Here is an update on the quarterback touchdown regression data from 2017 and an early look at regression candidates from 2018:
2017 Regression List
- Carson Wentz 12.5% in 2017, 8.2% in 2018
- Russell Wilson 10.0% in 2017, 12.3% in 2018
- Marcus Mariota 4.6% in 2017, 4.2% in 2018
- Mitchell Trubisky 3.6% in 2017, 9.6% in 2018
If this continues with Russell Wilson, he will be the first quarterback to rise in touchdown rate after a season of 10% or higher dating back to 2005. Trubisky's rise of 6% is in line with the typical regression of a low touchdown rate.
2018 Regression Hot List
- Ryan Fitzpatrick 13.9%
- Patrick Mahomes II 13.8%
- Russell Wilson 12.3%
- Philip Rivers 11.5%
- Andrew Luck 10.2%
- Jared Goff 10.1%
2017 Regression List
Deshone Kizer and Trevor Siemian are the two quarterbacks of qualifying attempts to post at least 9.5% interception rate. Neither are starting in 2018. On the low end:
2018 Regression Hot List
- Jameis Winston 19.2%
- Ryan Tannehill 11.4%
- Ryan Fitzpatrick 11.3%
- Sam Darnold 10.8%
- Derek Carr 10.3%
- Philip Rivers 3.7%
- Matt Ryan 3.4%
- Carson Wentz 3.0%
- Alex Smith 3.0%
- Drew Brees 1.5%
- Aaron Rodgers 0.8%
Jameis Winston is dwarfing the previous highs in the 12-14% range. However, those names were long-term starters in the NFL like Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Brett Favre, and Ben Roethlisberger. The average regression the following season was cutting their INT rate in half - a good sign for Winston assuming he is the starter somewhere in 2019. If Ryan Fitzpatrick continues on his >10% TD and INT pace, he will join 2007 Tony Romo as the only other quarterback to qualify in both categories in the sample.
Only two quarterbacks before this season had qualifying volume with sub-2.0% INT rates - Tom Brady in 2016 and Nick Foles in 2013. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are on pace to join the elite group in 2018.
Alex Smith has been borderline allergic to interceptions in his career with six seasons now of 5.0% or lower INT rate with qualifying volume.
FANTASY PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
For strong contenders, it is time to start looking at playoff matchups. While Week 16 is the title week for fantasy football, I like to look at Week 15 more as a high-level team. Most prize structures are built where even getting to the championship game is worth 2-3x the entry fee, where teams losing in Week 15 are relegated to playing for third place where many get their entry fee back and maybe a little more. The loser of the third-place game may get nothing at all. In short, Week 15 is the high-leverage week of the season. Also, strong teams are angling for the bye week, which excludes Week 14 from their slate of matchups. For other playoff teams, Week 14 is the most important week.
The Footballguys Adjusted Strength of Schedule tool (SOS) is a must-use feature on the site. I deplore raw SOS tools merely stating the points allowed by defenses to each position. More context is needed and Footballguys looks at the adjusted points allowed based on how the positions scored in other games compared to the defense in question. For wide receivers, here are the matchups and players to note for the fantasy playoffs:
- Amari Cooper
- Devin Funchess
- Odell Beckham Jr
- John Brown, Michael Crabtree
- Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Michael Thomas
New Cowboy Amari Cooper has three ideal matchups in Weeks 14-16, including a glorious tilt against Tampa Bay in Week 16. Devin Funchess and maybe D.J. Moore enjoy New Orleans and Atlanta in Weeks 15-16, arguably the strongest pair of matchups in the playoffs overall. The Giants have three quality matchups in a row without any being elite. The Ravens get Tampa Bay in Week 15 and the Steelers-Saints matchup in Week 16 offers championship-swaying potential on both sides with the passing games.
The strong matchups for tight ends do not feature the elite producers at the position through the opening half season. Njoku has been a flash without substance option thus far, but Carolina in Week 14 and Cincinnati in Week 16 offer playoff promise for contenders. The Saints have three straight high-level matchups, including Carolina in Week 15. Ben Watson has struggled to see quality snap volume and the addition of Dez Bryant may sap targets from Watson to even be a streamer in the closing weeks. The Ravens have elite closing slates for their entire passing game, including Kansas City and Tampa Bay in Weeks 14-15 at tight end. Hayden Hurst is still getting into the swing of things as Mark Andrews is the streamer preference at present. Expect Hurst to gain steam over the next two months, but neither is a strong streaming option as of now.