Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 13

Jeremy Hill has disappointed since taking over as the Cincinnati Bengals' lead back. Will things get any better for him this week?

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. However, football is a game played by people, so natural variability plays a factor. But it's critical to trust your process, even when the results are less than favorable.

In this week's Regression Candidates, as most leagues begin their playoffs, we'll dive into some players whose stock is trending downwards and others who stock is moving upwards.

Negative Regression Candidates

Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco has been due for positive touchdown regression all season. After failing to post respectable performances in favorable matchups, Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens exploded for four passing scores against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday. Despite this outburst, he's still averaging just 1.3 passing touchdowns per game. The New England Patriots’ defense can be exploited, but they have performed better against the pass in recent weeks. We’ve been down this road before with Flacco.

Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

Jordan Howard did what running backs are supposed to do against the San Francisco 49ers -- he eviscerated them, rushing 32 times for 117 yards and 3 touchdowns. This came in a positive game script -- something the Chicago Bears aren’t likely to see often with Matt Barkley at the helm -- and in inclement weather that severely suppressed both quarterbacks. Howard has proven that he’s a capable pass catcher, but in games that the Bears trail, he most likely will not see as many scoring chances.

Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Cole Beasley’s red zone production this season is something you would expect out of 6’3” Dez Bryant, not a diminutive slot receiver. Beasley has undoubtedly improved this season, and he has converted five of his seven red zone targets into touchdowns -- an impressive 71 percent rate. But he is seeing just 15 percent of the team’s target share in the red zone. The league average red zone touchdown rate is around 23%, and Beasley has never been a prolific touchdown scorer before, indicating that his pace should regress. Dez has also slowly taken over as the alpha target in the offense, leading the NFL in Reception NEP per target (among receivers with 50 targets or more), and he has started scoring with regularity again. That's only going to make it tougher for Beasley to maintain this pace.

Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts

This one should go without saying. Dwayne Allen hadn't scored a touchdown since Week 5 before erupting for three scores last Monday night. The Indianapolis Colts' offense favors touchdown maven Donte Moncrief in the red zone while Jack Doyle has been a factor all season. Allen will undoubtedly have some big games, as he did Monday, but for such a touchdown-reliant option, these games will be difficult to predict.

This chart shows the running backs who have 20 or more red zone carries and 5 or more rushing touchdowns inside the 20 -- sorted by touchdown rate.

Player Red Zone Carries Red Zone Touchdowns Red Zone TD%
Latavius Murray 28 10 35.71%
Ezekiel Elliott 33 10 30.30%
LeGarrette Blount 44 11 25.00%
Ryan Mathews 28 7 25.00%
LeSean McCoy 28 7 25.00%
Jonathan Stewart 28 7 25.00%
Christine Michael 20 5 25.00%
Jay Ajayi 22 5 22.73%
Jordan Howard 23 5 21.74%
Terrance West 23 5 21.74%
David Johnson 42 9 21.43%
Matt Asiata 24 5 20.83%
Melvin Gordon 50 10 20.00%
DeMarco Murray 35 7 20.00%
Matt Forte 31 6 19.35%
Carlos Hyde 31 6 19.35%
Jeremy Hill 32 6 18.75%
Devonta Freeman 40 7 17.50%

The following table includes players who have at least five red zone targets and five red zone touchdowns. The league average touchdown rate in the red zone is around 23%.

