Fantasy Football: Regression Candidates Through Week 4

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

Aaron Rodgers. QB, Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is once again playing at MVP levels but is still due for a dash of negative regression. Primarily in the form of his unsustainable 9.4% touchdown rate. This is compounded by an offense that still prefers running to passing and Rodgers no longer being much of a scrambler (just 6 carries in 4 games.)

It's not a huge issue -- Rodgers was going later than ever in fantasy drafts, and drafting him is still a huge net win. Just don't expect him to challenge guys like Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, and Patrick Mahomes for the top spot without volume or rushing.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara will likewise be just fine. He is, however, benefitting from the absence of Michael Thomas. Latavius Murray is suctioning off a large portion of the running back carries, with a few additional going to Taysom Hill. That leaves Kamara with 43% of the team's carries, and thus reliant on his receiving production. With Thomas potentially returning, that receiving production will dip slightly.

We're talking the difference between 140 and 110 targets -- he'll still be good, but 2019 taught us what happens when Kamara's aberrant touchdown behavior dips even slightly.

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Justin Jefferson has a yards per target rate of 17.4, more than double the typical league average, which hovers around 8 yards per target. Jefferson's breakout is being driven by efficiency, not volume. That's playing with fire, especially when we know that he can't sustain that efficiency -- for further context, Tyreek Hill has a career yards per target of 9.9. Jefferson could be a superstar and still only be half as efficient.

Jefferson's early efficiency will likely lead to increased opportunity, but Adam Thielen is the undisputed top option in Minnesota, and the team would strongly prefer to run in general.

Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers

The NFL receiving touchdown co-leader and fantasy community's newest sensation, Robert Tonyan, doesn't quite have the targets to back up his fantasy production. Tonyan can continue catching neither 93% of his passes nor a touchdown every third target (technically every 2.8 targets, but you know, brevity and all.)

The Green Bay Packers tight end has opportunity and ability, making him worth an add even before his breakout performance (and I've got receipts) -- just be careful.

Positive Regression

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers

Teddy Bridgewater is throwing too few touchdowns, plain and simple. His 0.20 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back ranks 12th (minimum 60 drop backs), his clean pocket completion percentage is 4th in the league via Player Profiler, and he's completing 73% of his passes with 8.1 yards per attempt. A 2.8% touchdown rate doesn't make sense for any quarterback in this offensively-driven season, let alone one who has underlying metrics as good as Bridgewater's.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

You just have to keep running it back with regression candidates, and despite the fact that Clyde Edwards-Helaire failed to score last week, nothing has changed. He's still getting touches, and he's still in the league's best offense. He should be among the league leaders in touchdowns, and that needs to be kept in mind with his valuation.

It also appears CEH's lack of Week 1 receiving production was a fluke. Goal-line touches + targets + league's best offense = fantasy points -- lots of fantasy points.

Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

With an astounding 37% target share and a quarterback who is playing beyond wildest expectations in Justin Herbert (0.25 Passing NEP per dropback), Keenan Allen should be getting far more hype. A lack of touchdowns and efficiency bely his incredible underlying numbers. Both will improve.

Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants

With a 21% target share, Evan Engram leads the team in targets. Engram has always underwhelmed in efficiency, but his 4.4 yards per target this year really push that to a new level. Moreover, Engram has failed to find the endzone in 2020.

I get tired of saying it by the end of the article, but Engram will rebound in terms of both efficiency and touchdown rate. There just aren't many tight ends getting 7.5 targets per game -- that, not his lack of fantasy points, is the fact to focus on.