Touchdowns can be fickle things. They routinely pop up in new places, and rarely follow any discernable pattern. Sort of like playing Whac-A-Mole.
But “no discernable pattern” is not a phrase in the vocabulary of fantasy football managers. We want to know where those TDs are going to pop up before they pop up. We want to know how long they will stay popped up, when they will sink back into the void, then where they will pop up next.
Easy, right? All you need is a good fortune teller, a reliable set of tarot cards or a heavy dose of ESP.
Or … you can look deeper into player touchdown rates. This works because rarely do players consistently perform well above individual or league averages.
One way to measure these fluctuations and potentially foretell a future turning of the tide is to compare TDs scored to overall touches. If a player is scoring at a rate well above or below the league and their career averages, you can expect those numbers to self-correct.
Take, for example, Atlanta’s surprising breakout gadget guy Cordarrelle Patterson. He has scored five times — including three Sunday. He has done it on just 45 touches, meaning he is scoring a touchdown once for every nine times he touches the ball. He is on pace for 20 total TDs this season.
That makes him the most frequent TD scorer per touch among any player classified as a running back who has 12 of more touches. The average TD rate for RBs is 31.5, so Patterson is scoring three times more often than average.
Yet, you might say he is more of a hybrid, and he should be compared to wide receivers rather than RBs. The average TD rate per touch for WRs is 12.4, so Patterson is still scoring above average there.
But that is a lot closer to the norm, right? Well, until you look at TD rates per yards gained. RBs on average score once for every 155.4 yards they gain, WRs once every 156.4. Patterson has gained 354 total yards from scrimmage, giving him a TD-yard rate of 70.8, more than two times better than average.
How about his personal averages? His career TD/touch rate is 21.2 and per yard is 172.4, so he is well ahead of his past performance as well.
So let’s take a look at what to expect from him the rest of the legitimate fantasy season — through Week 17. Using his workload the first four games as a baseline of his usage from here on out, then apply his career TD rates to his projected touches, you can expect about a 20-25 percent decline in fantasy production — from 20.9 PPR points a game to about 16.2.
What do fantasy managers do with this info? Well, if you’re in a rare league where he is on waivers, pick him up. If you have him, or get him, shop him now while his value is sky high.
They’ve Got It Coming
Jonathan Taylor RB, Colts
O-line injuries aside, Taylor is due a serious TD correction. He has just one on 69 touches. He had one every 22.3 last season. Buy low.
Brandon Bolden RB, Patriots
With James White out, Bolden has stepped into that passing-down role — he caught six passes Sunday night. He is exclusively a PPR option.
Van Jefferson WR, Rams
DeSean Jackson got all the attention with a long TD last week, but Jefferson has six targets each of the past two games — as many as Robert Woods.
C.J. Uzomah TE, Bengals
Had a huge game Thursday — 5-for-95, two TDs on six targets, after just five total targets in his first three games. At a thin position, you grab possible impact players when they flash potential.
Too Much Too Soon
Sam Darnold QB, Panthers
He has surprised many with his good start. But his five rushing TDs in the first four games is an aberration. He had five total in his first 38 career games. Those will disappear.
Chris Carson RB, Seahawks
Sensing trouble ahead. Alex Collins outperformed him Sunday, and got nearly as much work. Could a committee be forming?
CeeDee Lamb WR, Cowboys
After starting the season getting 15 then nine targets the first two weeks, he has eight total in the past two games. What makes this alarming is the Cowboys have looked really good in those two games, so why change course?
Rondale Moore WR, Cardinals
His stellar production did not produce an increase in snap share the past couple of weeks. We prefer to stash him at the end of our bench if possible, but cutting isn’t off the table.
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