Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 10
Ten weeks down, and only seven to go in the NFL season, and fantasy football owners are always 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 over a half-season's worth of actual data and information at our fingertips, 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
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
While he is still in the QB1 discussion in 2017, it's by the slimmest of threads, as he currently checks in as QB11. The drop in sheer pass volume from last year is pretty significant:
Drew Brees through 10 weeks -
Games over 300 yards: 2
Games with 40+ passing attempts: 2
Games with 30-40 pass attempts: 3
Avg. YPG: 325.5
Avg. Attempts per game: 42
Avg. TD per game: 2.31
Total TDs: 37
— Adam (@AdamWildeFF) November 14, 2017
Last season's QB3 has not topped 20 fantasy points since Week 3, and offensively, the Saints attack now ranks 27th in pass-to-run ratio (1.12). With Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combining to rush for 237 yards last week, expect Brees to only continue sliding down those rankings.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
With four straight wins for the Tennessee Titans, and coming off his second-most passing yards and his best rushing day of the year (51 rushing yards) in Week 10, Marcus Mariota has been a big part of the win streak in Nashville. But, it may be tough to keep the train rolling.
According to our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back metric, while the team has been winning, Mariota still has room to improve. Among the 36 quarterbacks who have dropped back 100 or more times, Mariota clocks in only 18th (0.10).
The Titans' closing schedule is especially brutal, starting with a date this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who rank 7th in our overall defensive metrics and 10th in our passing metrics.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers faced the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, who have allowed big rushing days to Derrick Henry (14 carries, 92 yards, 1 touchdown), Alex Collins (9 rushes, 82 yards), Bilal Powell (21 rushes, 193 yards, 1 touchdown), and Todd Gurley (23 rushes, 116 yards). Despite some lofty expectations, things didn't go as well as expected for Melvin Gordon.
Gordon toted the rock 16 times for only 27 yards, and backup Austin Ekeler has started to steal a little bit of the show:
One of the bigger shocks from Week 10 was running back Austin Ekeler's usage, as he played 33% of the #Chargers snaps. Ekeler's had a snap rate at or above 30% over the last 3 games. 📈
15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 11 ➡️ https://t.co/0uqxb016kr pic.twitter.com/9CW4W7b8nU
— numberFire (@numberFire) November 14, 2017
Ekeler has slowly been eating into Gordon's workload, and those touches that the rookie continues to receive will only limit Gordon's upside.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
There are two Tennessee running backs splitting the workload, but unfortunately, the more efficient of the two running backs isn't the one garnering the majority of the market share.
This season, Derrick Henry has been the leader in terms of Rushing NEP per play (-0.04 to -0.08) compared to DeMarco Murray. Peering in at Rushing Success Rate (or the rate of plays that return positive NEP), Henry has outperformed Murray 42.55% to 33.94%.
Despite that, Murray out-rushed Henry 14 to 11 last week. He also received the goal line work for both scores, and he caught 4 passes to Henry's zero. The week before, the touches were pretty even -- Henry actually led 10 to 9 -- but Murray received the goal line work yet again and found pay dirt. As long these trends continue, Henry will be backsliding.
Positive Regression Candidates
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
It seems a bit weird to discuss fantasy's overall RB2 as a positive regression candidate, but after a white-hot start to the year, it hasn't been all that sensational for Hunt owners.
In half-point PPR leagues, over Kansas City's last five games, Hunt has checked in as RB26, RB25, RB10, RB15, and RB13. Nothing to scoff at, but nothing to tell mom about, either.
The good news is that in Week 11, Hunt could get back on track with a very favorable game script. The Chiefs are currently heavy favorites against the New York Giants, who rank only 18th in our rushing metrics.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Coming off of their bye week, the Denver Broncos have lost five in a row, and they are getting absolutely roasted through the air. In back-to-back weeks, they have allowed a combined 92 points and 7 passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks.
The Cincinnati Bengals are sure to take advantage of this porous pass defense, and Brandon LaFell has seen a ton of looks lately. In last week's close loss to Tennessee, LaFell led Cincinnati in targets with 10, converting those into 7 catches for 95 yards and a score.
He may only have 31 catches on the season, but that number could rise soon with a spicy matchup on tap.
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
After suffering an ankle injury in October, Sterling Shepard missed some games for the Giants. Shepard is not alone in the wide receiving corps -- the injury bug has bit Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall as welll.
But since returning two weeks ago, Shepard has been a beast, garnering 22 targets, turning those looks into 16 catches for 212 receiving yards.
The 1-8 Giants are heavy underdogs again this week, so a negative game script could lead to heavy passing volume, which would be very nice against the Chiefs' 19th-ranked pass defense.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
With single-digit fantasy efforts in two of his last three games, Rob Gronkowski -- this year's TE3 in half-point PPR formats -- has been mildly disappointing lately. That could all turn on a dime very quickly.
The New England Patriots travel to Mexico to face the Oakland Raiders, who have been extremely generous to opposing tight ends. This year, Hunter Henry (5 receptions for 90 yards), Travis Kelce (4 receptions, 33 yards, 1 touchdown), and Julius Thomas (6 receptions, 84 yards, 1 touchdown), have beaten down the Raiders. It's a big reason why they rank 10th in points allowed to the position, at 8.2 a game.