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True Fantasy Points: Week 7 Update

A stats-based guide for identifying buy-low and sell-high candidates.

It's time to update my True Fantasy Points (TFP) math given what's happened in the first six weeks of the 2017 NFL season. If you're unfamiliar with how my TFP system works, here are the links to my preseason articles:

  1. Quarterback TFP
  2. Running back TFP
  3. Wide receiver TFP
  4. Tight end TFP

As succinctly as I can describe my system, I calculate TFP by multiplying players' "true" efficiency stats by their opportunity, and then applying Footballguys' standard scoring system to the result:

  1. For quarterbacks, my opportunity measure is pass attempts, and the efficiency stats I turn into "true" stats are Yards per Attempt (YPA), Touchdowns per Attempt (TDPA), and Interceptions per Attempt (INTPA).
  2. For running backs, my opportunity measures are carries (in the running game) and routes run (in the passing game), and the efficiency stats I turn into "true" stats are Yards per Carry (YPC), Touchdowns per Carry (TDPC), Receptions per Route Run (RPRR), Yards per Route Run (YPRR), and Touchdowns per Route Run (TDPRR).
  3. For wide receivers and tight ends, my opportunity measure is routes run, and the efficiency stats I turn into "true" stats are RPRR, YPRR, and TDPRR.

As an example, in Rob Gronkowski's tenure with the Patriots, he has a True RPRR of 16.04%, a YPRR of 2.36, and a TDPRR of 2.39%. Given that he's run 162 routes thus far in 2017, that means Gronkowski should be expected to have 26.0 receptions for 382 yards and 3.87 touchdowns, which translates to 61.5 standard points. In comparison, Gronkowski's actually scored 64.1 standard points, which means he's currently at 2.6 points above his "true" fantasy scoring skill.

With that quick explainer out of the way, what follows is my offering of statistical evidence and advice so as to help you identify players to sell high and players to buy low as we head into the second half of the fantasy football season.

Because I want to focus on said buy-low and sell-high targets, players' "true" stats aren't as worthy of discussion as is their under- or over-achievement according to TFP. Therefore, I've created a Google Doc you can access if you really want to know said "true" stats (and rankings):

True Stats Through 2017 Week 6

And from there, let's proceed to TFPs. Here are actual standard fantasy points (i.e., "FBG"), TFP, and the difference between the two values for players that have a value greater than 1.0 in our Top 200 Forward rankings (sorted by the "DIFF" column for each position):

