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1. ## OBJ among fantasy football players who will score more TDs in 2020 🏈

OBJ among fantasy football players who will score more TDs in 2020

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Football statistics are extremely hard to predict, but history continues to show that projecting touchdown regression to the mean is significantly easier than you might imagine.

During the 2007 to 2018 seasons, there were 144 instances in which a wide receiver or tight end scored fewer than five touchdowns on 50-plus offensive touches before managing at least 50 touches the very next season. Of those 144, 101 (70.1%) scored more touchdowns the next season.

Focusing in on the 46 players in that group who scored fewer than three touchdowns during the first year, 38 (82.6%) scored more touchdowns the next season. Of the 18 who scored either one or zero touchdowns, 15 (83.3%) found the end zone more often the next year. Jason Avant (2010-11 and 2011-12) and Danny Amendola (2018-19) were responsible for the three exceptions.

We see similar results if we run this test on running backs. There are 60 instances in which a back failed to eclipse seven touchdowns on 200-plus touches before managing 200 again the next season. Of those 60, 47 (or 78.3%) scored more touchdowns the next season. Interestingly, there were seven backs who failed to eclipse two touchdowns in the first year but each scored at least five times the next season. The average second-year touchdown total was 8.8!

If you skipped all that, or just tuned out while scanning over the math, the point here is simple: NFL players tend to bounce back -- often in a big way -- when they post an unusually low touchdown number and see similar playing time the following season.

In this piece, I'll be referencing OTD, which is a statistic that weighs every carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player's scoring opportunity. Put another way, it's how many touchdowns a league-average player would have scored with the exact same opportunity as the player shown.

A careful examination of the below players' 2019 usage tells us that we should expect an increase in scoring production this season.

Be sure to also check out my column on players who will score fewer touchdowns this season.

Note that this study is limited to regular-season rushing and receiving data.

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
2019 -- 3 TDs, OTD: 9.3

Since 2007, there have been 7,362 instances in which a player had at least one look (carries+targets) in a single season. Fournette's 2019 campaign slots in as the third unluckiest campaign in terms of touchdown production. Jacksonville's lead back racked up 365 looks (33rd most in the sample), but scored only three touchdowns. Fournette failed to score on 100 targets (fourth most among RBs) despite a 1.8 OTD, and managed three rushing scores on 265 carries (seventh most) with a 7.6 OTD.

If your feeling is that this is a Fournette ability issue, you'd be wrong, as the former first-round pick produced 16 touchdowns with a 13.4 OTD during his first two seasons. Fournette's role might decrease, but his touchdown rate will improve significantly in 2020.

2020 Projection: 6 TDs

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
2019 -- 2TDs, OTD: 6.9

I just noted that Fournette posted the third-unluckiest touchdown season since 2007. Williams isn't far behind, checking in 18th among the sample of 7,362. This time last year, Williams was on the opposite end of the spectrum, having scored on 10 of 66 targets (6.2 OTD) in 2018. He overcorrected with two scores on 91 targets in 2019.

Williams' OTDs were almost identical during the two campaigns, as was his end zone target total (12 in 2018, 11 in 2019). The main difference? He caught seven end zone targets in 2018, but only one last season. Expect a TD-rate rebound from the 6-foot-3 perimeter receiver, though his volume figures to take a hit with Philip Rivers gone.

2020 Projection: 4 TDs

Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
2019 -- 3 TDs, OTD: 3.7

Woods' 2019 TD and OTD totals aligned fairly well, but his usage near the goal line doesn't quite compute for a player who ranked top 10 in both targets and receptions among wide receivers. Woods' two end zone targets ranked 105th at the position and marked the first time he fell below four in a single season during his seven NFL campaigns. He actually caught only two touchdowns, as the third score came on one of his 17 rushes.

Woods is well down the list in terms of priority as the goal line nears, but his heavy volume will lead to at least an extra score or three in 2020.

2020 Projection: 4 TDs

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
2019 -- 3 TDs, OTD: 3.9

Waller was one of the league's breakout stars of 2019, which is saying something when you consider that he scored only three touchdowns. Waller ranked no lower than fourth among tight ends in routes, targets, receptions and yardage, but he was 19th in touchdowns, 15th in OTD and 13th in end zone targets (six). Waller caught only one of the six end zone looks, with his other scores requiring a pair of 8-yard post-catch runs. Bet on fewer targets, but more touchdowns in 2020.

