The Top 10: Week 2

Matt Waldman opens his film notebook and examines the emerging stars, rebound candidates, and concerns from Week 1.  


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 acting when necessary, but knowing when action is an overreaction. Because fans and media buy and sell the storylines 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.

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).

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 1 Cliff's Notes

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

  1. The Rams fed Todd Gurley as if this was his preseason dress rehearsal. There are lingering questions long-term, but he looked fine. Malcolm Brown should be added as a productive handcuff.
  2. Sammy Watkins is as healthy as we've seen him in the NFL and he'll be the Chiefs' primary receiver until Tyreek Hill returns to the field and a productive 1-B option afterward.
  3. The Dolphins defense is bad, but it tempers less of the Ravens' offensive performance than many will believe.
  4. The Cardinals offense—run and pass—had highs and lows and this will likely remain the case for at least a month.
  5. T.J. Hockenson is fantasy ready.
  6. Week 1 concerns about David Montgomery's burst are more reactionary than analytical.
  7. As I wrote two weeks ago, A.J. Brown was underrated in fantasy drafts and he's far more advanced than characterized.
  8. Ronald Jones is worth a patient investment because athletically, he's elite but conceptually still up and down.
  9. Various thoughts on bigger names drafted in the top half of fantasy drafts:
    1. Baker Mayfield has a problem with specific types of pressure and the offensive line could be a short-term problem. Still, he's in sync with Odell Beckham Jr.
    2. Stephon Gilmore's coverage of JuJu Smith-Schuster was enough to influence Ben Roethlisberger to go elsewhere and his other options failed him. This is a bad sign for Smith-Schuster and if Seattle has success holding Smith-Schuster in check, you may want to take action.
    3. Cam Newton's throwing motion is inconsistent and impacting his accuracy.
    4. Delaine Walker, Greg Olsen, and Cooper Kupp look healthy and capable of strong production.
    5. Jacoby Brissett was effective in the short and intermediate ranges of the field but he and his teammates were uneven in the red zone.
  10. Players and units who performed poorly in Week 1:
    1. Jameis Winston
    2. O.J. Howard
    3. Jimmy Garoppolo
    4. Falcons offensive line and defensive line
    5. Donte Moncrief

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

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