once everyone has made one trade, the final trade can be to anyone, including back to the original team.

Once the trading is done, it's a normal “guillotine league.” And then you will really be able to see…Can you take their'n and beat yours'n?

What do you think? Any improvements you'd suggest? Any tweaks? Am I missing a pitfall? Tell me on Twitter @MatthewBerryTMR or by email. And in the meantime, be sure to check out Fantasy Football Happy Hour with Matthew Berry, every day live at Noon ET on Peacock and then available right after on demand wherever you get your podcasts or on both Peacock TV and the new NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

And this Sunday, be sure to tune into Fantasy Football Pregame with Matthew Berry on Peacock from 11 am ET to 1 pm ET (simulcast from noon ET-1 pm ET on NBC, check local listings).

And with that.. let's get to it.

Quarterbacks I Love in Week 3:

Matthew Stafford at Arizona
According to my internet research, natural predators of cardinals (Cardinalidae) are hawks, squirrels, owls, snakes, dogs, cats and literally every quarterback in the NFL. Through two weeks, the Cardinals have allowed 604 passing yards and seven touchdowns through the air — yielding a 123.5 passer rating against. That kids… that is a LOT. Considering that 79.8% of the Rams' yards this season have come via the pass … and that this game has the fourth-highest over/under on the slate … and that in two games against Arizona last season, Stafford went for 567 yards and five touchdowns (averaging 21.4 FPPG), I expect Matthew Stafford to make like your dog this Sunday and shred the Cardinals. He's inside my top 7 this week. 

Kirk Cousins vs. Detroit
[Checks the Week 3 schedule for the 17th time to confirm that this game is NOT being played in primetime on national TV. Ok. 1 pm game. Whew. Good.] Hey, what's not to absolutely LOVE about Kirk Cousins in Week 3?! The Lions have allowed the sixth-most passing yards so far this season (including a game where Carson Wentz had 337 yards and three passing touchdowns against them) and Cousins threw for 275-plus yards in each of his games against Detroit last season. In a game that should be high-scoring — the 53.5 over/under is the highest of Week 3 — expect a bounce-back game from Cousins on Sunday. [Checks the schedule one more time to make sure it hasn't been moved to primetime while I was writing this] … So yes, I confidently have Kirk Cousins inside my top 8 quarterbacks for Week 3. 

Derek Carr at Tennessee
The Raiders didn't exactly plan to start the season 0-2, and they definitely didn't plan to blow a 16-point fourth quarter lead to the Cardinals. But remember: we don't care about real football around here. The Raiders can go 0-17 and the season will still be a success from a fantasy standpoint if they keep passing at the second-highest rate in the league. Or if Derek Carr throws for 250-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in every game, as he has done so far. Or if he continues to average 38 pass attempts per game. So, will the Raiders beat the Titans this week, you ask? Who cares! All I know is the Titans are coming off a short week where they got destroyed by the Bills and they allow the fourth-most yards per pass attempt. This game is a great fantasy matchup for Derek Carr. And that's all that matters, not meaningless “NFL victories.” Only IDIOTS care about those. 

Others receiving votes: I know, I know… it has been tough sledding so far but let's be clear here. Joe Burrow is not going to play like a swaggy Andy Dalton for a third week in a row. Not against a Jets team that is bottom-10 in yards per pass attempt and actually made Jacoby Brissett look good last week. Positive touchdown regression has to come soon for Burrow (3.4% so far this season versus 6.5% in 2021) and I say it starts this week … That's right: Jared Goff is QB9 in PPG through two weeks and Detroit is averaging 405.5 yards of offense per game, fourth-best in the league. As long as Goff has a clean pocket, he's fine, and I expect that to happen again on Sunday in a shoot-out game with a Vikings team that allowed more than 10 yards per attempt to Jalen Hurts last week … Joe Flacco leads the NFL in passing attempts so far this season, with 44-plus in each start. Joe Flacco! He also has thrown for 300-plus yards in each game. Did I expect to still be typing “Joe Flacco is elite” references in 2022? I did not. In fact, I honestly hoped my flying car would be writing all my columns for me by now. But here we are.

