The Top 10: Week 12

Matt Waldman opens his film notebook and examines the notable events from Week 11.

Mission

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.

The 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).

As always I recommend Sigmund Bloom's Waiver Wire piece which you'll find available on this page, Monday night. Bloom and I are not always going to agree on players—he errs more often towards players who flash elite athletic ability and I err more towards players who are more technically skilled and assignment-sound.

Straight, No Chaser: Week 11's Cliff's Notes

The article below will provide expanded thoughts and supporting visuals for the following points:

  1. After watching several weeks of Todd Gurley, I think it's safe to conclude that he looks slower. At the same time, I wouldn't get carried away with that conclusion and write him off as a fantasy commodity—especially when the Rams have adjusted its blocking scheme to suit its offensive line.
  2. In last week's Top 10, the Falcons defense earned praise for stopping the Saints. Based on the play of a now-healthy secondary as well as developing youngsters, Atlanta's unit will remain dangerous for the rest of the year.
  3. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan didn't get much from the Falcons' run game without Devonta Freeman, but he made a handful of vertical throws under pressure—including a pair to Calvin Ridley— that made Atlanta's blowout of Carolina a team effort. Atlanta should not be taken lightly as a fantasy haven down the stretch.
  4. Kyler Murray performed well enough against the 49ers defense to keep this game competitive but it was San Francisco's front four that consistently beat Murray and the Cardinals. Murray is a dynamic runner but he's not unstoppable compared to a handful of NFL passers.
  5. One of those irresistable forces on the ground is Lamar Jackson. He makes running the football look effortless, including a maddening behavior with ball security that he may get away with until he loses a step.
  6. The Broncos took an early lead with a pair of plays that toyed with Vikings linebackers. The Vikings responded with a pair of plays that toyed with Broncos defensive backs. Guess what happened? That's right, the deep man wins.
  7. Alvin Kamara is back and healthy enough to dominate if the Saints will let him.
  8. Dallas Goedert is an emerging talent but he has a technical quirk with his receiving game to address if he wants to become a star.
  9. We heard some corners of the fantasy community whispering that Mark Ingram II was just a guy and it would be a matter of time before Justice Hill earned a split of the Ravens backfield. Ingram is a notch below the elite starters but an old narrative from his early days as a Saint may be the reason he remained underrated.
  10. This week's Fresh Fish:.
    1. I haven't examined box score evidence of regression to the mean when measuring the Cardinals defense against tight ends, but even if Arizona has somehow improved statistically, the on-field results remain favorable enough to start tight ends—even many reserves—against this pass defense.
    2. Carolina's offensive line gave up six sacks to Atlanta and four of them came off the left side of the line.
    3. After flashes of poise against the Packers last week on a snowy Lambeau field, Atlanta's defense thawed the ice running through Kyle Allen's veins to the tune of three interceptions—all three thrown inside Atlanta's five yard-line.
    4. Houston's offensive line, Bill O'Brien's short passing game, and Deshaun Watson were no match for the Ravens defense. The Texans gave up multiple sacks and forced Watson into reckless behavior.

For those of you who wish to learn the why's, the details are below.

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