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Regression Alert: When Yards Per Target is Off Target

A lot of the deviation in yards per target is explained by a receiver's role. Most of the rest of it is explained by random chance. That last bit is ripe for regression.

Welcome to Regression Alert, a weekly column devoted to demystifying the most talked-about force in the fantasy football universe.

Two weeks ago, I discussed what regression to the mean was, what it wasn't, when it was useful, and when it was meaningless. Last week, I looked at our first candidates for regression of the season, starting with the ever-unpredictable yards per carry.

Because I'm a big fan of stating hypotheses and then testing them, I'm going to track how my predictions fare as weeks go on. Last week, I listed two groups of running backs. Group A had rushed for 81.8 yards per game through two weeks, while group B had rushed for 51.3. I then predicted that over the ensuing four weeks, group B would outrush group A.

Through one week, things don't look so hot for my prediction. Group A averaged 79.5 yards and 4.7 yards per carry, while Group B averaged 54.5 yards and 3.4 yards per carry. Alas, Rome wasn't built in a day and we have yet to gain the full benefit of the law of large numbers; with samples this small, group A is essentially kept afloat entirely by Kareem Hunt. Absent his huge day, the group would have averaged 61 yards and 3.6 yards per carry.

Undeterred by my slow start, it's on to week four.


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