Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 6
Week 6 is officially in the books.
Kendall Wright was productive and efficient on his 9 targets in Sunday's win, but he scored 27 points in points per reception (PPR) formats while running just 14 routes. This type of production is exciting, but most likely not sustainable unless his usage changes.
On the flip side, Brandon Marshall's catch rate is still just 45%, but he's dominating the market share of targets and will see an uptick in efficiency if Geno Smith can give the New York Jets better quarterback play.
This type of variation is what we're digging into more in this week's edition of Regression Candidates.
Negative Regression Candidates
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Per points per game average, Joe Flacco is the 22nd-best fantasy quarterback so far this season, but he has failed to capitalize on some plus-matchups. Despite favorable matchups, he ranks just 30th among quarterbacks in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. He has another great matchup on tap this week against the Jets, but Flacco has proven inconsistent and difficult to trust so far.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Jeremy Hill was removed from the injury report prior to Sunday's tilt against the New England Patriots, but it was Giovani Bernard carrying the load in Cincinnati's loss. Bernard was utilized as the workhorse, getting carries inside the five-yard line -- even though he ultimately failed to get into the end zone. Bernard ranks 73rd out of 82 running backs with 10 or more carries in Rushing NEP per play, and his Rushing Success Rate is below average, as well. As Hill gets healthier, the two may begin to split early down opportunities again, which caps Bernard's upside.
Jeremy Kerley, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Jeremy Kerley's skillset meshed well with Blaine Gabbert's "strengths," but Kerley played less of a role last week with Colin Kaepernick under center. Kaepernick likes to throw more intermediate and deep balls, but Kerley is a player who excels at getting open on short routes. Kerley ranks just 73rd out of 90 wide receivers in Reception NEP per target, highlighting that he hasn't even been particularly efficient on the targets that he was seeing with Gabbert as his quarterback, although a lack of big plays is always going to limit his per-target numbers. If he sees reduced targets like he did in Kaepernick's first start, Kerley will have trouble being a viable flex starter in 12-team PPR leagues.
Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints
Let's get this out of the way -- Coby Fleener will not be scoring many more rushing touchdowns in his career. Rushing score aside, Fleener still contributed 6 catches on 7 targets for 74 yards and a receiving touchdown in a shootout with the Carolina Panthers. However, the New Orleans Saints were at home, and Drew Brees' dramatic home-road splits carry over to his pass catchers, as well. Fleener has middling efficiency metrics, and with the Saints playing on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs this week, Fleener will likely be hard-pressed to find the same success he did a week ago.
Positive Regression Candidates
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
This one requires a bit of blind faith and instinct. Nothing about Aaron Rodgers' metrics hint at things getting any better -- he's 18th among quarterbacks in Passing NEP per drop back and 24th in Passing Success Rate. Fewer than half of his passes have resulted in a positive gain in NEP, and the struggling Green Bay Packers' offense may be without Eddie Lacy for some time. Rodgers' efficiency may dip as a result, but his volume should increase. His track record is too strong to give up on, and a matchup against a soft Chicago Bears' defense may be just what Green Bay needs.
Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Ol' reliable rushed for 100 yards in Monday night's overnight loss to the Houston Texans, becoming the first Indianapolis Colts' running back to accomplish the feat since Vick Ballard in 2012. Among running backs with 50 or more carries, Frank Gore ranks 8th in Rushing NEP per play and 5th in Rushing Success Rate, even though he's just fantasy's 15th best running back in PPR leagues. He's done this despite the Colts facing a negative game script in most of their games.
Torrey Smith, WR, San Francisco 49ers
A popular "sleeper" candidate this offseason, Torrey Smith was a fantasy bust with Gabbert under center, but he enjoyed his best game of the season in Kaepernick's first start. Smith had just three catches on seven targets, but he scored a touchdown and produced his highest yardage output. Smith is probably best utilized as a deep threat -- an area where Kaepernick is far more dangerous than Gabbert. With Kaepernick under center, Smith may develop into the fantasy asset many expected him to be.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Jack Doyle isn't the most athletic specimen at the tight end position, but he's been one of the more efficient ones. Doyle ranks 4th in Reception NEP per target out of 34 tight ends with 10 more targets, and he leads tight ends in catch rate. What's most exciting, though, is what Coby Fleener was able to do during his time in Indianapolis with Dwayne Allen out of the lineup. Per the Rotoviz Game Splits App, Fleener averaged 5.51 PPR points in 24 games with Allen active, versus 16.1 PPR points in the 7 games Allen was inactive. With Donte Moncrief still injured, Phillip Dorsett banged up and ineffective, and Allen likely to sit out, Doyle could be in line for a big uptick in usage.