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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 an unsustainable 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.
- It was the Dallas Goedert Show for the Philadelphia Eagles against, the Jets. The Eagles' tight end earned his career-best yardage mark with Gardner Minshew's at the helm. The game also revealed why Jalen Hurts gives his team and fantasy GMs more to work with as the starter but Gardner Minshew is a natural fit for the Philadelphia scheme.
- While he's not quite there as a fantasy producer, Lions' tight end T.J. Hockenson has become an elite player at his position based on his film. One play from Sunday's upset of the Vikings offers a sound illustration of what I consider a tenet of evaluating football players, a maxim that helps separate the signal from the noise.
- Another good example of this evaluation tenet is Leonard Fournette's "development" as a legitimate receiving back. Although Fournette's "Thumpin'" North Florida version of James White may seem new, it's actually a matter of sample size and reps.
- Newsflash: Javonte Williams. Real newsflash: The people driving up Williams' value are the same people who lost their minds over Clyde Edwards-Helaire after last year's opener against the Texans' weak defense. Williams is a good back, but not an elite one. But does this difference matter if he has the surrounding talent to deliver consistent production?
- Broncos' third-string runner Mike Boone should be on your radar as a reserve who only needs an opportunity for a legitimate starter workload to deliver fantasy-league-changing upside if called upon.
- IDP Alert: Lions' edge defender Charles Harris has been a worthwhile addition to fantasy rosters this year, could he emerge as a consistent DE1 in 2022? He's worth holding or acquiring to find out.
- Chris Godwin's 15 receptions against Atlanta set a franchise record and offers further evidence as to why he should be one of the most impactful players of the 2022 free agents.
- Russell Wilson's production in the Seahawks' upset of the 49ers barely merited a fantasy starter tag but he was sharp on Sunday, Seattle's schedule is favorable, and they added another weapon to the arsenal...
- Dee Eskridge only made three catches for Seattle after suffering a concussion against Indianapolis in Week 1 that kept him off the field. However, his work should continue to open up this offense.
- Fresh Fish: The Lions made a spirited comeback, but they were in the game because the Vikings' reserve linebackers could not execute to the level of starters, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr.
- Although touted as a top player for his athletic ability, Falcons linebacker Deion Jones is routinely exploited in the passing game. The Buccaneers were the latest to tune Jones up for two touchdowns in the red zone.
- Atlanta's offensive line remains an easy mark due to its pass protection woes.
For those of you who wish to learn the why's, the details are below.
1. The Dallas Goedert Show: Why the game Excited But Confused Eagles Fans About Its Quarterback situation
Prior to the Jets' game, Goedert was the No.15 fantasy tight end. After his career-best effort Sunday, Goedert is just below Kyle Pitts for ninth. Goedert is no fluke but his performance might be. Before we go there, let's admire Goedert's first two offensive series of this game where he generated 98 yards — just 3 yards shy of his career-best, which he eventually surpassed later in the game with one more catch for 7 yards.
The Eagles featured Goedert as a runner and a seam stretcher that the Jets had no answer for early.
As mentioned in the final video, the screens and rub routes are an example of "schemed plays" that require an elevated amount of teamwork to feature one player. Yes, there are still built-in outlets into the play, but the purpose of the play design is to marshal most of your forces to get one player the ball in an advantageous situation.
Schemed plays are used to exploit something the offense believes it can exploit with a specific defensive look or tendency. Competent defenses eventually catch on to the wrinkle and limit the effectiveness of the play. This is why every team needs Match-Up Players who can defeat opponents one-on-one or break down a defense's schemed look designed to limit them.
Goedert earned a lot of his yardage Sunday from schemed plays but as you can see, he's also a Match-Up player capable of mitigating the flaws of his teammates. Goedert's touchdown on the first video came on an underthrown ball from Gardner Minshew that forced Goedert to win the target in addition to simply catching it.
This wasn't the only underthrown vertical target from Minshew. There were already three by my count when I recorded this misplaced back-shoulder fade to DeVonta Smith.
There are two things worth noting about this video: Just because the throw is a back-shoulder target doesn't mean that the throw itself isn't short of the mark. You can see clearly that the trajectory of the ball arrives too low for where Smith has to begin his turn and leap to attack it. Second, while possible that Minshew simply needs to develop a better rapport with his receivers because he's had success with the vertical game in Jacksonville, Minshew's arm is not the strength of his game.
