Breakout Receiver Model: Week 18

Jan 06, 2022
Breakout Receiver Model: Week 18

The Breakout Receiver Model returns for the final week of the regular season, and we’re going out with a bang, as the model posted one of its best weeks of the entire season in Week 17. 45% of all listed players met or exceeded expectations, and listed player scores were, on average, within 10% of expectations. The model clearly isn’t hampered by late-season playing time and personnel changes, an impressive feat within itself. With this being the last breakout receiver article of the season, let’s touch on some hits and misses from last week, hand out a few season’s end superlatives, and then dig into the week ahead.

About the Breakout Receiver Model

The 4for4 data science team, in conjunction with our award-winning projections expert John Paulsen, have recalibrated and reconfigured the receiver "buy-low" model from years past in order to better identify under-performing wide receivers and tight ends who might be on the verge of a breakout performance. For the uninitiated, the breakout receiver model utilizes historical data and recent player performance to help determine players who have received opportunity that is typically more valuable than their recent production would indicate. This particular model's features include air yards and routes-run data as a means of determining opportunity. It also utilizes a proprietary efficiency metric that looks back at the past 10 weeks of individual player performance, all to better help predict the likelihood of a bounce-back in a player's future production. The model most heavily weights the last three weeks of data.

Last Week's Results


Breakout Receiver Model, Week 17: Hits
Player Team Position XFP - Last 3 Week 17 XFP-Diff.
Rob Gronkowski TB TE 13.6 15 1.4
Jakobi Meyers NE WR 12.9 17.3 4.4
DK Metcalf SEA WR 11.7 27.9 16.2
Darnell Mooney CHI WR 11.2 16.4 5.2
Michael Gallup DAL WR 11.1 11.1 0
Laquon Treadwell JAX WR 11 11.7 0.7
Keenan Allen LAC WR 10.8 12.4 1.6
Van Jefferson LA WR 9.2 8.3 -0.9
Mike Williams LAC WR 8.4 13.8 5.4
Mike Gesicki MIA TE 8 7.1 -0.9
David Njoku CLE TE 6.2 10.8 4.6


Breakout Receiver Model, Week 17: Misses
Player Team Position XFP - Last 3 Week 17 XFP-Diff.
Justin Jefferson MIN WR 17 8.8 -8.2
Tyler Lockett SEA WR 15 10.6 -4.4
Christian Kirk ARI WR 14 10.9 -3.1
Kenny Golladay NYG WR 13.9 0 -13.9
Robby Anderson CAR WR 13.9 2 -11.9
D.J. Moore CAR WR 13.3 4.4 -8.9
Donovan Peoples-Jones CLE WR 13 9.1 -3.9
Hunter Henry NE TE 12.3 5.2 -7.1
Marquise Brown BAL WR 11.4 2.3 -9.1
A.J. Green ARI WR 10.9 8.9 -2
Terry McLaurin WAS WR 10.8 9.6 -1.2
Courtland Sutton DEN WR 8.6 7.5 -1.1
Cole Kmet CHI TE 8.3 4 -4.3

Breakout Receiver Model Recommendations

Breakout Receiver Top Candidates

Insights and Takeaways

While we usually pull a few nuggets about this week's chart within this section, we'll hand out a few end-of-season awards, as determined by the model.

Team with the Most Breakout Candidates: Baltimore Ravens (24)

Team(s) with the Least Breakout Candidates: San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans (4)

Worst Performing Breakout Candidates, Team: Carolina Panthers (-104 Fantasy Points vs. Expected)

Highest Performing Breakout Candidates, Team: Kansas City Chiefs (12.7 Fantasy Points vs. Expected)

Best "Hit" Rate (Breakout Players Meeting/Exceeding Expectations): Los Angeles Chargers (84%)

Worst "Hit" Rate (Breakout Players Meeting/Exceeding Expectations): Carolina Panthers (18%)

Worst Performing Breakout Candidate, Player: Marquise Brown (-60 Fantasy Points vs. Expected, 11 games)

Highest Performing Breakout Candidate, Player: DeVante Parker (24 Fantasy Points vs. Expected, 3 Games)

Wide Receiver(s) with the Most Breakout Model Appearances: Marvin Jones, Marquise Brown (11)

Tight End with the Most Breakout Model Appearances: Cole Kmet (11)

Not-so-honorable mentions (Players with 9+ under-performing Weeks): Kyle Pitts, Mike Gesicki, Robby Anderson

Breakout Receiver Model: Week 18

We split the breakout candidates into two categories. The first is the primary model results, also visualized in the graph above, which highlight players who are under-performing their expected fantasy point value by more than five percent. Next, we'll offer some dart-throw plays for DFS players and for season-long teams struggling with injuries who need a last-minute replacement. Use this in conjunction with John Paulsen's sneaky starts column each week. Use this in conjunction with John Paulsen's sneaky starts column each week.


  • `XFP` is expected fantasy points, the model's projected average half-PPR fantasy points per game.

