Projecting Upside: The Predictability of Receiving Touchdowns
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Fantasy Football Pocket Drafting

If targets are the lifeblood of fantasy scoring and the addition of air yards helps us explain 80 percent of a wide receiver’s receiving yards, then volume can be viewed as the force that drives opportunity to collect fantasy points. But touchdowns act as the fantasy point multiplier. Therefore, it’s valuable to determine what is and what isn’t predictive of touchdown scoring.

Methodology

Wide receivers from 2008 to 2017 with at least 50 targets in both Year N and Year N+1 are included in this study.[1] Data was collected using the RotoViz Screener.

How Predictive Are Receiving Touchdowns Year-to-Year?

Most of us intuitively know that TDs aren’t predictive year-to-year. On average, there are 1.54 passing TDs per team per game[2] and only a handful of players even reach double-digit scores. The small sample size makes it difficult to justify using TD output as a reliable stat for predicting future TDs. And the data supports this logic:

WR Receiving Touchdowns Year-to-Year Correlations

Variable Year N Variable Year N+1 R-squared
Total reTDS Total reTDS 0.079
Red-Zone reTDS Total reTDS 0.029
10-Zone reTDS Total reTDS 0.018

The R-squared values are all close to zero, indicating that total, red zone, and 10 zone receiving TDs do not correlate with next-season TDs.[3] Because touchdowns are not predictive year-to-year, we need to find stats that correlate with next-season touchdowns.

Explaining In-Season Receiving Touchdowns

To determine what stats will be useful for predicting next-season touchdowns, first we have to determine what stats correlate with in-season receiving touchdowns.

WR In-Season Receiving Touchdown Correlations

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Fifty targets are an arbitrary number I chose with the hope of only including fantasy relevant players with sufficient sample size. A total of 530 WRs met this criteria. I also ran the data for the last five seasons to account for potential shifts in offensive philosophy, but 1) I didn’t see a significant difference in the result, and 2) the sample size was cut in half.
2 Over the last three years, there have been 2,369 passing TDs, which is 24.7 per team or 1.54 per team per game.
3 I tested changing the inclusion criteria from 50 targets to a more stringent 100 targets and 10 red zone targets year-to-year in order to include only top-end WRs, but I found that all correlations were even weaker.

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Michael Dubner

RotoViz Featured Writer. Emphasis on NFL DFS and Best Ball.

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