6 Quarterback Touchdown Regression Candidates

6 Quarterback Touchdown Regression Candidates

By TJ Hernandez (Director of DFS), last update Feb 5, 2019

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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.

Follow TJ Hernandez on Twitter: @TJHernandez.

In Part One of this series, I uncovered four tight end touchdown regression candidates and re-introduced Red Zone EV, a metric designed to quantify how many points a player should score from red zone touchdowns based on the starting field position of every red zone opportunity. With two years of data and nearly 50 regression candidates to date, Red Zone EV has proven to be a metric that accurately predicts touchdown regression at an incredible rate.

More Touchdown Regression Candidates: TE | WR | RB

As is the case with every position, Red Zone EV must be calculated using specific scoring expectation for each position. Here are the expected values for all red zone pass attempts:

Expected Value of Red Zone Pass Attempts, 2015–2017
Starting Yard Line % Chance of a TD EV of a Pass Attempt
20 – 16 11.0% 0.66
15 – 11 15.7% 0.94
10 – 6 28.5% 1.71
5 – 1 43.1% 2.59

After compiling every red zone pass attempt for every quarterback in the league last season and comparing their Red Zone EV to actual points generated from red zone passes, I’ve uncovered the following touchdown regression candidates.

Negative Touchdown Regression Candidates

League Average Touchdown Rate - 4.4%; League Average Red Zone Touchdown Rate - 23.1%

Carson Wentz, Eagles

2017 TD Rate - 7.5%; Career TD Rate - 4.7%
2017 Red Zone TD Rate - 39.0%; Career Red Zone TD Rate - 24.5%
Red Zone EV - 87.8; Actual Points from Red Zone TDs - 144

After posting scoring rates that were well below the league average in his rookie season, Carson Wentz was touted as a positive regression candidate in 2017, but the pendulum swung too far in his favor. No quarterback over the last three seasons has scored more red zone points over expectation than Wentz, and he did so in just 13 games. 

As a whole, the Eagles were an offense that moved the ball efficiently but not so much so that they should have been scoring at such an absurd rate. Philadelphia ranked 10th in yards per drive and ninth in percentage of drives that made it to the red zone, but managed to end drives in touchdowns at the third-highest rate. 

Even if the Eagles do maintain their drive efficiency, they are a team that ranked just 15th in passing rate inside the red zone last season. Additionally, they are the only offense that doesn’t face a defense all season ranked in the bottom 10 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to opposing quarterbacks.

Jared Goff, Rams

2017 TD Rate - 5.9%; Career TD Rate - 4.8%
2017 Red Zone TD Rate - 31.1%; Career Red Zone TD Rate - 27.8%
Red Zone EV - 104.6; Actual Points from Red Zone TDs - 138

Leading the highest-scoring offense in the league last year, Jared Goff’s scoring rates weren’t astronomical but they were well above average. Where the Rams quarterback was especially fortunate, though, was in the red zone—Goff should have tossed about 17 touchdowns from inside the 20 but he managed 23 such scores. This efficiency in the red zone gave off the notion of a hyper-dynamic offense when in actuality Los Angeles ranked just 11th in yards per drive.

A large portion of Goff’s success in the red zone came at the hands of the now-departed Sammy Watkins, who converted seven of his 10 red zone looks into scores. Of Goff’s top-three projected targets this season, none have converted more than 25 percent of their career red zone targets into scores. It’s unlikely Goff will get the volume to make up for his impending regression, as the Rams ranked 24th in passing rate inside the red zone last season.

Deshaun Watson, Texans

2017 TD Rate - 9.3%
2017 Red Zone TD Rate - 48.0%
Red Zone EV - 45.1; Actual Points from Red Zone TDs - 78

In his first season as a pro, Deshaun Watson posted the second-highest single-season touchdown rate since the merger and was on pace for the league lead in touchdowns. Not only is his scoring pace unsustainable but his fantasy run is one that he will almost surely never repeat. Last season, Watson became just the 12th quarterback ever to score at least 22 fantasy points in five or more games in a row—Aaron Rodgers is the only quarterback to accomplish the feat more than once.

Speaking of ARod, his 6.4 percent career touchdown rate is tops since the merger—if Watson is as efficient as the greatest quarterback of this generation, we can still expect his scoring rate to drop off by over 30 percent. In all likelihood, that touchdown rate will be much closer to the league average. 

Houston has one of the easiest schedules in the league when we consider opponents’ projected win totals but the Texans face just four teams ranked in the bottom 10 in aFPA to quarterbacks and they’ll face just two of those defenses in the first 12 weeks of the season.

Positive Touchdown Regression Candidates

Continue reading to see which three quarterbacks TJ believes are in line for positive touchdown regression and who should score more fantasy points in 2018 than last season...

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