Regression Candidates Through Week 12: I Heart David Johnson

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson has my heart, and he's deserving of your affection too.

At this point, I’ve pretty much admitted it. My girlfriend and I are what her parents would call “shmoops”.

The definition of a shmoop -- according to Urban Dictionary -- is as such: “Noun, slang. Term of endearment or pet name between annoying lovers who constantly display public affection.” We’ve changed our Facebook profile pictures to be photos of the two of us, we hold hands when we go everywhere, talk in stupid voices only to each other, and generally irritate the living crap out of single people and anyone in our nearby vicinity.

We shmoop hard.

Like a disturbingly lovey-dovey couple, you may find yourself swooning over your fantasy football lineups, week in and week out. You just want to stay in on Friday nights and look deep into their statlines by candlelight. But how can you trust that the things their numbers tell you are true?

That’s our job at numberFire: to help you sift through the scumbags who just want to take up your roster spots, and the players you want to take home to your league commissioners. Which fantasy football options through Week 12 should you feel shmoopy about, and which are waiver wire wannabes?

Got to Get You Into My Lineup: Fantasy Underachievers

I have been in love with David Johnson since the moment I first laid eyes on him. The former University of Northern Iowa running back was drafted just this year, and while he hasn’t gotten a ton of opportunities up until this point, he’s sure made the most of them, scoring 7 offensive touchdowns despite just 63 touches. That kind of efficiency makes Johnson an extremely enticing player with the news that he is likely to start Week 13. With some added volume from the Arizona Cardinals, his seventh-place rank in Total Net Expected Points (NEP) among the 65 running backs with at least 60 opportunities could skyrocket his 32nd-best running back standard fantasy score.

The New York Giants are weirdly committed to their four-headed running back committee, and Rashad Jennings’ fantasy value is one of the biggest victims of this monstrosity. When Orleans Darkwa is leeching offensive touches from you, it’s not a good situation, that’s for sure. Still, should anything shift in this group going forward, Jennings is the primary bell cow option and should benefit. Despite his 43rd-place rank in fantasy scoring, he is 33rd in Total NEP out of 65 qualifying backs.

We might be skittish about older receivers coming off of in-season injuries, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Vincent Jackson is no normal 32-year old receiver, and Tampa Bay is no ordinary offense. Jackson is showing that he still has what it takes to be an impactful player in the NFL, despite playing second-fiddle to young phenom Mike Evans. He may be old, but true fantasy football passion burns deeper than a young flickering flame. Jackson ranks just 48th in fantasy scoring among wideouts, but after missing a few games his Reception NEP per target still ranks third among the 71 receivers with at least 45 targets through Week 12.

I must have a thing for older receivers because the numbers seem to indicate that Anquan Boldin is also undervalued right now. I know: the San Francisco 49ers offense is not anything to get excited about right now, but whether it’s quarterback Blaine Gabbert finally developing or opposing defenses taking a week off on the Levi’s Stadium field, Boldin is actually producing value for his team. This is more a confirmation of his rosterable value than anything else, as he ranks 45th in fantasy scoring among wide receivers and 41st in Reception NEP among the 71 qualifying wideouts.

I Don’t Want No Scrubs: Fantasy Overachievers

T.J. Yeldon has been a steady running back. He’s reliable and gets the Jacksonville Jaguars just enough to make their offense go, but he’s been nothing special. He just doesn’t seem to do more than he has to, to earn your trust and love in the fantasy football world. I’m not saying he’s a droppable player by any means, but you want a back who’ll treat you right. Yeldon has the flash of a 26th-place standard fantasy scoring ranking, but the substance of just the 42nd of 65 qualifying running backs in Total NEP.

I’ll admit it: Eddie Lacy has let me down. I gave him my faith, but he suckered me this year, like he suckered many others. Whether due to injury, conditioning, or a possibility that he’s lost some sort of magic he had in 2013 and 2014, Lacy is a shell of himself right now. The collapse of the Green Bay Packers’ offense certainly isn’t helping his cause, but the 36th-best running back in fantasy scoring ranks just 44th in Total NEP out of 65 qualifying running backs.

I’m as big a fan of Doug Baldwin as anyone I know, but no one can contest that the Seattle Seahawks’ receiving corps has done little to back up their target-hogging lead receiver. Still, that didn’t stop Baldwin in Week 12, when he romped all over the Pittsburgh defense for 32 standard scoring points. That said, love cannot survive on touchdowns alone. He ranks 18th in fantasy scoring among wide receivers but is just 30th in Reception NEP among the 71 qualifying wide receivers.

I’m not a fan of the flashy long-play guys like Martavis Bryant, and numbers seem to back me up on this one. It may be fun to watch the enormous receivers like him shake defenders out of their shoes on massive catch-and-runs or burn them on deep bombs, but that kind of play just isn’t sustainable for a long and happy fantasy partnership. Since returning from suspension in Week 5, Bryant has 5 touchdowns and a ridiculous 18.9 yards per reception, but he has just 27 receptions in those six games. That’s not a high-floor fantasy profile, and I like security in my receivers. He’s 31st in fantasy scoring among wideouts this year but is just 49th in Reception NEP among the 71 qualifying wide receivers through Week 12.