Minshew's vertical options in Jacksonville were the likes of D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Collin Johnson. All three are bigger options with the ability to body defenders at the catch point. Smith is built running under the ball or making leaps back to the ball where there's little contact from the coverage. Yes, Smith can make the occasional physical play but that's not the aspect of his game coaches want to depend on.
In this respect, Minshew, Smith, and the rest of the Eagles' receivers of note (other than Goedert) are mismatched as a vertical tandem. Minshew will have to throw the ball earlier than he already does to lead speedsters to the ball and that requires a special amount of anticipation for receivers that appear covered when he lets the ball go. Few quarterbacks possess this skill.
Minshew is great for the likes of Dallas Goedert and Quez Watkins whose roles are to win in the flats and the middle of the field in this offense. Jalen Hurts' deep arm is better for Smith or any of the Eagles' small-thin receivers featured in the perimeter vertical game.
This is the basis for the Minshew-Hurts debate you'll be seeing for the next month, if not for the entire offseason. Minshew's quick-game middle-of-the-field skills are a natural fit for Nick Sirianni's offense. It's why they traded for him. Eagles fans will naturally react to seeing the team getting the most from Dallas Goedert as a point of merit for Minshew. They'll also note that Minshew is mobile enough to buy time and while he's not as dynamic as Hurts, he doesn't lean on it to his detriment.
Those in Hurts' camp will note that 2021 has essentially been Hurts' rookie year. Anyone with a scout's perspective on quarterback evaluation understands that it takes at least 18-24 games for a quarterback to "develop," if you define that term as acclimating to much of what they will experience in the NFL and delivering the skills they brought to the team from college. In other words, it takes that long to do the same things they did in college.
The difference is that the same things that they did poorly in college that most didn't see or minimized as an issue get exploited more often in the NFL. The best NFL quarterbacks develop beyond that initial acclimation. The rest of the pool tends to remain the same or only make moderate gains over a longer period of time. Some are criticized for long periods of their career and then praised when they join a new scheme that maximizes their talents. Alex Smith comes to mind. Or, they are praised and then labeled as "over the hill" then they leave their original scheme. Kurt Warner's tenure in New York, who then had a renaissance in Arizona.
Hurts is still in that initial window of NFL acclimation. What he's shown thus far is promising enough to stick with him when he's healthy. The problem is that fans and media are impatient, they don't understand the development process, and they make definitive statements based on a limited understanding of the game.
When the fanbase and media react long enough, the front office feels pressure and that trickles down to coaches, who realize they only have a limited amount of time to begin winning and that forces them to abandon the better long-term plan for a shot at short-term gains and pacify the public. This plays out over and over in the NFL and it's a no-win situation for everyone until the team gets a quarterback who delivers at a high level early in his career because of his early acclimation and the team still having enough surrounding talent to support him.
Hurts has a higher ceiling than Minshew. We'll see if the Eagles organization has the will to maintain course with Hurts' development. If they roll with Minshew, GMs with Smith on their squads better hope the Eagles get some big receivers and move Smith to the slot to get the most from him.
2. Separating the Signal from the Noise: T.J. Hockenson's Game
Before Kyle Pitts' arrival to the NFL, Hockenson and George Kittle were easily the best tight ends to get drafted since Travis Kelce and they are still the better all-around tight ends if you value blocking. Due to Kittle's injury, Hockenson is currently the No.3 fantasy tight end in PPR formats but his point totals are a solid tier below the top two options. Last year, he was fifth.
Essentially, Hockenson is just a tier below the elite fantasy producers but his game on film belongs at the top. It's just a matter of Hockenson getting the caliber of quarterback and receiving threats to maximize his existing talents.
Hockenson's blocking is in a similar realm as Kittle. His ability to earn position against coverage and win the ball is on par with Kittle and Kelce, and while maybe not quite as dynamic as either one, he's a better athlete than Mark Andrews. If he stays healthy, there's no reason Hockenson shouldn't be a top-five tight end for much of his next 7-10 years — even if the Lions don't emerge from the NFC North's basement.
My broaching of Hockenson has less to do with his talents and more to do with a common flaw with scouting players.
