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 on Monday nights. 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 15's Cliff's Notes
The article below will provide expanded thoughts and supporting visuals for the following points. This week, we turn it up to 11 and push it over the cliff with an introduction to the 2020 Rookie Scouting Portfolio.
- This feature has not covered a "snow game" until this weekend's Broncos-Chiefs affair. Although there are variables that will alter how you apply this information such as wind speed, rate of precipitation, ice content, and temperature, Sunday's game reveals that an intermediate and vertical passing game holds the advantage over a defense whereas plays that require a horizontal stretch of the field before transitioning downhill are treacherous.
- Kenyan Drake deserves massive credit for his improvement as a technician. During the first two years of his NFL career in Miami, Drake's inefficient movements produce moments of football slapstick where he'd knock himself silly jump-cutting into the backsides of his teammates. Last year, Drake demonstrated notable improvement. With $10 million man David Johnson and the promising Chase Edmonds in Drake's rearview mirror, it still amazes me that the Dolphins viewed Kalen Ballege or anyone else on Miamis' depth chart as the superior talent and fit.
- The common refrain I've heard for the past 2-3 weeks is that Mitchell Trubisky is playing better. He's doing so because he's loosening up on the field once again—in fact, he may be heading in the opposite direction and playing too loose. His against-the-grain throws on Sunday versus the Packers may appear Patrick Mahomes II-like but they are closer to a Mahomes Lounge Act than the real deal.
- Yannick Ngakoue had an excellent afternoon against the Raiders, notching five tackles—four for losses—two sacks and a pass defense. In big-play fantasy scoring formats, Ngakoue earned over 40 points for his efforts and I break down why the Raiders had difficulty handing the Jaguars' defensive end and why knowledge of edge play—rushers and blockers—is helpful for any league type.
- One of the most important skills for an NFL wide receiver is defeating press coverage—a strategy employed with much less frequency in the college game. One of the highlights of a competitive Texas-Titans clash was DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Brown showing how they defeat the jam and how their physiques and athletic styles influence their methods.
- Raheem Mostert had another solid fantasy week, scoring a touchdown for the fourth straight game. I analyze what makes Mostert a productive player. One of those reasons is a special-teams mentality that Mostert and a few other top contributors on the offense share.
- Last week, I shared highlights from rookie right guard Chris Lindstrom's debut for Atlanta and how he will help this offense rebound in 2020. This week, I highlight defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, one of the most talented players in football—an unsung star who has played terrific football on an injury-riddled and unsound unit of teammates. If Atlanta's secondary can grow up fast, I show you why Jarrett's work is good enough to elevate the fantasy values of linebackers and edge rushers playing around him.
- Want to see the potential future for Lamar Jackson as a passer? Studying Deshaun Watson might be the key. They have similar arm talents and limitations, which means the types of routes Watson's receivers run could be the way Baltimore expands its offense in 2020 and beyond.
- Depending on your belief in ghosts, Josh Gordon will never cross your mind or his presence on a football field haunts you. Although many will permanently write-off Gordon, I see part of my job as exploring those dark corners of our hobby to determine the truth of a player's game. As it stands today, the idea that Gordon is a shadow of himself is preposterous.
- This week's Fresh Fish: Austin Hooper's non-catch on the penultimate offensive play of the game illustrates why the Calvin Johnson Rule remains the worst rule in the NFL.
- This week, we're turning it up to 11 with a few (hundred) words about the 2020 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. If you've always been curious about my rookie draft guide, you have 11 days left to pre-order the package that includes the pre-draft guide, the post-draft guide, and the June through December newsletter at a discount price. And for those of you long-time subscribers who prefer to wait until that early-bird period is over so you can pay full price, I appreciate you.
For those of you who wish to learn the why's, the details are below.