Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 9
We've hit the double-digit mark on the NFL schedule. It's hard to believe, and some teams haven't even played their bye, which means half of their regular season schedule is already gone. The horror.
Taking that heavy heart in stride, after nine 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
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Look, I swear I'm not trying to pick on Russell Wilson here, but this type of fantasy season just doesn't add up to me. And it looks like it could be on shaky ground moving forward.
From an efficiency perspective, Wilson has been just downright absurd. He ranks third among the 33 quarterbacks with 100 or more drop backs in terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.31) -- and his Passing Success Rate of 53.33% shows he has been ballin' out.
He added to his status of legend this week with five more touchdown passes -- but that could be slowing down significantly soon. Over the last seven weeks of the season, Wilson will face the San Francisco 49ers twice (second against the pass by numberFire's metrics), Minnesota Vikings (fifth), and the Carolina Panthers (third).
Fold in their 1.15 pass-to-run ratio, and you definitely have a recipe for a backslide.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
In recent weeks, Aaron Rodgers has been ballin' -- he's tossed 11 touchdown passes over the last few weeks despite an ugly Week 9.
It's not all rosy, though, and Week 9 showed that exact dynamic as he passed for only 161 yards and a score. And the next two matchups are brutal, facing the Panthers and the 49ers.
This is also a very slow-paced football team. They rank 30th in overall pace and 26th in situation-neutral pace, limiting the overall opportunity for Rodgers to rack up some big fantasy scores.
Rodgers could be sliding from his perch QB4 shortly.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Not a bad debut for Kenyan Drake on the Arizona Cardinals, who slammed a strong San Francisco 49ers defense for 15 carries, 110 rushing yards and a score. He nearly cleared 200 all-purpose yards with 52 receiving yards, too. Not bad, fella.
Let's pump the brakes on Drake's stardom, though. Prior to last week's outburst, he had recorded a robust -0.07 Rushing NEP per carry on his first 46 totes of the rock in 2019.
He will get a rematch with that stout San Francisco D in Week 11, along with a matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, who are the league's best rushing defense, per our metrics.
Don't look for Week 9's RB2 to repeat that performance, and if David Johnson returns, he certainly won't be the lead dog, either.
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of fantasy's best wide receivers so far, why would a guy like Chris Godwin be ready for a free fall? It's certainly not the matchup, as the Bucs face a beautiful opportunity against the Cardinals, who work quickly and rank a putrid 28th against the pass.
What is of major concern is the target market share, which has been utterly dominated by Mike Evans in recent weeks. Evans has turned into the lead wideout, racking up a whopping 45 targets for a 31.9% target market share.
Unless there's a major shift in the pass pattern, Godwin seems to be sliding his way out of the WR1 category, and quickly.
Positive Regression Candidates
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
If there was a fantasy league for best looking quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo would be the QB1 every week.
In terms of fantasy production? Not so much. He clocks in 21st in points so far this season, but he could be on the rise soon.
That near-term schedule is absolutely delicious -- after bombing the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9, he gets them again two weeks later, sandwiching a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks this week, who were just torched by Jameis Winston.
Expect Gaoppolo to be soaring up the ranks soon.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Among the 46 runners with 50 or more carries in 2019, Jacobs is 12th in Rushing NEP per carry (0.05). While he isn't much of a factor in the passing game, his 152 carries places him ninth so far this NFL season.
Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens
With this stretch of opponents coming up, the answer looks to be yes. While a higher work load certainly would be more appealing for Ingram, keep in mind that quarterback Lamar Jackson rushed the ball 16 times -- his second-most carries this season.
When Ingram has gotten the rock, he's been outstanding. His 0.09 Rushing NEP per carry and 50% Rushing Success Rate are among the league's elite, and he certainly is part of an offense that loves to run the ball -- they boast a 0.88 pass-to-run ratio.
Expect Ingram to take a step forward, and soon.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Working through a recent bout of injuries, Keenan Allen has struggled a bit as of late. In fact, his four-target, three-catch afternoon was his worst effort of 2019.
But a major rebound could be in order, thanks to an AFC West matchup with the Oakland Raiders, who rank third-worst against the pass and have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers.
The game script could have majorly contributed to Allen's low volume week, too. They got up early on the Packers, and a 38-rush day certainly ate into his workload.
While they could be up again against the Raiders, the Chargers still rank seventh (1.77) in pass-to-run ratio, so Allen should be back in business.