Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 3

After the three weeks 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

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

It seems odd to pick on the quarterback of a team that legitimately could run the table at 16-0, but here we are with Tom Brady, and he could be back-sliding soon.

The reason to raise a red flag certainly isn't related to efficiency, by any stretch of the imagination. Among signal callers with 50 or more drop backs, Brady ranks only third in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.45). That's friggin' outstanding.i

The real problem lies in the pace of play and the pass-to-run (P/R) ratio the Pats have showcased. In terms of overall pace, the Patriots clock in 26th (29.56 seconds per play). By itself, that isn't a major red flag, but combined with their 1.25 P/R ratio, now it's a watch out

Facing a tough Buffalo Bills defense this week, expect a back slide from Brady.

Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, San Francisco 49ers

Maybe you are buying into the next monster goal line back -- like a Jerome Bettis late in his career -- can Jeff Wilson be a fantasy darling?

But in all likelihood -- Jeff Wilson, quit playin'.

Currently much higher in the fantasy ranks than expected due to his goal line scoring prowess, Wilson's role is going to be carved out as a function of whether short-yardage opportunities near pay dirt exist or not.

But as seen with his goose egg in Week 1, his four rushing touchdowns so far seem to be clearly inflating his statistics given his 18 total carries this season. It's unlikely he scores once every six rushes, but who knows.

If you are counting on Wilson to save you at the running back position, think again.

D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Ok D.J. Chark, we get it -- you are good at football. But for fantasy footballers, can he maintain his lofty status as WR6 in half-point-per-reception leagues?

Heck no. While he does have a score in each contest this season, he's got a lot working against him. His 18 targets in 2019 represent only an 18.8% target market share -- which is good, but not great.

Furthermore, the Jacksonville Jaguars play at a plodding pace. In terms of both overall pace and situation-neutral pace, the Jags rank dead last in both categories. That's not good, Bob.

Facing a tough Denver Broncos pass defense, which has yielded the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, Chark should be stepping back, and soon.

Philip Dorsett, WR, New England Patriots

Take your victory lap now if you had Phillip Dorsett as the best fantasy commodity at the wide receiver positions for the Pats through Week 3? Yup, he's outscored Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman, and heck, even Antonio Brown despite his monster week.

But let's examine what's really going on here. He's a dreaded fourth in team targets (14), good for a paltry 13.2% target market share. He's being carried by three scores so far, which are nice, but unsustainable without a significant change in workload.

If you drafted Dorsett late, he's been a great steal, but it may not keep up.

Positive Regression Candidates

Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

With more kids than touchdown passes this season, Philip Rivers looks to still be rounding into form. And the fantasy evidence proves just as much -- he's only QB14 this year.

But that could showcase an opportunity to buy low on the QB. The volume is there, as the Los Angeles Chargers are sporting a 1.97 P/R ratio (eighth). Rivers has also faced some tough defenses in the Indianapolis Colts and the Detroit Lions this season.

How can Rivers get healthy? Well, the Miami Dolphins could be everyone's magic elixir, as Lamar Jackson tossed a cool five scores in a Week 1 win. Look for Rivers to rise soon.

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

If Chris Carson could stop fumbling the damn football, that would be great.

So far, the Seattle Seahawks lead back has tried to fumble his way out of a job, putting three balls on the ground through three games. He's fantasy's RB23 so far.

But if we believe what Pete Carroll has to say, and Carson is still the man in the backfield, there could be some room to grow.

Despite those issues, Carson has seen a heavy workload, ranking 12th in rushing attempts with 45. He also gets to attack an Arizona Cardinals defense that stinks against the run, ranking 20th in our per-play metrics.

With Rashaad Penny still nursing a hamstring injury, this could be a week that Carson goes off.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

They could be playing catch-up to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North this year, but that means the Cincinnati Bengals could see a pile of passing volume opportunity. That's really good news for Tyler Boyd.

Fantasy players could be scared off by his zero touchdown catches -- and that probably wasn't expected when top dog A.J. Green got injured in the preseason, leaving Boyd to stake a temporary claim to the team's number one wideout moniker.

But, with Green out, it has also meant a lot of fantasy goodness -- he just hasn't scored yet. He is tied for second in the league in targets, clocking in with a 25.6% target market share. He's 35th in air yards, meaning that he isn't at the top of the list, but there is some opportunity to capitalize on, too.

Look for Boyd to feast on a poor Pittsburgh Steelers secondary in Week 4.

Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Like Tyler Boyd, Christian Kirk of the Arizona Cardinals hasn't found the end zone. That's certainly made him a fringy play as WR34 in 0.5-PPR formats, but he could be climbing, and fast.

Clearly, the principles of Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense have taken effect -- the Cardinals are paced all the way up, clocking in as the league's quickest team both in overall pace (23.32 sec) and situation-neutral pace (26.47 sec).

The volume? Hell yeah, that's there, too. He ranks fourth among wideouts in targets (32) and the Cards are crushing the league with a 2.73 P/R ratio.

Bet on Kirk to be in that WR2 territory, and soon.

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.