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Fantasy football busts: Regression based analysis

While everybody focuses on the sleepers and breakouts, figuring out who may doubtlessly bust for fantasy is simply as — if no more — necessary. As coaching camps fireplace up and fantasy football managers dive again into the analysis for upcoming drafts, listed here are some potential 2022 fantasy busts based on possible regression.

2022 fantasy football bust candidates

I don’t personally take pleasure in ever calling somebody a bust for fantasy. There is at all times a variety of outcomes the place a participant exceeds expectations. The subject is when these outlier seasons are used as predictive markers suggesting that is now a dependable sample. In most instances, the reality possible lands someplace within the center.

Aaron Rodgers | QB, Green Bay Packers

Kicking this off is the reigning back-to-back NFL MVP himself, Aaron Rodgers. Looking like he walked straight off the set from Con Air, Rodgers appears all however assured to have one other unbelievable season. Last yr’s QB6 tossed 37 touchdowns with 4,115 yards as a part of probably the greatest QB/WR duos in latest historical past.

This is the place issues get dicey for Rodgers in 2022. For one, he was already above expectation final season. In truth, he was 9.8 touchdowns above expection (xTD) based on the projected success charge (27.2 vs. 37). Where expectations and regression fail to regulate is the general expertise of a participant. Some guys are simply higher at football than others, resulting in model-breaking performances. Rodgers is a type of guys.

With that stated, this isn’t the identical group. And as we all know, it takes a couple of participant to file a TD. Someone needs to be on the opposite finish to catch it. Since 2016, no duo has carried out this extra typically than Rodgers and Davante Adams, recording 64 touchdowns, 23 greater than the subsequent closest duo of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. In whole, 33% of Rodgers’ passing touchdowns have gone to No. 17.

However, Adams is now a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, and Rodgers is getting into 2022 with a WR room consisting of Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, Christian Watson, and Romeo Doubs. Even if we drop the TD charge to five.5%, a full proportion level greater than the NFL common, Rodgers would wish greater than 700 passing makes an attempt to hit 39 TDs once more. A extra possible consequence is we see Rodgers nearer to 30 passing touchdowns than encroaching on 40.

Due to improved conditions of others in the same vary, Rodgers is a bust candidate for fantasy in 2022. While he may end inside the highest seven, he may additionally end because the QB15, given the dearth of dashing upside and anticipated TD regression.

Joe Burrow | QB, Cincinnati Bengals

I’m not saying Joe Burrow will bust for fantasy. I feel the man is sensational, and after they placed on the all-white uniforms, I pray I’m not going through him or any Bengal that week for fantasy. Yet out of due diligence, I’ve to say him as a regression candidate who may bust in fantasy based on present expectations.

Burrow may come again to Earth a bit. Since 2016, of the 153 QBs with 100+ dropbacks, 38 had been +3 or greater than anticipated. Burrow is certainly one of them at +4 xTD with 34. Unfortunately, this isn’t an important group to be in, as simply seven of these 38 (18%) noticed a rise the next season.

Based on this, Burrow has over an 80% probability to have 34 or fewer passing touchdowns in 2022. In a typical league with touchdowns scoring 4 fantasy factors, 43% of Burrow’s fantasy factors (136 of 314.2) got here from passing touchdowns.

Football Outsiders suggests there was an much more important disparity, with Burrow’s opportunity-adjusted anticipated landing whole coming in at 23.5 (+10.5). I’m very a lot in on the Bengals for 2022. They have arguably the highest one-two punch at receiver with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, plus a completely overhauled OL. Burrow ought to end as a QB1, however these drafting him assuming he may put up much more TDs than final season could possibly be disenchanted.

James Conner | RB, Arizona Cardinals

No working again factors to regression greater than James Conner, who completed his 2021 marketing campaign with a staggering +9 xTDs. In his first yr with the Cardinals. Conner discovered the top zone on 7.5% of his 241 alternatives. It is the very best charge for any RB with 150 or extra alternatives since 2016.

Undoubtedly, Conner’s position within the Cardinals’ offense results in extra landing alternatives. His 40 red-zone carries accounted for 15 of his dashing scores, together with 10 TDs on his 16 carries contained in the 5-yard line. If Conner makes an attempt to recapture the identical success, he might want to see the same workload, if no more, contained in the crimson zone with the identical utilization in goal-to-go conditions.