 

Quarterbacks I Hate in Week 3:

Aaron Rodgers at Tampa Bay
Yes, this is a huge matchup of legendary NFL quarterbacks on Sunday afternoon, but prepare to be disappointed. On one side, Aaron Rodgers has a really difficult matchup. Through two weeks, the Bucs' defense has allowed the second-lowest quarterback rating, is top 3 in both yards per pass attempt and completion rate allowed, and has yielded just one touchdown through the air while picking off four passes. Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis have played very well on the perimeter for the Bucs this year, and Green Bay is also very run-heavy so far this season: Rodgers is only tied for 23rd in pass attempts on the season. I mean, even last week against Chicago, a “good game” for Rodgers, he still only finished as QB16 for the week. Oh, and the last time Rodgers played the Bucs in Week 6 of 2020, he posted just 3.8 fantasy points (160 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions). And then, on the other side, considering the current rate of dehydration of Tom Brady's head, who knows if he even plays on Sunday. Rodgers is outside my top 14 QBs this week. 

Carson Wentz vs Philadelphia:
Look, if Carson Wentz was playing against any other team that gave up on him at some point… The Colts, the 2023 Commanders, half the fantasy teams in your league… he'd be fine. None of them have a scary defense. And truth be told as a Commanders fan… he's been fine. The Lions loss wasn't on him at all – that was the defense's fault (along with a missed extra point and a decision to go for two) -- and despite some brutal turnovers the first two games, he has also made some big time throws. But that's been against Jacksonville and Detroit. Now he has to play an Eagles team that's allowed just 12.2 points per game to opposing QBs this year (the otherwise productive Goff and Cousins). Top five in the NFL in fewest yards per attempt, passer rating against and opposing completion rate, it pains me as a Washington fan to say this, but Philly's defense is all sorts of legit. Considering the Eagles have more interceptions (4) than touchdowns allowed (3) and Wentz has three picks in his first two games, this could get ugly quick. Especially with all the mental hype that goes with facing (one of) your former teams. Wentz has been good in fantasy through the first two weeks, but the last time he scored 20+ in three consecutive games were Weeks 4-6 of 2018. That stat will still be good next week. Wentz is outside my top 12 this week.

 

Running Backs I Love in Week 3:

Joe Mixon at New York Jets
The running back position is a disaster so far this season in fantasy. Among the top 12 players in fantasy, none of them are running backs. Jonathan Taylor, drafted 1.1 in most leagues, is ranked 34th overall. And not a single back has scored even 17 points in both Weeks 1 and 2. It's like the whole league decided to go Zero RB and not tell us. But if you're looking for some shred of positivity, some bit of consistency, I give you Joe Mixon. He has 22-plus touches in both weeks and leads all backs with 56 touches on the season. Mixon is also getting a career-high 14.8% target share so far. Considering the Jets allowed 141 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Cleveland running backs last week, I think Mixon finally cracks the end zone in Week 3. A heavy workload plus a positive matchup makes Joe Mixon a top 5 play this week. 

Leonard Fournette vs. Green Bay
Leonard Fournette deserves to be on the Love list this week simply for apologizing to his fantasy managers for failing to crack the end zone so far this season. This guy has his priorities in the right place! (Meanwhile, we continue to wait for Arthur Smith to apologize for making Kyle Pitts into a blocking tight end.) But I'm also giving Fournette a mention because I love his role in the offense so far this season. He has 23-plus touches in both games, and the Bucs rank seventh in rush rate. That is unlikely to dip much in a game in which Tampa will be without Mike Evans (and possibly more of their receivers) and facing a Green Bay defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards to running backs through two weeks. This is going to be a big Uncle Lenny week and next Monday, Fournette will have nothing to apologize to his fantasy managers for. 

David Montgomery vs. Houston
The Texans have allowed the most rushing yards to running backs through two weeks, while the Bears lead the NFL in rush rate. And David Montgomery is getting the vast amount of that rush game work. He has 20-plus touches in seven of his last nine games dating back to last season, and last week against the Packers got 18 touches and 80% of the snaps, despite the Bears trailing for the entire game. What we have here is a running back on a team with a QB they won't let throw that is set for a lot of work against a bad run defense. It's as simple as that. Don't overthink it. In fact, don't think at all. Put David Montgomery in your starting lineup this week. He's a top 15 play in Week 3. 

