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ESPN’s Matthew Berry hates Antonio Brown, loves Josh Jacobs

Updated August 15, 2019 - 8:19 pm

To be clear, Matthew Berry doesn’t love or hate Oakland Raiders receiver Antonio Brown or any other player listed in his annual “Love/Hate” fantasy football draft column.

“I love or hate their ADP (average draft position),” said Berry, ESPN’s fantasy expert who will host events at Caesars Palace and The Linq Hotel on Friday and Saturday.

By that measure, Brown made Berry’s hate list this season.

“It’s not about the fact that I dislike Antonio Brown. He’s an amazing player, one of the best wide receivers in NFL history and a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” Berry said. “I think he’ll be a fine fantasy asset this year. The problem is where Antonio Brown is being drafted.

“The last six years, he was the no-brainer No. 1 fantasy wide receiver because there were no questions about him. He was fantasy money in the bank. This year, there are questions around Antonio Brown that there weren’t before.”

And Berry isn’t referring to Brown’s frostbitten feet or helmet issues.

“He’s downgraded in quarterback from Big Ben to Derek Carr. At this point in his career, Derek Carr is not the quarterback that Ben Roethlisberger is,” Berry said. “He goes from an offense, at the time Antonio Brown was there, that was always one of the most efficient and top five in red zone trips to an offense that, candidly, has struggled the last couple years.

“Having someone the caliber of Antonio Brown will help, but it’s going to be a work in progress. That’s my concern.”

Brown brought out the bitter Berry, but that’s not the case for the rest of the Raiders. Berry absolutely loves Oakland rookie running back Josh Jacobs.

“I declared him my fantasy ‘ride or die’ this year. I’m going to try to get him in as many leagues as possible,” Berry said. “I always say in fantasy that success comes down to two things: talent and opportunity. We know he’s got the talent. He was an absolute beast at Alabama. You talk about opportunity, a lead running back in Jon Gruden’s offense in 12 years as head coach in the NFL has an average of 257 touches a year. And there’s a chance he gets more than that. We know he’s going to be a workhorse back, and he’s a true three-down back.

“The Raiders offense, even though it’s a work in progress, is going to be a lot better than it was last year. Even in a lost season, they were sixth in the NFL in red zone rush offense. They like to run when they get close. Jacobs is going to catch the ball, run the ball, and there’s a chance he throws the ball. He was a wildcat quarterback in high school, and I understand there’s a chance for that as well.

”I have him in the top 10 of fantasy running backs. He’s going 17th. I’m much higher on him than the consensus.”

Berry, 49, hates the terms sleeper and bust, but another Raider he thinks is undervalued in fantasy is tight end Darren Waller. The 6-foot-6-inch converted receiver out of college is going undrafted in most leagues but made Berry’s love list.

“The Raiders were one of the teams that targeted tight ends the most last year,” Berry said. “Jared Cook had a breakthrough (Pro Bowl) year and was a fantasy superstar. But he moved on to the Saints, which opens the door for Darren Waller, who’s tall and fast.

“One of the reasons the Raiders felt comfortable in letting Cook go was because of what they had in Waller.”

Before becoming a renowned fantasy guru with 1 million Twitter followers, Berry was a Hollywood writer who worked on the TV show “Married … with Children,” among others. He made a cameo in “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest-grossing film of all time, and will now try his hand as a virtual Las Vegas headliner.

“I thought (fantasy) would become pretty popular,” he said. “But I don’t know if I ever imagined it would become so popular that someone would want to put me in a movie or that ESPN would want to devote 29 straight hours of programming around it or that it would lead me to headlining an event at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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