The expertise is there. The alternative is there. But can Conner keep wholesome, which has been a battle, and reproduce the identical massively inflated TD charge whereas heading off Darrel Williams? Currently going inside the primary three rounds, Conner is a bust candidate for fantasy on account of possible regression.

Damien Harris | RB, New England Patriots

No one has loved drafting a New England working again for fantasy in fairly a while. Given the committee strategy and irritating timeshares, having full confidence is uncommon. Yet, Damien Harris broke that development final yr, ending because the RB14 in PPR and twentieth in PPR/sport at 14.0.

He did this thanks to fifteen dashing touchdowns on simply 55.3% of his dashing quantity (203 carries). Where Harris shined was within the crimson zone, as you’d anticipate, with 13 of his touchdowns approaching 44 carries. He was additionally tied for third with 14 carries contained in the 5-yard line. However, Harris ought to have had solely eight TDs on the bottom based on expectation. That would have dropped Harris from the RB14 to RB26 on the season and decrease his per-game common to 11.3 (thirty fifth).

Harris is already attempting to combat off Rhamondre Stevenson, who shocked many with how effectively he regarded as a rookie. Stevenson additionally brings some PPR upside in comparison with Harris, because it has by no means been part of his sport. Add within the return of James White and additions of Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris, and abruptly, Harris is a shaky choice for fantasy.

History has instructed us to not belief New England working backs. It has additionally instructed us that touchdowns aren’t sticky nor ought to be used as a predictive stat. Add in a bigger workload and a possible breakout for Stevenson, and Harris is extra prone to bust as a fantasy RB3 than repeat his mid-RB2 efficiency.

Cordarrelle Patterson | RB, Atlanta Falcons

Like many, I didn’t see the Cordarrelle Patterson breakout in my crystal ball final yr. The RB9 in 2021, Patterson was the do-it-all participant for the Falcons. Patterson noticed practically as many touches final season (205) as he had in his 4 earlier years mixed (220). Of these touches, 31.1% got here through the air (69), accounting for 58.1% of his fantasy factors per sport (8.55).

Purely as a rusher, Patterson was serviceable, however he confirmed a quite important downturn in manufacturing in direction of the top of the season. From Weeks 14-18, Patterson averaged simply 2.62 yards per carry. While he averaged 2.95 yards after contact per try on the yr, that bottomed out at 1.56 over the ultimate 4 weeks. Although he did common 14.7 PPR/sport, Patterson posted simply 8.0 PPR/sport during the last six weeks, together with 4 in a row exterior the RB2 vary (high 24).

There’s a major concern Patterson wore down in direction of the top of the yr. Atlanta remedied this by including Damien Williams and drafting Tyler Allgeier to assist carry the load. Losing carries, particularly within the crimson zone, may show disastrous for Patterson.

At +4 xTDs (11 vs. 7), Patterson discovered the top zone at the next charge than ought to be anticipated. Add within the truth Patterson is closing in on 31 and on a group within the backside two for projected wins and factors, and Patterson is a bust candidate for fantasy in 2022.

DK Metcalf | WR, Seattle Seahawks

We know DK Metcalf is particular, and I doubt many would argue that an excessive amount of — together with the Seahawks, who simply signed Metcalf to a megadeal. He is a 24-year-old, mold-breaking athlete with a 1,300-yard marketing campaign and two double-digit TD seasons. Metcalf, together with Tyler Lockett, was the beneficiary of a vertical offense. In 2021, he was seventh within the NFL in air yards (1,636) however, on account of his boom-or-bust nature, transformed simply 59% of these into precise receiving yards. Due to his deeper common depth of goal (13.6 profession aDOT), his targets have much less margin for error.

It’s one of many explanation why Metcalf has been in a position to finish because the WR7 and WR12 in his final two seasons (15.7 PPR/sport) whereas ending as a WR2 or higher simply 42% of the time. His worth has are available hauling in touchdowns as he outmuscles DBs. Last season, Metcalf recorded 12 touchdowns, however in response to xTD charges, he ought to have had lower than seven.

Metcalf has been an overachiever since coming into the NFL and has been a beneficiary of arguably the most effective deep ball passer within the NFL with Russell Wilson. Metcalf won’t have the identical profit this yr as he has both Geno Smith, Drew Lock, or doubtlessly Jimmy Garoppolo beneath middle.