TJ Hockenson TD.— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 5, 2021
When evaluating players, the opposition is the variable but what the player does within his control to create potentially positive outcomes is the constant. #SignalNoise #Lions pic.twitter.com/MMdUnm2dKm
As Jay Feeley — who I mistook for Greg Olsen commentating on the video — analyzed the play, he noted the quality of the coverage as a huge part of the play's success. This is correct. It's also correct that Hockenson did everything within his power, regardless of the coverage, to run a route worthy of a target.
Hockenson stemmed the route to the outside, which attacked the leverage of the defender and set up the break back to the inside so there was room for the ball to reach him before the safety could slide across the field. He used a good head fake and stick to manipulate the cornerback and all of this bought space for Jared Goff to fit the ball where it had to be.
A lot of people evaluate players based on the eye test of athletic ability and don't bother to learn the techniques and concepts of the position. As a result, they don't know when it is appropriate to factor in the behavior of the opposition and when to divorce it from the evaluation. This generates a lot of noise.
It's not just the public that does this. Leonard Fournette's scouting report is a great example.
3. Leonard Fournette: "Thumpin' James White" Was Just A Matter of Reps
I've covered this multiple times with Fournette: He showed at LSU that he could catch. In fact, he showed it in high school. There are multiple examples on this highlight package but I queued up one compelling example for easy viewing.
I rarely look at high school tape. Many five-star prospects earning Fournette's level of buzz are athletes who grew into their bodies earlier than their peers, but Fournette also showed skills that went beyond big, strong, and fast. I noted this on the Rookie Scouting Portfolio website about Fournette's receiving skills before his freshman year at LSU:
"What really stood out were the multiple highlights of receptions where he was led into traffic, made the catch in stride, and maintained possession after contact. He looked like a top tight end prospect on some of these seam routes."
LSU didn't utilize Fournette extensively in its passing game. And whey would they? He's a bruising gap-style runner with breakaway speed when given the runway to build up acceleration. He set the table for the play-action passing. Even so, Fournette still earned enough touches to show that he could catch the ball (the video is queued to the play):
Still, this part of Fournette's game came as a shock to big-media coverage of Fournette whenever he earned a reception. The college scouting reports compiled for commentators to use consistently said that Fournette was not much of a receiver. The data analysts made the same conclusion because he didn't have a lot of production as a receiver. And because the sample size was small, some scouts didn't see what he could do. They had the same problem with Melvin Gordon and Nick Chubb who were competent receivers but had limited reps because they powered so much of the play-action game like Fournette.
Fast-forward to Fournette's current tenure in Tampa Bay. While his volume of usage as a receiver is a surprise because Giovani Bernard earned almost all of the red-zone work and two-minute work as a receiver during training camp and Bernard seems like the best fit for the James White profile on paper, it shouldn't have been a surprise that Fournette would earn targets.
I'm betting that there have been or will be a lot of analysts who will parrot the idea that Fournette became a better receiver under Tom Brady. While this might be true from the perspective of situational football — how to run certain routes, how to adjust routes based on coverage, where Brady will place the ball, etc. — Fournette's baseline skills of route running and catching the ball were already strong.
Even when he dropped the ball last year and in camp this year, let's keep in mind that running backs often have a much lower target share than top receivers. And if that player hasn't been used extensively as a receiver for a while, he may have skills that need the rust knocked off or require minor refinement to maximize the potential that's available.
This is the truth about Fournette the receiver. The skills were always there, but they weren't exploited. Now, he looks more like the player I saw in high school
The thing about Fournette that has shocked me most is that he has remained healthy. Jene Bramel noted that Fournette's foot/ankle issues were a ticking time bomb for him a few years ago. Since the summer before Fournette's third NFL season where he rededicated himself to the game, it hasn't been an issue. In contrast, Fournette's draft class alum Christian McCaffrey has had less reliable health.
I'm sure if anyone told us that Fournette would earn almost 40 percent of his 1,000 yards from scrimmage as a receiver in McCaffreyesque fashion, none of us would have bought it. Here were are.
4. NewsFlash: Javonte Williams Is Good...Real NewsFlash: Good Is Not Great, But Does It Matter In Fantasy Football?
This is not a shocker. If you're a football fan, fantasy analysts and football media have been slobbering over the prospect of Williams earning the lead role in Denver. I thought Williams was the safest back in this draft class.
