Predicting Regression Both Positively and Negatively
Every fantasy season brings us outliers for better or for worse. Some of the “touchdown vultures” win us leagues that we have no business winning. Some players gather yards, but can’t find pay dirt end up costing us championships. These players are what we call regression candidates. Regression has become a buzz word of sorts. Before we dive in here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Regression does not just mean the player in question is destined to be worse next year. It can also mean the player should be better next year depending on the situation. We should also keep in mind that a prime regression candidate is not guaranteed to drop off a cliff or skyrocket to number one at their position. Now with that said let’s get into it!
Let us start by saying Tom Brady had 34 rushing yards in 2019 and tied Mr. Fournette in touchdowns with three. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know nothing will. Fournette finished seventh overall in rushing yards this year surrounded by the likes of Lamar Jackson (We will get to him later) and Josh Jacobs. As for touchdowns, he finished 44th tied with Mike Boone and Brandon Bolden. If you use the reasoning that Fournette doesn’t catch passes and that’s what led to his demise, it would be wrong. Fournette recorded 100 targets and 522 receiving yards; for reference, that is more targets than Alvin Kamara and more receiving yards than Dalvin Cook. Now Fournette did finish as the RB7 in PPR and RB13 in standard making him a solid fantasy asset, but as you can clearly see he is in a positive regression scenario and it’s likely 2020 has more touchdowns for Leonard than 2019.
If you watched Cooper Kupp from week 10 on you have a good idea of where this conversation is headed. Since week 9 bye, Kupp only recorded more than 50 yards three times with one of those being in week 17 against Arizona. He did score in five games buoying his fantasy points. Kupp also caught all of his targets in four of the five games he scored in. This is highly unlikely to continue since that happened five times all season. On the season, Kupp finished 11th in yards and 16th in yards per game for wide receivers, but he finished 2nd in receiving touchdowns. Kupp is still going to be a productive fantasy player next year, however, counting on him to be the WR4 in both PPR and standard leagues is a lofty goal to set.
The RB3 in standard leagues and RB2 in PPR; Jones was a beast this year for fantasy players. Keeping up this rate of success is highly unlikely. He finished the year 14th in yards per game and 12th in rushing yards for running backs. Jones also finishing 8th in receiving yards for running backs (behind Leonard Fournette for the record). Jones had an insane touchdown total of 19 tying Christian McCaffrey who had 531 more receiving yards and 303 more rushing yards than Jones. The Packers were not some prolific offensive unit this season either ranking 15th in points per game. Jones likely won’t be a top-three running back but should be a fringe RB1 next year.
Let’s get this out of the way, Lamar Jackson is a freak of nature and will continue to be in 2020. He finished 2019 as the number 22 QB in passing yards and the number 28 QB in yards per game. Both numbers can be brushed off by mentioning he put up enough rushing yards to be the sixth-highest rusher in the entire league. Where is regression going to hit Lamar? Passing touchdowns. As mentioned above, Lamar was in the basement when it came to yards and yards per game, but he was in the penthouse when it came to passing touchdowns. He recorded the most of any QB with 36. The Ravens offense was out of this world, even so, that number of touchdowns with so few passing yards is hard to ignore. Lamar will still be a fantasy stud and likely number one overall QB due to his rushing. Expecting the same number of passing touchdowns is foolish.
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