Regression Candidates Through Week 15: Ted Ginn Is on the Naughty List

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn has had some big plays but is highly inefficient. Who else is primed for regression?

I’m sure you all -- like I -- have locked down most of your gift-buying for the 2015 holiday season by now, but one item available on the market (sort of) caught my eye yesterday while checking my list twice.

Netflix is marketing a DIY project of “smart socks” that will purportedly pause whatever you’re watching when you fall asleep -- and, of course, keep your feet nice and toasty. The sensors in the socks track your body motion, and when it ceases, your program on the app pauses.

Pretty handy feet, right?

The only problem with this is that the project is fairly costly (recommended parts are around $60), it requires knitting know-how and electronics competence, and it’s not even guaranteed to work (objects can block it, restless legs while sleeping render it useless, etc.). If one were to sit down and make this, it would take so much time for so little effect that you might as well just go back to the beginning of the episode when you wake up. Or is that too simplistic?

We like to help you find fantasy football as accessible and user-friendly as possible here on numberFire, but as we reach the fantasy championships, some player production marks haven’t been so simple to understand this year. That’s where our checks against potential regression come into play. Which fantasy options will deliver successful gifts in your stockings in Week 16, and whose value do we need to re-solder for ourselves?

Free, Loose, and Easy: Fantasy Underachievers

One of the true revelations of the 2015 NFL season, Kirk Cousins has been more of a gift to fantasy owners than anyone ever thought possible. Nonetheless, Cousins Claus came on big late in 2015, with six games of 20 or more points -- five of them in the last two months. In every game this year, he’s thrown at least one touchdown pass, and that’s led him to a solid-but-unspectacular 14th-place berth among fantasy quarterbacks. In numberFire’s Total Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, however, he ranks as the ninth-best quarterback out of 43 with at least 100 opportunities. There’s little time left in the season, but he’s been on a roll of late and could yet rise up the fantasy ranks.

I’ve tried to avoid writing about the diminutive Darren Sproles this year because his role in the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense also seemed so small early on in the season. He’s actually picked up a shockingly-large 146 opportunities in 2015, though, despite having to split time with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Sproles has been a solid contributor once again for this team and has earned himself a 12th-place slot in Total NEP among the 66 running backs with at least 75 opportunities through Week 15. This should buoy his 39th-best standard fantasy scoring spot at the position.

Speaking of diminished roles, Joique Bell has been all but run out of the Detroit Lions’ offense due to the arrival of rookie phenom Ameer Abdullah. The former late-bloomer has become irrelevant as an early-down back due to the rookie’s electric ability and as a passing-down back due to the emergence of Theo Riddick as a multipurpose offensive weapon. Wherever the near-30-year old Bell ends up in the coming years, if he has a better offensive line at his disposal, he could still be useful in the future. He ranks 23rd in Total NEP among qualifying running backs, despite a horrendous 53rd-best position in fantasy scoring at the position.

Emmanuel Sanders hasn’t had the best year, having to receive targets from the likes of an impotent Peyton Manning and a scattershot and panicky Brock Osweiler. Still, he’s made do despite this, racking up 969 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns even though he missed two games. The speedy slot receiver has found his footing at the right time, though, delivering 181 yards and a score in Week 15. If he can keep it up this week, he’ll have fantasy owners grinning when they open their championship gifts. Sanders currently ranks 15th in Reception NEP among the 66 receivers with at least 60 targets through Week 15 and should be closer to that position than his 23rd-place position in wideout fantasy scoring.

Scrooged: Fantasy Overachievers

Everyone loves Blake Bortles, but his metrics have suggested not to buy in before the Bortles Bubble bursts. His completion percentage has degraded slightly since his 2014 rookie season, and the only thing that’s really changed is his pass attempts per game (33.9 in 2014 to 38.5 in 2015). The bright spot is that there is hope for the future. His interception rate has diminished from a rookie 3.6% to a sophomore 2.6%, and he can build on that for 2016. That won’t help him towards the end of the 2015 fantasy season much, though, as he ranks 18th in Total NEP among the 43 quarterbacks with at least 100 opportunities, but ranks fifth among quarterbacks in standard fantasy scoring.

It’s been a rough year for Jeremy Hill. Seemingly the indisputable, classic, early-down power back who would lead the Cincinnati Bengals’ backfield, he literally fumbled away his golden opportunity to seize this offense and make it his own early on in the season. It’s been a touchdown-or-bust season for the big back in the Queen City, as he has had eight weeks this year without a score, and just two of those saw him surpass five fantasy points. He’s had a paltry 11 receptions and seen his yards per carry plummet from 5.1 in his rookie year to 3.4 this one. Maybe he’s just average after all. He ranks 60th in Total NEP among the 66 running backs with at least 75 opportunities through Week 15, which is veiled by his largely volume-and-scoring-dependent 16th-place position in fantasy scoring at running back.

I’m all for making the most out of what you have -- “Waste not, want not” and all that -- but Antonio Andrews isn’t the running back who will ever deliver the Tennessee Titans to the Promised Land. He’s been a low-ceilinged, second-string running back or solid flex option in fantasy this year as well, but he just has no dynamism to the way he plays. His 3.7 yards per carry mark confirms that he’s a glorified plodder who’s just receiving plenty of work. There’s little reason to believe that he’ll improve his game this year, ranking just 43rd in Total NEP among qualifying running backs, despite a more-polished 38th-place position in fantasy scoring at running back.

I’ve loved watching the ridiculous output of the Carolina Panthers’ offense over the past few weeks. Quarterback Cam Newton is a delight to watch play, and he’s flat-out balling right now. One of his benefactors is wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., who is the deep-threat option in this Carolina offense. Ginn has seemingly gotten open at will in recent days, with three straight weeks of 5 or more receptions, 80 or more receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns. That said, he could have had so much more if not for some easy drops that the big burner let go of. His 14th-place fantasy ranking is fantastic, but the inconsistent Mr. Ginn will resurface sooner or later; he ranks 22nd in Reception NEP among the 66 receivers with at least 60 targets through Week 15.