Touchdown Regression – Week 11

Rich takes a look at some players that could be in for some touchdown regression moving forward.

Week 10 is in the books and we’re creeping up on the fantasy playoffs. Much like how I creep up on my kids to scare the devil out of them. Well, only one of my kids now, since the other is having “nightmares” about people “creeping up on them”. Definitely not connected. Anyway, two weeks ago, I dove into some touchdown regression candidates at quarterback and some position players. Since touchdowns are important to our game, and my boss Erik liked the piece, we decided to make it a regular thing. So I’ll be here for the rest of the season, trying to find some touchdown regression players that could be sneaky adds or players to avoid moving forward.

My new best friend and No Huddle Podcast! co-host Kenny Hyttenhove did the leg work for us in the off-season. He determined that passing yards had the best correlation to passing touchdowns. On the position player front, Kenny determined that the numbers were stickier if we looked at attempts and targets based on the area on the field. Those targets and attempts were broken down from the 1-5-yard line, 6-10, 11-20, and everywhere else on the field to get historical touchdown rates from 2015 through Week 10 of the 2020 season. I plugged this year’s player data into my handy, dandy 14-tab Excel Spreadsheet, and BINGO!, it spits out our expected touchdown numbers.

First up, let’s take a look at the quarterback position.

QUARTERBACK EXPECTED VERSUS ACTUAL TOUCHDOWNS

 

  • Two weeks ago, the first quarterback I talked about as potentially being in for a lower touchdown rate was Russell Wilson. Two passing touchdowns over the last two weeks has me walking around my house calling myself Nostradamus. Unfortunately, my wife and kids don’t care at all about my ability to read the football future and she’s asked me to stop calling myself the “Three-eyed Raven”. Things will turn back around. We know that Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Patrick Mahomes have a history of an above-average touchdown rate.

 

  • The majority of Kyler Murray’s regression to the mean comes in the form of his rushing touchdowns. But that’s because we’re comparing him to every other quarterback to play since 2015. Murray’s a special talent and it would take the Cardinals making the decision to not have Murray be their favorite Red Zone back to make me expect a big reduction in his rushing work. There is something to be said about the big play touchdowns though. Christian Kirk isn’t going to catch a deep touchdown every week and while the Hail Mary to DeAndre Hopkins was incredible, that’s a once a year kind of play.

 

  • Ryan Tannehill and Baker Mayfield are two that I’m legit concerned about. Tannehill has been extremely efficient in terms of touchdown rate and we know that the Titans offense runs through Derrick Henry. He also faces the Ravens and the Colts in the next two games and I’d be looking at the under on 1.5 touchdowns for both of those games. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying I was surprised by Baker Mayfield throwing for 5 touchdowns passes after Odell Beckham went down with his knee injury. With Nick Chubb returning from injury and Beckham out for the rest of the year, I expect the Browns to have the offense focus on the ground game moving forward.

 

  • Daniel Jones actually looked like a somewhat competent quarterback against the Eagles. This week the Giants are on bye, but the next two matchups are as magical as the Christmas magic on my wife’s Hallmark movies. With games against the Bengals and Seahawks, Jones makes for an excellent streamer.

 

  • When I look at this list, I can’t help but hope that the touchdown regression will actually come together for Matt Ryan. I would’ve loved to see what this aerial attack could do with a healthy Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones, but it just hasn’t happened. The schedule is a little bit of a mixed bag with two games against the Saints and Bucs (4 tough matchups) and games against the Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders sprinkled in (decent matchups).

 

  • This week, the Colts take on the Packers, so I’m not sure I’m counting on touchdown regression this week for Philip Rivers. Indianapolis loves to establish the run and the Packers have struggled to stop the run all year.

 

On the positional player front, I tried to trim some of the players that were due for regression, but are injured (Myles Gaskin, David Montgomery, David Johnson). It is important to keep an eye on their replacements though. If Duke Johnson and Salvon Ahmed continue to get the workload that Gaskin and Johnson saw, they could be in line for the touchdowns that were missed out on.

