The Top 10: Week 13

Matt Waldman opens his film notebook and examines the notable events from Week 12.

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 12's Cliff's Notes

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

  1. The Titans owned the Jaguars again and did so on the legs of Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Ryan Tannehill—these three have the potential to be the core of a successful offense in 2020.
  2. Leonard Fournette is playing well on a sinking team that blew its opportunity to sell Nick Foles.
  3. Chris Godwin is one of the best wide receivers in football and he teamed with Jameis Winston on Sunday to foil Atlanta's new defensive scheme with chunk plays up the seams of the Falcons defense. One of the details of his game that stands out is how well he frames his hands to the ball as it's arriving. I explain what "framing the hands means" and show how Godwin does it.
  4. We all understand that Winston's career is at a crossroads. For the span of his NFL career, Winston has epitomized the toolsy quarterback who lacks the craft in his game to sustain success. This week, Winston demonstrated moments of craft when he needed them most. However, he's done this before, which leads to a most difficult question: Is Winston turning things around or is he simply a talented tease?
  5. If Winston epitomizes tools without craft, an apt characterization that applies to Carson Wentz in the pocket is "craft without tools." Sunday's debacle against the Seahawks provides several points of illustration.
  6. On the other side of that Eagles' contest, D.K. Metcalf earned several targets that he didn't convert. The source of his woes is Metcalf's unrefined manner of framing the target with his hands. Zach Ertz also provides a worthwhile example of doing this well as another point of comparison to Godwin.
  7. Regardless of what the green-visored geeks think about his contract, Ezekiel Elliott is an excellent running back and one you should be watching closely if you wish to learn more about the craft of the position. His transitional footwork in wet conditions earns the spotlight.
  8. Many draft analysts I know have long-admired Jonathan Williams's potential. His balance, burst, and mostly the Colts' offensive line are the reasons for his past two weeks of success. If the Colts continue using him, fantasy owners should as well. Don't get too enamored with his long-term potential.
  9. If Sony Michel has been a source of weekly consternation for lineup decisions as your RB2, the return of left tackle Isaiah Wynn showed us that Michel is in line for a decent stretch run.
  10. This week's Fresh Fish:
    1. The Cowboys' special teams unit failed on multiple levels on a rainy afternoon in New England.
    2. The Bears found rookie cornerback Corey Ballantine, the freshest fish on the New York Giants, and drove the field on him.
    3. Chris Carson fumbled on consecutive carries in the fourth quarter.
    4. Rashaad Penny had a good game on the ground but there was a pass-protection assignment where he heard the call of the ice cream truck and Russell Wilson got blown up by a bomb pop named Malcolm Jenkins.
    5. Jeff Driskel delivered a costly interception late in a tie game that led to a Detroit loss.

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

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