The fascinating thing about Williams is that his runs inspire others to think he's some freakish combination of Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor, and Marshawn Lynch who will rule the running back kingdom. I'm talking relatively sane people like Doug Farrar, whose coverage of the game's technical aspects is excellent reading on a regular basis.
When you see videos like the one above or some of the ones below, I see why his performances have seductive appeal to our hopes for greatness.
I don't know Farrar's view of Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a rookie, but these types of plays led to mass hysteria over Edwards-Helaire's prospects as the next Marshall Faulk-Brian Westbrook-Christian McCaffrey rolled into one. Especially plays like this one for Williams that I'm showing below — good work from Williams, but the nature of broadcast media can psychologically inflate our view of rookies.
Analysis vs Broadcast pic.twitter.com/McHPCZfQzl— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 6, 2021
I qualified this phenomenon to rookies because of the newness of the player combined with the point I made in the T.J. Hockenson topic: How and when to factor or divorce the play of the opposition into the evaluation of a player. These two things often lead to an inflated value of a player.
So much so, that if you click on the Tweet above, you'll see at least two regular readers disagree respectfully with my point although regularly finding my thoughts on players insightful. This makes complete sense. After all, Williams is good and he has been productive so he passes the eyeball test.
However, I use the same standards of evaluation on Williams that I have developed studying almost a thousand running backs over the past 17 years — standards that almost helped differentiate why the public shouldn't have gotten carried away with Edwards'-Helaire's debut against the Texans.
Fans and analysts without a consistent and defined way of examining running backs are prone to overvaluing the way running backs fare against contact. They see contact and yards gained and they don't account for a lot of things that matter:
- The size of the defender.
- The placement of the contact.
- The sustainability/force of the contact (reach, wrap, or hit).
- The amount of momentum the runner generated before the contact.
- The position of the runner heading into the contact.
- The presence of help from a teammate to push the runner forward.
Williams is definitely more powerful than Helaire but is he a monster mutant derived from the RB genetic strain of Lynch-Chubb-Taylor? While my process for analysis has been successful often, nothing is fool-proof. That said, I wouldn't put Williams in the same tier as those three elite runners.
But does that matter for fantasy football? I don't think it does. What matters more is the combination of talent and fit. The Broncos have a good enough offensive line to generate a ground game and Denver features its running backs often enough for them to earn production.
Mark Ingram has been a good running back for a long time. And "good" to me is skill above the average player who earns starter or high-end committee touches. Ingram has had an 11-year career. and in three of the four seasons where he played at least 15 games, he's earned at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage and has been a top-10 fantasy producer at the position.
When healthy, Ingram has been capable of mid-range RB1 value, even in 10-team fantasy formats. He's had 3 seasons with 45 catches and 4 campaigns where he averaged at least 4.9 yards per carry. During those years, you could argue that he was more than "good." In 2017, he was two touchdowns shy of No.4 fantasy RB Kareem Hunt.
I compared Williams to Ingram in style prior to the NFL Draft. When healthy and earning starter touches in an offense that runs the ball, Williams can be a perennial fantasy RB1. He might even eclipse 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns during his best years. Still, that's different from what a back like Taylor is doing statistically or what Chubb or Lynch showed on film.
I got a question last night from a reader: Am I trading a player like Saquon Barkley away for Williams? I didn't give a definitive answer. Instead, I gave him a range of options to allow him to answer the question in a way that suits his current process:
Depends on what you want: aspiring Mark Ingram reality overhyped in recent weeks as some crazy mix of elite backs that has never existed or an elite athlete with no OL, no QB, and a lot of injuries but the potential to be great if he ever gets help.— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 6, 2021
Depends on team build.
For this reader, he chose to keep Barkley because of the other backs he'd lose in that deal. I think that's the wisest choice. However, I can also see how trading Barkley for Williams would have a positive outcome: Williams has the better offensive line and the Broncos were close to acquiring Aaron Rodgers last year, which could happen in 2022. Barkley is the superior talent but a wilder talent as a decision-maker prone to more highs and lows because the Giants' offensive line isn't consistent enough to prevent Barkley from pressing the issue with decisions when the game scripts become more desperate.
If you can ride the highs and lows and build around it, Barkley may prove the better option. If you prefer the potential for consistency, Williams might be the better play if you can get more from the trade than Williams alone.
