Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 14

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
At this point in the season, things have leveled out for a lot of players, but we still have some outliers. Matt Ryan (35.8 fantasy points below expectation) and Philip Rivers (33.2) remain the two huge exceptions to the rule. Only Teddy Bridgewater (24.0) and Daniel Jones (22.6) are at least 16 points away from expected. (Remember, NEP is a really good indicator of fantasy points, so the numbers are pretty tight overall).

Teddy is now 7.5 passing touchdowns below his expected output (he's at 0.19 Passing NEP per drop back [NFL average is 0.14]) but has thrown a touchdown on 3.3% of his drop backs, compared to an expected rate of 5.0%. Rivers (6.9 touchdowns below expectation), Ryan (6.6), Cam Newton (6.2), Jones (5.0), and Jared Goff (4.0) are the biggest outliers from a touchdown standpoint.

Over just the past five weeks, the biggest underperformers based on their efficiency are Justin Herbert (16.6 points below expectation), Patrick Mahomes (16.6), Andy Dalton (15.0), Goff (13.9), and Alex Smith (13.8). Goff is actually 4.0 touchdowns below expectation over the past five weeks alone. Mahomes (3.1), Jones (3.0), Smith (2.8), and Deshaun Watson (2.5) are the others above 2.0.

Negative Regression Candidates
Russell Wilson continues playing better than his NEP indicates he should. He's actually 55.6 fantasy points above expectation, with no other quarterback outplaying expectation by even 40 fantasy points. Wilson's expected touchdown rate (touchdowns per drop back) is 7.2% (trailing only Aaron Rodgers' 8.5%), but it should be around 5.2% based on his per-drop back efficiency. He's now a full 10.0 touchdowns over expectation. Only two others -- Rodgers (7.7) and Kirk Cousins (5.5) -- are above 5.0. Rodgers is 3.3 touchdowns over expected in the past five weeks alone to lead the league, and Cousins (2.8) is second in that span.

The other biggest overperformers are Taysom Hill (38.3), Drew Lock (35.3), Tom Brady (34.5), and Josh Allen (34.2), all of whom are at least 17.7 points above expectation as rushers only.

Running Backs

Positive Regression Candidates
The biggest positive regression candidates are still Frank Gore (24.5), Myles Gaskin (24.5), and Damien Harris (22.1), but the most engaging name in the top five is Austin Ekeler (16.1). Ekeler is now a full 3.8 touchdowns below expected (2.2 rushing and 1.6 receiving). He's due to score eventually, and that could lead to big outputs in the closing weeks.

Other notable names near the top of the list include DeAndre Washington (19.9), Kareem Hunt (14.6), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (14.4).

There's a lot to dislike about Ezekiel Elliott, but he's been better than expected over the past five weeks, and he's 18.9 points below where he should be, including a full 2.0 touchdowns from expectation as a rusher. The Dallas Cowboys' offense isn't elite, but a Zeke correction down the stretch could occur.

Negative Regression Candidates

Let's see a snapshot of the biggest overperformers at running back.

Player Actual Half-PPR
Expected Half-PPR
Antonio Gibson 171.2 114.6 56.6
Ronald Jones 162.5 118.7 43.8
Alvin Kamara 264.7 222.9 41.8
Melvin Gordon 141.4 106.2 35.2
James White 68.3 36.8 31.5
Nick Chubb 156.0 124.9 31.1
Mike Davis 163.1 134.8 28.3
Wayne Gallman 110.4 86.1 24.3
Dalvin Cook 275.9 255.6 20.3
Derrick Henry 256.7 239.0 17.7
Aaron Jones 183.8 167.8 16.0

Of the 11 names here, 9 have overperformed as touchdown scorers, the 2 exceptions being close to expectation (James White at 0.2 below expectation and Ronald Jones at 0.9 below expectation). Of course, all of these players have strong red-zone roles, so that's a big part of it here.

The biggest overall touchdown regression candidates includes Chris Carson at the top; he has 4.9 more scores than expected. Alvin Kamara is at 4.8, and Antonio Gibson is at 4.7.

Wide Receivers

Positive Regression Candidates
Along with Matt Ryan, the receivers for the Atlanta Falcons are big regression candidates, as the top three is Calvin Ridley (20.9 fantasy points below expectation), D.J. Moore (20.5), and Julio Jones (19.2). Jones is 2.4 touchdowns off of his expected pace, and Ridley is just on par with his 8 touchdowns this season.

The biggest recent regression candidates are Jalen Reagor (15.0 fantasy points below expectation over the past five weeks), Denzel Mims (14.5), Rashard Higgins (14.3), Mike Williams (13.7), and Ridley (9.7).

Michael Thomas is 2.0 touchdowns from expected over the past five weeks, making only he and Corey Davis (1.6) above 1.5 since Week 10.

Negative Regression Candidates
Davante Adams is hard to nitpick at this point in his career, but he's 33.6 fantasy points over expected, stemming largely from his elite touchdown conversion rate (he has 14 receiving touchdowns but "should have" 8.3 based on his Reception NEP). Only Robert Woods (31.2) is also at least 25 fantasy points over expected. The other biggest discrepancies belong to Curtis Samuel (24.8), Diontae Johnson (22.9), CeeDee Lamb (19.6), and Adam Thielen (19.6).

The past five weeks have been really kind to Adams, and he's 32.7 points over expected in that span. Nobody else is at least 18.4 over expected. Adams has 6 touchdowns since Week 10 but "should have" 2.5. Similarly, Thielen should have 2.5 but has 5 since Week 10.

Thielen remains the biggest touchdown overachiever with his 12 scores (he should have 6.2). That puts Thielen (5.8), Adams (5.7), Mike Evans (5.5), and Tyreek Hill (4.8) at least 3.7 touchdowns over expected.