 

POSITION PLAYERS EXPECTED VERSUS ACTUAL TOUCHDOWNS

 

  • I mentioned two weeks ago that most of Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s regression comes from failing in the red zone earlier in the season. In fact, since Week 2, he’s handled just 5 carries within the 10-yard line, picking up 5 yards and converting no touchdowns. I can’t imagine he’ll get these types of carries moving forward.

 

  • Seeing Jamaal Williams up there puts a little bit of fear into my heart for Aaron Jones. While Jones has been good this year, Williams has played on at least 48% of the teams’ plays in the last three games that both he and Jones were healthy.

 

  • Robby Anderson and Tyler Boyd have been heavily involved in their teams’ offenses this year, but both just haven’t found the end zone as often as they should. Some of that has to do with each’s role in the red zone as Anderson has just 3 targets from within the 10-yard line, while Boyd has 4. But with their big workloads, I’d be interested in the touchdown props if the number comes out at +250 or higher.

 

  • Michael Pittman Jr. is only rostered in 22% of Yahoo! leagues. He’s seen his target share rise over the last two weeks as he led the Colts wideouts in offensive snaps. Now’s the time to scoop him up before that big game where he finds the end zone.

 

  • There’s nothing really actionable to do with guys that have been very efficient in terms of touchdown rate to start the year. Dalvin Cook, Tyreek Hill, and DK Metcalf have all hit on some monster plays early in the year, but those are part of their skillset. In Week 10 we saw Cook not find the endzone despite 30 carries, but only one of those carries came within the opponent’s 10-yard line. We’ve also seen Metcalf have a pair of quiet games over the last two weeks.

 

  • Speaking of Minnesota red zone work, Adam Thielen has been extremely efficient. He’s seen 12 targets from within the opponent’s 20-yard line catching 10 of those balls and scoring 8 touchdowns. That’s a pretty incredible rate. Yes, he’s a focal point of their offense in the Red Zone, but I can’t imagine he continues to score touchdowns on 80% of his catches in the Red Zone.

 

Finally, I wanted to take a look at some players that saw a change in their red zone work, to see if perhaps we can anticipate some upcoming touchdowns.

 

WEEK 10 RED ZONE TOUCHES

 

  • Oh man, there are some really interesting names here. Let’s start at the top, Salvon Ahmed and Kallen Ballage took advantage of their teams’ injury situations and handled 7 touches a piece in the Red Zone. As long as the other Dolphins and Chargers backs are out, I like both backs as sneaky starts as the Dolphins face the Broncos who just allowed 4 rushing TDs to the Raiders, while the Chargers get the Jets. That’s an in-season revenge game for Ballage as the Jets cut him earlier this year.

 

  • There’s a changing of the guard in Los Angeles as Cam Akers handled 5 touches in the red zone on Sunday. What’s not shown is Malcolm Brown’s 2 touches and Darrell Henderson’s 1 touch. Henderson was a player that our model expected to score more touchdowns based on his workload, but if he’s no longer getting those opportunities, he’s not going to have a chance to turn it around.

 

  • Ronald Jones exited the Bruce Arian’s doghouse Sunday and saw 6 carries in the red zone. Unfortunately, he didn’t score on any of the close ones. He decided he wanted the long one and took a carry 98 yards to the end zone. I think moving forward we’ll see Leonard Fournette in passing down situations and Jones on early-down scenarios. That is until Jones misses a block or fumbles again and gets put back in the doghouse.

 

  • After a couple of rough weeks for Jonnu Smith, it was good to see him get 4 opportunities in the red zone. He scored on the rare tight end handoff from the 1-yard line, but getting 3 targets in the red zone is a good sign.

 

  • As I mentioned with Daniel Jones earlier, Wayne Gallman gets a pair of nice matchups following their bye. If he continues to be the lead back, he could see some nice productivity as we head towards the fantasy playoffs.

 

Good luck this week! If you have any questions or see something that stood out to you, leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter!

 

(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

 

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