The Top 10: Week 14

Matt Waldman opens his film notebook and examines the notable events from Week 13.


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 13's Cliff's Notes

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

  1. James Washington is an elite ball-tracker. If his route running catches up to his receiving skill, Washington will become a Pro-Bowl player.
  2. Two 49ers runs against the Ravens illustrate the value of blocking for skill players and the complexity of execution involved with some run plays that, when performed to the level of San Francisco, can elevate fantasy running back play of many runners. Two Ravens runs against the 49ers also demonstrate how difficult it is to stop a high-functioning ground game.
  3. A 49ers sack of Lamar Jackson reveals that while a team can get pressure on Jackson, it's still difficult to stop him in the passing game and don't count on it happening throughout the course of an entire contest.
  4. Drew Lock made his debut in Denver. Although we really won't know how good he is for the next 12-20 games, Lock demonstrated a lot of what he showed at Missouri: Skill in the vertical game, a big arm, the potential for intelligent game management, and an off-platform throwing prowess that helps and hurts his game.
  5. Derrius Guice showed why he was a top talent from the 2018 NFL Draft class against the Panthers defense on Sunday.
  6. The Chiefs coverage confused and frustrated Derek Carr and the Raiders' passing game on Sunday. We examine a coverage concept that you don't often see in the NFL that led to an interception and ultimately put Oakland in an early hole.
  7. I define the term, "micro-movement," and show why it is the underlying skillset that separates elite backs like Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott from many of their peers.
  8. Speaking of Elliott, a touchdown pass on Thanksgiving Day provides one of several telling examples of how his presence influences opposing defenses.
  9. I believe that momentum exists in sport and the Bills-Cowboys game provided two series of plays where there's a compelling visual example of momentum.
  10. This week's Fresh Fish:
    1. Nick Foles' first half demonstrated last week's point that the Jaguars ruined its opportunity to get out of Foles' expensive contract.
    2. The Browns' offensive line struggled for most of the game and a Baker Mayfield interception put his team out of its misery at the end.
    3. The Colts' field goal unit gave up a pair of blocked kicks against the Titans, including the game-winning play for Tennessee late in the fourth quarter.
    4. Matt Ryan's red-zone play and difficulty trusting young receivers are underrated problems for the Falcons.

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

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