Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 15
There's only two weeks left in the regular season, and if you need to make some big-time fantasy football decisions, there's a good chance that your playoffs kicked off a week ago.
After 15 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 trying to predict what will unfold once the action starts, but now we can 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
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Despite being tied for the NFC East lead, there's probably not many folks that would currently describe the Philadelphia Eagles' 2019 season as a wild success. And quarterback Carson Wentz is a big part of that issue.
On a points-per-game basis, he ranks as a fringy QB1 (QB12), averaging 17.3 fantasy points per game. After an opening week outburst with 313 passing yards and 3 scores, Wentz has just been pretty average. In comparing him to other quarterbacks, he ranks 20th in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.08). In terms of Passing Success Rate, he sits 19th (48.04%).
Early on this year, Wentz suffered his worst games of the season with only 191 passing yards. While you may be in championship week, it's hard to believe that's because of Wentz. Don't expect this to be a viable QB1 against Dallas.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
After leading fantasy owners to glory just a few years ago, Todd Gurley has dropped off the map a bit, and the outlook doesn't look any rosier for Week 16.
Gurley's workload has been decent over the last five weeks -- he sports two games with 20-plus carries and ranks as the RB11 in terms of points per game. That's a number one running back.
What's challenging is his inefficiency. Among the 41 running backs with 100 or more carries, Gurley has been abysmal with a mark of -0.02 (23rd). And from a defensive perspective, the San Francisco 49ers have allowed the second-fewest points to opposing running backs.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
If you were astute enough to roster Kenyan Drake last week, good for you -- his 39.1 fantasy point outburst certainly led you to a big week.
But don't expect that to continue any time soon. Despite coming in with a lot of hype, the Cleveland Browns have been a sieve on the ground. Over the last three weeks, they've allowed a combined 529 rushing yards over that time span. Not great, Bob.
Prior to this week's outburst, Drake had combined for 170 rushing yards on 50 carries over the last four contests. While Seattle, Arizona's Week 16 opponent, isn't exactly a run dominant defense, as 10-point underdogs, Drake's workload could be seriously diminished, leading to a tough Week 16. Expect him to come back to earth a bit.
Positive Regression Candidates
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Alrighty, screw it -- I'm back all in on Jameis Winston. There's certainly some risk, but man is the reward pretty tantalizing.
While Winston is turning the ball over at an alarming rate, if he can curb those giveaways, the dude is a monster nearly any way you slice and dice things, and his QB3 performance over the last month certainly showcases his ability.
In terms of intended average air yards (IAY), Winston clocks in as second-best among all quarterbacks with a mark of 10.3. In terms of Passing NEP per drop back, he ranks only 19th, but that's largely due to those turnovers, and he's topped 450 passing yards in each of the last two games.
And this week's opponent, the Houston Texans? They've allowed the sixth-most points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks.
If he can keep from throwing a plethora of picks, he could be primed to continue rising into top-five QB status.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
But sleeping on Trubisky overall would be a bit of mistake, and he's actually played some of his best football as of late.
While he clocks in pretty low with a Passing NEP per drop back mark of only 0.03, he's topped 300 yards passing in two of his last three games with a mark of 0.16 over that same time frame.
And what makes him particularly intriguing? He's running again. Over the last month, Trubisky has 122 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns to his name. From both a season-long and DFS perspective, Trubisky could be returning to solid form with two weeks to go.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Checking in as fantasy's RB18 this season (10.1 points per game), Sanders may not stick out, but his performance lately has been terrific. He ranks as as RB4 over the last month, and he's eclipsed that average three times.
Last week, Sanders showed himself as the clear market share winner in the backfield with 25 total touches, 172 all-purpose yards, and 2 scores.
On a per-play basis, Sanders' matchup with Dallas is enticing -- they rank 19th in schedule-adjusted run defense, so if Howard stays out, lean on Sanders.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Given that you likely expended significant draft capital to acquire Saquon Barkley, his performance in 2019 likely means you are eliminated from your playoffs.
If not, Barkley, who is currently RB13 this season, may finally be delivering on his tremendous upside.
Coming off his best game of the season, Barkley roasted the Miami Dolphins for 112 rushing yards and 2 scores. And it only gets better -- he faces the division rival Washington Redskins this week, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and rank 24th in schedule-adjusted run defense.
If you held on to Barkley (and who didn't), start him with a high degree of confidence in a big day coming.