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The Top 10: Week 2

Matt Waldman opens his Week 1 film notebook and examines the fantasy fallout of emerging stars, established studs, and returning legends. 

Balancing realities of fantasy with the fantasies of real football media

Because the football season has far fewer games than other popular American sports, analysts commonly emphasize the week-to-week urgency that each NFL organization must feel compared to other professional teams.

While this is true, the difference is still relative. As with any situation in life, the best decision-making involves reacting when necessary, but not overreacting. Because fans and media buy and sell the story lines and revel in the drama, we're prone to overreacting. 

Many of Week 1's outcomes require a quick decision without all of the information that we'll eventually see as the season unfolds. This is the reality of fantasy football.

However, there are at least 1-3 teams in your league that will overreact to what happened in the season opener and they will do more harm than good to their rosters. I reached out to a few people I know who do work in the NFL after Thursday night's games. I led off the conversation with a question along these lines:

"Are you ready for Overreaction Friday?"

The first response: "Haha, clearly Brady and New England are finished. Clearly, Alex Smith is the No. 1 QB in football."   

Another: "The more I look online, the angrier I get. Time for me to unplug today." 

And a third: "People see the results, but don't understand the process."

The mission of this column—and a lot of my work—is to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality of football analysis. Football analysis—fantasy and reality—is often dramatized because there's a core belief that it's more important to entertain than to educate. 

I don't live by the idea that it's better to be lucky than good. While I want to give you actionable recommendations that will help you get results, I prefer to get the process right. There will be a lot of people talking about how they were right to draft or start specific players. Many of them got the right result but with the wrong process. 

Much of Week 2's Top 10 will cover topics that attempt to get the process right (reality) while understanding that fantasy owners may not have time to wait for the necessary data to determine the best course of action (fantasy).  

1. Kareem Hunt: Where to go from here

The rookie had a fantastic fantasy output and the most common question I've heard from fantasy owners is "Have you changed your mind about Hunt after tonight?" This question confirms a few things for me about my business and the football audience: 

  1. This is just a game for most of the football-watching audience. Compared to the demands of their careers, families, and education, their retention of information veers to the simplistic. 
  2. Some of that audience is seeking affirmation to trust their eyes. 
  3. While a healthy minority of the audience understands a lot about the process of football, a majority still lean hard on outcome over the process and often don't realize how much they are doing it.  

I have not changed my mind about Kareem Hunt the player. If you've read my analysis on Hunt, I've always maintained that the greatest questions about him have nothing to do with his skills when the ball is in his hands.


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