Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 6
As we round into Week 7 of the 2017 NFL regular season, savvy fantasy football owners are looking for opportunities to buy low and sell high on potentially unsustainable performances. We spend the entire offseason predicting what will unfold once the action starts, but with actual data and information at our finger tips, it's a little easier to make those decisions.
By detailing both negative and positive regression candidates, the hope is that we will uncover some of the truths behind what we've seen so far this year.
Negative Regression Candidates
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
A first glance at last week's fantasy output from Carlos Hyde's afternoon doesn't look too bad, as he scored twice on the day. However, a closer look reveals it may not have been as positive as originally anticipated.
Hyde carried the rock 13 times for only 28 yards, and game script cannot be blamed here -- the San Francisco 49ers were tied through three quarters. He also faced a middle-of-the pack rushing defense in the Washington Redskins, who check in 12th against the run, per our metrics.
Among the 33 running backs with 50-plus carries this season, Hyde's Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry mark of -0.01 now ranks 12th. And while it was good to see him dominate touches out of the backfield this weekend, let's not forget that Matt Breida out-carried him in Week 5 (10 to 8).
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Week 6 was supposed to be Marlon Mack week, right? After ripping off 91 yards on 9 carries, it stood to make sense that Mack would see more playing time.
The Colts went right to the rookie runner in the first quarter, who promptly crushed a 22-yard gain. Unfortunately, he only saw one more carry before giving way to Frank Gore and Robert Turbin the rest of the way. Turbin did suffer an arm injury late, which could open the door for Mack, but his lack of overall playing time is puzzling. It also makes Mack hard to trust, as the volume just doesn't seem to be there right now.
Mike Gillislee, RB, New England Patriots
In a very positive game script, Mike Gillislee owners were finally set to see the workload many had hoped for. But after an early fumble, Gillislee wound up only playing 13 snaps for a 19.1% snap rate.
He may have already given way to Dion Lewis -- who saw some early work and played 29 snaps (42.3%) -- but the fumble certainly didn't help. Gillislee has recorded a Rushing NEP per carry mark of -0.19, while Lewis has been far more effective (0.16).
Week 7 should be interesting to watch, as the New England Patriots are heavy home favorites. The carries should be there if the game script holds true, but Gillislee may be trending down in the volume department.
Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans
Alright, Will Fuller, quit playin'. This touchdown rate is just getting flat-out absurd.
Top 10 wide receivers (minimum 10 targets) in touchdowns per target. What the hell, Will Fuller. pic.twitter.com/Z81nezny5e
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) October 16, 2017
Fuller is doubling up the next closest receiver (Brice Butler) in touchdowns per target, which means he has to come back to the pack soon, correct? He garnered 92 targets and caught only 2 scores last season, which certainly is a far more reasonable scoring rate.
The Houston Texans wideout seems to keep scoring every week, but his touchdown dependency means he'll be rejoining reality very soon.
Positive Regression Candidates
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
After suffering a hamstring injury and missing a week, Marcus Mariota's availability was very much up in the air heading into a contest with the Colts Monday night. He balled out, though, passing for 306 yards and a score which helped break an 11-game losing streak to their division rivals.
And this week gets even better -- he will face a Cleveland Browns passing attack that ranks 31st, per our metrics, and just allowed three passing touchdowns to Deshaun Watson. Look for Mariota to take a big step forward from his current rank of QB16.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
What kind of world are we living in when Julio Jones is WR33?
The volume is there for the Atlanta Falcons offense -- after Week 6, the team ranks 13th in pass-to-run ratio (1.43). It's also not due to a lack of efficiency, because among the 38 wideouts with at least 35 targets, Jones ranks 13th in Reception NEP per target (0.72).
But it's Jones' volume in particular that is seriously hampering, as he's garnered just 37 targets so far this year. That number could rise quickly with a Week 7 date with the New England Patriots, who not only rank 28th against the pass, per our metrics, but they've also allowed a 300-yard passer in each game.
Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions
He may only be WR26 in half-point PPR formats, but Marvin Jones' stock is seriously on the rise.
What stood out the most in a Week 6 loss to the New Orleans Saints was his team-leading 14 targets, which he converted to 6 catches, 96 receiving yards, and a score. Even with that high workload, Jones ranks 10th in Reception NEP per target in 2017 (0.74).
Bennie Fowler, WR, Denver Broncos
With Emmanuel Sanders already ruled out due to an ankle injury, it seems as though there could be quite a bit of opportunity in the Denver Broncos wide receiving corps, which means Bennie Fowler could be worth a look.
In a tough loss to the New York Giants Sunday night, Fowler tied Sanders with eight targets.
With a solid matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on tap, who we rank as 19th against the pass, and a date with the struggling Patriots in a few weeks, Fowler makes for a sneaky upside play moving forward.