Touchdown Regression – Week 12

Rich takes a look at some players that may be due for some touchdown regression.

Happy turkey week! Is there anything better than stuffing yourself full of heavy foods until you pass out on the couch? Actually, now that I read that, it sounds like every single day of my life during the quarantine. That layer of fat I’m rocking these days, I call that the “quarantine-15”. Once again this week, I’ll be diving into players that may be due for some touchdown regression.

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.

Let’s take a look at the quarterback position and we’ll talk about some of the movers from last week.

 

QUARTERBACK EXPECTED VERSUS ACTUAL TOUCHDOWNS

 

This is week one of the Daniel Jones touchdown regression experiment. Jones faces the Bengals, who rank 12th in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks. That’s just okay, but what I’m more excited about is to see Daniel Jones drop back and not have a defender in his face. The Bengals have ranked in the bottom third of the league in pressure rate all year. I’m taking the over on 1.5 passing TDs this week.

Last week, I acknowledged Philip Rivers’ potential for touchdown regression but didn’t think it would come against the Packers. Three passing TDs later and we saw his numbers stabilize some. This week, the Colts face the Titans. Rivers faced the Titans in Week 10 and topped 300 yards, but threw for just one score. The Titans have allowed the 6th most fantasy points per game to QBs this year making Rivers a decent start. On the flip side, I predicted Ryan Tannehill for fewer touchdowns moving forward, but of course, he tossed a pair of touchdowns against the Ravens. Let’s go back to the well and take under 1.5 passing scores for Tannehill this week.

Matt Ryan’s touchdown regression continued to grow which is exactly what we expected last week. The Saints were a tough matchup and the Falcons looked absolutely lost last week. This week they get the Raiders who are tied for 6th in allowing QB1 (Top 12) performances this year. In the dome, against a mediocre defense might be just what the doctor ordered. Now let’s just hope Julio Jones can get on the field and stay there.

Somehow, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady’s regression numbers have grown since Week 11, but that’s just what the best quarterbacks in the league do.

 

POSITION PLAYERS EXPECTED VERSUS ACTUAL TOUCHDOWNS

 

After speculating that Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s days of potential touchdown regression were over, he shocked the world. CEH handled 3 carries in the red zone and scored twice. HC Andy Reid’s newfound confidence in CEH should give us hope for good things to come moving forward. In Indy, Jonathan Taylor handled the lion’s share of the workload against the Packers, but when it came to the red zone, Nyheim Hines out-touched Taylor 3 to 0. So while Taylor piled up 114 all-purpose yards, none of those came within the opponent’s 20-yard line.

With Myles Gaskin eligible to return from the IR this week, I added him back to our list. If Gaskin was dropped and you have a free roster spot, Gaskin makes for a great stash for teams that are already locked into the playoffs.

I feel like there’s a correlation between Nelson Agholor and Darren Waller. Agholor continues to be a big-play threat for the Raiders. This week, we saw him receive three red-zone targets, catch a 17-yard score, and draw a defensive PI penalty in the end zone. Waller also scored this week and saw two targets in the red zone. So, despite finding the end zone, his regression number grew from 2.59 to 3.47.

Speaking of correlation, we can draw a direct line between DK Metcalf, Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, Robert Tonyan, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and their corresponding quarterbacks. An elevated touchdown rate for Aaron Rodgers means an elevated touchdown rate for the pass catchers.

It’s interesting to see Joshua Kelley and Kallen Ballage appear in the same range. Just one week after Ballage handled 7 opportunities in the red zone, he followed it up with 5 carries and 3 targets from within the opponent’s 20-yard line. Kelley on the other hand? Nada. I wouldn’t expect Kelley’s regression to come unless something changes.

Finally, no one was happier to have a (somewhat) competent QB under center than Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboy’s running back found the end zone for the first time since Week 5 (!) and handled 2 carries and 2 targets in the red zone. With the team stabilizing some, maybe we’ll see his touchdown numbers normalize some as well.

Speaking of red zone opportunities, let’s dive in and see what players handled the ball the most inside their opponent’s 20-yard line.

 

WEEK 11 RED ZONE TOUCHES

 

No wonder Kalen Ballage’s TD regression number is already so high. Eight opportunities in the red zone with zero touchdowns. I wanted to make sure this wasn’t a complete failure by Ballage (i.e. him just banging against the Jets D-Line over and over again), so I checked the game log. Five of the eight touches came between the 17-20-yard lines and his closest touch to the end zone came from the 4-yard line. Something worth monitoring though is Ballage came off the field twice with what appeared to be an ankle injury. The first time was early in the game, but he also seemed to re-aggravate the injury on his last carry on the day.

For more red zone info, check out Kenny Hyttenhove’s Opportunity Report that drops later on in the week! It’s a great article that breaks down all the players getting the high-leverage touches for their team.

 

(Photo by Rich Graes fourthsle/Icon Sportswire)

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