Metcalf is a boom-or-bust participant who depends on TDs for his fantasy manufacturing and goes from an MVP-caliber QB to somebody who’s seen as a perennial backup. The WR17 in Sleeper’s ADP, Metcalf is a bust candidate as he’s at present my WR29. I consider regression and inefficiency will take their toll on the Seahawks’ roster in 2022.

Deebo Samuel | WR, San Francisco 49ers

I should be cautious with my phrases right here. I don’t consider Deebo Samuel is a bust. I really feel he might be in your beginning lineup each week. Yet, the place he could possibly be a “bust” comes all the way down to the place his ADP is. The WR3 of 2021, I’ve seen Samuel constantly go because the WR4 in drafts. And I get it. He set an NFL file for WR dashing TDs with eight on 59 carries for 365 yards. Those dashing stats alone represented 25% of his fantasy factors on the season.

But what if the dashing utilization is just not there? Samuel has been very open about not wanting the identical position as final yr and to be utilized as a “traditional” WR since that’s the place the cash is within the NFL. He makes a good level, too, as Samuel had 1,405 receiving yards and 6 TDs on 77 receptions, which is by some means forgotten about, it feels.

Add within the truth Samuel scored practically twice as many TDs as anticipated, has a brand new beginning QB, and needs to go away from the position that made him a breakout final yr makes me warning on Samuel for fantasy in 2022. As I stated above, Samuel is just not a real bust. However, in case you are drafting him inside the highest 5 at his place, I consider you would be disenchanted with the outcomes. Signs level in direction of regression, however Samuel is gifted sufficient to offset this.

Dawson Knox | TE, Buffalo Bills

As a complete, tight ends weren’t egregiously over-efficient in 2021. Certainly nothing like Robert Tonyan in 2020, the place he had extra touchdowns (11) than incomplete targets (7). But in case you ask who persons are fading, Dawson Knox comes up fairly a bit as his 9 TDs a yr in the past really feel unobtainable.

Interestingly sufficient, Knox has an anticipated TD whole of seven, putting him simply +2 xTD. That’s not as unhealthy as you suppose, contemplating he additionally set career-highs in targets (71), receptions (49), yards (587), and red-zone targets with 18, sixth-most amongst TEs. Six of Knox’s TDs got here within the crimson zone, with 4 on targets contained in the 5-yard line.

If Knox goes to bust for fantasy in 2022, it’s as a result of Gabriel Davis really broke out as we hoped, and James Cook has change into a beneficial red-zone weapon at Josh Allen’s disposal. Knox will at all times be landing dependent as he lacks elite goal quantity. On the plus aspect, because the TE10 and 97 in ADP, Knox won’t break the proverbial financial institution to accumulate after which transfer off as soon as regression hits.

George Kittle | TE, San Francisco 49ers

I need nothing extra for George Kittle than to be the elite TE we all know he’s and has been for fantasy. However, I’m involved for him in 2022, particularly at his top-five ADP. Kittle has struggled to remain on the sphere in recent times given his overtly bodily model of play, the place he would quite run over than round you whereas maniacally laughing alongside the best way. While nice for mic’d-up moments, Kittle has missed 13 video games during the last three years, with 11 coming within the final two.

Where I discover concern is within the QB state of affairs. Not that I don’t like Trey Lance. If something, I really feel he can open a complete new chapter for this offense and take it to locations it has by no means been. Even earlier than he was drafted, I felt he had the very best upside of any QB in his class. The subject is Lance didn’t goal Kittle in any respect final yr when on the sphere.

Yes, that is an absurdly tiny pattern measurement, so put together your grains of salt, however Lance focused Kittle on simply 4 of his 41 cross makes an attempt in his begins (9.8%). Having been named the starter over Jimmy Garoppolo, we should readjust our projections of this offense and the way it will function.

Lance is much less prone to dump the ball on a checkdown to Kittle, the place he can generate gobbles of YAC. Instead, Lance can simply preserve the ball and outrun everybody if he chooses, pointing to Kittle to choose up a lead block. Last I checked, blocks on QB scrambles don’t depend for fantasy factors … but. It’s unlikely, barring damage, Kittle finishes exterior the highest 10 at TE, however I’d be hesitant to pick out him above somebody like Dalton Schultz, my TE4 in PPR.

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