QUARTERBACKS    RUNNING BACKS    WIDE RECEIVERS    TIGHT ENDS    
PLAYERTMFBGTFPDIFFPLAYERTMFBGTFPDIFFPLAYERTMFBGTFPDIFFPLAYERTMFBGTFPDIFF
Alex Smith KC 148.0 116.5 +31.4 Kareem Hunt KC 124.5 90.6 +33.9 Will Fuller V HOU 46.3 17.9 +28.4 Cameron Brate TB 52.1 39.9 +12.2
Carson Wentz PHI 141.5 112.9 +28.6 Chris Thompson WAS 75.5 42.6 +32.9 Stefon Diggs MIN 63.3 38.5 +24.8 Zach Ertz PHI 64.5 52.7 +11.8
Deshaun Watson HOU 152.1 126.9 +25.1 Todd Gurley LAR 118.6 99.9 +18.7 Michael Crabtree OAK 60.4 42.7 +17.7 Charles Clay BUF 37.8 30.6 +7.2
Kirk Cousins WAS 117.0 102.8 +14.2 Leonard Fournette JAX 115.2 97.0 +18.2 Nelson Agholor PHI 56.1 38.8 +17.3 Tyler Kroft CIN 25.9 22.5 +3.4
Jared Goff LAR 106.7 94.2 +12.4 Duke Johnson Jr CLE 56.6 40.1 +16.5 Davante Adams GB 63.9 52.2 +11.7 Rob Gronkowski NE 64.1 61.5 +2.6
Tom Brady NE 150.1 140.1 +10.0 Melvin Gordon III LAC 99.8 87.7 +12.1 Jordy Nelson GB 65.0 54.5 +10.5 Hunter Henry LAC 34.8 33.0 +1.8
Derek Carr OAK 74.9 69.6 +5.3 Devonta Freeman ATL 73.4 62.4 +11.0 Brandon Coleman NO 28.0 19.2 +8.8 Zach Miller CHI 32.7 31.0 +1.7
Jameis Winston TB 91.0 88.7 +2.3 Doug Martin TB 26.6 17.8 +8.8 Kenny Golladay DET 22.2 14.1 +8.1 Evan Engram NYG 40.2 40.1 +0.1
Dak Prescott DAL 124.2 122.2 +2.0 Marlon Mack IND 28.4 19.9 +8.5 Paul Richardson Jr SEA 32.8 25.1 +7.7 Austin Hooper ATL 30.2 31.6 -1.4
Matthew Stafford DET 121.1 119.4 +1.7 Jerick McKinnon MIN 49.1 40.8 +8.3 Brandin Cooks NE 60.2 52.8 +7.4 Kyle Rudolph MIN 32.1 34.3 -2.2
Trevor Siemian DEN 100.7 100.1 +0.6 LeGarrette Blount PHI 53.1 45.6 +7.5 Chris Hogan NE 62.4 55.8 +6.6 Travis Kelce KC 51.7 54.6 -2.9
Andy Dalton CIN 86.6 86.5 +0.1 Alvin Kamara NO 43.7 37.0 +6.7 DeSean Jackson TB 40.7 35.0 +5.7 Jason Witten DAL 34.9 38.7 -3.8
Drew Brees NO 104.5 106.1 -1.6 Tevin Coleman ATL 49.2 42.7 +6.5 DeAndre Hopkins HOU 74.2 68.8 +5.4 Jack Doyle IND 27.3 33.4 -6.1
Cam Newton CAR 135.9 138.3 -2.4 Rex Burkhead NE 12.7 7.3 +5.4 Sammy Watkins LAR 34.2 29.2 +5.0 Austin Seferian-Jenkins NYJ 27.2 33.3 -6.1
Tyrod Taylor BUF 79.6 83.4 -3.8 Derrick Henry TEN 46.2 41.0 +5.2 John Brown ARI 29.8 25.0 +4.8 Jared Cook OAK 26.9 33.3 -6.4
Matt Ryan ATL 88.5 93.7 -5.2 Aaron Jones GB 34.5 30.0 +4.5 Tyreek Hill KC 52.5 47.8 +4.7 Delanie Walker TEN 31.9 40.6 -8.7
Eli Manning NYG 112.4 122.1 -9.7 Mike Gillislee NE 53.0 48.9 +4.1 Ted Ginn Jr NO 36.4 32.3 +4.1 Jimmy Graham SEA 23.9 35.7 -11.8
Marcus Mariota TEN 96.5 106.7 -10.2 Alex Collins BAL 33.5 31.2 +2.3 T.Y. Hilton IND 54.5 50.9 +3.6 Jordan Reed WAS 14.2 26.6 -12.4
Carson Palmer ARI 124.1 136.4 -12.3 Orleans Darkwa NYG 32.8 31.3 +1.5 A.J. Green CIN 68.4 64.9 +3.5          
Russell Wilson SEA 111.5 124.0 -12.5 Bilal Powell NYJ 43.2 41.7 +1.5 Cooper Kupp LAR 38.5 35.9 +2.6          
Philip Rivers LAC 116.8 130.5 -13.8 Jamaal Charles DEN 27.7 27.3 +0.4 Marvin Jones Jr DET 46.0 43.5 +2.5          
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 95.5 121.6 -26.1 Danny Woodhead BAL 3.7 3.7 0.0 Jordan Matthews BUF 22.2 20.0 +2.2          
          Darren McFadden DAL 0.0 0.0 0.0 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 31.2 29.4 +1.8          
          Carlos Hyde SF 74.2 75.2 -1.0 Mike Wallace BAL 30.3 28.6 +1.7          
          Adrian Peterson ARI 33.9 35.0 -1.1 Jermaine Kearse NYJ 47.9 46.9 +1.0          
          Wendell Smallwood PHI 22.9 25.0 -2.1 Corey Coleman CLE 12.2 11.7 +0.5          
          Tarik Cohen CHI 50.0 52.4 -2.4 Robby Anderson NYJ 35.6 35.1 +0.5          
          Mark Ingram II NO 56.5 59.8 -3.3 Jaron Brown ARI 33.4 32.9 +0.5          
          DeMarco Murray TEN 51.9 55.6 -3.7 J.J. Nelson ARI 42.7 42.4 +0.3          
          Ty Montgomery GB 49.2 53.0 -3.8 Cole Beasley DAL 22.9 22.8 +0.1          