2020 Projection: 5 TDs

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
2019 -- 3 TDs, OTD: 5.5

Higbee soared into fantasy stardom during the final five weeks of the 2019 season but did so despite scoring only two touchdowns during that stretch. In total, Higbee ended up with three scores on 90 targets (seventh most). The Rams' top tight end entered 2019 primarily as a blocker and had totaled four touchdowns during his first three pro seasons. However, his huge boost in usage last season suggests he should've come close to doubling his actual TD output.

2020 Projection: 5 TDs

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
2019 - - 4 TDs, OTD: 6.0

Beckham's first season in Cleveland didn't go as expected, and a primary reason was underwhelming touchdown production. Beckham ranked 12th among wideouts with 132 targets, but his four scores ranked 48th. Beckham ranked fifth in end zone targets with 12, but hauled in only three. That, after he hauled in 26 of 64 end zone targets during his time with the Giants.

Beckham is yet another example of how unbeatable touchdown regression to the mean is over time. After scoring 35 touchdowns with a 25.8 OTD during 2014-16, he has since scored 13 TDs with a 16.0 OTD. The significant reduction in touchdown rate was predictable.

2020 Projection: 7 TDs

Le'Veon Bell, New York Jets
2019 -- 4 TDs, OTD: 6.0

I'm reluctantly including Bell here despite these facts: a) He's a strong bet for a dip in touches this season, and b) He'll still be working in an Adam Gase offense that has distributed only 11 carries inside the opponent's 5-yard line to its running backs over the past three seasons. Still, Bell remains the lead back in New York and, despite only five carries inside the 5, he was still well below his expected total in 2019. The veteran back ranked eighth among backs in touches, but 42nd in touchdowns.

2020 Projection: 6 TDs

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
2019 -- 6 TDs, OTD: 7.1

After scoring 13 touchdowns on 201 touches as a rookie (5.9 OTD) and 18 touchdowns on 275 touches in 2018 (14.5 OTD), Kamara plummeted to six scores on 253 touches last season. He obviously was way over his head during his first two seasons, but a drastic dip in usage near the goal line (seven carries inside the 5), some bad luck, and a pair of missed games led to a large drop in scores.

Kamara, 25, remains the focal point in a high-scoring Saints' offense and is a solid bet to return to double-digit scores in 2020.

2020 Projection: 11 TDs

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
2019 -- 6 TDs, OTD: 7.9

Kelce finished off his fourth consecutive season as fantasy's top-scoring tight end last season, but OTD tells us that he actually underwhelmed in the touchdown department. After not scoring much early in his career, Kelce busted out for eight touchdowns in 2017 (6.2 OTD) and hit a career high with 10 scores (9.1 OTD) in 2018. Last season, he handled nine end zone targets (fourth most) but saw his TD total cut in half. His 7.3 OTD was down from 2018 but still the second-highest total of his career.

2020 Projection: 9 TDs

Danny Amendola, Detroit Lions
2019 -- 1 TD, OTD: 2.8

As noted in the intro, Amendola broke math a bit last season by somehow failing to improve on his poor 2018 TD rate. After scoring on one of 59 targets in 2018 (1.4 OTD), Amendola scored on one of 62 targets (2.8 OTD) in 2019. The undersized slot man has now failed to eclipse four touchdowns and six end zone targets in a single season in his career.

Though his TD ceiling is perhaps lowest in the league for a "starter," I'm still following the math and doubling down that the 34-year-old will clear one score in 2020.

2020 Projection: 3 TDs

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons
2019 -- 1 TD, OTD: 3.1

Gage is anything but a household name, but the 2018 sixth-round pick quietly caught 49 passes last season, a majority of which came following the Mohamed Sanu trade. Gage was WR40 in fantasy from that point on despite some unfortunate TD luck. Gage hauled in one of three end zone targets but failed to score on seven additional targets while inside the opponent's 10. Gage is an intriguing PPR sleeper.

2020 Projection: 4 TDs

2. Great info!!