Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 13
The holiday season is awesome, but there is some sadness that comes with it -- when the calendar flips to December, the end of the NFL regular season is coming quickly. There are only four weeks left in the regular season, and there have been plenty of ups and downs. We've seen some truly great and not-so-great performances. Clever fantasy football owners are looking for opportunities to buy low and sell high on potentially unsustainable performances. We spend the entire off-season predicting what will unfold once the action starts, 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 what we've seen so far this year.
Negative Regression Candidates
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
One of fantasy's best quarterbacks this season, Drew Brees faces a sneaky-tough matchup in Week 14. But first, let's peek at the RotoViz Game Splits App on Brees' home-road splits dating back to the beginning of 2017:
Brees is averaging nearly 60 fewer passing yards and almost one fewer passing touchdown per game on the road versus the friendly confines of New Orleans. That's the first red flag.
The second major warning sign is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have quietly been really solid on defense the last four weeks. Despite a 38-35 shootout loss to the New York Giants, the Bucs are allowing an average of only 20 points per game over the last four, while racking up a whopping 15 sacks. If we take out that stinker against the Giants, they've allowed only 14 points per game.
Brees has been awesome this season, but retaining his top QB status for Week 14 seems like a tall task.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
That solid performance appears to be an outlier, as he attempted a mere 17 passes, picking up only 185 passing yards. While the pass volume is likely to bounce back in Week 14, Wilson's opponent this week, the Minnesota Vikings, has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They haven't allowed multiple touchdown passes in any of their last five games, despite that stretch including matchups with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady.
Unless Wilson can put up some big rushing numbers this week against the ninth-ranked passing defense, per our metrics, a difficult game awaits.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals
After swiping two touchdowns from David Johnson on his way to a surprising 51 rushing yard, two touchdown day and ranking as RB7, is Chase Edmonds in line for a larger role in the Arizona Cardinals backfield?
It doesn't look likely. While that breakout performance was a bit of a surprise, Edmonds racked up an offensive snap rate of only 21% and his high-water mark in touches in 2018 is only 8.
Despite a juicy matchup this week against the Detroit Lions, who rank 24th against the run per our metrics, another multiple touchdown week from Edmonds seems unlikely unless he starts seeing the field significantly more.
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
After racking up two catches for 31 receiving yards prior to a late 11-yard touchdown catch, Corey Davis now matches up the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have really dialed things up lately. The third-ranked pass defense shut-out Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts a week ago, and they will now take on the Tennessee Titans.
Things get worse when you peek at Davis's numbers against Jalen Ramsey. Over their career matchups, Davis has only managed the following:
Currently fantasy's WR22, Davis appears primed for a step-back this week, and he could fall out of the top tier of wide receivers soon.
Positive Regression Candidates
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Clocking in as QB28 this year, could Josh Allen win you a fantasy championship? Peeping his Average Intended Air Yards (IAY), or the average distance of throws per pass attempt, Allen leads the league with a mark of 11.7 IAY. Dude is certainly taking his shots deep.
And his rushing numbers give him sneaky upside. Check out Allen in Week 13:
Allen now ranks third among quarterbacks with 389 rushing yards, and he is tied with Cam Newton with four rushing scores.
This week, he faces a New York Jets defense that allowed 43 rushing yards on four carries to Marcus Mariota last week, and they clock in only 20th against the pass. With his deep ball ability and rushing upside, Allen could be screaming up the fantasy rankings.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears
Despite suffering a tough loss in Week 13 to the Giants, Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen continues to explode from a usage perspective and he's a back we want to own, despite ranking only as RB16. With a few more performances like last week, he could be in the top tier of running backs soon.
While Jordan Howard owned the ground game, registering 16 carries to Cohen's 8, Cohen blasted his way to 14 targets, 12 catches, and 156 receiving yards. All of those marks led Chicago, while Howard caught only a single pass for four yards.
The fact that Howard continues to get a pile of work is a bit strange, too -- among the 54 running backs with 70 or more carries, Cohen clocks in 23rd in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry, while Howard ranks 44th (-0.11).
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With news that DeSean Jackson could miss the rest of the season due to an injury, the time for Chris Godwin to shine is now. While it's only a three-game sample size, check out Godwin's numbers so far over the last two seasons with Jackson out of the game:
Next up is a New Orleans Saints pass defense that ranks in the middle of the pack (19th), so it's not the easiest of matchups for Godwin. But with an offense that ranks eighth in pass-to-run ratio (1.70) and sixth in situation-neutral pace (29.89 seconds per play), Godwin, fantasy's WR35, could be a fantasy asset down the playoff stretch.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts
In games without Jack Doyle this year, Eric Ebron has 24% of the Colts' total targets, 30% of their targets 16+ yards downfield, and 28% of their red-zone targets. WR-esque usage.
— Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) December 3, 2018
While last week was an ugly effort, posting a goose egg as an offense in a 6-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Ebron lead the passing attack with 16 targets (30.8% target market share), 10 catches, and 81 receiving yards, all team highs.
No longer saddled with facing a very difficult pass defense like the Jaguars, the Houston Texans rank 16th against the pass in the 2018 season, and have allowed the seventh-most points to the position (12.0 PPG). Feel free to dial up Ebron, who looks like he's in line for a big Week 14.