Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 3
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
I'm running it back with Russell Wilson as a regression candidate this week. This isn't some "gotcha" exercise. Just because regression hasn't occurred yet doesn't mean it isn't coming.
Wilson is great -- that's not what's being disputed here. What is being disputed is his ability to throw the 75 touchdown passes he's currently on pace for. If you agree that Wilson is unlikely to throw 75 touchdowns, on some level, you agree with the concept of regression.
Jordan Howard, RB, Miami Dolphins
Maybe there are people who are genuinely excited about Jordan Howard's fantasy potential and needed to be talked out of it. That's not really who this is for, though.
Rather, the point of putting Howard on this list is to highlight the fact that the Miami Dolphins will probably not continue to have 38% of their rushing and receiving touchdowns pulled into the abyss via the former Chicago Bear. That could mean more touchdowns for Myles Gaskin, and it could also mean more touchdowns for Dolphin receivers and tight ends.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The four touchdowns Mike Evans has scored on the season has muted his target decline. With just 18 targets (6 per game) on the season, Evans has just a 17% target share. Unless he improves on that mark, it will be nearly impossible to keep up this touchdown pace.
The former Texas A&M Aggie also hasn't been efficient, but that's less concerning at the early stage of this season. In fact, it's reason to expect some level of positive regression. The total effect, however, is negative when paired with the aforementioned negative touchdown regression.
Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams
Volume, not efficiency, drove Tyler Higbee's 2019 breakout. In 2020 it's the inverse. This season, Higbee has just a 13% target share and 11 total targets through three games. Higbee will be unable to sustain his touchdown rate (3 touchdowns on 11 targets), catch rate (an outlandish 91%), and yards per reception (13.4 on an average depth of target of just 8.6.)
One of the off-season's most controversial players, Higbee's supporters are likely ready to take victory laps. Maybe they should hold off on those.
Positive Regression Candidates
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
Because quarterbacks have put up so many points, in general, this year, it's difficult to find a true positive regression candidate. Even Deshaun Watson isn't truly a positive regression candidate, as his lack of production is partially driven by poor play. The silver lining being that said poor play is uncharacteristic and can be attributed to a brutal opening schedule.
With a bounce-back, Watson's touchdown rate and rushing efficiency should increase while his interception and sack rates decrease.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
With 22 touches per game in the league's best offense, it is nigh unfathomable that Clyde Edwards-Helaire has only scored once. Part of the pitch for CEH was the offense he played in, and he's been great despite not really benefiting from that factor.
Expect that to change in the near future and expect CEH to break into the top tier of running backs.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Another player who's been great despite only a single touchdown, DeAndre Hopkins, has been negatively impacted by Kyler Murray's repeated running in of his own touchdowns. Murray will always do a bit of that, but not to the same level he is right now. With a 36% target share and being the league-leader in receiving yards, Hopkins would be the main beneficiary of Murray throwing for more touchdowns.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
There was some reason to believe the volume simply wouldn't be there for Hunter Henry. However, Justin Herbert taking the reigns early has preserved a sizeable portion of passing attempts against the threat of scrambling, and thus, a target squeeze has failed to materialize for Henry.
Also not materializing are any end zone visits, but that could change in a hurry with a 21% target share thus far for Henry.