Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 2
After the first week of the 2019 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 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
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Currently tied for fourth among quarterbacks with five touchdown passes this season, Jacoby Brissett sits on the fringe of starting quarterbacks thanks to that scoring prowess.
But there are some concerns that Brissett's performance could be a bit of a flash in the pan. So far, Indianapolis ranks as the league's third-heaviest rushing offense (0.90 Pass-to-Rush ratio), and Brissett has recorded a mere 60 drop backs on the season.
As a passer, while the touchdowns have been fantastic, Brissett hasn't been all that efficient. Among signal callers with 30 or more drop backs, he ranks only 19th in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.07).
Expect the quarterback to begin to back slide in the near future.
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams
A week after making his debut on the positive regression candidates list, Malcolm Brown unfortunately makes an appearance on the negative list, and let's dive into the why.
First, in looking at the Los Angeles Rams' red zone work, Brown shined in Week 1 with five red zone touches and two scores. That work went by the wayside in Week 2, as teammate Todd Gurley dominated that work and Brown fell back to only two of those opportunities.
Unsurprisingly, Brown only recorded seven touches for 47 yards on the day, and he didn't find paydirt. This is a situation we definitely need to keep a close eye on, but with continued efforts like these, he won't be at the top of the fantasy leaderboard for much longer.
D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Currently ranking as fantasy's WR5, D.J. Chark has been a pleasant surprise on the fantasy landscape to start the 2019 season.
Be careful, though. As fun as the Gardner Minshew story has been, he hasn't been all that strong under center. Among that same group of quarterbacks we highlighted with Brissett, the Jacksonville Jaguars lead man ranks only 25th in Passing NEP per drop back (0.03).
In peeking at AirYards.com, despite being a big fantasy scorer, Chark ranks only 33rd in air yards (179). He's doing work, but it's in the short to intermediate passing game.
Chark has been strong, but expect him to fall back soon.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Death. Taxes. Terrible Jason Witten commentary in the broadcast booth and scoring touchdowns. It's just science.
Through two games, the prolific Dallas Cowboys has been racking up points at a fast pace, and Witten is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns at the position (two).
However, any dive into Witten's metrics shows this isn't sustainable. His eight targets (12.9% target market share) ranks him 16th at the position, and his seven catches is tied for 14th. Don't get sucked in by the early season scores.
Positive Regression Candidates
Jimmy Garoppolo QB, San Francisco 49ers
As one of three 2-0 teams in the NFC West, Jimmy Garoppolo is trying to continue his solid play prior to injuring his knee last season. Currently ranked as fantasy's QB18, it may look like he's off to a poor fantasy start.
He could be a player that's quickly moving up the fantasy ranks soon, though. He's been extremely productive using our NEP metric, ranking 9th in Passing NEP per drop back (0.27) and 12th in Passing Success Rate (50.94%).
While their 0.73 pass-to-run ratio limits some of Garoppolo's upside, he faces a Pittsburgh Steelers that really has struggled through two weeks. He should push his way into that QB1 territory soon.
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Marlon Mack clocks in as fantasy football's RB8, but his ascent to Top-five status could be occurring quickly. This is a run-heavy Colts offense, led by Mack, who leads the NFL in rushing attempts (45).
Despite that hefty workload, Mack ranks ninth among running backs with 20 or more carries (32) in Rushing NEP per carry (0.13).
Demarcus Robinson, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Any piece of the Kansas City Chiefs offense that you can own, you grab immediately. With Tyreek Hill out for a bit, Demarcus Robinson is someone who could soar up the fantasy ranks despite clocking in only as WR16 today.
Ranking sixth in Week 2 with 152 air yards, Robinson stepped into the speedster role that was vacated and produced a monster fantasy week. Robinson tied for third on the team in targets (six) for an offense that works quickly -- when leading, which the Chiefs often are, they actually rank sixth when ahead by seven-plus points (28.79 seconds per play).
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
One would expect all mouths could be equally fed in this situation, but Austin Hooper ranks as the TE13 so far -- including a lowly four-catch, 34-receiving yard performance.
It's not all ugly, though. Hooper ranks sixth at the position in targets (15), Atlanta plays at a quick situation-neutral pace (12th, 27.06 seconds), and the veteran pass catcher faces an Indianapolis Colts defense that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the tight end position a season ago (9.8 points-per-game).
Hooper could be making a move, and Week 3 could start his ascent.
Matt Kupferle is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matt Kupferle also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username MKupferle. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.