          Rob Kelley WAS 13.1 17.7 -4.6 John Ross CIN 1.2 1.2 0.0          
          Wayne Gallman NYG 22.4 27.3 -4.9 Donte Moncrief IND 30.1 30.3 -0.2          
          Marshawn Lynch OAK 41.5 46.9 -5.4 Jeremy Maclin BAL 27.9 28.1 -0.2          
          Jordan Howard CHI 79.2 84.9 -5.7 Mike Williams LAC 1.5 1.8 -0.3          
          D'Onta Foreman HOU 27.5 33.2 -5.7 Willie Snead IV NO 1.1 1.7 -0.6          
          Lamar Miller HOU 66.7 73.0 -6.3 Mike Evans TB 55.1 55.7 -0.6          
          David Johnson ARI 9.1 15.5 -6.4 Roger Lewis NYG 17.7 18.8 -1.1          
          Theo Riddick DET 27.9 34.9 -7.0 Danny Amendola NE 36.7 38.2 -1.5          
          Christian McCaffrey CAR 51.7 59.3 -7.6 Alshon Jeffery PHI 43.7 45.3 -1.6          
          Eddie Lacy SEA 8.3 16.1 -7.8 Torrey Smith PHI 26.7 28.5 -1.8          
          Frank Gore IND 50.8 59.3 -8.5 Dez Bryant DAL 44.4 46.3 -1.9          
          C.J. Anderson DEN 53.4 62.5 -9.1 Antonio Brown PIT 82.0 84.2 -2.2          
          Matt Breida SF 20.5 30.5 -10.0 Keenan Allen LAC 50.6 53.4 -2.8          
          Matt Forte NYJ 23.3 34.7 -11.4 Terrelle Pryor WAS 26.9 30.1 -3.2          
          Javorius Allen BAL 51.5 64.2 -12.7 Michael Thomas NO 44.1 47.7 -3.6          
          Ameer Abdullah DET 47.0 62.5 -15.5 Mohamed Sanu ATL 22.7 26.5 -3.8          
          James White NE 35.1 50.7 -15.6 Zay Jones BUF 6.6 10.7 -4.1          
          Ezekiel Elliott DAL 70.7 87.5 -16.8 Marqise Lee JAX 30.8 35.4 -4.6          
          Le'Veon Bell PIT 94.6 111.5 -16.9 Kendall Wright CHI 29.6 34.3 -4.7          
          Latavius Murray MIN 12.6 29.5 -16.9 Taylor Gabriel ATL 23.5 28.3 -4.8          
          Joe Mixon CIN 32.5 51.0 -18.5 Albert Wilson KC 22.4 27.4 -5.0          
          Isaiah Crowell CLE 32.4 54.8 -22.4 Corey Davis TEN 7.3 12.3 -5.0          
          Jonathan Stewart CAR 35.1 58.1 -23.0 Marquise Goodwin SF 27.5 32.5 -5.0          
          Jay Ajayi MIA 41.4 67.6 -26.2 Kenny Stills MIA 28.3 33.5 -5.2          
          LeSean McCoy BUF 46.8 79.9 -33.1 Golden Tate DET 49.2 54.7 -5.5          
                    Rishard Matthews TEN 41.0 46.8 -5.8          
                    Emmanuel Sanders DEN 38.6 45.2 -6.6          
                    Sterling Shepard NYG 33.6 40.4 -6.8          
                    DeVante Parker MIA 29.6 36.5 -6.9          
                    Seth Roberts OAK 21.7 28.7 -7.0          
                    Devin Funchess CAR 48.5 55.5 -7.0          
                    Tyrell Williams LAC 34.7 41.9 -7.2          
                    Robert Woods LAR 33.0 40.7 -7.7          
                    Allen Hurns JAX 36.4 44.3 -7.9          
                    Kelvin Benjamin CAR 43.1 51.0 -7.9          
                    Ricardo Louis CLE 22.9 31.9 -9.0          
                    Martavis Bryant PIT 31.1 40.8 -9.7          
                    Tyler Lockett SEA 22.6 32.5 -9.9          
                    Larry Fitzgerald ARI 64.5 74.7 -10.2          
                    Jarvis Landry MIA 38.5 50.1 -11.6          
                    Julio Jones ATL 36.7 48.5 -11.8          
                    Pierre Garcon SF 43.4 55.4 -12.0          
                    Amari Cooper OAK 20.6 32.7 -12.1          
                    Randall Cobb GB 31.6 46.2 -14.6          
                    Eric Decker TEN 22.6 37.3 -14.7          
                    Jamison Crowder WAS 13.2 28.2 -15.0          
                    Demaryius Thomas DEN 38.0 53.4 -15.4          
                    Adam Thielen MIN 50.0 65.6 -15.6          
                    Doug Baldwin SEA 34.1 49.9 -15.8          
                    Brandon LaFell CIN 10.8 27.5 -16.7          
                    Terrance Williams DAL 18.0 40.2 -22.2          

