True Fantasy Points: Week 5 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 four weeks of 2018. 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

The Cliffs Notes version is that 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, Marvin Jones has amassed 15 catches for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns, which translates to an Actual YPRR of 1.5 and an Actual TDPRR of 1.3% based on estimated routes run in 2018. And based on about 1,400 actual routes run in his Lions career, Jones' True YPRR is 1.7, and his True TDPRR is 1.1%, which means he "should" have 251 yards and 1.6 touchdowns on those 15 catches. If we apply Footballguys' standard coring system to both sets of numbers, we find that he's actually scored 35.3 points, whereas his "true" skill suggests 34.9 points (slight math discrepancy due to intentional rounding). This translates to a 0.4-point difference between standard points and TFP, which one can interpret as Jones being neither a buy-low or sell-high candidate. In essence, he's performing almost exactly on par with expectation.

So with everyone on the same page, find out which players are most likely to see their fantasy scoring pace slow down (or speed up) over the course of the next three months.

All tables below show actual standard fantasy points (i.e., "FBG"), TFP, and the difference between the two values for players that appear in the Top 300 of our Rest of Season rankings (sorted by the "DIFF" column for each position).

Quarterbacks

Below is the table for quarterbacks:

Quarterback Team FBG TFP DIFF
Patrick Mahomes II II KC 127.3 88.5 +38.8
Jared Goff LAR 114.5 76.0 +38.5
Matt Ryan ATL 120.1 94.4 +25.7
Ryan Tannehill MIA 71.8 54.2 +17.5
Philip Rivers LAC 100.0 84.2 +15.8
Andy Dalton CIN 100.0 84.2 +15.7
Mitchell Trubisky CHI 94.0 81.6 +12.4
Joe Flacco BAL 93.6 82.2 +11.4
Kirk Cousins MIN 113.5 105.3 +8.2
Blake Bortles JAX 93.0 85.5 +7.5
Drew Brees NO 109.3 105.4 +3.9
Alex Smith WAS 58.2 55.1 +3.1
C.J. Beathard SF 22.8 19.9 +2.9
Matthew Stafford DET 90.0 87.6 +2.4
Derek Carr OAK 85.7 83.5 +2.1
Deshaun Watson HOU 108.4 106.6 +1.8
Cam Newton CAR 82.9 81.3 +1.6
Russell Wilson SEA 73.6 74.4 -0.8
Jameis Winston TB 10.0 11.2 -1.3
Tom Brady NE 79.3 81.2 -1.9
Baker Mayfield CLE 31.6 33.9 -2.3
Carson Wentz PHI 43.0 45.6 -2.7
Josh Rosen ARI 16.3 19.9 -3.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 106.0 112.1 -6.1
Marcus Mariota TEN 49.6 57.4 -7.8
Andrew Luck IND 94.6 103.0 -8.4
Dak Prescott DAL 60.4 68.9 -8.5
Eli Manning NYG 68.8 77.7 -9.0
Sam Darnold NYJ 55.2 64.9 -9.7
Aaron Rodgers GB 90.2 102.5 -12.3
Josh Allen BUF 60.9 75.0 -14.1
Case Keenum DEN 63.0 78.3 -15.3

Sell High: Patrick Mahomes II II

No doubt, Mahomes has been great in his first four games as Kansas City's starting quarterback. However, his rate stats are completely unsustainable.

As the table shows, he's nearly 40 standard points ahead of where his "true" stats indicate he should be. For instance, he's currently throwing a touchdown on 10.1% of his passes, whereas the average for quarterbacks in the table is 4.9%. Given he's only thrown 173 passes with the Chiefs, these numbers translate to Mahomes' True TDPA being 5.0%. In other words, his Actual TDPA right now is more than double what his "true" skill suggests.

Similarly, Mahomes has yet to throw an interception in 2018. This, of course, means his Actual INTPA is 0.0%, which is significantly lower than his True INTPA of 2.4%.

