Fantasy Football Regression
It’s a very good time to be a fantasy football player as the draft season is getting very close. Some leagues have already drafted, but most aren’t until the preseason really kicks off. One of the biggest keys to crushing your draft is understanding which players exceeded expectations last season and who most likely can’t sustain it this season. You have to keep the mindset that the NFL changes in a hurry. Even on a team that returns just about all of their offense, players may have had a career year in 2016. With that in mind, let’s talk about seven of the players I think could see a decrease in 2017.
QB | Atlanta Falcons
While Ryan probably helped some owners win a fantasy title last year, it’s entirely unreasonable to think he’s going to do it again. Not only is it statistically improbable, but there are also off the field factors as well. The Falcons saw coordinator Kyle Shanahan take the San Francisco 49er head coaching job. Steve Sarkisian will take over, and we can’t know exactly what his offense is going to look like.
I think Ryan falls back to where he typically finishes, which is generally in the 8-12 range among QBs. Since 2010, Ryan has finished 8th, 8th, 7th, 15th, 7th and bottomed out for a 19th place finish in 2015. He’s overvalued right now with an ADP of QB5. Be sure to know what to expect with Matty Ice this upcoming year.
RB | Atlanta Falcons
It’s the same argument I made for Matt Ryan. We don’t know what this offense will look like. Would it be smart for Sarkisian to mirror what they did in 2016? Absolutely! What happens if he sees Devonta Freeman as more of a workhorse? What if Coleman sees 30 fewer touches than his 149 in 2016?
His 11 TDs are already a statistical anomaly, and if he loses volume on top of that, he’ll be in trouble. While he is the most attractive RB option around his ADP (6.06), I’d much rather go with a WR Jamison Crowder, Willie Snead or Stefon Diggs in that range. I think the ceiling is higher for those players and the floor is safer.
WR | Indianapolis Colts
Even if you wanted to throw out Hilton’s rookie season in 2013, his average PPR finish is still 15th. On top of all this info, the most important factor is QB Andrew Luck still hasn’t begun throwing after shoulder surgery in the off-season. Even if Hilton has his QB, he’s due for some regression given his track record. If Luck has any lingering issues, he becomes an absolute landmine this high in the draft.
WR | Green Bay Packers
He had ten games with under 50 yards and 11 games with five receptions or fewer. This shows Adams was very TD dependent. It stands to reason that Adams will see a decrease in TDs since the Packers signed TE Martellus Bennett in the off-season. Adams scored 12 times, and 9 of them came from 20 yards or closer to the goal line. It’s hard to see Adams getting all of those looks again between Bennett, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb coming back healthy.
RB | Tennessee Titans
This most likely will not be a popular choice, but Murray could see a downturn in production in 2017. He’s getting up there in age for an RB(29 years old) and has a good looking youngster nipping at his heels. I don’t believe Derrick Henry represents a huge threat to Murray on his own. My concerns come from the fact Murray seemed to wear down towards the end of the season. He only surpassed 75 rushing yards twice in the last six games. Some of this could be attributed to a toe injury he suffered in October. It came out after the season it was actually a torn plantar plate.
Not only is Murray coming off an injury which hurt his production, but he will almost certainly lose targets and receptions in the coming season. The Titans added WRs Corey Davis, Eric Decker, Taywan Taylor and TE Jonnu Smith. The rushing potential remains high, just be aware if for some reason that falters, Murray likely won’t have receptions to help his weekly floor. His ADP of 2.02 makes sense considering the lack of bell cow RBs in the NFL.
RB | Philadelphia Eagles
I didn’t think I’d have to point out Blount is a clear regression candidate…then I looked at how his ADP has taken off from the 6th round last month to the end of the 4th round currently. Let’s get the obvious out of the way – the odds of Blount scoring 18 TDs again are non-existent. He is going to be the lead back for the Eagles behind an excellent offensive line. Ryan Mathews isn’t a concern because every single report has him being released as soon as he’s healthy. So why is Blount a bad pick in the 4th round?
First, even though he should be the lead dog, it’s not like Blount went from a bad offense to a good one. If you leave the Patriots, you’re taking a step back. Secondly, for all the noise made about yards per carry on guys like Melvin Gordon, Blount also was under 4 YPC. He gives you absolutely nothing in the passing game and that will continue with the presence of Darren Sproles.
Maybe one of the best stats to illustrate just how fortunate Blount was to score 18 times is this tweet. There’s value if Blount falls in your draft. Do not fall into the trap of taking a 30-year-old back coming off career highs in carries and TDs in the fourth round.
RB | Arizona Cardinals
Before you just stop reading, give me a chance to clarify myself. I’m not advising against taking him with the #1 overall pick. I fully believe he is totally worth either the 1st or 2nd pick, depending on if you prefer Johnson or Le’Veon Bell. I mean, there are very few other players in the NFL capable of moves like this
When I say he’s a regression candidate, it’s because I don’t fully expect to see him get 20 total TDs again in 2017. In addition to the TDs, history suggests Johnson faces an uphill battle after closing in on 400 (!) touches in 2016. This post was done by @steelersdepot and it’s well worth the read. While the post is about Bell, all the data fits Johnson as well.
Johnson wants to be only the third back to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. Head coach Bruce Arians says Johnson can handle 30 touches a game but that seems fairly extreme. Even in an offense that boasts WRs Larry Fitzgerald, a healthy John Brown, and J.J. Nelson, Johnson is going to get his. I’m merely pointing out that it might be more reasonable to expect Johnson to hit 1,800 total yards and 15-18 TDs this upcoming season, not the absolute destroyer he was in 2016.
Let me know what you think, leave a comment below.