Of course, this is what also makes fantasy football compelling: A Barkley-Williams deal straight up would send many leagues into a tailspin over the fairness and/or wisdom of the deal. Of course, a similar deal in a PPR format this summer that would have involved McCaffrey-Fournette would have also been denounced in most formats, too.
This is why all trades should be fair in your leagues. If you try to regulate trades rather than adopting the Buyer Beware Approach, you can tear apart your league. If the deals are that bad, quit the league. You'll be happier.
5. IF Opportunity KNocks, Mike Boone Can Break Down the Door
Another player who had a notable performance in Kansas City was Boone, Williams' backup. Both Boone and Williams showed off power, vision, quick movement, and skill to protect the passer.
Boone showed these skills and more whenever he earned playing time with the Vikings. A skilled special teams option, the Broncos likely signed Boone short-term for his kick coverage and as a talented redundancy factor for the backfield in case of injury. Long-term, Gordon's in the sunset of his career as a starter, and Boone can slide into the No.2 role on the depth chart once Gordon is gone.
Keep this in mind while Gordon is out. If Gordon can't get healthy and Williams goes down in December, Boone can be that league-changing factor for a fantasy team.
6. IDP Alert: Edge Defender Charles Harris Is Worth Your Long-Term Investment
A former first-round pick of the Dolphins, Harris has bounced from Miami to Atlanta to Detroit over the past few years. Although I don't do a lot of IDP analysis, a vast majority of my fantasy participation is full IDP formats and I drafted Harris in a couple of rookie drafts when he came out. One of the things I liked about Harris was his strength and potential to use his hands in different ways to generate separation from tackles.
As we've seen in the NFL, most players lack a linear development trajectory. Slow acclimation, coaching changes, injuries, and free-agent additions can lead to coaches giving young prospects a quick hello and an even quicker goodbye. Harris qualifies here.
After his four-sack September, I added Harris to a few leagues as a free agent. This weekend, Harris earned two sacks and multiple pressures against the Vikings, who were two of its starters on its line. One of Harris' sacks came against tight end Tyler Conklin, a scrappy blocker for an H-Back but not a guy you want to be matched with a quality edge rusher.
Even so, when evaluating the player ahead of the competition, Harris displayed strength, technique, creativity, and versatility as a pass rusher.
Harris is the No.13 defensive end in IDP formats with Footballguys' scoring. He's 14th in high-performance scoring that's designed to equalize IDP and offensive scoring among elite performers. Although Harris' two sacks ended a two-month drought, his scoring in these formats only dipped below 10 points in 3 of 12 games. Considering that most of the top 25 defensive ends are averaging more than 10 points per game and the best are average over 15 a game, Harris has been usable even without the big plays.
Harris is on a one-year deal in Detroit and the general thought is that the Lions have seen enough to keep him around for another year or two. Detroit has played a lot of close games despite its 1-10-1 record. They have a good offensive line, solid ground game, and a pair of promising downfield options in the passing game with Hockenson and Josh Reynolds. I don't know if Harris has elite fantasy upside. Based on what I've seen, I don't think he has the bend and athletic skills of the top pass rushers.
Still, he has the potential to be a Mark Ingram-like producer at the DE position and that's worth acquiring if you need edge talent.
7. Chris Godwin Might Be the Most Impactful Free Agent of the 2022 Class
I'm not a Patriots fan, but I like to see players reach their potential. Mac Jones is one top receiver away from the Patriots' offense being able to "tie the room together" with its play designs. As mentioned earlier in the year, I think Godwin is the best candidate because of his versatility.
Sunday, Godwin set the Buccaneers' franchise record for receptions in a game with 15 — 5 alone on the first drive of the game. Many of them were scheme plays like screens and rub routes designed to exploit the Falcons' linebackers and safeties that are one of the weaknesses of Atlanta's team. Still, there's a lot more to Godwin's game than schemed plays, it's just that Godwin is good after the catch and a skilled slot option.
One of these things that makes Godwin so good is his ability to win trust throws. I've argued for years that the film reveals Godwin as the best trust-ball target of the receiving corps prior to Antonio Brown and I'm not sure this incarnation of Brown is still at that level of play. He probably is, but his judgment off the field has made that hard to tell due to limited film exposures.
Mac Jones will throw a receiver open. He's aggressive and trusts his players to make plays. Given him an option like Godwin and it will elevate Jones and potentially keep Godwins' recent production whole.