Sell High: Jared Goff

Like Mahomes, Goff is currently benefiting from an Actual TDPA that dwarfs his True TDPA. Specifically, the latter is 4.9%, whereas the former is 8.2%. Even more absurd is Goff's 10.5 Actual YPA in 2018, which far exceeds his 7.6 True YPA.

In contrast to Mahomes, Goff has a reasonably large sample size, having thrown over 800 passes with the Rams, so these are arguably even larger statistical anomalies.

Buy Low: Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers is actually performing better than his "true" skills suggests when it comes to throwing interceptions (0.6% Actual INTPA vs. 1.8% True INTPA). However, he's underperforming his other two "true" rates by such a large extent that he still shows up at the bottom of the table. Specifically, based on a sample size of over 5,000 passes with the Packers, Rodgers' True YPA is 7.8, while his True TDPA is 6.0%. So far in 2018, his Actual YPA is 7.2, and his TDPA is 4.5%.

Perhaps losing Jordy Nelson this offseason has had a bigger negative impact than was believed at the time, but a stagnant running game and injuries to his current stable of wide receivers are also likely to blame. Once those factors work themselves out, Rodgers is poised to rebound.

Running Backs

Below is the table for running backs:

Running Back Team FBG TFP DIFF
Alvin Kamara NO 97.1 75.6 +21.5
Nick Chubb CLE 26.6 6.2 +20.4
Todd Gurley LAR 89.2 69.0 +20.2
Melvin Gordon III III LAC 77.5 57.5 +20.0
James White NE 54.3 38.3 +16.0
Austin Ekeler LAC 47.1 32.2 +14.9
Royce Freeman DEN 40.4 28.3 +12.1
Isaiah Crowell NYJ 43.5 31.5 +12.0
Adrian Peterson WAS 51.6 40.0 +11.6
Phillip Lindsay DEN 43.2 32.6 +10.6
Kareem Hunt KC 58.8 48.3 +10.5
Matt Breida SF 45.8 35.5 +10.3
Javorius Allen BAL 38.9 28.6 +10.3
T.J. Yeldon JAX 51.0 41.0 +10.0
Tarik Cohen CHI 36.8 29.0 +7.8
C.J. Anderson CAR 15.9 8.3 +7.6
Jay Ajayi PHI 35.0 27.5 +7.5
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 73.1 65.7 +7.4
Giovani Bernard CIN 41.3 35.0 +6.3
Aaron Jones GB 18.9 12.8 +6.1
Alex Collins BAL 40.8 35.5 +5.3
Mike Davis SEA 25.3 20.1 +5.2
Carlos Hyde CLE 60.0 55.8 +4.2
Saquon Barkley NYG 63.3 59.3 +4.0
Nyheim Hines IND 35.3 32.2 +3.1
Marshawn Lynch OAK 54.0 52.1 +1.9
Ito Smith ATL 19.7 17.9 +1.8
Alfred Blue HOU 18.0 16.8 +1.2
Bilal Powell NYJ 33.0 31.9 +1.1
Joe Mixon CIN 29.6 28.7 +0.9
Chris Ivory BUF 24.1 23.3 +0.8
Spencer Ware KC 7.9 8.1 -0.2
James Conner PIT 57.6 57.8 -0.2
Ty Montgomery GB 20.6 20.8 -0.2
Kerryon Johnson DET 32.9 33.3 -0.4
David Johnson ARI 47.1 47.7 -0.6
Frank Gore MIA 23.4 24.2 -0.8
Chris Thompson WAS 29.8 31.6 -1.8
Devonta Freeman ATL 5.0 6.9 -1.9
Corey Clement PHI 24.6 26.7 -2.1
Chris Carson SEA 28.7 32.2 -3.5
Alfred Morris SF 26.3 29.8 -3.5
Marlon Mack IND 3.6 7.2 -3.6
Darren Sproles PHI 3.2 7.1 -3.9
Wayne Gallman NYG 6.9 11.0 -4.1
Duke Johnson Jr CLE 12.4 16.6 -4.2
Ronald Jones II TB 2.8 7.0 -4.2
Jalen Richard OAK 17.7 22.2 -4.5
Sony Michel NE 26.2 31.4 -5.2
Devontae Booker DEN 9.0 14.7 -5.7
Tevin Coleman ATL 41.4 47.6 -6.2
Christian McCaffrey CAR 42.8 49.3 -6.5
Corey Grant JAX 9.9 16.8 -6.9
Leonard Fournette JAX 9.0 16.1 -7.1
Lamar Miller HOU 33.9 41.3 -7.4
Kenyan Drake MIA 22.2 29.9 -7.7
Latavius Murray MIN 11.0 18.8 -7.8
Chase Edmonds ARI 7.9 15.9 -8.0
LeSean McCoy BUF 12.6 20.7 -8.1
Rashaad Penny SEA 12.7 21.5 -8.8
Theo Riddick DET 14.5 24.9 -10.4
Dalvin Cook MIN 20.5 31.0 -10.5
Dion Lewis TEN 31.9 42.6 -10.7
LeGarrette Blount DET 10.9 23.7 -12.8
Jordan Wilkins IND 16.1 29.6 -13.5
Jamaal Williams GB 19.0 33.5 -14.5
Peyton Barber TB 16.1 31.2 -15.1
Jordan Howard CHI 34.1 49.3 -15.2
Derrick Henry TEN 17.9 36.1 -18.2

