Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 2
Regression is fantasy football soothsaying when practiced correctly, but that's the key -- it must be practiced correctly. If a player is expected to score one touchdown but instead scores two, that doesn't mean they're expected to score zero touchdowns the following week. It means they're expected to score, as you might have guessed, one touchdown.
In that sense, regression doesn't necessarily mean a player is bad or even overvalued. It means they've produced differently than they're expected to in the future.
Reversing the earlier example, a player who scores zero touchdowns when expected to score one touchdown should expect regression but in a positive sense. Some hate the term "positive regression," but regression is short for regression to the mean -- meaning it can be either positive or negative, depending on which direction the mean is. It can be a mean process. Sorry, but I'm contractually bound to use all three forms of the word mean in this article.
Now on to this week's regression candidates.
Negative Regression Candidates
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
The "let Russ cook" movement is completely justified, and many think that's already happening.
Unfortunately, it's more complicated than that. Russell Wilson is absolutely an elite quarterback, but what Russ has done so far this year goes beyond the scope of elite. Through two weeks, Wilson has done exactly that, with an 83% completion percentage, 14.3% touchdown rate, and 9.7 yards per attempt. Those aren't elite numbers -- they're Clemson playing The Citadel numbers. It's no slight against Wilson to say he can't continue doing that.
It's also true that volume could offset the pending regression, but are the Seattle Seahawks really letting Russ cook? Sort of. A season ago, the Seahawks passed 53 percent of the time in single-score games, according to Sharp Football Stats. This year, that number is 57 percent -- an improvement but still middle of the road overall. Sadly, "let Russ cook...a little bit" doesn't have the same ring but is a more accurate description of what's occurring.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
I know you're all tired of hearing about the negative regression Aaron Jones has coming, but just because it's called negative regression doesn't mean the player has to be put in a negative light.
The reality is when we talk about negative regression with players like Wilson and Jones, it's actually a celebration of their talents. This Green Bay Packer is phenomenal. So phenomenal that we can't possibly expect him to be quite as phenomenal in the future.
Like the Seahawks with Wilson, the Packers don't seem to appreciate the greatness they have in Jones, as he played less than half the team's snaps (partially due to a blowout, but moreso by design). Jones can and will continue to produce, he's just a little more vulnerable than backs who see 70-plus percent of their team's snaps.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Sensing a theme this week? Calvin Ridley is another great player who can't possibly keep being quite this great.
Ridley's problems are twofold. Like Jones and Wilson, the efficiency is unsustainable. Ridley can't continue catching 73% of his passes while also having the 4th highest aDOT (average depth of target; 14.1) in the league among receivers with at least 16 targets, nor can he continue to catch two touchdowns a game. Unlike Jones and Adams, Ridley has a bigger brother in Julio Jones. With all due respect to Ridley, he's not Julio, and Jones should still be the expected target leader moving forward.
Granted, the Atlanta Falcons' defensive unit will keep Matt Ryan throwing, but if Ridley isn't the target leader moving forward, he likely maxes out as a top-10, not top-5, receiver on the season. It's nothing to be concerned about, but just keep expectations in check.
Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos
Fant has the opposite problem with Ridley. His relatively low (9.6) aDOT is incompatible with his 15.3 yards per reception moving forward. Likewise, 2 touchdowns on only 11 targets is unsustainable.
Again, Fant is (and I'm truly sorry for this one) fantastic, while Jeff Driskel is notably less so. Unfortunately, expectations have to be checked for a tight end tied to the worst of the 32 quarterbacks who will be starting.
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
It's been a rough two weeks for Danny Dimes, but there are some underlying reasons for hope. First off, the defensive draw of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears is a tough one for any quarterback. The San Francisco 49ers wouldn't normally be a reprieve, but with the JV Niners suiting up in Week 3, that defense will look quite a bit worse.
Furthermore, Daniel Jones fares well in the most predictive passing stat, clean pocket passing, with an 83% completion percentage, number eight overall on Player Profiler. He also has a 2.5% passing touchdown rate and 3.7% interception rate that are both due for positive regression, and even a 78.7 PFF grade, which is 10th among quarterbacks. PFF looks at things like big time throws and turnover-worthy plays, further boding well for better a better TD-to-INT ratio from Jones moving forward.
Sprinkle in a dash of Konami code, and Jones is an intriguing fantasy quarterback moving forward.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
At this point, the receiving will probably never be there for Derrick Henry, but that becomes less of an issue if he gets 300-plus carries, and with 56 carries through two games, that's looking like a good bet. Henry has absolutely dominated the market share of running back carries, as well, getting 56 of 61 running back carries for the Tennessee Titans.
Don't worry about the inefficiency and lack of touchdowns -- they'll come. They always have for Henry. More and more lists have included a top running back tier without Henry's name, even with Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley down for the count. With the volume Henry's getting, that's a mistake.
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Be it college or the NFL, D.J. Moore has done nothing but excel when on a football field. The fantasy production has been sporadic thus far in 2020, but with a 30% target share, that will change soon.
The argument that Robby Anderson is the new number one for the Carolina Panthers bears out in neither targets or career production. Anderson is a nice complimentary receiver and is in a role that better suits him, but he's certainly no threat to Moore's number one status.
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team
Positive regression is more dicey when dealing with a quarterback who has never really proven himself to be NFL caliber, and Dwayne Haskins never really has. Still, Logan Thomas is tied for the Washington Football Team target lead. The efficiency may not be great in 2020 for Thomas, but he'll most likely catch more of his passes than the 48% he's caught so far.
Thomas has the role. He just needs to keep the pace and success will follow.