Touchdown Regression – Week 15

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

Just two weeks left to play and in most leagues, we’re down to four teams. For the last two weeks, I’ll be primarily focused on betting picks! Let’s get to our process and then check out how we did last week.

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 18-tab Excel Spreadsheet, and BINGO!, it spits out our expected touchdown numbers.

Let’s take a look at how the bets I was looking at based on TD regression went. The first pick that I liked was a small wager on Kyler Murray to throw under 1.5 touchdown passes against the Giants. While this ended up being a win (and trust me, I’ll take all the wins I can get), we definitely got a little lucky as the Cardinals kicked 4 field goals within the red zone. Next up was Baker Mayfield to throw under 1.5 touchdown passes against the Ravens. Real talk- I did NOT expect there to be 89 points in this matchup. I thought both teams would stick to the ground (which they did) and it would be a grind it out kind of game. Despite putting up 42 points, Mayfield tossed just 2 touchdowns, but a loss is a loss. On the position player front, the first player I was looking at to find the end zone was David Montgomery. To my delight, we didn’t even have to wait long for this one to cash as Montgomery took a 1st Quarter handoff 80-yards to the house! Finally, with Christian McCaffrey out, I was loving Mike Davis to find the end zone. Davis must’ve known I was thinking about him because he scored 2 for good measure. For the week, that’s 2.5 wins and 1 loss. Not bad at all!

Let’s take a look at the quarterback leaderboard and then we’ll look at the biggest movers of the week.

 

QUARTERBACKS EXPECTED VERSUS ACTUAL TOUCHDOWNS

 

First up this week is attacking the Jets defense. The way to attack the Jets is through the air as they’ve allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last four weeks. On the flip side, they’ve been quite stout against the run, allowing opposing running backs to find the end zone just once in the last four games. That leads us to Jared Goff. The Rams QB hasn’t topped 1.5 touchdowns over the last three games, but I’m hoping that keeps the price reasonable. I’m in on this bet up to around -150. That’s when it gets a little rich for my blood.

The Giants came through for us last week against Kyler Murray, so I’m going back to the well with them against Baker Mayfield. The Giants have allowed just three passing touchdowns over the last four weeks and I swear, the Browns want to keep the ball on the ground.

Let’s look at the biggest quarterback movers this week.

 

DIFF IN EXPECTED QB TOUCHDOWNS FROM WEEK 13 TO WEEK 14

 

I told you I got lucky with the Kyler Murray bet and our numbers confirm it. In addition, I get a small moral victory in Baker Mayfield’s -.62 for the week.

Anyone that watched the Thursday Night Football game can confirm that Cam Newton had a brutal night, so why does our model say he deserved at least one tuddy? In the 2nd quarter, the Patriots had a drive that headed deep into Rams’ territory. Newton had four carries in the red zone on the drive including two within the 5-yard line. The drive ended with a turnover on downs when Newton failed to get in on a carry from the 2-yard line.

Drew Lock had his best game of the year, tossing 4 touchdowns including connecting on two deep balls to K.J. Hamler. Like Lock, Russell Wilson tossed 4 TDs, but Wilson barely topped the 200-yard mark. That explains his monster -2.64 performance.

Let’s take a look at our positional player leaderboard and then we’ll look at the week’s biggest movers.

 

POSITION PLAYERS EXPECTED VERSUS ACTUAL TOUCHDOWNS

 

My first pick to find the end zone was going to be Myles Gaskin against the Patriots. Sadly, because of when Gaskin was placed on the COVID list, he’s not eligible to return this week. When we look at the running backs in line for the carries, the only back I would have interest in is Salvon Ahmed if he were to return from his shoulder injury. But if we get word it’s going to be a split workload, I don’t have confidence in any of these backs to find the end zone.

Let’s look to Thursday Night Football for our first official pick. Over the last four weeks, the Raiders have allowed 7 touchdowns to running backs. Enter Austin Ekeler. Since returning in Week 12, Ekeler has seen 16, 9, and 9 targets in addition to his work on the ground. This type of workload should bode well against the porous Raiders defense. I’d expect this number to come in around +120.

Finally, I’m going to pair up Cooper Kupp with Jared Goff. I actually like both Kupp and Robert Woods to score this week because of how terrible the Jets’ secondary has been, but our model thinks Kupp is due for some major touchdown regression.

 

DIFF IN EXPECTED TOUCHDOWNS FROM WEEK 13 TO WEEK 14

 

Ah, yes, stud Geoff Swaim up at the top of the biggest movers. Swaim actually caught a 5-yard touchdown on Sunday but also had a second target in the red zone that he caught and took 16 yards down to the 1-yard line. Jonnu Smith is playing through a knee injury, so that might explain Swaim’s uptick in usage.

A.J. Green found the end zone Sunday and our model wanted him to have more. He caught a 5-yard touchdown, but on that same drive caught another red zone target for 10 yards and saw an additional target from the 5. His red zone usage is encouraging, but we’re still talking about Brandon Allen under center.

Cam Akers touched the ball 5 times in the red zone on Sunday but failed to find the end zone. Sadly, Jared Goff snuck one in from 1-yard out and Cooper Kupp caught a 2-yard touchdown. So despite Akers’ 171 yards on the ground, he did not find the end zone.

Tyreek Hill is so incredible. Zero targets or carries in the red zone on Sunday against the Dolphins, but two touchdowns. That’s what game-changing speed does for you. He also had a target in the end zone on a 24-yard throw, but it was intercepted.

 

(Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)

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