Last year I found that while it may be difficult to project touchdowns year-over-year, touchdowns usually regress to the mean based on a Wide Receiver’s targets and receiving yards. Every year there are outliers who catch touchdowns at a higher or lower rate than one would expect based on their targets and yards in that season. Perception about a player’s ability to score touchdowns — and thus score fantasy football points — may be drastically skewed if their actual touchdowns doesn’t align with their expected number.
In Part 1 of this WR touchdown regression article series, we’ll look at the Wide Receivers who scored at a lower rate than expected, and thus who we can expect to score more touchdowns in 2019, assuming their targets and yards remain the same.
Last year, this methodology helped us identify Julio Jones (three TDs in 2017; eight in 2018), Michael Thomas (five in 2017; nine in 2018), and Adam Thielen (four in 2017; nine in 2018) as three of our five favorite positive touchdown regression candidates.
As an update to last year’s touchdown regression equation, below is the RotoViz Screener output for the correlation between targets and receiving yards with receiving touchdowns, from 2011-2018 for WRs with at least 50 targets.
Expected reTDS = 0.271 + (-0.012 * Total reRTGS) + (0.007 * Total reYDS)
Wide Receivers Who Scored Fewer Touchdowns Compared to Expectation
The following are WRs who saw 50-plus targets in 2018 and underperformed their predicted touchdown total by at least 1.0 touchdowns.
Top Positive Touchdown Regression WRs for 2019
5. Julio Jones
I know you’re tired of Jones seemingly appearing on this list every year. Based on his career targets and yards, Jones is expected to have scored 62.2 career touchdowns, but has only 51 scores. After 1,000 career targets, it’s certainly reasonable to think that Jones is what he is at this point and will continue to score at a rate below expectation.
However, after being one of my favorite positive touchdown regression candidates last year, Jones showed that he is capable of scoring eight touchdowns in a season for the fourth time in his eight-year career. The Falcons have the potential to be a potent offense that will play in 13 dome stadiums in 2019. Think of Julio’s 2018 touchdown output as the norm.
4. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
After being one of many Day 3 WR draft selections for the Packers last year, Valdes-Scantling emerged with the biggest role behind Davante Adams. The Packers’ No. 2 WR role appears to be a race between MVS and Geronimo Allison. This is an important camp battle to monitor, as they will be tethered to Aaron Rodgers who ranks first all-time in adjusted yards per pass attempt.
Remember that this is a regression article, so Valdes-Scantling only needs to maintain his target and yard totals for us to expect his touchdown total to increase. If Valdes-Scantling progresses at all in his second season, then that would only boost his chances of scoring more frequently.
3. Kenny Golladay
We only have to go back to last year when Golladay was being drafted as the WR3 on the Lions. Golladay officially broke out after being fed 119 targets and going over 1,050 receiving yards.
Golladay’s 0.61 Weighted Opportunity Rating (11th) suggests that even if the Lions remain an archaic run-first offense, his opportunity share is high enough for him to sustain fantasy production. There is nothing in Golladay’s workout metrics that suggests he can’t improve on his five touchdowns.
2. Brandin Cooks
Of the 18 WRs to go over 1,000 receiving yards, Cooks and Golladay’s five receiving touchdowns were the fewest. Despite accumulating the most receiving yards in his career in 2018 (1,204), Cooks scored at a lower rate than his prior three year average of 1,131 yards and eight touchdowns. He even had the fourth most red zone receptions among WRs (15).
Cooks should naturally see positive touchdown regression, and this offense will need to find ways to redistribute Todd Gurley’s unsustainable 21 touchdowns.
1. D.J. Moore
RotoViz is going to live and die by D.J. Moore in 2019, and I’m all for it. Using the RotoViz Screener, Curtis Patrick found that Moore belongs in an elite cohort of WRs. Earlier this offseason, I pegged Moore as a value in Best Ball drafts, and he has climbed over 30 picks in ADP since. Moore checks nearly every breakout box, and should explode in 2019.
Image Credit: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Julio Jones.
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