Sell High: Alvin Kamara

Kamara is on pace to post the most prolific receiving season by a running back in NFL history. But it turns out that it's his rushing stats, not his receiving stats, that are unsustainable going forward.

Last season, Kamara averaged 6.1 YPC so his 4.9 Actual YPC this season actually represents a good deal of regression to the mean already. The problem is that, with the exceedingly random nature of YPC and Kamara's rushing career in New Orleans comprising only 176 attempts, Kamara's "true" skill (4.4) hews much closer to the league average (4.3).

Likewise, scoring five touchdowns in 56 carries translates to an Actual TDPC of 8.9%. However, regressing this to the 2.8% league average means his True TDPC is less than half that (3.8%).

Sell High: Melvin Gordon III

Gordon has both of the regression indicators that Kamara does, plus one more. Namely, he's scoring receiving touchdowns at a rate four times what his "true" skill suggests. So far in 2018, Gordon's scored 3 touchdowns on 95 receiving routes run, for an Actual TDPRR of 3.2%, whereas his True TDPRR is only 0.8%.

Buy Low: Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis

Both of Tennessee's running backs are poised for an uptick in fantasy performance, but for slightly different reasons. And the difference makes perfect sense from an intuitive perspective.

Both Henry and Lewis are well below their True YPCs: Henry's at 3.0 Actual YPC compared to 4.3 True YPC, whereas Lewis is at 3.3 Actual YPC compared to 4.3 True YPC. Where the difference lies is in which kind of touchdown they're not scoring so far in 2018. For Henry, it's rushing touchdowns, as he has a 0.0% Actual TDPC compared to a 2.9% True TDPC, which means he "should" have about 2 rushing touchdowns right now; not 0. For Lewis, it's receiving touchdowns, as his 0.6% True TDPRR means he should have at least 1 receiving touchdown right now; not 0.

