2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates

by Michael Tomlin
2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates

Regression is a buzz word for Fantasy Football. However, it is important to note that many people do not understand the exact definition of the word as we dive into the 2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates.

The term “regression” means that an outlier statistic is likely to move back toward the mean or average. It works both ways, negatively and positively, though.

That’s where some people get it twisted. They only see it as a negative word, or an expected decrease in something. Regression works in the positive way as well, something that the 2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates will show.

The easier way to describe regression: what is most likely to happen? Was it likely that James Conner would score 15 touchdowns on just 200 rushes in 2022 after performing that feat in 2021? No! Was it likely that D.J. Moore would catch just four touchdowns in 2022 after doing that on 163 targets in 2021? No!

Those are the two examples of how regression works in both positive and negative ways.

All of the information for the 2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates is up to date as of August 31st, 2023.

2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates

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Positive

These guys should see an increase in touchdowns based on their statistics last season.
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Diontae Johnson, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers: 0 Touchdowns on 86 Catches in 2022

I think this one speaks for itself. Johnson had 147 targets, 86 receptions for 882 yards in 2022. Yet he never found the end zone. It is by far the most targets someone has ever received without scoring.

In 2021, Johnson scored eight times on slightly more targets and catches. In 2020, he scored seven times on almost identical production. There is literally nowhere to go but up from a 0.0% touchdown rate.

Travis Etienne, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars: 5 Touchdowns on 255 Touches in 2022

Etienne is a good example of how counting stats are not the only factor in projecting 2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates.

Five touchdowns on 255 touchdowns are good enough to show a likely increase in 2023 for Etienne. More importantly, the Jaguar scored just four times on his 40 Red Zone carries.

Some people think Tank Bigsby was drafted to take some of the Red Zone work. I think that is a bit of lazy analysis, since Bigsby is just an inch taller a couple of pounds heavier. The offensive line was more of the issue for Jacksonville last season.

The Jags signed offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor to a 4 year/$80 million deal and drafted tackle Anton Harrison in the first round. They will be better and Etienne will eat.

Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, New York Jets: 4 Touchdowns on 83 Catches in 2022

Positive touchdown regression can be amplified by better situations, as just pointed out with Etienne’s offensive line upgrade. No receiver, maybe in the history of football, has received a bigger quarterback upgrade that Garrett Wilson.

With Zach Wilson among others under center, Garrett Wilson was only able to haul in four touchdowns on 147 targets. A 2.7% touchdown percentage is obscenely low for the type of talented player Wilson is becoming.

Enter Aaron Rodgers and Nathaniel Hackett into the mix. Their track record together as quarterback/offensive coordinator speaks for itself in one name: Davante Adams. In every season that Adams played at least 13 games as Rodgers’ lead receiver, he scored at least 10 touchdowns averaging 13 scores per season.

So, Garrett Wilson brings you statistical positive regression along with a massive spike in potential scores.

Negative

These players might see a decrease in their touchdowns after exploding last season.
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Tony Pollard, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys: 12 Touchdowns on 232 touches in 2022

Pollard is a popular breakout pick this season. I beg to differ. Some have been clamoring for Pollard over Zeke for a while. Those are people that do not understand football is not just big plays.

Pollard has played a Robin-role for his career. He now will have to endure (trying to) pass blocking and running between the tackles.

On top of that, Pollard scored nine rushing touchdowns on 193 carries. He had scored eight touchdowns on his first 317 carries in the league. Pollard caught three touchdowns on just 39 receptions. He had caught only two touchdowns in his first 82 catches in the league.

Could Pollard get more goal-line carries? Well obviously, with Zeke out he will. But there will be a drastic decrease in the big-play touchdowns he got last season and a much higher injury rate.

Consider: if Pollard would have been league average in touchdown rate last season, he would have dropped from RB9 to RB21 in PPR scoring.

George Kittle, Tight End, San Francisco 49ers: 11 touchdowns on 60 catches in 2022

Touchdown rate is not identical for all players in a vacuum. Some offenses just do different things in the Red Zone. Some players have different styles with the ball in their hands. These two factors combine to give George Kittle a lower-than-normal average touchdown rate.

Kittle had never caught more than six touchdowns in a season. I know he misses a lot of time, but his career touchdown percentage on his receptions was 5.77% entering last season. In 2022, Kittle caught 11 touchdowns on only 60 receptions, for an 18.33% touchdown rate. Can you say, “unsustainable?”

Kittle did catch the majority of these touchdowns late in the year with Brock Purdy under center. Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell were also out for those games. With this offense fully healthy, Kittle will not be the leader in touchdowns.

Christian Watson, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers: 7 Touchdowns on 41 Catches in 2022

Watson had a four-game stretch where he scored seven touchdowns. In his other ten games, the rookie received 39 targets, 26 catches, 308 yards, and ZERO touchdowns. Really, if you take out the Cowboys’ game where their defense kept leaving him wide open, Watson had a 10% touchdown rate on receptions. With that one game, his season-long rate was 17%.

There is already the statistical negative regression coming his way. You also now have the unproven Jordan Love replacing Aaron Rodgers. Watson is basically the inverse-Upsidedown version of Garrett Wilson.

Miles Sanders, Running Back, Carolina Panthers: 11 Touchdowns on 259 Carries in 2022

Miles Sanders was on this list last year, just the opposite section. Sanders scored zero times on 137 carries in 2021. He followed that up with 11 touchdowns on 259 carries last season.

Sanders’ career touchdown rate seems to be right in the middle of that, which might not have made him stand out too much for the 2023 Fantasy Football Touchdown Regression Candidates.

However, Sanders is now on the Panthers with rookie Bryce Young at quarterback. The touchdown opportunities will be drastically lower than with the Eagles last season.


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