  • `Diff` is the difference between a player's actual half-PPR fantasy points per game and their expected fantasy points per game

  • `Efficiency Score` uses a proprietary blend of individual efficiency metrics to create one singular efficiency value. Higher numbers indicate more efficient past performance.

Breakout Receiver Model: Week 18
Player Team Position XFP - Last 3 Diff. Efficiency Score
Justin Jefferson MIN WR 15.3 -2.9 136.7
Donovan Peoples-Jones CLE WR 12.9 -7.2
D.J. Moore CAR WR 12.8 -6 73.2
Marvin Jones JAX WR 11.5 -5 65.2
Amari Cooper DAL WR 11 -1.3
Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB WR 10.8 -1.3
Marquise Brown BAL WR 10.7 -3.9 86.8
DeVonta Smith PHI WR 10.7 -1 80.7
Hunter Henry NE TE 10.7 -1 113
N'Keal Harry NE WR 10.5 -6.2 84.9
Robby Anderson CAR WR 10.3 -5.4 67.4
DeVante Parker MIA WR 10.2 -3
Courtland Sutton DEN WR 10.1 -5.1 63.7
Kenny Golladay NYG WR 10 -6.5
Mike Gesicki MIA TE 10 -4.1 69.4
A.J. Green ARI WR 10 -3 76.8
Odell Beckham LA WR 9.5 -1.1 64.4
Tim Patrick DEN WR 9.2 -2 79.2
Jarvis Landry CLE WR 8.8 -1.9
Darius Slayton NYG WR 8.1 -5.9
Cole Kmet CHI TE 8 -1 70.4
CeeDee Lamb DAL WR 8 -0.3 134.5
Jared Cook LAC TE 7.9 -2.6 78.9
George Kittle SF TE 7.5 -1.2
Dawson Knox BUF TE 7 -2.4
Austin Hooper CLE TE 6.7 -2.8 111.2

Dart Throws

While the players listed below likely belong on the waiver wire for most, these are the players who are underperforming their already-low expected fantasy points. For DFS players focused on large-field GPP tournaments, this table can serve as a starting point for finding low-salary contrarian plays.

Breakout Receiver Model: Week 18, Dart Throws
Player Team Position XFP - Last 3 Diff. Efficiency Score
Chase Claypool PIT WR 7.8 -4.3 81.7
Jerry Jeudy DEN WR 7.5 -3.8
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine TEN WR 7.2 -3.9 117.3
Rashard Higgins CLE WR 6.8 -2.3 46.1
Phillip Dorsett HOU WR 6.6 -0.4
D'Wayne Eskridge SEA WR 6.2 -5.1
Keelan Cole NYJ WR 6.1 -2.9 58.6
Damiere Byrd CHI WR 6.1 -1.7 112.1
Ray-Ray McCloud PIT WR 5.9 -2.4 98.3
C.J. Uzomah CIN TE 5.9 -1 130.7
KhaDarel Hodge WR 5.6 -1.4 33.1
Tavon Austin JAX WR 5.6 -1.2 82.5
DeSean Jackson LV WR 5.5 -2.5 109.9
Kalif Raymond DET WR 5.3 -2.4 69.9
Tommy Tremble CAR TE 5.2 -3 63.8
Olamide Zaccheaus ATL WR 5.2 -1.1 101

Top Breakout Candidates for Week 18:

  • The Vikings are 7-9 and eliminated from playoff contention, but they’ve shown every indication that they’ll play their starters throughout Week 18, which means Justin Jefferson has an excellent chance to finish the year with a bang against the division-rival Bears this Sunday. Chicago has been easier to beat on the ground than through the air, ranking 18th in aFPA to running backs but top-10 against opposing wideouts, but Jefferson is talented enough and should see the requisite opportunity to buck that trend.
  • Tampa Bay’s defensive struggles have re-emerged during this season’s second half. The Buccaneers now rank worst among all current playoff teams in cumulative schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed this season, and they continue to be beaten with deep and intermediate passing, which is why D.J. Moore pops as a potential breakout candidate for approximately the one-gazillionth time this season. Moore’s floor is tremendously low here, but the matchup is good enough. Painful as this season has been, Moore’s worth a start this Sunday.
  • The Cowboys have been up-and-down offensively for most of the second half of the season, and just lost wideout Micahel Gallup for the remainder of the season last weekend, but Amari Cooper continues to look relatively healthy and is popping in this week’s model. Dallas has little to play for this Sunday when they face the Eagles, as their playoff seeding is all but locked-in, but they have not shown any signs that they’ll rest players. Cooper has seen 18 targets, including five in the red zone, over his last two starts. CeeDee Lamb has seen half has many looks during that same span.
  • The Cardinals are touchdown-favorites against the Seahawks, who rank bottom-10 in aFPA allowed to opposing offenses this season, and seemed to find their own offensive rhythm last Sunday, which drastically increases the shootout potential of this NFC West divisional battle this Sunday. While Zach Ertz and Christian Kirk will certainly see their share of looks from Kyler Murray, A.J. Green should continue to be utilized enough to be a viable starter this weekend. Green has seen 27 targets over his last four starts, and has earned 65 air yards or more in three of those games.
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