ESPN's fantasy guru wrote for film and TV before making a living as adviser to the stars -- and schlubs.
Twenty-five years ago, Matthew Berry was helping to write screenplays for marginal movies like Crocodile Dundee II and hit TV shows like Married … With Children before he chucked his semi-lucrative Hollywood career to try earning a living as a fantasy sports expert.
Now he's ESPN's fantasy guru, with 260,000 Twitter followers and an iTunes podcast that is typically No. 2 in popularity among all categories during football season. His annual Draft Day Manifesto -- 13,000 words worth -- will be read by 1 million people this year.
And he's the go-to guy for Hollywood celebrities seeking a little help with their fantasy drafts and starting lineups.
Rock stars like Joel Madden of Good Charlotte and Geddy Lee of Rush have sought his counsel, as have actors Zooey Deschanel and Jeff Garlin and showbiz executives including Matt Rice of UTA and ABC Daytime president Brian Frons. And there are many more who'd rather not admit that their success in fantasy football is at least in part owed to advice from a ringer.
So what's Berry telling his Hollywood buddies this year? In a nutshell, draft quarterback Michael Vick and tight end Antonio Gates and use as many late picks as possible for running backs and wide receivers who might not be stars but have breakout potential. That's "panning for gold," as it were -- hoping to find the 2011 version of running back Peyton Hillis or wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, two out-of-nowhere fantasy stars last year.
"One of the awesome things about fantasy football is that it's the great equalizer," says Berry. "No matter how rich or famous you are, everyone still has the same question: 'Who do I start on Sunday?' "