Wide Receivers

Below is the table for quarterbacks:

Wide Receiver Team FBG TFP DIFF
Calvin Ridley ATL 63.7 31.7 +32.0
DeSean Jackson TB 60.4 34.6 +25.8
A.J. Green CIN 59.7 41.2 +18.5
John Brown BAL 52.2 34.3 +17.9
Mike Williams LAC 38.4 23.0 +15.4
Golden Tate DET 57.8 43.3 +14.5
Cooper Kupp LAR 60.1 46.2 +13.9
Albert Wilson MIA 36.4 22.9 +13.5
Tyreek Hill KC 55.5 42.8 +12.7
Kenny Stills MIA 40.4 28.5 +11.9
Tyler Lockett SEA 43.4 32.1 +11.3
Tavon Austin DAL 24.2 13.6 +10.6
Chris Godwin TB 37.3 27.7 +9.6
Kendrick Bourne SF 18.5 9.7 +8.8
Will Fuller V HOU 44.3 35.9 +8.4
D.J. Moore CAR 12.4 4.9 +7.5
Jakeem Grant MIA 27.7 20.3 +7.4
Robert Woods LAR 52.2 45.5 +6.7
Jordy Nelson OAK 39.4 32.7 +6.7
John Ross CIN 19.6 13.6 +6.0
Josh Gordon NE 10.9 5.4 +5.5
Geronimo Allison GB 40.9 35.7 +5.2
Donte Moncrief JAX 29.3 24.3 +5.0
Chris Hogan NE 22.9 18.0 +4.9
Tyler Boyd CIN 47.4 42.7 +4.7
Brandin Cooks LAR 52.8 48.3 +4.5
Tajae Sharpe TEN 13.4 9.3 +4.1
Stefon Diggs MIN 50.0 46.5 +3.5
Cameron Meredith NO 10.3 7.4 +2.9
Ted Ginn Jr NO 28.1 25.5 +2.6
Chris Conley KC 17.8 15.7 +2.1
Antonio Callaway CLE 22.2 20.5 +1.7
Mike Evans TB 60.6 58.9 +1.7
Kelvin Benjamin BUF 15.2 13.6 +1.6
Marquise Goodwin SF 11.6 10.1 +1.5
Paul Richardson Jr WAS 19.1 17.7 +1.4
Seth Roberts OAK 12.6 11.3 +1.3
Jaron Brown SEA 12.8 11.6 +1.2
Corey Davis TEN 37.2 36.1 +1.1
Robby Anderson NYJ 15.9 14.9 +1.0
Cordarrelle Patterson NE 17.9 17.2 +0.7
Terrelle Pryor NYJ 15.8 15.3 +0.5
DeVante Parker MIA 4.0 3.6 +0.4
Marvin Jones Jr DET 35.3 34.9 +0.4
James Washington PIT 10.9 10.6 +0.3
Alshon Jeffery PHI 16.5 16.4 +0.1
Jamison Crowder WAS 17.4 18.0 -0.6
Dede Westbrook JAX 36.0 36.8 -0.8
Torrey Smith CAR 12.7 13.6 -0.9
Mohamed Sanu ATL 24.0 24.9 -0.9
Sammy Watkins KC 28.7 29.8 -1.1
DeAndre Hopkins HOU 55.6 56.8 -1.2
T.Y. Hilton IND 41.4 42.7 -1.3
Michael Gallup DAL 7.6 9.6 -2.0
Kenny Golladay DET 45.0 47.2 -2.2
Anthony Miller CHI 12.0 14.2 -2.2
Courtland Sutton DEN 14.2 16.5 -2.3
Laquon Treadwell MIN 18.1 21.1 -3.0
Tyrell Williams LAC 20.0 23.3 -3.3
Randall Cobb GB 25.5 29.0 -3.5
Travis Benjamin LAC 2.2 6.0 -3.8
Michael Thomas NO 62.5 66.4 -3.9
Taylor Gabriel CHI 34.0 37.9 -3.9
Pierre Garcon SF 14.1 18.1 -4.0
Taywan Taylor TEN 19.9 24.3 -4.4
Davante Adams GB 46.5 50.9 -4.4
Jarvis Landry CLE 37.2 41.6 -4.4
Devin Funchess CAR 24.5 29.2 -4.7
Martavis Bryant OAK 11.5 16.3 -4.8
Jermaine Kearse NYJ 5.7 10.5 -4.8
Keenan Allen LAC 34.2 39.1 -4.9
Sterling Shepard NYG 34.9 40.0 -5.1
Willie Snead IV BAL 25.8 30.9 -5.1
Emmanuel Sanders DEN 48.7 53.8 -5.1
Allen Hurns DAL 8.1 13.2 -5.1
Zay Jones BUF 14.4 19.6 -5.2
Allen Robinson CHI 27.7 33.0 -5.3
Doug Baldwin SEA 4.1 9.5 -5.4
Quincy Enunwa NYJ 33.8 39.3 -5.5
Cole Beasley DAL 18.5 24.2 -5.7
Julio Jones ATL 51.3 57.3 -6.0
Andre Holmes BUF 5.1 11.3 -6.2
Josh Doctson WAS 4.8 11.1 -6.3
Rashard Higgins CLE 17.8 24.3 -6.5
Antonio Brown PIT 45.2 51.7 -6.5
Keke Coutee HOU 10.7 17.4 -6.7
Keelan Cole JAX 28.5 35.4 -6.9
Ryan Grant IND 24.8 31.8 -7.0
Amari Cooper OAK 33.9 41.1 -7.2
Michael Crabtree BAL 24.4 32.0 -7.6
Adam Thielen MIN 59.3 67.9 -8.6
Danny Amendola MIA 12.1 21.6 -9.5
Christian Kirk ARI 15.6 26.6 -11.0
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 47.6 59.1 -11.5
Larry Fitzgerald ARI 14.1 26.1 -12.0
Chester Rogers IND 13.4 27.5 -14.1
Demaryius Thomas DEN 22.8 37.2 -14.4
Nelson Agholor PHI 25.3 44.3 -19.1
Odell Beckham Jr Jr NYG 34.0 61.0 -27.0

