Quarterbacks Who Could Regress in Fantasy Football in 2018

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LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 10: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles drops back to pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The Eagles defeated the Rams 43-35. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Every year fantasy football enthusiasts try to find the regression candidates for the current season. And while the whole thing can be an inexact science, there are markers that help to point towards likely disappointments.

Before this gets too far along it would make sense to point out that the term “regression” doesn’t have to mean bust. A player can certainly regress without busting. And sure, everyone might define a bust or what it means to regress differently. However, the term “regression” here is defined as a movement back towards the mean.

Now there are statistics that a person could look at that help to indicate regression. For instance, a quarterback’s touchdown percentage. If that number isn’t in line with career percentages, it could signal an imminent decline (e.g. Matt Ryan). You could also look at efficiency numbers – air yards per attempt, completion percentage, red zone completion percentage, etc. Then compare them to career averages and other counting stats (e.g. attempts and passing yards) to see if something doesn’t quite add up.

Now without further adieu, here are the players who will disappoint your high expectations in some way this year.

(All average draft position – ADP–information is from Fantasy Football Calculator. All statistical information is from Player Profiler and Pro Football Reference.)

Fantasy Football Quarterback Regression Candidates for 2018

DeShaun Watson

ADP: 30.7 (standard), 47.4 (PPR)

Positional ADP: QB2

The case for regression here is a simple one. Last season DeShaun Watson had an otherworldly touchdown percentage of 9.3. Aaron Rodgers, who is arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, has a career touchdown percentage of 6.4. In other words, Watson won’t be able to maintain that rate.

Here’s the tricky part. Typically “regression” means regression to the mean; however, since we don’t have a large enough sample size from Watson, the mean would be the average for NFL quarterbacks, which is around five percent. Watson is hardly average. So while Watson’s regression will lead to buyer’s remorse for drafters, his running ability provides a pathway to him maintaining top 12 quarterback numbers.

Carson Wentz

ADP: 60.9 (standard), 71.4 (PPR)

Positional ADP: QB6, QB5

The case for Carson Wentz‘s regression is similar to Watson’s. Last season Wentz had a touchdown percentage of 7.5 which put him in rarified air. If Wentz would have had a percentage of six last season, which is still well above average, he would have lost close to seven touchdowns. And while math isn’t everyone’s favorite, it’s pretty easy to understand that losing close to seven scores isn’t good.

However, there is still hope for Wentz. Even though he isn’t the most accurate passer in the league (he ranked 26th in true completion percentage last season) he will take his shots down the field. Wentz ranked ninth in deep ball attempts and yards through the air last season. If he continues this trend, and there is nothing to suggest that he wouldn’t, those large chunk plays will carve a path for delicious fantasy points. In other words, while Wentz’s touchdown rate will take a hit this coming season, his team and his affinity for the deep ball will help to raise his floor.

Jared Goff

ADP: 82.8 (standard), 103.2 (PPR)

Positional ADP: QB10

The problem with Jared Goff isn’t his touchdown percentage, which was 5.9 last season. Although, that might dip a little. The problem is that people are propping up Goff as an every week fantasy starter. What might be misleading people is the fact that Goff was really efficient last season. And while efficiency is a great thing, it will be hard to repeat his 2017 numbers if his pass attempts don’t continue to rise.

Last season Goff ranked 18th in attempts, 20th in deep ball attempts, 18th in air yards and tenth in passing yards. But it would be reckless to assume that Goff can continue to dump the ball off to Todd Gurley for 80-yard touchdowns.

If Goff has any shot at maintaining his draft value, he will have to throw the ball more. The only problem with that is that the Los Angeles Rams have improved their defense on paper quite a bit. And so, Goff will likely be facing a number of positive game scripts this season. This, obviously, would cap his pass attempts, making Goff overpriced.

Honorable Mention

Case Keenum 

Case Keenum is an interesting case. He compares similarly to Goff’s season last year (high efficiency, low attempts, escaping the clutches of evil, read: Jeff Fisher).

Alex Smith

Alex Smith finished last season with the fourth most points in most fantasy leagues. Smith achieved that by amassing the most touchdown passes of his career (26) and his highest touchdown percentage in a healthy season (5.1). While neither number is outrageously high in comparison to other quarterbacks, those numbers are still high for him. Although, Smith’s rushing ability does help to raise his floor though.

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1 COMMENT

  1. […] Identifying regression candidates so you can properly rank them is an annual tradition in fantasy football. While some people use the terms “regress” and “bust” synonymously, that’s not true for the scope of this article. Honestly, it’s possible to confuse two because it all depends on how you define each term. If you interpret a bust as someone who simply doesn’t live up to their draft day cost, then yes, the following regression candidates are also bust candidates. However, “regression” here is defined as a movement back towards the mean (the same as it was here). […]

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