8. Looking Sharp: Russell Wilson Showed Signs of Returning to Form
When Wilson can stand in a compressed pocket and fire a vertical target with pinpoint accuracy, I know he's back to form. This happened repeatedly on Sunday despite a turnover-fest in Seattle that included Gerald Everett transforming a touchdown into an interception. Here's the best one from my perspective.
Seattle faces generous defenses to quarterbacks over the next four weeks: the Texans (15th), Rams (26th), Bears (12th), and Lions (19th) over the next four weeks. While that looks like a mixed back by ranking, here's how they have performed the past five weeks:
- Texans - 17th
- Rams - 8th (Wilson, who hurt his finger in the first half of their first contest, had 152 yards and a score in during the first half)
- Bears - 18th
- Lions - 28th
The weather shouldn't be a huge factor: The first two games are away games in warm weather environments and the last two at home. Look for Wilson to be sharp. If you don't have a top-12 quarterback and you can still trade for one, you might find a willing partner who reads Sigmund Bloom's dislike of Wilson (boy, if I ever get him on the couch to psychoanalyze the reasons, I may need him to bring someone to the session to drive him home) and get him at a discount.
If not, don't give up hope on the struggling Metcalf or Lockett and keep Everett as a matchup play.
9. And Ready for Love: Rookie Dee Eskridge Adds a Compelling Layer of Skills to the SEahawks' offense
One of the reasons for my optimism is the return of wide receiver Dee Eskridge, who impressed the team early in training camp before getting hurt. When he returned, he suffered a concussion in the season opener that cost him nine weeks. Sunday was Eskridge's best game of the year, a modest 3-catch, 35-yard, 1-score outing but he played a season-high 22 snaps and showed some things that I believe will help this offense over the next four weeks.
Eskridge for 17. Good block by Penny pic.twitter.com/KCSwRDeLkE— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 6, 2021
Eskridge arrived in Seattle as a promising deep threat who can also win after the catch. He's also a physical blocker with excellent hands at the line of scrimmage that should eventually aid his release game against man-to-man coverage. This year, I don't think you're going to see him in a lot of man-to-man situations.
It means that for Eskridge to earn fantasy-relevant volume while Metcalf, Lockett, and Freddie Swain are healthy, Eskridge will need to be the recipient of schemed plays like screens, throwouts, and rub routes to get him into space. Two of those three schemed plays showed up on Sunday's film.
Look for Wilson to target Eskridge in the vertical game in the coming weeks. I'm thinking it will happen 2-3 times over the next 2-3 weeks and, if successful, you'll not only see the next "unlikely 100-yard receiver/waiver consideration" in fantasy leagues but a player whose defenses haven't seen that opens up this Seahawks passing game down the stretch.
With Seattle out of the playoff picture, you'll likely see a player like Lockett earn more playing time to get him ready for next year and that's potentially a good thing for you to leverage at virtually no cost as a speculative addition.
10. FRESH FISH: WEEK 13
Fantasy football is a cruel place. We're always searching for the weakest link. While we don't want anyone facing the wrath of Hadley, we'd love nothing more than our players to face an opponent whose game has come unglued on the field.
In the spirit of "The Shawshank Redemption," I provide my weekly shortlist of players and/or units that could have you chanting "fresh fish" when your roster draws the match-up.
Special of the Week: The Vikings Linebackers. Rookie Troy Dye and Nick Vigil replaced the injury Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr for the Lions' game and they were a big reason why the Lions built an early lead and maintained it for most of the contest. Kendricks is arguably the best coverage linebacker in the game on routes breaking across the field and Barr is a top athlete he can over the seams. Dye and Barr couldn't do either and the rookie Dye has always been a reactive athlete much in the same vein as Atlanta's Deion Jones but without the top-drawer skills that Jones has in isolated parts of his game.
Here's the rest of the list.
Speaking of Deion Jones, he gave up two touchdowns in the first half of the Bucs game. Both times he misplayed the situation. The first was the Fournette catch shown earlier. Here's the Cameron Brate score.
Atlanta's offensive line gave up two sacks to Vita Vea, a good athlete at defensive tackle but more of a truck puller than an explosive undertackle like Chris Jones. Both sacks came on blown assignments, a common theme for Atlanta's unit.
Thanks again for all of your feedback on this column. Good luck next week and may your bold call come true.