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The 3 and Out: League Wide Expected Points

The 3 and Out uses several RotoViz Apps to uncover significant workload changes; league, team, and player-specific trends; and hidden but powerful statistics.

Earlier in the week, Blair Andrews explained why we care about expected points. Today, we’ll take a quick look at 2019 expected points through a league-wide lens while continuing to determine how “normal” 2019 was. Once the offseason hits in earnest, we’ll take a much deeper dive.

As I did in Weeks 14 and 15, I turned to the RotoViz Screener to gather the data discussed in this article. In specific, I searched for team level expected points from Weeks 1 through 15 of every season since 2000. This query gave me a table that would show me, for example, the total expected receiving points (reEP) thrown to Texans WRs between Weeks 1 and 15 of the 2013 season. Further, I could filter my search for only 2013, and calculate the reEP for 2013’s average team.

Running Back

In 2019, the average team recorded a total of 323 expected RB points. In comparison to recent seasons, this was more or less “typical” as we continue to see teams leverage RBs far less than they did at the turn of the century.

It’s true that teams used their backs more heavily in 2019 than they did in 2018, but it’s undeniable that RBs are being leveraged less and less as rushers. As a result, backs that can play a significant role in the receiving game are as valuable as they have ever been. While your intuition might assume otherwise, even in today’s pass-heavy NFL, RBs are producing less expected points as receivers then they did in the glory days of the fantasy RB.

Of course, it has to be noted that Christian McCaffrey has garnered more total expected points than any other RB since 2000 and the most as a receiver. McCaffrey has recorded the most rushing expected points (ruEP) of all 2019 backs but ranks in at just 70 when including the last 20 seasons. LaDainian Tomlinson compiled an absurd 227 ruEP, more than any other player in our data set, in 2004. Leonard Fournette has recorded 290 EP this season which is the 24th highest total on our historical timeline. The next 2019 RB, Ezekiel Elliott sits behind 78 other backs.

This might paint an overly bleak picture for the position. During the WR Explosion of 2013-2015, an average of just two backs per season cracked the top-100 of total RB EP. Since then, four and a half backs have done so per season.

Wide Receiver

In 2019, the average team recorded a total of 450 expected WR points which is equal to the 20-season average. The Falcons led the charge, throwing a total of 650 reEP toward WRs. This total is 23rd highest of all teams since 2000. The Rams with 566, who sit behind Atlanta in the current season, rank 50th since 2000.

While 2019 teams did utilize their WRs in a “normal” fashion, few pass-catchers enjoyed elite reEP levels. In fact, Michael Thomas is the only receiver from the current season to crack the top-50 and Julian Edelman is the only other player that sits in the top-75.1

This drop in overall reEP generated by WRs since 2016 has had an effect on the position and strategies that center around it. The impact is significant but it might not be as profound as the above chart or individual results would make it appear. Still, it would be fair to conclude that fantasy drafters shouldn’t be considering the position in the same light that they three seasons ago.

Tight End

In 2019, the average team recorded 171 TE reEP which was 21 points higher than average. Clearly, the position has been trending positively since 2000 and did not see as stark of a contrast between 2013-2016 and 2017-2019 as did WR.

 

Three 2019 teams rank in the top-15 — Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Oakland. Still, Travis Kelce leads all 2019 tight ends with 230 reEP which is a step back of 45 points from his 2018 total!

Image Credit: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Travis Kelce.

  1. Edelman just snuck his way in at 75.  (back)

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