Player Targets Receptions Touchdowns TD%
Donte Moncrief 8 8 6 75.00%
Cole Beasley 7 6 5 71.43%
Rishard Matthews 8 7 5 62.50%
Doug Baldwin 10 9 5 50.00%
Cameron Brate 13 8 6 46.15%
Michael Thomas 11 8 5 45.45%
Mike Evans 15 7 6 40.00%
Allen Robinson 16 8 6 37.50%
Anquan Boldin 14 11 5 35.71%
Theo Riddick 14 11 5 35.71%
Antonio Gates 14 6 5 35.71%
Jordy Nelson 23 14 8 34.78%
Davante Adams 15 10 5 33.33%
Michael Crabtree 16 8 5 31.25%

Positive Regression Candidates

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson was a massive disappointment for fantasy owners for half the season, but it looked like he had righted the ship after recovering from a myriad of injuries. Then -- mystifyingly -- he crumbled against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Wilson sat back against the Carolina Panthers as the run game took over the game. Wilson’s inconsistency has been maddening, but there is an opportunity for him to get back on track this weekend against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers’ secondary isn’t as porous as it was earlier in the year, but Wilson should have chances to strike downfield in what should be a high-scoring game.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Jeremy Hill has been dreadful in a full-time role since Giovani Bernard’s season-ending ACL tear, rushing for a total of 54 yards on 35 carries, saving his owners last week with a goal-line touchdown. Hill has a knack for finding the end zone, though, and he has a chance to face the Cleveland Browns again this week -- a team he destroyed for 168 yards and a touchdown earlier this season. In the wake of Bernard’s injury, the volume we all expected for Hill has been present, but the production has simply lacked behind. This Sunday presents a get-right spot for Hill.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Boyd has seen an increase in playing time in the wake of A.J. Green's injury. Five of his eight red zone targets on the season have come in the last three weeks (since Green went down), which is surprising usage considering the size of Brandon LaFell and the skill sets of Tyler Eifert and Jeremy Hill. Boyd has averaged 7.7 targets per game since Green's injury, and he also gets to face Cleveland this week. While he's still getting out-snapped by LaFell, he makes for a decent PPR option, especially against the Browns.

Vance McDonald, TE, San Francisco 49ers

Prior to Sunday’s debacle, Vance McDonald had emerged as one of Colin Kaepernick’s favorite targets. He's tied for the team lead in red zone targets, and he leads the San Francisco 49ers in targets, receptions, and yards over the past four weeks. This week, he gets to face off against a crumbling New York Jets defense that just allowed Dwayne Allen to do whatever he wanted on almost every play. Kaepernick has been named the starter again after being benched in last week's snow game, and Kaep will most likely look McDonald's way on plenty of occasions.

This chart shows the running backs who have 15 or more red zone carries and 4 or fewer rushing touchdowns inside the 20 -- again sorted by touchdown rate.

PlayerRed Zone CarriesRed Zone TouchdownsRed Zone TD%
Tim Hightower2015.00%
Mark Ingram2229.09%
Le'Veon Bell17317.65%
Matt Jones17317.65%
Todd Gurley23313.04%
Lamar Miller22313.64%
Spencer Ware22313.64%
Devontae Booker21314.29%
Frank Gore25416.00%
C.J. Anderson23417.39%
Doug Martin17211.76%
Isaiah Crowell20420.00%
Darren Sproles1516.67%
Robert Kelley20420.00%

This table shows players with at least nine red zone targets who have scored two or fewer red zone touchdowns this season.

Player Targets Receptions Touchdowns TD%
Amari Cooper 11 5 0 0.00%
Pierre Garcon 11 3 0 0.00%
Jermaine Kearse 11 0 0 0.00%
Chris Conley 12 3 0 0.00%
Nelson Agholor 13 5 0 0.00%
Stefon Diggs 9 8 0 0.00%
Darren Sproles 10 4 0 0.00%
Jason Witten 15 9 1 6.67%
Tyrell Williams 13 8 1 7.69%
Cameron Meredith 9 5 1 11.11%
Braxton Miller 9 3 1 11.11%
Emmanuel Sanders 16 7 2 12.50%
Coby Fleener 13 9 2 15.38%
Devonta Freeman 12 7 2 16.67%
Allen Hurns 12 5 2 16.67%
Julian Edelman 11 6 2 18.18%
Greg Olsen 11 7 2 18.18%
Dorial Green-Beckham 11 6 2 18.18%