The fantasy football season is full of short term variance. With only 16 games one or two outlier performances can have a huge impact on a players season. That being said regression is a real thing. Sometimes regression happens during the season (Devonta Freeman 2015) and sometimes it takes longer (Mike Evans 2015 vs 2016). In any case, regression is real and being able to spot when a regression may be coming can help you identify players who are ready to break out.
Tim Hightower, NO
Since Ingram was benched in week 8 after fumbling Hightower has 16 red zone carries including 7 carries inside the 5 yard line. He also has 4 red zone catches. That’s 20 total red zone touches yet he’s only scored 1 touchdown on the season. According to his opportunities he should have just over 4 touchdowns. As long as he keeps getting the playing time and opportunity he should start finding the end zone more.
Devonta Freeman, ATL
Last year Freeman scored 10 touchdowns in the first 6 games scoring at an unsustainable rate. Regression hit him hard after that as he only posted 4 more touchdowns the rest of the season. Through the first 11 weeks of 2016 he has 5 total touchdowns but the opportunity for more is there. He has 31 red zone carries with 10 coming inside the 5 yard line, plus another 11 red zone catches. His expected touchdown total is 8, 3 more than what he actually has. In fact at his rate of opportunity he would be projected to score 12 total touchdowns on the season. Freeman could be in line for a lot of touchdowns down the stretch.
Devontae Booker, DEN
When Booker took over for CJ Anderson many fantasy owners thought they were getting a weekly RB1. Unfortunately the Denver o-line has been really bad and Booker has not been as productive as owners had hoped. Still, the opportunity is certainly there as Booker has 26 red zone touches and 6 carries inside the 5. Projected to have just over 4 touchdowns on the season Booker only has 2. With the opportunity he is getting touchdowns are coming.
Negative Regression Candidate – Latavius Murray, OAK
Murray is a talented runner but he’s stuck in a time share in Oakland. Still he has been productive this season especially in the touchdown department. He has 8 touchdowns despite only getting 23 red zone touches and 8 carries inside the 5. This level of production seems likely to slow down going forward.
Brandon Marshall, NYJ
Marshall seems like a prime regression candidate, but we may just have to admit his QB play will be so bad this year regression may not happen. He has 18 red zone targets which ranks 6th in the league, including 5 inside the 5 yard line. Projected for almost 6 touchdowns so far he has only 2. If Fitzpatrick can just get close to how he was last year Marshall could pay off for owners who have held this long.
Emmanuel Sanders, DEN
Like Marshall, Sanders also has 18 red zone targets with 6 inside the 5 yard line. With only 3 touchdowns on the season he should have 6 or more based on his opportunities. Adding to the appeal is the fact Denver has a great ROS schedule for WRs (KC, @JAC, @TEN, NE, @KC). Touchdowns are most certainly on the way.
Julian Edelman, NE
Eleven red zone targets has only resulted in 2 touchdowns for Edelman. Playing on a team that routinely finds it’s way into the red zone he should start seeing even more opportunity. Even if he doesn’t his projections say he should have at least 5 touchdowns at this point. With a quarterback like Brady throwing him the ball he is sure to start converting his red zone targets into more touchdowns.
Negative Regression Candidate – Rishard Matthews, TEN
Matthews has been almost perfect in the red zone. In only 7 red zone targets he has 6 touchdowns. For as great as he’s been recently and for as well as Mariota is playing it’s hard to see him maintaining this pace. Owners who are expecting him to keep scoring touchdowns may be in for a letdown.
Jason Witten, DAL
Witten leads all TEs in red zone targets with 17 yet he only has 2 touchdowns. With the opportunity he’s gotten he should have 5. Dak Prescott has really leaned on Witten with that short passing game this year and we’ve already begun to see some touchdown regression as he has 2 in the last 3 weeks. I expect that to continue down the stretch.
Note: Witten did not have any red zone targets in week 12.
Travis Kelce, KC
Fourteen red zone targets and a goal line carry have only turned into 3 touchdowns for Kelce. A lot of that is due to Alex Smith’s lack of accuracy this year especially in the red zone. Still, with the opportunity being given to Kelce near the end zone he should have more touchdowns coming his way.
Negative Regression Candidate – Vance McDonald, SF
On the season McDonald has a total of 4 red zone targets. FOUR. Yet he has scored 4 touchdowns. Some big plays have helped but he has also turned 4 red zone targets into 2 touchdowns. That kind of effeciency cannot last. Don’t be surprised if McDonald has trouble finding the end zone the rest of the season.
Players you think I missed? Disagree with my picks? Let me know in the comments below.