Just in case it's unclear how to read this table, here is an example for each position:

  • Andy Dalton has actually scored 86.6 standard points this season. Based on his "true" stats, he should have 86.5 points. Therefore, he's scored 0.1 points more than what his "true" stats would suggest.
  • Carlos Hyde has actually scored 74.2 standard points this season. Based on his "true" stats, he should have 75.2 points. Therefore, he's scored 1.0 points less than what his "true" stats would suggest.
  • Donte Moncrief has actually scored 30.1 standard points this season. Based on his "true" stats, he should have 30.3 points. Therefore, he's scored 0.2 points less than what his "true" stats would suggest.
  • Evan Engram has actually scored 40.2 standard points this season. Based on his "true" stats, he should have 40.1 points. Therefore, he's scored 0.1 points more than what his "true" stats would suggest.

Now that we're all (hopefully) on the same page, it's time to discuss TFP-based buy-low and sell-high candidates at each position.

Buy-Low Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger

You don't need me to tell you that Roethlisberger has underachieved expectations thus far this season. You do need me to tell you that he's underachieving in all three of his "true" stat categories: His Actual YPA in 2017 is 0.81 yards below his True YPA, his Actual TDPA is 1.69 percent below his True TDPA, and his Actual INTPA is 1.04 percent below his True INTPA. The likelihood of a rebound that's implied by these "true" stats is buttressed by Pittsburgh having the fifth-easiest quarterback schedule going forward.

Sell-High Quarterback: Tom Brady

Brady's Actual YPA so far this season is nearly a yard better than his True YPA and his Actual INTPA is nearly a percentage point better than his True INTPA. On top of all that, New England has the eighth-worst quarterback schedule going forward.

Buy-Low Running Back: LesEAN mCcOY

McCoy is woefully underperforming both of his "true" rushing stats so far this season. His Actual YPC is 3.21, whereas his True YPC with the Bills is 4.39. And he has yet to score a rushing touchdown on 87 carries despite a True TDPC of 2.98 percent (i.e., not zero). What may help McCoy return to form is the fourth-easiest running back schedule going forward.

Sell-High Running BACK: Todd Gurley

Gurley's rushing performance thus far this season is commensurate with his True YPC (4.25) and his True TDPC (3.04 percent). Where he's overachieving is with respect to receiving performance: 1.74 Actual YPRR versus 1.26 True YPRR and 2.13 percent Actual TDPRR versus 0.06 percent True TDPRR. Given the Rams' change from offensive black hole to offensive supernova, this wouldn't be much of a concern -- except that the Rams have the second-toughest running back schedule going forward.

Buy-Low Wide Receiver: Amari Cooper

If you have Cooper on you fantasy team, you know he's underachieved. I'm guessing, however, that you don't know by just how much. Cooper's True YPRR with the Raiders is 1.78, yet his Actual YPRR this season is a mind-bogglingly low 0.78. Similarly, with 1 touchdown in 188 routes run, his Actual TDPRR is just about half of his 0.97 percent True TDPRR. Cooper's high likelihood of yardage and touchdown regression should be helped by having the seventh-easiest wide receiver schedule going forward.

Sell-High Wide Receiver: Stefon Diggs

Diggs is currently crushing his True YPRR and True TDPRR. The former is 1.96, whereas he's currently at 2.56 through Week 6. Meanwhile, the latter is 1.10 percent, whereas he's currently at 2.60 percent. The likelihood of regression for DIggs is exacerbated by Minnesota wide receivers having the fourth-toughest schedule going forward.

Buy-Low Tight End: Jordan Reed

As Reed's 1.48 YPRR ($) isn't too far off from his True YPRR of 2.00, the main issue through Week 6 is therefore his TDPRR. In 96 routes, Reed's True TDPRR implies he should have 1.37 touchdowns; he actually has none. With the sixth-easiest tight end schedule going forward, this is likely to resolve itself in Reed's favor -- provided he can remain healthy. 

Sell-High Tight End: Rob Gronkowski

This recommendation is simply a byproduct of preserving the symmetry of this section. It turns out that Gronkowski's 2.39 YPRR and 2.39 percent TDPRR thus far in 2017 are nearly identical to his "true" stat values (2.36 YPRR and 2.39 percent TDPRR); which is reflected by his small difference between standard fantasy points and TFP. That said, none of the four more-overperforming tight ends -- Cameron Brate, Zach Ertz, Charles Clay, and Tyler Kroft -- have an unfavorable schedule going forward, so I'm kind of forced to go with Gronkowski here.