Fantasy football often places excessive value on touchdowns, leading many players to chase the prior year’s touchdown production and experience disappointment. Touchdowns tend to be unpredictable, streaky, and challenging to replicate. Players can go through hot streaks or slumps in scoring, influenced by factors like defensive performance and sheer chance. That’s why Touchdown regression is important to look at.
Touchdown rates vary from season to season, making it essential to focus on players likely to experience negative regression to the mean in terms of potential touchdowns.
I’ve developed a touchdown regression model that has successfully predicted both positive and negative regression outcomes. In a 2022 article for FantasyPros, I forecasted reduced touchdown totals for six players, and all six indeed regressed toward the mean.
This article exclusively centres on running backs, spotlighting the top five candidates projected to experience negative regression in touchdowns.
1. Jamaal Williams (RB – New Orleans Saints)
Actual Touchdowns: 17
Expected Touchdowns: 11.37
Difference: +5.63 Touchdowns
Jamaal Williams stands out due to his exceptional touchdown rate in 2022. While his performance showcased his talent and Detroit Lions’ usage, his move to the New Orleans Saints and expected changes in his role suggests a significant decline in touchdown production. Williams’ workload is set to decrease substantially, impacting his scoring potential.
Anticipate Williams regressing further toward the mean of 9 touchdowns in 2023, possibly even lower if he maintains the same workload and has the same role in New Orleans as he had in Detroit.
2. Jerrick McKinnon (RB – Kansas City Chiefs)
Actual Touchdowns: 10
Expected Touchdowns: 4.90
Difference: +5.10 Touchdowns
Jerrick McKinnon’s return to the Chiefs in 2023 brings optimism, but duplicating his 10 touchdowns from last year appears unlikely. His previous touchdown efficiency relied on limited touches, making it improbable for him to maintain the same rate with increased volume. While he remains valuable, chasing his 2022 touchdown total might not be prudent.
3. Tony Pollard (RB – Dallas Cowboys)
Actual Touchdowns: 12
Expected Touchdowns: 8.23
Difference: +3.77 Touchdowns
Tony Pollard’s potential to surpass his 2022 touchdown total hinges on his workload, but expecting a full workhorse role in the Dallas offense is unrealistic. If you listen to Murf on this week’s flagship show, he explains that the offense is likely to be run by Mike McCarthy this year and we will see a more similar alignment to the early 2010s Green Bay Offense. Dallas’s strategy prioritizes a balanced approach, and changes in coaching and personnel will likely impact Pollard’s efficiency. While his volume might increase, his touchdown rate is likely to regress.
4. Austin Ekeler (RB – Los Angeles Chargers)
Actual Touchdowns: 18
Expected Touchdowns: 14.60
Difference: +3.40 Touchdowns
Austin Ekeler’s impressive 18 touchdowns in 2022 propelled him to the top of PPR scoring for running backs. However, his efficiency is likely to regress, as observed in his previous seasons. Despite potential volume increases, maintaining the same touchdown rate seems improbable. Negative regression is looming, although Ekeler remains a viable first-round draft choice.
5. Ezekiel Elliott (RB – Free Agent)
Actual Touchdowns: 12
Expected Touchdowns: 8.54
Difference: +3.46 Touchdowns
Ezekiel Elliott’s uncertain team situation casts doubt on his touchdown potential. Even if he secures a spot, replicating his 2022 success with another team is unlikely due to variations in team dynamics. The negative regression in touchdowns is inevitable, making Elliott a questionable choice even as a late-round option.
It’s important to analyse the projected negative regression in touchdowns for these running backs as it provides insights for fantasy football provides additional, overlooked information, aiding in informed draft selections.