Others receiving votes: Well, it seems the Raiders aren't giving up on Josh Jacobs just yet. Through two weeks, he has seen 88% of Las Vegas' running back carries and 80% of their running back touches. That bodes well in Week 3 against a Titans defense giving up 6.4 YPC (third most in the NFL) to backs this season … Rookie Tyrion Davis-Price officially became a 49ers running back in Week 2. Because he got hurt. That means even more work for the (still healthy! I think!) Jeff Wilsonwho had 103 total yards on 20 touches last week. This week, he gets a Denver defense allowing 4.7 YPC to running backs … The Texans said they would increase Dameon Pierce's workload and they actually went and did it. The rookie had 88% of Houston's running back touches in Week 2 and 100% of the carries. Now Houston faces a Bears team that has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards to running backs so far this season.

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Running Backs I Hate in Week 3:

Derrick Henry vs. Las Vegas
In Derrick Henry's three games since returning from injury last season, including Tennessee's playoff game, he has 54 carries for 169 yards and is averaging just 3.1 YPC. I mean, at his peak, Derrick Henry can carry 10 would-be tacklers for 3.1 yards per carry while stiff-arming another one out of the stadium. So this recent run of Trent Richardson-esque production? Not ideal! (Hashtag: Analysis). Especially when it seems as if this year he's more game script dependent than in previous years as when the Titans are trailing he disappears. Henry has done nothing in the passing game this year, with zero catches and only one target through the first two games of the season. Eventually Henry has to turn things around running the ball. But this week? Against a Vegas defense allowing just 3.8 YPC to backs? In a game where, even though the game is in Tennessee, the Titans are underdogs and likely to be trailing? Lower expectations. You likely have to keep rolling him out there in the hopes he falls into the endzone, but I've got Derrick Henry outside my top ten this week for the first time I can ever remember.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire at Indianapolis
CEH is RB5 so far this season. And that's not nothing. But I don't love the underlying numbers. He hasn't broken 12 touches in a game yet this season and has played on just 39% of snaps. He has zero goal-line carries. ZERO. And his receiving production is due for some serious negative regression … unless you think he'll have a 100% catch rate and average a receiving touchdown per game all season. To be blunt: CEH is only RB5 because we're off to the worst running back season I have ever seen in my 27 years on Earth. I see Edwards-Helaire's regression starting this week against a Colts team allowing a league-low 2.75 YPC to running backs. (Also – if you can trade him for something good this week before the games start, do it!)

Cordarrelle Patterson at Seattle
Cordarrelle Patterson has just three catches on the season and last week had zero catches on a single target. That wasn't the only bad news from Week 2. Tyler Allgeier had the same numbers of carries (10) as Patterson in Atlanta's loss to the Rams, and the rookie saw both goal-to-go carries, too. At least we'll always have 2021, Cordarrelle Patterson. Because, unfortunately, 2022 is looking a lot more like Cordarrelle Patterson circa 2013-2020. You're likely going to need a score from Patterson for him to pay off, and considering this game has one of the lowest totals on the slate, there likely won't be a ton of touchdowns to go around. I have C-Patt as just a borderline top 30 RB this week.  

 

Pass Catchers I Love in Week 3:

Amon-Ra St. Brown at Minnesota
I have three Amon-Ra St. Brown facts to share with you, and I find them all equally amazing: 

  1. Amon-Ra St. Brown has at least eight receptions and 10 targets in eight straight games dating back to last season.
  2. Amon-Ra St. Brown is averaging 26.4 FPPG over that stretch and has seven 20-plus fantasy point games in those eight games. 
  3. Amon-Ra St. Brown's full name is Amon-Ra Julian Heru J. St. Brown. His older brother's name is Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown. And his father's name is extremely unique … wait for it … wait for it … it's gonna blow your socks off … wait for it … his father's name is John Brown.  Okay, maybe I oversold it. 
     

Anyway, not only is the Detroit St. Brown off to a great start to the season, continuing right where he left off last season, but he should keep it going this week against a Vikings defense that allowed Philadelphia receivers last week to catch all eight of their slot targets for 108 yards. St. Brown also grabbed 17 of 20 targets in two games against Minnesota last season. All of that is why Amon-Ra Julian Heru J. St. Brown is my WR7 in Week 3. 

Courtland Sutton vs. San Francisco
While Russell Wilson still has work to do to get his new teammates sufficiently yelling “Run!” or “Pass!” on the sideline, things are at least going well so far with Courtland Sutton. With KJ Hamler out last week and Jerry Jeudy banged up, Wilson directed a team-high 26% of his targets to Sutton. Pass! This week the Broncos face a 49ers defense allowing the sixth-highest completion rate on deep passes, and half of Sutton's targets this season have come on deep balls. Pass! I see a big day for Sutton this week and have him inside my top 20 at the position. And you know what you should do when I, Matthew Berry, have a hunch on a player. Run! 

