Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 13

Regression is a big deal in fantasy football.

Who doesn't want to get in low on a player whose peripheral data is better than his fantasy point tallies are? Who wouldn't want to trade away a player who is playing way above expectation -- or perhaps avoid him in daily fantasy formats?

Expected regression is something that we can apply both to season-long fantasy football but also daily fantasy, as well.

So, I went through and paired up various parts of our Net Expected Points (NEP) model to help see where the biggest discrepancies are between players' fantasy points and their expected fantasy points.

Keep in mind that NEP correlates really (really) strongly to half-PPR fantasy points, so a lot of players are playing close to their actual fantasy point output. But it's the outliers that we should focus on.


Positive Regression Candidates
As usual, there are two quarterbacks who have been significantly more efficient than their fantasy points indicate: Matt Ryan (has underperformed in total fantasy points by 32.2 points) and Philip Rivers (31.4). Rivers has thrown 6.6 fewer passing touchdowns than his efficiency and volume indicate he should have by now, and Ryan sits at 6.4 (between the two with 6.5 is actually Cam Newton, who just rushes for all of the scores).

Two lower-tier names stick out always, as well: Teddy Bridgewater (19.1 fantasy points below expectation) and actually Daniel Jones (25.4). They are 5.9 and 5.2 passing touchdowns below expectation, respectively. Hopefully, Jones can return sooner than later and help elevate the New York Giants' offense.

The other two touchdown outliers (with at least 3.0 touchdowns below expectation) come from the NFC West: Jared Goff is 4.3 passing scores below what the data says he should have, and Nick Mullens is 3.4 scores below expectation.

Negative Regression Candidates
Russell Wilson leads the charge and is an astounding 53.5 fantasy points above expectation (next up is Taysom Hill at 35.4 and a more apt comparison of Josh Allen at 34.3). Wilson's Passing NEP per drop back is just 0.18, which puts him 0.04 points above the NFL average. A lot of his inefficiency comes from sacks, which is part of it, but his expected touchdown rate (touchdown passes per drop back for this practice) is 4.9%. His actual touchdown rate is 6.7%. That puts him, in total, 8.6 passing scores above expectation.

Only three other passers are 5.0 touchdowns over expectation: Aaron Rodgers (7.7), Kirk Cousins (5.6), and Carson Wentz (5.0).

Snapping back to the biggest outliers from a fantasy standpoint, we have Hill, whose rushing helps him outperform his passing metrics, and Allen, who has six rushing scores of his own. The biggest passing-only outliers are Rodgers (30.1 points above expectation) and Cousins (28.0). For as efficient as they have been, their touchdown rates are higher than expected.

Running Backs

Positive Regression Candidates
Myles Gaskin has the biggest gap between actual fantasy points and his expected total (24.5 points below expectation) at the position. The majority of that comes from being 19.9 points below expectation as a rusher only. Along with that, he's 3.0 total touchdowns from where he should be, based on the data (-1.7 as a rusher and -1.3 as a receiver).

Jonathan Taylor (-19.7) also ranks top-five in fantasy points below expectation. He's 1.2 scores below par. He has more successful rushes (63) than Aaron Jones (62) but is trailing him by 32.5 rushing fantasy points.

Austin Ekeler (-16.7) is seventh in fantasy points below expectation among running backs and is a full 2.9 touchdowns from expectation, tied for the 5th-biggest deviation at the position.

The largest touchdown outliers at running back are Devin Singletary (-4.4), Frank Gore (-3.5), Damien Harris (-3.3), Gaskin (-3.0), Ekeler (-2.9), and J.D. McKissic (-2.9).

Negative Regression Candidates
We've still got the usual suspects at the top of the list: Antonio Gibson (56.6 fantasy points over expectation), Ronald Jones (41.4), and Melvin Gordon (38.7), but we can now add Alvin Kamara (31.7) to the over-30 club. Kamara (4.3 touchdowns over expectation) and Gibson (4.6) rank top three at the position, along with Chris Carson (4.5).

Todd Gurley's 3.7 touchdowns over expectation are a big reason for why Matt Ryan is underperforming there, but yes, we have to keep in mind player roles and usage.

Dalvin Cook isn't quite as big of an outlier at this point, but he used to be, and then...regression hit. He was scoring way too frequently earlier in the year, and he now has just one total touchdown over his past four games. He's still 2.9 touchdowns above expectation, yet that's a more reasonable number for a star running back. Because of his role and talent level, he should perform better than the NFL average at scoring touchdowns, but we've seen regression hit him in recent weeks. Identifying these situations can help us get leverage in fantasy formats.

Wide Receivers

Positive Regression Candidates
The top-seven underperforming receivers from a fantasy standpoint are D.J. Moore (-20.5), Danny Amendola (-19.4), Tyler Boyd (-19.2), Julio Jones (-19.2), Calvin Ridley (-18.9), Kendrick Bourne (18.4), and Damiere Byrd (17.6). All but Ridley (0.1 touchdowns below expectation) are at least 2.2 touchdowns below expectation based on their efficiency and volume.

Next on the list in terms of fantasy points are two interesting names: Corey Davis (-15.0) and Jarvis Landry (-14.4). Sure, that's just more than a point per game at this point in the season, but we know that each of those two guys are getting volume at this point, and we could see better fantasy performances from them moving forward.

The biggest discrepancies in touchdowns and expected touchdowns at receiver are Cooper Kupp (-3.2), Robby Anderson (-3.1), Amendola (-3.1), Jakobi Meyers (-2.9), Landry (-2.7), and Terry McLaurin (-2.6). Other notable names with at least two more expected scores than they currently have: Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, and Brandin Cooks.

Negative Regression Candidates
There are five receivers who are at least 20.0 half-PPR points above expectation through Week 13: Robert Woods (31.0), Davante Adams (28.0), Adam Thielen (23.6), CeeDee Lamb (23.2), and Diontae Johnson (20.9).

Of them, weirdly, only Adams (5.3) and Thielen (6.3) are more than a touchdown over expectation among them.

Speaking of that, Thielen's 6.2 touchdowns over expectation leads the position, with only Mike Evans (5.8), Adams (5.3), and Tyreek Hill (4.6) also above 3.6. Eventually, Thielen has to put up a zero in the touchdown column, right?

Four other receivers are at least two scores over expectation: A.J. Brown (3.6; which coincides with Corey Davis' 1.7 scores below expectation), Chase Claypool (3.1), Christian Kirk (2.5; DeAndre Hopkins is 1.5 scores below expectation), and Tyler Lockett (2.0).