Fantasy Football Week 10: Wide Receiver Touchdown Regression Update

It's true that some players -- I'm looking at you, Dez Bryant -- are good at scoring touchdowns. But, across the entire NFL, finding the end zone is something that mostly stems from opportunity. And, of course, a little bit of luck.

Remember Calvin Johnson's historic 2012 campaign? You know, the one where he almost hit the 2,000-yard mark in receiving? That year, Megatron scored five -- that's five -- touchdowns. Despite the fact that he caught more than a mile worth of yards, he found the end zone five times. He was unlucky -- he was tackled within the five-yard line eight times that season.

It goes the other way, too. In 2013, Jerricho Cotchery scored 10 touchdowns on just 602 yards receiving. Clearly, that was an outlier -- he regressed to the mean the next season in Carolina, scoring once with just 22 fewer yards.

Math is real.

Yards are one way to normalize touchdown production, but to be more accurate, we can also use our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which you can read more about in our glossary. Specifically with wide receivers, Reception NEP measures the number of real points a player accumulates on all catches. Because this is fantasy football and we're only interested in cumulative volume, we'll work with that.

The Process

I wrote about this topic over the offseason, so rather than re-writing the process of using Net Expected Points to show touchdown regression, I'll copy and paste that sucker here for you:

Charting the relationship between touchdowns and our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric -- which shows how many actual points a player adds for his team (check out more on NEP in our glossary) -- allowed for an analysis of how many touchdowns a player should have scored versus how many touchdowns a player actually scored. To put this another way, because Net Expected Points measures how many points a player actually scored for his team, it's not skewed by a counting statistic like touchdowns -- a touchdown scored from the 1-yard line isn't as impactful as a touchdown scored from the 40.

This, in turn, brought the following chart.

Touchdowns vs. NEP, 2015 wide receivers

What we find with this trendline is the number of touchdowns a player would be expected to score based on his NEP totals. So, if a dude puts up 100 Net Expected Points, we'd generally expect him to score a little under eight touchdowns.

Update Through Week 9

Now that that's out of the way, let's take a look at players who should have more touchdowns than they currently do through nine weeks. (Note: Data does not include Thursday night's contest.)

name Reception NEP Touchdowns Should Have Difference
Amari Cooper 64.49 2 4.72 2.72
Marqise Lee 37.15 0 2.62 2.62
Alshon Jeffery 49.26 1 3.55 2.55
A.J. Green 71.19 3 5.24 2.24
Chris Conley 28.94 0 1.99 1.99
Jarvis Landry 41.79 1 2.98 1.98
Doug Baldwin 52.69 2 3.82 1.82
Robert Woods 38.40 1 2.72 1.72
Adam Thielen 38.34 1 2.71 1.71
Brandon Marshall 51.30 2 3.71 1.71
Pierre Garcon 37.24 1 2.63 1.63
Tajae Sharpe 24.12 0 1.62 1.62
Quinton Patton 23.01 0 1.53 1.53
Stefon Diggs 47.64 2 3.43 1.43
John Brown 34.58 1 2.42 1.42
Willie Snead 47.48 2 3.41 1.41
Victor Cruz 34.12 1 2.39 1.39
Jermaine Kearse 19.53 0 1.26 1.26
Robby Anderson 19.33 0 1.25 1.25
Ted Ginn Jr. 19.20 0 1.24 1.24

And here's a list of wide receivers who should have fewer touchdowns than they currently have:

nameReception NEPTouchdownsShould HaveDifference
Jordy Nelson50.1173.62-3.38
Davante Adams41.6162.96-3.04
Tyreek Hill18.9841.22-2.78
Anquan Boldin35.4252.49-2.51
Justin Hunter12.7930.74-2.26
Seth Roberts26.9341.83-2.17
Donte Moncrief14.5130.88-2.12
Rishard Matthews43.0553.07-1.93
Mike Evans83.3086.17-1.83
Brandon LaFell33.5342.34-1.66
Andre Holmes8.1620.39-1.61
Antonio Brown60.1864.39-1.61
Danny Amendola21.2331.39-1.61
Brandin Cooks47.4853.42-1.58
Roger Lewis8.6720.43-1.57
Brice Butler9.6920.51-1.49
Larry Fitzgerald48.7053.51-1.49
Darrius Heyward-Bey9.8620.52-1.48
Odell Beckham48.8453.52-1.48
Michael Crabtree61.8864.52-1.48