Drake London at Seattle
While Atlanta gradually changes Kyle Pitts into a goalline fullback — not that I'm bitter about it — they're at least letting Drake London play to his skill set so far. London has five-plus receptions and 70-plus yards in both games this season, and last week had a team-high target share of 33%. With Seattle allowing 15.1 yards per reception to wide receivers through two weeks (fourth-highest), London should keep his fantasy Rookie of the Year push going in Week 3. 

Tyler Higbee at Arizona
Remember what we thought Allen Robinson would be in that Rams offense this season? Well, so far the role of the No. 2 pass catcher behind Cooper Kupp is going to … Tyler Higbee? Only two Rams have a target share so far above 12%. One is my little Cooper Kupp and Higbee is the other at 26%. Higbee also has at least nine targets in both games. He's a top 10 TE for me this week against an Arizona defense that has allowed the most catches, yards and touchdowns to tight ends through two games. 

Others receiving votes: Don't let JuJu Smith-Schuster's Week 2 dud scare you off just yet. He still ran a route on 80% of pass plays in Week 2. The ball just didn't go his way. But it should again in Week 3 against a Colts defense that has allowed opponents to catch 88% of slot targets so far this season … Speaking of slot receivers, my new BSRFF (best slot receiver friend forever) Curtis Samuel of my Washington Commanders has 20 targets through two weeks and 19-plus fantasy points in each game. With Darius Slay and James Bradberry expected to be all over Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson in this one, expect a lot of targets to Samuel, who faces an Eagles defense that has allowed six-plus slot receptions to wide receivers in each of their first two games … I mean you have to go in on any Joe Flacco No. 1 receiver, right? That's Fantasy 101. In Week 2, Garrett Wilson saw his snap rate jump from 48% to 63% and his production exploded: 8-102-2 on 14 targets … For those of you all about that streaming TE life, I like Logan Thomas against the Eagles. Thomas is TE10 in PPG and has five-plus targets in both of his games so far. He also has a catch of at least 20 yards in each … I had him as a pre-season sleeper, but even I didn't imagine Gerald Everett would be the fourth-best tight end in fantasy two weeks into the season. But it's honestly not a fluke. He's being used in LAC's pass game -- running a route on 68% of pass plays — and he has at least 50 receiving yards in each game.

 

Pass Catchers I Hate in Week 3:

Terry McLaurin vs. Philadelphia
Halloween is just a month from now, so let me terrify you with these Scaaaaaary Terry stats for Week 3: 

  • Terry McLaurin has caught just 50% of his targets so far this season. 
  • Philadelphia is allowing the fifth-fewest yards per reception to receivers. 
  • McLaurin will be shadowed in this game by Darius Slay and, in four career games against Slay and the Eagles, McLaurin has been held under 65 receiving yards in each one. 
     

So how about those spooky stats? Are you scaaaaared? Muaaaahahahaaaa muaahahahaa. Really, you're not scared at all? You think this is the lamest house on the block? You're going to put toilet paper in my trees and egg my front door again tonight after I go to bed? Well, I wish you wouldn't. Hey, don't leave yet, you forgot to take your complimentary apple and toothbrush! Happy Halloween! 

D.J. Moore vs. New Orleans
If you liked what Baker Mayfield did to Odell Beckham's fantasy fortunes, then you'll love what he's doing to D.J. Moore. Last season, Moore had only two games with three or fewer catches. This season, he already has two. Carolina ranks 28th in yards per game and 30th in plays per game, so there's not exactly a ton of production to spread around here. And this week Moore will see Marshon Lattimore at least some of the time. Things will get better for Moore and the Panthers offense, but I don't love his chances at it this week. Moore is just outside my top 20 WRs in Week 3. 

Chase Claypool at Cleveland
The announcers in last week's Steelers-Patriots game spent a lot of time talking about how impressed Bill Belichick said he was with Chase Claypool's game. Belichick reportedly stated the Steelers utilize Claypool like a tight end. See, that's a problem in fantasy because Claypool is actually listed as a wide receiver. But Belichick's right: Claypool's 5.7 aDOT so far this season is very … I believe the proper football term is “tight end-y” … as is the fact that just one of Claypool's 14 targets so far this season has been 15-plus yards downfield. I'd love Claypool at TE this week, but since he's a WR, I'm putting him on the Hate list. He's outside my top 50 at the position.