Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 4
After the four 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
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans match up with the Falcons this week, and it's a battle of two struggling 1-3 teams. If they want to get better and start improving, Watson has to step up his play.
Watson clocks in as fantasy's QB6 so far this year, but it's not due to his efficient play. Among signal callers with 75 or more drop backs, Watson ranks only 16th in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.16).
The real problem lies in the pace of play and the pass-to-run ratio the Pats have showcased. In terms of overall pace, Houston ranks 23rd (28.92 seconds per play). By itself, that isn't a major red flag, but combined with their 1.54 pass-to-run ratio -- now it's a watch out.
This team is also one of the worst pass protectors in the league, allowing a league-high 18 sacks and ranking second-worst in adjusted sack rate.
It could be a fifth straight tough week for Watson.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
With a monster Week 4 clicking off 165 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns, vaulting him all the way up to fourth in fantasy points scored by running backs, Nick Chubb now has 261 rushing yards the last two weeks.
That hides some ugliness in Chubb's profile, though. In terms of efficiencies, he's actually one of the league's worst backs -- he clocks in 17th among the 22 running backs with 50 or more carries in terms of Rushing NEP per carry (-0.04), and he ranks only 14th in Rushing Success Rate (38.96%).
Cleveland also ranks 11th-best in pass-to-run ratio, meaning the volume may not always be there for Chubb. Don't expect a ton more efforts like Week 4.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins
Let's assume that Terry McLaurin is fully healthy and suits up this week, despite being unable to play in last week's game. Regression was coming and in a big way.
While the deep ball threat has been outstanding this year, he is severely outpacing his touchdown-to-catch ratio. He has 3 scores off 16 catches and 24 targets, finding paydirt at a significantly faster rate than his peers.
Washington is also a passing offense that has significantly struggled. They rank 22th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play, and they face a very strong New England Patriots defense that ranks first overall and second through the air.
Even with a healthy McLaurin, playing him this week seems like a bad idea.
Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks
Leading the tight end slot with four receiving touchdowns and a TE5 rank overall, Will Dissly has been a great late-round draft pick.
It may not be rosy for too much longer.
Dissly barely cracks the top-10 in tight end targets (ninth, 22), and he is part of a Seattle Seahawks offense that is both slow (27th in overall and situation-neutral pace) and one that features the run, clocking in as the ninth-heaviest rushing offense (1.31 pass-to-run ratio).
On the bright side, he may not regress out of relevance altogether. In terms of end zone targets, only Kenny Golladay and D.K. Metcalf have more looks than Dissly, so he's clearly a weapon close to the goal line.
If he can't find a touchdown, though, he may lose his appeal quickly.
Positive Regression Candidates
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Ranking only as the QB13 through the first four weeks of the season, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons haven't exactly gotten off to the start that they had hoped, posting a 1-3 mark and sitting last in the NFC South.
However, both the Falcons and Ryan's fantasy value could be rising through the roof and quickly. In terms of Passing NEP per drop back, Ryan ranks 13th out of the 32 quarterbacks with 75 or more drop backs (0.18), and there are several offensive tailwinds at his back.
Ryan leads the league in passing attempts, and the team leads the league in pass-to-run ratio at 2.62 passes per rushing attempt. It's a passing attack we rank eighth-best in the NFL.
Look for Ryan and the Falcons to be on the rise soon.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Chris Carson got charted with 21(!!) missed/broken tackles yesterday.
18 rush / 3 rec
Most we’ve recorded in a game at @SportsInfo_SIS. I watched them all and the number was legit.
— Corey March (@corey_march1) September 30, 2019
In half-point-per-reception (0.5 PPR) leagues, Carson is still a fringy RB2 -- RB20 overall to be exact. And as a fantasy owner, Carson has hit double-digit fantasy points only twice this season.
This ain't a typical RB2, though, and he was outstanding in Week 4, as those missed tackles showcase. He ranked 10th in Rushing NEP per carry (0.11), and with Rashaad Penny nursing an injury, he still is the lead dog.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It may seem odd highlighting a wide receiver that is the WR4 so far this season, but give him a week or two, and Mike Evans may be at the top of the charts.
Two weeks into the season, after a combined 6 catches for 99 yards, it would have been hard to believe that Evans was even close to sniffing this tier of receivers.
But Evans leads the league in air yards -- and between him and Chris Godwin, the target market share is something to behold. They've combined for a 49.6% target market share, and now Evans get to attack a New Orleans Saints defense that's allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Look for Evans to ascend into top tier status very soon.
Darren Waller, TE, Oakland Raiders
Peep this: through four games, Waller has yet to dip below a 90% snap rate on the season, racking up a total mark of 94.0% overall. And despite not scoring yet, he is second-best in targets at the position (37), and he leads with 33 receptions.
Oakland's passing offense ranks 18th-best, so it may not be the league's most efficient attack, but given his volume and clear involvement in this offense, Waller should be flying up the charts.
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.