Sell High: Calvin Ridley

Ridley's actual YPRR of 2.3 is definitely high, but it's not wildly out of line with his True YPRR of 2.0 (which is in some elite company, by the way). Rather, Ridley's likely regression going forward is due to an Actual TDPRR of 5.2% being over three times higher than True TDPRR of 1.6%. Put differently, he should have 2 receiving touchdowns based on 116 routes run; he actually has 6.

Sell High: DeSean Jackson

Jackson's career renaissance through three games is likely to end. And while there exists a ready-made narrative explanation for it (i.e., the benching of Ryan Fitzpatrick), there's also a statistical explanation. Namely, Jackson's Actual YPRR of 4.2 ranks first among wide receivers in the table, whereas his True YPRR is "only" 1.9.

Because it was also alluded to in the Ridley discussion above, it's worth pointing out that a True YPRR at or above 2.0 can be considered elite. For instance, Julio Jones is No. 1 at 2.7 and DeAndre Hopkins is the lowest of this bunch at 2.0. Therefore, Jackson's True YPRR of 1.9 is probably closer to elite than you thought. Still, it's not the 4.2 that it is right now, so regression is highly likely, especially now that the Fitzmagic show is over.

Buy Low: Odell Beckham Jr Jr

Speaking of elite wide receivers as measured by True YPRR, Beckham is a candidate for vast improvement in fantasy efficiency going forward, as his 2.0 Actual YPRR is significantly below his 2.3 True YPRR. But that's not all. It's also the case -- perhaps even more importantly -- that his current total of 0 receiving touchdowns is a statistical aberration. Among wide receivers in the table, Beckham's True TDPRR of 1.7% ranks No.1, which means his skill suggests he should have scored three times by now.

Buy Low: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Like Beckham, Smith-Schuster is also scoring -- or not scoring -- at a much lower rate than his skill suggests. In fact, he's scoring at half his expected rate. Specifically, despite a Top 25 True TDPRR of 1.2%, he's only scored 1 touchdown in 192 routes run (0.5% Actual TDPRR).