Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 1
We're a week into the 2017 NFL season, and savvy owners are looking for opportunities to buy low and sell high on potentially unsustainable performances. We spend the entire offseason predicting what will unfold during the regular season, but we can now finally react to actual data and information.
By detailing both negative and positive regression candidates, the hope is that we will uncover some of the truths behind a handful of surprising Week 1 performances.
Negative Regression Candidates
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
We've been treated to a monster Week 1 performance from Alex Smith in each of the past two years. He was the overall QB1 this past week thanks to 368 passing yards and 4 touchdowns en route to stunning the New England Patriots with a 21-point fourth quarter.
Smith's Passing Success Rate of 55.26% -- which is the percentage of throws that positively impact his Net Expected Points (NEP) total -- was fourth best in the league. However, it remains to be seen if he will consistently hang scoring passes of 75-plus on the board (he did it twice against the Pats).
It'll be tough to post a repeat performance in Week 2, though. Kansas City heads home, but will host a Philadelphia Eagles defense that harassed Kirk Cousins into a -0.34 Passing NEP per drop back last week. That all being the case, there's a fair chance Smith regress back closer toward the middle of the pack.
Mike Gillislee, RB, New England Patriots
Mike Gillislee filled LeGarrette Blount's role in the New England offense quite well against the Chiefs. Week 1's RB2 cashed in on three short touchdown runs, and while he could have another strong day facing the New Orleans Saints, the advanced metrics show that he wasn't all that effective with his 15 carries.
His Rushing NEP per attempt of -0.16 ranked 33rd out of 50 running backs with at least five carries last week, and that's without considering the fact that he was a complete non-factor in the passing game. Getting the goal-line carries will continue to give him some value, but without those, it'll be hard to keep producing.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
He did score a touchdown and added 5 receptions for 56 yards, but he averaged just 2.1 yards per carry. Gurley also posted a -0.19 Rushing NEP per attempt, ranking 35th among rushers with at least five carries. Since it appeared as though the game script was very much in his favor, it was a disappointing result for the third-year back.
Positive Regression Candidates
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer was pretty bad against the Detroit Lions, posting a Passing NEP per drop back of -0.16, which was 22nd among 31 Week 1 quarterbacks with at least 15 drop backs. News didn't get any better after the game, as star running back David Johnson was placed on the injured reserve because of a wrist injury.
However, the veteran signal-caller gets a chance to get right against an Indianapolis Colts defense that will likely still be missing star corner Vontae Davis, which was just lit up by Jared Goff and the Rams. In a game in which the Cardinals are favored in Week 2, things should go a bit better for Palmer.
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals
With David Johnson set to miss a significant amount of time, this is Kerwynn Williams' opportunity to produce, and the volume of work in the backfield could be favoring him moving forward.
He only carried the ball five times last week, but posted an extremely efficient Rushing NEP per attempt of 0.77, which ranked seventh. We don't exactly know how the workload will be distributed between Williams, Andre Ellington, and the re-signed Chris Johnson, but Williams has shown that he could potentially be up for the task.
Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
The season opener was supposed to be a breakout opportunity for Chris Hogan, but that didn't really happen. Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks led the team in targets (seven each), and Hogan finished with only one catch for eight yards.
However, the good news is that Hogan still collected five targets, and they were downfield. He wasn't able to connect often with Tom Brady, but four of those targets traveled at least 15 yards through the air.
It's not like he was completely forgotten,either -- he did also rush the ball 3 times for 17 yards. Facing a solid matchup with the New Orleans Saints and Amendola potentially having to sit out, Hogan may have another chance to break out.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Although Thomas Rawls was inactive, we could be starting to gain a little more clarity with the Seattle Seahawks running back situation. Rookie Chris Carson's six carries were the most of any rusher in the backfield, and he was the only one of this group to get targeted in the passing game.
Carson played 27 snaps on Sunday, which was much more than C.J. Prosise (15) and Eddie Lacy (7). The first-year runner recorded a Rushing NEP per attempt of 0.05, and with the San Francisco 49ers on tap in Week 2, he could have a shot for more production with a more positive game script.